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Friday, January 29, 2016

New Beer Friday, Home Brew League Edition (January 29)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Last May I was chatting with Randy Mosher on the porch of the Johnson Park pavilion when a partygoer walked up and asked to have her copy of Mastering Homebrewing signed. “This is a wonderful event,” the highly regarded beer and brewing author said after depositing his felt-tipped pen in his shirt pocket and taking a sip of an excellent homebrewed Kolsch. “West Michigan sure has a great homebrewing community.”

I’d like to think that the annual trifecta of Siciliano’s homebrewing events have played a small part in helping build and foster that community. The Homebrew Competition, the Big Brew on the Calder and the Homebrew Party provide ways West Michigan homebrewers can expand their circle of friends, get recognized for their homebrewing skills and share their love of hand-crafted beer with other passionate and like-minded hobbyists. With the launch of Coldbreak Brewing’s Home Brew League this March, local homebrewers will have more reasons and more ways to gather together as a community.

Siciliano’s Market is one of the four area homebrew shops that will be participating in this planned annual event. If you have a competitive streak and you’re an avid homebrewer I encourage you to join in the fun. I have a bit of a competitive streak myself so I would love to see a team representing Siciliano’s hoist the inaugural HBL trophy.

New and Returning Beer

  • Sam Adams Nitro IPA, $2.69/16oz - "Our Nitro IPA is boldly bitter yet surprisingly smooth. Nitro can mute aroma and leave bitterness, particularly in IPAs, so to stand up to the creaminess of nitro we used heavy doses of dry hopping to achieve the resinous pine, spice, and citrus hop character we love. A fortitude of hop character remains with notes of resinous pine and citrus for a flavorful, lingering finish" (source).
  • Sam Adams Nitro White Ale, $2.69/16oz - "Nitro beers are known for their captivating cascade and smooth creaminess.  Yet, for many, nitro is solely linked to stout.  We experimented with all sorts of styles and discovered that nitro truly can be the missing fifth beer ingredient. The first sip of our Nitro White Ale reveals a smooth velvety taste with a light wheat character and hints of orange while an undercurrent of peppery spice adds a bright finish to leave you wanting another sip" (source).
  • Sam Adams Nitro Coffee Stout, $2.69/16oz - "Our Nitro Coffee Stout is darkly enticing with its smooth, velvety cream that cascades into a jet black brew revealing a rich, robust character.  The dark roasted malts create notes of bittersweet chocolate with hints of dark fruit while the Sumatran & Indian Monsoon Malabar coffees develop a deep roasted dimension. For a deeper, yet smooth, flavor we steep the coffee beans in cold water to create an extraction that we add to this stout" (source).
  • Pike 51 Chicago Drive By, $18.79/22oz - "Bourbon Barrel Imperial Milk Stout" (source).
  • Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock, $2.79/12oz - "Reddish brown in color with a mild hop profile, Consecrator Doppelbock is a well balanced, full bodied lager with hints of caramel and molasses in its smooth, malty finish. As with our other lager brands, Consecrator undergoes a lengthy lagering period. Unlike the 6 week profile of the other two brands, Consecrator experiences a full three months in the fermenting vessel, giving it an exceptionally smooth character" (source).
  • Blackrocks Potter's Porter, $2.29/12oz - "A beer originally brewed for the man behind the mugs, known by his friends as RAD. This is a Robust Porter that's full of deep chocolate and dry roast flavors. A beer suited to help RAD get through those 24 hours kiln firings. We think you will enjoy it" (source).
  • North Peak Majestic, $1.69/12oz - "Gracefully swaying winter wheat donates its mellow, sweet malt and golden appearance. Cool, pristine waters from ancient glaciers provide the base. Rustling Willamette hops extend a subtle bitterness to the beers personality. Taken together, the ingredients create an easily quaffable, unfiltered brew that shares with you a little bit off the tranquility of Northern Michigan in every swallow" (source).
  • North Peak Burly Belgo IPA, $1.89/12oz - "The February seasonal in North Peak’s line of hand-crafted microbrews, pays tribute to the third-yeti or Abominable Snowman, the human-like creature is believed to be a direct descendent of Sasquatch, otherwise known as Bigfoot. Its story is well known around the world in different mythologies, folk tales and legends, dating back hundreds of years. Yet, its existence remains one of the big mysteries – or some may say debates – of the modern day. Considered one of the most debated creatures, its history runs as deep as its footprints in the Northern Michigan backwoods" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale, $2.59/12oz - "ierra Nevada Bigfoot is an award winning example of the English Barley Wine style. It boasts a dense, fruity bouquet; an extremely rich, intense, bittersweet palate; and a deep, reddish-brown color. This ale is superbly balanced between an almost overpowering maltiness and a wonderfully bittersweet hoppiness" (source).
  • Stone Xocoveza, $2.99/12oz - "Each year we hold an American Homebrewers Association sanctioned homebrewing competition, the champion of which gets their recipe brewed and distributed nationwide by Stone. This year’s winner, Chris Banker, helped keep us grounded to our homebrewing roots by introducing flavors consistent with our regional apalate. His chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, chile pepper, and coffee-infused milk stout was built to mimic the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate, a beloved specialty from our neighbors to the sout, as our collaborators from Baja California, Cervezeria Insurgente, will attest. Layered with tiers of earthiness, spice, and roast, this creamy, semisweet blue ribbon beer confirms that the spirit of the American homebrewer is not only alive and kicking but thriving at an all-time high" (source).
  • Stone 12th Anniversary Re-Release, $8.99/22oz (1 per)  - " For this anniversary release, we traded in the bitterness of hops for the bitterness of unsweetened chocolate. Flaked oats added body and creaminess while dark-roasted malts contributed pronounced coffee notes, creating an immensely flavorful yet incredibly smooth imperial oatmeal stout" (source).
  • Atwater Going Steady, $1.79/12oz - "A citrus laden sensory smack-down that goes well with just about everything you’ve got goin’. this citrusy session’s got enough Cascade hop and grapefruit flavor to go around, with just enough of the good stuff to make whatever it is you like doing a little bit better" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Hobneelch'n, $8.19/22oz - "Hobneelch’n Hoppy Wheat is light & sessionable with low bitterness and lots of hop aroma and flavor. The hops are Citra and Simcoe, so the aroma is big citrus, pine, and fruit. A mild wheat/biscuit malt finish on the end" (source).
  • Old Nation Sanders Chocolate Stout, $1.99/12oz - "A traditional Irish style commercial stout (with a touch of acidic twang and at 12° Plato OG) with about 1.5 pounds of pure process cocoa/BBL added in the brewing process. Sanders Fine Chocolatiers are a fixture of the detroit community, but also some real beer fans. For that reason, they wanted the beer to taste like stout first, and chocolate second. The beer ends up coming off as a great traditional commercial stout, with some subtle and complex cocoa notes" (source).
  • Rodenbach Vintage, $23.89/750ml - "Rodenbach Vintage is 100% matured old beer, resulting in superior Rodenbach Grand Cru. Its taste is complex, round, intense and refreshing. Typically, the apple tart fruitiness combined with caramel, wild honey and oak with a hint of vanilla, cherry and licorice. Its aroma has hints of caramel and oak, as well as notes of green apples mixed with honey and chocolate. The soft sour, fruity aftertaste is long and nicely balanced like a grand cru wine" (source).
  • Destihl Dosvidanya, $17.89/500ml - "Like a Russian Matryoshka or 'nesting' doll, the secret of Dosvidanya® Russian Imperial Stout lies locked deep within her mysterious & elaborate wooden layers. The hidden soul of this oak bourbon barrel-aged beer that we said Dosvidanya ('goodbye') to several months before revealing, is its rich, robust & roasty maltiness that finishes dry" (source).
  • Left Foot Charley Cinnamon Girl, $8.59/500ml - "We chose the Korjinte/Sumatra cinnamon for this cider. It is stronger, more spicy and textural than Ceylon (some would say Real) cinnamon. The bark of this shrub was aged in the cider to impart that gentle spice and warmth you know so well. A touch of sweetness balances the flavors and the bubbles just make it fun" (source).
  • Left Foot Charley Henry's Pippin, $8.59/500ml - "Pippin is an old word for apple. It was also used to describe someone or something that is excellent. We think this cider is pippin indeed. We blended several different fermentations from our multitude of options in the cellar. Some were fermented in barrels, some in oak tanks and some in stainless steel tanks. Months after fermentation and settling we tasted through and found this blend worked very well" (source).
  • Left Foot Charley Antrim County, $8.59/500ml - "This simple cider was fermented from fruit grown on Ron Boals’ Farm in Antrim County. The blend is 50% Jonathan, 40% Rhode Island Greening, 5% Empire, 5% Jonamac" (source).
  • Short's Love Knife, $1.99/12oz - "One day while looking over popular Belgian beer styles, Tony noted that there were not a lot of Belgian Amber Ales. Therefore, he decided to create a recipe with a malt bill that loosely resembled a typical Amber Ale found in the states. By adding Belgian yeast and American hop varieties, Tony created a uniquely new and different hybridized style" (source).
  • Ballast Point Ginger Big Eye, $6.09/22oz - "We take our year-round production Big Eye IPA and infuse fresh skinned, sliced ginger root into the beer post fermentation. The spicy Centennial hops used in Big Eye go very well with the spicy taste and aromatics from the fresh ginger root. The solid malt backbone of Big Eye also lends itself well to ginger, almost adding a candied component as it blends across your palate" (source).
  • Ballast Point Tongue Buckler, $8.99/22oz - "Our Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale doesn’t pull any punches. This is a big brew with hops and malt in extreme abundance. The I.B.U.’s (International Bitterness Units) alone test the limits of your palate. Yet while the timid should take warning, Tongue Buckler generously rewards the bold with an exceptional ale experience" (source).

Video of the Week | Pints for Prostates

Great beer for a great cause.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Aultmore 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky Review

By John Barecki

The full name of Aultmore 12 Year Old Whisky —Aultmore of the Foggie Moss — calls to mind images of a fairy world. The liquid inside the bottle is just as special. Some reviewers have called it ethereal, as if it is of celestial making. In reality it's one of the five releases in “The Last Great Malts of Scotland” from Dewar's, a collection with some very interesting additions that up until now have only made it to the United States in a few blends and independent releases (which are limited). Aultmore for me was an adventure of the palate. It is subtle and boisterous at the same time, and because the distillers do not use peat to kiln their malt, one gets to enjoy the exciting flavors produced in the distillation process and from the effects of barrel aging.

Aultmore 12 Year Old Whisky pours a pale gold. On the nose it is fresh and vibrant with hints of peach and mint. There is also wildflower honey mixed with a slight wood resin note followed by almond, while an overall “green” character flows throughout. On tasting I found a medium to light body with honey and jasmine tea and a bit of apricot covered in a very light caramel. Hints of vanilla and marzipan (almond paste) are quite cooling on the tongue. The finish is dry and refreshing with a little lingering stone fruit, light cereal notes and lime peel, reminding me of a dry fino sherry.

This malt stirs up memories of walking through the woods on a spring day thanks to lots of bright green tones surrounded by earthy and floral scents. It is lively on the palate but also quite complex, a great before-dinner aperitif style that could work wonderfully with ice or as a highball with a bit of club soda on a hot day. Like other reviewers, I would definitely say this whisky has an ethereal quality, and as I stare out at a winter landscape (I'm writing this in January), a sip of the wonderful “spirit” makes me think of the warm days that will soon be coming back to us.

The other whiskies involved in the “Last Great Malts of Scotland" collection look promising as well (see for yourself in the video below). The Aberfeldy, Royal Brackla, Deveron and Craigellachie are all distinct from one another, using old and new processes to create flavors and textures each with a different tale of honey and citrus, maritime sea side tone, fruity to sulfury. They all seem like a wonderful cacophony for the senses. 

Aultmore 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky ($64.99/750ml) is available now at Siciliano's Market.

Friday, January 22, 2016

New Beer Friday, Hop Rhizome Pre-Order Edition (Jan 22)

Rhizome is where the heart is!
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you were homebrewing back in 2008 I’m sure you remember the hop shortage that caused prices to spike and forced homebrew shops to place limits on some of the most popular varieties. The contributing factors that resulted in that yearlong scarcity of humulus lupulus were essentially threefold.

In the fifteen years prior to the shortage, hop acreage was steadily declining due to a surplus that began accumulating in the early 1990s. As that surplus began running out, adverse weather in Europe significantly reduced the yield of many European varieties. Finally, and most detrimental from a homebrewing perspective, hop growers continued to honor contracts with commercial brewers which meant that homebrew shops were forced to absorb the brunt of the shortage.

Fortunately there’s been an adequate supply of hops for homebrewers over the past eight years. But now some experts in the industry are saying that another shortage is inevitable. Might be a good time for more homebrewing hobbyists to start planting hop rhizomes.

On that note, we will be taking rhizome pre-orders now through the end of business on Sunday, February 28th. Those wishing to place orders may do so via email (, by phone (616-453-9674) or in person here at Siciliano's. When ordering by email please ensure that you indicate the desired quantity of the specified variety. Price per each rootstock is $5.00 and payment will not be due until the time of pickup.

We anticipate that the rhizomes will be shipped from our Yakima Valley supplier during the first week of April. Those who placed orders will be personally notified when the shipment arrives. The following is a list of the rhizome varieties available this year.

Rhizome Varieties

    • Cascade: 4.5-7.0% alpha. Grows well in all climates. Susceptible to aphid. 
    • Centennial: 9.5 -11.5% alpha. Grows well in all climates. Susceptible to downy mildew. 
    • Chinook: 11.0-13.0% alpha. Grows well in dry, hot climates. Does not grow well in moist climates. Subject to spider mite. Great ornamental hop. 
    • Columbus: 14.5-15.5% alpha. Grows well in dry hot climates. Vigorous but susceptible to mildew diseases. 
    • Golding: 4.0-5.0% alpha. Grows well in mild, moist climates. Does okay in hot climates. 
    • Liberty: 3.0-5.0% alpha. Mild and spicy with subtle lemon and citrus characteristics. Grows well in mild, moist climates. 
    • Mt. Hood: 4-5% alpha. Hybrid of a Hallertau. Grows well in all climates. 
    • Northern Brewer: 8.0-10.0% alpha. Adequate in temperate climates but has difficulty growing when under heat stress. Susceptible to downy mildew. 
    • Nugget: 12.0-14.0% alpha. Grows well in all climates. 
    • Sterling: 6-8% alpha. Hybrid of Saaz. Grows wells in all climates. 
    • Tettnang: 4.0-5.0% alpha. Grows well in a moderate climate. Suffers a little in hot climates.*
    • Willamette: 4.0-6.0% alpha. Grows well in all climates.
*We have eliminated U.S. Fuggle and U.S. Hallertau only because the Tettnang is much more popular. All three varieties are a triploid and are almost identical to each other.

New and Returning Beer

  • Dieu du Ciel Route des Epices, $4.99/12oz - "Routes des épices (French for "Spice Route") is a rye beer brewed with both black and green peppercorns. Initially, the beer reveals flavours of fresh grain and malt, which give it notes of chocolate, caramel, and fruit. The pepper flavour and aroma is fully revealed in the finish, which leaves a pleasant, spicy, tingling sensation on the tongue" (source).
  • Dieu du Ciel Isseki Nicho, $4.99/12oz - "This "Imperial Dark Saison" is a collaboration between DDC and Shiga Kogen. It has the grain bill of an Imperial Stout, hops grown at Shiga Kogen and is fermented with Saison yeast" (source).
  • Freigeist Ehrenfelder Alt, $6.19/500ml - No commercial description available.
  • Kulmbacher Pils, $2.59/12oz - "In two recent blind tastings, German beer drinkers picked Kulmbacher as the best Pils in Germany. Soon thereafter, a panel of beer journalists bypassed local favorites (Beck’s and St. Paulie Girl) and voted Kulmbacher #1 in a tasting sponsored by the newspaper “Die Zeit” in Hamburg. Then, at a third blind tasting of leading Pilsners by students at the University of Bamberg (Germany’s best-educated and most-sophisticated beer town) – Kulmbacher came out on top again" (source).
  • Prairie Ape Snake, $11.39/500ml - "Ape Snake is a dark, dry hopped farmhouse ale. We’ve taken our dark farmhouse base and dry hopped it with Falconer’s Flight and Centennial hops. The combination of yeast and hops create an explosion of flavors, and this beer will continue to develop as it ages. Check it out in 500ml bottles and on draft at your favorite restaurants and bars" (source).
  • Bell's Hopslam, $2.59/12oz, $39.39/Minikeg - "Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell's Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell's repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style" (source).
  • Alaskan Hop Turn, $1.69/12oz - "A Hop Turn is an extreme maneuver in skiing and snowboarding designed to change direction quickly and negotiate the steepest terrain in the world. In skiing the technique is also known as a pedal-hop turn and was invented in the Alps in the early 1970’s when skiers first started to negotiate descents that could go over 60° in steepness and could run for 4,000 feet. The same technique is now used in snowboarding on the steepest chutes in Alaska’s biggest mountain ranges – by the world’s best riders like Jeremy Jones, who is always in search of terrain that is Further, Deeper and Higher. Our Hop Turn IPA also takes its inspiration from Europe – using a Pilsner malt for a distinctive old-world taste. With a floral, peppery, lemony aroma, crystal-clear pale straw color, brisk flavor and lively 7.5 percent ABV, Hop Turn is a radical take on an American IPA" (source).
  • Founders Imperial Stout, $3.09/12oz - "Brewed with ten varieties of malted barley, this stout is smooth as silk, yet complex and rich in body. Serve this guy at cellar temperature. Put another log on the fire, sit back and enjoy the friendship of this ultimate winter warmer" (source).
  • Glutenberg White, $2.99/16oz - "The Blanche is a completely unique interpretation of a classic style of Belgian inspiration. Traditionally brewed with wheat, Glutenberg renewed the style entirely to put forward a 100% gluten- and wheat-free beer, a tour de force of which only we hold the recipe. The Glutenberg White's distinction lies in its quinoa and amaranth composition, which endows it with a noticeable grainy profile, ensuring a steady mouth-feel. Soft and refreshing, with hints of coriander and curaçao, the White is the perfect nectar to quench your thirst" (source).
  • Grizzly Peak Berserker, $3.39/12oz - "Go Berserker and let this rich, thick and dark Imperial Winter Stout penetrate you with it’s dark color and intense aroma of black currants, roasted coffee and hint of Cacao. This strong beer is 9% alcohol by volume but is very balanced and ready to be sipped in front of your fire on a frigid winter night" (source).
  • Saugatuck Blueberry Maple Stout, $1.79/12oz - No commercial description available.
  • Stone Enjoy By Unfiltered, $2.99/12oz, $8.99/22oz - "In most cases, skipping a step is a bad thing. Not this time. This version of Stone Enjoy By IPA omits the part where we filter out the extra yeast, hop sediment and proteins that build up in beer as a natural result of the brewing process. Though it may sound like it, this missed step was no misstep. By letting this IPA go unfiltered, its peach and tropical fruit hop flavors are amplified while its golden-hued color takes on a hazy appearance. Like its filtered counterpart, this IPA is brewed specifically NOT to last, and is shipped immediately to ensure hopheads get their hands on it as soon as possible" (source).
  • Stone Matt's Burning Rosids, $9.49/22oz - "Fruit and spiciness from the Belgian yeast, followed by a more pronounced smoky woodiness. The finish is malty, with a touch of alcohol. There’s a really nice blend of flavors" (source).
  • Perrin No Problems, $1.69/12oz - "No Problems is our latest addition to the Perrin Brewing can family. Available all year round, this Session IPA comes in at 4.5% ABV and 45 IBUs. Our Session IPA" bursts open with aromatics of fresh citrus fruits, ripened melon and a distinctive floral bouquet. Weaved carefully under the hop bitterness lies a light, semi-sweet malt body, that finishes in a crisp N' clean fashion" (source).
  • Big Sky Slow Elk, $1.69/12oz - "Happens every year; people shootin' cows. That's how the slow elk got its name. Enjoy the creamy texture, great malt complexity and the unequaled smoothness of this northern Rockies oatmeal stout. Stock your fridge the easy way and keep an ear open for the unmistakable bugle of the slow elk ... Moooo! (source).
  • Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale, $1.99/12oz - "Our malty and rich beer with a snappy hop finish truly defies style…Imperial Mild?...Uber ESB?... We do know for sure that it is Unforgiven and Unrepentant" (source).
  • Odd Side Jesse's Party, $2.29/12oz - "Are you cool man?" (source).
  • Odd Side Flash Golden, $2.49/12oz - "Belgian Golden Strong Ale" (source).
  • Victory Anniversary Golden 20, $1.79/12oz - "Complex aromas of melon, pine, green grass, and citrus rind mingle in this crystal clear, blonde ale. Flavors of mango and cantaloupe mix with a touch of malty sweetness, followed by a pleasantly bitter, crisp finish that rounds out this hoppy brew" (source).
  • Victory Blackboard Agave IPA, $2.59/12oz - "Fresh, crisp and clean, this ale offers bold and refreshing flavors. Touched with agave syrup and grapefruit juice, this brew boasts great hop aroma and a light citric bite" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Huge Arker, $16.69/22oz - "True to its Boontling moniker, “Huge Arker” is a massive force of nature that detonates on your tongue. After primary fermentation, the beer is aged in Wild Turkey® Bourbon barrels until it fully matures. The deep mahogany color is evocative of the opulence to follow. Dark luscious aromas of burnished oak mingle with candy sugar, bourbon and hearth-baked bread. The luxurious flavors redolent of honey and molasses are intertwined with the richness of dark chocolate and the ardent warmth of alcohol, underpinned with hints of coffee, vanilla and dark fruits" (source).
  • Bitter Old Fecker Strutter, $14.99/22oz - "India Pale Ale brewed with chamomile, rose petals, juniper and honey and aged in Bourbon Barrels" (source).

Video of the Week | Bitter Old Fecker

Bitter Old Fecker now available at Siciliano's


Friday, January 15, 2016

New Beer Friday, Mark Your Calendars Edition (Jan 15)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Each year, during the first few weeks of January, the Siciliano’s staff takes advantage of the relative calm after the holiday storm to restock depleted shelves and get some New Year’s projects completed around the store. While the employees have been busy reorganizing, reconfiguring, cleaning and reloading, my wife Barb and I have been doing some preliminary planning on our annual trifecta of homebrew events.

The following is a list of this year’s pertinent dates. Stay tuned to The Buzz for further information and periodic updates.

    • Siciliano’s Thirteenth Annual Homebrew Competition – Entries will be accepted from Monday, March 21, through Sunday, April 10th, or until 200 entries are submitted. Judging will be held on Saturday, April 23, at the Guest House on Stocking Avenue. 
    • The Fourth Annual Siciliano’s Big Brew at the Calder – Saturday, May 7, at the Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids. 
    • The Thirteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party – Saturday, May 21, at Johnson Park on Butterworth. 
I’m also pleased and excited to report that our friends at Coldbreak Brewing are organizing a Home Brew League in which Siciliano’s will be participating. More information on the HBL will be published in The Buzz as it becomes available.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arcadia Hop Rocket, $3.29/12oz - "This Imperial IPA has an assertive aroma of sticky, resinous Summit hops. A complex flavor profile includes notes of grapefruit, lemon peel, and spruce. Though the flavor focus is on hops, a trio of malts provides a balance to the beer, creating a delicious level of palatability. Hints of caramel, toffee, and freshly-baked biscuits are also apparent in the flavor profile" (source).
  • Deschutes Red Chair, $1.79/12oz - "The citrus punch of a big IPA, minus the one-dimensional hop sledgehammer. Seven select European and domestic malts round out the edges for a complex, copper-colored brew. Like its namesake ski lift, it’s an insider’s ride to fresh thrills" (source).
  • Deschutes Pinedrops IPA, $1.99/12oz - "This West Coast IPA is like that sweet little Nordic trail off the main trail of Meissner - it takes the high road. Using Pilsner base malt, it is light on malt but not hops. With a hop bill consisting of Amarillo, Centennial, Northern Brewer, and experimental hop X, we packed in the pine along with the citrus notes we love" (source).
  • Right Brain Dead Kettle, $6.49/22oz - "A classic American Style IPA dominated by citrus aroma and flavor. It has strong grapefruit notes and a sharp finish" (source).
  • Perrin Lil Griz, $2.99/12oz - "Deliberately blazing our own trail, we brewed this barrel aged brown ale believing there is room for a new craft beer category: “Sessionable Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers”. Weighing in at 6.8% ABV ( Alc. 6.8% by Vol. ), the rich chocolate notes & creaminess of the flaked oats easily justify this beer bringing home a FoBAB medal this year. We hope you enjoy the ‘Lil Griz" (source).
  • 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).
  • Arbor Eucher Pils, $1.89/12oz - "Euchre is a true Pilsner style beer – medium-light bodied and crisp yet bursting with noble hop flavor perfectly balanced by a pale malt base.  Authentic German-style pilsners are not bland or watery and ours pushes the category boundaries just a tad at 5.7% ABV and 47 IBUs" (source).
  • Arbor Phat Abbot Tripel, $2.89/12oz - "This traditional Belgian-style triple is strong, fruity, and slightly sour. It starts with a big malt presence, followed up by a pronounced candy sugar sweetness, and balanced with a spicy hop finish. A must-try" (source).
  • Bell's Smitten Golden Rye Ale, $1.79/12oz - "Eccentric Café. The combination of sharp citrus & resinous flavors from the hops with the earthy, rustic overtones of the rye malt contribution yield an interesting take on the American Pale Ale" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Ski Patrol, $3.39/16oz (4 per) - "Belgian Inspired Wit. Whether you’re stuck on the chairlift waiting to get to the top of a black diamond , or you’re soaking in the hot tub after a long day of destroying some moguls, it’s Ski Patrol Wit to the rescue! This crushable slopes-inspired beer compliments our Michigan winters with a hazy golden pour and a warming spice on the nose. Pack your longjohns and swimwuit. Ski weekend is upon us. Cans are light and easy to pack so you can take them wherever the trail takes you" (source).
  • Coronado Stingray Point IPA, $2.19/12oz -  - "Named after a San Diego bayside point, sweet honey malt followed by a hoppy citrus bitterness" (source).
  • Green Flash Handshake IPA, $8.89/22oz (1 per) - "Hand Shake IPA is a commemorative collaboration beer brewed to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Green Flash and Alpine Brewing Company union. Brewmasters Pat and Shawn Mcilhenney and Chuck Silva combined peers to create an IPA worth of sharing with good friends. Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra, and El Dorado hops create a fresh, orange, peppery flavor with an earthy bitter finish. So delicious, let’s toast to a beautiful friendship" (source).
  • Green Flash Treasure Chest, $7.89/22oz - "Say Aloha to Treasure Chest 2015, an exotic pink IPA brewed with grapefruit, prickly pear juice and hibiscus flowers. Erupting with fruit-forward complexity, 100% Mosaic hops present aromas of heady citrus and refined stone fruit. The pleasantly bitter flavors of the hops are enhanced by the addition of fresh grapefruit juice. Offering balance to offset the bold citrus notes, prickly pear juice imparts a peppery-sweet kick in the finish. Tropical Hibiscus flowers give this beer a naturally pink hue, a nod to the official color of the Treasure Chest mission" (source).
  • Green Flash Oculus Sauvage, $19.69/750ml (1 per) - "Our Belgian-style Trippel and American Imperial IPA hybrid ale is inoculated with Brettanomyces to create Oculus Sauvage. Highly nuanced, the resinous hops characteristics are refined by barrel-drawn notes of vanilla and French oak tannins. Wild yeast imparts a barnyard funk with hints of apple orchard that linger in the finish" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Tropical IPA, $1.69/12oz - "fruit, including notes of mango, papaya and bitter orange, for a tropical take on the IPA" (source).
  • Atwater Corktown RIPA, $1.79/12oz - "Rye IPA" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Riserva, $20.09/750ml (1 per) - "Over a year in the making, this American Wild Ale is fermented with Brettanomyces yeast and aged with red-raspberry puree in Oak barrels for over 1 year, then bottle conditioned in champagne bottles" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Insanity, $4.29/12oz (1 per) - "Insanity, first released November 2004, is Weyerbacher's latest creation in the world of cutting edge beers. Insanity is made by aging our perfectly balanced Blithering Idiot Barleywine in oak bourbon casks. This incredible combination creates a melange of flavors such as malt, dates, oak, vanilla, and bourbon just to name a few" (source).
  • Short's Swirl Stout, $2.39/12oz - "Swirl Stout is a Milk Stout brewed with cacao nibs, vanilla, and milk sugar.  The aromas are bold and sharp, reminiscent of a decadent chocolate liqueur or Kahlua.  A satisfying blend of sweet creaminess and dark chocolate create the perfect balance. Roasted bitter flavors are noticeable, but it’s a lingering sweetness that ultimately dries the palate" (source).
  • Short's Ale La Reverend, $1.99/12oz - "Ale La Reverend is a distinctively dry and light bodied India Pale Ale with an appealing golden hue. It has a thirst-quenching crispness and is laden with citrus and spruce hop aromas. Semi-sweet malt provides a backdrop for mild earthy flavors and slight grassy notes. Double dry-hop additions allows for a lower alcohol level while still providing the entire hop effect expected of a classic IPA" (source).
  • Short's Juicy Tree, $2.39/12oz - "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).
  • Epic Big Bad Baptist, $12.09/22oz - "It’s Big, it’s Bad, Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, with Coffee and Cocoa Nibs" (source).
  • Southern Tier Backburner, $4.19/12oz - "Long ago, British farmhouse brewers made special ales using the first runnings of the mash. These beers, now called barley wine, are brewed in the tradition of days past. At Southern Tier this long awaited brew is placed on the back burner until the start of the new year. Back Burner Barley Wine is a celebration of things to come and things remembered. It’s conceived in three small batches, using voluminous amounts of barley and hops. The process starts early in the morning and ends late into the night. We hope this rare brew reignites your spirit for another trip around the sun" (source).
  • Ballast Point Peppermint Victory at Sea, $8.99/22oz - "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).
  • W.G. Brewing Ginger Beer, $2.19/12oz - "Alcoholic ginger beer" (source).
  • W.G. Brewing Root Beer, $2.19/12oz - "Alcoholic root beer" (source).

Vidoe of the Week | Pilot Malt House

Pilot Malt House and the homebrewing community —
a winning combination.


Friday, January 8, 2016

New Beer Friday, Global Conglomerate Edition (Jan 8)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The most recent slate of craft brewery acquisitions by global beer conglomerates is generating a good deal of dialogue and debate in the craft beer community. The pending sale of San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits to Constellation Brands and the December announcement that Anheuser-Busch has purchased Colorado-based Breckenridge Brewery have elicited mostly negative reactions in the forums on beer-centric internet sites.

While a smattering of commenters maintain they will continue to purchase Ballast Point and Breckenridge products provided there is no drop in quality, a large percentage of the posters are adamantly opposed to supporting craft breweries owned by huge corporations.

Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. arm of AB InBev, operates 17 local breweries, 21 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities across the United States and is the world’s largest brewer. Constellation Brands is the world’s largest wine producer and owns more than 100 brands of beer, wine and spirits.

Adverse reactions to these acquisitions no doubt stem from the fact that many in the craft beer community have perennially viewed the mega corporate breweries as enemies hell bent on stemming or destroying the craft beer resurgence. I have not agreed with that extreme point of view but the recent brewery acquisitions combined with AB InBev’s other tactics are prompting me to rethink my position.

According to an article in Dow Jones Business News, AB InBev recently introduced a new incentive program that could offer some independent distributors in the U.S. annual reimbursements of as much as $1.5 million if 98% of the beers they sell are AB InBev brands. AB InBev is also in the process of acquiring more distributors and is working on a merger with rival conglomerate SABMiller.

“Even the new, ultra-powerful AB InBev-SABMiller super conglomerate can’t buy them all out, one would think,” Brad Tuttle wrote in a recent article in “But the global beer behemoth can strategically purchase key craft brewers and use them to make it extremely difficult for independent little guys to be successful in the marketplace.”

I have no doubt that we will see more acquisitions of American craft breweries by global conglomerates in the upcoming year. What long term effect these acquisitions will have on the craft beer resurgence in the U.S. remains to be seen and will continue to be the subject of a long term debate.

New and Returning Beer

  • New Belgium Glutiny Gold, $1.69/12oz - "Hoist your pints to the mutiny against gluten, and toast to Glutiny Golden Ale, our new uncompromised gluten-reduced beer designed for the discerning craft drinker. For this new year-round release, we dosed the beer with colorful Nugget, Goldings and Cascade hops, and then turned around and dry-hopped it again with Cascade, lending bright grapefruit and subtle herbal notes to the wash of bready-sweet malts; additions of oats adds a layer of smoothness to the mouthfeel. Finally, we used a special enzyme during the brewing process, which breaks down the gluten. The result is super sessionable, flavorful golden ale that starts sweet and finishes crisp. Ready to join the uprising? Taste the Glutiny" (source).
  • New Belgium Glutiny Pale, $1.69/12oz - "There’s an uprising in the craft beer world, a mutiny on gluten, and the movement’s invaded our brewhouse, demanding we finally brew an uncompromised gluten-reduced pale ale fit for the most adventurous hopheads. Our response? This is Glutiny! For this new year-round release, we armed the beer with a hefty dose of exotic Equinox hops, lending breezy guava, papaya and stone fruits to a wash of sweet, slightly herbal malt flavors. We then employed a special enzyme during the brewing process, which breaks down the gluten. Like any delicious pale ale, expect swift bitterness in the swallow and an assertively dry finish, just how we like it. Ready to join the uprising? Taste the Glutiny" (source).
  • New Belgium Citradellic Tangerine, $1.69/12oz - "This hop profile really lends itself to that big citrusy, juicy fruit nose, so the next logical step was to riff off of that with actual Tangerine,” said Assistant Brewmaster Grady Hull. “The result is a brightly citrus, slightly bitter, and pleasantly balanced IPA" (source).
  • New Belgium Side Trip, $1.69/12oz - "Sometimes it’s a side trip that makes the journey. During our last anniversary retreat to Belgium, brewmaster Peter Bouckaert embarked on a sensory excursion to find the perfect yeast strain for his next creation: Side Trip Belgian Pale Ale. A beer from Brouwerij Van Den Bossche led Bouckaert to the brewery’s family Buffalo yeast strain, which they happily shared, and the foundation was set. Additions of Belgian Chateau Abbey and Cara Ruby malts from Castle Malting, the oldest malting plant in Belgium, as well as Belgian Magnum, Saphir and Target hops builds a bready, caramel-sweet wash with traces of stone fruits, and a balanced herbal bitterness for a pleasantly dry finish. Take a break from your journey with a Side Trip" (source).
  • Oskar Blues Hotbox Coffee Porter, $3.09/12oz - "Rich, Robust with obscene amount balinese coffee" (source).
  • Blackrocks Mint Stout, $1.99/12oz - "This Foreign Extra Stout is brewed with fresh mint leaves, adding a subtle hint on top of the roasted malts" (source).
  • Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree, $4.49/12oz - "We actually took the Crooked Tree recipe and doubled all of the ingredients except the water, just the way a DOUBLE should be made. Big hops balanced with tons of malt give this beer a huge body. Enjoy right away or let it mellow and smooth with some age" (source).
  • Founders Rubaeus, $2.99/12oz (Now Year Round) - "Optimizing the flavor of fresh raspberries added at multiple stages during fermentation, this stunning berry red masterpiece is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. No question about it, with a hefty malt bill and 5.7% ABV, this beer is 100% Founders" (source).
  • Founders Azacca, $1.79/12oz - "A new ’tropical’ IPA starring Azacca hops, an experimental hop variety from Roy Farms" (source).
  • Latitude 42 Lucifer's Cuvee, $2.39/12oz - "Dangerously devastating, Lucifer’s Cuvée is our Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. Intense hearty rye, along with a decadent gourmet of chocolate essence, and balanced by the addition of Cascade hops" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Ovila Plum, $3.29/12oz - "Ovila Abbey Quad is heady with aromas of caramel, rich malt, and dark fruit balanced by the spiciness and delicate fruity notes of a traditional Belgian yeast. This complex beer is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux. It features sugar plums grown on the grounds of the Abbey and harvested by the monks in Vina. We hope you enjoy this collaboration ale" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Otra Vez, $1.69/12oz - "On our search for the perfect warm weather beer, we wanted something light bodied and thirst quenching, yet filled with complex and interesting flavors. We stumbled across the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, native to California. This tangy fruit is a great complement to the tart and refreshing traditional gose style beer. Otra Vez combines prickly pear cactus with a hint of grapefruit for a refreshing beer that will have you calling for round after round" (source).
  • Crankers Old Siberian, $10.49/22oz - "Old Siberian is a beer that tames the brutish northern winter with it’s full rich flavors of caramel and dark fruit. It is rich and expressive, malt forward, and begs to be enjoyed in front of the fireplace. This is a terrific beer to drink this season, or age in your cellar and allow it to develop further for years to come. Let Old Siberian become on of the bright spots amid our long frigid winters" (source).
  • Breckenridge 25, $27.89/750ml - "The recipe starts with an Imperial version of the brewery’s ever-popular Vanilla Porter giving it a more prominent ‘porter’ flavor as well as the boosted ABV. The beer then rests for ten weeks in rum barrels imported from the Caribbean island of Barbados.  Added to each cask is ¼ pound of incredibly rare, fresh, wet vanilla beans from the Veracruz region of Mexico.  Even the vanilla beans carry a unique story, coming from small family farms where they are hand pollinated and hand picked. This exotic beer is full of flavor with notes of rum, raisin, and an oaky vanilla finish. Twenty Five is packaged proudly in 750 ml cork-and-cage bottles, and at 9.8% alcohol by volume, it’s one to be sipped and shared" (source).
  • Old Nation Ten Penny, $1.69/12oz - "Tastes of biscuit, caramel and toasted bread. Just enough Michigan hops to balance" (source).
  • Old Nation 2 Crow, $1.99/12oz - "I passed two crows on a branch in a field, still and calm. They seemed natural and out of place, all at once. Two Crow Black Sugar Stout is like that; black as night with something hard to define in its’ nature. Dark Malts, noble hops and two kinds of house caramelized MI beet sugars combine to create a beautifully balanced high gravity stout. Strong stout with caramelized Michigan sugar. Not overly sweet or heavy for the ABV" (source).
  • Old Nation Detroit Dwarf, $1.69/12oz - "Inspired by the legendary “Nain Rouge”(French for Red Dwarf), our signature beer is full in flavor while remaining very balanced and crisp. It is our pride and pleasure to provide you with one of the finest Alt beers brewed in the United States" (source).
  • Old Nation Grand Pale Rye Session Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Summer on the water, the leaves turning in the fall, snow on the river and the riotous rebirth of spring.  We love it outside, and we made our go-to ale to honor our home river and the seasons that give it life.  The snap of cold climate rye, the floral bite of the hop and the best brewing water in the world  against the harvest-sweet backbone of pale and caramel malt" (source).
  • Tapistry Rice Reaper, $11.09/22oz - "Double Rice IPA" (source).
  • Tapistry Batch 200, $11.09/22oz - "Belgian Golden Strong Ale" (source).
  • Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, $4.79/22oz - "Brewed with boatloads of roasted coffee in each batch for that extra Krunk… this Mondo Coffee Stout will leave you wondering whether you're coming or going. Available in 22oz bombers mid-winter…ish" (source).

Video of the Week | Bell's Two Hearted Ale

If there's ever a hall of fame for craft beer, Two Hearted should be inducted first.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Brew of the Month, January Edition: Oatmeal Stout

Matt Ross
By Matt Ross

Starting this month, Siciliano’s Market is making a few changes in our homebrew section. Along with the continual updating of inventory, we are releasing a monthly staff-developed recipe. Each recipe will be written and brewed by us and tested for quality with friends and family.

We are kicking off the first Brew of the Month with an Oatmeal Stout. It is a rich and creamy beer with a focus on chocolate malt and roasted barley. To bring out a thicker body, we mashed at higher temperatures, did a two-hour boil and fermented with Wyeast 1272 American Ale II. In my experience, this yeast does not attenuate as fully as other American strains. When we brewed this recipe our OG was 1.058. The beer finished at 6.5% ABV. The finished product reminded me and fellow staffer Joe Potter of oatmeal flavored subtly with peanut butter and chocolate.

Joe Potter
For me, homebrewing is about full creative expression and making whatever you want. In that spirit we decided to cold steep the darker grains instead of mashing with them. This gives a more subtle chocolate coffee character without any astringency. We encourage people to look at this recipe and make it their own. In other words, we outfitted the recipe but each brewer is the artist.

January’s Oatmeal Stout recipe is available for both all grain and partial mash brewers. For 5.5 gallons, this recipe's ingredients will cost around $31 and about a buck more for the partial mash version. Ask any of our staff about the Brew of the Month and stay tuned for recipes to come. Brew on, Grand Rapids.

All-Grain Ingredients

    • 9-lbs Maris Otter
    • 8-oz Chocolate Malt
    • 12-oz Roasted Barley
    • 12-oz Victory Malt
    • 6-oz Caramel 40L
    • 1-lb Flaked Oats
    • 1-oz Fuggle @ 60min
    • 1-oz Fuggle @ 30min
    • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II or Safale US-05

Partial Mash Ingredients

    • 6.75-lbs Light Liquid Malt Extract
    • 8-oz Chocolate Malt
    • 12-oz Roasted Barley
    • 12-oz Victory Malt
    • 6-oz Caramel 40L
    • 1-lb Flaked Oats
    • 1-oz Fuggle @ 60min
    • 1-oz Fuggle @ 30min
    • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II or Safale US-05
The steep 
The kettle
"When you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."