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.