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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Beer Friday, Staff Picks for Turkey Day Edition (Nov 23)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We have great news for anyone planning on giving the hobbies of beermaking or winemaking as Christmas gifts this year. Beginning on Black Friday, November 25, and continuing through the end of business on December 24, we will be offering deep discounts on our Brewer’s Best and Vintner’s Best equipment packages. These boxed kits are geared toward new brewers and winemakers and include the basic equipment needed to get started in these life-enriching hobbies.

Holiday pricing and complete descriptions of the beermaking and winemaking equipment packages follow.

Brewer’s Best Deluxe Equipment Kit, $75.00 (Regular Price $105.00) - "The complete equipment package. Contains everything a beginning brewer needs except boiling pot, bottles and caps: 6.5 gallon "Ale Pail" Primary Fermenter with Grommeted Lid, 6.5 gallon "Ale Pail" Bottling Bucket with Spigot, 5 Gallon Glass Carboy, "Home Beermaking" Book, Easy Clean No-Rinse Cleanser, Twin Lever Capper, Triple Scale Hydrometer, Siphon Hose and Shut-Off Clamp, Drilled Universal Carboy Bung, Liquid Crystal Thermometer, Lab Thermometer, Brew Paddle, Airlock, Fermtech Auto Siphon, Bottle Filler, Bottle Brush, Carboy Brush and Equipment Instructions" (source).

Brewer’s Beast Equipment Kit, $95.00 (Regular Price $135.00) - "The most complete equipment kit in the homebrew industry is now available from Brewer's Best®. The Brewer's BeAst includes everything your customers need to make the finest batch of beer (by using a Brewer's Best® ingredient kit, of course) in one box. Equipment kit includes: 6.5 gallon "Ale Pail" Primary Fermenter with Grommeted Lid, 6.5 gallon "Ale Pail" Bottling Bucket with Spigot, Easy Clean No-Rinse Cleanser, Auto-Siphon, 5 Gallon Glass Carboy, Plastic Paddle, Carboy Brush, Hydrometer, Liquid Crystal Thermometer, Bottle Brush, Black Beauty Capper, Econolock, Drilled Bung, Lab Thermometer, Bottle Filler, Siphon Hose with Shut-off Clamp, IO-Star, 20 qt. Brew Pot and Equipment Instructions. * Does not include bottles or caps" (source).

Vintner’s Best Equipment Kit, $78.00 (Regular Price $95.00) - "Contains 7.9 Gallon Fermenter with Drilled and Grommeted Lid 6 Gallon Glass Carboy Liquid Crystal Thermometer Easy Clean No-Rinse Cleanser Double Lever Corker Premium Corks (30ct.) Mix-Stir Triple Scale Hydrometer Econolock Drilled Universal Carboy Bung 5 ft Siphon Tubing Fermtech Auto Siphon Combination Bottle Filler Bottle Brush Equipment Instructions" (source).

Staff Picks for Thanksgiving

Beer Picks

  • The Boss: Arbor Brewing Figjam Quad, $2.89/12oz - "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).
  • John: Alaskan Brewing Winter Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Brewed in the style of an English Olde Ale, this ale balances the sweet heady aroma of spruce tips with the clean crisp finish of noble hops. Its malty richness is complemented by the warming sensation of alcohol" (source).
  • Sarah: Vivant Stone Fruit Sour, $9.99/500ml - "Foeder Aged Weissbier with all-Michigan grown peaches, plums, apricots, and cherries" (source).
  • Kati: New Belgium Accumulation, $1.69/12oz  - "Accumulation White IPA was inspired by the white beauty that falls each winter from our Colorado sky. Flurries of Mosaic and Amarillo hops bring soft fruit and citrus flavor, followed by a layer of bitter. Piled high in IBUs, Accumulation will make your winter brighter" (source).
  • Matt: Big Lake Dark Star, $2.69/16oz - "A breakfast style stout brewed with Kona and Sumatra coffee aged on cocoa nibs" (source).
  • Joe: Breckenridge Brewing Mango Mosaic, $1.99/12oz - "Mosaic hops naturally give off aromas of guava and mango, lending a unique sweetness to the hop character of this pale ale. To build upon the tropical attributes of the hops, we've added a healthy dose of mango. Mango Mosaic Pale Ale is a well-balanced montage of fruit flavors, fresh aromas, and refreshingly crisp goodness" (source).
  • Max: Vivant Verdun, $3.49/16oz - "Our take on a classic French style. Malty, Rustic, and made with some French Hops. The perfect Fall beer" (source).
  • Mark: Stone Brewing Xocovaza, $2.99/12oz  - "Harmoniously layered with cocoa, Mostra coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk sugar, this beer is an insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate. Thanks entirely to you and fan demand, it has gone from being a one-time offering to a yearly tradition too special to skip. Feel free to enjoy it long into the winter months because this festive beer will age beautifully and is definitely not exclusive to the holidays" (source).

Wine Picks

  • The Boss: Poggio Anima Lilith Primitivo, $13.99/750ml - "This is a subtly floral expression of this this mighty red grape from Southern Italy. Rich purple in color, inviting aromas of spiced cherries and black fruits complement undertones of tobacco and dried plums. It is a full-bodied wine, warm and soft on the palate with flavors that continue to evolve into the finish" (source).
  • John: Parducci True Grit Petite Sirah, $17.99/750ml - "A heady rush of fresh blackberry, dark chocolate, and white pepper with a caramel twist" (source).
  • Sarah: Moutard Blanc De Blanc, $17.09/750ml - No commercial description available.
  • Kati: Charles de Fere Cuvee Jean Louis Rose Brut, $10.79/750ml - "Jean-Louis Denois, the sixth-generation of a well-established Champagne producing family, decided to create his own sparkling winery in the town of Fère-en-Tardenois, just twenty miles outside of the Champagne appellation. Free of the confines of Champagne, Jean-Louis could refuse territorial limits, selecting cuvées from northerly vineyards for their freshness and elegance, together with cuvées from southern vineyards for ripe fruit, body and smoothness. He boldly believed that regions outisde Champagne also had the potential to create sparkling wines of superb quality. With France’s best cuvées blended to the winemaker’s style, Charles de Fère’s wines consistenly offer finesse, structure, and a complex harmony of flavors" (source).
  • Matt: Donna Vinho Tinto, $6.99/750ml - No commercial description available.
  • Joe: Albert Bichot Beaujolais Villages Nouveau, $9.99/750ml - "Beaujolais Nouveau is the name given to Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages wines which are released almost immediately after harvest. Arguably the most famous expression of the Gamay grape variety, these light, fruity reds are usually the first of the year's harvest in France, and are released annually to huge international fanfare" (source).
  • Max: Brengman Brothers Piccolo Dito Vermouth, $36.99 - "Flavors of orange peel and vanilla yield to chocolate tones, all underpinned by a backbone of astringent bitter herbs. Finishes sweet with a hint of oak though balanced with touch of bitterness" (source).
  • Mark: David el Fin Perfume de Sonsierra, $64.39/750ml - "Notas afrutadas (fresa, grosella, regaliz) y aromas de café, torrefactos y tostados. Equilibrado y redondo en boca" (source).

Whiskey Picks

  • The Boss: Pikesville Straight Rye, $49.96/750ml - "Dry and spicy, with honeyed rye and cloves" (source).
  • John: Westland American Single Malt, $65.99/750ml - "Malted barley is the most complex and flavorful grain used to make whiskey. For centuries, single malt whiskies have been considered solely the domain of Scotland. But a new category of single malt is taking root. One that offers us the chance to make a mark in the world of whiskey. It must be led by your own ideas, done on your own terms and realized through your own hard work. Here in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, we are graced with world-class natural ingredients. Those ingredients inspire us to pursue our own unique American-style single malt to rival the finest whiskies in the world. With each expression we work to create something that both honors the traditions of distilling that we admire and adds something worthwhile at the same time. Something new and distinctly American. The character of our malt provides a wealth of flavor profiles for our whiskies. Regardless of the individual expression, every whiskey at Westland Distillery is underscored by our house style – a sweetness and ease on the palate accompanied by a fruity and complex but ultimately grain-focused finish worthy of its place in this new world" (source).
  • Sarah: Highspire Pure Rye, $39.99/750ml - "Once vanished and now found. Highspire Pure Rye Whiskey was established in 1823 and considered one of America’s best known 100% rye whiskies. Lost during prohibition, Highspire Whiskey is now back and is still made with a 100% rye grain. We have taken original methodologies, added some contemporary craft and created a whiskey that once again stands apart from all others" (source).
  • Kati: Ardbeg 10, $51.99/750ml - "Ardbeg Ten Years Old is revered around the world as the peatiest, smokiest, most complex single malt of them all. Yet it does not flaunt the peat; rather it gives way to the natural sweetness of the malt to produce a whisky of perfect balance. Named World Whisky of the Year in 2008" (source).
  • Matt: Benchmark, $22.99/1.75liter - "The nose bears caramel notes with a delicate stone-fruit backdrop. A robust and sturdy palate with some fine leather notes mingling with dry tobacco, a touch of oak and a hint of dried cherries. The finish is smooth and calming" (source).
  • Joe: Four Roses Single Barrel, $41.98/750ml - "A premium Single Barrel Bourbon with a taste you’ll want to savor again and again. Complex, full bodied and surprisingly smooth with a delicate long finish that’s unbelievably mellow. Contains hints of ripe plum, cherry and other fruits, mild spices, plus sweet aromas including caramel, cocoa, vanilla and maple syrup. Drink straight up or on the rocks" (source).
  • Mark: High West Double Rye, $36.96/750ml - "Perhaps the spiciest American whiskey I have ever tasted, yet at the same time, quite tame and mellow. Complex notes of mint, clove, cinnamon, licorice root, pine nuts, and dark chocolate, with a surprising dose of gin botanicals throughout. A soft underbelly of caramel, sweet corn, and soothing vanilla provides an interesting counterpoint. Very easy-drinking, too (hard to believe it's 46%). Intriguing, and a must-try for rye whiskey aficionados - even if only to satisfy your curiosity" (source).
  • Max: Bain's Cape Mountain Whiskey, $29.99/750ml - "Bain’s Single Grain Whisky is a double matured whisky produced from 100% South African Yellow Maize, you may call this corn. We first mature it in specially selected first-fill bourbon casks for a period of three years, we then transfer it to a second set of first-fill bourbon casks for a further 18 to 30 months to extract a full rich flavor like no other" (source).

Video of the Week | Highspire Pure Rye

Highspire Rye: Available now at Siciliano's!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November Brew of the Month: M. Spencer's Strong Bitter

By Max Spencer

With the holidays coming up I wanted to make a crushable yet weather appropriate beer for the long drinking sessions that family gatherings entail. This need inspired me to create a Strong Bitter, better known in America as an ESB (Extra Special Bitter). This very British style of beer incorporates a strong malt backbone with enough hop character and bitterness to be balanced — dangerously drinkable, endlessly enjoyable. ESBs typically have flavors of bread, biscuit, nuts, toffee, fruits, earth, spices, and flowers. To me, this flavor profile screams fall and early winter — a perfect companion for holiday foods too.

I used a technique called first wort hopping as you will see down in the recipes. First wort hopping is an advanced hopping technique that has great practical uses and is easy to execute — it increases the utilization of all the hops that are added to the boil by around 10-15%, increases hop aroma and results in a “softer” bitterness overall. German breweries have traditionally used first wort hopping as a method to get more out of less hops. For all grain, first wort hopping entails adding hops as soon as you start draining your mash into your kettle. For extract, add hops after steeping your grains and adding all or some of your LME before boil.

I ended up brewing an additional gallon of beer to do something a little special with. I took my extra gallon and aged it on oak chips soaked in Calvados — apple brandy from the Normandy region of France. I thought that the flavors of rustic apples and earthy spices found in Calvados would complement my ESB in all the right ways. Feel free to do something similar with Calvados as well, or any form of brandy — especially apple brandy — or even whiskey.

All Grain

    • 9.5 lbs. Golden Promise 
    • 1 lbs. Medium Crystal
    • 0.5 lbs. Amber Malt
    • 0.5 lbs. Melanoidin Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Pale Chocolate
    • 1 oz. UK Challenger First Wort (60-minute boil)
    • 1 oz. UK Challenger @ 30 minutes
    • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 15 minutes
    • 1 oz. UK Challenger and 1 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 5 minutes
    • Yeast: Lallemand’s London ESB


    • 7.75 lbs. Light Pilsner LME
    • 1 lbs. Medium Crystal
    • 0.5 lbs. Amber Malt
    • 0.5 lbs. Melanoidin Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Pale Chocolate
    • 0.5 lbs. corn sugar
    • 1.5 oz. UK Challenger First Wort (60-minute boil)
    • 1.5 oz. UK Challenger @ 30 minutes
    • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 15 minutes
    • 1 oz. UK Challenger and 1 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 5 minutes
    • (Alternatively, use the same hop schedule as all grain if you are boiling at full volume)
    • Yeast: Lallemand’s London ESB
Manipulations: For all grain, you can replace Golden Promise with Maris Otter as the base malt if you prefer one over the other. For extract — if you feel like spending a little extra money for authenticity — you can use Munton’s Pale LME in place of the pilsner LME. There are several English ale yeast strains that you could use as an alternative to the Lallemand ESB strain — Safale 04, White Labs 005 British Ale, Wyeast 1028 London Ale, Wyeast 1098 English Ale. Really, any English ale yeast will work. You can use American hops if you wish, but I would recommend a lighter hand on the quantity.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Product Spotlight: The Anvil Brewing Kettle

By Mark Iacopelli

The holiday season is a great time for homebrewers. The seasonal brews are wonderful and Saint Nick is here to bring you those much needed upgrades to your brewing system.

If you have been thinking of making the leap to all-grain brewing and need a bigger pot, want to expand your existing system or would like to transition into electric brewing, the new Anvil Brewing kettle is perfect.

Anvil Brewing Equipment is a sister company to Blichmann Engineering. Their goal is to bring Blichmann quality and durability into a price range that is more accessible. Despite the lower price point almost nothing was taken away, and a couple features added. Stainless steel ball valve, thermometer, laser etched volume markings and dip tube all come standard with this kettle.

This kettle is also clad with induction capable stainless steel allowing you to do electric brewing more safely and inexpensively. The typical route for electric brewing is to drill a number of holes into your pot and install electric heating coils which get in the way of stirring and are difficult to clean. For about $80 on Amazon you can get an 1800w portable induction top and you’re immediately set up for up to 7-gallon boils for 5-gallon batches.

Another unique feature with this kettle is that it doubles as a fermentor. A hole in the lid allows for a grommet and airlock to be used, and the rim can be covered with a silicone seal. This means all you need to do is cool the beer down and pitch your yeast — no transfer necessary.

At Siciliano’s we currently carry the 10-gallon model for $249.99. We can also order in 5.5-gallon through 20-gallon versions by request.

Friday, November 18, 2016

New Beer Friday, 1792 Single Barrel Edition (Nov 18)

Preamble by John Barecki

This holiday season, we here at Siciliano's Market have decided to do something special for our customers. We have purchased a whole barrel's worth of 1792, the flagship bourbon from The Barton Distillery down in Bardstown, Kentucky.

This is a pretty cool opportunity for us to have something that is uniquely our own, being that it is a single-barrel bourbon that does not share its eccentricities with another. Most of your typical bourbons on the shelf (unless specified) will be a blend of several barrels from different years which contain the right flavors and aromas to create a continuity within a finished whiskey, thus pleasing the customer every time. Single-barrel releases differ because, as the name implies, they come from only one source and feature a whole cacophony of flavors and aromas distinct to that barrel.

The bourbon inside the bottle, for those that have not tried the regular small-batch release of 1792, is made from a high rye mash, which imparts a spicy, earthy and fruity quality to the whiskey. In the time it spends in the barrel, it pulls flavors of toffee, vanilla, butterscotch and caramel among others. These are all backed up with a big bodied mouthfeel and long finish. It is quite a lovely bourbon.

We have also gone with a higher bottling strength of 98.6 proof, which concentrates the flavor and aroma a bit more than the 93.75 proof of the small batch, which is still quite good. Most bourbon distilleries rarely have a single-barrel product on the shelf all the time (outside of a couple) and they are usually snatched up quickly. This is a fun gift or collectable for the whiskey lovers out there that like out-of-the-ordinary releases.

We have been notified that our barrel has been bottled and we are gleefully awaiting the new addition to our whiskey collection. We will hopefully have it in store in a few weeks if not sooner. It will be priced at $53.99 and will come with a sticker of authenticity with the Siciliano's name on it. The 1792 small batch bourbon is one of our top sellers and is usually available if you want to experience the original before delving into one of the single-barrel bottlings. 

New and Returning Beer

  • Prairie Christmas Bomb, $9.59/12oz (1 per) - "Christmas Bomb! will bring you great comfort and joy in this dark and roasty brew. You’ll find the coffee, ancho chilies, vanilla, and cacao nibs you know and love, but they brought a friend this time. The addition of cinnamon warms this brew evoking the seasonal spirit of spice and cheer" (source).
  • Libertine Pacific Ocean Blue Gose, $19.99/750ml - "Morro Bay ocean, inspired by Dennis Wilson album by the same name" (source).
  • Mikkeller Rauch Pils, $4.79/12oz - "Doesn’t take much to figure out what’s going on here. Mikkeller’s Rauchpils is a smokey pilsner of a beer. Brewed at De Proef, in Lochristi-Hufte, Belgium" (source).
  • To Øl Pineapple Express, $11.39/500ml - "Stout brewed with Pineapples & Coffee" (source).
  • To Øl Kaffe og Rog, $6.49/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Dieu du Ciel Chemin de Croix, $4.99/12oz - "Chemin de Croix’s rich roasted and chocolate flavours, made evident by its dark mocha colour, are accompanied by fruity esters resulting from the yeast. A resinous bitterness contributes to the overall dryness. Brown malt – rather than roasted malt – invokes the typical signature of the first Porters, often generously hopped for exportation to India" (source).
  • Arbor Brewing Faricy Stout, $1.89/12oz - "This crowd-pleaser has a dark coffee-like appearance with a creamy head and smoky, roasted grain aromas. It is rich and creamy on the palate with chalky, burnt flavors balanced by lush dark chocolates and never turns too dry through the smoky finish. Full-flavored yet highly drinkable—rich and creamy without being thick or heavy" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Tart Side of the Moon, $4.29/16oz - "One of our most anticipated and highly talked about specialty releases, This hearty dark ale is fermented with our rustic Belgian yeast strain which gives the beer a farmhouse tartness followed by big dark chocolate notes, and hints of black cherries. Fermentation temperatures often climb past 90F which builds the distinctive flavors. No adjuncts are added to this beer-- these robust layers of flavor are yeast driven. Listen to the lunatic" (source).
  • Saugatuck Reverent Monk, $1.79/12oz - "A traditional Belgian Tripel with complex flavors of clove, banana, and spicy esters. Deep yellow in color and medium bodied with a sweet finish" (source).
  • Stone Double Bastard In the Rye, $18.99/500ml (1 per) - "Much like the lacerative muther of a beer that is Double Bastard Ale, rye whiskey is not for everyone. Not remotely. Most are not emotionally or otherwise equipped to appreciate its unbridled intensity. So to sequester Double Bastard Ale in rye whiskey barrels is to conceive an experience that no doubt will be treasured by only a select few. It takes a special breed of exceptional depth to thrive under such demanding conditions and emerge with such stunning vibrancy. Something this sublime should never be squandered, however. Those plagued by even a smidge of self-doubt should look elsewhere. This rare treasure is strictly for those possessing the capacity to appreciate what many just like me" (source).
  • Roak Chestnut Porter, $1.99/12oz - "Chestnut Maple Porter" (source).
  • Breckenridge Christmas, $1.99/12oz - "The chill of a Colorado high-country winter calls for a beer with extra flavor and strength. Here it is. At over 7% alcohol, with a sturdy texture and rich flavors of caramel and chocolate, our holiday seasonal is the fermented equivalent of a good fire" (source).
  • Shmaltz Shtick Pack, $22.89/12pk - A variety 12 pack that includes Messiah Nut Brown, Hanukkah Beer, Slingshot American Craft Lager and Hop Manna IPA.
  • Oddside Chokolat Koffie, $2.29/12oz - "" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo, $2.89/12oz - "A spruce-infused pale ale, Pennsylvania Tuxedo pays homage to the flannel-suited hunters and gatherers who dwell deep in the backcountry of north-central PA" (source).

Video of the Week | Pennsylvania Tuxedo

Now available at Siciliano's


Monday, November 14, 2016

Homebrew Science: Sour Hour!

By Max Spencer

So, what in the hell makes something sour? The simple answer is organic acids. Acids are found in almost every food and drink we ingest, including the beer we love — even non-sour beer. Organic acids are present in malted grains and are created by yeast and other microbes during fermentation2. This is why the pH of beer is relatively low (~4 for non-sour beer, down to ~3 for sour beer). It is beneficial to have acids in beer. Acidity augments flavor, affects viscosity, hinders microbial growth, stabilizes flavor and has an influence on perceived hop bitterness2,4.

This still doesn’t explain what makes something sour. Is there really such a huge difference between a pH of 4 and a pH of 3? Yep, but it’s more complicated than that. pH is a measurement of free protons (H+; hence the H in pH) in a solution. Acids lower the pH of a solution by releasing protons when dissolved. The pH scale is logarithmic, so each number represents a 10x increase in the concentration relative to the number before it. The last thing we need to know about pH is that the scale works in the opposite direction you expect it to — the lower the number, the higher the concentration. So, a pH of 3 is 10x more acidic than a pH of 4, meaning it has 10x the concentration of H+. Despite this, two different beers that share a pH can be vastly different in their sour character and intensity. pH plays a role, but this tells us that there is more to it1,3,4.

Organic acids are comprised of at one least carboxyl group (-COOH) attached to an endless variety of structures. The carboxyl group is where our free protons come from, as the hydrogen on the carboxyl group gladly gives up its electron in exchange for a life of free lovin’ in solution (-COO- and H+). Studies have found that solutions of different acids at the same pH do not result in the same intensity of sourness1,3. The sour character is also distinct between different acids. For example, acetic acid — the main component of vinegar — has an unmistakable vinegar character to our taste buds, while lactic acid tends to be described as “clean” and “tart”1. This reveals to us that it is not only the pH of a beer that causes sourness, but the identity of the acid. The structure attached to the carboxyl group clearly influences beer in a way that is detected by us through our sense of taste — specifically, our taste for sour1.3,4. Despite knowing that different organic acids result in various sour flavors and intensity, the mechanism behind why and how is still unclear4. Ph.D. project, anyone?

Now that we have a better understanding of sourness, how do we get to sour beer? There’s an easy way, and a complex way. The easy way is to add an organic acid to beer until it tastes the way you want. Homebrew shops — including little ol’ us — carry lactic acid solutions that can be used to lower the pH of any beer and add that “tart” flavor common to most sour beers. The traditional way is to use microbes. Brewers, including homebrewers, have access to non-yeast microbes that are used alongside yeast to create sour beers. The two most popular microbes used are Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. They are closely related genera of bacteria that create lactic acid and other byproducts during fermentation, creating a sour character that yeast is incapable of developing on its own. Microbes add a layer of complexity to the flavor of sour beers that pure acid solutions don’t provide. A Belgian lambic or Flanders red would not be the same without the massive diversity of microbes that perform their collective metabolic magic. Microbes create a smörgåsbord of organic acids that can accentuate fruit and malt characters already present in beer and provide a swathe of flavors ranging from funky to fruity5,6.

The major disadvantage of using microbes is the length of time it takes for their character to develop. It can take months or even years for a sour beer to fully develop, but techniques such as kettle souring can drastically shorten the length of time required to achieve sourness via microbes. A kettle soured beer merely takes hours to days for souring to occur. Another disadvantage is the potential for cross contamination. Breweries and homebrewers alike fear occasional infected batches. Using microbes intentionally increases that chance by bringing them into the same space as clean beers. Despite this, if you practice solid sanitation technique or maintain a second set of plastic equipment the chance of infection stays at the same level it would be if you only fermented clean beers.

Whether you’re a homebrewer or someone who just enjoys drinking beer I hope you can go forth with a new appreciation for all things sour. Maybe take a crack at making your first sour, or buy yourself a nice Belgian masterpiece crafted by tradition and dedication. Either way, let us enjoy the spoils of — intentionally — sour beer together. Cheers!

"I went on a diet, swore off drinking and heavy eating, and in fourteen days I lost two weeks." –Joe E. Lewis

Literature cited

  1. Hartwig, P. and M.R. McDaniel. 1995. Flavor characteristics of lactic, malic, citric, and acetic acids at various pH levels. Journal of Food Science 60(2):384-388. 
  2. Li, H. and F. Liu. 2015. Changes in organic acids during fermentation. J. Am. Soc. Brew. Chem. 73(3):275-279.
  3. Makhlouf, G.M. and A.L. Blum. 1972. Kinetics of the taste response to chemical stimulation: a theory of acid taste in man. Gastroenterology 63:67-75. 
  4. Neta, E.R.C., S.D. Johanningsmeier, and R.F. McFeeters. 2007. The chemistry and physiology of sour taste—a review. Journal of Food Science 72(2):R33-R38.
  5. Snauwaert, I, S.P. Roels, F.V. Nieuwerburg, A.V. Landschoot, L.D. Vuyst and P. Vandamme. 2016. Microbial diversity and metabolite composition of Beligan red-brown acidic ales. International Journal of Food Microbiology 221:1-11.
  6. Spitaels, F. A.D. Wieme, M. Janssens, M. Aerts, H. Daniel, A.V. Landschoot, L.D. Vuyst and P. Vandamme. 2014. The microbial diversity of traditional spontaneously fermented lambic beer. PLOS ONE 9(4):1-13.

Friday, November 11, 2016

New Beer Friday, Super Moon Edition (Nov 11)

Preamble Steve Siciliano

I pay little attention to the phases of the moon. I have no idea when it will be waxing, waning, gibbous or full so I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see a fully illuminated, orange-hued orb rising in the evening sky above the eastern horizon.

Watching a rising full moon is one of life’s simple pleasures, and watching the next full moonrise will be thirty percent more pleasurable because it will occur during the moon’s closest approach to the earth in over seventy years. According to astronomers, this “super moon” will appear fourteen percent larger and thirty percent brighter than a typical full moon.

If the skies are clear next Monday evening I know I’ll be sitting outside on the deck enjoying one or two of the new or returning beers that hit the shelves at Siciliano’s this week.

New and Returning Beer

  • Short's Double Magician, $1.99/12oz - "The Double Magician is a Double London-Style Red Ale. Deep mahogany in color with an off white head, The Double Magician has aromas of toffee, light citrus, and just a hint of roast. The Double Magician is medium-bodied with flavors of raisin, toffee, and a slight hop bitterness. The finish is balanced and dry" (source).
  • Dark Horse Tres Blueberry, $2.09/12oz - "Number three in our stout series, this stout is full-bodied and brewed with all malted barley and fresh blueberries added after fermentation. The nose is where you will begin to realize this stout is in a league of its own. Blueberry, chocolate and roasted aromas lead the way to a very pleasant drinking experience which leaves you wanting the next December to arrive sooner than last year" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Bonnie's Raggedy Ass DIPA, $2.99/12oz - "Our 2010 World Beer Cup Silver award winner. Brewed and dry-hopped with American hops, Centennial, Columbus, Cascades and Bravo" (source).
  • Griffin Claw 3 Scrooges, $2.19/16oz - "Nice winter ale, distinct malt profile, mild bitterness" (source).
  • New Holland Hop Tronix, $2.59/12oz - "Mosaic hops generously provide this IPA with dank aroma, yet it finishes smooth and crisp" (source).
  • New Holland Mischievous II, $5.49/22oz - "Mischievous presents flavors derived from its 100% brettanomyces fermentation. This wild yeast contributes earthiness, spice, mineral-character and slight tartness" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, $2.99/12oz - "Northern Hemisphere was the first wet hop ale and it inspired the wet hop craze here in America. Wet—undried—hops go straight from the fields into our kettles within 24 hours. Because hops are incredibly perishable, using hops wet preserves all of the precious oils and resins for a unique drinking experience as evidenced by the intense herbal green flavors and citrus-like and floral aromas. Northern Hemisphere is part of our five-bottle Harvest series which features single hop, fresh hop, wet hop, and wild hop beers" (source).
  • Stone Double Bastard, $8.99/22oz (1 per) - "Originally brewed to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Arrogant Bastard Ale, Double Bastard Ale debuted in November 1998 as an amped-up version of that already aggressive beer. This heavy ale is appreciated by only a few, and that's just fine with us. We didn't brew this behemoth to please anyone other than ourselves" (source).
  • Stone Bigger Longer Uncut Double Bastard, $9.49/22oz (1 per) - "My arrogance has metamorphosed into a peatier, haughtier, boozier, doubler, more “er” of everything version of itself. Unlike the malted substance, which abetted my materialization, you don’t have chiseled iceberg chunks or fizzy, sugary pop sugar crystals at your disposal to cut me or soften the unbridled intensity of my righteous state that is liquid arrogance. Go ahead. Try me. This Islay whisky barrel-infused ale could put a lion’s mane on a hairless cat" (source).
  • Stone Lucky Bastard, $8.99/22oz (1 per) - "Lukcy Basartd Ale was first released in November 2010 in celebration of the (lucky) 13th anniversary of Arrogant Bastard Ale. This powerfully complex beer is an amalgamation of three Bastards—Arrogant Bastard Ale, Double Bastard Ale and OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale — unceremoniously thrown together and then dry-hopped to excess, providing a fittingly immoderate blast of malty, hoppy flavor. Those Worthy souls who possess the nerve to try it will be rewarded with a delicious assault on their taste buds" (source).
  • Stone Emperial IPA 14 Anniversary Encore, $8.99/22oz - "From the imported white malt to the “Burtonised” water to the rare yeast strain to the most pungent hops Kent has to offer, we used all British ingredients to brew our “Emperial” IPA.  While we may have brewed Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA with our own distinctively modern, San Diego-style touch, what good is history if you can’t rewrite it to suit your tastes?" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Christmas Town, $1.69/12oz - "Christmas Town Ale combines sweet toasted dark malts with American hops to create a medium-bodied spiced ale with a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas. You will enjoy subtle notes of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and clove with our festive holiday-themed packaging to match the taste. Christmas Town Ale is a must-have brew in the wintertime" (source).
  • Goose Island Fulton Street Blend, $1.79/12oz - "Goose Island is proud to introduce Fulton St. Blend, a coffee ale aged with House Blend beans from our neighbors at Intelligentsia. Named for the street in Chicago that we both call home, Fulton St. Blend is a golden ale infused with rich coffee flavor and aroma" (source).
  • Deschutes Hop Trip, $1.99/12oz - "Each year around Labor Day, Deschutes brewers high-tail it over the pass to Sodbuster Farms near Salem for the hop harvest. After bagging these aromatic jewels, we hustle back and toss them into the brew kettles within hours of picking. Our reward: a pale ale with a uniquely bright citrus punch and fall spice" (source).
  • Petoskey Super Trooper, $2.39/16oz - "Brewed with Columbian coffee beans and donuts from a local producer" (source).
  • Old Nation Bumpy Cake, $9.79/22oz - "Chocolate Fudge Bumpy Cake Double Brown Ale is brewed with cocoa and vanilla, providing a flavor profile reminiscent of Sanders Bumpy Cake components such as devil’s food cake, chocolate fudge and vanilla buttercream" (source).
  • North Coast Bourbon Barrel Aged Rasputin, $23.29/500ml (1 per) - "Every year we age a special batch of our much-loved Russian Imperial Stout in Bourbon barrels. The depth, intensity, and complexity of the flavor profile of this special release, like its predecessors, make it a worthy tribute to Old Rasputin" (source).
  • North Coast Rye Barrel Aged Rasputin, $23.29/500ml (1 per) - "Stout Aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels" (source).
  • Great Lakes Black Out Stout, $3.29/12oz - "Bold and dark as a power-less metropolis, our Russian Imperial Stout commemorates the infamous 2003 blackout that briefly left some 55 million people utterly unplugged" (source).
  • Oddside Mango IPA, $2.29/12oz - "IPA made with mango" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Red and White, $13.99/750ml - "Red & White is a big, Belgian-style witbier brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with pinot noir juice. After fermentation, a fraction of the batch is aged in one of our 10,000-gallon oak tanks" (source).
  • Short's Cup of Joe, $2.29/12oz - "Cup A Joe Coffee Creme Stout uses Higher Grounds roasted fair trade espresso beans in every facet of the brewing process. Prominent aromatics of malt, espresso, and cocoa are abundant, and there are robust flavors of cream and coffee. This is the perfect morning night capper" (source).

Video of the Week | Dark Horse Tres

Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout is now available at Siciliano's.


*Moon image from Pixabay

Friday, November 4, 2016

New Beer Friday, Civic Responsibility Edition (Nov 4)

A beer for when the
election is finally over.
Preamble Steve Siciliano

Late next Tuesday we’ll finally find out which candidate will have the electoral votes needed to become the next chief executive of the United States. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s happy that this rather unpleasant campaign is drawing to a close. I’m tired of the mudslinging and I’ve had my fill of the daily doses of spinning surrogates on the cable news shows.

Of course I could avoid this self-imposed torture by simply going back to my pre-election routine of watching Discovery, ESPN or the Food Channel. But for the last two months or so I haven’t been able to turn away from this bloody two car pile-up. That’s a bit odd because I’ve never before been this engrossed with politics.

Perhaps it’s because I consider myself a student of American history and we are, as they say, watching history in the making — we’ll either elect our first woman president or place a man in the White House who has never held political office.

Both candidates have bases of avid supporters and legions of ardent detractors and both are their party’s nominee despite well-documented flaws. I find this puzzling. Lately I’ve been wondering if we’ll ever have another modern president with the homespun wisdom of a Truman, the fence mending skills of an Eisenhower or the moral integrity of a Jimmy Carter. Time will tell.

In the meantime we can only hope that whoever wins next Tuesday’s election will prove to be a capable president — one who has the sagacity to deal with the nation’s problems both home and abroad as well as the political acumen needed to begin mending the rift that this polarizing election has created.

New and Returning Beer

  • Austin Brothers Woody Wheat, $1.79/12oz - "American style wheat with a twist. Hints of orange peel and gracious amounts of vanilla will hit both the nose and palate. Medium body and light in color, a session for the whole year. A hybrid wheat, a mix of a hefeweizen and wheat cream ale" (source).
  • Austin Brothers 45er IPA, $1.79/12oz - "Getting its name from being brewed on the 45th parallel; 45’er is a West Coast style IPA with hints of pear, grapefruit, tropical fruits, from adding 2.5 pounds of hops per barrel" (source).
  • Pike 51 For Whom the Sleigh Bells Toll, $18.79/22oz - "Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Holiday Stout" (source).
  • Pike 51 Batch 500, $12.89/22oz - "Celebrating our Batch 500 with this girthy, but smooth Imperial Stout sure to coat the back of your throat" (source).
  • Pike 51 Yay Stout, $5.39/22oz - "Honey wheat stout" (source).
  • Vander Mill Nunica Pine, $2.99/16oz - "Opposites attract in this limited release seasonal specialty. Our Hard Apple cider provides a base of unmatched fruit and acidity, while Columbus hops unveil an earthy bitterness no other cider can match. Gluten free" (source).
  • Dark Horse 4 Elf, $2.09/12oz - "4 Elf is holiday cheer in liquid form. Spicy aromas like cinnamon and clove give this dark brown winter warmer a proper holiday welcome. Balanced between malt, hops, and spice at 8.75% ABV this beer goes great with all holiday foods—from sweet snacks to the roast beast" (source).
  • Grand Armory Nutter Your Business, $2.09/12oz - "Peanut butter stout" (source).
  • Saugatuck Snow Wizard, $1.79/12oz - "An Oak Aged Imperial Brown Ale with tons of oaky, woody flavors. The base brown malt profile provides a huge caramel, coffee and chocolate body with minimal hop bitterness match perfectly with the complex flavor profile of the oak chips" (source).
  • Tapistry Enigma, $3.19/16oz - "Say hello to Enigma, our mysterious Double IPA. Brewed with five different malts, four different hops, and a healthy dose of brown sugar, Enigma is the strongest beer on our list. Surprisingly dry, it’s a high-intensity brew that will puzzle your palate. You'll just have to drink one to understand" (source).
  • Bell's Christmas, $1.89/12oz - "A sessionable alternative to traditional spiced winter warmers, this Scottish Ale features Michigan grown malt from the Bell's Farm in Shepherd, Michigan to impart dry, toasted notes along with subtle toffee flavors" (source).
  • Bell's Winter White, $1.99/16oz - "An alternative to dark and heavy winter warmers and stouts, Winter White is a stylish and refreshing Wheat Ale. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley and wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices. Deliberately brewed to retain a cloudy appearance, Winter White is a beer for embracing winter" (source).
  • Perrin Damsel in Distress, $11.49/22oz - "German Roggenbier aged in Jamaican rum barrels" (source).
  • New Holland Cabin Fever, $1.79/12oz - "Cabin Fever is a roasty brown ale and a hearty, comforting companion for long, mind-bending winters" (source).
  • New Holland Dragons Milk Reserve Coconut Rum Barrel, $4.29/12oz - "Coconut complements the roasted chocolate flavor of Dragon's Milk, coaxing flavors that are reminiscent of lazy summer days. Rum barrels add a tropical character" (source).
  • North Peak Blitzen, $1.89/12oz - "North Peak Blizen is a Festivus Ale with a complex malt characteristic and Michigan Chinook and Cascade hops. Rye malt provides a crisp spiciness for well-balanced, rich Festivus Ale" (source).
  • New Belgium Ben and Jerry Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, $1.69/12oz - "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream beer. This winter, dip into the fridge—not just the freezer—to find a dozen ways to sate your sweet tooth. Our newest collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s brings together two different types of pint-makers for one common goal: to fill your glass with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale" (source).
  • Shiner Cheer, $1.69/12oz - "Hints of Texas peaches & pecans with a hint of holiday spice at the end" (source).
  • Deschutes Jubelale, $1.79/12oz - "A dark, malty celebration ale with layered flavors and beautifully balanced hopping. Jubelale pours deep garnet in color, medium bodied, with notes of chicory, earth, spice and fruit. To beer lovers, it’s like Yule fire and family" (source).
  • Deschutes Black Butte XXVI, $17.19/22oz - "Our 26th anniversary Imperial Porter was aged in bourbon barrels and dry spiced with Theo Chocolate’s cocoa nibs, revealing hints of vanilla and chocolate. Pomegranate molasses and Oregon cranberries complement the robust flavor with a hint of fruit and just enough tart to make you smile" (source).
  • Deschutes Black Butte XXVIII, $17.19/22oz - "Every year, we celebrate our anniversary with an imperial, barrel-aged version of our flagship Black Butte Porter. Our brewers love to experiment and they always add some fun new ingredients to this beer like chilies, cranberries, figs and other such treats. This year, to celebrate 28 years of brewing, they’ve added the interesting mix of ingredients above for another multi-layered flavor experience" (source).
  • Bruery Mash and Vanilla, $24.59/750ml - "This is our classic bourbon barrel-aged barleywine – kicked up a notch. We took Mash, already oaky, sticky and sweet, and amplified its barrel character with the addition of fresh vanilla beans. This vanilla prominence is complemented by the woody bourbon flavors and coconut notes that are imparted to the beer as part of its extensive maturation in oak bourbon barrels. Mash & Vanilla is best enjoyed fresh to experience the vanilla flavors at peak strength" (source).
  • Bruery Melange #14, $26.49/750ml - "Our Mélange series is a chance to roll out the barrels, roll up our sleeves and explore flavors that cannot be achieved outside of the art of the blend or by any one beer. French for “blend”, this mélange fuses the mature character of some of our most vintage barrels of barleywine and old ale with the dark depth of our imperial stouts, including both Tuesday-themed releases and Share This. This mélange is one for all, with rich, complex notes and the signature kiss of oak" (source).
  • Bruery Theraux Sour in the Rye, $21.79/750ml - "Sour in the Rye is an American wild ale. A challenging beer to brew due to the substantial amount of rye malt, but you’ll be glad we took the time. The character of the rye asserts itself with clove and pepper in the aroma and flavor, and contributes a full body not generally found in sour beers. Pleasantly sour with notes of tart cherry, rustic earth and vanilla notes from extensive barrel-aging" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration, $1.69/12oz - "Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale represents a time honored tradition of brewing a special beer for the holiday season. There are generous portions of barley malts and fine whole hops of several varieties, creating a brew with a full, rich and hearty character" (source).
  • Great Lake Christmas Ale, $2.39/12oz - "A Yuletide’s worth of holiday spices and sweet honey to keep you a-wassailing" (source).
  • Southern Tier 2xMas, $1.99/12oz - "Double spiced ale brewed in the tradition of Swedish Glögg" (source).
  • Lagunitas Brown Shugga, $1.99/12oz - "Originally a failed attempt at a 1997 batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale resulting in an all-new-beer-style we like to call…Irresponsible" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, $2.19/12oz - "Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter" (source).

Video of the Week | Bell's Christmas Ale

All I want for Christmas ... is Bell's Christmas Ale!


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Product Spotlight: 90-Degree Sankey Elbow

By Matt Ross

There is a huge variety of brewing toys available here at Siciliano’s. Whenever something new hits our shelves we like to put it in the spotlight, particularly if it doesn’t stand out on its own.

This new piece is physically small but has huge utility. This stainless steel 90-degree Sankey elbow is able to thread onto the beer out end of your Sankey coupler and provide numerous serving options.

This allows you to do a few things. For starters, if you have a low profile kegerator this can save you some much needed space on running beer lines. The other function of this elbow (my favorite function) is to make any Sankey coupler a mobile taproom. When paired with a MTP tailpiece and a faucet adaptor you can pour beer directly out of your keg from a faucet. This is great for serving commercial beer from a faucet without dismantling your entire kegerator.

Going to deer camp? Having a family reunion? Fall camping trip? Football party? This little guy helps spread the good beer anywhere. Stop in and ask about the 90-degree Sankey elbows.