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Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Beer Friday, New Year's Eve Edition (Dec 31)

Luke & Kelly Finchem,
Owners of Dutch Girl Brewing
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Last Sunday my wife Barb and I had nothing pressing to do around the house, nothing critical to do around Siciliano's and had no more holiday parties to attend so we took advantage of the free time and the snow free roads to visit two of West Michigan’s newest breweries. The first stop on our afternoon excursion to the lakeshore was Dutch Girl Brewery in Spring Lake.

Dutch Girl opened last July in a building directly across from Vander Mill Cider and owners Luke and Kelly Finchem did a fine job of transforming the front section of the former Midwest Motorsports location into a comfortable pub. After sampling a few of head brewer Josh Lentz’s brews we were given a tour of the spacious brew room. Luke informed us that he and Kelly plan on opening a restaurant in the pub in the near future and they hope to be canning a few of their beers by next spring.

Nachos from Righteous Cuisine
Our next stop was Grand Amory Brewing in downtown Grand Haven. Located in the old armory building two blocks away from Odd Side Ales, Grand Armory also opened last July and shares space in the historic location with a restaurant called Righteous Cuisine (order at the window and food will be delivered to your table), a coffee shop and an art center. Owners and brewers Ben Tabor and Ryan Andrews are producing their lineup of solid beers at an offsite production facility.

Grand Armory Brewing

New and Returning Beer

  • Brewery Vivant Barrel Weiss, $10.69/500ml (1 per) - "This Barrel-Aged Sour is our loose interpretation of a Berliner Weiss, but brewed with a nod to both our inspiration in Belgium and our home in West Michigan" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Wild Hop IPA Neomexicanus, $5.69/24oz - "A few years back, we caught wind of rogue hop heads in the Southwest who began collecting some of the wild hops they found while scrambling down hillsides near their home in New Mexico. These bizarre, multi-headed, native U.S. cones have a flavor like nothing we’ve tasted, and for the first time, we’re showcasing their unusual melon, apricot and citrus aromas and flavors in our beer. Neomexicanus is the literal wild card in our five-bottle Harvest series which features single hop, fresh hop, wet hop, and wild hop beers" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhat, $18.99/750ml (1 per)  - "Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come" (source).
  • Atwater Blueberry Cobbler, $2.99/12oz - Ale brewed with blueberries.
  • Odd Side Aint No Sunshine When Saison, $1.99/12oz - "Sarah’s Saison" (source).
  • Odd Side Joker of Tarts, $9.69/500ml (1 per) - "Sour Blueberry ale" (source).
  • Ballast Point Grunion, $2.59/12oz - "Our Grunion Pale Ale wasn’t born on a beach, but in a backyard.  Originating from an employee-only home brew contest, this award-winning hoppy pale ale is named after the tiny local fish known for late night frolics on shore.  A pair of new hop varieties lend strong yet balanced summer melon aromas and herbal flavors, while a soft caramel malt sweetness holds it all together" (source).
  • Ballast Point Sea Monster, $8.99/22oz - "Our Sea Monster Imperial Stout explores the darkest reaches of the traditional oatmeal stout. This bold, rich brew first lures you in with roasted coffee notes, then grabs hold with hints of bittersweet chocolate and currant. Backed with a perfect hop balance, you’ll soon discover this is one monster of mythic proportions" (source).
  • Avery Raja, $2.99/12oz - "Brazenly bitter. Dashingly dry-hopped. Raja is an audacious addition to our lengthy lineage of intrepid IPAs" (source).
  • Evil Twin Hipster Ale, $2.99/12oz - "Perhaps you heard of a worldwide beer-movement that tributes favorite hipster neighbourhoods across the globe. If you feel excluded because you’re hip but your city is not, this cutting-edge, ‘hip without border’ pale ale is an homage to you - the global hipster" (source).
  • Evil Twin Mission Gose, $14.99/750ml - "Effortlessly cool, popping up up in a cultish fashion and constantly on a tasty mission. This is mission Gose: our take on a old-fashioned and slightly odd German style beer that is with good reason trending as the tastiest right now. It’s tart, salty, low in alcohol and probably the most refreshing beer you’ll have. Perhaps enjoy this beer in a restaurant with a mission near you. Wherever you are we made it stylishly good and exclusively well balanced just for you" (source).
  • Evil Twin MSHIIPAW Lager, $16.59/22oz - "Mosaic Single Hop Imperial India Pale American Wheat Lager " (source).

Video of the Week | Pure Michigan

Ring in the New Year with by raising your glass to Michigan craft beer.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

New Beer Friday, Christmas Eve Edition (Dec 24)

Please note that Siciliano's will be open today, December 24, until 4 p.m. We are closed Christmas Day with regular hours resuming for the rest of the weekend. Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus, everyone!

Now that's a beer belly.
Preamble* by Steve Siciliano

As soon as I unlocked the door a cherry-red Subaru pulled into the parking lot. An old man with a long white beard got out, hitched his pants up over his considerable midsection, crossed his arms behind his head and had a good stretch. Before walking into the store he replaced his wire-rimmed spectacles with dark glasses and put a red-plaid Stormy Kromer on his head.

“What can I help you with,” I asked.

“Am I the only one here?” he whispered looking around.

“Yes,” I said. “I just opened.”

“Good,” he whispered. “I’m looking for Michigan beer.”

“Well you’ve come to the right place.”

“That’s what I hear,” he whispered and pulled his hat further down on his forehead.

“You don’t have to whisper,” I told him.

“Of course not,” he said. “Can you show me where your Michigan section is? I’m afraid I’m in a bit of a hurry and I’ve got a long drive ahead of me.”

“Where are you from?” I asked him.

“North,” he said.

“Up north?” I asked.

“Way north.”

“The U.P.?”



“Farther yet,” he said.

“Farther than Canada? And you came all this way just to get Michigan beer?’

The old man looked at the five case stack of Breakfast Stout that was sitting in front of the sales counter and smiled.

“Yes I did,” he said. “Merry Christmas to me.”

*Originally published December 12, 2014.

New and Returning Beer

  • Short's Twist of Cain, $1.99/12oz - "Twist of Cain is a pitch black lager with notable aromas of roast, molasses and hints of sweet chocolate.  Intense flavors of rich sugary malt and dark fruit resonate with a big coating sweetness.  Coupled with a cocoa like bitterness, all of the flavors seem to linger equally and dry the palate" (source).
  • Shorts Juicy Tree, $1.99/12oz - "Juicy Tree is an experimental India Pale Ale made with blue spruce tips, juniper berries, and cranberries. Big aromatics of piney evergreen and sweet berries tingle the senses. After some slightly tart and tangy flavors up front, a harmonious balance between pleasant fruit sweetness and bitter pine is reached. A sizable malt bill, ample hop additions, and the floral qualities of American Ale yeast, all contribute to symmetry of this beer" (source).
  • Southern Tier Creme Brulee, $9.29/22oz - "Caramelized sugar, vanilla, custard, nicely sweet and balanced, rich and milky " (source).
  • Avery Dugana, $6.99/22oz - "Lupulin Rapture Incarnate! As fervent devotees of hops, we found ourselves on a quest to create a transcendental IPA capable of quenching our voracious lupulin desires. Our mantra became “unity of bitterness, hop flavor and aroma.” Enlightened, duganA IPA was born: A brutally bitter, dank, piney and resinous ale designed for those seeking a divine hop experience" (source).
  • Avery Vanilla Bean, $13.79/22oz - "A double dose of vanilla derived from both fresh Bourbon barrels and the trio of Tongan, Ugandan, and Mexican whole vanilla beans is complemented by the essences of chocolate, caramel and molasses to round out this luxurious silky stout" (source).
  • Atwater Tunnel Ram, $2.19/12oz - "A noticeably strong, rich, and very malty German-style lager" (source).
  • Praire Artisan Ales Coffee Okie, $11.39/12oz - "Okie is an imperial brown ale that we aged in bourbon barrels, and we’ve taken that barrel aged base and added our favorite blend of roasted coffee.  The intense coffee flavors are complemented by notes of caramel, toffee, and vanilla resulting in a boozy, sweet and aromatic experience" (source).

Video of the Week | Vivant Flash Mob

This kind of thing should happen more often.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ball Lock to American Sankey Conversion Kit

By Matt Ross

As an avid homebrewer I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my brewing and kegging systems more efficient. While perusing through one of our whole catalogs recently I was excited to find that there’s an easy way to convert my homebrew kegging system into a setup that can also be used to dispense commercially produced beer.

Siciliano’s is now carrying the hardware that enables an American Sankey coupler to be used with ball-lock disconnects. That’s right folks. You can now push commercial craft beer through an American Sankey using your Cornelius kegging system. This setup is ideal for homebrewers looking for an easier transition between homebrew and commercial kegs. Stop in and ask any of our staff about these handy conversion kits which retail at Siciliano’s for $36.99. Happy Holidays and brew on!

Please note that the American Sankey couplers ($44.00 at Siciliano’s) are sold separately.

Friday, December 18, 2015

New Beer Friday, Dreaming of a White Xmas Edition (Dec 18)

Will it be a white Christmas?
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you live in the environs of Beer City USA you’re either ecstatic about not having to deal with snow so far this winter or you’re lamenting the fact that the unseasonably mild temperatures are going to continue through the end of the year. Depending on your point of view, one of the strongest El Nino’s on record is either the boon or the bane in this rather uncommon weather scenario.

While I’m not upset that I haven’t had to pull out my boots, my heavy coat and my wool-lined Stormy Kromer, I can empathize with folks who love to ski and snowmobile and fish on frozen lakes. I no longer have the desire to engage in those hardy outdoor winter activities but I am disappointed that we won’t be having a white Christmas this year.

When you’re accustomed to white Christmases the absence of snow around the holidays is a little disconcerting. Colored lights draped on houses and trees look peculiar without a contrast of white. Christmas carols for some reason sound less lovely. Wreaths and garlands hanging on doors and windows somehow seem out of place.

Because I’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas I’ll have to search a little harder to find the holiday spirit this year. But then again, a little inner searching may be a good thing. Perhaps I need an occasional Christmas without snow to reawaken the inner child, and to help me rediscover the enchantment and true meaning of Christmas.

New and Returning Beer

  • Brewery Vivant Wizard Burial Ground, $$6.29/16oz (4 per) - "Brewed once a year, this special quadrupel is aged in freshly drained bourbon barrels and disappears into the shadows for a full year of cellaring. This year's brew becomes next year's release. We've been wood-aging beers and experimenting with wild fermentation since we opened in 2010. We encourage those in search of funky flavors to join us at our annual Wood-Aged Beer Festival each Autumn to find out more" (source).
  • Thirsty Dog Barrel-Aged Siberian Night, $6.89/12oz (1 per) - "We took our award winning Siberian Night Russian Imperial Stout and aged it for 11 months in fresh bourbon barrels. The result blew us away. The dark chocolate malt yields a milk chocolate flavor that blends perfectly with the vanilla flavor from the barrel. The bourbon aroma adds the finishing touch" (source).
  • Thirsty Dog Wulver, $6.89/12oz (1 per) - "We made this beer specifically for bourbon barrels. The result is our most acclaimed bourbon barrel beer. Bourbon barrel aging and specialty malts create flavors of vanilla and carmel that blend in perfect balance" (source).
  • North Peak Sinous, $1.79/12oz - "North Peak Sinuous is a unique hoppy celtic ale brewed with Cascade, Amarillo and Simcoe hops" (source).
  • Stone & Sierra Nevada NxS, $9.49/22oz - "For many, California is considered an epicenter for brewing innovation, particularly where hoppy IPAs are concerned. We teamed up with longtime craft compatriots and mutual hop admirers Sierra Nevada to create a truly one-of-a-kind IPA. This special-edition beer conveys the true character of collaboration with touches of inventiveness and creativity. Two batches of an IPA were brewed and expertly blended to craft this multilayered beer. The first batch was split down the middle, with 50% being aged in gin-infused bourbon barrels and the remaining half aged in rye whiskey barrels. These beers were blended with the fresh second batch of IPA, which was generously dry-hopped to impart rich aromas to accompany the citrusy, piney, woody, herbaceous flavors achieved from this truly one-of-a-kind collaboration" (source).
  • Stone Stochasticity Grainiac, $9.49/22oz - "This hoppy, deep amber-hued beer was created to shine a light on rare, unexplored grains seldom used in the brewing world. In addition to barley, wheat, rye and triticale, we added malted millet and malted buckwheat to bring the total unique grain count to nine. The earthy, nutty notes of granola found in this experimental multigrain malt bomb are complemented by the citrusy, floral flavors of four classic American hops. We dry-hopped the beer with Cascade and Centennial hops at the end, adding more citrus notes and rounding out the grain bill’s rich, bready character" (source).
  • Lagunitas Bitter Oats, $9.09/22oz (1 per) - "A Big Boozy Blonde was brewed with a boatload of oats, giving it a creamy sweet mouthfeel with a hoppy blast. It’s like a powdered sugar donut topped with deliciously dank resinous hops" (source).
  • Tapistry Peck's Porter, $2.59/16oz - "Nate’s robust porter recipe incorporates British malts and hops creating a rich and dark flavorful porter with a hint of sweetness" (source).
  • Short's Liberator, $2.39/12oz - "The Liberator was made as a 30th birthday gift to Joe Short. As a double IPA, this beast employs a sizable malt bill, but it is the crazy amount of hops added to the boil every 4 minutes, for 120 minutes, that really make this beer special. Fruity, floral, and piney hop flavors penetrate throughout the caramelized malt profile. The Liberator is a well-balanced, full bodied brew that has a bitter finish due to the post fermentation addition of lemon and orange zest" (source).
  • Victory Java Cask, $17.29/750ml (1 per) - "Depth, complexity and richness occur when delicious ale ages in a barrel, just as friendship grows over the years. This stout was created in collaboration with our friends from Philadelphia’s Standard Tap and Johnny Brenda’s restaurants. Using their delicious hand-roasted JB’s Coffee, our bourbon barrels deliver a bold and robust, chocolate malt-tinged stout. We invite you to toast the Victory of friendship and beer with Java Cask" (source).
  • Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball, $4.79/22oz - "A roasty, toasty, malty, hangover-halting beer. Especially formulated for when you wake up feelin' like you need to shave your eyeballs to see the new day" (source).
  • Ballast Point Pale Kolsch, $1.89/12oz - "The beer that launched Ballast Point. Our original Pale Ale is a rich golden brew, crafted with aromatic German hops and rounded out with a blend of American and Munich malts. While it’s hopped like a lager, we ferment it like an ale to create a smooth, bright taste that has just a hint of fruit and spice. It’s extremely drinkable, like a Kolsch should be, yet complex, like a good craft beer demands" (source).
  • Perrin Black Goat, $11.49/22oz - "This beer is aged in Woodford Bourbon Barrels, some of the most sought after bourbon barrels in the craft brew industry. We took the recipe for our Black Lager and doubled the ingredients. Forty days after the magic happened, the goat was birthed. Black Goat is a Double Black Lager, sure to please the harshest of critics" (source).

Video of the Week | Long Road Distillers

Long Road Distillers. Taking the time to do things right.


Friday, December 11, 2015

New Beer Friday, Saturation Point Edition (December 11)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The Chief Economist for the Brewers Association recently reported that a milestone in the resurgence of American brewing was reached this year when the association’s database surpassed a total of 4,000 active breweries. Bart Watson went on to state that precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm but it is quite probable that this is the first time the United States has crossed the 4,000 brewery threshold since the 1870s.

Beer, beer and more beer at Siciliano's.
According to Mr. Watson, new breweries are opening in the US at the rate of 1.9 per day (after closings were factored in) but maintains that we are far from approaching a saturation point and the resurgence is far from over. “Most of the new entrants continue to be small and local, operating in neighborhoods or towns,” he wrote. “What it means to be a brewery is shifting back toward an era when breweries were largely local and operated as a neighborhood bar or restaurant.”

Mr. Watson makes a valid point but fails to address other aspects of the resurgence—the fact that many new breweries are making the decision to package and distribute their products and established regional breweries are constantly expanding their distributions into new markets.

Here at Siciliano’s, we’ve finally gotten to the point where we’re running out of shelf, floor and cooler space and unfortunately we’ve had to begin culling slower moving products from our inventory. We certainly get excited about new products and will continue to stock them as they become available, especially from our local partners, but there is only so much room to work with.

I agree with Mr. Watson’s assertion that there is significantly more room on the craft beer landscape for new breweries and I have no doubt that new breweries that produce, and package, quality products will be successful. As a craft beer retailer, however, I can unequivocally state that in terms of the sheer number of craft beers being packaged and distributed, the saturation point, at least in our store, has already been reached.

New and Returning Beer

  • Humboldt Black Xantus, $17.19/22oz - "Our Imperial Stout is infused with fair-trade, organic coffee from a local roaster, Jobella, and aged for 6 months in a combination of Bourbon, retired Firestone Union and wine barrels. Black Xantus packs a powerful punch" (source).
  • White Birch Nyx, $2.69/12oz - "The White Birch Brewing Apprentice Series is the culmination of months of hard work and fun. Adam Romanow is our third brewer apprentice. His release is an exploration into a newer beer style, the Black IPA. Black as night, bitter, with a full flavored Cascade hop profile and smooth finish" (source).
  • Alpine Pure Hoppiness, $3.09/12oz - "A West Coast Double IPA So mega-hopped it will take you to hop heaven. We’ve used hops in the boil, more hops in the giant hopback, and added to that, an incredible amount of dry-hopping for that cutting-edge “hop bite.” Once you’ve tasted this unique beer, all others pale in comparison" (source).
  • Arbor Faricy Stout, $1.79/12oz - "Our award-winning Irish Stout, fashioned after Guinness on tap in Ireland, is light and dry with a dense, creamy head. Ours is accented by a noticeable roasted coffee flavor, and a touch of bittersweet chocolate" (source).
  • Arbor Fig Jam Quad, $2.89/12oz - "Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like this FIGJAM QUADRUPLE with it’s warming alcohol, figgy undertones, dark dried fruit flavors of raison dates, hints of fresh baked bread, and a beautiful dry finish that leaves you wanting more" (source).
  • Arbor Jackhammer, $2.29/12oz - "This high gravity traditional old ale combines a warming sensation with a rich malty sweetness for an outstanding initial complexity. Fruity esters, hints of hot buttered rum, burnt caramel, and a subtle chocolate covered cherry quality dissolve into a dry spicy finish with a robust hop counter balance" (source).
  • Coronado Bobble Head Red IPA, 8.29/22oz - "Columbus, Nugget, Pacifica, Simcoe and Topaz hops combine to provide an IPA capable of garnering a nod of approval from the hop-obsessed craft beer connoisseurs. There's more than bracing bitterness to the West-Coast gem: namely big aromas of pine and citrus, plenty of tropical notes and a robust malt backbone" (source).
  • New Holland Mischievous, $4.79/22oz - "Mischievous presents flavors derived from its 100% brettanomyces fermentation. This wild yeast contributes earthiness, spice, mineral-character and slight tartness" (source).
  • North Peak Snapper, $1.89/12oz - A pale ale.
  • Shipyard GingerBreadHead, $1.99/12oz - "Shipyard GingerBreadHead Ale is like a spicy, rich, gingerbread cookie you can drink.  The warm flavors of molasses and brown sugar are accented with ginger, cloves, and cinnamon" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Pine Knob Pils, $2.19/16oz - "Locally brewed beer that uses quality Michigan ingredients to deliver the crisp, refreshing and flavorful taste you expect from a world-class Pilsner style beer" (source).
  • Arcadia Porter Rico, $1.79/12oz - "Take a trip to the lost island of Porter Rico, where the cacao and coconut live in harmony and frolic the sandy shores. Our island getaway takes the form of a dark, chocolatey beer, with a balancing sweetness, medium body, and lingering mouthfeel. Intense toasted coconut rides the trade winds for a truly exotic, yet comfortingly familiar pint" (source).
  • DogFish Head Piercing Pils, $2.59/12oz - "A Perry-Pils hybrid, Piercing Pils is a Czech Style Pilsner brewed with a White Pear Tea and Pear juice. Both the juice and the tea were added in the kettle during the whirlpool (after the boil) for maximum flavor and aroma contribution. The Pear fruit complexity pierces right through the spicy Czech Saaz hops beautifully, adding a gentle acidity to this pale lager that makes for a crisp refreshing sipper. Amarillo hops add nuanced citrus notes that meld perfectly with the fruit" (source).
  • Atwater VJ Black, $2.99/12oz - "Brewed in Detroit. Single Batch Series" (source)
  • Odd Side Project Mayhem, $2.59/12oz - "Belgian IPA" (source).
  • North Coast Barrel Aged Old Rasputin (Wheat Whiskey), $26.29/500ml (1 per) - "Every year we age a special batch of our much-loved Russian Imperial Stout, Old Rasputin, for a year to 18 months in freshly emptied spirits barrels. In the past we have used bourbon barrels exclusively for the project, but this year we are offering this barrel-aged classic done three ways: aged in Rye Whiskey or Wheat Whiskey barrels in limited quantities throughout our distribution network, as well as aged in Bourbon barrels in very limited quantities exclusively at the brewery’s two retail locations in Fort Bragg, California. The depth, intensity, and complexity of the flavor profile of these special releases, like their predecessors, make them a worthy tribute to Old Rasputin" (source).
  • North Coast Barrel Aged Old Rasputin (Rye Whiskey), $26.29/500ml (not 1 per) - See above.
  • DogFish Head Fort, $10.19/12oz (1 per) - "An ale brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberry juice. Fort has a Belgian-style base, then we follow a similar fermentation process to the one we use on beers like 120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout" (source).
  • Greenbush Mr Hyde, $2.19/12oz (1 per) - "Take a walk on the dark side with Mr. Hyde, a delicious and roasty sumatran coffee milk stout coming in at 7.8% ABV" (source).
  • Greenbush Delusion, $5.69/12oz (1 per) - "Our Imperial Cream Stout is aged in whiskey barrels for months for a mind-blowing experience. This concoction will make you ponder the randomness of the universe" (source).
  • Oddside Mokka Mutt, $5.69/12oz (1 per) - "Imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with mint added" (source).
  • Oddside Scally Wagger, $4.49/12oz - "American IPA" (source).
  • Anchorage Galaxy White IPA, $14.39/750ml - "Ale brewed with Galaxy hops, coriander, kumquats, and peppercorns. Fermented and aged in French oak foudres with a wit yeast. Dry hopped with Galaxy hops. Bottle conditioned with brettanomyces and wine yeast. Drink fresh or age to bring out the funk" (source).
  • Anchorage Mosaic Saison, $14.39/750ml - "Ale with brettanomyces aged in fermented in oak tanks" (source).
  • Dieu Du Ciel Rosee d'Hibiscus, $5.09/12oz - "The Rosée d’Hibiscus is a soft spoken wheat beer. The rose colour comes from the hibiscus flowers added during the brewing process. The aromas and flavour of this tropical flower are very prominent in the beer, giving it a slight acidity and a very agreeable fragrance. It is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot summer day" (source).
  • Fantome Pissenlit, $14.39/750ml - "Dany, the offbeat brewer at Fantôme, will try anything, and the results are always interesting. A beer made from dandelions would be worth a try if only because no one has ever brewed one before, but the great news is that this is actually a very good beer. Dany and some cohorts get busy every spring picking bushels of dandelions that grow in the fields around the picturesque farmhouse brewery. The yellow flowers are removed and dried in the sun, then soaked in water for a few days. The thick, dark dandelion “tea” that results is the basis for the Pissenlit, which is made also from traditional barley malt and hops. It resembles a classic saison beer – golden spritzy brew, strong and very flavorful, with a good hop bite. You may have to strain to taste the dandelions, but you know they’re in there. “Pissenlit” is the French word for dandelion. Literally, it means “pee in bed,” which we guess describes the physical effect the flower has on French-speaking persons. We are happy to report, however, that we haven’t had any problems with incontinence after downing a bottle of this beer" (source).
  • Freigeist Geisterzug Gose, $6.19/500ml - "Based on a recipe dating back at least six hundred years, this is Freigeist’s quirky version of the nearly-extinct traditional sour beer of Leipzig. “Geisterzug” (“Ghost Train”) spruced gose is unusually complex, funky, and full-bodied, the perfect modern-day medieval German ale" (source).
  • Baird Kurofune Porter, $5.09/12oz - "Kurofune (means "Black Ships") was the word the Japanese used to describe the American gunboats that came to open Japan to western trade. Kurofone Porter is sleek and forceful, but leaves a winning bittersweet taste of chocolate and coffee on the tongue" (source).
  • Goller Rauchbier, $4.29/500ml - "Feinrauchig, würzig mit Zugabe von speziellem Rauchmalz. Nach alter Rezeptur gebraut, werden Kenner diese regionale Spezialität lieben und neue Genießer dem Bier leicht verfallen" (source).
  • Kulmbacher Eisbock, $2.79/12oz - "The ice bock, also known as "Bayrisch Gefrorns", owes its discovery to a coincidence. According to the chronicles of the Kulmbacher brewery, some time around 1900 an apprentice forgot on a cold winter day to carry two barrels of bock beer into the brewery cellar. The barrels stayed outside, were covered by ice and snow and weren’t discovered until the following spring. The barrels had burst and the apprentice was reprimanded. But the carelessness was a stroke of luck because under the thick ice coat, a bock beer extract remained, strong tasting and high in alcoholic content. Even if the dark, tasty speciality is not produced in this spectacular way anymore, the chance that gave birth to this beer became a tradition. Today this beer rarity is brewed in a modern brewing and freezing process, but the incomparable taste is still the same and can always be enjoyed in winter months" (source).
  • Ritterguts Gose, $6.29/500ml - "Gose – the lactic and salty specialty ale associated with the German cities of Goslar and Leipzig – has a chronicled history dating back over a thousand years. But not so long ago, it was virtually extinct, known only to a shrinking base of locals and the odd beer tourist who made the trek to the few Leipzig pubs that still served the quirky specialty. Today, with interest in sour ales soaring , “new-traditionalist” brewers in Germany, the U.S., and beyond are recreating the style – generally with a nod towards a sweeter, more “drinkable” palate, or to a relatively simplified, aggressive lacticity. Ritterguts Gose is the real thing, the one example still made to the traditional recipes – boldly sour and funky, but with the elusive old-German qualities of balance and complexity. Once we tried this beer in Leipzig, we were both amazed and delighted that no one was importing it" (source).
  • Prairie Funky Gold Mosaic, $11.39/500ml - "Funky Gold Mosaic is a dry-hopped sour ale. We took Prairie Gold and dry-hopped it with a huge amount of Mosaic hops. The end results are tropical, sour, and an all around new beer drinking experience! This beer is great fresh, but will continue to develop as the wild yeast continues to work in the beer" (source).
  • Prairie BOMB, $8.99/12oz - "Bomb! is an imperial stout aged on espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chile peppers. All the flavors meld to create a truly unique beer. The peppers add just the right amount of heat to complement the intense coffee and chocolate flavors" (source).
  • Prairie HOP, $11.39/500ml - "Prairie Hop is our hop driven saison. This beer is packed with Simcoe and Citra hops. Notes of peach, mango, and tangerine can be found in the flavor and aroma of this beer. The beer finishes dry which helps the hops jump out of the glass flavor wise" (source).

Video of the Week | Vintage Brewing

"The wholesale murder of innocent young barley." Now that's writing.


Friday, December 4, 2015

New Beer Friday, Alexander Atkin Edition (Dec 4)

Our man Alex.
What makes the Grand Rapids craft beer community so unique is not the quality of its beer but the character of its people, the passionate individuals who support each other through the good times and bad, who are always ready to share a pint and just as ready to help out when help is needed most.

If you agree with this statement, then please consider donating to the GoFundMe campaign for Alexander Atkin, a great guy and former employee of Siciliano's Market (now a brewer at Mitten Brewing Co.) who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident last Monday.

From his GoFundMe campaign: "On November 30th, Alex was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident while vacationing in Guatemala. He suffered a head injury and a spinal injury. He will be back in Michigan early Wednesday, December 2nd. He will likely need multiple surgeries and extensive medical care. He will need great help with living expenses. The Atkin family can use any help you can give. Thank you."

Let's show Alex and his family how much we appreciate him and how we take care of our own. Donate now if you can, but at the very least, please keep Alex in your thoughts as he travels the long road to recovery.

New and Returning Beer

  • Pike 51 For Whom The Sleigh Bells Toll, $10.79/22oz - "Opaque brown black color. Delicate, dense aromas of chai tea, orange jelly, sweet potato, and mocha with a supple, finely carbonated, body and a smooth, medium-length creamy cappuccino and fruity caramel finish. A very pleasant and relaxing winter ale" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Plowhorse, $4.29/16oz - "The famous Belgian heavy plow horse descends from medieval war horses that carried armored knights into battle. Eventually they became common work horses for family farms. Great strength and mellow temperament made them ideal for tilling heavy soil. This seemed a fitting name for one of our biggest beers we release. The recipe calls for much dark-roasted grain that they literally spill out the top of the tank on brew day" (source).
  • Big Eddy Cherry Doppelschwarz, $2.99/12oz - "Bittersweet chocolate and coffee-like malt character blends beautiful with the subtle tartness of Door County, Wisconsin cherries to create a decadent, yet amazingly balanced Big Eddy Cherry Doppelschwarz" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy By 12-25, $2.89/12oz, $8.29/22oz - "This exquisite liquid patchwork of more than a dozen hops is a devastatingly fresh double IPA. Freshness is a key component of many beers—especially big, hoppy IPAs—but we've taken it further, a lot further, with this one. We brewed this IPA specifically NOT to last. We've gone to extensive lengths to ensure you get your hands on this beer within an extraordinarily short window, and we've sent a very clear message in the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right NOW to enjoy this IPA" (source).
  • Smuttynose Baltic Porter, $2.89/12oz - "Indigenous to northern Europe, Baltic Porters historically stem from the shipping of British porters to the Russian hinterland. Unlike their British cousins, Baltic Porters are often brewed with lager yeast, which is the tradition we follow. Big & bold, with flavors of coffee, dark fruit & raisins, this black beer is smooth as a chocolate swirl" (source).
  • Smuttynose Smiseltoe, $11.69/22oz (1 per) - "This Christmas, why not offer a delicious New Hampshire-brewed gift that does both? Smuttynose Smistletoe is back to fill that void. The beer itself is a festive take on Bière de Garde, a more robust variant of the farmhouse ale family tree; brewed with sweet cherries, black currants and plums then aged on lightly toasted American oak" (source).
  • Smuttynose Chestnut Saison, $8.59/500ml - "Farmhouse ale brewed with chestnuts and spices" (source).
  • Roak Around the Clock, $1.6912oz - "Around the clock is our session India Pale Ale. It balances malt and hop character to achieve a bright easy-drinking beer with notes of tropical fruit and citrus. With its low alcohol content and clean profile, any time is the perfect time for this session IPA." (source).
  • Avery Joe's Pilsner, $1.99/12oz - "A contemporary rendition of a classic style, Joe’s is hopped with purpose: beautifully bitter and dry with an abundance of floral, Noble German hops" (source).
  • Shorts Evil Urges, $2.39/12oz - "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 candi 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).
  • Ballast Point Longfin Lager, $1.89/12oz - "Our Longfin Lager has become one of the go-to beers with the team at the brewery. A solidly balanced Helles that finishes clean with a hint of hops, it would easily fit in at any German beer garden. But we think it’s perfect for enjoying on the beach, the boat or anywhere else you can put an ice chest full of beer" (source).
  • Ballast Point Fathom IPL, $6.09/22oz - "Our Fathom India Pale Lager combines time-honored lagering techniques with the hop profiles of a West Coast IPA recipe. The cold-fermenting lager yeast provides a clean base that allows the citrus and pine aromas from the hops to really shine. The result is a gold medal beer with a refreshing, easy drinking character and just the right amount of depth" (source).
  • Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, $2.59/12oz - "Our Sculpin IPA is a great example of what got us into brewing in the first place. After years of experimenting, we knew hopping an ale at five separate stages would produce something special. The result ended up being this gold-medal winning IPA, whose inspired use of hops creates hints of apricot, peach, mango and lemon flavors, but still packs a bit of a sting, just like a Sculpin fish" (source).
  • Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, $2.59/12oz - "Our Grapefruit Sculpin is the latest take on our signature IPA. Some may say there are few ways to improve Sculpin’s unique flavor, but the tart freshness of grapefruit perfectly complements our IPA’s citrusy hop character. Grapefruit’s a winter fruit, but this easy-drinking ale tastes like summer" (source).
  • Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin, $2.59/12oz - "Our Sculpin IPA with Habanero Pepper began as a crazy experiment that’s taken on a life of its own. While its bright fruit notes and hoppy bite has made the original one of our favorites, this version takes that balance of flavors to the next level with the citrusy, floral heat of habaneros. Sculpin are known to sting, but this one’s got a kick" (source).
  • Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm, $2.59/12oz - "Calm Before the Storm came from a quest for a warm weather alternative to our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. Like its more robust cousin, we infuse a punch of flavor using cold brewed Caffé Calabria coffee and a hint of vanilla. But this time, we added it to a lighter-bodied golden cream ale. The end result is a surprisingly bright, coffee-forward beer that’s perfectly refreshing" (source).
  • Ballast Point Victory At Sea, $2.59/12oz - "Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with vanilla and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate" (source).
  • Ballast Point Commodore, $1.89/12oz - "The Commodore came out of our search for a medium-bodied American Stout. The recipe began at our R&D pilot brewery, but quickly became a favorite of our crew. Strong flavors of roast coffee and bittersweet chocolate balance with light citrusy hop aromas, highlighted by a crisp, bitter finish. One sip of this gold medal-winning stout will have you ready to take command of your own fleet" (source).
  • Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA, $2.59/12oz - "Our Dorado Double IPA immediately hooks you with massive hops that never stop. Mash hopping, kettle hopping and dry hopping makes this beer a serious hop lover’s prize catch. It’s an amazingly drinkable, award-winning beer that’s as beautifully balanced as it is big" (source).

Photo of the Week | Who Else But Alex


Friday, November 20, 2015

New Beer Friday, BBQ Edition (November 20)

Artwork on the walls of Main Street BBQ
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you live in the environs of Beer City USA and are passionate about barbecue you’ve got to be excited about the fact that there are now a number of restaurants in GR that are serving up authentic Q.

Slows, Two Scotts Barbecue, The Grilling Company and Horseshoe Smokehouse have opened their doors within the past year and are garnering rave reviews. With the recent opening of Main Street BBQ in Lowell, area barbecue aficionados now have another place to go to satisfy their smoked meat cravings.

Barb and I stopped at Main Street this past Monday after conducting a winemaking seminar at the Englehardt branch of the Kent District Library. Located in a building that once housed the Moose Lodge in the heart of Lowell’s historic downtown business district, the nicely appointed restaurant features wood floors, exposed wood ceilings and an open kitchen. The whimsical paintings of cows and pigs hanging on the brick walls lend a nice comedic touch. The restaurant has a good selection of liquors and wines and over twenty brews and hard ciders were on draught at the time of our visit.

Both Barb and I had the pulled pork sandwich and we both thought it was excellent. The extensive menu features seven sandwiches, ten full dinners and a good variety of sides and appetizers.

More art from the walls of Main Street BBQ

New and Returning Beer

  • Deschutes Chasin' Freshies, $6.69/22oz - "Like fresh powder, it’s a seize-the-moment thing. This year we’ve chased down Lemondrop hops from the Yakima Valley in Washington. At harvest, we rush the hops from the vine to our kettles to ensure we capture the purest, juiciest essence of the hop flower in every beer. Enjoy the bright, bold aroma and flavor that comes but once a year" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Higher Math, $10.19/12oz - "Higher Math has forward notes of cherries, pineapple and stewed fruit, with late notes of cocoa. It has a lingering sweetness and a notable warmth from the alcohol" (source).
  • Shorts Queen Bee, $2.39/12oz - "Queen Bee is an Imperial Amber Ale full of sweet fruity aromas from the skillful blending of malt, hops, and floral northern Michigan Star Thistle honey.  Crystal clear and bright in appearance, this beer is rich and full of flavors of honey and malt, which create a wonderful balance and a flavor reminiscent of hard candy.  Generous hop additions add to a perfectly timed dry and warming finish" (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).
  • Southern Tier Krampus, $7.79/22oz - "St. Nicholas, aka Santa Claus, is a magical figure, the bringer of gifts and an icon of holiday spirit. Forgotten by most is his evil side kick and enforcer of ‘the list’. European tradition says while St. Nick is busy delivering presents to good little boys and girls, Krampus hands out punishments to the bad. A fanged, goat-horned bully, the Christmas Devil uses sticks and chains to beat the naughty children. Dark malts and aromatic hops create the diabolical spirit of this brew. It is finished with lager yeast and aged cold for no less than 30 days. This Imperial Helles Lager will warm even the darkest hearts. This season, replace the cookies with a bottle of Krampus. If he happens to pay a visit, toast to him with this devilish brew" (source).
  • Blackrocks Gnomas, $3.09/12oz - "Our Highest ABV beer to date! An English Style Barleywine coming in at 10%. The malt hits you up front with dark fruits and caramel, then balanced off with Topaz hops. Drink this guy around a fire. Store some in your cellar for the future, the Gnomas is great with some age" (source).
  • Dark Horse Thirsty Trout Porter, $1.99/12oz - "Thirsty Trout is a rich, robust American Porter.  Dark brown in color with medium to heavy body and hints of light roast.  Aromas of chocolate leave way to a full mouthfeel and somewhat sweet finish to make this porter a desirable companion" (source).
  • Saugatuck Snow Wizard, $1.79/12oz - "An Oak Aged Imperial Brown Ale with tons of oaky, woody flavors. The base brown malt profile provides a huge caramel, coffee and chocolate body with minimal hop bitterness match perfectly with the complex flavor profile of the oak chips" (source).
  • Stone Sorry Not Sorry, $9.49/22oz - "Stone Sorry Not Sorry is a part of the brewery’s ongoing collaboration series, brewed with St. Louis, Missouri’s 4 Hands Brewing and Yakima, Washington’s Bale Breaker. Sorry Not Sorry is an Imperial IPA brewed with peaches" (source).

Video of the Week | Bell's Christmas Ale

Bell's Christmas Ale is available now at Siciliano's ($1.89/12oz)


Friday, November 13, 2015

New Beer Friday, Windy City Edition (Nov 13)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Barb and I hadn’t done any traveling in a while so this past August when friends Pat and Marcie MacAuley asked if we’d like to accompany them on a fall trip to Chicago we promptly answered yes. The question was whether we could find the time.

September and October were going to be busy. There was the annual week long Customer Appreciation Sale followed by Saturday wine making demonstrations followed by a series of wine making seminars at various branches of the Kent District Library. After checking our calendar we found we had no free time until the first week in November and the prospect of visiting the Windy City with wintry blasts blowing off the Big Lake didn’t particularly appeal to any of us. We decided to make plans for a mid-week three day sojourn anyway.

Goose Island
As it turned out we had cloudless skies and temperatures in the low seventies during our visit—perfect weather for taking a Chicago Architecture River Cruise and for strolling around the excellent Lincoln Park Zoo.

We packed a lot of other activities into those three days—standing on the extended glass ledge of the Willis Tower (quite disconcerting for someone who is uncomfortable climbing a ladder), listening to the blues at the Kingston Mines (seedy but well worth the price of admission), watching improv comedy at the IO Theater  (nice venue and quite affordable) and enjoying an excellent Italian dinner at Trattoria Giani (great food, excellent wine and impeccable service).

Of course we also made time to hit up a couple breweries—a first visit to Half Acre and a return visit to Goose Island. All in all it was a nice trip. The unseasonably sunny and warm November weather made it even nicer.

Half Acre 

New and Returning Beer

  • Clown Shoes Flight of the Angry Beast, $15.39/22oz - "For the fourth installment in our "Beast" series, Sir Walter Scott has tamed the irate monster. Sort of. Here you see the creature redirected as he attempts to incinerate a herd of innocent unicorns. To celebrate, we blended 1/3 Undead Party Crasher aged in bourbon barrels, 1/3 Blaecorn Unidragon aged in scotch barrels and 1/3 Billionaire aged in scotch barrels" (source).
  • He'brew Jewbelation 19, $13.79/22oz - "Over the last decade, Shmaltz Brewing has boldly elevated each year’s Jewbelation® with increased amounts of malts, hops, and ABV — in 2004, they debuted Miraculous Jewbelation® with 8 malts, 8 hops, 8% ABV and continued through 2013’s Jewbelation Reborn® (17 malts, 17 hops, 17% ABV). Similar to 2014’s Jewbelation 18®, this year’s Jewbelation 19® features the brand spankin’ new craft beer category, Black Session Barleywine. Brewed with 10 Malts and 9 Hops, and coming in at 10.9% ABV, Jewbelation 19® will begin to warm craft beer aficionados’ bellies (and will be available in alllll 37 states Shmaltz beers are distributed) starting just before Thanksgiving 2015" (source).
  • He'brew Kentucky Chanukah, $6.19/22oz - Dark ale aged in Jim Beam and Heaven Hill barrels (source).
  • Alaskan Smoked Porter, $8.49/22oz - "Known as “rauchbier” in Germany, smoke-flavored beers were virtually unknown in the U.S. until Alaskan Smoked Porter was developed in 1988" (source).
  • Founders Dirty Bastard, $18.89/12pk cans - "So good it’s almost wrong. Dark ruby in color and brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Complex in finish, with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a right hook of hop power to give it the bad attitude that a beer named Dirty Bastard has to live up to. Ain’t for the wee lads" (source).
  • Green Flash Segal Ranch, $2.09/12oz - "Segal Ranch Session IPA features Tomahawk, Centennial and Cascade hops that were hand-selected by our Brewmaster exclusively from our friends at Segal Ranch in Yakima, Washington. The verdant pungency and citrus aromatics from Tomahawk hops serve as the perfect base layer to allow the flavors of bright floral and pine sap from Centennial hops to emerge on the palate. Notes of resinous citrus from Segal Ranch’s high-oil Cascade hops shine through the finish" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Three Scrooges, $2.19/16oz - "Brewed with honey, orange peel and spices, this winter ale is perfect for the season" (source).
  • New Holland Cabin Fever, $1.79/12oz - "Cabin Fever is a roasty brown ale and a hearty, comforting companion for long, mind-bending winters" (source).
  • Traveler Jolly Traveler, $1.69/12oz - "Jolly Traveler is a cheerful winter beer inspired by the senses of the season. A wheat beer made with real orange, pomegranate and holiday spices, this Traveler is a refreshing libation for the season of festivity" (source).
  • Right Brain Naughty Girl Stout, $7.19/22oz - "Thin mint cookie, meet John Niedermaier A stout made with organic locally-grown whole leaf mint. She’s just back from a stint in the cooler for being too naughty. She might have mellowed out but this stout is still naughty at heart" (source).
  • Petoskey Horny Monk, $2.39/16oz - "A deep reddish, malty, and complex Belgian style ale. Six different types of malted barley, Belgian candied syrup and Belgian yeast are combined to produce a very smooth, complex and slightly sweet ale" (source).
  • Petoskey Sparkle Lager, $2.39/16oz - "Our homage to the original “Petoskey Sparkle” brewed by Petoskey Brewing from 1898 until 1915.  Wheat and four special malts combine with three different types of hops to create a super clean, easy drinking lager" (source).
  • Petoskey Minds Eye PA, $2.39/16oz - "Burnt copper color and giant hop aroma come to the forefront in this traditional American IPA. Rich caramel malt and red wheat balance the dry bitter finish of this full-flavor craft brew" (source).
  • Atwater Cherry Stout, $2.9/12oz - "Cherry Stout is a blend of 6 malts combined with Montmorency Cherry concentrate from our home state of Michigan. A stout to be cherished" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, $1.99/12oz - "Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter" (source).
  • Destihl Dubbel, $8.69/500ml - "Our Belgian-style Dubbel Ale captivates with its dark brown color and dense, mousse-like head, then enraptures you with aromas of caramel malt & rich chocolate malt alongside ripe, banana-like fruity esters, and finally seizes your palate with its malt sweetness, chocolate-like flavors and a dry finish" (source).
  • Destihl Quad, $10.89/500ml - "Our classic, Belgian-style Quadrupel Abbey Ale greets you with a stunning chestnut-garnet color and rich aroma of figs followed by dark fruit-like flavors of currants, dates and black cherries which give way to toffee, molasses and hints of lightly roasted fruity coffee and then leaves you with its capstone, spicy dry finish" (source).
  • Destihl Tripel, $10.09/500ml - "Our Belgian-style Abbey Tripel Ale approaches you with a pastoral, pale-colored serenity before unveiling its veracious labyrinth of mildly spicy, fruit-like and clove-like aromas & flavors, light-medium body and pleasantly sweet but well-attenuated finish" (source).
  • Destihl Bela Imperial Pilsner, $11.29/500ml - "Bela may sound like a sweet name, but she's actually quite bitter. We use generous amounts of Czech Saaz hops in this imperial Pilsner, showcasing the beautiful, spicy and earthy Noble hop aroma & flavor, with a hop bitterness that is balanced by a gentle warming, medium-body, oak tannins & residual malty sweetness that still finishes dry but is just enough to remind you that Bela might have a sweet side to cozy up to after all" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Vintage Noel, $15.39/750ml - "Deep mahogany and malty, layered hops, flavors of figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Vintage Parcela, $15.39/750ml - "Packed with real pumpkins, hints of spice and gentle kiss of cacao to lighten the soul. An everyday easy way to fill your squashy quotient. Only available for a few short months. Not to be missed" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Vintage Fuego, $15.39/750ml - "To catch a bit of soft radiance in each bottle, we wait for fall colors to begin their bright and fleeting glow before brewing this wonderful ale under their autumn fire. Gentle amber malt blends smooth caramel notes, gently lapping against a distant shore of forgotten spice. A beer to sip, contemplate " (source).
  • Left Hand Bittersweet, $10.09/22oz - "The coffee’s dark cherry flavors and spicy undertones weave into the rich milky sweet stout like a chocolate-covered espresso bean melting on your tongue. Bitter then sweet. Sweet then bitter. It’s bittersweet" (source).
  • Shorts Cup of Joe, $2.39/12oz - "Cup A Joe Coffee Creme Stout uses Higher Grounds roasted fair trade espresso beans in every facet of the brewing process. Prominent aromatics of malt, espresso, and cocoa are abundant, and there are robust flavors of cream and coffee. This is the perfect morning night capper" (source).
  • North Coast Steller IPA, $6.49/22oz - "Like muscat, spruce tips, and pennyroyal, North Coast Steller IPA is redolent of resinous terpenes: myrcene, linalool, pinene, and geraniol. An unparalleled hop happening" (source).
  • Odd Side Java Mint, $2.29/12oz - "Craving ice cream? This stout will ease your taste buds. It the perfect marriage of mint-chocolate-chip-ice cream and roasted coffee" (source).
  • Finch's Fascist Pig, $2.69/16oz - "Fascist Pig is a deep red, malt-forward ale brewed with plenty of caramel malts and a touch of rye for a hint of spice. The beer won a bronze medal in the strong beer category at the 2014 International Beer Festival. This big American red ale is brewed and dry-hopped with palisade, an earthy and somewhat floral, mentholated American variety, and Zythos, an American blend" (source).
  • Finch's Hardcore Chimera, $2.69/16oz - "Hardcore Chimera is an American style imperial IPA brewed with Citra, Simcoe, Columbus, Cascade and Mosaic hops. The beer won a silver medal at the 2014 International Beer Festival in Rhode Island. Ringing in with over 80 IBUs Hardcore's intense aroma and flavor of passionfruit and citrus is balanced out against a hearty grain bill that lends to Hardcore's deceptively drinkable 9% ABV" (source).
  • Finch's Sobek and Set, $2.69/16oz - "Sobek & Set is named after the Egyptian gods representing a boar and a crocodile. The beer is dark with mahogany and burgundy highlights. This is achieved by using generous amounts of Briess Midnight Wheat for a dark color and smooth finish without the astringent, roasted qualities. Caramel malt is also present. This beer is balanced with earthy and citrus hops" (source).
  • Victory Winter Cheer, $1.79/12oz - "Winter weather may drive us indoors but cannot dampen our spirits when hearth, home and hops meet in jubilation. Hoisted high in its golden glory, Winter Cheers lives up to its name, fueling festive times and chasing winter’s chill. Glowing and glimmering, frothy and shimmering, our celebratory wheat ale features luscious fruity and spicy notes, making it a perfect brew to brighten spirits even on the deepest of nights" (source).
  • Big Sky Powder Hound, $1.69/12oz - "Two words describe Montana winters...cold, dark and snowy. And we wouldn't have it any other way, because it's the only time of year for Powder Hound, our northern Rockies strong ale. Rick malt and taste and an avalanche of hops will make you want to say these three words — 'I'll have another Powder Hound!'" (source).
  • Anchor Christmas, $1.79/12oz - "This is the forty-first annual Christmas Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid–January. The Ale's recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew" (source).

Video of the Week | Anchor Christmas Ale

A closer look at one of best Christmas beers around.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

David Nicholson 1843 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

David Nicholson 1843, $19.99/750ml
Review by John Barecki

The recipe for David Nicholson 1843 has been passed down from distiller to distiller from its creation in 1843. This whiskey even flowed through the famous Julian ”Pappy” Van Winkle in 1893 at the Stitzle Weller distillery. Like most things that pass hand to hand there are always changes from the original, and that seems to be the case with this one as well. But while tastes change the heart of the idea is always present. This version does not have a distillery of origin but we at least know that it is made in Kentucky.

There has been a bit of an uproar lately in the whiskey industry about misinformation or flat out missing information on bottles with regard to where a product is made. I can understand it to a point but I also think that there is a lot of unneeded stigma around certain brand names. Fact is, just because you don’t know where a spirit has been distilled does not mean you will not like it, and there is a lot to like about David Nicholson 1843. First off, it is bottled at 100 proof, which promotes a higher flavor and aroma potential since it is not watered down before you buy it. I have been diligently trying to find whisky/ey that is at least 100 proof or higher for a lower price than most and, at only $19.99, this bourbon meets that requirement, something that is becoming increasingly harder to find in higher proof whiskeys. (My two cents, take it or leave it.)

The characteristics of this bourbon are pretty bold on the nose. You have earthy barley tones with black tea and menthol and a slight sour mash tinge. On the tongue the earth is even bolder surrounded by light caramel and vanilla creme and the finish is woodsy with more wet earth notes and charred oak, which goes to a lingering real cinnamon note that hangs on for a good while. This whiskey has a good frontal attack with a warm center that finishes with a cooling spice. My guess is that they use a higher barley and rye content along with the corn backbone. This is a good whiskey in my book. It might not be single barrel or cask strength but it meets my requirements of a good sipper.

Also, to those that would like to sample a good amount of whiskies, there is an event called Whiskey Business MI that will be happening at the Goei Center on November 20th. They are going to have some fun things to sample and at $40-70/ticket the cost to attend is not too bad. The website will have all the information for selections of products and where to buy tickets.

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Beer Friday, Journey Jug Edition (Nov 6)

Sarah with Journey Jug
It's been two years since our pals at Fusionary introduced Journey Jug, a branded growler and online tracking system designed to help you keep a record of the beers you've had, where you've had them and with whom. Since the first Journey Jug shipped in December 2013, hundreds more have followed, some logging thousands of miles while being passed from friend to friend to friend.

Today we're helping Fusionary introduce a twist on the original Journey Jug concept — Journey Jug stickers. With these new stickers any growler can become a Journey Jug, complete with its own history of fill-ups, brewery visits, get-togethers, hand-offs (i.e., passing from one friend to another) or any other beer event you care to document. All it takes is applying two small stickers to your favorite growler — one a tracking number, the other a security code — and the journey can begin.

To mark the occasion, Siciliano's Market is giving away one FREE set of Journey Jug sticker to the first 10 people who stop in and ask for one. While the freebie stickers are available on a first-come first-serve basis, a few more will be available for purchase once the free ones are gone ($3.99/sticker). If you happen to miss out entirely, keep in mind the stickers will always be available on the Journey Jug website, where it just so happens the original Journey Jug is also for sale. Happy travels, everyone! #JourneyJug

Look for Journey Jug stickers at Siciliano's Market

New and Returning Beer

  • Rockford Brewing Unholy Belgian Tripel, $15.99/750ml (Siciliano's Exclusive) - "Our interpretation of a classic Belgian style ale, originally popularized by the Trappist monastery at Westmalle. Unholy is defined by an elegant malt profile with elements of orange blossom, vanilla and traces of clove. Expect a delicately layered body with a smooth finish. This annually brewed fall release is an unholy union of angelic complexity and a sinful dose of alcohol" (source).
  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale, $2.39/12oz - "A Yuletide’s worth of holiday spices and sweet honey to keep you a-wassailing all season long" (source).
  • Big Lake Ryecoe IPA, $2.89/16oz - "Our signature rye IPA. This beer is brewed with over 25% rye malt, and complimented with a huge dose of Simcoe hops. Spicy Rye, and grapefruit have never gotten along so well" (source).
  • Big Lake Dark Star Stout, $2.89/16oz - "A full bodied stout measuring in at just over 8%. This creation is brewed using both Kona and Sumatra coffee then aged on cacao nibs" (source).
  • Big Lake Leroy Brown, $2.89/16oz - "Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not that mean. This is our northern English Brown ale. Four caramel malts, and chocolate create this clean easy drinking masterpiece" (source).
  • Big Lake Ramarillo, $2.89/16oz - "Our Rye IPA recipe using Amarillo hops. Slick rye notes, and plenty of flowery citrus notes from the best hops available on the market" (source).
  • Big Lake Citra Wheat, $2.89/16oz - "Mid Western Wheat malt, mixed with juicy Citra Hops. These ingredients meld together to create a light bodied, easy drinking wheat beer with a hop profile all of its own" (source).
  • Greenbush Remnant of Dragons, $3.49/12oz - "Imperial red IPA" (source).
  • Alpine Brewing Duet, $8.19/22oz (2 per) - "Our original single IPA made with Simcoe and Amarillo hops in harmony" (source).
  • Alpine Brewing Nelson, $8.99/22oz (2 per) - "An outstanding hop from New Zealand, Nelson Sauvin, is generously used throughout the brewing and dry-hopping of this unique beer. European rye is added for a smooth, malty addition to flavor" (source).
  • Alpine Brewing Hoppy Birthday, $8.19/22oz (2 per) - "Hoppy Birthday is a Session IPA" (source).
  • Atwater Shaman Porter, $2.99/12oz - "A Porter traditionally brewed in the baltic region. We use the finest ingredients including Munich, Chocolate, and Black Malts along with German Hops to create the smoothest Porter you have ever tasted. Shaman's Porter will thwart any tricksters or evil spirits" (source).
  • Atwater Christmas Ale, $2.19/12oz - "A German holiday treat similar to gingerbread" (source).
  • Vandermill Besieged, $14.89/22oz - "A medley of delicious Michigan apples & local wildflower honey make up the precious liquid which is then carefully aged in Revolution Brewing Straight Jacket barrels producing the final result, victory in liquid form! A cyser bursting with ripe apple flavor & malt-like sweetness with a warm, spiced finish from it’s months spent in glorious wood" (source).
  • Alaskan Winter Ale, $1.59/12oz - "Brewed in the style of an English Olde Ale, this ale balances the sweet heady aroma of spruce tips with the clean crisp finish of noble hops. Its malty richness is complemented by the warming sensation of alcohol" (source).
  • Bell's Christmas, $1.89/12oz - "The basic inspiration for Bell's Christmas Ale was to create a sessionable holiday beer, using locally grown malt, which would stand apart from the array of spiced winter warmers that are typically introduced this time of year. In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn't contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the 100% Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas. At 5.5% ABV, it stands as a smooth, highly drinkable beer intended to complement holiday menus, not overshadow them" (source).
  • Bell's Winter White, $1.79/12oz - "Taking its cues from Belgian-style white ales, Bell's Winter White Ale offers a lighter yet abundantly flavorful alternative to the traditional heavy winter warmers. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley & wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices. Deliberately brewed to retain a cloudy appearance, Bell's Winter White Ale is a beer for embracing winter" (source).
  • Bell's Java Stout, $2.79/12oz - "The satisfying elements of both stout and coffee come together in this full-bodied treat. A marriage of Sumatra's best with rich chocolate and roasted malt provides for a truly enlightening beer" (source).
  • New Holland Hopivore, $2.59/12oz - "Michigan-grown hops are the story in this seasonal harvest ale. Hopivore is wet-hopped, with hops added to the brew just hours after harvest, creating rare, fresh flavors" (source).
  • North Peak Blitzen, $1.89/12oz - "North Peak Blitzen is a Festivus Ale with raisin, current and berry notes attributed to Bramling Cross hops, 3 types of Crystal malts, Cara and Chocolate malt. A combination of citrus peel and citrus pith flavors are accented by the Hercules, Cascade and Pilgrim hops added throughout the boil. Riwakas’ subtle spiciness in combination with the crisp spiciness from the Rye malt liberates flavors reminiscent of savory holiday cakes. This is a well balanced, rich, Festivus Ale that will warm the palate and soul, awakening memories of holidays past. It is brewed in Traverse City, MI, on Old Mission Peninsula incorporating locally grown hops" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Estate Harvest Ale, $8.69/750ml (1 per) - "From the sun-drenched fields of California’s North Valley comes our Estate Ale. It’s rich with the flavors of the valley—hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas, and barley with mild sweetness and smooth, toasted flavors. Enjoy this remarkable homegrown ale, made with organic wet hops and barley grown at our brewery in Chico, and one of the few estate-made ales produced anywhere in the world. Together, these crops grow alongside the brewery to make a truly unique brew" (source).
  • Stone Double Bastard, $9.49/22oz - "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" (source).

Video of the Week | Founders

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Friday, October 30, 2015

New Beer Friday, Happy Halloween Edition (Oct 30)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

In honor of Halloween, we're posting an excerpt from a blog post we published back on October 31, 2013. In it, Steve 'Bossman' Siciliano explored the origins of pumpkin ale while pondering its growing popularity, which, in the two years since first publication, has not appeared to waver. To read the complete post, please go here.

The use of pumpkins in the production of beer is uniquely American. Our colonial forefathers occasionally added pumpkins to their beer recipes, not because they wanted to but because they had to. Good quality, inexpensive malt was hard to acquire back then and the indigenous gourd, with its requisite starches and sugars, provided a viable alternative. As malt became more readily available, the use of pumpkins in the production of beer became an historical footnote. It might have remained there if not for William Owens.

Back in the mid 1980s, "Buffalo Bill" Owens, who was at the time the owner of Buffalo Bill’s Brewery in Haywood, California, was researching historical beer recipes when he came across one, allegedly formulated by George Washington, which used pumpkin flesh in the mash. Owens also happened to be a gardener. He took one of his prize 500 pound pumpkins, chunked it, baked it and then threw the pieces into a mash for his standard amber ale. After he fermented and carbonated the beer, Owens was disappointed that it had no discernible pumpkin flavor. But then he had a brewing epiphany—why not use pumpkin pie spices to achieve the flavor profile that he thought would be achieved from using the baked pumpkin? He brewed another batch, this time without pumpkin, and dumped a can of pumpkin pie spices into the bright tank. The first modern “pumpkin” beer was born.

Obviously it’s these spices, used in differing proprietary amounts and combinations, which are the main reason as to why pumpkin beers today are so popular. People equate the spicy flavors and aromas of these brews to those of pumpkin pie. And who doesn’t like pumpkin pie? But maybe there are other, perhaps subliminal, factors that are contributing to the wild popularity of pumpkin beer.

I would guess that most adults have fond memories of donning costumes and traipsing through neighborhoods collecting overflowing bags of treats on Halloween. Perhaps drinking a beer that exalts the most cherished and ubiquitous symbol of Halloween helps rekindle those memories and allows for a somewhat vicarious participation in a decidedly childlike activity. Then again, maybe the popularity of these brews is due to the fact that the pumpkin is such a photogenic fruit and its image looks so appetizing on a beer label. Other fruits are used in beer and make equally delicious pies—apples, cherries peaches and blueberries for instance—but they haven’t lent their names to a craft beer phenomenon. Can this be because they don’t have the same visually appealing impact and marketing panache of the pumpkin?

Griffin Claw Screamin' Pumpkin, still available at Siciliano's ($2.19/16oz)

New and Returning Beer

  • Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown Ale, $7.59/22oz - "Our latest Rough Draft Limited is a collaboration with Heritage Coffee -- a delicious beer we call Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown Ale" (source).
  • Brooklyn Insulated Lager, $1.59/12oz - "Brooklyn Insulated Lager is your protection against biting wind and soggy weather. German Munich, roasted Carafa, and Pilsner malts create a nimble, racy body, while a helping of American black barley adds just a hint of roast coffee. A light dry hopping of American and German hops pitter-patters across the nose and dives into the dry, warming finish. Try it with dark breads, hearty meats, and sturdy cheddars. If you still feel the chill, just add another layer and enjoy your insulation" (source).
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, $2.29/12oz - "This is the famous Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, our award-winning rendition of the Imperial Stout style once made exclusively for Catherine the Great. We use three mashes to brew each batch of this beer, achieving a luscious deep dark chocolate flavor through a blend of specialty roasted malts. We brew it every year for the winter season. It is delicious when newly bottled, but also ages beautifully for years" (source).
  • Founders Backwoods Bastard, $3.89/12oz - "Big and delicious for your ’perty mouth. Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts. A bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark cherries. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate" (source).
  • New Holland Mischievous, $4.79/22oz - "Mischievous presents flavors derived from its 100% brettanomyces fermentation. This wild yeast contributes earthiness, spice, mineral-character and slight tartness" (source).
  • Stone Coffee Milk Stout, $1.99/12oz - "From imperial stouts to IPAs, we’ve discovered the tantalizingly roasty lift that comes from adding coffee beans to just about any kind of beer. This English-style milk stout, originally a limited-edition offering at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station, proved the perfect foil for beans from San Diego-based Ryan Bros Coffee. The bitterness of the coffee is balanced out brilliantly by the milk sugar we used to add a touch of sweetness and creaminess to the stout’s smooth, easy-drinking texture. Cheers to the coalescence of two highly artisanal (and delectable) mediums" (source).
  • New Belgium Ben and Jerry Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale, $1.69/12oz - "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream beer. Our newest collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s brings together two different types of pint-makers for one common goal: To help Protect Our Winters combat climate change. When two foodie B Corps join forces for good, delicious ideas are created. Our Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale scoops the lip-smacking fun of dessert from a bowl right into your pint glass. Brewed with specialty ingredients and a healthy sweet tooth, this beer’s rich chocolaty, salted-caramel, vanilla goodness is worth savoring to the last drop. Reward yourself, and dig in" (source).
  • New Belgium Accumulation, $1.69/12oz - "This winter, IBUs start accumulating like snow in Colorado with our new ACCUMULATION WHITE IPA . Brewing a white IPA was not only a way to salute the white beauty falling from the sky, but a direct revolt to the longstanding tradition of brewing dark beers for winter and WINTER SEASONAL BEERS . At least that’s what our rebellious brewer Grady Hull likes to claim as he shovels in plenty of new hop varietals and a bit of wheat for a smooth mouthfeel. Stack up a few cases of Accumulation White IPA to keep your long nights glowing blizzard white" (source).
  • Arcadia Nut Brown, $1.79/12oz - "This English-style brown ale has an alluring mahogany color capped by a rich foam head. It is brewed with six different varieties of premium malted barley, creating a robust body and delicious flavor profile featuring hints of chocolate, raisins, dates and almonds. Its ripe fruit notes and malty, sweet finish are counterbalanced by a subtle hop bitterness and aroma" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Christmas Town, $1.69/12oz - "For many, our little town of Frankenmuth is known as Christmas Town. So, it's no wonder we created an ale to celebrate the Merry Season. Enjoy toasted sweet dark malts and American hops which combine with holiday flavors to create a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas" (source).
  • Blake's Beard Bender, $1.99/12oz - "Blake's Beard Bender is a 100% natural hard cider. It's funny when nothing's added you taste the true characteristics of the apple. Not for the faint of heart. Beard Bender packs a punch not expected from hard cider. Derived from a variety of Bittersweet and Bittersharp apples. Beard Bender is tart, crisp and amazingly drinkable. And, of course, 100% grown at Blake Farms in Armada, Michigan" (source).
  • Deschutes Foray IPA, $4.99/22oz - "Foray is all about the journey. Belgian yeast delivers hints of apple and pear which blend with the citrus hop aroma for a clean even finish. So no matter where you’re heading, this a trip worth taking" (source).
  • Deschutes Hop Trip, $1.99/12oz - "Part of the Bond Street Series. This Fresh Hop Pale Ale is all about celebrating the hop harvest in the fall. Fresh picked hops have to be added to the brew immediately and in abundance. Roughly 270 pounds of Crystal hops from Doug Weathers' farm outside Salem, Oregon will be added to the 50 barrel batch in addition to some dry kilned whole flower hops. That adds up to approximately 5.5 pounds of hops per barrel brewed" (source).
  • Shorts Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, $2.39/12oz - "Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is a Double Belgian IPA brewed exclusively with Galaxy hops. The nose is an impressive blend of citrus aromas reminiscent of guava and lemons. It also has subtle Belgian yeast esters. An intense, clean bitterness dominates the flavor profile, with little malt character to compete with. A fruity yeast sweetness is noticeable in the finish, alongside a resounding bitterness" (source).
  • Great Lakes Ohio City Oatmeal Stout, $1.69/12oz - "Dark and roasty yet light and smooth as a fresh coat of snow, our Oatmeal Stout will kick your cabin fever and inspire you to toss another log on the fire" (source).
  • North Coast Grand Cru, $16.69/500ml - "Reminiscent of North Coast Brewing's Gold Medal-winning Twentieth Anniversary Ale, North Coast Grand Cru is brewed with pilsner malt and agave nectar, then aged in oak bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Southern Tier Choklat, $4.99/12oz - "Moving through centuries, the circular journey of cacao has been realized in our brewing house, encompassing the complexity of the darkest, bitter-sweet candy together with the original frothy cold beverage of the ancient Maya to bring to you our Blackwater Series Choklat Stout. We have combined the finest ingredients to tempt your senses & renew the power & interrelation of history in every bottle" (source).
  • Lagunitas Born Yesterday, $2.19/12oz - "Quite possibly the freshest Fresh Hop ale you'll get your paws on—Born Yesterday. How? Our farmer friends in Yakima, WA harvested and rushed straight-to-our-breweries the freshest virgin, un-kilned hops. Then a herculean effort involving Lagunitas folks from across all different departments commenced with a quickness … sorting and picking through the hops to remove twigs, twine and other stuff from farming. After all the lupulin glands are sufficiently tickled, the hops go into a proprietary Borning Process which allows us to take these whole-cone hops (not pellets or oils or other sorcery) and deliver their absolute essence and liquid likeness to you in bottles and kegs for an immaculate reception" (source).

Video of the Week | Killer Beer

We posted this last year on Halloween. It's too good to only post once.
Happy Halloween, everyone!