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Friday, July 20, 2018

New Beer Friday, Calcium Carbonate Edition (July 20)

Free to a good home
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We stock a wide array of products here at Siciliano’s which means we’re constantly placing orders with a multitude of wholesalers. I’ve always relied on key members of the staff to help me keep the shelves stocked and now that I’m semi-retired I’m relying on them even more. They do a fantastic job but due to the sheer volume of orders it’s inevitable that every so often someone makes a mistake. When an ordering mistake is made we call it a folly and the person responsible is then subjected to some good-natured ribbing from his or her fellow staff members. Most of the time the follies are minor but every so often there’s a real doozy. We recently had a real doozy.

A wrong order number was keyed in and instead of getting four one-pound bags of calcium carbonate we received four 50-pound bags. Now that’s a hell of a lot of calcium carbonate. We could return it of course but that would entail 200 pounds of shipping charges and a 20% restocking fee. The bottom line is that returning it would cost more than the price of the product.

We first tried to peddle it at cost to a number of breweries in the environs of Beer City USA. No dice. We then did a google search and found that in addition to a water additive in brewing the chemical can be used to make chalk paint, as an animal feed additive and to reduce lime in soil. Acquaintances who are artists, gardeners and who raise goats were contacted. There were no takers.

I’m at the point where I just want to get rid of this stuff so if anyone wants 50 pounds of calcium carbonate free of charge come on in and get it. First come first serve. Call 616-453-9674 or contact me at

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Brewing Velvet Hammer, $12.99/500ml - "Velvet Hammer 12 is a complex and delicate sour brown Ale meant to be sipped and contemplated. Permeating the aroma are tones of plum jam, fruity Belgian yeast, and earthy, wild-barrel phenolics. This year's vintage is a medium bodied beer with a delicate flavor palate with notes of Cabernet, candy sugar, sweet Hibiscus, and a dry, tart lactic finish. A beer to be enjoyed now but has the legs to age for several years to come" (source).
  • Bell's Oracle, $3.29/12oz - "Our take on the West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale, The Oracle places hop intensity first and foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt and balance. The fireworks start with the aromatic punch of dry-hop sessions with hop varieties from the Pacific Northwest. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise" (source).
  • Decadent Strawberry Creamcicle, $5.49/16oz - "Double IPA brewed with strawberry, Vanilla Beans, and Marshmallow" (source).
  • Evil Twin Flava Influencer, $5.49/16oz - "This is The Flava Influencer IPA and it is an IPA brewed with oat, lactose, vanilla, pineapple and gooseberry" (source).
  • Evil Twin Soul Made, $5.49/16oz - "Hazy and juicy with a bright citrusy and tropical flavor" (source).
  • Evil Twin D is for Dewberry, $5.49/16oz - "A gose-style ale brewed with salt and dewberry" (source).
  • Left Hand Nitro Black Currant, $2.89/16oz - "Super smooth with a light body, tart berries and vibrant color" (source).
  • Left Hand Wheels Gose 'Round, $2.39/12oz - "Brewed to help raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis research and Team Left Hand Bike MS rides. Team Left Hand is dedicated to solving the riddle which is Multiple Sclerosis. Since 2008, we have raised over $3 million, and hope you’ll consider joining us to raise funds and awareness for the millions of people around the world who are fighting this disease today" (source).
  • Right Brain Luminous Lemon, $2.09/16oz - " Light. Refreshing. Lemon" (source).
  • Stillwater Blown Speaker, $5.99/16oz - "Triple India Pale Ale" (source).
  • Stillwater Fast Fashion, $4.09/16oz - "Double dry-hopped India Pale Ale" (source).
  • Tilquin Gueuze, $12.89/375ml - "Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L'Ancienne is a gueuze blended from Boon, Lindemans, Girardin, and Cantillon lambic. It is typically comprised of 50% one-year old lambic, 30% two-year old lambic, and 20% three-year old lambic. However, the first season of bottling was 60% one-year old lambic and 40% two-year old lambic as there was no three-year old lambic available for the blend" (source).
  • Tilquin Mure, $32.89/750ml - "The Mûre Tilquin à l’ancienne (6.4% alc/vol) is a spontaneous fermentation beer obtained from the fermentation of fresh or frozen blackberries in young lambics, blended with 1, 2 and 3 years lambic to reach a final concentration of fruits of 300-350 gr fruit per liter" (source).
  • Tilquin Quetsche, $17.69/375ml - "The Quetsche Tilquin à l’ancienne (6.4% alc / vol) is a spontaneous fermentation beer obtained from the fermentation of destoned fresh purple plums (variety Prune de Namur or Quetsche véritable d’Alsace, close to the Damson) in a blend of 1 and 2 years old lambics for a period of 4 months. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, it is re-fermented in the bottle for a minimum period of 3 months. The lambics used were fermented and matured in our own oak barrels at the blendery. They are made from worts brewed by Boon, Lindemans, Girardin and Cantillon" (source).
  • Upland Champagne Velvet, $2.49/16oz - "Champagne Velvet has a refreshingly light pilsener body with some sweet complexities given off by the corn malt used in this recipe, making this the perfect lager. It’s smooth and light, but still full of flavor, the perfect everyday beer for craft beer drinkers and a step up for domestic drinkers" (source).
  • White Flame Mo'Peez, $2.79/12oz - "Smash IPA with mosaic hops" (source).
  • White Flame Red, White & Brew, $2.79/12oz - "Were it not for the Brave - There would be no land of the free. Brewed for all those who serve" (source).

Video of the Week | White Flame

The origins of Hudsonville's own White Flame Brewing Co.


Friday, July 13, 2018

New Beer Friday, Little Manistee River Edition (July 13)

The following NBF preamble, written by Steve Siciliano, first appeared on The Buzz in August, 2014. Buzz editors liked it so much we thought it deserved reposting. Enjoy!

Sometimes when I’m feeling a tad claustrophobic I’ll get myself lost on the gravel roads in the northwest section of Lake County. “Lost” is a relative term here. I might not know exactly where I’m at all the time but those washboard-rutted roads always lead to a paved highway and eventually I’ll find my way back to the cottage. If I happen to come across a country tavern along the way it’s a bonus.

While I’m “lost” there’s always plenty to look at — lots of trees, abandoned farmhouses and dilapidated barns, deer grazing in the fields, small streams and the occasional undeveloped lake.

If I drive around those roads long enough I’ll come to one of the wooden pylon bridges that cross over the Little Manistee and because I’m usually in an unhurried state, I get out of my truck to look at the river. Often I’ll see a fly fisherman working his way upstream or, if I'm lucky, a trout holding steady in the current.

It’s my decidedly humble opinion that the Little Manistee is one of the Lower Peninsula’s most delightful rivers. It rises just east of Luther and winds fifty-five miles through the hardwood forests of Lake, Mason and Manistee counties before emptying into Manistee Lake. When I was young my uncle had a cabin a few miles outside Luther. I have wonderful memories of fishing for browns and brook trout in the pond formed by the old logging mill dam that was built back in the 1800s.

Many years later my brother-in-law and I went skinny dipping in one the Little Manistee’s icy cold pools after a day of drinking Stroh’s at my father’s cabin near Irons. The swim was quite refreshing, but the memory of that experience is tempered by the fact that a few days later I got a bad case of poison ivy in the sensitive regions below my waist.

Last Saturday Barb and I kayaked the stretch of the Little Manistee between Fox Bridge and Bear Track Campground with friends John and Pam Matson. Kayaking the Little Manistee is definitely a challenge. Because John and Pam have kayaked this part of the river over twenty times, they are very adept at maneuvering the twists, turns, obstructions and eddies while enjoying a beer. I, however, quickly found out that I wasn’t.

Ten minutes into our excursion I cracked open a 16-ounce can of Two Hearted and the first two sips tasted wonderful. While I was taking the third sip the current pushed my kayak sideways against a submerged log and the remainder of that world-class IPA ended up with me in the river. Fortunately I was able to retrieve my paddle, my flip flops and the empty beer can.

My ego was slightly bruised, but a bruised ego is a relatively small price to pay for another Little Manistee memory.

New and Returning Beer

  • Abita Strawberry, $1.89/12oz - "Abita Strawberry Harvest is a lager brewed with pilsner and wheat malts and Vanguard hops. Real Louisiana strawberry juice is added after filtration resulting in a crisp lager with a sweet strawberry flavor, aroma and haze. It is wonderful with desserts or lighter fare such as salads and pastas. Fresh cheeses such as Burrata, chèvre, Crescenza, mozzarella or Teleme pair well with Strawberry Harvest. All of our Harvest Series brews are made with the finest Louisiana-grown ingredients keeping us Louisiana True®" (source).
  • Cutwater Bourbon Lemon Tea, $3.79/12oz - "We’ve added our own twist to a warm weather favorite. The subtle herbal tea notes blend perfectly with the soft honeysuckle, caramel, and vanilla of our Black Skimmer Bourbon, balanced with sweet lemon. It’s a refreshing cocktail you’ll be drinking all year round" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Mixed Media, $2.79/12oz - "The closest an ale can legally be to wine! With 51% of the fermentable sugars coming from grain and 49% coming from grapes, Mixed Media is a complex saison-esque ale brewed with a distinct Belgian yeast strain. Using a late-harvest Viognier grape must from our friends at Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Washington, you'll find notes of white grape and melon in the aroma, and greeted with a spicy white wine body in every sip" (source).
  • Grimsby Hollow Midsummer Night Mead, $29.99/750ml - "Sweet succulent strawberries blend with tart lemons and rich wildflower honey to create a refreshing mead" (source).
  • Grimsby Hollow Raven Heart Mead, $29.99/750ml - "The tart earthy flavors of black and red currants marry with rich wildflower honey to bespell your taste buds with this bold, semi-sweet nectar that will steal your heart" (source).
  • Grimsby Hollow Raspberry Malone Mead, $29.99/750 - "You can thank a Malone for the creation of this refreshing mead, with its bold, red raspberry goodness" (source).
  • North Pier Sandbar Session, $1.99/12oz - "A North Pier X Third Coast Surf Shop collab, this sessionable ale is dry-hopped with Vic Secret Hops to give a rush of juicy pineapple aromas" (source).
  • Odd Side Citra Dank, $2.39/12oz - "100% Citra hopped version of our New England IPA. Smooth, juicy, hazy beer with a citrus aroma and notes of grapefruit and lemon" (source).
  • Odd Side Mosiac Dank, $2.39/12oz - "100% Mosaic hopped version of our New England IPA. Aromas of tangerine, grapefruit, and berries give way to a smooth, hazy beer with citrus flavors with a hint of pine" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Water Street Wheat, $2.49/16oz - "An unfiltered German-style wheat beer with the traditional banana and clove flavors and aromas derived from the unique Hefe-Weizen yeast strain" (source).

Video of the Week | Dogfish Head Mixed Media

Get it at now at Siciliano's (while supplies last)!


Friday, July 6, 2018

New Beer Friday, Cracked Pipe Edition (July 6)

Rod, Steve's regular handyman
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I’m not much of a handyman so when something needs fixing around the house or at the store I hire someone to do it. Most of the time that someone is my friend Rod Lawrence who, I’m convinced, owns every tool devised by man and who takes great delight in ribbing me about my mechanical maladroitness. But sometimes a repair is beyond even Rod’s considerable skills and I have to enlist the help of a specialist. Thankfully there’s plenty of folks in the environs of Beer City USA who are willing and able to do the work.

Unfortunately that’s not the case at the cottage. When something needs to be repaired at our Lake County lake house it can be a challenge finding someone to do the work. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of folks who claim they’re willing and able to do the work as evidenced by the number of advertisements on restaurant placemats and by the proliferation of business cards plastered on bulletins boards in saloons, gas stations and grocery stores. The problem is getting some of these folks to show up. Some won’t even bother returning your calls.

I’m not sure why this is but I surmise that if you’re in business in a rural area rife with cottages and weekend retreats you probably have more work than you want or need. Whatever the reason it certainly can be frustrating.

I went through that frustration a few weeks ago when I was trying to find someone to replace a section of PVC pipe that carries groundwater from a basement sump pump. I had noticed that an area of the yard was perpetually green and when I saw water bubbling up through the ground one day I immediately suspected a cracked pipe. I grabbed a shovel and after a few minutes of digging I found it.

One guy I called surveyed the situation and promised to get back to me with a quote. After waiting a few weeks and after leaving a few terse voice mails I wrote him off. I then called another guy and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised when he called me back. He said his foreman would contact me by the end of the day and I was even more surprised when he did. The foreman told me he would be at the cottage sometime around three on the following day. I crossed my fingers.

It was 6:30 when he finally showed up with two of his workers and by then I had become resigned that I would have to attempt the repair myself. The foreman immediately told me about his broken ribs and his two workers seemed less than enthusiastic about tackling another project after working all day in the heat. I was afraid they would leave so I grabbed a shovel and began digging. The two workers reluctantly followed my lead.

It took us three hours to uncover, extricate and replace the twelve foot section of cracked and root-clogged pipe. I did a good deal of the digging. The two workers took a good deal of breaks. The foreman supervised. After the digging was done and the old pipe was out I left the installation of the new pipe to my coworkers and jumped in the lake. Afterwards I relaxed on the deck with a G & T feeling pretty darn good about myself. I may not be much of a handyman but I’m pretty good at handling a shovel.

New and Returning Beer

  • Brew Detroit Cerveza Delray, $1.69/16oz - "A Mexican-style lager" (source).
  • Cutwater Bourbon Highball, $3.79/12oz - "Just bourbon, soda water, and mint. Our take on a Whiskey Highball is the perfect showcase for our Black Skimmer Bourbon with hints of honeysuckle, caramel, and vanilla. When combined with our house-made soda and a dash of mint, you have one simply refreshing cocktail" (source).
  • Cutwater Cucumber Vodka Soda, $3.79/12oz - "Cool, fresh, and effervescent, our Cucumber Vodka Soda is a new take on the classic cocktail. We start with our exceptionally smooth award-winning Fugu Vodka. Then add just a hint of cucumber to our unique house-made soda. It’s a refreshing cocktail that will take you places" (source).
  • Cutwater Gin and Tonic, $3.79/12oz - "Even when updated, some cocktails are timeless. We’ve blended our clean and fragrant Old Grove Gin with our house-made grapefruit cucumber tonic to re-create the perfect match. A modern spin on an old classic, the bright citrusy flavors will keep you refreshed day or night" (source).
  • Cutwater Mild Bloody Mary, $3.79/12oz - "Our Fugu Mild Bloody Mary is perfect for those who like a stronger dose of tomato in their mix. This veggie-forward cocktail is perfect with our signature Fugu Vodka, featuring ripe tomatoes and exotic spices, for a classic cocktail that is dangerously drinkable" (source).
  • Cutwater Rum and Ginger, 3.79/12oz - "This Rum & Ginger is like none you’ve ever tasted. We blend our Three Sheets White Rum, crafted from pure cane sugar, with our fresh and spicy house-made ginger beer to create a robust yet balanced craft cocktail. It’s a storm of flavor that is sure to warm your pallet" (source).
  • Cutwater Spicy Bloody Mary, $3.79/12oz - "Like the venomous namesake fish this Fugu Bloody Mary packs a sting. We’ve combined our signature Fugu Vodka with our award-winning Bloody Mary mix, featuring ripe tomatoes, exotic spices and a heavy dose of pepper, to make a spicy cocktail that is dangerously drinkable" (source).
  • Cutwater Tequila Paloma, $3.79/12oz - "Our Tequila Paloma puts a south of the border favorite in the palm of your hand. The tequila gives a floral aroma with a smooth finish that complements the sweet flavors of our house-made grapefruit soda. It’s a sparkling citrus cocktail that will have you dreaming of your next beach getaway" (source).
  • Dark Horse Obtuse Spruce, $2.99/12oz - "Pale ale brewed with spruce tips" (source).
  • Great Divide Strawberry Rhubarb, $11.69/22oz - "Strawberry is the yin to rhubarb’s yang—the sweet to the tart. This beautiful partnership creates a beer that glows ruby in the glass, bursts with strawberry aroma, and bites with every sip. Bright and effervescent, this sour is a fun and refreshing, lip-puckering treat perfect for every occasion, any time of the year" (source).
  • Short's Strawberry Shorts Cake, $2.59/12oz - "Strawberry Short’s Cake is a Golden Ale brewed with the addition of strawberries and milk sugar. The flavors of shortcake and fresh strawberries transform this beer into rose-colored party nectar that is pleasingly sweet with hints of cream. Biscuit flavors and aromas arise from the use of large amounts of Victory malt" (source).

Video of the Week | Dark Horse

Dark Horse: A destination with all the right vices.


Friday, June 29, 2018

New Beer Friday, Country Watering Hole Edition (June 29)

Steve outside Delaney's in Fountain, MI
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Now that I’m semi-retired my wife Barb and I have been spending a lot of time at our cottage in Lake County and that means we’re in close proximity to a lot of rural bars. I’ve always had an affinity for these country watering holes. Maybe it’s the décor — the ubiquitous knotty pine walls, the worn floors, the taxidermies of huge fish and trophy deer, the ancient wooden cooler doors that make that satisfying latching sound when the bartender slams them shut after grabbing your beer.

Barb and I will usually order a bottle of mass produced lager when we visit these joints although in summer we’ll sometimes opt for a refreshing G & T if I happen to spot a decent gin on the back bar. That’s not to say that we can’t get a pint of craft suds in these out of the way places if we so desire. Even the remotest saloons now usually have at least one draught offering of craft. Oberon seems to be everywhere, Two Hearted is on tap at Jackie’s Place in Irons while The Hoff in Freesoil always has something from Starving Artist, a solid nano brewery on the outskirts of Scottsville.

The best place to sit in these country saloons is the bar because you can shoot the breeze with the typically laid back and friendly bartenders. You can ask them about the history of the region and you might learn that the town once had a lumber mill or was a stop on the Pierre Marquette Railroad. Sometimes they’re even willing to tell you about their secret fishing spots. When that happens it is appropriate to leave a sizable tip.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Brewing Tilted Earth (Summer), $2.19/12oz - "Tilted Earth is our Rotating IPA Series, an ode to the changing seasons with an IPA that changes every three months. New season, new beer! Our Summer 2018 release is a Session Wheat IPA, an ideal hop-laden pairing to a Michigan summer. Brewed with wheat and loads of citrusy Amarillo and Citra hops, it’s crushable and packed with hoppy goodness to quench your thirst all summer long" (source).
  • Big Lake Michi-Gander, $2.79/16oz - "Michigander is a Session IPA brewed with Mosaic Hops. Fruit & floral characteristics come from the Mosaic Hops, making for a delicious lighter IPA" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Tart Side of the Barrel, $7.19/16oz - "After being tucked away in Bourbon and Rye Whiskey barrels, Tart Side of the Moon re-emerges from sleep to become Tart Side of Barrel. All the big flavors of the original beer plus a sleek and luscious barrel aged component" (source).
  • Central State Phase Shift, $.79/16oz - "Dripping with juicy hop flavors, this tart pale ale is loaded with Mandarina Bavaria, Citra, & Eukanot Cryo hops. This beer is the perfect convergence of two things we love - sour beers & an aggressive use of dry hops" (source).
  • Central State Unigov, $4.09/16oz - "A hybrid of several beer styles, this farmhouse IPA is loaded down with oats, Belgian malts, and Indiana Pilsner malt. Excessively hopped with a cocktail of Simcoe, Sorachi Ace, Citra, and Amarillo, and finally fermented with our house wild yeast cultures" (source).
  • Cigar City White Oak Jai Alia, $2.59/12oz - "A truly unique India Pale Ale, this iteration of our Jai Alai IPA boasts the addition of white oak spirals to impart sleek notes of vanilla, coconut and a touch of dill to Jai Alai’s bold citrus and caramel character.  The oak also serves to temper the bitterness in the 70 IBU base beer while oak tannins elegantly dry the beer’s body to create a unique drinking experience that still remains true to Jai Alai’s unique qualities" (source).
  • Watermark Slippery Bob, $4.69/16oz - "Tropical with a kiss of Pineapple" (source).
  • Founders Barrel Runner, $3.99/12oz - "Inspiration for our barrel-aged beers can come from the most unexpected places and our latest release is proof of that. Sweet and hoppy, rich and bright – this rum barrel-aged imperial IPA brewed with Mosaic hops will make you believe you’re in the tropics" (source).
  • Mountain Town Machine Shop Great Lakes Wit, $2.79/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Mountain Town Machine Shop Imperial Stout, $3.19/16oz - No commercial description.
  • NIP Batch 24, $2.89/12oz - "Gose's are perfect for summer, quenching, tart, and drinkable. There is just one problem, its really hard to drink brews that light and get the desired drunken results. Well friends, worry no longer! This big imperial version of the gose will tick all those boxes! Slightly tart, a little salty, really drinkable, and just a hint of sweetness, this beer will give you a big kiss and trip you while you're not looking. Get out on the river, hike a bit, enjoy the weather and throw back some of these beasts, cause even if you don't remember it you won't regret it. And don't forget to drink promiscuously" (source).
  • NIP Batch 25, $2.89/12oz - "Kia ora, kiwi hops and kiwi fruit assssemmmbllleee! And before you think it, yeah yeah its a fruited IPA, but this guy has some fun tricks up its sleeve. The unique tropical flavors of that little brown and green fruit combine lovingly with the equally tropical flavors of exotic and aromatic hops. Orange, mango, kiwi (duh) all harmonize on top of medium bodied and dangerously high alcohol backbone. So give your mouth a vacation to the land of the long white cloud, middle earth, or whatever you want to call that delicious southern hemisphere island. Drink promiscuously friends, cheers mate" (source).
  • NIP Red While and Blue Collar, $2.39/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Odd Side Laughing Clown, $2.39/12oz - "This is our take on your classic brown bag malt liquor" (source).
  • Odd Side Fruitsicle (Multiple Flavors), $2.89/12oz - "Juicy, fruity, slightly tart ale with lactose, blackberry and blueberries added" (source).
  • Odd Side Wheatermelon, $2.39/12oz - "The perfect summer treat. A wheat ale brewed with tons of fresh cut watermelon" (source).
  • Pigeon Hill No Diggnity, $2.29/12oz - See video below.
  • Prairie Birthday Bomb!, $10.39/12oz - "Birthday Bomb! was conceived to celebrate three wonderful years of experimentation and fun loving flavors like the current incarnation with caramel sauce. Made in house by our brewers with nothing but black gloves and a propane tank. The rest is the complex mix of hops and malt with a healthy dose of the signature coffee and spices" (source).
  • Prairie Vape Tricks, $3.29/12oz - "Sour ale aged on cherries. Pours a ruby body with a spare white head. Aroma of cherry, hibiscus, straw, and herbs. Flavor of cherry, dough, marzipan, earth, and citrus with a moderately dry finish" (source).
  • Prairie Blueberry Boyfriend, $3.29/12oz - "Blueberry Boyfriend is a 5.4 percent ABV sour ale brewed with blueberries and lemon zest. The Tulsa, Okla.-based brewery released the ale as a draft-only option late last year, but this is the first time it has been packaged" (source).
  • Revolution Freedom of Speach, $1.99/12oz - "Freedom of Speach is naturally soured in the brew kettle and fermented out dry with a lower alcohol level. Our easy-drinking session sour demonstrates a clean tartness, balanced out by an assembly of ripe peach flavor. Exercise your right to refreshment" (source).
  • Revolution Tropic Hero, $2.39/12oz - "Tropic Hero is an American IPA brewed with 2-row and Pale malts to establish a smooth malt profile and golden color.  We used Apollo, Warrior, Crystal, Cascade and Amarillo hops in the brewhouse to achieve an intense but clean bitterness and aromas and flavors of fresh flowers and citrus juice" (source).
  • Shiner Ruby Redbird, $1.79/12oz - "Shiner Ruby Redbird is brewed with genuine Texas Rio Red Grapefruit, and ginger" (source).
  • Southern Tier Cherry Cordial, $3.99/12oz - "Big, juicy cherries covered in rich chocolate? Yes! Not overly sweet, with just enough contrast between the fruit and chocolate, Cherry Cordial is every bit as tempting as it sounds" (source).
  • Tallgrass Key Lime, $1.89/12oz - "First released in summer 2016 as an experimental draft-only release that was met with raving enthusiasm from fans, Key Lime Pie returns to the Tallgrass lineup as a summer seasonal in 6-packs of 12 oz cans. An American sour blonde ale brewed with lime peel, Key Lime Pie is true to its namesake, recalling the sweet, tart and refreshing dessert in beer form" (source).
  • Tapistry Heart Full of Napalm, $3.59/16oz - "Double IPA brewed with Galaxy, Mosaic, and Amarillo hops" (source).
  • Watermark Kwan-Tsu, $4.29/16oz - "Belgian Style White Ale w/ Passionfruit" (source).
  • Yazoo Preservation Ale, $6.49/12oz - "Inspired by the Biere de Garde styles of Northern France – in 2016 we brewed a fresh hop ale with local hops grown at Sulpher Creek Farm and aged it with funky Brett yeasts and a locally sourced souring Lacto strain. It laid in wait until Spring, ready to cheer on the new hop vines" (source).
  • Yazoo Summer Gose, $2.39/12oz - "A light bodied ale made with enough wheat to provide a slight citrus flavor that is complimented well with fresh ground coriander and sea salt. We may have created the best Summer beer possible" (source).

Video of the Week | Pigeon Hill

No diggnity. No doubt.


Friday, June 22, 2018

New Beer Friday, Gourmet Mushroom Edition (June 22)

Mushroom Fettucine
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Every Friday my wife and I make a forty-minute drive from our cottage near Irons to the Mason County community of Scottville, Michigan. Now, chances are good that if you have been to this nice but nondescript burg on U.S. 10 you passed through it on your way to Ludington, the pleasant little city on the shores of Lake Michigan ten miles to the west.

On the other hand, you might have never set foot nor tire in Scottsville but have heard of it because you have seen the famous Scottsville Clown Band perform at a small-town parade or a county fair. In other words, it’s not exactly a destination and you might be wondering why Barb and I make these weekly trips. Well, we go there for the mushrooms.

Scottsville is the home of Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc., a company that produces thousands of pounds of gourmet mushrooms a week. The majority are shipped to restaurants and grocers around the country but every Friday from 12:30 to 3:00, the plant opens its doors to cash-paying customers who can purchase the fresh mushrooms in prepackaged three and fifteen pound bags.

I’m not sure how Barb heard about the weekly sale but I’m glad she did. The mushrooms have wonderful earthy flavors and are flat out the best fungi we’ve ever had. We always pick up three varieties and we enjoy them with meals all week. We usually sauté them in butter and sprinkle on some garlic salt but last week I sautéed them in olive oil and fresh garlic and tossed them over fettucine. A simple but tasty dish. Go here for varieties and more information.

New and Returning Beer

  • Abita Watermelon Lemon Shandy, $1.89/12oz - "Inspired by the taste and aromas of summertime, this crisp, golden lager is brewed with pilsner and wheat malts and blended with refreshing watermelon and zesty lemon juices for a sweet, freshly squeezed flavor. All of our Harvest Series brews are made with the finest Louisiana-grown ingredients, keeping us Louisiana True" (source).
  • Arvon Bush Wookie, $9.39/22oz - "A  piney, resinous, West Coast style IPA with slight citrus notes that is well hopped in accordance with the style. Light bodied and hop-forward, Bush Wookie finishes dry. Best enjoyed fresh" (source).
  • Arvon Fort Gratiot, $9.99/22oz - "Arvon Brewing Co.’s Lighthouse Series of New England style IPAs are each distinctly hopped with a single varietal, displaying the unique character of the hops as a shining beacon. The explosive hop flavor and aroma of Falconer's Flight featured in Fort Gratiot is best experienced when this beer is enjoyed fresh – drink now" (source).
  • Arvon Sand Point, $9.99/22oz - "Arvon Brewing Co.’s Lighthouse Series of New England style IPAs are each distinctly hopped with a single varietal, displaying the unique character of the hops as a shining beacon. The explosive hop flavor and aroma of Nelson Sauvin featured in Sand Point is best experienced when this beer is enjoyed fresh – drink now" (source).
  • Avery Bug Zapper, $2.39/12oz - "Bug Zapper is a limited release Sour Ale to help scratch your summer itch. A lively mix of mint, ginger, and lime are both cooling and invigorating, and we sour-dose after fermentation to impart the finishing electric zap" (source).
  • Boulevard Ginger Lemon Shandy, $1.89/12oz - "Ginger Lemon Radler is a zesty, refreshing take on the tradition of mixing beer with soda or lemonade to create a light, thirst-quenching beverage ideal for warm weather. Radler (literally “cyclist,”) takes its name from active German sportsmen of a hundred years ago, but our version tastes just as good even if you do nothing more strenuous than lifting it to your lips" (source).
  • Deschutes The Ages, $16.29/500ml - "A tasty new tart offering in our Reserve Series lineup. Flavors hit the back of the throat first and end with a tingle on the taste buds. Limited, small batch release" (source).
  • Deschutes Passion Fruit IPA, $2.19/12oz - "Just in time for Valentine’s Day we bring you an IPA brewed with love, heart and PASSION…fruit.  Juicy citrus aroma and flavor highlighted by tropical hop character and background caramel malt notes" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Liquid Truth Serum, $3.29/16oz - "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 ... honest" (source).
  • Goose Island Grumpy Old Man, $1.99/12oz - "Simple pale ale brewed with two-row and caramel malt. Kettle hops are Cascade and Chinook" (source).
  • Goose Island Midway IPA, $1.99/12oz - "Paying tribute to Chicago, Midway IPA is sessionable and refreshing, or as Goose Island likes to refer to it -- easy drinking. With lower ABV, balanced IBU's, and a tropical fruit aroma, make Midway your new go-to" (source).
  • North Channel Manistee IPA, $2.09/12oz - "2-row malt forms the backbone of this beer along with some rye malt. Michigan Copper hops were added during the boil and Citra was used to dry hop making it a balanced, yet hop-forward IPA" (source).
  • Odd Side Fruitsicle Cherry, $2.89/12oz - "Juicy, fruity, slightly tart ale brewed with lactose and cherries added" (source).
  • Odd Side Fruitsicle Pineapple & Tangerine, $2.89/12oz - "Fruit Beer" (source).
  • Short's Freedom of 78, $2.59/12oz - "Freedom of ’78 is a medium-bodied IPA brewed with guava. This IPA is bright and clear with a pleasing bronze hue. The beers aroma is a unique fusion of citrus fruit and subtle pine. The distinct characteristics of the guava nectar are impossible to miss with flavors of tangerine, nectarine, and even faint honey detectable. The finish is bitter and dry" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Last Chance, $2.39/12oz - "Last Chance IPA, 5.9% ABV, is a full-flavored IPA with pleasant citrus flavors of tangerine and grapefruit. We’ve tweaked the recipe a bit and the result is a well-balanced, very refreshing beer that we’re sure you’ll enjoy! In addition to the new blend of Cascade, Centennial, Citra & Mosaic hops, we’ve also dry-hopped this brew with Citra and Mosaic" (source).
  • Bell's Q Falls, $2.09/12oz - "Larry Bell, president and founder of Bell’s Brewery, dreamt that he was at the mystically hidden retreat of Quinannan Falls, somewhere in the boreal north. Neither Quinannan Falls nor the beer actually existed outside his imagination, but he remembered enough about it to sketch a recipe and label, which was put into full form by Michigan artist Kathleen Kalinowski, the following morning. The end result is a dry-hopped lager that possesses a crisp, dry bitterness you would expect from a German pilsner, but the use of highly aromatic Simcoe hops from the Pacific Northwest, evoke the fragrant pine forests that inspired this beer" (source).
  • Creston Bloody Fifth, $3.89/16oz - "Red Ale dry-hopped with Michigan Summit hops" (source).
  • Creston Bokonon, $3.89/16.7oz - "New England IPA with Mosaic, Citra, and Simcoe hops" (source).
  • Decadent Ales Wildberry Smoothie, $6.29/16oz  - "Our Tropical Smoothie IPA featuring raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and vanilla bean" (source).
  • Evil Twin Big Ass Money Stout, $9.99/16oz - "This is Big Ass Money Stout and it is a collaboration with Lervig. This imperial stout will roll in at 17.4%-AbV and it will be brewed at Westbrook Brewing in Mount Pleasant, SC" (source).
  • Evil Twin Even More Pecan Jesus, $4.59/16oz - "This is Even More Pecan Pie Jesus and it is a limited release imperial stout brewed with molasses and pecan extract" (source).
  • Evil Twin Modern IPA, $2.19/12oz - "This is a tasty tribute to a beloved and iconic beer style - the India Pale Ale. The style goes 200 years back - has been through every spectrum of the flavor palette and had it’s ups and downs on the IBU scale. This time around we re-created a contemporary style IPA - basically the taste of the perfect IPA right now. Understated hop flavors, fruity and crisp. The future is now" (source).
  • Evil Twin Molotov Surprise #4 (Pink Guava), $3.29/12oz - "Triple IPA" (source).
  • Evil Twin Race Day IPA, $4.99/16oz  - "A sour IPA brewed with aloe salt and pineapple" (source).
  • Evil Twin Whereof One Cannot..., $4.99/16oz - "A double dry-hopped IPA" (source).
  • Fat Orange Cat Vito the Beer Whale, $5.49/16oz - "The hop combination of Azacca and Simcoe creates a unique and intense mix of tropical fruit flavors up front with a creamy mellow finish" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Bonnie Raggedy Ass, $3.59/16oz - "2010 world beer cup silver medal - brewed and dry hopped with American, Centennial, Columbus, Cascade and Bravo" (source).
  • Hoppin' Frog B.O.R.I.S. Crusher, $8.79/12oz - "BORIS stands for Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout and it will crush you like no other stout! BORIS The Crusher will crush your taste buds under its intense flavor and full body" (source).
  • Hoppin' Frog Baltic Pirate Porter, $7.69/12oz - "Immensely smooth, yet complex and substantial. Made with our Baltic brewing friend Wojtek, a master of the style from Brewery Widawa in Poland. Pirating this awesome recipe from Baltic history, we created this crazy collaboration by getting all the traditional malts, lager yeast, and even fresh hops from his source in Poland! Then for distinct hop character, we increased the kettle aroma hops by 3X. Plus, to make it world-class. we added a touch of dried plum which is often part of the flavor profile of the best Baltic Porters" (source).
  • Hoppin' Frog Grapefruit Shandy, $4.49/12oz - "Born from European traditions, a fresh grapefruit character nicely compliments the light malt flavor of this Grapefruit Turbo Shandy" (source).
  • Hoppin' Frog Infusion A, $4.49/12oz - "Infusion A starts with the base of our Silk Porter and adds to its deliciousness with tasty swirls of chocolate and peanut butter flavor" (source).
  • Hoppin' Frog Lemon Lime Shandy, $4.49/12oz - "Its crisp and inviting lime character adds a tasty pizzazz to the refreshing lemon and light malt flavors of our Turbo Shandy" (source).
  • Motor City Brewing Ghetto Blaster Mild, $1.19/12oz - Motor City Ghettoblaster is a classic English Style Mild Ale, tawny in color with a clean biscuit flavor. Ghettoblaster is also the “Beer You Can Hear” an on-going documentation of the Detroit music scene" (source).
  • Shacksbury Arlo, $3.29/12oz  - "Aromatic, grapefruit, lightly sparkling, and dry" (source).
  • Shacksbury Rose, $2.79/12oz - "Meet Rosé, crafted in partnership with our friends at Sunday In Brooklyn. Rosé features 100% local fresh pressed apples from @sunrise_orchards in Cornwall, Vermont. Post fermentation, we let the cider age on local Marquette grape skins — collected from winemaker friends here in Vermont — to impart flavor, color, and tannin. The result is a fun-loving but refined cider that is as delicious as it is beautiful" (source).
  • Stillwater Action Bronson 7000, $4.39/16oz - "Dry hopped sour ale with muscat grapes" (source).
  • Stillwater Mainstream Pop, $5.49/16oz - "Mainstream Pop Song is a double IPA brewed with Amarillo, Citra and Mosaic hops" (source).

Video of the Week | North Channel Brewing

Siciliano's welcomes North Channel Brewing to the market.


Friday, June 8, 2018

New Beer Friday, Country Roads Edition (June 8)

First fish on the fly
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Now that we’re semi-retired, my wife Barb and I have been spending a lot of time at our cottage, which means we’ve been spending a fair amount of time driving around on country roads. We take those roads to get to our fishing spots and we travel down them on our occasional trips to the stores, restaurants, bars and fly-fishing shops in the rural areas of Lake and Mason counties. Since there’s never much traffic on those roads, I see more vehicles on my five-minute drive to Siciliano’s than I do during a week’s worth of driving up north, and I’m better able to focus on the lovely country scenery. That’s not to say that you can completely zone out. You have to keep an eye out for the ubiquitous deer and for the flocks of oblivious turkeys.

While many of those roads are paved there’s still a good number that are not. I prefer unpaved roads despite the fact they're dusty when dry, muddy when wet and have the tendency to get terribly washboarded. There have been times I was driving down a gravel road at a pretty good clip when I hit a stretch of ripples that rattled the truck so hard that I feared the fillings were being dislodged from my teeth. But the scenery always seems to be better on those roads — the dilapidated barns, the pine-stump fences, the meadows of wildflowers, the rickety wooden bridges over the occasional creek.

Perhaps another reason I like gravel roads is that they usually lead you to the best fishing spots and lately we’ve been doing a fair amount of angling. Barb has been learning the intricacies of fly fishing and last week she caught her first brown while wading in the Little Manistee. She was lamenting the fact that the trout was a tad small until I relayed to her what the late Pete Hamlin said to Harry Winston and I one night at the Bear Creek Inn. “If you can catch a trout on a fly in the Little Manistee,” he told us, “you can catch a trout on a fly anywhere.”

New and Returning Beer

  • Boulevard Jam Band Berry Ale, $1.89/12oz - "Accompanying a simple malt base, blueberry, raspberry and tart cherry play in perfect harmony to create a slightly tart ale that sings with ripe, bursting fruit flavor. Aromas of dark berries, citrus and melon open the show, bridging to zippy fruit flavors that meld into an easy-drinking summer beer worthy of an encore" (source).
  • Central State/Transient Haizon, $4.39/16oz - "Combination of a hazy dry-hopped beer and light, refreshing farmhouse ale. Malt bill of Indiana-malted Rye, Pilsner, and Wheat with Citra and Loral cryo hops" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche, $2.79/12oz - "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).
  • Eel River Emerald IPA, $2.59/12oz - "A bold, West Coast-style IPA bursting with pine and citrus notes supported by a solid malt backbone. Hopped and dry-hopped with Magnum, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Simcoe varieties" (source).
  • Eel River Organic Acia, $2.39/12oz - "A Certified Organic, delicate crystal wheat beer with a light, thirst-quenching body, balanced by the equally refreshing aroma of organic acai, pomegranate, and other mixed berries " (source).
  • Eel River Organic Blond, $2.39/12oz - "Our lightest beer . A great organic beer. With an exceptionally crisp palate, this ale balances the light malt palate with a subtle bitterness. This ale is an ideal beer for those unaccustomed to micro-brewed beers. Made with pale, wheat, carastan and carapils malts. Hopped with Cascade, Saaz and Tettnang hops. Made with pride and great taste from the worlds first certified organic brewery" (source).
  • Eel River Organic Tropical Sparkling Ale, $2.39/12oz - "An Organic Sparkling Ale, light in color, and effervescent in body with a clean finish. It lends itself perfectly to the tropical flavors of the Organic Passionfruit and Kiwi that are used to bring summer into the glass. The Organic Tropical Sparkling Ale is the perfect companion for any outdoor activity" (source).
  • Ellison You Can Get With That Juice, $3.29/16oz - "Are you ready for some hazy, NE Coast love? A double dry hop gives this IIPA an aroma that is packed citrus and fruit. It's sweet to start, with a succulent mouth feel that finishes smooth and dry" (source).
  • Marz Jungle Boogie, $4.69/12oz - "Jungle Boogie is an American Wheat beer with just enough complex malt character to balance the juicy Mosaic hops and rooibos tea flavors. Canned version brewed at Against the Grain" (source).
  • Odd Side El Dankerino, $2.79/12oz - "West Coast IIPA" (source).
  • Perrin Passion Fruit Gose, $2.09/12oz - "Passion Fruit Gose combines the tropical taste of ripe passion fruit with the distinct flavor of pink Hawaiian sea salt to balance the taste buds in a crisp, refreshing beer for summer thirst" (source).
  • Roak Ice Cream Man, $3.39/16oz - "Sour ale with aromas of orange and vanilla leading into a slightly sweet tartness that is balanced and refreshing. Brewed with orange zest, vanilla, lactose" (source).
  • Roak Zenyatta, $3.09/16oz - "This session IPA is hazy in appearance and brewed with lactose for added body and a pillowy mouthfeel. Dry hopped with Amarillo, Calypso, El Dorado, and Denali hops. Zenyatta has notes of citrus and tropical fruit that lead to a clean finish" (source).
  • Short's Power of Love, $2.19/12oz - "Power of Love is a truly unique pink-colored shandy created by blending local lemonade and a Wheat Ale brewed with raspberry and rosemary. Enticing sugary aromas intermix with appealing citrus and herb fragrances. Very sweet lemon flavors give way to a shock of tart raspberry before turning sharply dry, as if eating a piece of grapefruit" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Sidecar IPA, $1.79/12oz - "We pushed the complex and citrus-heavy flavors of hops to a new level with this orange-infused IPA. Combining bright and bold hops with real orange in the fermenter creates layers of citrus-crazy flavors, yet it maintains a balance and a crisp hop bite that make it the perfect aromatic IPA" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy By 7-4, $3.19/12oz - "For this version of Stone Enjoy By IPA we thought: “We don’t always have a filter, so why should our beer?” By skipping a step and letting this devastatingly fresh, golden-hued double IPA go un filtered, the beer takes on a hazy appearance and its peach and tropical fruit hop aroma are intensified. So though it may sound like it, this missed step was no misstep" (source).
  • White Flame Hardball IPA, $2.99/12oz - A 12.5% IPA from "Hudsonville's oldest brewery" (source).

Video of the Week | Enjoy By 7-4-18

Available at Siciliano's while supplies last.


Friday, June 1, 2018

New Beer Friday, The Sixth of June Edition (June 1)

Fiction by Steve Siciliano

The clerk was sweeping cigarette butts up on the sidewalk in front of C’s when he spotted Joe Nelson across the street waiting for the traffic signal to turn. After dumping the butts into a metal trash container chained to a lamp post the clerk bought a newspaper from a kiosk chained to a stop sign. When he was back in the store he lit a Marlboro then sat down with the newspaper and didn’t look up when Joe Nelson leaned heavily against the sales counter. “Starting a little early today aren’t you, sport,” the clerk said.

The old man looked at the stubble on the young man’s chin, at his wisp of a mustache, at the stringy blond hair poking out from beneath the turned around baseball cap, at the dangling earrings and the thick, braided necklace. “Anything in the paper about the invasion,” Joe Nelson asked.

“What invasion?”

“You know what date today is?”

“It’s Wednesday,” the clerk said.

“I said do you know what date it is.”

The clerk gave Joe Nelson a disgusted look then glanced at the date at the top of the sports page. “June 6,” he said. “What of it?”

“Nothing,” Joe Nelson said. He took six crumpled one dollar bills and a handful of change out of his pants pocket and laid them on the counter. “Give me a fifth of Old Crow,” he said.

“Since when do you drink Old Crow?”

“On June 6,” Joe Nelson said. “On June 6 I drink Old Crow.”

The clerk stubbed out his cigarette and rang up the bottle of bourbon. “You’re short nineteen cents, sport.”

Joe Nelson carefully recounted his money and then looked up at the clerk. “Last week when I asked Mary she told me it was eight twenty-nine.”

“Well guess what. It went up.”

“Front me the difference. I’ll pay you when I get my check.”

“No credit,” the clerk said.

Standing at the sales counter the old man looked around the store. “Is Mary working?”


Joe Nelson looked at the clerk then picked up the bills and coins and slowly walked out the door. Fifteen minutes later he slowly walked back in with two empty beer cans. “Here’s your nineteen cents,” he said. “Now give me that goddamn bottle.”

It took Joe Nelson an hour to walk the mile to Riverside Park and then another half hour to find a good spot along the river bank to sit. While walking down the hill through the run-down neighborhood, over the abandoned railroad tracks, past the warehouses and factories and then across the busy four-lane to the wide expanse of the park, he thought about Private Jack Carter. Jack Carter, big, strong country boy from Kentucky. Self-proclaimed expert squirrel hunter. Wise-cracking, gum-smacking, bourbon-loving, toughest son-of-a-bitch in the platoon. “We’re gonna get through this,” he told Joe the night before the invasion. “When this shit is over you and me gonna drink us some Kentucky hooch,” he told Joe while they were crossing the channel on the troop transport. “Let’s push them damn Huns back to Germany!” Jack Carter yelled over the noise of the engine while they were going in on the Higgens boat. When they hit a sandbar the coxswain lowered the ramp and the Germans opened up with the MG-42s. Private Jack Carter never made it off the ramp. He was twenty-two.

With the bullets from the machine guns splatting around him Joe Nelson hoisted himself up and over the side of the Higgens boat. When he realized he couldn’t touch bottom he let go of his rifle and it was only after he released his pack and tore off his assault jacket that he was able to keep his head above water. He knew that the only way he would make it to shore was by floating in on the surf like a dead man. When he was finally able to stand he began running for cover towards a burning tank and it was then that he was hit. For Joe Nelson, the war was over.

When the bourbon was gone he stood and threw the bottle as far as he could into the fast moving current. “Another dead soldier,” he said to himself. On his way back through the park he came upon a baseball field. There were people sitting on metal bleachers behind each dugout, more people sitting on lawn chairs along the baselines and a man leaning by himself against the left field fence. Joe Nelson walked up and leaned next to him. “Whatssa score?” he asked him.

“Nine to one,” the man said.

“Who’s winning?”

“The blue team.”

“You got a kid out there?”

“Yes,” the man said. “The pitcher.”

Joe Nelson stopped leaning for a moment and brought his hands up to his mouth. “Throw the heater!” he yelled. “Throw the goddamn heater!”

The man moved a few feet further down the fence.

“Whatsa matter?” Joe Nelson asked him.


Joe Nelson decided to try again. “You know what date it is?”

“It’s Wednesday,” the man said.

“Do you know what date it is?”

The man moved a little further down still, and was relieved when Joe Nelson finally turned and walked away from the ball field.

This story appeared previously on the The Buzz.

New and Returning Beer

  • Stone I'M Peach Double IPA, $3.19/12oz - "Who wants to kick fruit out of beer? Not us. When done right, adding orange or grapefruit or tangerine can contribute a deeper level of delicious complexity to the beer. In this case, peach was the perfect complement to enhance the substantial bill of hops in this double IPA. May its reign last more than a few terms" (source).
  • New Holland Honey Sour Inc Honey Ginger Ale, $3.49/12oz - "This is Sour Inc Honey Ginger Sour Ale and it is exactly what you think…a sour ale brewed with honey and ginger" (source).
  • Atwater Traverse City Wheat Wheat, $2.09/12oz - "The addition cherries from Traverse City, MI, prior to fermentation, Atwater’s Cherry Wheat brings a bright tartness together with the crispness of an American Wheat ale" (source).
  • Perrin & Cigar City North South IPA, $2.49/12oz - "To celebrate the launch of Cigar City Brewing to the Michigan & Chicago markets John Stewart of Perrin Brewing invited Wayne Wambles of Cigar City up to brew a collaboration IPA. Using Denali, Enigma, Galaxy and Citra Cryo-hops this North-South IPA beer takes all the aroma and hop flavor of an NE-IPA with less haze to create a more stable full hop flavored beer with delicious tropical and juicy hop aromatics" (source).
  • Founders Double Trouble, $3.39/12oz - "An imperial IPA that was brewed to turn your world upside down. Hops will get you coming and going. Pungent aromatics up front pair with a malt-balanced backbone and a smooth, bitter finish" (source).
  • Terrapin T-Time, $1.99/12oz/1.99 - "“T-Time” Berliner Weisse is a tart and thirst-quenching wheat beer made with fresh tea and lemon peel. This easy-to-drink summertime refresher will get you back into the swing of things both on and off the course" (source).
  • Ballast Point Fathom IPA, $1.89/12oz - "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 | Proper Glassware

Join the education team at Founders for a quick lesson in glassware.


Friday, May 25, 2018

New Beer Friday, Congrats Phil Pierce Edition (May 25)

To the victor go the spoils
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I am pleased to announce that Phil Pierce is the winner of Best of Show for the Fifteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition. The president of the Brewsquitos homebrew club took the top honors with his wood-aged beer and was presented the prestigious Siciliano’s Cup last Saturday at the Fifteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party at Johnson Park. This is the first time that a Brewsquitos member has won the coveted award. Phil also received a $500.00 gift card to Siciliano’s Market and will be brewing his winning recipe at the Mitten Brewing Company.

After being presented with The Cup, Phil carried on the tradition of drinking from the trophy and he quaffed the beer in one long uninterrupted gulp. It was an impressive performance.

After the festivities wrapped up, a few partiers joined Barb and I for Manhattans and Perdomo Craft Series cigars on our backyard deck. Among those in attendance were Jeremy Gavin and Ric Brown who were behind a practical joke involving a forehead and a Prime Time homebrew club sticker after the 2017 party. Needless to say I made damn sure that I didn’t doze off in my chair this year.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Cucumber Lime Gose, $3.19/12oz - "Cucumber Lime Gose is a beer designed for a hot summer’s day! It’s bright acidity complements additions of flaked sea salt, plenty of fresh lime peel and cucumber to bolster the naturally crisp, refreshing qualities of our German-style Gose. Enjoy poolside and let the day drift away" (source).
  • Bell's 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout, $4.19/12oz - "We brewed a version of Cherry Stout in 2001 using oak chips and cherry pits. This time around, we decided to brew with whole cherries and oak chips. Coming in at 9.0% alcohol by volume, this commemorative batch is a celebration of what Cherry Stout means to us" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Secret Rituals, $5.19/16oz - "A hazy, ripe, fresh delight. featuring Vic Secret, Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Zaison, $4.69/16oz - "Zaison takes its inspiration from the famous Saison style of beer made in the southern region of Belgium. Traditionally this beer is made in the coolness of the winter months to be enjoyed in the Spring and Summer. Our special Belgian yeast strain gives this beer a little funkiness and is accented with tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel. Probably one of the strongest summertime beers you will encounter, we recommend using the buddy system, always drink with a friend" (source).
  • Coppercraft Michigan Mule, $3.99/12oz - "Just like its Russian cousin, except way more Midwest! Coppercraft put real, premium vodka and authentic Michigan hard ginger cider that placed it in a metal container that is designed for your active lifestyle. Every part of the Michigan Mule is copper-crafted. Take it everywhere" (source).
  • Decadent Citra, Citra, Citra, $5.69/16oz - "This is a triple dry hopped version of our all Citra DIPA, Citra Citra" (source).
  • Deschutes Twilight, $1.99/12oz - "Summer has its own rules. As luck would have it, it also has its own beer. This clever golden-hued ale pours remarkably crisp and clean. A distinctive malt body complements a refreshing hop profile led by a heady dose of bold Amarillo hops. Enjoy" (source).
  • Ellison Makin Memories Imperial Irish Coffee Stout, $4.39/16oz - "A creamy mouthfeel gives way to a light roasty flavor and finishes with subtle chocolate notes" (source).
  • Evil Twin Lost Souls, $5.19/16oz - "A 7 percent ABV IPA brewed with galaxy and Simcoe hops" (source).
  • Evil Twin Once A Day, $3.89/16oz - "A double IPA brewed with lactose and vanilla" (source).
  • Evil Twin Saus Baus, $5.19/16oz - "India Pale Ale Brewed With Oat And Lactose With Vanilla, Tangerine Puree, And Yuzu Juice Added" (source).
  • Farmhaus Grapefruit Skinny Dip, $1.99/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Farmhaus Skinny Skinny Dip, $1.99/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Great Lakes Raspberry Holy Moses, $1.89/12oz - "In the spirit of Moses Cleaveland's thirst for discovery, our classic White Ale meets fresh, juicy raspberries to forge a pint worth planting a flag in (or an orange slice!)" (source).
  • Maui Waimea Red, $2.39/12oz - "American-style Red Ale brewed with Waimea and Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Revolution Rosa, $1.99/12oz - "A highly drinkable Golden Ale steeped with hibiscus, resulting in a natural tartness and slight pink hue" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Juice Deuce Uncut, $3.89/12oz - "Even more abundant with citrusy, fruity loopy-like hop aroma and flavor, this idiosyncratic Double India Pale Ale is deep orange in color and presents with a pleasantly soft mouthfeel" (source).
  • Stillwater Dry Cry, $5.19/12oz - "Dry-Hopped Sour Ale Brewed With Riesling Grapes" (source).
  • Stillwater Tangerine Haze, $5.19/12oz - "Wild India Pale Ale with Tangerine" (source).

Video of the Week | Long Live Summer!

We thought this was a fitting video, it being Memorial Day weekend and all.


Friday, May 18, 2018

New Beer Friday, Fish Story Edition (May 18)

Like father
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Well I have to admit that I’m starting to like being semi-retired. Barb and I spent most of this week at our cottage Up North. We would probably still be there if not for the fact we’re hosting a small party this Saturday for a hundred or so of our loyal homebrewing customers. Just a reminder that the annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party has a new format this year. Go here for complete details.

Since I don’t have much to do at the store these days, I now have more time to while away on rivers. Barb thinks I’m obsessed with fly fishing and she’s probably right. But instead of trying to tamp down my enthusiasm for the sport she has decided to join me. She has taken a few fly-fishing classes through the local Orvis store and has already fished with me this spring on the Rogue, the Betsie and the Little Manistee. One evening this past week she caught a nice rock bass while fishing off our dock. I was fiddling around in the garage at the time and she ran up to show me her catch then raced back to return the fish to the lake. She might be hooked.

Like son
Last week my son Chris was able to break away from his job for a few days and we spent one of them fishing on the Manistee River below Tippy Dam. The temperature never got above fifty and at about two o’clock a sleety rain began falling and continued on and off until we got off the river two hours later. But we were dressed for the weather, our excellent guide Matt from D-Loop Outfitters got us on fish and we were able to hook into a few nice browns.

That evening back at the cottage I grilled a couple of steaks while Chris sautéed some morels that he had found the previous day. A pre-dinner Manhattan warmed us up and the nice Italian red we had with the meal warmed us up even more. While we ate we talked about the fish we landed and about the two big ones that broke our leaders and got away. It was a pretty good day.

Every fish story has a morel

New and Returning Beer

  • Short's Melt My Brain, $2.19/12oz  - "Melt My Brain is an experimental Golden Ale brewed with coriander, juniper berries, limes and blended with Short’s made tonic water to create the tasting experience of drinking a gin and tonic cocktail. Delicate aromas of citrus and pine flow into bold bright flavors of sweet lime with a slightly sticky bitterness. Refreshing and clean, a tasty tonic effervescence provokes the palate for more" (source).
  • Odd Side Passion Juice, $2.39/12oz - "IPA with passion fruit" (source).
  • Odd Side Shadynasty, $2.59/12oz - "An American IPA with a ton of juicy American hops that include Denali, Citra, and Mosaic. A mouthful of resiny goodness and light malt with a semi dry body that hosts a well rounded bitterness. Pours hazy golden with a lacing white head. Classy! Limited small batch production runs" (source).
  • Lion Coffee Stout, $2.49/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Epic Big Bad Baptista, $16.59/22oz - "Big Bad Baptista is a combination of Vanilla, Cinnamon, Mexican coffee roasted by Blue Copper, and Solstice Chocolate cacao nibs. It’s luxurious to say the least, with a pleasant warming sensation generated by the cinnamon and alcohol. Enjoying the interplay of chocolate, malt, oak, and spice is the perfect way to spend a cool evening, with friends around a fire" (source).
  • Tallgrass German Chocolate, $1.89/12oz - "Stout with roasted coconut and cocoa nibs" (source).
  • North Coast Tart Cherry, $2.89/12oz - "North Coast Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse is made with the juice of Michigan Montmorency cherries, whose addition softens the lactic finish of the beer and gives it a springtime blush" (source).
  • Ciderboys Peach County, $1.79/12oz - "The ice chill of the bottle smiles at the heat of the day. Thirst quenching apple and ripe fuzzy peach collide in a fantasy blend. Crank up the piano keys. Dance if you want to. When summer breezes soar under the light of a crescent moon, this is your party" (source).
  • Ciderboys Pineapple Hula, $1.79/12oz - "Taste rides an unexpected wave.  Refreshing sweet tart flavor alive with the inspired pairing of apple and screaming yellow pineapple.  Big citrus taste born of a feeling the wave will never go flat.  You close your eyes at the peak moment a tremendous feeling rushes over you" (source).
  • Ciderboys First Press, $1.79/12oz - "Everything changes when you bite into a bottle of First Press Traditional Hard Apple Cider. Eyes of friends sparkle. Passion overflows with perhaps the best thing on earth ­ the anticipation of sweet, crisp and tart. Taste hard cider fireworks. Revel in its energy. Grin to the skies. Save an extra for yourself" (source).
  • Ridge Cider Berries, $2.09/12oz - "A tart and tangy blush of Michigan-grown strawberries and blueberries" (source).
  • Central State Oatsplosion, $4.09/16oz - "Brewed with an absurd amount of flaked oats of an equally silly amount of Citra and Mosaic hops, this IPA is bursting with juicy fruit flavors and silky smooth texture" (source).
  • Central State Table, $3.29/16oz - "Table is a rustic blonde ale fermented with our unique yeast strains and brewed in the style of French and Belgian style table beers" (source).
  • Central State Fall Kriek, $3.89/16oz - "No, this beer isn't named for the season of Fall. Rather, it's named after one of the waterways meandering through Indianapolis — Fall Creek. We brewed this sour ale with real cherries to be consumed any time of year. Optimally while enjoying the natural beauty all around us every day" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Passion Pool, $3.89/16oz - "Gose with Passion Fruit" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Brunch of Nuts, $6.99/16oz - "Imperial Stout brewed with Coffee, Toasted Coconut and Macadamia Nuts" (source).
  • Mikkeller SD Staff Magician, $3.29/16oz - "New England style Pale Ale" (source).

Quote of the Week

"I’ve met SO many wonderful people over the years ... 
It’s one of the many cool things about running a store like this."

—Steve Siciliano

Go here to read Steve's full interview
with MittenBrew.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

2018 Big Brew Retrospective

By Steve Siciliano

Well I’m certainly glad that the high winds that tore through the environs of Beer City USA late last week died down before they could wreak havoc on Saturday’s Big Brew Day. The gusts were strong enough to topple an ornamental pear tree in our backyard so I can only imagine what would have happened to the tents and brewing equipment that were set up in Trail Point’s parking lot. The weather for Saturday’s festivities couldn’t have been much better for the twenty-eight brew teams and the approximate 275 guests who attended the event.

Except for one rather unfortunate incident, I’m pleased to report that the day went off without a hitch. I’ll spare the reader the odoriferous details but I will say that Barb and I were mortified by the repulsive behavior of our eleven-year-old golden retriever. It’s safe to say that Miss Lizzie has attended her last Big Brew Day.

I’d like to thank the homebrewers for their generosity in sharing their handcrafted beer with the public. Special thanks to the folks at Trail Point for once again allowing us to take over their parking lot for this national celebration of the hobby of homebrewing.

Friday, May 4, 2018

New Beer Friday, Big Brew Day Edition (May 4)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you enjoy hand-crafted beer, if you like being around fun-loving people and if you're interested in learning about the process of homebrewing, we invite you to join a gathering of passionate homebrewers at Trail Point Brewing on Saturday, May 5, in a country-wide observance of National Homebrew Day.

In 1988 the United States Congress decreed that the hobby of brewing beer be added to the list of National Days. In that same year the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) created The Big Brew Day as a way for homebrewers to gather together and celebrate the national recognition of their hobby. AHA Big Brews are 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. This year twenty-six teams of dedicated hobbyists will be brewing batches of Beer City Rye IPA in the brewery's back parking lot. Samples of hand-crafted, homemade beer will be available to those of legal drinking age and, of course, Trail Point's solid lineup of commercial offerings will be available for purchase in the pub.

New and Returning Beer

  • Anderson Valley Summer Solstice, $2.19/12oz - "Summer Solstice® is a slightly sweet, malty session beer with a creamy mouth feel and clean finish.  With hints of caramel in the nose and a touch of spice, it’s become affectionately known as “cream soda for adults”. The unique flavors and superior drinkability make for the ultimate refreshment on a hot summer day" (source).
  • Bell's Pooltime, $2.09/12oz - "Pooltime Ale is a refreshing Belgian-inspired Wheat Ale with light clove notes. The truly distinguishing feature is the use of 100% Montmorency tart cherries grown in the Traverse City region of Michigan. These cherries add a subtle tartness and bright counterpoint to the other flavors, enhancing Pooltime’s fruity character and making it the perfect beer for all summer activities" (source).
  • Big Lake BBA Darkstar, $4.69/16oz (2 per) - "A breakfast style stout brewed with Kona and Sumatra coffee aged on cocoa nibs" (source).
  • Boulevard Hibuscus Gose, $1.89/12oz - "Our version of an unusual, yet resurgent, beer style. It pays tribute to the pleasantly sour, slightly salty wheat beers that originated in Goslar and became popular in Leipzig, Germany around the late 1800’s. A great introductory sour beer, Hibiscus Gose receives coriander and sea salt during boiling, then we steep dried hibiscus flowers at the end to create a vibrant pink hue (really, though, it’s pink!). The result is a tangy, sweet and sour ale with a refreshing citrus character" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Lost Minds, $3.79/16oz - "Tart IPA with Citra and Amarillo hops, Grapefruit, and Mint" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Tropical Saison, $3.79/16oz - "Live the good life. Pair great beer with great food and enjoy it with friends and family. Tropical Saison is a summertime reverie, bringing together the best our Midwest sunshine has to offer. A slightly spicy character, light effervescence, and the addition of real pineapple & mango juice make this beer perfect for a Michigan summer. The hop presence lends a complexity to this brew" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Lighten Up Francis, $1.89/12oz - "Brewed with traditional Hallertauer hops and German Pils malt, Lighten Up Francis! has a light gold appearance, low bitterness, medium-carbonation and well-attenuated white head. The aroma of this American style Kölsch Ale delivers a pleasantly subtle and grainy-sweet undertone. Imbibers will enjoy a subdued hop presence, refreshing crispness and clean aftertaste" (source).
  • Latitude 42 Bubba Kolsch, $2.39/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Latitude Nectar of the Goddess, $2.49/16oz - "Nectar of the Goddess is our Unfiltered American Wheat with Blood Oranges, Passion Fruit and Locally Sourced Michigan Honey. When drinking Nectar of the Goddess you get a unique, unfiltered fruity and tart wheat ale flavor perfect for summer" (source).
  • New Belgium Hemperor, $2.69/12oz - "Get ready: an exciting new offering that’ll change the way you think about hoppy beers is coming your way. The brewers at New Belgium have created a new style of IPA: The Hemperor HPA. With the popularity of hoppy beers, our brewers are always on the lookout for different hop varieties and the complexities and flavors new strains can bring. That’s where hemp comes into the picture. Without getting too nerdy, we found a unique way to recreate hemp terpene flavors in a beer, which complement the inclusion of hop flavors and hemp hearts (seeds) in a brand new, delicious way—not to mention this beer is extremely dank! The flavors and aromas are so unique that it’s a style unto itself, hence HPA®" (source).
  • New Holland Taz, $1.99/12oz - "Inspired by and sourced from the wild world down under, Taz IPA is 'chockers' with some of the world's greatest hops. Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin hops from Australia and New Zealand combine to offer savage bitterness and a touch of fruitiness" (source).
  • Odd Side Grapefruit Wheat, $2.19/12oz - "A wheat beer brewed with grapefruit" (source).
  • Odd Side Tangerine of My Rye, $2.39/12oz - "Rye IPA with Tangerine Peel Added" (source).
  • Pux Kyoodle, $3.19/12oz  - "In 2012 the Schaefer family began planting heirloom and cider apples on the homesteaded family orchard.  At this same time, we started to create small batches of cider.  As the cider started to flow, so did our experience with and enthusiasm for these old cultivars. Currently, Pux Ciders benefit from close to 125 of our apple cultivars. These range from American dessert apples to French and English cider apples. We use these apples to create each unique batch of Pux crafted ciders. We also use other local Michigan products in our ciders, like tart cherries, pears and hops" (source).
  • Short's Anniversary, $2.59/12oz - "Anniversary Ale is a dry hopped, high-gravity, Wheat Wine Ale brewed with peppercorns, blood oranges, and orange zest. Flavors range from the spiciness of green peppercorns to the tang of blood orange zest. Aggressive dry hopping of Simcoe hops amplifies the citrus overtones and spiciness found throughout the beer. Anniversary Ale typifies Short’s Brewing Company by embodying all of the complexities that come along with another year of brewing" (source).
  • Short's BBA Huma, $13.19/22oz - "Bourbon Barrel Aged Huma Lupa Licious is our best-selling American India Pale Ale aged in bourbon barrels. Initial malt sweetness is replaced with flavors of charred oak and sweet vanilla, followed by the standard Huma hop punch to the palate. This new combination creates the sensation of sipping on a sweet Bourbon that finishes like a bitter hop theme park in your mouth" (source).
  • Southern Tier The Psychic Laser, $4.09/16oz - "The third release in our Science is the Art Collection stays with our double IPA theme, but with a twist. We’ve moved away from our house ale yeast in favor of saison’s estery, earthy and spicy notes. We love the way these essential saison characteristics meld with the tropical, fruity, piney and citrusy notes from some of our favorite hops: Mosaic, Equanot, and Simcoe" (source).
  • Witches hat Plum Cobbler Saison, $2.59/12oz - "Saison fermented and aged in freshly dumped port and red wine barrels with Cascara and fresh whole plums" (source).

Video of the Week | Here's to Homebrew!

What do you love about homebrewing?