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Friday, July 25, 2014

New Beer Friday, Visit from Deschutes Edition (July 25)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

This past Monday I had the pleasure of meeting Gary Fish, the founder and president of Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. Deschutes is planning on distributing to the west Michigan area this fall and Gary and his marketing team were in Grand Rapids for a few days interviewing local wholesalers. While they were in Beer City USA they also took the time to visit a few craft beer bars and retail stores.

While I had heard about Deschutes I have never had the opportunity to try their beers and I must admit that until this week I knew very little about the brewery. I was surprised to learn that Gary started Deschutes in 1988 and that it is currently the fifth largest craft brewery in the United States. Deschutes’ Mirror Pond Pale Ale was awarded a gold medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival and its Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale was named “World’s Best Beer” at the 2012 World Beer Awards. That’s pretty impressive!

The brewery’s line up of beers should be on our shelves by the end of October.

In other news, the dates for the annual Siciliano’s Customer Appreciation Sale have been set. This year’s sale will begin on Monday, September 8, and will run through Sunday, September 14. Complete details will be published in future editions of The Buzz.

Have a great weekend everyone!

New and Returning Beer

  • Lagunitas Imperial Red, $4.79/22oz - "This Special Ale is, in reality, a reconstructed exhumation of the very first ale that we ever brewed way, way back, in 1993. Brewed with a big head, a muscular malty thorax, a silky texture & all strung together with a hoppy sweet nerve sack... yum" (source).
  • Lagunitas Day Time, $1.99/22oz - "Sometimes you want a beer, then you realize how much crap you need to do before you call it a day. This is it. Nicely dosed with Big, Round Hop Flavors and a Toasty Malt Foundation to satisfy your every need. But it still lets you stay in the game to do what needs to be done" (source).
  • Great Lakes Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Cleveland’s celebration of Oktoberfest dates to the mid 1800’s when German immigrants gathered at outdoor beer gardens like Haltnorth’s and Kindvater’s St. Clair Gardens. Our amber lager with rich malt flavor and noble hops honors Cleveland’s diverse cultural heritage" (source).
  • Southern Tier Pumking, $7.89/22oz - "Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from which they return forever changed. Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow it’s alluring spirit to overflow. As spicy aromas present themselves, let it’s deep copper color entrance you as your journey into this mystical brew has just begun. As the first drops touch your tongue a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds making it difficult to escape the Pumking" (source).
  • Southern Tier Warlock, $9.29/22oz - "Imperial stout brewed with pumpkins Warlock is brewed to enchant your palate on its own and also to counterpoint our Imperial Ale, Pumking. Make your own black magic by carefully pouring this Imperial Stout into a goblet" (source).
  • Firemans Brew Brunette Dark, $1.79/12oz - "A traditionally styled Doublebock with rich structure, bold flavors and silky smooth finish. Handcrafted with a heavy dose of toasted chocolate malts to create a refined microbrew of uncompromised quality" (source).
  • Firemans Brew Blonde Beer, $1.79/12oz - "This smooth golden beer is made with real Saaz hops for a truly fine Pilsner style lager. Fireman’s Brew Blonde is a crisp, refreshing choice to end your day with. At 5.0% alcohol, this is the lightest of our beers" (source).
  • Firemans Brew Redhead Ale, $1.79/12oz - "A smooth, rich red ale without the bite (5.5% alcohol). This 3-time gold medal winner is a combination of 5 different styles of malts, and several different Yakima Valley hops. The use of ""crystal malt"" in the brewing process imparts a rich caramel flavor. This combination creates a flavor packed red ale like you’ve never had before" (source).
  • The Traveler Jack-o-traveler, $1.69/12oz - "Representing the darker side of Shandy, Jack-O-Traveler is an alluring beer illuminated by the tastes of fall. He strikes the perfect balance between bright refreshment and seasonal spice. Jack is brewed with fresh pumpkin, for a delicious, dark hued, Shandy-inspired beer" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Theobroma, $14.39/22oz - "This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilization to toast special occasions. the discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish head’s Theobroma (food of the gods) is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs, honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds)" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Birra Etrusca, $14.39/22oz - "This beer is based on a beverage that may have been enjoyed by the Etruscans of Ancient Italy around 800 BC. For this one Sam traveled to Italy with Dr. Pat McGovern where they met up with Teo and Leo (Sam’s buddies from Baladin Brewery and Birra Del Borgo respectively) and researched ingredients from various Etruscan dig sites. The result of their research is a strong ale containing an Italian heirloom grain called Cappelli Senatore, along with pomegranate juice, raisins, and hazelnut flour, together with 3 types of honey: chestnut, wildflower, and clover. The brew was then spiced with several hop flowers, Gentian root and tree resin (think Myrrh) in the kettle. To simulate fermentation in a bronze vessel (which possibly would have been what the Etruscans used), we actually tied a bronze plate inside our modern stainless fermenter which was suspended in the wort as it fermented. The aroma is dominated by pomegranate and spice from the yeast. The flavor is an intriguing interplay between the tangy pomegranate fruit and nuttiness from the hazelnut flower. One can definitely envision sipping this unique brew while relaxing on the Mediterranean coast. Versions of this brew will also be made at Baladin and Birra Del Borgo with the same ingredients but varying processes" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Rosabi, $10.19/22oz - "The vivid rose hue of this imperial Pale Ale comes from a combination of Munich and Caramel malts and a touch of red rice from Louisiana, birthplace of musician and collaborator Julianna Barwick. Julianna, who builds ecstatic choirs by looping and layering her voice, helped choose the ingredients for Rosabi and visited coastal Delaware to brew a test batch. Citrusy Simcoe and Centennial feed Julianna’s love of hops, and the star of the show is her go-to ingredient: wasabi. What’s hoppy? … Wasabi. The Japanese root adds bittering and herbal notes similar to hops, with its subtle heat creeping in after the kick of carbonation" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Hellhound, $14.39/22oz - "2011 marks the 100th birthday of Mississippi Delta bluesman Robert Johnson who, according to legend, sold his soul down at the crossroads in a midnight bargain and changed music forever. Working again with our friends at Sony Legacy (yup, the same folks we did our Miles Davis-inspired Bitches Brew with), Dogfish Head pays tribute to this blues legend by gettin the hellhounds off his trail and into this finely-crafted ale. Hellhound is a super-hoppy ale that hits 100 IBUs in the brewhouse, 10.0 ABV, 10.0 SRM in color, and dry-hopped with 100% centennial hops at a rate of 100 kilos per 100 barrel brew-length. Can you tell we at Dogfish are stoked for this mighty musical centennial? To accentuate and magnify the citrusy notes of the centennial hops (and as a shout out to Robert Johnsons mentor Blind Lemon Jefferson) we add dried lemon peel and flesh to the whirlpool" (source).

Video of the Week | Dark Horse Nation


Friday, July 18, 2014

New Beer Friday, For the Birds Edition (July 18)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

A couple of years ago a winemaking customer gave Barb and I a small birdhouse made from used corks. While visually appealing and skillfully constructed, I thought it would be more useful as a yard decoration than an avian abode. I just couldn’t imagine a bird squeezing through that tiny oval entryway.

This past spring Barb retrieved the birdhouse from the basement and secured it to a pole in the middle of a stand of ornamental grass in our backyard. One evening while sipping wine on the deck, we were surprised and delighted to see that a small bird was using the little cork house as a home.

I don’t consider myself to be an ornithologist but I love watching birds. I love spying crows and hawks floating on updrafts in the evening sky. I’m delighted when I spot a brilliant red cardinal against the green leaves of the backyard maples or when I get the opportunity to observe darting hummingbirds searching for nectar in Barb’s flower garden. Each fall I enjoy watching the V-shaped squadrons of south winging geese.

Last week I had the good fortune of watching a bald eagle soaring in high sweeping circles above a northern Michigan lake. Every so often it would make a downward spiraling swoop towards the shore then shoot back above the trees. It leveled off at the end of one of its tight-banking, descending glides, skimmed the surface of the water, and plucked a fish from the lake.

“I know he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly,” John Denver sang in Rocky Mountain High. While I was watching that eagle fishing for its supper I felt like the richest, and luckiest, man in the world.

New and Returning Beer

  • O'fallon Pumpkin Beer, $1.79/12oz - "Like pumpkin pie in a bottle...we add 136 pounds of real pumpkin to the three-barley mash and then season the finished beer with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves" (source).
  • Left Coast Una Mas, $1.99/12oz - "At left coast Brewing Co., we pride ourselves on our seasonal line up, with Una Mas amber being our one for the Spring. This dark copper lager (ale in Texas) is light in body and bursting with flavor. Styled after the popular amber lagers south of the border, Una Mas is the perfect Spring brew. Small amounts of dark roasted malts add a rich color without making it thick or chewy. Munich malt adds a rich toasty finish to the brew. Una mas will leave you wanting more" (source).
  • Left Coast Hop Juice Double IPA, $2.89/12oz - "At Left Coast Brewing Co. we pride ourselves on being one of the pioneers of Double IPA style craft beer. This hop monster uses Premium American 2– Row and a touch of light crystal malt to create a solid malt foundation. Five different Hop Varieties are used in the Hop Juice. It spends two weeks dry hopping in fermenter contributing to its great hop aroma. Starts out sweet and finishes with the crisp bitterness of a Double IPA. This drinkable blend will have you HOPPING till nights end" (source).
  • Left Coast Voodoo American Stout, $2.89/12oz - "At Left Coast Brewing Co. we pride ourselves on a unique batch of beer in the style of an American Stout. Voo Doo is a full bodied, dark brew that is rich and malty with plenty of roasted barley character. This hearty stout is layered with flavors of roasted barley, chocolate, and coffee coming from the highest quality imported malts. Its creamy long lasting head completes the brew, tempting your taste buds to be spellbound" (source).

Video of the Week | Barley Jean?

And to think, all we do with our empty bottles is set them by the sink.


Friday, July 11, 2014

New Beer Friday, Crisis Averted Edition (July 11)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Behold! The glory of beer.
Like every business that sells alcohol in the state of Michigan, Siciliano’s Market is required to carry a liquor liability insurance policy that has to be renewed on an annual basis. In past years I’ve always received a bill a few weeks before the policy expires and promptly sent out a check for the premium.

Until this year.

Yesterday morning I got a call from an obviously distraught Sarah.

“Steve, someone from the state just called. Our license is going to be suspended today because the liquor liability hasn’t been renewed.”

It was only then that I realized that I had never received a bill from the insurance company for the annual premium. The fact that I was out of town made the situation even worse.

I made a quick and somewhat panicked call to my insurance agent. She would have to find out what happened and get back to me.

What happened was an incongruous combination of errors, but I’m happy to report that the appropriate paperwork has been signed and faxed, and a major crises for Siciliano’s, and our customers, has been averted.

Have a great weekend everyone.

New and Returning Beer

  • Victory Dirt Wolf Double IPA, $2.59/12oz - "This dangerously delicious recipe features often subtle, but sometimes assertive signatures of American hop varieties. Look for: Citra: heavy citrus aroma, fruity flavor; Chinook: grapefruit, resinous pine; Simcoe: dry, piney; and Mosaic: earthy and mildly floral, with notes of sweet citrus and spice" (source).
  • Stone RuinTen, $8.69/22oz - "We first released this decidedly indelicate beer in 2012, as Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our belovedly bitter Stone Ruination IPA. Stone RuinTen IPA uses the same recklessly hoppy recipe as the 2012 release; only the name has changed, since we're now unleashing this belligerently delicious hop monster upon the public on an annual basis. We packed a whopping five pounds of hops into each barrel, and cranked up the ABV to stand up to the hop onslaught. The results are glorious, and we know you'll rejoice in tasting this audacious gem of hoppy splendor once again. You're welcome" (source).
  • Dark Horse Single Hop Variety Pack, $25.39/12pk - "The 12 pack contains three sets of four IPAs. Three of the IPAs are new single-hopped Dark Horse beers and are curiously named Edacsac Dekorcc EERT (Cascade Hops), FF Dekorcc EERT (Falconer’s Flight-a proprietary blend of several types of hops in pellet form), and Artic Dekorcc EERT (Citra® Hops).  The final beer in the set is the much beloved Crooked Tree IPA (Cascade, Centennial, and Columbus hops; AKA the three-Cs of American hops)" (source).
  • DogFish Head Festina Peche, $2.59/12oz - "A refreshing neo-Berliner Weisse fermented with peaches" (source).
  • Evil Twin Falco, $4.09/12oz - "What makes a great leader? First of all a perfectly balanced blend of qualities; the ability to stand out - be authoritative without overpowering. Show courage and endurance - you will lead the way and set standards. Very important; be appealing and refreshing to the people. This stereotypical portrait applies whether referring to politics, religion or maybe even this outstanding IPA" (source).
  • Evil Twin Hipster, $2.99/12oz - "Perhaps you heard of a worldwide beer-movement that tributes favorite hipster neighbourhoods across the globe. First came Istedgade, Copenhagen then Södermalm, Stockholm followed by Williamsburg, New York and Shoreditch, London accompanied by Trastevere, Rome & last El Raval, Barcelona. If you feel excluded because you’re hip but your city is not, this cutting-edge, ‘hip without borders’ pale ale is an homage to you – the global hipster" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Hoptimum, $2.59/2oz - "Hops, hops and more hops are the stars of this big, whole-cone Imperial IPA. Resinous ‘new-school’ and exclusive hop varieties carry the bold and aromatic nose. The flavor follows the aroma with layers of aggressive hoppiness, featuring notes of grapefruit rind, rose, lilac, cedar and tropical fruit – all culminating in a dry and lasting finish" (source).
  • Left Hand Good Juju Ginger Ale, $2.09/12oz - "Our beer is basically a pale ale brewed from a relative low gravity, with some of the hops which would normally be used in the beer replaced by freshly ground ginger root. The beer is light in body, lower in alcohol, has a distinct ginger aroma, and has a very crisp finish. It was initially brewed as a refreshing alternative to the plethora of wheat beers which are popular in the summertime. Popular demand turned it into a year round beer" (source).
  • Victory White Monkey, $9.69/750ml - "Golden Monkey aged in Chardonnay barrels. “Our Golden Monkey is beloved by many, so we anticipate some heartfelt responses to our intriguing transformation of this beer,” expressed Victory brewmaster Bill Covaleski. “The wine barrel aging has had a substantial and delicious impact on the Golden Monkey.” Approximately 100 oak barrels that once held chardonnay varietal white wine from Wente Vineyards of Livermore, CA were filled with Golden Monkey and aged at ambient temperatures in the Downingtown brewery for 3 months. This process is an extension of an experiment dating back 6 years prior, when a single oak barrel once holding white wine from local vintner, Chaddsford Winery, was used in a similar manner to produce a test batch which never left the brewery. Deemed delicious by Victory brewmasters and brewing staff, the White Monkey project was made possible through a collaborative partnership with Wente Vineyards" (source).

Video of the Week | Dark Horse Brewing Co.

Available now at Siciliano's in the Single Hop Variety pack


Friday, July 4, 2014

New Beer Friday, Independence Day Edition (July 4)

General. Founding Father. Homebrewer?
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Everyone with even a scant knowledge of American history knows the story of a group of Massachusetts patriots dumping crates of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the unfair taxes that the British government had been levying on the American colonies. The Boston Tea Party was the culmination of the colonists’ fight against the issue of “no taxation without representation” and was the tipping point that would eventually culminate in the American Revolution.

But let’s rewrite history for a moment. What if there had never been a Seven Years’ War and the corresponding depletion of the British treasury? What if George Grenville, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had not decided that taxes gleaned from the American colonies would be a good source of treasury increasing revenue? What if cooler heads had prevailed on both side of the Atlantic and a political solution was hammered out to solve the issue of non-representation taxation? Perhaps there never would have been an American Revolution.

If the American Revolution had never occurred, an amateur poet named Francis Scott Keyes would never had been inspired to write the lyrics of the “Star Spangled Banner” and perhaps we would be singing “My Country Tis of Thee” or “God Save the Queen” before sporting events. If there had been no Revolution, George Washington would most likely have remained an obscure, beer loving country gentleman and Samuel Adams wouldn’t have the distinction of being known today as a patriot brewer. And if there never had been an American Revolution, July 4th would be just another day.

But of course the Revolution did occur, Washington and Adams are not obscure names and the Fourth of July is definitely a special day. During your celebrations this weekend, join me in raising a glass to the extraordinary and courageous men and women who played a role in the birth of a great nation.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone.

New and Returning Beer

  • Griffin Claw Norm's Gateway IPA, $1.39/12oz - "The session IPA is light, fermented with a lower ABV of 4 percent, making it easy to drink all day long. Drinkers won’t be missing out on flavor, either. Gateway features a big hops profile, combined with the citrus and grapefruit flavors found in Norm’s Raggedy Ass IPA" (source).
  • Black Rocks Honey Lav, $1.79/12oz - "An American wheat ale with Michigan honey and lavender flowers" (source).
  • OddSide Ales Grapefruit Wheat, $1.99/12oz - "Wheat beer with grapefruit added" (source).
  • Great Lakes Spacewalker American Belgo, $3.29/12oz - "Spacewalker American Belgo is named for the surprising number of astronauts who have called Ohio home. Brewed with Belgian yeast and American hops, including the experimental ADHA 881 hop, Spacewalker is bold yet balanced with spicy, fruity flavors" (source).
  • Innis and Gunn Toasted Oak IPA, $2.79/12oz - "Its fervent hoppy character hails from the unique addition of large quantities of hops at three separate points during brewing. The result is a beer that’s rounded yet refreshing, with delicate floral notes and oodles of zesty freshness" (source).
  • Abita Seersucker Summer Pils, $1.69/12oz - "This brew will be made with pilsner and carapils malts and hopped with German Tradition and German Spalt hops. It is a straw-colored pilsner beer with a traditional full-bodied malt flavor and hop bitterness" (source).
  • Finch's Wet Hot American Wheat, $2.89/16oz - "Wet Hot American Wheat is named for it’s particularly “wet” mash and “hot” initial fermentation temperature. It is brewed and dry hopped with Centennial and Columbus hops and utilizes two different kinds of wheat malt, White wheat and Torrified wheat. This beer has an initial sweetness that is balanced by hop additions late in the boil" (source).
  • Crazy Mountain Amber, $1.79/12oz - "This delightfully floral American style Amber Ale displays a wonderful balance while still maintaining a profound hoppy goodness. We load this beer with a ridiculous and obscene amount of West Coast hops that are added late in the boil resulting in a hoppy beer without any bitterness" (source).
  • Crazy Mountain Mountain Livin Pale, $1.79/12oz - "We utilize two types of American hops in such a way that we put the flavor of these hops center stage and let their bitterness fade into the background. The hop-forward character of this Pale Ale shines through in the unique, tropical fruit flavor of two American hop varieties. Enjoy this offering with a fresh approach to how a Pale Ale expresses its inner hoppiness" (source).
  • Crazy Mountain Lava Lake Wit, $1.79/12oz - "This Ale is our take on a classic Belgian Wit Beer. To make this beer unique, we add un-malted wheat, rolled oats, two varieties of classic European hops, chamomile, curacao orange peel, coriander, grains of paradise, and a rare yeast strain from the Old Country. This is a beer that can be enjoyed year round" (source).
  • Destihl Hoperation Overload, $2.99/12oz - "An Our mission for this Imperial or ’Double’ India Pale Ale is to overload the beer with hops for an intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma while still being balanced by a big malt profile, resulting in a hoppy beer with more dimension. This beer is light copper in color with some hop haze from overloading with dry hops as well" (source).
  • Destihl Abbey's Single, $1.99/12oz - "A Belgian-style abbey ale crafted like those that Trappist monks brew for their own session beer. It is light bodied, light in color and relatively lower in alcohol with spicy phenolics and complex fruity esters of cherries, nectarines, peaches and bubblegum with a characteristic slightly tart and dry finish from the Belgian yeast" (source).
  • 961 Porter, $2.69/12oz - "The 961 Porter is a take on the traditional Engish beer that originates from the pubs of London. The Porter is brewed in the classical manner, using dark roasted malts with a rich addition of Crystal malts, and is hopped with English varieties. This beer, with 5.6% ABV, has complex aromatic notes of caramel, coffee, raisins, chocolate, nut and toast" (source).
  • 961 Red Ale, $2.69/12oz - "961 Red Ale is our version of the classic English Amber or Red Ale. This beer has a 5.5% ABV, is densely malty and reddish in colour. Smooth, round and full bodied it has an intensely fruity and aromatic flavour. The use of Amarillo hops adds a spicy note to the beer and gives it a slighty sweet and creamy finish" (source).
  • 961 Lager, $2.69/12oz - "The use of bottom fermenting yeast at lower temperatures makes for pronounced bitterness & a mild floral aroma that comes from the use of North American Cascade Hops" (source).
  • 961 Lebanese Pale Ale, $2.69/12oz - "Our Lebanese Pale Ale is based on an English IPA, and has 6.3% ABV. We used Lebanese herbs, such as za'atar (wild thyme), sumac, chamomile, sage, anise and mint in the brewing process. This gave the beer its distinctly Lebanese flavor and fragrance" (source).
  • 961 Witbier, $2.69/12oz - "Inspired from Belgian Witbier, 961 Witbier has a 5.3% ABV. The added coriander and orange peel add a sweet and spicy aroma. The light acidity and low bitterness of this unfiltered beer makes it perfect for those who prefer a light and sweet beer. This beer is bottle conditioned and has natural yeast sediment in the bottle" (source).

Picture of the Week | Osgood Brewing

Osgood Brewing: Great place for a pint on the SW side of town.