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Friday, December 2, 2016

New Beer Friday, Memories of Cuba Edition (Dec 2)

Vivant Tower of Sour,
one of many new beers this week.
By Steve Siciliano

The news of Fidel Castro’s death last week brought back memories of a trip my wife Barb and I took to Cuba about ten years ago with a Grand Rapids based charity called First-Hand Aid.

The organization solicits volunteers to make periodic trips to Cuba to deliver much needed medical supplies to hospitals and clinics. Our group of travelers stayed in Havana with Cuban families during the weeklong visit. We ate meals with them in their homes and drank Bucanero beer and Havana Club rum with them in cafes and bars. We were chauffeured around the country’s beautiful but often crumbling capital city in 1950s-era Fords, Chevies and Buicks. We witnessed first-hand the economic impact that 50-plus years of Castro rule has had on the Cuban populace.

One of my most poignant memories of that trip was of the day we delivered the medical supplies we carried to the island in our luggage to a children's cancer clinic in Havana. The heads of a number of young patients were heavily bandaged and we were told that removing an eye was the only recourse that doctors had for treating certain cancers. The children clutched the little stuffed animals that we gave them while their mothers sat silently on hard folding chairs next to their beds. That same day we went to a ration store that had practically nothing on its shelves.

In November of 1956, Fidel Castro and a group of 81 rebels, among them his brother Raul and a young Argentinian doctor named Che Guevara, departed from Mexico on a leaky 60-foot cabin cruiser. Two weeks later they landed on Cuba’s southern coast and from there revived the revolt against the authoritarian regime of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista that had been quelled three years earlier. Castro and the surviving rebels of that failed attempt were jailed. “Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me,” he famously stated at the conclusion of his trial.

Castro’s second attempt at ousting the cruel and corrupt Batista succeeded but his promise of holding free and fair elections was never fulfilled. Political opponents were summarily executed, personal property was seized, industry was nationalized and a one-party socialist state was created. In response, the United States instituted a trade embargo that continues to this day.

There are those who maintain that the embargo is the root cause of Cuba’s continued economic problems. They argue that the embargo should be lifted and I agree that it should. But we must also remember that it was Castro’s policies that instigated the embargo and it’s the stubborn adherence to these failed policies that is perpetuating the appalling economic condition of common Cuban people.

When viewed in that light it must be argued that Castro’s revolution failed and it is in that light that Fidel Castro’s historical legacy must ultimately be judged.

New and Returning Beer

  • Blackrocks Starman, $1.99/12oz - "Starman is a Pale Ale filled up with Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo, Columbus, and Mosaic hops. Bright aromas of grapefruit, apricot, and citrus, finishing clean and dry" (source).
  • Vivant Plein de Vie Tower of Sour, $9.99/500ml - Foeder-aged sour ale.
  • Vivant Ski Patrol, $3.49/16oz - "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).
  • Griffin Claw Honolulu Blu, $2.19/16oz - A cream ale.
  • Stone Enjoy by 12/25, $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).
  • Perrin Hypocrite, $11.49/22oz - "Not everything is as it appears...based on its looks you may be expecting a light flavorless beer, but looks can be deceiving... this Imperial Blonde Ale is packed with unexpected flavors that might make you think you are drinking a rumchata or biting into a piece of tiramisu. We hope you enjoy seeing things for how they truly are" (source).
  • Short's Juicy Tree, $2.39/12oz - "An experimental IPA made with blue spruce tips, juniper berries, and cranberries. 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 fruity qualities of American Ale yeast all contribute to symmetry of this beer. The finish is laced with a resiny stickiness that flows naturally into a lasting bitterness" (source).
  • Short's Critterless, $2.39/12oz - "Critterless is an American Sour Ale brewed with mango and cherry. The beer has a pinkish hue and pours with a small white head. The ale’s initial flavors of mouth puckering tartness fade into a pleasant sweetness that is accompanied by aromas of ripe fruit. Critterless finishes dry with a hint of rye spice" (source).
  • Ballast Point Mocha Marlin, $5.99/22oz - "Our Black Marlin Porter is the perfect beer for a mocha mashup. The addition of coffee and cocoa plays perfectly off the roasty, chocolaty flavors of this English porter, while a hint of vanilla smooths it all out. It’s full-bodied, but not too sweet; try it for breakfast…or dessert" (source).
  • Ommegang Gnomegedon, $16.09/750ml - "Ommegang ales are living beers, as exemplified by the secondary fermentation in Gnomegeddon, which is accomplished with Brett yeast - a wild yeast known for its addition of complex barnyard funk to both the flavor and aroma, giving a new edge to one of our most beloved ales" (source).
  • Atwater Teufel Bock, $2.99/12oz - "Our Weizen Dopplebock is dominated with 60% wheat that imparts a nutty-bisquit flavour. Ir is complimented with Perle and Hersbrucker hops for a nice sweet finish" (source).
  • Atwater Christmas, $2.19/12oz - "A German holiday treat similar to gingerbread" (source).
  • Avery Mephistopheles, $9.59/12oz - "Mephistopheles is the crafty shape shifter, the second fallen angel. Amazingly complex, coal black, velvety and liqueurish, this demon has a bouquet of vine-ripened grapes, anise and chocolate covered cherries with flavors of rum-soaked caramelized dark fruits and a double espresso finish. Mephistopheles is the final installment of "The Demons of Ale" series" (source).
  • Avery Certatio Equestris, $14.09/12oz - "Avery Certatio Equestris is modeled after the ubiquitous mint julep. The base sour ale was aged in bourbon barrels with spearmint leaves. The key ingredient in the julep, after bourbon" (source).
  • Lagunitas High West-ified, $2.19/12oz (1 per) - "Ale Brewed with Coffee and then Aged in High West Rye Barrels" (source).
  • Oddside Merry Elf, $1.99/12oz - "Dark ale with candi sugar and orange peel" (source).

Video of the Week | Plein de Vie

A new release in the Plein de Vie series (Tower of Sour)
means we get to post this video again.


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