|Steve at Pitti Palace|
It was Sunday afternoon in Florence and Barb and I were dead tired. We had just left the Uffizi Gallery, and after the trudge up to the fourth floor and the five hours of working our way through the massive art museum we were running on empty.
The works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Titian and Raphael roused our intellects and perked our senses, but the cumulative effects of two weeks of travel had taken a physical toll on our weary bodies. It was our last day in Italy.
Our plan after leaving the Uffizi was to find an outdoor café where we would sit for an hour or so, drink a few beers, and relax before an early supper. There was a flight to Frankfort the next morning and then a ten hour plane ride back to the states.
We walked on our leaden legs through Florence. Every seat in every outdoor café in every piazza, it seemed, was occupied by tourists and Florentines enjoying late lunches. We made our way through the Palazzo della Signoria, past its wonderful Neptune fountain and its magnificent Renaissance sculptures, over the jewelry-shop-lined Ponte Vecchio, past the massive stone walls of the Pitti Palace, where the Medicis once resided, and we kept walking until we found ourselves in the square in front of Santo Spirito, a church that has a wooden crucifix carved by a 17-year-old Michelangelo. We walked until we came to a little piazza where I spotted an empty park bench. “Sit down,” I said to my exhausted wife. “I’ll be right back.”
Inside a bar just off the piazza I bought two bottles of Pilsner Urquell. “Aprire?” asked the man behind the counter. Si, I wanted them open.
We drank the beer while sitting on the park bench in the piazza. We watched Italian men wearing scarfs reading the Sunday paper. We watched their wives standing in groups talking and their children chasing pigeons and eating gelato.
I have many delightful memories of our travels in Italy—from gazing in amazed wonder at the magnificence of St Peters, to looking out at rolling acres of vineyards and olive trees from the height of a Tuscan hill town, to drinking that rejuvenating Pilsner Urquell while sitting on a park bench in a piazza in Florence on a Sunday afternoon.
Here's to making your own delightful memories with a little help from Siciliano's and the newest beers to arrive on our shelves.
New and Returning Beer
- Shorts Evil Urges, $2.19/12oz (limit 2/person) - "Evil Urges is a Belgian dark strong ale with a deep dark brown color. A sharp aroma of chocolate and molasses hits the senses, reminiscent of a rich liqueur. Aided by additions of Belgian amber candy sugar, the initial flavors are sweet and malty, with some unique, dark fruit qualities. This full bodied beer is defined by its roast malt character and slight black coffee bitterness that lead into an intense warming finish" (source).
- Stone Double Bastard, $7.69/22oz - "This is a lacerative muther of a beer. The evil big brother of Arrogant Bastard Ale. It is strongly suggested you stay far, far away from this beer. Those foolish enough to venture close enough to taste will experience a punishingly unforgiving assault on the palate. ’Course there’s always the masochists" (source).
- He'brew Jewbelation Reborn, $13.79/22oz - "With a brand new 20,000 square feet brewery in Upstate New York, Shmaltz Brewing is rarin’ to go with this year’s limited-edition Anniversary releases, including Jewbelation Reborn® (17 malts, 17 hops, 17% alc)" (source).
- Southern Tier 2Xmas, $1.99/12oz - "Double spiced ale brewed in the tradition of Swedish Glögg" (source).
- Southern Tier Old Man Winter, $1.69/12oz - "With the onset of winter, the brewer’s mind turns to providing warmth. For our winter seasonal, Southern Tier offers Old Man Winter Ale, a rich and complex amalgam of hops and barley that will put the feeling back in your toes and lift your spirits above the snow. Old Man Winter throws a deep and inviting hue with a thickness that clings to the glass and the warmth of an open flame. Because of its high alcohol content, Old Man Winter is a heady brew that encourages sipping and pondering its essential richness. Drink it fresh now, or cellar some bottles to see how this old man becomes wiser with age" (source).
- Boulder Beer Shake Chocolate Porter, $1.89/12oz - "Our twist on the traditional american porter, Shake chocolate porter is black in color with rich, dark chocolate aromatics and flavors and subtle coffee-like notes. This unique brew blends five different grains, including Chocolate Wheat, that along with cacao nibs create a devilishly delicious chocolate finish with a velvety mouth feel." (source).
- Atwater Winter Bock, $1.79/12oz - "This malty, sweet, dark amber colored German-style bock beer is brewed with imported malt and hops. Its uncommon smoothness and impeccable taste make it the perfect companion for a cold night" (source).
- Frankenmuth Christmas Town Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Brewed with American hops and sweet dark malts, the Christmas Town Ale offers a distinct taste that undeniably calls to mind the memories of Christmas past. The tree, the feast, the snow falling through the winter air and now Christmas Town Ale will all be a part of your holiday traditions" (source).
- Scaldis Peche Mel, $5.49/12oz - "A fruit beer with big taste and out of this world peach aroma. Pêche Mel’s Dubuisson signature yeast gives it a peppery kick and keeps it from being too sweet. A unique beer that pours a deep russet color and forms an absolutely gorgeous rocky head. Think of it as the moscato of the beer world" (source).
- D'achouffe Houblon Chouffe, $4.59/12oz - "A unique marriage between the English tradition of IPAs, the new American revolution of Imperial IPAs and the classic Belgian way of brewing. Houblon Chouffe, although very much hopped as it is, showcases the unique balance between a very strong IPA and a very special Belgian Tripel exclusively created for this ale (Big malty body, distinct dryness, expressive estery fruitiness). IBU: 59, Original Gravity: 1092" (source).
- D'achouffe N'ice Chouffe, $4.59/12oz - "A dark brown, fruity, lightly hoppy, sparkling, strong beer and is not pasteurized" (source).
- Dogfish Head American Beauty, $14.09/22oz (limit 1/person) - "More than 1,500 loyal fans of the brewery and band suggested an ingredient idea and the Dead-inspired story behind it. Our favorite was granola, from California Dead Head and craft beer lover Thomas Butler. “The components of granola – honey, toasted grains, oats and fruit – offer a lot from a beer perspective,” says Thomas, a chemist by day, homebrewer by night. “The idea is to have a bold pale ale that highlights the oats and honey with a nice ‘dank’ hop selection.” American Beauty is brewed with all-American malts and hops, granola and little bit of soul. It’s malty with a big hop kick, and notes of toasted almond and honey round out the flavor profile and balance out the hop bitterness" (source).
Picture of the Week
|Big Bass Lake, Irons, Michigan|
(A far cry from Italy, but not a bad place to spend the day)