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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.


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