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Friday, October 27, 2017

New Beer Friday, Fish Story Edition (October 27)

The Rogue
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It was a miserable day to be wading in a river. The temperature was hovering just south of fifty and the rain that had been falling nonstop for two days had transformed the normally knee high, gently flowing stretch I was fishing into a waist high torrent. But I knew that this might be the last time I would be on the Rogue this year and I was hoping to land a trout or two before stowing my gear away for the season.

I carefully worked my way upstream through the steady rain, stopping every few steps to cast the big, brightly colored streamer towards a bank, keeping the rod tip low and the fly line tight, allowing it to swing downstream and then dangle for a moment before stripping it back against the current.

I took mental photographs of the river while I fished. Here’s one of a gaggle of honking geese swooping down and landing en masse on the water off the tip of an upstream island. Here’s another of a sharp, boulder strewn, high banked bend in the river framed against the backdrop of the red leaves of a towering old maple. This bald eagle flew over me so low I could hear the rhythmical swooshing of its slow flapping wings.

I called it quits after a few hours. I didn’t catch any fish that day but that’s the way it goes sometimes. At least I was able to hook into and land a few nice memories.

New and Returning Beer

  • Alaskan Husky IPA, $1.69/12oz - "This IPA has brilliant clarity and exhibits tropical and stone fruit flavors with aromas of tangerine and papaya" (source).
  • Bell's Arabicadabra, $2.09/12oz - "Arabicadabra is brewed with a cold coffee extract made at the brewery using a combination of fair trade, organic Nicaraguan coffee beans and Sumatra coffee beans. Lactose is also used for creaminess (those with dairy allergies or sensitivities should take note). It was inspired by Milchkaffe, another specialty Bell's beer" (source).
  • Blackrocks Nordskye, $2.09/12oz - "We brewed/tweaked this beer at the pub for a couple of years under a different name until it was can worthy. Galaxy hops brings out big tropical/fruity aromas and flavors, the low ABV and easy body make it easy to justify grabbing one more" (source).
  • Vivant Hop Field, $2.69/16oz - "This IPA follows our farmhouse roots while honoring Michigan’s love of hops. Featuring a blend of Michigan-grown hops, this beer celebrates hop flavor on a wholistic level, not solely the bitterness. A rustic, unfiltered cloudiness and farmhouse yeast allows the bright, fruit-forward hops to shine. Well balanced and refreshing, this farmhouse IPA boasts complexity and comfort all in one" (source).
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, $2.29/12oz - "This is the famous Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. In the 18th century, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, ordered a stout to be sent to her from England. This beer was brewed strong and hoppy to survive the sea voyage, and it arrived in perfect condition. Soon "Russian Imperial Stout" became the toast of the Russian aristocracy. Brewed since 1994, our Black Chocolate Stout has itself become a modern classic, heralded the world over. It achieves its dark chocolate aroma and flavor through the artful blending of six malts and three distinct mashes. Properly kept, it will improve in the bottle for many years. This stout is the toast of the winter season in many countries, and there is nothing better to enjoy with chocolate desserts, cheesecake, ice cream, fine cheeses and roaring fireplaces" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Nawt A Cawp, $3.59/16oz - "A bitter, moderately strong American pale ale that uses its clean, supporting malt to showcase its hop character" (source).
  • Pigeon Hill Salted Caramel Porter, $1.79/12oz - "Pigeon Hill Brewing Company was founded on the ideals of community, tradition, and great beer. We believe in creating a taproom that is a community gather space, steeped in rich local tradition, and fueled by pints of excellent craft beer" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration, $1.69/12oz - "The start of Celebration season is a festive event. We can’t start brewing until the first fresh hops have arrived, but once they have the season is officially under way! First brewed in 1981, Celebration Ale is one of the earliest examples of an American-style IPA and one of the few hop-forward holiday beers. Famous for its intense citrus and pine aromas, Celebration is bold and intense, featuring Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops—honoring everything we have at Sierra Nevada" (source).
  • Stone Xocoveza, $2.99/12oz - "There’s nothing like making a beer so beloved that people feel compelled to campaign for its return. So, in the spirit of the holiday season, we are very pleased to give our fans the number one item on their wish lists. As illustrated by the avalanche of social media requests, that is Stone Xocoveza, an insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate brewed with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. First brewed in 2014 with San Diego homebrewer Chris Banker after his recipe won our annual homebrew competition, this imperial stout is layered with smooth roastiness, semisweet chocolate and a touch of spice. Thanks entirely to you, this creamy, mocha stout has gone from initially being a one-time offering to a yearly tradition. Happy holidays from all of us to all of you…and feel free to continue enjoying it long into the spring and summer, as this gem will age beautifully and is definitely not exclusive to the winter season" (source).
  • Wolverine Massacre, $2.99/12oz - "If you have never called a lager “ferocious” then you haven’t tried Massacre. We start with an imperial dark lager and age it in heavy-toast Kentucky bourbon barrels until it’s ready to package, at which point we dip each precious bottle in red wax to seal in the deliciousness. Releases in October each year -- make sure to get yours while it lasts" (source).
  • Arcadia Hop Mouth, $2.69/12oz - "This remarkably balanced brew has a deep amber hue with a generous white head. Hopmouth showcases a rich, toasty flavor and sweet caramel notes because of the high-quality Maris Otter malt used. The hops are up front in the aroma, reminiscent of citrus and pine, while the resin-like flavors linger well after the last sip" (source).
  • Petoskey Cosmati, $5.19/16oz - "Mosaic single-hopped DIPA with diverse citrus, mango & papaya mingled with mysteriously pleasing bitterness balanced by the large grain bill" (source).
  • Ommegang Winter is Here, $9.99/750ml - "Winter Is Here is a Belgian-style double white ale. Fittingly for a double white (walker) ale, the label is graced by the ominous visage of the Night King, who is expected to arrive as forcefully in Season 7 as this beer's 8.3% ABV will arrive in your stomach" (source).
  • Ommegang Fire & Ice Gift Packs, $23.99/pack - No commercial description.
  • Dogfish Head Liquid Truth Serum, $2.59/12oz - "Our unique process involving pelletized, powdered, leaf and liquefied hops makes for a blissfully inefficient IPA that's truthfully hoppy without being deceptively bitter. You'll find the perfect match of citrusy and tropical notes, making for a zesty finish" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo, $4.19/12oz - "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. Brewed in collaboration with family-run outdoor clothing company Woolrich, Pennsylvania Tuxedo is a sessionable concoction with a grassy citrus kick complemented by the resinous conifer notes of fresh green spruce tips. We went into the forests of north-central Pennsylvania and Georgetown, Del., to pick these fresh tips ourselves. A dry yet doughy malt backbone lets the hops and spruce shine while still balancing out the bitterness, making this one an easy sipper" (source).
  • Southern Tier Cinnamon Roll, $4.19/12oz - "The scent of our brewery on brew days is irresistible. Akin to the morning’s first brewed batch of perfectly roasted coffee, the aromas envelope you and cause the corners of your lips to curl into the slightest unconscious smile. In this brew, lightly toasted malts with subtly spicy hops blend into cinnamon flavors and creamy lactose sugar. Their coalescence is so uncannily close to fresh baked cinnamon rolls that it was impossible to name this beer anything other than Cinnamon Roll Imperial Ale! Pairs perfectly with eggs benedict at brunch, after dinner, or next to the fire for an unforgettable nightcap" (source).
  • Abita Horchata Turbodog, $4.69/22oz - "Horchata Turbodog is based on one of Abita’s most popular brews, with a definite Latin twist. This robust dark ale is brewed with pale, caramel and chocolate malts, then fresh cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans are added during aging giving it a traditional horchata flavor. This gives the brew a rich body, dark color and deep flavors of chocolate, toffee, cinnamon and vanilla" (source).
  • Abita Bourbon Street Maple Pecan, $9.69/22oz - "Bourbon Street Maple Pecan is a nut brown ale that is aged in Bourbon barrels. Our Maple Pecan is brewed with a combination of pale, munich, biscuit, and caramel malts. Roasted pecans are also added to the brew for a nutty flavor and aroma. We add maple syrup in the brewhouse as well to give the beer a sweet flavor and full body. After fermentation and aging the beer is transferred into the bourbon barrels. It is then aged for another 8 weeks to absorb all of the flavors from the barrels. The result is brown ale that blends the light flavors of nuts, maple syrup, and baking bread from the beer with the warming flavors of wood and vanilla from the bourbon barrels" (source).

Video of the Week

Now available at Sicilano's.


Friday, October 20, 2017

New Beer Friday, Taylor Ridge Edition (October 20)

Brian Taylor (left) & Steve Siciliano
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It had been a few years since my wife Barb and I made a batch of homemade wine from Michigan grown grapes, so last week we took a quick drive down to Allegan to pick up 100 pounds each of Chambourcin and Cabernet Franc from Taylor Ridge Vineyards.

We usually hit a few watering holes on our fall visits to Taylor Ridge but we had to make this a short trip due to a late start and the unappealing prospect of crushing and de-stemming 200 pounds of grapes in the dark. But the Tom Petty tunes on satellite radio and the rural landscape awash in autumn colors made for a pleasurable late afternoon drive to the heart of West Michigan’s grape growing region.

It was good seeing Brian Taylor again. He made it a point to tell us that he’s going to be 79 in a few weeks and his age doesn’t appear to be slowing him down. After I loaded up and paid for our grapes, Brian talked about the spring frost and the summer drought and a late season bout of downy mildew.

Later that evening, after our winemaking work was done, Barb and I relaxed with a Manhattan on the backyard deck. The setting sun had dipped behind the line of trees and the warmth of the Buffalo Trace helped ward off the chill. Every so often a breeze would rise and shake loose a few more leaves from the old backyard maples. Before calling it a night we lingered for a moment on the deck to watch a V of high-flying geese heading south.

New and Returning Beer

  • Jester King & Fantome Del Rey, $18.99/750ml - "The Texas version of Fantôme Del Rey is a bière de coupage where old, barrel-aged beer is blended with young beer. The older component of the blend was brewed at Jester King in August of 2014 with malted barley, dark candi syrup, ground coriander, and black peppercorns. It was initially fermented in stainless steel with truffle honey, and then racked to oak for extended maturation. We brewed the younger version in November of 2015, and blended the old with the young" (source). 
  • Jester King Wytchmaker Rye IPA, $16.99/750ml - "India Pale Ale brewed with nearly three pounds of hops per barrel and 15% malted rye. Dry, flavorful, drinkable beer with vibrant notes of citrus, tropical fruit and pine" (source). 
  • Evil Twin Imperial Doughnut Break, $8.39/16oz - "Did the flavors of sugar and bitter sweet almonds and coffee in Imperial Biscotti Break also make you sentimental? Now we topped it off with insane amounts of doughnuts. This all time American favorite is making it’s way back into the spotlight and we at Evil Twin Brewing are not letting a tasty trend pass us by without taking it to the next level. Drink it with great gusto - Forza Doughnuts" (source). 
  • Evil Twin Tropical Super Itchy, $4.09/12oz - "Berliner weisse style ale with passionfruit added" (source). 
  • Mönchshof Schwarzbier, $4.59/500ml - "With an irresistible, flowery hop bitterness that sets it apart from all others, Mönchshof Schwarzbier is relatively light in body – but bursting with character. Its dark, roasted, slightly chocolatey and warming palate is astounding for such a refreshing and drinkable beer. The hearty taste and seductive burt sienna color come from the deep-roasted barley used in every batch" (source). 
  • Founder Backwoods Bastard, $11.99/750ml, $3.99/12oz - "Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate" (source). 
  • New Holland Mocha Mint Dragon's Milk, $4.49/12oz - "Dragon's Milk Reserve Mocha Mint is a festive blend of chocolate & peppermint flavors, with just a hint of coffee. The perfect brew for a cozy night in" (source). 
  • Bell's Cherry Stout, $2.79/12oz - "Rather than doubling up on sweetness, this tart cherry varietal serves as a counterpoint to the warm, dark chocolate notes from the malt bill. Lightly hopped for balance, this stout is one of the cornerstones of our stout portfolio" (source). 
  • Epic Sour Pineapple, $13.59/375ml - "The intense and complex sour character is developed in oak foeders containing select cultures of Pediococcus and wild yeast. Then we blend the soured beer into oak barrels with pineapple, where it undergoes additional sour fermentation and aging" (source). 
  • Epic Common Interests, $13.59/375ml - "Common Interests is a light-straw color with just a hint of green in the highlights. Sweet honeydew rind, clean earth and oak hit the nose. The first sip is bright with citrus-tartness, lime and pith, that fades quickly to a cooling ripe-melon-sweetness with hints of cereal grain, tilled earth and root cellar. The effervescence lifts quickly off the palate taking the acidity but leaving hints of honeydew and the harvest season" (source). 
  • Epic Big Bad Baptist, $13.39/22oz - "One Big Bad Imperial Stout with Cocoa nibs and Coffee beans. Each season's release uses a different dark roasted coffee" (source). 
  • Short's Bloody Beer, $2.39/12oz - "A lighter bodied beer with an appealing ruby red glow and aromas of spicy tomato juice. Fermented with Roma tomatoes and spiced with dill, horseradish, peppercorns, and celery seed lead to an astounding initial tomato flavor, followed by a lingering finish that allows each additional ingredient a chance to resonate on the palate. Decant carefully, and let this 2009 GABF silver medal winner warm slightly in order to appreciate the full magnitude of flavors" (source). 
  • The Lost Abbey Devil Went Down to Georgia, $15.99/12.7oz - "Bourbon Barrel-aged Ale with Peaches and Black Tea" (source). 
  • The Lost Abbey Ghosts in the Forest, $15.99/12.7oz - "There's an aura of mystery that occurs when we close the doors to our barrel room. No one can say for sure what happens each night but it's obvious there are spirits (ghosts if you will) working their magic. We're not sure how many inhabit our oak forest. At present there are five large foeders and more than 1200 oak barrels for them to hide in, around, and behind. to this day, no one has managed to see one during the day but our night time brewers hear whispers and the sensation of unnerving drafts of wind arriving out of thin air. It's as if the ghosts want to be seen or at a minimum acknowledged. After 11 years, we felt it was time to give them their due" (source). 
  • Lagunitas Born Yesterday, $2.19/12oz - "Born Yesterday is a newborn version of our re-born Pale, a Newer New Dogtown Pale with a fresh addition … We added some wet, lupulin-drenched, un-kilned, whole-cone, fresh-picked-and-rushed-straight-from-Yakima hops for your immaculate reception. This Un-Freakin-Filtered, wetter-than-wet beer has 11lbs-per-barrel of Simcoe, Equinox, Mosaic and Indigenous Catawampus. Whoa" (source). 
  • Kona Pipeline, $1.69/12oz - "Hawaii is home to the North shore of Oahu, a seven mile stretch of coastline where big wave surfing was born. The Bonzai Pipeline is a particularly revered surf break that serves up steep, curling waves with a rush that leaves surfers wide-eyed and grinning. Kona Brewing Co. honors this mecca of surfing with a beer that delivers a little kick and thrill of its own. Brewed with Hawaiian Kona Coffee, Pipeline Porter has a boost of flavor with a smooth style that makes it as awesome as the waves that inspired it. The dark chocolate color, rich roasted malt flavor and smooth coffee finish takes the edge off when the waves are high and the wind is blowing. Pipeline Porter’s pronounced roasted malt character and rich Kona coffee flavor and aroma will curl around your tongue like Hawaii’s famous Pipeline surf break itself" (source). 
  • Virtue Cider Cherry, $1.79/12oz - "Our cherry cider is a blend of hand-pressed heirloom Michigan apples and local cherries aged in French oak barrels. The final cider is tart and rich with a touch of sweetness" (source). 
  • Virtue Cider Honey, $1.79/12oz - "Michigan Honey is our homage to the bees, which are imperative for pollinating the new blossoms on fruit trees in the spring. Fresh apple and honeysuckle aroma, finishing crisp with just a hint of sweetness from local honey" (source).

Video of the Week

Congrats to Bell's Brewery, NBWA Brewer Partner of the Year.


Monday, October 16, 2017

October Brew of the Month: Hayden's Three-Week Märzen

By Hayden Shelley

The onset of autumn has my taste buds pleading for a classic fall beer, the Märzen. Better known by its alternant name — Oktoberfest — this malt forward, rich and refreshing beer pairs perfectly with the crisp fall air. However, many homebrewers are unable or just don’t want to go about dealing with the style because it falls into the lager category.

Homebrewers love their fancy gadgets. One of my first big upgrades to my system was an old chest freezer which I fit with temperature control. However, even after this occurred, the longer grain to glass time of lagers kept me away from making them. This changed once I stumbled upon Marshall Schott’s lagering technique on

This “quick lager” method starts out as any other brew by setting the temperature at the recommended range for your yeast strain. For my Märzen, I started at 53°F. After the beer reaches 50% attenuation, typically within one week, ramp the temperature up to the mid to high 60s and leave until no acetaldehyde or diacetyl is detected and you have reached your final gravity. This is usually another week for me. Finally, lower the temperature to around 32°F and condition for one final week. I usually do this all in the primary fermenter. Once the final week is complete, package the beer with your normal method. I primarily keg and will usually add gelatin to clear my beer even further at this time.

Using this method, I can go from grain to glass with most of my lagers in just under 4 weeks. This is much more appealing to most homebrewers when compared to the traditional Märzen method of brewing in March and getting to enjoy your creation six months later. Therefore, I hope this inspires you to strap up your lederhosen, turn on some polka music, and try your hand at brewing my Märzen recipe.

All Grain ($29.13)

    • 6.25 lbs. Light Munich Malt
    • 6.25 lbs. Pilsner Malt
    • 0.625 lbs. Carahell Malt
    • 0.625 lbs. Melanoidin Malt
    • 2 oz. Hallertau @ 50 min.
    • 0.5 oz. Hallertau @ 15 min.
    • 1 package Wyeast Octoberfest Lager Blend (2633)
    • Mash in for a 60-minute rest at 154°F.  Perform a 90-minute boil.  
    • OG: 1.064 FG: 1.014
    • ABV: 6.3% IBUs: 27.6
    • SRM: 9.8

Extract ($40.03)

    • 5 lbs. Munich Liquid Malt Extract 
    • 5 lbs. Light Liquid Malt Extract 
    • 0.625 lbs. Carahell Malt
    • 0.625 lbs. Melanoidin Malt
    • 2 oz. Hallertau @ 50 min.
    • 0.5 oz. Hallertau @ 15 min.
    • 1 package Wyeast Octoberfest Lager Blend (2633)
    • OG: 1.064 FG: 1.016
    • ABV: 6.3% IBUs: 26.7
    • SRM: 11.1

Friday, October 13, 2017

New Beer Friday, Trail Point Cigar Event Edition (Oct 13)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

On Friday, October 27, Siciliano's Market is teaming up with Trail Point Brewing to host a beer and cigar event at the brewery's Allendale location at 6035 Lake Michigan Drive. Perdomo Special Craft Series Churchills in the Pilsner, Amber and Stout wrappers will be featured at this event and attendees will be able to pair these premium, hand-crafted smokes with Trail Point's solid offerings of premium, hand-crafted beer. The event will be held on the outdoor patio and will begin at 6:00 pm. There is no admission fee but please note that the patio will be open that night only to those of legal drinking age.

The Perdomo Special Craft Series is a premium line of cigars that Tabacalera Perdomo recently created to complement the aromas and flavors found in various styles of craft beer. We will be selling the cigars on site for $7.00 each and will be offering the following deals on quantity purchases.

    • Buy 4, Get One Free
    • Buy 10, Get 3 Free
    • Buy a Box, Get 8 Free
The Dalty Raes Hawaiian Food Truck will be at the brewery during the course of this event.

New and Returning Beer

  • Elk Brewtus, $1.79/12oz - "A dark style beer brewed with coffee beans - it’s a great way to enjoy your coffee" (source).
  • Moonlight Meadery Them Little Apples, $2.59/12oz - "A hard Cider, made with the finest New Hampshire apples that were available to us, which we had fresh pressed into apple cider" (source).
  • Oedipus Polyamorie, $4.99/12oz - "This beer is a blend of a Berliner Weiße and a US style Pale Ale. Slightly sour and much tropical fruit flavour and aroma because of the mango and Citra, and Amarillo dry hops" (source).
  • Clown Shoes Vic Secret Space Cake, $3.89/16oz - "Why are Miracle Mike and his kangaroo, Boomer, being chased by blue laser beam shooting cupcakes and two giant cake mother ships?  Let’s just say it’s an intergalactic walkabout turned ding bat wonky.  To commemorate this weird alter-dimensional  variation of Space Cake, we used Vic Secret hops from Australia to dry hop, giving a bright grapefruit note to our favorite DIPA.  Enjoy Jackaroos and Jilaroos" (source).
  • Clown Shoes Cosmic Farmer, $3.39/16oz - "Michigan only. Our buddy [and former Siciliano's employee] Steve Smith launched himself and his green thumb from Grand Rapids up into the cosmos, where he dutifully tended to a crop of red wheat planted within a commune of asteroid green houses. We found that to be very quirky and also amazing, so we brewed this IPA with red wheat malt from Michigan’s own Pilot Malt House (because Steve’s space crop wasn’t ready yet) and used copious amounts of dank, citrus hops. Enjoy" (source).
  • Clown Shoes Sonata, $14.19/22oz - "The beer is Double Chocolate Sonata, a 10 percent ABV imperial stout brewed with cacao nibs before being aged in bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Arbor Treebeard, $1.89/12oz - "This resinous and dank SPA is straight our of the tropical forest with notes of mango, pineapple, and orange citrus. It has a woodsy, piney, and light bisquity finish with a lingering yet smooth bitterness. Designed by IPA lovers, for IPA lovers" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Hop Field, $2.69/12oz - "This IPA follows our farmhouse roots while honoring Michigan’s love of hops. Featuring a blend of Michigan-grown hops, this beer celebrates hop flavor on a wholistic level, not solely the bitterness. A rustic, unfiltered cloudiness and farmhouse yeast allows the bright, fruit-forward hops to shine. Well balanced and refreshing, this farmhouse IPA boasts complexity and comfort all in one" (source).
  • North Peak Hail, $1.69/12oz - "Pale ale with Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, and Crystal" (source).
  • Saugatuck Oak 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 matched perfectly with the complex flavor profile of the oak chips" (source).
  • Uinta Hop Nosh Grapefruit, $1.59/12oz - "Our flagship IPA boasts an assertive bitterness and vibrant hop aromatics. Expect notes of pine, lime zest, and grapefruit supported by caramel malts" (source).
  • Uinta West Coast, $1.59/12oz - "Our bold and citrusy West Coast-style India Pale Ale—brewed using four different hop varieties—features pronounced aromas of pineapple, mango and pine" (source).
  • Uinta Ready Set Gose, $1.59/12oz - "This tart and salty ale smells of fresh lemon rind and coastal sea breeze. Wheat malts give this beer flavors of freshly baked bread and coriander" (source).
  • Uinta Anniversary Barley Wine, $2.69/12oz - "Anniversary Barley Wine uses a heavy dose of resinous Chinook and Centennial hops backed by a big malt body with nutty, dried fruit character" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche, $1.29/12oz - "In addition to fermentation with an ale yeast, Berliner Weisse is traditionally fermented with lactic cultures to produce its acidic (or green apple-like) character. Served as an apertif or summertime quencher, Festina is delicately hopped and has a pale straw color. To soften the intense sourness, Berliner Weisse is traditionally served with a dash of essence of woodruff or raspberry syrup" (source).
  • Tripel Root Quadruple Entendre, $14.99/750ml - "Deep burgundy, complex and layered. Hints of chocolate and Cognac with a clove spiciness that evolves into a hint of tobacco as it warms" (label).
  • Odd Side Black Citra, $1.99/12oz - "Just like our Citra Pale Ale with just a slight variation in flavor and of course color" (source).
  • Kentucky Ale Peach Wheat, $4.29/12oz - "Images of your real (or fanciful) old Kentucky home in bourbon country are conjured up with every sip, thanks to the brew’s six-week aging period in fresh Kentucky bourbon barrels. Our barrel-aging process balances hints of caramel and vanilla and subtle cereal notes with the juiciness of a fresh ripe peach, creating a golden color. Enjoy this light-bodied, refreshing offering before the bright rays of summer fade into fall" (source).
  • Big Lake Dark Star, $2.69/16oz - "A breakfast style stout brewed with Kona and Sumatra coffee aged on cocoa nibs" (source).
  • Greenbush Red Bud, $1.99/12oz - "Our signature copper wheat ale with a mind of it’s own. Apparently, a lot of our beers have a personality disorder and Red Bud is no exception. A directionally-challenged ale, hopped just enough to make it cross paths with a pale ale. RedBud- one sure way to get lost" (source).
  • Alesmith Sublime, $2.39/12oz - "The flavor is great and it has a craft beer flare with a true Mexican lager taste" (source).
  • Left Hand Wake Up Dead Nitro, $3.39/12oz - "Super smooth trifecta of cocoa, dried fruit and licorice notes" (source).
  • Odd Side Imperial Mayan Mocha, $2.69/12oz - "Imperial version of MMS. Chilis, chocolate, & coffee" (source).

Video of the Week | Wood & Wild 2017

Hop Cat GR's Wood & Wild Festival is October 22. Plan accordingly.


Friday, October 6, 2017

New Beer Friday, Limited Edition Edition (Oct 6)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Each year Winexpert releases five super-premium kits from the world’s great wine regions that are not part of the company’s regular portfolio.

These kits are available only on a pre-order basis and are released during the first four months of the year. Each kit yields six gallons of wine which translates into thirty 750-ml bottles.

We are now taking orders for this year's Limited Edition offerings. Please note that we must receive pre-orders by Sunday, December 3, 2017, either by phone (616-453-9674), email ( or in person at Siciliano's.

The following are descriptions of the individual varieties along with the respective pricing and release dates.

Petit Ruby Cabernet: Available January 2018 ($159.95)

In the Lower Murray oasis of south Australia you will find the Riverland. Spanning across Victoria and New South Wales, and basking in the continental climate, bountiful vineyards ripen during the sunny dry days of the season, while the Murray River winds through this unofficial “super zone” providing much needed irrigation.

A true gem, Petit Ruby Cabernet is a blend of Petit Verdot and Ruby Cabernet. The Ruby  Cabernet takes the best qualities of its parents, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan, creating a structured, robust wine with soft tannins, while the Petit Verdot brings intriguing flavors of dark berries and vanilla. Elegant fruit flavors of currant, juicy plum and dark berries complemented by notes of spicy ground black pepper with hints of herb and vanilla, make this medium full bodied wine a delight to enjoy with grilled meats. Try it with succulent rib eye steak for a wonderful weekend treat, or barbecue burgers for an equally delicious pairing. Having an Italian night and want to switch up the wine? Petit Ruby Cabernet is delicious with classics like meat lover’s pizza and spaghetti Bolognese.

Chardonnay Chenin Blanc: Available January 2018 ($153.95)

Permeating the white wine world, Chardonnay is refreshing to layer with lesser known varietals like Chenin Blanc, South Africa’s signature white. Grapes from the Rawsonville region, a small picturesque wine growing and farming community on the eastern flanks of the Du Toitskloof Mountains in the Western Cape province, make up this blend. The Mediterranean climate brings cool rainy winters and warm dry summers to the vineyards creating a fruit driven white wine with a high but pleasant natural acidity.

The thin skinned grapes soak in rays of sunshine to ripen and are carefully picked at just the right time to leave a crisp and bright juice. Carrying distinct cultivar characteristics, tropical fruit aromas marry with baked apple citrus zest and juicy peach. On the palate, the buttery complexity of Chardonnay is complemented by Chenin blanc's tart acidity to make a beautifully balanced wine. Delicious to sip on its own or to enjoy with food, this is a crowd pleasing and unique addition to any cellar. Enjoy with a variety of seafood dishes like grilled shellfish or salmon fish cakes. If feeling decadent, try chicken poached in a butter sauce, as the wine’s bright acidity and fruity character will complement the richness of the sauce wonderfully.

New Zealand Merlot: Available February 2018 ($159.95)

Hawke’s Bay is the oldest wine producing region in New Zealand. The diverse volcanic earth varies between gravel, sand and clay offering an ideal environment for the vineyards flooding the hillsides and banks along the five rivers winding through the landscape. Hawke’s Bay’s beautiful climate offers lots of sunshine and pleasant conditions year round. The result is a region that produces some of the finest wines in the country and Merlot contributes to this well earned reputation.

This popular and enduring varietal produces a soft yet rich and fruity juice that is pleasing to the palate. The Merlot grapes thrive in a long growing season, with flavors concentrating as the fruit develops.

Ripe fruit with spice and soft tannins take precedence in this Merlot. The lingering finish brings dark oaky spice, as well as hints of mocha and licorice. Treat yourself and enjoy with slow cooked beef and lamb dishes or a gorgeous Ossobuco. Roasted, slightly caramelized tomatoes on crostini drizzled with balsamic reduction is a simple starter that is impeccable with this wine. Looking for a cheese to pair? Try Gouda or smoked cheddar.

Spanish Milagro Blanco: Available March 2018 ($153.95)

Muscat, Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc are wonderful on their own but sing when blended together.
Muscat is fruity and crisp, Verdejo has mineral and citrus notes, and Sauvignon Blanc is herbaceous with pleasing acidity. When married, their unique elements create an off dry, soft, refreshing, fruit forward wine with a bright bouquet and a complex finish. Milagro Blanco carries notes of passion fruit and white flower on the nose, and is supported by juicy melon, peach, fresh lime and grass with a hint of honey on the palate.

La Mancha is steeped in history and is believed to have been producing wine since the Roman empire. A challenging place to grow grapes, the region is found in hot and dry central Spain, south east of Madrid where the rivers provide much needed water. Hard working vines planted in water  absorbing limestone and chalk sub soil produce grapes that boast concentrated flavors that burst on the palate. The fruity and floral character of this white wine pairs exquisitely with moderately spiced Szechuan, Thai and Vietnamese dishes. Lighter meats like chicken and white fish with green salad dressed in light vinaigrette are natural matches for a fresh, tantalizing meal.

Italian Negroamaro with Grape Skins: Available April 2018 ($184.95)

Bellissimo Italia...delightful wine, delicious food and stunning sun soaked landscapes. Apulia (or Puglia in native Italian) exemplifies all of these things and more. Explore Apulia, the heel of Italy’s boot and follow one of the longest coastlines of any wine region in the country. The Mediterranean Sea graces the region’s vineyards with cooling winds maintaining ideal temperatures for growing. Sunny, warm and dry with some of the most fertile soil in Italy, the area offers the perfect environment for ripening grapes as well as olive trees and wheat fields that coexist with vineyards in this agricultural centre.

Negroamaro is richly jewel hued, full bodied and a classic varietal in Apulia. Mild hints of wood and spice on the nose play with fruity notes for a complex aroma. On the palate, ripe berry is complemented by ground baking spice and silky tannins with a long finish. Negroamaro is hearty, versatile and evokes feelings of the beauty of its home. This wine couples well with many cuisines, but Italian, of course, is a flawless pairing. Choose an antipasto with spicy elements like salami or pepper marinated vegetables like eggplant. A simple but delicious peperonata can be enjoyed with crusty bread or as a side to roasted and grilled meat.

New and Returning Beer

  • Brewery Vivant Lost Minds, $3.49/16oz - "Dry hopped with Citra and Amarillo, we kettle-sour this IPA to tease out different flavors from the hops and lend a refreshingly complex tart finish. A tart IPA? Have you lost your mind??" (source).
  • Dark Horse Five High Harvest, $2.69/12oz - "A fragrant blend of super fresh Cascade, Chinook, and Challenger hops are brought to us from High Five Hop Farm just ten minutes down the road here in Marshall, Michigan. We take freshness seriously when it comes to our Harvest Ale and do our part by hand selecting the perfect blend of wet hops right down the street. Please do your part by enjoying this beer while it’s fresh" (source).
  • Founders Breakfast Stout, $2.69/12oz - "The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and two types of coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever" (source).
  • Grand Armory Cloudy with a Chance of Hops, $2.49/12oz - "Cloudy With a Chance of Hops is a New England style IPA. We use oats and wheat to give a balanced body to this double IPA. Amarillo, Falconer's Flight, Centennial and Citra come together to produce a juicy, fruity hop aroma and flavor that is low on bitterness, and big on flavor" (source).
  • North Pier Buckrider, $2.69/16oz - "This hop-forward Belgian/American hybrid is a burnt orange brew with high bitterness. American hops give off huge peach aromas and are backed by the fruity, apricot character of the Belgian yeast. This devilish blend is named after the Buckriders of Northern Belgium, a gang of ghosts that soar through the sky on the backs of flying goats" (source).
  • North Pier Conjurer, $2.69/16oz - "Named after Belgium’s Morgana the Conjurer, the Belgian Golden Strong has a bright golden hue, light body, and low bitterness. Like our mischievous fairy, this beer will deceive your pallet and mask its strength" (source).
  • North Pier Happy Guy, $2.69/16oz - "Happy Guy is a light bodied, crisp, golden pilsner that is dry hopped with Michigan hops to create a bright lemon-citrus aroma. Happy Guy is low in bitterness, refreshing, and extremely crushable" (source).
  • Pilsner Urquell Lunchbox, $12.59/Lunchbox - "This edition of the classic beer is featured in an old school lunch box with 4 different classic looking cans" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy by 10/31, $2.99/12oz, $8.99/22oz - "While freshness is a key component of many beers—especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs—we’ve taken it further, a lot further, in this line of devastatingly fresh IPAs. You see, not only did we brew this beer with over 10 different hops, we’ve also gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you’re getting this double IPA in your hands within an extraordinarily short window. That’s why the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the bottle, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive. Instead, we’ve sent a clear message in the name of the beer itself—further proving that there is no better time than right NOW to enjoy this IPA" (source).
  • Arcadia Morning Nightcap, $2.49/12oz - "The beer lover’s consummate coffee beer; brewed with oat malt, which lends a powerfully silky body, and a hint of nuttiness. Brewed with Papa New Guinea coffee from our neighbors at Kalamazoo Coffee Company, there are rich notes of dark chocolate, dark fruit and tons of refreshingly intense coffee flavor. Suggested apparel pairing is your choice of smoking jacket, or bathrobe and favorite slippers the next morning. When the day drags on and the night’s too long , pick up a Nightcap" (source).
  • Elysian Dayglow, $1.99/12oz - "It drips with tropical, sunshiny Mosaic, and twinkles with touches of Eldorado and Centennial. A touch of wheat hazes the malt bill a bit around the edges and the IBUs are stuck in the mid-sixties" (source).
  • UV Fresh Hop Kambucha Beer, $4.29/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Boulevard Cranberry Radler, $1.69/12oz - "When Ginger Lemon Radler made its debut in the summer of 2014, it became immediately clear that we were on to something. Originally released as a Tasting Room beer in our Sample Twelve pack and on draft as a summer seasonal, Ginger Lemon Radler caught fire and became the summer beer of choice for #TeamRadler. In 2015, with the debut of our canned offerings, Ginger Lemon Radler was available on draft and in its own six-pack from April to August with that season expanding to be March through September for 2016. As fall approached, we found ourselves echoing the sentiment we were hearing from our fans, “We need more Radler!” To this end, our innovation team has been hard at work creating a Radler more suited to take over at the end of Ginger Lemon Radler season" (source).
  • Lagunitas Nighttime, $4.79/22oz - "Kinda like Daytime's big, dark and scary sidekick, this ale is packed full of highly roasted malts then bitterly balanced with fistfuls of the dankest hops. Not for the lunch crowd or the faint of heart" (source).
  • Lagunitas Brown Shugga, $1.99/12oz - "We believe this Special Ale is Something Unique. Feeding Brown Cane Sugar to otherwise Cultured Brewery Yeast is a'kin to feeding Raw Shark to your Gerbil. It is unlikely to ever occur in nature without Human Intervention. And it looks weird besides. But it has happened and now it's too Late" (source).
  • Tallgrass Vanilla Buffalo Sweat, $1.69/12oz - "Years ago we started our cask beer program to experiment with new flavors. Our very first cask creation was Buffalo Sweat oatmeal cream stout infused with whole vanilla beans. It was so well-received at its debut at a firkin festival that it quickly evolved into our winter seasonal. This variety adds the silky sweetness of vanilla to the original Buffalo Sweat, creating a rich and creamy, medium-bodied well-balanced beer" (source).
  • Tallgrass Strawberry Shortcake, $1.69/12oz - "With our second reach into The Goodie Bag, we find Strawberry Shortcake. A Wheat Ale with a beautiful aromatic strawberry flavor and a cake-like vanilla richness for a delicious experience with one of America’s favorite dessert treats" (source).
  • Incline Explorer, $2.19/12oz - "On the drier end of the scale while remaining very smooth and well balanced. The Explorer Hopped Cider is produced from our blend of Yakima apples. A hearty dose of hops is added in to create a extremely balanced, complex, and refreshing cider. NO added sugar, no concentrates, nothing funky" (source).
  • Incline Scout, $2.19/12oz - "On the dry end of the scale while still very balanced and smooth" (source).
  • Incline Compass Rosé Hibiscus Cider, $2.19/12oz - "Slightly dry while balanced and refreshing" (source).
  • Ballast Point Fathom IPA, $1.69/12oz - "Fathom IPA highlights our favorite characteristics of the west-coast IPA style. This crisp and clean brew features a touch of malt on the surface with an ocean of zesty orange and piney hops below. The result is a refreshing, easy drinking IPA with just the right amount of depth" (source).

Video of the Week | Shaded Pony Woodworks

The always-creative Darkhorse people put old barrels to good use.