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Friday, May 12, 2017

New Beer Friday, Big Brew Day Revisited Edition (May 12)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The sun was just coming up when I pulled into Trail Point's parking lot last Saturday but homebrewers were already busy setting up tents, pots, propane burners, mash tuns, gas grills and portable kegerators at their designated brewing stations.

After helping our handyman Rod unwind fire hoses and offload buckets, immersion chillers, PVC pipe, a sink, garden hoses and the six manifold Scorpion wort chiller, I left the setup of the chilling and cleaning stations in Rod's capable hands, grabbed two power strips and two long extension cords and walked over to where Barb had placed the brewing teams that needed electric. “You guys are here early,” I shouted to the Rivertown Homebrewers.

Steve Morren looked over at me and smiled. “Of course. It's Big Brew Day.”

In 1988 the United States Congress decreed that the hobby of brewing beer be added to the list of National Days and in that same year the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) created The Big Brew Day as a way for homebrewers to gather and celebrate the national recognition of their hobby. AHA Big Brews are now held each year at hundreds of venues around the country on the first Saturday in May.

Five years ago Siciliano’s Market sponsored its first Big Brew Day and the event has since become one of West Michigan’s most popular public homebrewing celebrations. Last Saturday twenty-five teams of dedicated hobbyists brewed batches of Beer City Oated Pale Ale at the Trail Point location and a steady stream of visitors were able to sample a wide variety of homebrewed, hand-crafted beer.

When Barb and I approached Trail Point owners Gary Evans and Jeff Knoblock about the possibility of hosting a Big Brew event at their brewery they immediately said yes. Gary and Jeff are both former homebrewers and they recognize the importance of staying in touch with the homebrewing community.

It was late morning before I had the time to sample my first beer — an excellent Flanders Red that Rich Lord brought to the event. I tasted many great home brews that day, many of which were awarded medals at this year's Siciliano's Homebrew Competition.

Shorty before 1 p.m. I crawled up on the bed of my truck, grabbed the microphone and asked the assemblage to gather around in preparation for the simultaneous, country-wide toast. I kept an eye on the time while sipping on one of Nick Rodammer's excellent hand-crafted brews.

“Here's to the life enriching hobby of homebrewing,” I shouted into the microphone at the top of the hour. It was wonderful knowing that all across the country thousands of homebrewers were cheering.

New and Returning Beer

  • Batch Brewing Handsome Stranger, $13.19/750ml - "Hibiscus Saison. Floral. Slightly Tart. Balanced" (source).
  • Batch Brewing Second to Last Word, $13.19/500ml - "Our tribute to the classic Detroit cocktail. A kettle sour brewed with gin botanicals from Two James distilling. Served with a cherry and lime rim" (source).
  • Evil Twin Mission Gose, $2.289/12oz - "Effortlessly cool, popping up up in a cultish fashion and constantly on a tasty mission. This is mission Gose: our take on a old-fashioned and slightly odd German style beer that is with good reason trending as the tastiest right now. It’s tart, salty, low in alcohol and probably the most refreshing beer you’ll have. Perhaps enjoy this beer in a restaurant with a mission near you. Wherever you are we made it stylishly good and exclusively well balanced just for you" (source).
  • Evil Twin Geyser Gose, $2.89/16oz - "Our first ever collaboration brewed with Jeppe from Evil Twin. Two Evil twist on gose with ingredients sourced from Iceland including Icelandic moss, rye, herbs, sea kelp, skyr and birch smoked sea salt" (source).
  • Evil Twin Falco, $2.59/16oz - "What makes a great leader? First of all a perfectly balanced blend of qualities, the ability to stand out,be authoritative without overpowering. Sho courage and endurance, you will lead the way and set the standards. Very important, be appealing and refreshing to the people. This stereotypical portrait applies whether referring to politics, religion or maybe even this outstanding IPA" (source).
  • New Holland Tasmanian Hatter, $1.79/12oz - "Tasmanian Hatter brings you flavors from the region of the Tasman Sea. Hops from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest combine to present bright, tropical flavors of mango and citrus, beautifully framed with biscuity malt character" (source).
  • Short's Slurm, $1.99/12oz - "Slurm is a hazy, juicy New England style India Pale Ale. Light orange in color with a prominent haze, Slurm has aromas of pineapple and mango. Big tropical fruit flavors hit you up front and carry through to the finish. This easy drinking, medium-bodied New England style IPA has a slightly bitter, dry finish" (source).
  • Southern Tier Nu Skool, $1.69/12oz - "We spent over a year prototyping R&D versions of Nu Skool. This final version is one special beer. It is an IPA with a slight malty sweetness, but overall balanced & brimming with tropical, fruity, spicy, piney & citrus character. To contrast our IPA, which most closely resembles a traditional English IPA in malt & hop bills, we wanted to brew an India Pale Ale in a new way. West Coast brewers have been brewing lighter, more “Americanized,” yet still full of hop character & our brewers wanted to try their hand by brewing their take" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Isla Estrana, $14.29/750ml - No commercial description.
  • Jolly Pumpkin Bière de Mars, $14.99/750ml - "A sustaining beer that is brewed to comfort in the gusty ides of March and welcome in a wealth of warmer weather" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Clementina, $14.99/750ml - "Brewed with clementine, yuzu peel, lime peel, pink Himalayan salt, and coriander" (source).
  • B. Nektar Death Unicorn, $8.19/500ml - "Hard cider with black currant" (source).
  • Ommegang Brunetta, $3.29/12oz - "A new collaboration beer coming from Ommegang and Liefmans.  This is Brunetta and it is an Oud Bruin ale that will hit 5%-AbV" (source).
  • Odd Side Grapefruit Wheat, $1.99/12oz - "A wheat beer brewed with grapefruit" (source).
  • Odd Side Wheatermelon, $2.19/12oz - "The perfect summer treat. A wheat ale brewed with tons of fresh cut watermelon" (source).
  • Odd Side El Dankerino, $2.49/12oz - "West Coast IIPA" (source).
  • Odd Side Lemon Party, $1.69/12oz - "No commercial description" (source).
  • Kona Lemongrass Luau, $1.69/12oz - "Ale brewed with ginger with lemongrass and ginger added" (source).
  • Arcadia Berry Vice, $2.09/12oz - "A sweet, tart refreshing fruit wheat beer fermented with red and black raspberries as well as blueberries. Hazy fuchsia in color topped by a white head with a hint of pink, this beer looks as sweet as it tastes. Aromas of raspberries, blueberry skins and bready malt match its slightly dry flavor while wheat malt accentuates the tartness of the berries. Its medium-light body and effervescent carbonation make it a perfect summer refreshment" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Ninja Turtle Milkshake Stout, $2.39/16oz - "Our efforts toward continuous improvement have paid off with the latest batch in the Flavored Mikshake Stout series. Complex layered notes of chocolate, caramel and toasted pecans mix with the familiar taste of the original Milkshake Stout and raise the decadance of this dessert beer. Ninja Turtle pours jet black with an off white to tan colored head" (source).

With Special Guest Star

We were pleased and honored to have this special guest show up
at our Big Brew event. See you next year!

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