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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Knockin' on Death's Door - A Gin Review

IMG_3354 By Steve Siciliano

I would have a hard time picking out a favorite style of beer but I can state without hesitation that my favorite highball is a gin and tonic. Last night Barb and I sat on the backyard deck and we both sipped tall G&T's while watching the slowly fading twilight.

The heart of any G&T of course is the gin and at the core of last night's cocktails was Death's Door, an American-made gin distilled in Wisconsin. Despite its rather gimicky sounding name, Death's Door is a fine gin made from locally sourced organic barley and wheat and spiced with juniper, corriander and fennel.

This excellent gin retails at Siciliano's at $29.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Head Cheese - Your Weekly Ration

This week's Head Cheese is free-trade, organic, shade-grown, roasted locally and brewed in recycled, dye-free filters. Enjoy!

Mark Siciliano's
Head Cheese

Stay tuned to The Buzz for another pot of Head Cheese, percolating on the burner even as we speak.

Monday, July 23, 2012

We Propose a Toast - Pauline Sabin

This is the first in a series of short pieces acknowledging the efforts of little-known historical figures who had positive impacts on the brewing, wine-making and distilling industries.

By Steve Siciliano

With breweries, cideries, meaderies and micro-distilleries popping up on the national landscape like toadstools after a rain in summer, it seems incomprehensible that it was once a crime to manufacture, transport and sell alcoholic beverages in this country. National Prohibition, mandated by the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920, destroyed businesses, eliminated thousands of jobs and generated millions of tax-free dollars for underworld figures such as Al Capone and “Bugs” Moran. The ratification of the twenty-first Amendment in 1933 repealed Prohibition and it is a little known fact that the efforts of a woman named Pauline Sabin helped put an end to this failed “noble experiment.”

Pauline Sabin was a wealthy New York Republican who played an active role in party politics. She co-founded and was a president of the Women’s National Republican Club, was the first woman to serve on the National Republican Committee and in 1928 was a delegate to the National Republican Convention. Initially in favor of Prohibition because of the promise of lower crime, better public health and increased morality, she became disillusioned after realizing that Prohibition was causing hypocrisy, a higher crime rate, increased violence and pervasive disrespect for laws in general. In 1929 she resigned from the Republican National Committee and founded the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR). In less than two years the membership of the WONPR grew to almost 1.5 million.

The WONPR effectively countered the efforts of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League, organizations that had been instrumental in getting the Eighteenth Amendment ratified and were keeping ongoing pressure on politicians to keep Prohibition in place. In recognition for her efforts to get Prohibition repealed Pauline Sabin was featured on the cover of Time magazine on July 18, 1932.

We propose a toast to the memory of this remarkable woman.

Friday, July 20, 2012

New Beer Friday - June 20 Edition

By Chris Siciliano

Rather than wax poetical on the state of craft beer in Beer City, USA, I thought this week we'd kick off New Beer Friday with a joke:

A neutron walks into a bar. "I'd like a beer," he says. The bartender serves him a Two Hearted. "What do I owe you?" asks the neutron. "For you?" says the bartender. "No charge."

Enjoy the hell out of this week's new arrivals!

New (and Returning) Beer

  • Avery Nineteen, $8.19/22oz - "In excited anticipation of 20 years and the new brewery, we concocted this very traditional, yeast driven, dry and fruity Tripel" (source).
  • Epic Hop Syndrome Lager, $4.29/22oz - "A deliciously hoppy lager, this clean, spicy, yet fruity addition to the Exponential series is sure to quench your summer palate just right" (source).
  • Epic Straight Up Saison $8.19/22oz - "Brewed with barley, oats and wheat, this hazy yellow offering’s silky texture is offset by its high level of carbonation. More spice complexity and malt sweetness refresh the tongue as the wheat and yeast work together to finish dry and slightly sour" (source).
  • Ringwood Old Thumper, $1.89/12oz - "A non-traditional English bitter, brewed in the US solely by Shipyard" (source).
  • Epic Wit Beer $5.09/22oz - "Classic Belgian Wit Beer to be released as soon as the Feds get us some approval! Classic in the sense that it is based on old world-style brewing found in breweries scattered throughout the Belgian countryside but Epic in the spices used and full, yet completely refreshing it drinks. Slightly higher in alcohol content than traditional Wits (5.9%), ours is traditionally brewed, using wheat, oats, authentic Belgian yeast, malts and just a sprinkle of hops. Classic spices include coriander, sweet and bitter orange peel and grains of paradise. Perfect for beating the summer heat" (source).
  • Abita Satsuma Harvest Wit $1.69/12oz - "Brewed with pilsner, wheat malts and oats. It is made with real Louisiana satsumas and spiced with coriander and orange peel. This unfiltered brew has a slightly cloudy appearance with a subtle citrus flavor and aroma" (sources).
  • Abita Purple Haze Cans $1.69/12oz & $19.59/12 pack - "A crisp, American style wheat beer with fresh raspberries added during secondary fermentation. Subtle coloration, fruity aroma and tartly sweet taste" (source).
  • Pyramid Curve Ball $1.59/12oz - "A deliciously drinkable golden summer seasonal, Curve Ball quenches the deepest of thirsts with its crisp, clean flavor. This cold lagered ale is the perfect accompaniment to summer’s memorable moments, whatever they may be" (source).
Picture of the Week

Dune overlook, Sleeping Bear Dunes


*Find more beer-related jokes by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Head Cheese - Your Weekly Ration

After an extended absence, Mark Siciliano's Head Cheese returns with a very appropriate cartoon. (Pun will appear after you read the cartoon and then return to this intro.)

Mark Siciliano's
Head Cheese

Stay tuned to The Buzz for more helpings of Mark Siciliano's Head Cheese. We're currently sitting on a pile of it right now.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Beer Friday - July 13 Edition

By Chris Siciliano

Fans of Siciliano's Facebook page already know the big news this week—we are once again in the business of selling delicious beer from Dogfish Head!

To celebrate, we're reposting an excerpt from former staffer Wes Easton's 2008 interview with Dogfish Head's owner, Sam Calagione. Find the complete interview here. Find no less than eight different Dogfish Head beers now on the shelves at Siciliano's.

Eaton: Nine years ago the storied “Beer Hunter” Michael Jackson and you spent a day together. Raisin D’Etre, Chicory, Shelter Pale and Immort Ale were already on your menu and a new 30-bbl brewhouse was being constructed. Talk about the changes you have seen in our beer culture since then and your contribution to this dynamic enclave.

Calagione: In that era, Immort Ale was among the first wood-aged beers and it was [also] exotic, incorporating maple syrup, peat-smoked barley and vanilla beans. Frankly, we could barely give it away. Nobody was willing to pay $13.00 for a six-pack of beer, so we had a real tough time. We started as the smallest brewery, today [2008] we’re one of the fastest growing breweries. While I’m proud of all that growth, what I’m most proud of is that we never discounted or dumbed-down our beers in order to achieve growth. That shows that while we’ve been very lucky to be able to stick to our original mission and achieve this incredible growth, it’s really indicative of how far the average beer consumer’s I.Q., experimentation and interest level has come.

New (and Returning) Beers

  • Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, $2.89/12oz - "An imperial IPA best savored from a snifter, 90 Minute has a great malt backbone that stands up to the extreme hopping rate" (source).
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, $1.99/12oz - "60 Minute is brewed with a slew of great Northwest hops. A powerful but balanced East Coast IPA with a lot of citrusy hop character, it's the session beer for hardcore enthusiasts!" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, $1.99/12oz - "Forget about the car companies, this is the original hybrid. A cross between a Scotch Ale, an India Pale Ale and an American Brown, Indian Brown Ale is well-hopped and malty at the same time (It's magical!). The beer has characteristics of each style that inspired it: the color of an American Brown, the caramel notes of a Scotch Ale, and the hopping regimen of an India Pale Ale. We dry-hop the Indian Brown Ale in a similar fashion to our 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA. This beer is brewed with Aromatic barley and organic brown sugar" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre, $1.99/12oz - "A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche, $2.59/12oz - "A refreshing neo-Berliner Weisse fermented with honest-to-goodness peaches to -- get this -- 4.5% ABV! Hey, extreme beers don't have to be extremely boozy! Festina is available in 4-packs and on draft during the sweaty months" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, $4.09/12oz - "An unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels. The caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood from which these tanks were crafted. Palo Santo means "holy tree," and its wood has been used in South American wine-making communities. This highly roasty and malty brown ale clocks in at 12% abv. A huge hit at our Rehoboth Beach brewpub when first released in November 2006, Palo went into full production at the end of 2007" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Midas Touch, $3.29/12oz - "This sweet yet dry beer is made with ingredients found in 2,700-year-old drinking vessels from the tomb of King Midas. Somewhere between wine and mead, Midas will please the chardonnay and beer drinker alike" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Namaste, $10.19/750ml - "A witbier bursting with good karma. Made with dried organic orange slices, fresh-cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander, this Belgian-style white beer is a great thirst quencher" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Black & Blue, $14.49/750ml - "Black & Blue is a Belgian-style golden ale fermented with blackberries and blueberries. Because we dose Black & Blue with real berries -- rather than artificial flavoring -- the fruit comes through in the flavor, not just the aroma. The pureed berries are added as the beer leaves the brewhouse. In fermentation, the yeast -- the same one we use in Red & White and Pangaea -- feeds on sugars from the barley and the berries, giving Black & Blue a unique complexity and a high ABV" (source).
  • Arbor Brewing Ypsi Gypsy, $1.79/12oz - "The Ypsi Gypsy contains mostly pale malts for a light body and lower alcohol beer. Hop bitterness is balanced by several late additions of Cascade and Centennial hops which give this beer a fruity citrusy hop flavor and a beautiful hop aroma" (source).
  • O'Fallon Wheach, $1.69/12oz cans & bottles - "Imagine our smooth, clean wheat beer with a touch of peach and you get the idea behind O'Fallon Wheach, our peach wheat beer. Light, refreshing and crisp, it's perfect for any occasion!" (source).
  • Rogue Dad's Little Helper, $7.39/22oz - "A Black IPA deep mahogany in color with roasted malt and hop aromas and dense creamy head. It enters the palate with intense hop flavor and coats the tongue with a rich maltiness" (source).
  • Stoudts Pils, $1.99/12oz - "The driest and most delicate of our lagers. Stoudt’s Pils is characteristic of the traditional European Pilseners. Straw-yellow and assertively hopped with Saaz hops, this frequent medal winner has a refreshing bitterness and refined hop aroma" (source).
  • Stoudts Heifer-in-Wheat, $1.99/12oz - "This Bavarian-style unfiltered wheat beer is brewed with 50% malted barley and 50% malted wheat. Our signature blend of German yeast strain imparts a flavor and aroma reminiscent of bananas, cloves and bubblegum" (source).
  • Stoudts Gold Lager, $1.99/12oz - "This golden 'Helles' style beer is smooth, medium-bodied and always satisfying. Brewed with the finest imported 2-row malt and German noble hops, Stoudt's Gold Lager is widely recognized as one of the finest German-style beers brewed in America" (source).
Picture of the Week

Sampler platters at Cranker's Brewery
Big Rapids, MI


Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Origin and Hopeful Return of "Highball" to Common Speak

Forget how much it sounds like a field sport for stoners, "highball" is a once-popular term for a tall mixed drink, also a word the boss believes should be returned to common parlance.

Bulleit Rye & Water
By Steve Siciliano

Recently I heard my father ask my mother if she would care for a highball. I found this amusing for a couple of reasons. For one, my mother rarely drinks except for an occasional glass of sweet wine or a tumbler of Baily’s on the rocks. For another, how many times do you hear a mixed drink referred to as a highball?

Because I was curious as to how this word become part of the lexicon, I visited the Online Etymology Dictionary and there found that highball dates from 1898 and was derived from the words ball, a drink of whiskey, and high, a reference to a tall glass. I also learned from Wikipedia that highball originally referred to a Scotch and soda but eventually became a catchword for any mixed drink comprised of a spirit and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer. During a recent visit to the Tip Top Deluxe I ordered a highball and Jackie, who has been bartending for almost eight years, looked at me like I had antennae sprouting from my head.

Obviously the word highball has, for whatever reason, faded into obscurity and that, I think, is unfortunate because highball is a fine word that deserves to be brought back into the mainstream vocabulary. I believe that this can be done if we all work together. Just be prepared for strange looks for a while from bartenders.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Now Playing at the Drive-In: Nostalgia

By Doug Dorda

The sun sinks below the clouds, a myriad of pinks and purples adorn the horizon. The air is filled with the gentle murmur of nearby folk, and the soothing whir of idling engines. Anticipation runs high, as all eyes turn toward a screen seemingly hovering above the ground. Lights dim and an illuminating omnipresent glow stretches across the screen—a woman's voice can be heard from car stereos and ancient speakers mounted on cables. She says, “Welcome to the drive-in!”

Welcome to the Getty Theater
I will never forget my first experience at a drive-in movie theater. My brother and I lay in the back of my parents van with the doors swung wide open. My parents sat dutifully in lawn chairs to the sides of the vehicle. From our view, it seemed as though the entire landscape teemed with the magic of cinema and the remnants of a dying art. Imagine my dismay years later when I learned of that theater's closing; it was with heavy heart that I reminisced about the wonderful times I had enjoyed with my friends and family. “Lost to the isle of memory,” I told myself.

As each summer passed in kind, there lingered the memory of a magic I wouldn't be able to feel again. I longed for the ability to stock a cooler with beverages, snacks, and all other provisions that one could hope for whilst in the hearty companionship of friends and family. It seemed as though I was doomed to seeing films in theaters with pricey concessions, long ticket lines, and wailing children for the rest of my movie-going life.

Then, a week or so ago, a dear friend approached me about seeing a double-feature at a nearby theater. Wonderful, I thought, at least I can still see two films for the price of one (for those unfamiliar with a drive-in, most commonly you will see two films instead of one). “But,” I asked, “Where in town shows a double-feature these days?”

“At the drive in, dude!” he yelled as though I were a moron for not having made the connection.

With a grin on my face, I hugged my friend as hard as I've ever hugged anyone that has delivered me good news. A bit bewildered, I began to ask the inevitable questions of where the theater was, and how much a ticket cost. Though there is no drive-in within Grand Rapids' city limits, just a short drive to Muskegon there awaits the Getty Theater, a great mecca of nostalgia, beckoning to passersby with a vintage sign that simply invites you to become a child again, if only for one night.

My friends and I made the journey, cooler and chairs in tow. We stuck our claim (set up camp if you prefer) and tucked in for what was to prove a wonderful way to spend an evening. As I surveyed the crowds at each separate screen, I allowed my eyes to go out of focus. In the fading twilight it was easy to imagine every car as a Cadillac, and every patron as either a greaser or “soc." It was simply magnificent to have found that magic again.

However wonderful I may have felt, it was also easy to hear the chatter of some of the folks near us.

“It's a shame, honey,” said a woman near me. “This may be the last year for the drive-in, so let's try to enjoy this!”

A little boy and his mother were headed to the children's movie a few screens over. I allowed a frown to unfold on my face for just a moment before I realized that I was that child at one time. My mother had said those words to me the very first time I had gone to the drive-in near my home town. I was graced with seven additional years enjoyment from that theater, and those memories alone had gotten me to go and find a new one with friends. Perhaps we can help save this passtime after all, I thought. Are not homebrewers, purveyors of craft, and DIY-ers steeped within the culture of the way things used to be? Are we not the type of people who diligently seek tradition, and long for things to be, in one way or another, as they once were. Do drive in theaters fit the bill of something we should strive to keep alive? It is the opinion of this writer, that they are. Sure, it may be out of the way, and it may seem a little ridiculous a thing to fret over. Yet I put it to you, when was the last time you witnessed the stars and a near full moon over a movie theater screen? For me, it was two short weeks ago.

The Getty theater is located just a short distance from 96 in Muskegon. For tickets and showtimes go here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Port Winexpert Kit, Pre-Order Now

By Steve Siciliano

This fall, the folks at Winexpert will again be issuing a special release of the highly popular kit, Chocolate Raspberry Port. That's not all. The company has also announced that a new kit will be added to their lineup of special, limited releases—Chocolate Orange Port. Both kits produce three gallons of wine, both will retail for $107, and both are available by pre-order only. 

Pre-orders must be submitted to Siciliano’s by Thursday, August 2. The descriptions below come directly from Winexpert.

Chocolate Orange Port

This intensely flavored Port-style dessert wine is full-bodied and rich, with complex aromas of bittersweet dark chocolate, thick with ripe orange and marmalade flavors. Excellent sipped in a comfortable chair by the fire, it is also brilliant with nuts and cheese, or drizzled over vanilla ice cream for a completely decadent after-dinner treat. Ready to drink within three months, Chocolate Orange Port will age for several years, evolving and showing complex layers of flavor over time.

    • Oak: Toasted
    • Sweetness: 7
    • Body: Full
    • Alcohol by volume: 15% - 16.5% 
Chocolate Raspberry Port

Back by popular demand this wine is bursting with rich, intense flavors and aromas. The traditional Port character of warm, rounded cherries and plums is supported by a racy zine of bright raspberry. Perfumed and gently tart, with a luscious liquid chocolate rush in the midde of the palate is finishes with beguiling dark, bittersweet aromas of coffee, vanilla and toast, all the way to a lone, rich finish. Excellent within three months, this wine will age gorgeously.

    • Oak: Toasted
    • Sweetness: 7
    • Body: Full
    • Alcohol by volume: 15% - 16.5%

Friday, July 6, 2012

New Beer Friday - July 6 Edition

IMG_3230July is Michigan Craft Beer Month, a time to celebrate mitten-centric suds by imbibing the best our state has to offer in mass (though...ahem...responsible) quantities. How that differs from any other month of the year, to be honest, we're really not sure. Point is, there's nothing at all wrong with officially dedicating a solid 31 days to the greatest beer (and state) in the nation. Just think of it as an excuse to branch out even further into the world of delicious Michigan fermentables.

In fact, that's exactly the suggestion made by Adam Mills, head brewer at the recently opened Cranker's Brewery in Big Rapids, Michigan. Adam says, "Let's celebrate our state's craft beer scene by extending our beer boundaries and trying one new Michigan craft brewery per week. As you do, post pictures of your pint, on Facebook and Twitter, and tell your friends about it. Also, challenge them to do the same. Make sure to tag your post #MichiganCraftBeerMonth or #MICraftBeerMonth."

You can read Adam's complete recommendation for Craft Beer Month on his personal blog (here) and you can sample his brews anytime by visiting Cranker's tap room. From what we hear, Adam, like the majority of Michigan brewers, is making some damn fine beer these days.

Speaking of beer, here's what's new this week at Siciliano's.

New (and Returning) Beer

  • Founders Devil Dancer, $5.09/12oz - "When you dance with the Devil, the Devil don’t change. You do. Massive in complexity, the huge malt character balances the insane amount of alphas used to create it. At an incredible 112 IBUs, it’s dry-hopped with ten hop varieties" (source).
  • Dark Horse Kmita Kolsch, $1.79/12oz - "Fairly light in color and body with mild flavors of malt. Aroma and finish are hoppy from use of Polish hops" (source).
  • Short's Strawberry Short's Cake, $2.19/12oz - "A golden ale creates the perfect foundation for one of our most popular concept beers. The addition of strawberries and milk sugar transform this beer into rose colored nectar that is pleasingly sweet with hints of cream. Biscuit flavors and aromas arise from the use of large amounts of Victory malt" (source).
  • Berghoff Rock River Red, $1.39/12oz - "This copper-reddish beer belongs to the category of the American pale ales, which are of medium bitterness with a slightly malty character still present. Berghoff Amber [aka Rock River Red] is made with Brewer's Two-Row Malt, Caramel 40 Malt, Carapils Malt and domestic hops" (source).
Picture of the Week

Vander Mill cider at Stella's in GR


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Joe Nelson: The Sixth of June and a Bottle of Bourbon

Years ago the boss owned a corner store in an idiosyncratic but somewhat decaying neighborhood of Grand Rapids, MI. During the eight years he spent at that location, he met many colorful characters and witnessed many interesting, sometimes heart-wrenching scenes that are now serving as the inspiration for a series of fictional vignettes he's calling The Convenience Store Stories. This is the second in that series. (The first can be found here.)

By Steve Siciliano

The clerk was sweeping cigarette butts up on the sidewalk in front of C’s when he spotted Joe Nelson across the street waiting for the traffic signal to turn. After dumping the butts into a metal trash container chained to a lamp post the clerk bought a newspaper from a kiosk chained to a stop sign. When he was back in the store he lit a Marlboro then sat down with the newspaper and didn’t look up when Joe Nelson leaned heavily against the sales counter. “Starting a little early today aren’t you, sport,” the clerk said.

The old man looked at the stubble on the young man’s chin, at his wisp of a mustache, at the stringy blond hair poking out from beneath the turned around baseball cap, at the dangling earrings and the thick, braided necklace. “Anything in the paper about the invasion,” Joe Nelson asked.

“What invasion?”

“You know what date today is?”

“It’s Wednesday,” the clerk said.

“I said do you know what date it is.”

The clerk gave Joe Nelson a disgusted look then glanced at the date at the top of the sports page. “June 6,” he said. “What of it?”

“Nothing,” Joe Nelson said. He took six crumpled one dollar bills and a handful of change out of his pants pocket and laid them on the counter. “Give me a fifth of Old Crow,” he said.

“Since when do you drink Old Crow?”

“On June 6,” Joe Nelson said. “On June 6 I drink Old Crow.”

The clerk stubbed out his cigarette and rang up the bottle of bourbon. “You’re short nineteen cents, sport.”

Joe Nelson carefully recounted his money and then looked up at the clerk. “Last week when I asked Mary she told me it was eight twenty-nine.”

“Well guess what, sport? It went up.”

“Front me the difference. I’ll pay you when I get my check.”

“No credit,” the clerk said.

Standing at the sales counter the old man looked around the store. “Is Mary working?”


Joe Nelson looked at the clerk then picked up the bills and coins and slowly walked out the door. Fifteen minutes later he slowly walked back in with two empty beer cans. “Here’s your nineteen cents,” he said. “Now give me that goddamn bottle.”

It took Joe Nelson an hour to walk the mile to Riverside Park and then another half hour to find a good spot along the river bank to sit. While walking down the hill through the run-down neighborhood, over the abandoned railroad tracks, past the warehouses and factories and then across the busy four-lane to the wide expanse of the park, he thought about Private Jack Carter. Jack Carter, big, strong country boy from Kentucky. Self-proclaimed expert squirrel hunter. Wise-cracking, gum-smacking, bourbon-loving, toughest son-of-a-bitch in the platoon. “We’re gonna get through this,” he told Joe the night before the invasion. “When this shit is over you and me gonna drink us some Kentucky hooch,” he told Joe while they were crossing the channel on the troop transport. “Let’s push them damn Huns back to Germany!” Jack Carter yelled over the noise of the engine while they were going in on the Higgens boat. When they hit a sandbar the coxswain lowered the ramp and the Germans opened up with the MG-42s. Private Jack Carter never made it off the ramp. He was twenty-two.

With the bullets from the machine guns splatting around him Joe Nelson hoisted himself up and over the side of the Higgens boat. When he realized he couldn’t touch bottom he let go of his rifle and it was only after he released his pack and tore off his assault jacket that he was able to keep his head above water. He knew that the only way he would make it to shore was by floating in on the surf like a dead man. When he was finally able to stand he began running for cover towards a burning tank and it was then that he was hit. For Joe Nelson, the war was over.

When the bourbon was gone he stood and threw the bottle as far as he could into the fast moving current. “Another dead soldier,” he said to himself. On his way back through the park he came upon a baseball field. There were people sitting on metal bleachers behind each dugout, more people sitting on lawn chairs along the baselines and a man leaning by himself against the left field fence. Joe Nelson walked up and leaned next to him. “Whatssa score?” he asked him.

“Nine to one,” the man said.

“Who’s winning?”

“The blue team.”

“You got a kid out there?”

“Yes,” the man said. “The pitcher.”

Joe Nelson stopped leaning for a moment and brought his hands up to his mouth. “Throw the heater!” he yelled. “Throw the goddamn heater!”

The man moved a few feet further down the fence.

“Whatsa matter?” Joe Nelson asked him.


Joe Nelson decided to try again. “You know what date it is?”

“It’s Wednesday,” the man said.

“Do you know what date it is?”

The man moved a little further down still, and was relieved when Joe Nelson finally turned and walked away from the ball field.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Tuesday Review: Ardbeg Scotch (10 Year)

By John Barecki

Back again with my review of one of the most popular of the Islay single malts, the Ardbeg 10-year-old Scotch. But first a bit of information on the distillery and region where this tasty little beauty comes from.

The isle of Islay is situated off of the west coast of Scotland next to the isle of Jura, another notable production site. The area in general is surrounded by loads of history: wars, murder, shipwrecks (some caused by the Corryvreckan, the second largest whirlpool on this planet), and of course there is no shortage of mystery. But I digress.

The characteristics that most think of when it comes to Islay single malts are the medicinal, smokey, iodine-rich flavors created by the use of peat, the compressed partially decaying plant material that covers much of the island. Peat has been used for centuries as fuel, helping to warm those on the isle. Regarding the production of spirits, it is used in the kilning or drying of the malt as well as to enrich the water that each distillery uses. Other flavors associated with these malts include salt and brine, imparted during the barrel-aging process in open-air facilities which lie directly on the coastlines, and which in turn allow sea air to penetrate the wood causing a mingling of air and spirit.

The Ardbeg distillery has been a notable producer for a very long time, although having gone from one owner to the next has changed the malt in several ways. According to Scotch enthusiasts, the 10 Year embodies Islay's history in a bottle. The nose is rich and deep, having an almost campfire quality that wafts quite far from the glass. A deeper sniff reveals iodine and lemon-pineapple candy with a side of dark chocolate. The taste is extraordinary, a full rush of peat diverges into a tangy, peppery and briney toffee. With the addition of water this bonfire's smoke subsides enough to show a sweet fruity interior, reminiscent of sugary but still tart pears and citrus with underlying nuances of vanilla and hazelnuts. With such heavily peated malt comes an almost chewy body engulfed with oils, creating a finish that will last into your smoke lined dreams.

Ardbeg 10 Year is $49.99 for a fifth at Siciliano's.