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Friday, May 29, 2015

New Beer Friday, Whiskey and Wisdom Edition (May 29)

W.L. Weller Special Reserve,
$19.99/750ml at Siciliano's Market
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I was about to make the turn onto Bass Lake Road when I saw Joe Parker stacking a load of firewood into the woodshed next to his pole barn. I glanced at my watch then pulled into Joe’s gravel driveway and parked next to a flatbed trailer that was hitched behind an old Farmall tractor. “Morning,” I yelled through the truck’s open window. “Looks like you’ve got some work ahead of you.”

Joe took off his dirty John Deere cap and while walking over to my pickup he wiped his brow with a red bandana. “A couple of hours’ worth maybe. Where you off to so early?”

“Dublin,” I said. “How was the winter? Go south again?”

Joe took a pipe out of his back pocket, a box of wooden matches out of his shirt pocket and after lighting the pipe he blew the match out and pinched the burnt end between his fingers. “I did,” he said. “It’s not the same without Marie. I’ll be spending my winters up here from now on.”

“Might make for some long winters,” I said.

“I’ll get by,” Joe said. “I’ll keep myself busy in the pole barn.”

“I think there’s more tools in that pole barn than there is at the hardware store in Dublin.”

“Like I told you. Any time you want to use any of them.”

“Thanks, Joe,” I said. I grabbed my own pipe and relit it with a Bic lighter. “I was sure sorry to hear about Cal.”

Joe put his hat back on and looked at the “For Sale” sign stuck in the grass between the dirt road and his neighbor’s split rail fence. “I’m going to miss that old boy,” he said. “Last time I saw him we sat on my deck listening to Ol’ Blue Eyes. Killed a fifth of bourbon that night. We talked about refinishing the hull on his ’63 Thompson this spring.” He looked down and kicked at the gravel with his steel toed boot. “I’m sure going to miss that old boy,” he said again.

A few minutes later when I walked into the cottage my wife looked up from her crossword.

“I thought you were going to the hardware store.”

“I stopped to talk to Joe Parker,” I told her. “He’s coming over this afternoon to help me fix the mower.”

My wife smiled and took a sip of coffee. “What happened to wanting to try fixing things on your own?”

“Oh there’s still plenty of things around here that need fixing.”

That night after Joe and I finished with the mower we sat on my deck and talked about fly fishing on the east branch of the Au Sable while listening to his Frank Sinatra collection and drinking a couple of tumblers of W.L. Weller Special Reserve.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arcadia Ales Cheap Date Session Ale, $1.79/12oz - "There are times when the sun is at it’s highest, the days at their longest, and the bright embrace of summer squeezes every last drop of our reserves, like so much water from a stone. There are times when every hop head needs a break from the tongue distressingly bitter creations roaming the world. There are yet more times when a brightly bold, yet exuberantly playful pint is of the highest appeal. Cheap Date is for all those times and more, with a soft malty, biscuity body, supporting a wildly fruity hop flavor and aroma. Roundly capped-off with gentle lemon aromatics, this is a beer to provide sweet succor for the wounded, fulfillment for the unfulfilled, and delight for the delightful" (source).
  • Vander Mill Apple Raspberry Cider, $2.99/16oz - "Hard apple cider blended with Michigan Raspberries" (source).
  • Short's Alien Einstein, $1.99/12oz - "Alien Einstein is a light bodied India Style Pale Lager with a dull golden color and an inviting aroma of tangy grapefruit juice. A bright burst of fruity and earthy hop flavors immediately hits the palate. This beer exemplifies the well-rounded versatility of the American Mosaic hops used exclusively in this beer" (source).
  • Dogfish Head American Beauty, $14.39/750ml (1 per) - See video below.
  • Atwater Vanilla Java Porter, $1.99/16oz - "A robust Porter made with chocolate malt. This malt Beverage is brewed with coffee beans with Natural Flavor added (Vanilla Extract), and we balance it with U.S. Golding Hops. Our award winning brew is sure to please! Open it" (source).
  • Stone Stochasticity Project Hifi+LoFi, $8.99/22oz (1 per) - "A beer that pays homage to a centuries-old tradition of combining new beer with aged “stock ales.” Freshly brewed beers of the day often were very smoky and bitter tasting, and were blended with older beer that had mellowed with age to produce more drinkable libations. This modern brew will showcase our brewers’ talents by blending a stock ale aged more than three months in oak foudres (large wooden fermentation vessels) with a fresh version of the same beer to create a perfect harmony spanning end to end on the taste spectrum" (source).
  • Victory Sour Monkey, $10.19/750ml (1 per) - "This electrifying transformation of our famed Golden Monkey may just blow your mind. Tastefully twisted to offer nuances of sweet fruit and a sharp tang of tartness, this exhilarating combination of flavors makes this brew a Monkey all its own" (source).

Video of the Week | American Beauty


Friday, May 22, 2015

New Beer Friday, Homebrew Party Recap Edition (May 22)

Going for the gold
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Last Saturday when Barb and I were sitting on the porch at the Johnson Park pavilion watching the Homebrew Party winding down, Tim Goodyke walked up with a cigar stuck between his teeth, a 12-ounce bottle of homebrew in one hand, a Siciliano’s tasting glass in the other hand and a gold medal draped around his neck. “Looks like you’re empty,” he said eyeing our own glasses sitting on the concrete next to the wicker chairs. “Want to try my award-winning beer?”

Tim pulled up another wicker chair and we listened to Jimmie Stagger’s last set of the day while we sipped the excellent robust porter. Every so often departing partiers stopped by to thank my wife and I and to tell us how much they enjoyed the day.

Barb and I received a lot of appreciative kudos that day but compared to running the homebrew competition and organizing the Big Brew on the Calder, throwing these annual spring celebrations of the hobby of homebrewing is really easy. All we do is secure the venue, book the band and hire the caterers. The homebrewers do the bulk of the heavy lifting and they deserve the bulk of the credit. These parties wouldn’t have evolved into the mini beer festivals they are today if they weren’t so willing to share gallons of their homebrews with their fellow partygoers. It’s a great reflection of the camaraderie of the West Michigan home brewing community.

After the awards ceremony Randy Mosher mentioned that the party was one of the best homebrew events he’s been involved with and that’s high praise from the respected, personable and well-traveled author.

“I love these parties because I’ve made friends with a lot of people who I might never have the met,” Tim told me while he was sharing his homebrew with us on the porch. “They’re like family reunions now and they make me feel like I belong to a community.”

I can’t think of a better way of describing what these annual celebrations of a very rewarding hobby are all about.

New and Returning Beer

  • Alaskan Amber, $1.69/12oz cans - "Our flagship beer is based on a turn-of-the-century recipe that quenched the thirst of miners during the Klondike Gold Rush. Smooth and richly malty, this altbier goes well with any meal" (source).
  • Bell's Oberon 5-Liter Keg, $23.59 - "Bell’s Oberon is a wheat ale fermented with Bell’s signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas. The addition of wheat malt lends a smooth mouthfeel, making it a classic summer beer" (source).
  • Carlsburg Pilsner, $1.79/16oz can - "Carlsberg er egentlig blevet en del af den danske kulturarv og den danske tørst. Du oplever en harmonisk balance mellem bitterhed og sødmefulde æbler, mens du nyder den lyse gyldne farve med det flotte skum og duften af fyrretræ, strå, hasselnød og skovsyre. Ja, det er næsten som en forårsdag i Danmark. Og sådan klæder Carlsberg også det danske køkken hele vejen rundt" (source).
  • Crabbies Spiced Orange Ginger Beer, $2.59/12oz - "Spiced orange offers the same refreshing taste as the original but with a lighter ginger profile and a zesty orange flavor" (source).
  • Lakefront Cherry Lager, $2.89/12oz - "Fact: Cherry Lager cannot be sipped without the drinker bearing a grin. Our spring seasonal pours a bright pink, lacy head on top of a brilliant red body as a lavish, fruit-forward aroma rises from the glass. The medium-light body is jam packed with bright Wisconsin Montmorency cherry tartness, followed by two-row pale malt and Mt. Hood hops. The initial burst of flavors wane, leaving a distinctive lager crispness and mild cherry tartness" (source).
  • Mountain Town Sacred Gruit, $2.69/12oz - "What is gruit you might ask? Gruit is a blend of herbs that brewers added to their beer in the renaissance times if not before. Herbs are an essential ingredient in beer, both as a preservative and to counterbalance the bitterness and flavoring. Herbs were the only thing used prior to the extensive use of hops. Sacred Gruit ale is a pale ale brewed with primary combination of three mild to moderate herbs yarrow, sweet gale (myrtle) and marsh rosemary (wild rosemary)" (source).
  • Stone Brewing Points Unknown IPA, $9.49/22oz - "It seemed no single beer could adequately convey the collective talents of Portland, Oregon brewing legend and Ecliptic Brewing founder John Harris; Luke and Walt Dickinson, the brewmaster duo behind North Carolina’s Wicked Weed Brewing; and Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele. So, this veritable triad of power opted to brew TWO beers. The first was a traditional Belgian-style tripel aged four months in oak barrels that originally housed red wine, then tequila. It was then blended at a one-fourth to three-fourths ratio with a freshly brewed West Coast double IPA to create this beer. A variety of diverse flavors coalesce into something more unique than any one beer our trio could have conceived" (source).
  • Rodenbach Caractère Rouge, $25.09/750ml - "The brewer allow the beer to macerate with fresh cherries, raspberries and cranberries. After this maceration in oak, the beer re-ferments in the bottle. The result is RODENBACH Caractère Rouge, an exceptional RODENBACH with fruit maceration and a 7% alcohol volume. The brew is more than unique and extremely exclusive, as only 900 75-cl bottles were produced. Geunes serves this wilful beer as part of his other unique range of beer varieties in his restaurant, ’t Zilte, at the Antwerp MAS museum" (source).
  • Right Brain Empire Spear Beer, $8.59/22oz - "Fire roasted asparagus and California lemon peel brewed for he Empire asparagus fest" (source).
  • OddSide Ales Pineapple IPA, 2.29/12oz - "OddSide Ales Pineapple IPA" (source).
  • Southern Tier Shocolat Oranj, $9.29/22oz - "A brand new Blackwater Series experience. Orange peels are added to our delicious dessert beer, bringing a new dimension to a favorite. Choklat is rated 100 on, and has been on world’s best beer lists for years. Our Choklat Oranj is set to become another celebrated classic" (source).
  • Shorts Space Rock, $1.69/12oz - "Space Rock is a light bodied American Pale Ale with prominent floral and orange peel-like hop aromas. Only the slightest grainy malt qualities are detectable, as assertive bitter flavors of citrus rind and dandelion leaf take hold.  The finish lingers with a waning bitterness that’s not overly dry" (source).

Siciliano's Homebrew Party Recap

Please enjoy this slideshow from the 12th Annual Siciliano's Market Homebrew Party.


Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 Siciliano's Homebrew Competition: Winner Named

By Steve Siciliano

I am pleased to announce that Todd Hale from the Black River Homebrew Club in Port Huron, Michigan is the Best of Show winner for the 2015 Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition. Todd took this year’s BOS honors with an American IPA.

As the 2015 Best of Show winner Todd receives a $500.00 gift card to Siciliano’s Market and has the opportunity to brew the winning recipe on Odd Side Ales’ one-barrel pub system.

Score sheets and medals for the 2015 competition are now available for pickup at Siciliano’s Market. If you live outside the Grand Rapids area and would like your score sheets (and medal) mailed to you, contact me at this address:

Friday, May 15, 2015

New Beer Friday, Reporting for Port Edition (May 15)

By Steve Siciliano

Winexpert has announced that a new chocolate dessert wine is being added to the company’s portfolio of seasonal releases. Chocolate Salted Caramel Dessert Wine is the latest offering in the company’s popular port-style wine category and will debut with perennial favorites Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Wine and Chocolate Orange Dessert Wine in special releases this fall.

Each of these three gallon kits will retail for $109.00 and are available only on a pre-order basis. Orders may be placed in person at Siciliano’s Market, by calling 616-453-9674 or via email at this address. Deadline for ordering is Sunday, June 7th.

Descriptions for the 2015 Winexpert chocolate dessert wine offerings are as follows.

Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Wine

This dessert wine is bursting with rich, intense flavors and aromas. Warm cherries and plums are supported by a racy zing of bright raspberry and luscious chocolate.

    • Oak: Medium
    • Sweetness: 7 (sweet)
    • Alcohol: 17%

Chocolate Orange Dessert Wine

Back by popular demand, this intensely flavored, full bodied dessert wine has complex aromas of bittersweet dark chocolate, ripe orange and marmalade.

    • Oak: Medium
    • Sweetness: 7 (sweet)
    • Alcohol: 17%

Chocolate Salted Caramel Dessert Wine

This perfectly indulgent dessert wine is both sweet and luxurious. The velvety decadence of chocolate blends beautifully with rich, salted caramel.

    • Oak: Medium
    • Sweetness: 7 (sweet)
    • Alcohol: 17%

New and Returning Beer

  • Short's Dan Pink Skirt, $1.99/12oz - "Dan’s Pink Skirt is an American IPA brewed with Summit and Simcoe hops. Malt characteristics are mild and practically undetectable in the nose. Dan’s Pink Skirt has pronounced floral and citrus aromas, with a pine resin hop bitterness that attacks the palate" (source).
  • Atwater Conniption Fit, $2.99/12oz - Imperial/Double IPA
  • Oddside Wheatermelon, $2.29/12oz - "The perfect summer treat. A wheat ale brewed with tons of fresh cut watermelon" (source).
  • Terra Firma Manitou Amber, $2.69/16oz - "Unfiltered American Amber Ale. Manitou has a rich, soft malt body, beautiful deep amber color and finishes with a bouquet of whole cone hops. 5.3% abv. Manitou was at one time one of Michigan’s most widely recognized micro brewed brands. Originally produced by Traverse Brewing Company in Williamsburg Michigan, Manitou is now brewed in Traverse City, on the same equipment, with the original recipe by the same brewer" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Saison, $4.29/16oz (4 per) - "Zaison takes its inspiration from the famous Saison style of beer made in the southern region of Belgium. Traditionally a saison is made in the coolness of the winter months to be enjoyed in the Spring and Summer. The term "Imperial" has be co-opt by the American brewers to imply strength (%ABV). While saisons often err on the side of low ABV, the Vivant Zaison twists up in to the 9% zone. Watch out, this one goes down smooth and will knock you down if you're not careful! Use the buddy system, always drink with a friend" (source).
  • New Belgium Pear Ginger Beer, $9.19/22oz (1 per) - "Mix your own adventure this summer with PEAR GINGER BEER . Our latest Lips of Faith release updates the Victorian-era ginger beer with whimsical additions of pear and lemon peel, creating a zesty, invigorating summer sipper crafted for beer glasses and mixologists’ cocktail shakers alike. Warming, spicy ginger punctuates a lively wash of sunny lemon, pear and bready white wheat for a sip that starts sweet, but finishes with just the right amount of heat. Drink it straight, no chaser, or put a new spin on a classic gimlet—either way, shake it up this season with Pear Ginger Beer" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Twisted Helles, $1.69/12oz - "Twisted Helles is inspired by Michigan summers--and so by effect, it's summer's perfect compliment. The unmistakable presence of German noble hops is perfectly balanced with an elegant maltiness reminding you that bitterness has no place in a true Helles lager. Full-bodied yet pleasantly quenching...and then there's the "twist."The moment you crack open a can your senses are brought to life in both aroma and flavor with finishing hints of orange and lemon zest that bring it all back home. Because this in one summer brew that knows exactly where home is" (source).
  • Summit Hopvale, $2.49/16oz - "Intense grapefruit, pine and lemon hop character in a supremely drinkable session ale. Brewed with 100% organic US hops, malts and lemon peel. In 16oz cans and on draught" (source).
  • Arbor Ryeclops, $2.69/12oz - "Ryeclops is dominated with a mouthful of distinct rye malt character complimented by the spicy fruity hoppiness of American high-alpha simcoe hops. Use caution when confronted with the Ryeclops, as it’s delightful aroma and complex flavor camouflage a might, boozy-backboned single-hopped monster of a brew" (source).
  • Keweenaw Witbier, $1.69/12oz - "Witbier is a delightfully smooth and refreshing classic Witbier. An unfiltered Belgian Style Ale that's pale and cloudy in appearance, brewed with barley, wheat and seasoned with orange peel and coriander" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Hoptimum, $2.59/12oz - "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).
  • Stiegl Pilsner, $2.39/16oz - "Enjoyment of first-rate beer with a pleasant hoppy character. Straw-colored and warm amber glow, pleasantly sparkling with a dry body. Using the aromatic hops from the Mühlviertel region, it entices you with a bouquet of fresh hops and a distinctive bitter finish" (source).
  • Deshutes Twilight Summer Ale, $1.79/12oz - "Summer has its own rules. As luck would have it, it also has its own beer. This clever golden-hued ale pours remarkably crisp and clean. A distinctive malt body complements a refreshing hop profile led by a heady dose of bold Amarillo hops" (source).

Wine of the Week

  • Sirius Bordeaux 2011, $13.59/750ml - "Dark red colour, opaque. Nose with hints of oak, caramel, blueberry jam and black cherry. Very nice texture and mouth feel. Medium body, dry, with medium acidity and medium tannins" (source).

Picture of the Week | Morel Season

From an undisclosed location somewhere near Grand Rapids.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Winexpert One-Gallon Wine Kits

 By Kati Spayde

As anyone who frequents the store probably knows, I'm more of a beer girl than a wine fan. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good white or red once in a while, but for me the six-gallon wine ingredient kits are just a bit too much.

Thankfully, Winexpert has come to the rescue with their new line of one-gallon kits. Five bottles (or ten half-sized bottles) is much more approachable for someone like me.

I picked up the Pinot Grigio kit this weekend to give it a test run. It really is as simple as mixing your ingredients and adding yeast. In two weeks I'll stabilize and clear the wine and then after two more weeks I'll be ready to bottle.

The small size of this makes it very countertop-friendly and minimizes my investment. When it comes time, part two of this review will be taste-testing the bottled wine.

One-gallon Winexpert kits are available now at Siciliano's Market. Stop in for pricing and to see the full selection of varietals.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mashing with Mosher: Respected Beer Writer to Attend Homebrew Party

By Steve Siciliano

I am pleased to announce that we have just been informed that noted author Randy Mosher will be attending the 12th Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party on Saturday, May 16th at Johnson Park.

The author of five books on beer and homebrewing, Mosher is a regular contributor to virtually all of the national beer- and brewing-related publications and has taught beer style courses at the Siebel Institute. Randy’s books will be available for purchase at the party at discounted prices.

In response to this late breaking news we have decided to offer tickets for the party at reduced price of $35.00. Please note, however, that due to the fact that the order for T-shirts have already been placed we will not be able to include a T-shirt in your package of gifts.

Discounted tickets for the 12th Annual Homebrew Party may be purchased in person at the store or by calling 616-453-9674 until the close of business on Sunday, May 10th.

New Beer Friday, Many Thanks Edition (May 8)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Barb and I would like to thank the two hundred plus homebrewers who hauled the tools of their hobby down to the Calder Plaza last Saturday to take part in the 3rd Annual Siciliano’s Big Brew on the Calder. A great deal of time and effort goes into organizing a Big Brew on this very public stage but these annual events would be impossible pull off without the enthusiastic support of West Michigan’s passionate homebrewing community.

We would also like to express our thanks to the folks at Coldbreak Brewing for running the wort chilling station again this year, to Rod Lawrence (pictured) for his invaluable technical assistance and to all the volunteers who pitched in to make the 2015 edition of the Big Brew on the Calder another huge success.

Special thanks to city commissioner Rosalynn Bliss for once again leading the simultaneous, countrywide toast to the enriching hobby of homebrewing.

New and Returning Beer

  • Alaskan Summer Kolsch, $1.69/12oz - "Just when you’ve had enough of winter, we release Alaskan Summer Ale in March. This traditional Kölsch beer is a great way to celebrate warmer weather and more daylight. Its crisp, clean flavor is the perfect complement for crab, halibut, salads and longer days" (source).
  • Green Flash Silva Stout, $18.89/750ml - "Silva Stout took a lot of patience. We aged our Double Stout in oak bourbon barrels for seventeen months. Flavors are very complex. It starts off with dark chocolate truffles rolled in cocoa powder. Next is the vanilla and wood notes, with rich cherry-like fruitiness. After racking and filtering the ale, we blended in just the right amount of freshly brewed Double Stout to provide the perfect balance of bourbon barrel aging and freshness" (source).
  • New Holland Mad Hatter New Recipe, $1.79/12oz - "Changes to Mad Hatter include the addition of Michigan-grown Cascade hops and Citra hops to the signature Centennial hop profile and an adjusted grain bill that increases the alcohol by volume (ABV) to approximately 7%. A freshly engineered hop gun and assertive dry hopping create bold and bright aromatics. Mad Hatter fans will spot the fresh Mad Hatter, as it also includes a creative update to its’ packaging with a new label and six pack" (source).
  • New Holland Incorrigible, $4.79/22oz - "Incorrigible celebrates the beauty of mischief. Wild yeasts and bacteria run free in our sour-aging cellar, the House of Funk, creating vibrant sour and acidic character in this delicate, yet complex wheat beer. The refreshingly tart session beer will tease your palate with a subtle, layered nuance" (source).
  • Hanssens Raspberry Lambic, $16.69/500ml - "Ale fermented with raspberries and matured in oak barrels" (source).
  • Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout, $5.79/11.2oz - "Caramel, roasted, black and chocolate malts provide an explosion of coffee like flavors. The strong espresso character comes from the addition of espresso beans to the boil. Notes of vanilla, dark fruit , cocao and chocolate. The very unusual character of Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout stems from the fact that Kiuchi Brewery is using the recipe of a Russian Imperial Stout as base. Pitch black color, big brown head. Aromas of chocolate, roasted bitterness, black currants, dark fruits" (source).
  • Petrus Aged Pale, $4.29/11.2oz - "Aged? Many beers have a long maturation, but this one has only 24-36 months in oak barrels. Pale? This beer has an old gold to bronze color, rather than the burgundy more common in the breweries of West Flanders. This is the ‘mother beer,’ used in various quantities to blend with the other Petrus beers, and to give them their unique and very distinctive taste. This mother beer is rather sour with a bite like the best Brut Champagnes. A connoisseur’s delight! The only one of its kind on the U.S. market" (source).
  • 1809 Berliner Weisse, $6.79/16.9oz - "Created by Dr. Fritz Briem of Doemens Institute, brewed by Weihenstephan & Doemens (ed: Weihenstephan denies this), “1809” is a very traditional interpretation of the “Berliner Style” Weisse with an intense blend of lactic tartness and complex fruitiness. It is bottle-conditioned, unfiltered and unpasteurized. "1809" will age beautifully in a dark and cool location. Its complex fruitiness and tartness will most likely develop in quite astonishing ways. “1809” is fermented in traditional open fermenters and horizontal lager tanks. The applied mashing regime is a single step decoction mash with 50 % wheat malt.The total amount of hops is added to the mash so that isomerisation takes place in the decocotion part of the mash. The wort is not boiled but only heated up to boiling temperature and then transferred to the open fermenters and pitched with yeast and lactic acid bacteria (isolated from malt) at 64°F" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Wit, $2.29/12oz - "Wit is a crisp and hazy Belgian-Style Wit. Wit is Weyerbacher’s thirst-quenching spring and early summer ale. The nose has a light spiciness from the coriander, orange peel, grains of paradise, and star anise. The palate reveals a mild, refreshing and effervescent wheat beer that finishes with just a hint of tartness" (source).
  • Victory Helles Lager, $1.79/12oz - "There was a time when all beer tasted this good. Back when immigrant Brewmasters turned fresh malts and hops into liquid gold. Before big business lessened our precious beer with corn and rice. Having trained in Germany, we thirst for better beer. So, we brew better beer like this crisp, golden, helles-style lager" (source).
  • O'Fallon Strawberry Best, $2.09/12oz - "Try our new refreshingly light and crisp Strawberry Best! We start with an American Wheat style recipe that’s a perfect compliment for fruit. We add real strawberry puree to the secondary fermentation, which gives the beer a naturally subtle strawberry flavor and aroma with a slight tartness. Light in color and soft in bitterness this beer is designed specifically to be enjoyed during the hot summer months" (source).
  • Greenbush Star Chicken Shotgun, $1.99/12oz - "It's a 6.8% IPA with five different hops and a solid 73 IBUs" (source).
  • Abita Bourbon Street Baltic Porter, $9.29/22oz (1 per) - "This Baltic Porter is brewed with pale, caramel and roasted malts. It is fermented at cooler temperatures to accentuate the malt flavors, which gives the beer its dark color and smooth, sweet roasted flavor. After fermentation the beer is cold aged for months before bourbon barrel aging begins" (source).

Video of the Week | Farmhaus Cider

Handcrafted on a fifth generation family farm in the Mitten State, Farmhaus blends local ingredients and great times to create a cider you'll love.


Friday, May 1, 2015

New Beer Friday, Heavy Medal Edition (May 1)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Last Saturday forty BJCP judges, certified cicerones and industry professionals gathered at the Guest House in Grand Rapids to critique the 168 entries submitted in the 12th Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition. One hundred eight of those entries were awarded medals, five moved on to the round of Best of Show and another name is now engraved on the Siciliano’s Cup.

The presentation of the Siciliano’s Cup and the awards ceremony will be the highlight of the 12th Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party on Saturday, May 16th at Johnson Park. If you entered the competition but will not be attending the party you may pick up your score sheet (and medal) at Siciliano’s Market beginning on Sunday, May 17th. If you live outside of the Grand Rapids area and would like your score sheet and medal mailed to you, contact me at this address:

The window for signing up for the May 16th party will close at 10 p.m. on Sunday, May 3rd. Tickets are $40.00 and may be purchased in person at the store or with a credit card over the phone by calling 616-453-9674. Just a reminder that being a homebrewer is not a requirement for attending the party. Click here more details.

In other news, it appears that we’re going to have great weather for tomorrow’s Third Annual Siciliano’s Big Brew on the Calder. Forty-nine teams of homebrewers will be brewing up batches of “Calder Red Ale” on the Calder Plaza in downtown Beer City USA from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. At one p.m. Mayor George Heartwell and city commissioner Rosalynn Bliss will lead the assemblage in a simultaneous, country-wide toast to the enriching hobby of homebrewing.

The Big Brew on the Calder is free of charge and is open to the public.

New and Returning Beer

  • Cheboygan IPA #11, $2.19/16oz - "Named for our Brewmaster’s family at Fire Station #11, this golden ale provides a nose full of herbal and citrus notes" (source).
  • Stone Mutt Brown, $9.49/22oz - "Light-roasted malt and coffee flavors, followed by toffee malt notes, hints of molasses and a yeasty fruitiness. The beer is medium to full bodied, a little sweet and very smooth with a mildly dry finish" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Big Flight, $21.49/9pk variety - A variety pack from your favorite GR-based Belgian-inspired brewery.
  • Coronado Sock Knocker, $8.29/22oz (1 per) - "Amarillo, Centennial, Colombus and Simcoe hops unite to produce an immensely floroal, botanical nose and a veritable explosion of citrus and pine on the palate. With an even more obscene hop over load than our infamous Idiot IPA, it's an India pale ale truly deserving of its imperial crown" (source).
  • North Peak Archangel Summer Wheat, $1.79/12oz - "A solid American wheat, with a classic nose that transitions to a faint cherry aroma complimenting its rich amber gold hue. As this well-balanced and deceptively light-bodied wheat beer travels across the tongue, the willamette and perle hops hint at bitterness, followed by a crisp, clean wheat flavor that cuts to a subtle tart cherry finish" (source).
  • Bahnhof Berliner Weiss, $7.49/12oz - "Huguenots may have originated the style as they traveled through France to Flanders, having first mentioned it in the 1600s. During their time, there were said to be seven hundred weissbier breweries in Berlin. Later, in 1809, Napoleon and his troops identified Berliner Weisse as the Champagne of the North. He requested the beer be served w/syrup to cut its extreme level of acidity. Bayrischer Bahnhof’s interpretation is a slightly softer, more mellow version of the “Berliner Weisse” style with a beautiful balance of tartness, fruitness, and sweetness" (source).
  • Hanssens Gueze, $11.29/12.7oz - "This is the result of blending different lambics of different ages. The second fermentation takes place inside the bottles and therefore they are stored for minimum six months in constant temperature kept cellars" (source).
  • Knee Deep Lupulin River, $9.79/22oz - "This Double IPA includes Mosaic and Simcoe hops, South American specialty malt, and tons of tastiness. Looks like liquid gold, smells like a bright tropical fruit pine forest, and tastes like all that and more" (source).
  • Knee Deep Hop-De-Ranged, $14.99/22oz - "This Quad IPA Borders on Insanity" (source).
  • Tapistry Burn the Witch, $13.99/22oz (1 per) - "This devilish weizenbock is stronger than it appears and is the third installment in our Hansel and Gretel beer series. This is one is a wicked ale with notes of banana and dates. This beer is so strong you should consider leaving a trail of bread crumbs in case you forget your way home" (source).
  • Short's Bludgeon Yer Eye, $1.99/12oz - "Bludgeon Yer Eye is an India Black Ale. Intense fruity and floral aromas, along with a subtle malty fragrance, emits from the beer. The deep black color complements the rich, dark roasted malt flavors. The unexpected twist comes when the high hop bitterness takes over and leaves a bitter finish" (source).
  • Short's Anniversary Ale, $2.69/12oz - "Anniversary Ale is a high-gravity wheat wine made with blood oranges. Flavors range from the spiciness of green peppercorns to the tang of blood orange zest. Aggressive dry hopping of Simcoe hops amplifies the citrus overtones and spiciness found throughout the beer. Anniversary Ale typifies Short’s Brewing Company by embodying all of the complexities that come along with another year of brewing" (source).
  • Great Lakes Alberta Clipper, $3.29/12oz - "A Winter Porter made with Belgian Chocolate and Raspberries" (source).
  • Lagunitas Sucks, $1.99/12oz - "A cereal medley of barley, rye, wheat and oats" (source). 

Wine of the Week

  • Cycles Gladiator 2013 Petite Sirah, $10.79/750ml - "The sun drenched slopes of the Central provide perfect growing conditions for a monstrous Petite Sirah. I craft the wine with maximum extraction and a heavy dose of sexy toasted oak to tame the beast. Blueberry motor oil that will stain your soul. Don't get it on your shirt!" -Adam Lazarre, Winemaker

Pic(s) of the Week | The Judging

Worthy homebrews ready for their close-up
Let the judging begin
The judging continues
Flight 2: The Return of Homebrew
(Coming soon to a theater near you!)
Judging for Siciliano's Best of Show
Is your entry on the table?