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Friday, December 7, 2018

New Beer Friday, Know Your Port Edition (December 7)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I was intending to write about a recent trip to the Bourbon Trail for this week’s edition of New Beer Friday, but there must be a correlation between tooth pain and writer’s block because I’ve been dealing with both all week.

That upper molar had been bothering me for some time but because I’m a procrastinator and a bit of a wimp when it comes to having teeth ripped from their sockets, I delayed the extraction for as long as I could. As of yesterday I have one less tooth and a partial denture is on the horizon. Hopefully my creative juices will return by next week’s edition of NBF. In the meantime, please enjoy the following piece on port wine that we ran in The Buzz way back in December of 2011.

A bottle of Dow’s 1997 Vintage Port has been aging in our home wine cellar for about twelve years now. Every so often I’ll pick that bottle up and think about opening it but I always place it back on the rack. I know the wine is ready to drink now and if I was to succumb to temptation we would be entranced by its dark purple color, the aromas of licorice, chocolate and roasted coffee, and by flavors of maple syrup, blackberry and plum. But I also know that it has the potential to age gracefully for at least twelve more years and a wine like that is best enjoyed when marking a special occasion. Maybe I’ll open it when my son Chris and his fiancée Gena get married, or when Barb and I celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, or when the Lions win the Super Bowl.

While there are many fine port-style wines made throughout the world, the wines that can legally be called Porto are produced only in Portugal. The grapes are grown in the upper Duoro Valley in the north where the blazing hot summer temperatures allow them to attain high levels of sugar. Winemakers add neutral grape spirits at a certain point during the fermentation. This stops the yeast from working and results in a sweet, fortified wine. Which part of the Duoro the grapes are from and the quality of the harvest determine the style of port that’s produced — a ruby, an aged tawny, a late bottle vintage or, like that bottle aging in our cellar, a vintage porto. Vintage ports are wines of extraordinary depth and complexity that are produced only in exceptional years.

Ruby ports are the least complex and the least expensive. They are blends of young wines that are aged in oak for two to three years and are made from grapes that come from the less prestigious vineyards. While a good ruby port is a simple, straightforward wine that will not benefit from extended aging, it will entice you with it fresh berry aromas and nice red fruit flavors.

Aged tawny ports are blends of wine from several, non-vintage years that are aged in barrels until they develop nutty, brown sugar and vanilla flavors and a soft, silky texture. The extended barrel aging transforms the wine from bright ruby red to the light brown, tawny color from which it gets its name. An aged tawny will usually have a ten, twenty, thirty or forty year designation on the label. This does not necessarily mean that the wine has been barrel-aged for the specified time but rather is an indication of the target age profile. In other words a forty-year-old tawny tastes like it is made from wines that are forty years old.

Late bottle vintage ports (LBVs) are unblended wines from a single vintage that was a good but not great year. They are aged in oak barrels four to six years and then filtered and bottled. Thanks to the barrel-aging the wine matures more quickly, giving it to some extent the nuances of a vintage port. But LBVs lack the depth and complexity of vintage port and because they are filtered they will not benefit from extended aging in the bottle.

On average, about three times a decade the Duoro will experience perfect growing conditions resulting in young wines that are almost perfectly balanced. Samples of these wines are sent to the Port Wine Institute and, if approval is given, the year is declared a “Vintage.” Vintage ports are only made from grapes grown in the best vineyards. They are aged in oak barrels for two years and are then bottled unfiltered. As the wine matures the flavors and aromas become deeper, more refined and more complex.

Vintage ports are extraordinary wines that should be saved for those most special of occasions (providing you have the will power). It doesn’t look like the Lions will win the big one anytime soon, and since our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is a still silver speck on the horizon, I guess the date Barb and I crack the '97 Dows depends on Chris and Gena.

Editor’s note: Chris and Gena are now happily married but that bottle of vintage port is still aging nicely in Steve and Barb’s wine cellar.

New and Returning Beer

  • 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 White Shoal, $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 Mosaic featured in White Shoal is best experienced when this beer is enjoyed fresh – drink now" (source).
  • Barrel + Beam Queen City Brut, $8.99/375ml - No commercial description.
  • Big Lake Captians Porter, $3.19/16oz - "A traditional American Porter. Roasted malts blend with just enough noble hops to create an exquisite Porter" (source).
  • Brewdog Choco Libre, $3.19/12oz - "A Mil Máscaras of flavour. This Imperial stout will wrestle your taste buds to the canvas in a Tag Team of insane sensory assault. Coffee, chocolate and a little spice on the nose. Dark chocolate mixes with mocha, vanilla and spice, all layered over a smooth nitro-styling you never saw coming. This set-up finishes with a delicate habanero drop kick as the bell sounds" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Wizard Burial Ground, $7.19/16oz - "Brewed once a year, this special quadrupel is aged in freshly drained bourbon barrels and disappears into the shadows for a full year of cellaring. This year's brew becomes next year's release. We've been wood-aging beers and experimenting with wild fermentation since we opened in 2010. We encourage those in search of funky flavors to join us at our annual Wood-Aged Beer Festival each Autumn to find out more. *See can for year designation. This beer will age gracefully when cellared appropriately (50°F and below). Enjoy" (source).
  • Central State La Luzerne, $3.79/16oz - "When you find a kindred spirit in the industry, it’s easy to become fast friends - that was the case when we met the folks from Salud a few years ago. Since then they have become some of our best friends. Fresh lemons add brightness, rosemary adds a depth of flavor… and what’s more farmhouse than running your beer through alfalfa hay" (source).
  • Central State Nephilim, $5.99/16oz - "This giant of a stout is as dark as the night. Rich, smooth, and warming, perfect for aging or drinking fresh" (source).
  • Central State New Money, $3.99/16oz - "New Money vs. Old Money. A Rivalry that spans the ages. The Old guard holding onto tradition. The new kids trying to break down walls and redefine norms. This beer is firmly planted in the new. Brewed using the first batch of malted oats ever produced in Indiana and aggressively dry-hopped with Mosaic, Hull Melon, and Simcoe hops this beer ns anything but old school" (source).
  • Central State Raspberry, $3.99/16oz - "Dripping with fruit flavor, this sour ale finishes with a touch of smooth sweetness thanks to a dose of lactose sugar" (source).
  • Central State Sports Television, $3.99/16oz - "This beverage is a real barnburner – sure to fill up the whole stat sheet. It’s a lineup stacked with a Murderer’s Row of Citra & Simcoe hops in the kettle, with a Cascade, Citra, & Simcoe Cryo dry-hop batting cleanup. And we can’t forget about the hometown hero: the Indiana-malted barley, wheat, & oats brought their A-game today, folks. They have unbelievable chemistry! True professionals all the way, these grains always play the game the right way" (source).
  • Central State Swipe Right, $3.99/16oz - "Endlessly scrolling. Swipe. Swipe swipe. But wait… this beer looks pretty cute. It enjoys long walks on the beach, burritos, & loves dogs. Maybe it’s time to swipe right? Loaded up with Mosaic & Hallertau Blanc hops & dry-hopped twice, your taste buds are sure to match with this beer" (source).
  • Deschutes Abyss, $18.69/22oz - "A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate" (source).
  • Detroit Garage Project Methode Man, $4.49/16oz - "Brut IPA brewed with Hallertau Blanc and Nelson Sauvin hops, aged on Pinot Gris grape must" (source).
  • Ellison Big Black Stout, $3.89/16oz - "A chocolate imperial stout that pours like motor oil and tastes so decadent that you won't be able to stop drinking it. Chocolate up front with a balanced roast finish" (source).
  • Ellison Mosaic Evolution, $3.29/16oz - "Lighter in color, this beer will surprise you with a white wine character and have the fruit aromas and flavors of grapes, stone fruit and berries" (source).
  • Ellison Nelson Evolution, $3.89/16oz - "Lighter in color, this beer will surprise you with a white wine character and has the fruit aromas and flavors of grapes, stonefruit, and berries" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Erubescent, $3.59/16oz - "Imperial red ale. Brewed with 100% mosaic hops" (source).
  • Lagunitas Night Pils, $5.19/22oz - "There are two kinds. There is the DayTime kind, which is bright and welcoming, and then there is the NightTime kind, which should never be confused with the DayTime. NightTime is dark and deep and may take you to unexpected places, places that the DayTime can not. But then the NightTime is not suited for ordinary life and ordinary tasks, in fact NightTime may be the answer for that sort of thing, meaning that those sorts of things may never get done. Things take time in the NightTime, things slow down and you can pause (you have to, actually) and investigate carefully to find that level of objective detachment that is only possible under the spell of the NightTime. Seek the Day but fear not the Nighttime" (source).
  • Ludington Bay Tangelo Dream, $1.99/12oz - "A citrus twist on our American Pale Ale. Made with Pomelos are a fruit that produces flavors of tangerine and grapefruit" (source).
  • Motor City Brewing Notorious IPA, $4.49/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Odd Side Chocolade, $2.39/12oz - "Stout brewed with chocolate and coffee. A medium bodied, creamy, everyday stout with aromas of mocha espresso that are followed by earthy roasted malt and lingering flavors of coffee and chocolate" (source).
  • Odd Side Shamone, $2.39/12oz - "Kettle Sour NEIPA" (source).
  • Short's Liberator, $2.59/12oz - "The Liberator was made as a 30th birthday gift to Joe Short. As a double IPA, this beast employs a sizable malt bill, but it is the crazy amount of hops added to the boil every 4 minutes, for 120 minutes, that really make this beer special. Fruity, floral, and piney hop flavors penetrate throughout the caramelized malt profile. The Liberator is a well-balanced, full bodied brew that has a bitter finish due to the post fermentation addition of lemon and orange zest" (source).
  • White Flame Kooky Monster, $2.79/12oz - "Brown Ale made with Steenstras Windmill (cinnamon and ginger) cookies" (source).
  • White Flame Suck My Kiss, $2.99/12oz - "Sweet Hard Cider" (source).
  • White Flame Super G, $2.79/12oz - "Brewed to showcase the bitterness of the high alpha-acid hops. The bitterness is derived from the early hop additions while the citrusy aromas are attributed to the late hop additions during the boil process" (source).

Video of the Week | Open Port Like a Boss

Study this video, then come buy a bottle of Vintage Port at Siciliano's.


Friday, November 30, 2018

New Beer Friday, Bourbon on Main Edition (November 30)

Bourbon on Main
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It was late afternoon when we pulled into the motel parking lot on the outskirts of Frankfort, Kentucky.

“This doesn’t look good,” my wife said as we sat in the truck and looked around at the empty lot and rundown building. “It doesn’t even look open.”

“It sure doesn’t,” I said. “Are you sure you put the right address into the GPS?”

We had left Grand Rapids at nine that morning and headed south down I-196. After we were past Benton Harbor and had merged onto I-94 towards Chicago I began sensing there was something amiss with the route that the GPS had mapped out for us.

“Is there a problem?” Barb asked while I was studying a map.

“She has us going all the way to Gary and getting on 65,” I answered, referring to the female voice that periodically spoke to us through the truck’s radio. “That’s pretty far out of our way. Get off at the next exit.” After stopping for directions, after a number of audibly nervous sighs from the driver and after repeatedly ignoring the female voice’s curt commands to make a U-turn, we eventually found US-31 and from there it was smooth sailing down to Frankfort.

Back to that seedy motel. Barb had indeed entered the right address and it was indeed open. “Where’s a good restaurant?” I asked the clerk after returning to the office because the key card to our room wouldn’t work.

“There’s a Big Boy down the road,” she said.

“Um, anything else? Anything that serves alcohol?”

The clerk thought for a few minutes. “Oh, there’s a place downtown. Bourbon on Main I think it’s called. I haven’t been there but I hear it’s pretty good.”

“How’s the Uber service around here?” I asked.

“Uber!” the clerk repeated incredulously. “There ain’t no Ubers in Frankfort!”

For being the state capital Frankfort is a pretty sleepy town.

Bourbon on Main was easy to find and was very good. The restaurant has an incredible bourbon list and since I wasn’t driving I indulged in a few. When we got back to our seedy motel I fixed my driver a big Manhattan and since I didn’t want her to drink alone I fixed a smaller one for myself. While we lay in bed watching Animal Planet we sipped our cocktails and listened to the sounds of a party coming from an upstairs room.

“I hope that doesn’t go on all night,” said Barb.

We wanted a good night’s sleep because in the morning we were hitting the Bourbon Trail.

New and Returning Beer

  • Atwater Mint Double Decadent, $3.19/12oz - "Chocolate beer" (source).
  • Atwater Hazelnut VJ Porter, $1.99/12oz - No commercial description available.
  • Atwater Raz Whango, $1.59/12oz - "Raspberry Mango Wheat" (source).
  • Blackrocks 51k Azaccanot, $2.19/12oz - "Our normal 51K dry hopped with Ekuanot and Azacca hops. Expect more tropical/mango aromas and flavors to jump out while remaining balanced and clean" (source).
  • Brew Detroit Cornerman, $2.79/16oz - Red ale.
  • Central State Hickory Ridge, $3.79/16oz - "Named for one of our favorite trail networks in Southern Indiana, this beer is the perfect complement for a fall hike.  Crisp malt is backed by an assertive dose of Belma & Cryo Citra hops followed up by spicy farmhouse funk" (source).
  • Dark Horse Plead the 5th, $3.59/12oz - "Our Russian Imperial Stout is pitch black in color with a faint tan head that immediately identifies this beer as BIG. Aromas of dark fruits, chocolate, caramel and roast also make it even bigger. Roasted coffee and fruity chocolate notes are just the beginning of this beers complex flavor. You have the right to enjoy or remain silent (ha, ha!)" (source).
  • Dark Horse Scary Jesus Rockstar, $1.79/12oz - "This collaboration beer made with Chef Cleetus Friedman of Chicago's Fountainhead will save your soul and then melt your face off. Aromas of chamomile touch your nose as they lead into the soft body and mouthfeel of this liquid symphony. Just as your mind is clear and your sins are washed away, a tasty riff of sweet and earthy fresh apricots hit your palate and rock your tastebuds finishing dry and hoppy. Drink, rock, repeat" (source).
  • Deschutes Obsidian, $1.99/12oz - "Deep, robust and richly rewarding, this is beer to linger over. Obsidian has distinct notes of espresso, chocolate, roasted malt and black barley, with just enough hop bite to cut the sweetness" (source).
  • Destihl Wild Sour Cranberry, $2.99/12oz - "Our non-traditional Cranberry Criek evolved by merging tart cranberries with sweet cherries, normally associated with a traditional Kriek, but in a kettle sour beer that is wonderfully intricate, balanced, fruity and tart. We then dry-hopped this crimson-colored beer for a touch of citrus aroma and flavor, adding another layer of complexity and a perfect finish" (source).
  • Hop Concept Citrus & Pine, $3.39/16oz - "Bold orange peel and honey aromas with a faint hint of bready malt define this IPA. The citrus and piney are both on full display, with tangerine and grapefruit notes that lead to a crisp spicy finish. Brewed with orange zest" (source).
  • Madtree PsycHOPathy, $1.89/12oz - "Explore the blend of bright, citrus, and floral aromas. Additional citrus flavors follow alongside a smooth bitterness. It finishes with a medium body and a slightly sweet, malty backbone. Trust your senses" (source).
  • N.I.P. Batch 31, $2.99/12oz - "Big, black, and delicious. Sounds like something that just belongs in your mouth right? This beer definitely belongs there. This is our riff on the traditional German style, schwartzbier. Usually these are nice mellow guys, but ours clocks in at 8.5% ABV. Black as night, extremely smooth and drinkable, with slight notes of chocolate and roast, and a devilishly clean finish. Drink some as you see the snow start to fall, with family and friends, just remember to drink promiscuously" (source).
  • Odd Side Imperial Mayan Mocha, $2.89/12oz - "Imperial version of our Mayan Mocha Stout. Inspired by Mexican hot chocolate. It is carefully blended with Dutch chocolate coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, and habaneros which will leave you with the perfect balance of chocolate and heat" (source).
  • Odd Side Rye Hipster Brunch, $7.99/12oz - "A delectable stout with coffee, maple syrup, and bacon with rye malt added, and then aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels" (source).
  • Odd Side Wishes & Dreams, $7.99/12oz (2 per) - "Bourbon barrel aged porter with maple syrup and pecans" (source).
  • Petoskey Blueberry Cranium Crush, $2.79/16oz - "This unique all had actual waffle cones added into the mash. Hints of this ingredient can be picked up in the finished beer. Raspberry puree is also added during fermentation" (source).
  • Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper, $3.99/12oz - "Santa’s Little Helper, our Imperial Stout, starts with an emphasis on dark cocoa and roasted coffee aromatics. The finish lends hints of sweet crystal malt, warming tones of alcohol and a touch of hops, making a perfect accompaniment to leftover fruit cake and sugar cookies" (source).
  • Roak BBA French Toast, $3.69/16oz - $3.69  (4 per) - No commercial description available.
  • Saugatuck Stout Variety, $18.29/12pk - "It’s good to be stout with the Saugatuck Brewing Company Stout Pack! This Variety Pack contains three of each of the following 12 oz bottles: Neapolitan Milk Stout, Blueberry Maple Stout, Darker Than Your Soul (available only in Stout Packs), Beam Me Up, Stouty (available only in Stout Packs)" (source).

Video of the Week | Port Brewing

Santa's Little Helper, Available now at Siciliano's.


Friday, November 16, 2018

New Beer Friday, Deer Camp Edition (November 16)

Deer Camp, circa 2005
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It’s a longstanding tradition for the men in the Siciliano family to gather at a cabin Up North in Michigan’s Lake County to take part in the annual fall ritual known as deer hunting. Ours is not a traditional Deer Camp. My brother Matt is the only one who owns a firearm and I’m quite sure the rifle hasn’t been fired in years. We tend to focus on things like cooking, eating, playing poker and smoking cigars. There’s also a good amount of chops busting and a fair amount of drinking.

The tradition of the Siciliano Deer Camp dates back to the mid 1960s when my father bought a twenty-acre plat of wooded property near the small burg of Irons, Michigan. Sam Siciliano had lots of friends and the cabin he built, mostly with his own hands, became a mecca of sorts over the years, a place that drew a steady stream of camo- and orange-clad visitors on the opening weekends of deer season.

Sam at Deer Camp
You never know what conditions will be like in northern Michigan in mid-November but since none of us sets an insulated boot in the woods we really don’t fret too much about the weather. A cold, steady rain is bad because it makes it hard to keep a camp fire going. There was one year when six inches of wet snow fell and we had to use leaf blowers to clear off the area around the fire pit.

That fire pit is usually the epicenter of the two days of unrestrained debauchery. My nephew Jacob Derylo is a self-proclaimed camp fire expert and he does a pretty good job of maintaining a roaring blaze. If someone dares offer a bit of unsolicited advice there’s a very real chance that a loud but good natured argument will ensue. Our clan, it seems, will argue about almost anything at Deer Camp.

The visitors start coming around about noon on Saturday. Many come bearing gifts — a bottle of wine, growlers of homebrew, links of homemade sopressata, a bag of venison jerky. Last year Randy Joppie, one of the Grillin' Guys, roasted lamb chops over the open fire.

At various times throughout the day one of us will grab a bottle. Shots of booze will be poured and passed around. “To Sam,” one of us will say while raising his glass. “To Sam,” the assemblage of sons, grandsons, nephews and friends will repeat while raising theirs.

New and Returning Beer

  • Anderson Valley Michigan Cherry Gose, $2.19/12oz - "Brewed with Michigan cherries, this cherry gose is a complex and sessionable ale perfect for any occasion" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, $2.19/12oz - "Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter" (source).
  • Arbor Brewing Good and Proper, $2.19/12oz - "Brut IPA is the latest evolution of the ever-changing American IPA. Brewed to remove residual sugars, this developing IPA style features a bone dry finish coupled with big hop flavor. The uniqueness of the Brut IPA is its ability to keep IBUs low while showcasing the entire hop aroma and flavor spectrum. Good & Proper takes advantage of this with a robust hop blend that gives this beer huge tropical melon, strawberry, citrus, and lemongrass character" (source).
  • Arbor Liquid Vinyl, $2.99/12oz - "Our Russian Imperial Stout is full bodied and complex, with layers of flavors that develop with every sip. Aromas of licorice and dark cocoa yield to notes of sweetened coffee and toasted cookies, before finishing with a light smokiness that lingers on the palate. Like a good LP, this beer will age well and improve with time. Music, beer… some things are best enjoyed in analog" (source).
  • Ballast Point Manta Ray, $2.39/12oz - "We’ve developed many IPA recipes in our R&D program, but right from the tank, our Manta Ray Double IPA was a winner. Aromas of fresh, citrusy tangerine, melon and light pine leap from the beer and linger over a smooth finish. Like its namesake, this brew can sneak up on you – a big beer without a bite" (source).
  • Ballast Point Spruce Tip Sculpin, $2.39/12oz - "Ballast Point Spruce Tip Sculpin" (source).
  • Bell's Lampshade Party Ale, $2.99/12oz - "This big, strong Double IPA is dry-hopped with Australia’s Galaxy and the Pacific Northwest’s new-school IPA hop, Idaho 7. The hop character jumps out at you with juicy aromas of fruit punch, red berry and pineapple. The bitterness is strong, but balanced with a nice malt character" (source).
  • Bell's Two Hearted Mini Keg, $25.59/5L - "Brewed with 100% Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest and named after the Two Hearted River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this IPA is bursting with hop aromas ranging from pine to grapefruit from massive hop additions in both the kettle and the fermenter" (source).
  • Big Lake Barrel-Aged Darkstar, $4.69/16oz (2 per) - "Darkstar Stout aged in bourbon barrels.  Aromas and flavors of vanilla, coffee, and chocolate with a hint of heat from aging in bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Boulevard Plaid Habit, $4.69/12oz - "Born a double-mashed imperial brown ale, then matured for 18 months in freshly drained 10-year Canadian rye whisky barrels, the beer features checkered notes of rich vanilla, charred oak, warming whisky and spicy rye. With a lingering, boozy sweetness and round, resonant flavor, Plaid Habit clearly earns its name" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Paris, $12.99/500ml - "Saison aged in red wine barrels for one year with brettanomyces" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Tart Side of the Moon, $4.69/16oz - "One of our most anticipated and highly talked about specialty releases, this hearty stout is kettle soured and blended for a slight tartness along side big dark chocolate notes and hints of black cherries. No adjuncts are added to this beer-- these robust layers of flavor are yeast driven. Listen to the lunatic" (source).
  • Dark Horse Four Elf Maple, $2.29/12oz - "4 Elf is holiday cheer in liquid form. Spicy aromas like cinnamon and clove give this dark brown winter warmer a proper holiday welcome. Balanced between malt, hops, and spice at 8.75% ABV this beer goes great with all holiday foods—from sweet snacks to the roast beast" (source).
  • Elk PB Porter, $1.99/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Right Brain Naughty Girl Stout, $1.99/12oz - "Thin mint cookie, meet John Niedermaier. A stout made with organic locally-grown whole leaf mint. She’s just back from a stint in the cooler for being too naughty. She might have mellowed out but this stout is still naughty at heart" (source).
  • Sam Adams Winter Lager, $1.79/12oz - "The cinnamon, ginger, and hint of citrus from the orange peel blend with the roasty sweetness of the malts to deliver a warming, spicy flavor" (source).
  • Shiner Cheer, $1.79/12oz - "An Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans" (source).
  • Short's MI - Bonsai Project, $2.29/12oz - "MI is a Tonic-inspired Specialty Ale brewed with lemon, lime, and orange juice and zest, cinchona bark, allspice, cubeb pepper, and lemongrass best layered with OH from MadTree Brewing Company. Golden with great clarity, MI has aromas of citrus mingled with pepper, allspice, and malt. Leading with citrus along with hints of pepper and lemongrass, the cinchona bark flavors come near the end giving it a traditional tonic essence. Medium bodied this beer finishes dry and malty and acts as the base for the Bonsai Project" (source).

Video of the Week | Da Yoopers

"The greatest time of year."


Friday, November 9, 2018

New Beer Friday, Advent Calendar Edition (November 9)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Craft beer aficionados looking for a fun way to count off the days until Christmas should consider putting together a beer Advent calendar this holiday season.

Advent calendars were first used by German Lutherans in the 19th century as a way of building anticipation for Christmas Day and are now popular among adherents of many Christian denominations. Old-fashioned Advent calendars focused on traditional Christmas motifs but today it appears that any theme is fair game, including craft beer.

Traditional Advent calendars often take the form of a large rectangular card with doors for each day of December leading up to and including Christmas Eve. A door is opened every day and can reveal images, poems, small gifts or, in the case of a beer calendar, different hand-crafted beers.

If you’re interested in putting together a selection of twenty-four beers, one for every day of Advent, the Siciliano’s staff is here to help. Let us know what you’re looking for and we’d be happy to put it together for you. Send inquiries to for more information.

Please note that we do not carry boxes that are specifically designed to be used for beer Advent calendars. Go to this website for instructions on how to make one.

New and Returning Beer

  • Anchor Christmas, $2.39/12oz - "Our annual Christmas Ale is a subtly spiced and sumptuously smooth winter warmer. This year’s brew marks the 44th annual release of this Anchor holiday tradition" (source).
  • Atwater Christmas, $2.09/12oz - "Brewed with respect to the season, Atwater’s Winter Bock boasts the body and deep malt flavors matched with a warming, but well blended hint of alcohol. Extended aging reduces the sharpness and acidity typically apparent in strong ales" (source).
  • B. Nektar Believe, $6.49/500ml - "Orange Blossom honey & fresh pressed Michigan cider" (source).
  • Batch Brewing Empire Pale, $2.79/12oz - "American Pale Ale featuring Michigan grown Empire Hops. Light and crisp with a nice floral/fruity finish" (source).
  • Bell's Christmas, $2.19/12oz - "This traditional Scotch Ale is rich and malty with notes of caramel and a warm finish. Certain to make any occasion festive, or at least a bit more bearable. Enjoy with the company of friends and family" (source).
  • Bell's Hopsolution, $2.29/12oz - "A remarkably drinkable Double IPA that pays tribute to one of Mother Nature’s finest creations, as several hop varietals combine for massive aromas of tropical fruit, citrus and pine. A mild caramel malt character and dry finish provide balance" (source).
  • Blackrocks Potter's Porter, $2.19/12oz - "A beer originally brewed for the man behind the mugs, known by his friend as Rad. This is a robust porter that's full of deep chocolate and dry roast flavors. A beer suited to help Rad get through those 24 hour kiln firings" (source).
  • Blake's Fido, $2.09/12oz - "FIDO (Latin for faithfulness) is the second release in our #KinderCider series. Enjoy this hopped raspberry and grapefruit hard cider made in support of non-profits that pairs veterans and shelter animals" (source).
  • Dark Horse Stout Pack, $24.89/12pk - Variety pack.
  • Decadent Ectoplasm, $5.79/16oz - "DIPA with orange and tangerine" (source).
  • Decadent Strawberry French Toast, $5.49/16oz - "DIPA with Vermont Maple Syrup, sugar burned and caramelized stove top, and a touch of cinnamon. Notes of dough and pancake batter round out the finish. Excellent for cooler nights ahead" (source).
  • Deschutes Jubelale, $1.79/12oz - "Warm spiciness and tradition grace this bold, complex winter ale. The deep garnet color pairs perfectly with holiday celebrations" (source).
  • Dogfish Head 120 Minute, $10.99/12oz - "Clocking in at 15-20% ABV, 120 Minute IPA is continuously hopped with a copious amount of high-alpha American hops throughout the boil and whirlpool, and then dry-hopped with another pallet of hops. Unfiltered and abundantly hoppy, it's the Holy Grail for hopheads" (source).
  • Epic Oak Cab Sauv, $9.99/375ml - "Fruited with blackberry, black currant, and black cherries. Big fruity aroma with a sharp acidity and earthy well-cellared funk" (source).
  • Epic Sour Pink Guava, $9.99/375ml - "An approachable tartness with hints of citrus and tropical fruits with a crisp, dry finish" (source).
  • Evil Twin Even More Coco Jesus, $4.59/16oz - "Imperial Stout with Maple Syrup and Coconut added" (source).
  • Evil Twin Privilege of a Lifetime, $5.49/16oz - "Double dry-hopped IPA that will never see a C&D letter" (source).
  • Fat Orange Cat FOCLess Monster, $4.99/16oz - "NE IPA • 8% Citra and Ahtanum hop combination" (source).
  • Left Hand Wake Up Dead Nitro, $2.89/16oz - "Super smooth with notes of cocoa and dried fruit" (source).
  • Mitten Triple Crown Brown, $1.99/12oz - "A mild English Brown. Slight roast and chocolate, easy to drink" (source).
  • New Belgium Accumulation White IPA, $1.79/12oz  - "This winter, IBUs start accumulating like snow in Colorado with our new Accumulation White IPA. Brewing a white IPA was not only a way to salute the white beauty falling from the sky, but a direct revolt to the longstanding tradition of brewing dark beers for winter and winter seasonal beers. At least that’s what our rebellious brewers like to claim as they shovel in plenty of mosaic and Amarillo hop varietals and a bit of wheat for a smooth mouthfeel. Stack up a few cases of Accumulation White IPA to keep your long nights glowing blizzard white" (source).
  • New Holland Pilgrim's Dole, $4.69/12oz - "A barleywine-style ale made with fifty percent wheat malt, or what we at New Holland call a wheatwine. Pilgrim’s Dole blends warming and slightly sweet flavors with a unique caramelized character" (source).
  • Odd Side Barrel Aged Mayan Mocha, $6.29/12oz - "Imperial version of Barrel aged Mayan Mocha aged for 8 months in bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Odd Side Barrel Aged Nightman Leaveth, $8.09/12oz (4 per) - "We aged this imperial milk stout to perfection in Rye whiskey barrels and added vanilla beans. The result is a slightly sweet, smooth, creamy stout with an underlying rye spiciness and boozy finish" (source).
  • Odd Side Barrel Aged Sweet Potato Rye, $8.09/12oz (4 per) - "Rye ale with sweet potatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lactose. Aged in rye whiskey barrels" (source).
  • Odd Side Caged Wisdom White Grape, $2.79/12oz - "Fermented very dry with almost no residual sugar along with retained bitterness showcase the full flavor and aromas of the hops finishing clean and crisp. White Grape Juice added" (source).
  • Ominipollo Maz, $4.39/16oz - "Maz, formerly known as Mazarin, is my take on a “thinker’s beer”. Rather than being big and undecipherably complex I wanted to create something that would calm a hop yearning nerve without fuddling the brain too much. In other words, a lavishly hopped ale of judicious ABV — an Extra Special Pale Ale if you will" (source).
  • Perrin Dragon Fruit Berliner, $2.09/12oz - "The beer pours a bright magenta and is filled with tropical fruit aromatics creating a natural tartness followed by a sweet finish" (source).
  • Perrin Push Hop, $2.49/12oz - "This New England Style IPA is made with lactose sugar and fresh strawberries to create the perfect sorbet IPA" (source).
  • Rochester Mills 12 Days of Milkshake Stout, $29.99/12pk - "Variety Pack" (source).
  • Saugatuck Bourbon Barrel Aged Neapolitan Stout, $5.39/12oz - "A full bodied Milk Stout with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry added during brewing. This beer was barrel aged for four months" (source).
  • Southern Tier Paradox of the Powerful, $4.09/16oz  - "The swan song of our Science is the Art Collection, Paradox of the Powerful, is hopped six ways from Sunday. We hit it with a dose of Mosaic hops in the kettle on its way to the whirlpool, then we open the floodgates and soak whole flower Mosaic in the hopsack at over 1/2 A pound per barrel. We lace the fermenters with Citra and Simcoe hop duSt over the course of several days to produce juicy tropical flavors and aromas. Notes of grapefruit and berries coupled with low IBU make this a crusher, much like our space heroine" (source).
  • Startcut Mosa, $1.79/12oz - "Mosa is a crisp, refreshing blend of Hard Cider made from Michigan apples and sweet orange juice. This cider is slightly hazy and light orange in color, a true mimosa in cider form. Let the fruity harmony of citrus and bright apple flavors make your tastebuds do a happy dance" (source).
  • Stillwater Dank Dank, $4.39/16oz - "Double dank india pale ale" (source).
  • Stillwater This is Only a Test: Sparkling Rose, $5.49/16oz - "Sparkling rosé sour ale brewed with cabernet franc grapes" (source).
  • Trailpoint Cipapotamus, $3.49/16oz - "This citra IPA utilizes all citra hops. Inhale through your nose and be greeted by heavy-duty citrus, flora, and tropical notes. Take a sip and treat your palette to a balanced IPA with a wicked awesome hop finish" (source).
  • Uinta Rise & Pine, $1.69/12oz - "Juniper and piney hops build the framework for this bold dark ale. With its assertive bitterness and smooth malt finish, this beer stands tall above the rest" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Dallas, $2.39/12oz - "Flavor forward, this brew was made for tailgating in parking lots, celebrating first downs and big hits, high-fiving friends & basking in the thrill of victory" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Rico Guave, $3.59/16oz - "Sour Ale Brewed with Pineapple and Guava" (source).
  • Wolverine Massacre, $4.89/12oz - "In the nose is sweet bourbon, with soft sugar and malt, hints of cocoa and mild roast. The flavor is layers upon layers of malt, bourbon, and a mix of dark dried stone fruits coated in dark chocolate. The body of this dark, looming brew is full and coating, which begs for sipping and savoring. The finish on this unique lager is exactly what you don’t get from all the big, barrel aged beers out there...the crisp and clean lager finish the Wolverine State Brewing Co. is known for" (source).

Video of the Week | 120 Minute IPA

Available now at Siciliano's (while supplies last).


Thursday, November 1, 2018

New Beer Friday, Mysterious Paintings Edition (November 2)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Back in the mid 90s during the interval between my first and second marriages I lived in a house on Lincoln Street on the lower west side of Grand Rapids. It was a bittersweet time for me. There was a dull but persistent ache caused by the events of the recent past but also interludes of keen anticipation about the prospects of the future. It was period of reflection and self-discovery, a phase in my life that I now refer to as my Lincoln sojourn.

That rental house on Lincoln was in many ways similar to the house that my wife Barb and I live in today. There was a big front porch where it was pleasant to sit in the evenings with a cocktail after the sun had dipped behind the high-branching maples that lined the street. Inside there were plaster walls, wooden floors and decorative molding. There were French doors between the foyer and the living room and glass cabinets in the kitchen. 

I furnished that old house with second-hand furniture and decorated it with tacky items that I found in local antique stores — garish pole lamps, brass candelabras, a neon clock for the kitchen, a collection of old cork screws, an old radio cabinet, minus the radio, that I used as a storage space for my liquor. I bought an antique buffet for the dining room. Halfway through my Lincoln sojourn I began dating Barb, and while I’m sure she was horrified by my décor, she was kind enough not to say anything. One day I told her about a painting I spotted in an antique shop on Leonard Street.
The painting is the close-up of a distinguished older man against a jet black background. The subject has an inscrutable, sidelong stare, his smile is as enigmatic as Mona Lisa’s and his visage is illuminated by the blaze of the match that he is using to light his pipe. I can’t remember why I didn’t snatch up the painting on the spot but I do remember telling Barb about it. She bought it for me the next day and when I came home from work I found it propped up on the buffet. For the past fifteen years the painting has hung on a dining room wall in our old Craftsman Style bungalow.

I’ve often wondered whether the subject of the portrait was an actual person or a figment of the artist’s imagination. It’s a question that probably will never be answered. A few years ago we had the painting cleaned and the wooden frame repaired and the mystery doubled. Behind the portrait of the distinguished elderly gentleman was another portrait, a pencil drawing of an equally distinguished and beautiful young lady.

New and Returning Beer

  • Abita Christmas, $1.89/12oz - "Our Christmas Ale is a brown ale that is brewed with six types of malted barley and fermented with American Ale yeast. It is brewed with pale malt as well as a combination of caramel, biscuit, Munich, and chocolate malts. It is hopped and dry hopped with Columbus, Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo and has a nice piney and citrus hop flavor and aroma. The result is a flavorful brown ale that is sweet and malty with a pleasant hop aroma" (source).
  • Big Lake Haze and Confused, $3.29/16oz - "Crushable New England IPA Featuring Citra and Mosiac Hops and Brewed with Real Blueberries" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Ski Patrol, $3.79/16oz - "Whether you’re stuck on the chairlift waiting to get to the top of a black diamond, or you’re soaking in the hot tub after a long day of destroying some moguls, it’s Ski Patrol Wit to the rescue! This crushable slopes-inspired beer complements our Michigan winters with a hazy golden pour and a warming spice on the nose. Pack your long johns and swimsuit. Ski weekend is upon us. Cans are light and easy to pack so you can take them wherever the trail takes you" (source).
  • Cigar City Marshal Zhukov's, $16.19/22oz - "This Russian Imperial Stout is dedicated to Georgy Zhukov, arguably one of the finest generals of World War II. Opaque black in color, with notes of espresso, chocolate, dark toffee and hints of blackstrap molasses. The English hop varietals provide a subtle herbal dryness, and the beer finishes with a hearty slap of roasty espresso. Pair Marshal Zhukov’s with mushroom solyanka, dark chocolate, cherries and ground wars in Russia" (source).
  • Deschutes Chasin Freshies, $1.99/12oz - "Like fresh powder, it’s a seize-the-moment thing. This year we’ve chased down Strata fresh hops to add to this bright IPA. At harvest, we rush the hops from the vine to our kettles to ensure we capture the purest, juiciest essence of the hop flower in every beer. Enjoy the fresh, bold aroma and flavor that comes but once a year" (source).
  • Dogfish Head 75 Minute, $2.79/12oz - "It’s been a minute … but 75 Minute IPA is back! What began as a cask-conditioned ale at our Rehoboth brewpub back in 2011, quickly grew to become a cult-favorite amongst craft enthusiasts. From the groucho glasses that adorned the label to it’s slightly dry and lingering bitterness, 75 Minute was (and is) beloved by many. Now in our latest iteration, this classic IPA is again brewed with maple syrup from Sam’s family farm in Massachusetts, while being continually hopped throughout the boil, and then dry-hopped with a slew of cascade hops. The result is a malty and earthy brew with citrusy-pine aromas, balanced by subtle maple notes" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Christmas Town, $1.89/12oz - "Christmas Town Ale combines sweet toasted dark malts with American hops to create a medium-bodied spiced ale with a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas. You will enjoy subtle notes of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and clove with our festive holiday-themed packaging to match the taste. Christmas Town Ale is a must-have brew in the wintertime" (source).
  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale, $2.49/12oz - "Do not open ‘til Christmas? Whoever coined that phrase obviously hasn’t tasted Christmas Ale’s fresh honey, cinnamon, and ginger flavors" (source).
  • Latitude 42 South Pacific Breakfast, $2.49/16oz - "Imperial porter is brewed with toasted coconut, roasted cacao nibs and Ron's cold pressed coffee for the morning kick" (source).
  • Old Nation Cart Horse, $4.09/16oz - "NE IPA" (source).
  • Prairie Ales Christmas BOMB!, $10.89/12oz - "Imperial stout brewed with spices" (source).
  • Prairie Ales Double Dunk, $10.89/12oz - "Imperial Stout brewed with Oreo Cookies" (source).
  • Shiner Cheer, $1.79/12oz - "’Tis the Season for Cheer Happy Holidays from the "Little Brewery" in Shiner, TX. We hope you enjoy your Shiner Cheer, an Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The malty flavors of this dark wheat ale are enhanced through the use of malted barley and wheat. And Kräusening ensures a smoothness that makes the subtle peach and pecan flavors all the more satisfying. May your days be merry and bright and your Shiner be cold" (source).
  • Short's Super Hoppy Holiday, $33.79/12pk - "It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time for the Super Hoppy Holidays Variety Pack to return! We’re mixing up the pack this year and bringing back a couple longtime favorites like Dan’s Pink Skirt and Goodnight Bodacious, plus we’re introducing a brand new IPA, Yoda’s Blend. Keep an eye out for it on store shelves starting November 1st and seize the hopportunity to grab one (or 2 or 3) before they’re gone. We look forward to celebrating the holidays with you. On behalf of all of us here at Short’s Brewing Company, we wish you a Super Hoppy Holiday and Happy New Beers" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration, $1.79/12oz - "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).
  • Southern Tier 2xMas, $1.99/12oz - "2XMAS ale combines traditional brewing ingredients with figs, orange peels, cardamom, cinnamon, clove and ginger root. It’s a holiday addition to the 2X line and another reason to toast to the season, but unlike Glögg, we recommend serving this one chilled" (source).
  • Stone Mojay, $9.69/22oz - "Tropical, juicy, orange and citrus, subtle spice, bright fruit character with a nice bitter finish" (source).
  • Stone Sanctimonious, $2.39/12oz - "Stone Sanctimonious IPA represents the elevated state of reverence that Stone extols for the venerable and almighty Hop. Amarillo & Simcoe hops have been anointed to bestow their divine qualities on this sacred brew. This limited release is part of Stone’s Hop Worship Series… Glory be to those who imbibe it in its freshest form…and faithfully worship thy Hop in the beauty of blissful bitterness" (source).

Video of the Week | 75 Minute IPA

Available now at Siciliano's.


Friday, October 26, 2018

New Beer Friday, To Sell or Not to Sell Edition (October 26)

The old house on Collindale
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Should we stay or should we go? It’s a question my wife and I have been wrestling with since the beginning of summer. Like many folks our age, Barb and I are trying to decide whether to sell our house and move into an abode that requires less maintenance. Not having to worry about mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, cleaning the gutters and shoveling snow is starting to sound pretty good to us.

Three months ago we met with the realtor we’ll be listing with if we decide to pull the trigger. Vito Dolce from Five Star Realty gave us a list of things we should do to make the house more marketable. Paint the ceilings and walls he told us. Redo the kitchen. Get rid of the clutter.

We’ve been following Vito’s advice. Barb hired the folks from Shelly’s Kitchens to paint the kitchen cupboards and an electrician to enhance the lighting. For the past three weeks Jim from Grand River Painting has been patching cracks in the plaster and applying fresh paint to one-hundred-year-old ceilings and walls. Barb has been making weekly trips to the Goodwill Store. We’ve given away dressers, old lamps, bookshelves and an assortment of items that we haven’t used in years. We donated six big boxes of books to a used bookseller in Eastown.

A few nights ago we sat with Manhattans on the back deck watching the sparrows, blue jays and cardinals gorging at the bird feeder. They instinctively know that winter is coming. Plump squirrels scurried around on the freshly mowed lawn. Every so often one stopped scurrying to bury a walnut. A gaggle of honking geese flew high overhead. Light from the setting late October sun splashed against the turning leaves of the tall maples.

While we watched the birds and squirrels I reminisced about the day Barb came home and told me that “our house” was for sale. We had spotted the 1920s Craftsman Style Bungalow a few years earlier when we were driving down Collindale. It sat a ways back from the road and was tucked behind a wall of overgrown evergreen shrubs. From that day on we admired it from afar during the few seconds it took to drive by it. The first thing we noticed was the big front porch. On subsequent drive-bys we admired the tapered brick columns and triangular knee braces under the broad, overhanging eaves. We wondered what it was like inside. We made an appointment to see the house on the same day Barb saw the For Sale sign in the yard. We made an offer that night. While I was remembering that day my wife said something that I didn’t quite catch.

“What’s that?” I asked her.

“I said I think the house is looking pretty good.”

“It sure is,” I agreed.

“I’m not sure I’m going to want to sell this old place,” she said a few moments later.

I told her that I’m not sure that I do either.

Special Announcement: Fresh cider is back! On Saturday, November 3rd, from 10am to 1pm, the owners of Square Nail Farm in Allegan will be in our back parking with fresh cider for sale. Cider is a blend of Jonagold, Jonathan, Baldwin, Gala, Original Yellow Delicious, Ida Red, Empire and Smokehouse apples. Cost is $4.00 per gallon. Bring your own containers or purchase them for us.

New and Returning Beer

  • Atwater First Brown, $1.99/12oz - "First Brown ale features a brown color, arising from the use of pale, crystal (caramel), Victory (rich in nutty, toasty, and biscuit-like flavors) and cara brown traditional English malts. In brewing, we use 100% imported English hops (East Kent Goldings and Fuggles) It is sweeter on the palate, with a fuller body and a nutty character" (source).
  • Ballast Point Victory at Sea, $1.99/12oz - "Our Ballast Point Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with vanilla and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate" (source).
  • Bell's 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout, $4.19/12oz - "This version was brewed in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of our Cherry Stout, another specialty beer that was first brewed in 1988 as a nod to a local homebrew club in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It has grown to be one of the most anticipated beers we brew at the brewery every year" (source).
  • Bell's Cherry Stout, $2.99/12oz - "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).
  • Bell's Whiskey Barrel Aged Cherry Stout, $6.99/12oz - "Aged for up to 12 months in whiskey barrels, our signature Cherry Stout evolves into something even more flavorful and complex. Notes of oak, vanilla and dark chocolate are intertwined with tart Michigan cherries in a stout that seduces the palate" (source).
  • Brew Detroit Electro Brut, $3.59/16oz - "Aggressively dry hopped with mosaic, citra, mandarina & Amarillo hops. This brew is fiercely hop forward with a delicious balanced finish" (source).
  • Central State Gus, $3.59/16oz - "Farmhouse India Pale Ale — Named in honor of Indiana-born astronaut Gus Grissom who lost his life in the pursuit of taking a man to the moon, this IPA is aggressively hopped with Australian Galaxy and American Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Central State Hot Yoga, $4.39/16oz - "This Double IPA is fermented with a special Norwegian Farmhouse yeast strain called Kviek. Fermented in half the time and at temperatures in excess of 95 degrees that would cause normal yeast to produce off flavors, this DIPA features both flaked & malted wheat and a double dose of Citra, Loral, and Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Central State Noyau, $3.79/16oz - "House beer with secondary fermentation on 250 lbs each of of peach and apricot puree" (source).
  • Central State Snake Skin Boots, $3.99/16oz - "Hazy India Pale Ale with Simcoe Hops — Flashy? Maybe. Practical? Maybe. Tasty? Coiled up like a rattler ready to strike, this beer is loaded up with the finest Simcoe hops we could get our hands on" (source).
  • Central State Turn the Page, $4.39/16oz - "Turn the page and begin the next chapter. Time and progress stop for no one. Aggressively hopped with Warrior, Simcoe, & Citra hops, including a double dose of Simcoe & Citra dry hops, this DIPA has a soft mouthfeel thanks to a healthy dose of wheat and lactose sugar" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Idiom, $2.39/16oz - "Porter" (source).
  • Griffin Claw You Figure it Out, $2.39/16oz - "We had to beg Dan to make this and it turned out awesome! Coconut & Vanilla stand strong in this easy drinking Milk Stout" (source).
  • Lagunitas Sparkling Swan, $1.59/12oz - "This sparkling beer-wine hybrid is something to toast to... brewed with red wine grapes and super bubbly like champagne, but with a gentle kiss of hops and a light malt backbone like a beer. It's a purple people pleaser, perfect for any celebration" (source).
  • New Belgium Oakspire, $2.59/12oz - "A limited-edition collaboration between New Belgium and Knob Creek, Oakspire is a unique bourbon barrel ale aged with bourbon-steeped oak spirals and char from inside the barrel. Smooth notes of toffee, vanilla and caramel wrap up with a pleasantly warm finish. Oakspire: Where innovation meets tradition" (source).
  • New Holland Cabin Fever, $1.99/12oz - "Cabin Fever is a roasty brown ale and a hearty, comforting companion for long, mind-bending winters" (source).
  • New Holland Sour Inc Sour Stout, $3.49/12oz - "As the name implies, Sour Inc. Cherry Stout is a 6.7 percent ABV sour stout brewed with cherries. The fourth and final addition to the Holland, Mich.-based brewery’s Sour Inc. Series, which is made up different styles of sour beers" (source).
  • Odd Side Hoppin Mad, $2.79/12oz - "Rye Double NEIPA" (source).
  • Ommegang Barrel Aged Adoration, $5.69/12oz - "The beer is brewed with coriander, mace, cardamom, grains of paradise and sweet orange peel, and if that’s not enough fun, this dark ale is then aged in Bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Perrin Malted Milk Ball, $12.69/22oz - "A 12% Imperial Porter brewed with lactose and spiced with vanilla and cacao nibs then laid down and aged in Woodford Reserve Oak bourbon barrels for 9 months" (source).
  • Rogue Counter Currant, $2.39/16oz - "On our farm in Independence, Oregon, we grow marionberries, pumpkins, honey and 10 varieties of hops. We also tend the Revolution Garden, where we grow experimental crops for our brewers in Newport. Inspired by the black currants from our garden, our brewers created this lovely tart fruit ale that pours deep purple in color. Join us in our fight against the status quo and go Counter Currant" (source).
  • Short's Juicy Tree, $2.59/12oz - "Juicy Tree is an experimental India Pale Ale made with blue spruce tips, juniper berries, and cranberries. Big aromatics of piney evergreen and sweet berries tingle the senses. After some slightly tart and tangy flavors up front, a harmonious balance between pleasant fruit sweetness and bitter pine is reached. The finish is laced with a resiny stickiness that flows naturally into a lasting bitterness" (source).
  • Upland Boysenberry, $27.19/750ml - "Boysenberry is a barrel-aged sour ale that combines our take on a traditional, Lambic-style base beer, with a fruit not typically found in traditional Lambics. We ferment our base beer, Basis, for six to eight months in oak tanks to produce tart flavors, fruity notes and a funky character. Then, we blend individual batches before aging on boysenberry fruit for an additional month to extract the perfect balance of fruit flavor. We bottle conditioned this beer, resulting in a fine carbonation and spritzy mouthfeel" (source).
  • Upland Panorama, $27.19/750ml - "A slightly tart, dry and funky beer developed through the use of naturally occurring microorganisms from Monroe County. Four different regions of microorganism collection developed unique flavors for each of the beers in the Spontaneous Project Series" (source).

Video of the Week | New Belgium Oakspire

Now available at Siciliano's.


Friday, October 19, 2018

New Beer Friday, Resistance is Futile Edition (Oct 19)

Bocian, Controller of Pests
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

My wife has a serious case of arachnophobia. I can empathize because I have a few fears of my own. But sometimes if I’m feeling a bit impish I’ll kid her about it. This past summer a little black arachnid with beady eyes was skittering around on our back deck and Barb was convinced that the tiny critter was stalking her. Instead of trying to abate her irrational fears I told her it was sizing her up for a meal.

I was smart enough not to joke about the wolf spiders that she would freak out about whenever she spied one loping around in the basement. I went to bat for them and tried explaining that they were more afraid of her than she was of them and that they were good to have around because they ate the nasty house flies. But my appeals were unsuccessful and I had to hire a professional — Chad Bocian from Stealth Pest Control — to eliminate the large, hairy, eight-eyed beasts. I’ve learned that when Barb makes her mind up about something it’s usually futile to resist.

The trees around our cottage are another example. I could live with the trees the same as I could live with the spiders but Barb claimed they obscured our view of the lake (which they did) and that all the acorns that they dropped every fall were a nuisance (which they were). She orchestrated the removal of twenty-seven of the offending oaks. I have to admit that our view of the lake has improved greatly and that it’s nice not having to worry about acorns beaning us when we’re sitting on the deck.

A few weeks ago a nasty storm blew through Lake County. There has been an ongoing debate in the bars around Irons whether it was a tornado or straight-line winds that did the damage but it appears that Big Bass Lake was ground zero. A tree fell on a neighbor’s garage, Matson Road looked like it was carpet bombed and a number of big oaks were uprooted in back of our pole barn. I could only imagine what kind of damage might have been done to our cottage if Barb hadn’t insisted on taking down all those trees. I’ve also learned that when my wife thinks something should be done she’s usually right.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arcadia Apollyan, $1.99/12oz - "Tremble before Apollyon, The Destroyer, for herein is a beer that requires careful handling. Produced using a technique that amplifies the intense apple/pear fruitiness of Arcadia’s house English-style yeast, the result is a straw-colored golden strong ale that hides its strength carefully. Obscured by intense honey notes, hints of cotton candy, fresh-baked bread, and a wickedly dry, crisp body, we took to calling it Apollyon in homage to the Belgian tradition of naming beers after “devilish” figures. Unlike the king of locusts, the only truly dangerous part of Apollyon is how enjoyable and refreshing it is" (source).
  • Arvon Point Betsie, $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 Vic Secret featured in Point Betsie is best experienced when this beer is enjoyed fresh" (source).
  • Bell's Arabicadabra, $2.29/12oz - "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).
  • City Built Melisandre, $3.59/16oz - "Red IPA • Mackinaw Hops • Caramel Malt • The Beer is Red and Full of Hops" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo, $3.29/12oz - "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" (source).
  • Left Hand Pixan Pepper Porter, $2.39/12oz - "Dried cherry and plum flavors with subtle smoke, roasty malt sweetness and the warmth of chilis" (source).
  • Lost Abbey Farmhouse Lager, $2.69/12oz - "Farmhouse Lager is a lighter version of our long-time brew, Avant Garde. It is our first foray into the 12oz bottle/six-pack world, as we have been mostly known for large format (750ml bottles). Still beginning with an initial malt sweetness and a subtle hop presence, this lager finishes smooth and crisp. Perfect for an evening out on your porch or with some fresh baked bread pulled straight from the oven" (source).
  • North Pier Old Shuck, $2.99/16oz - "This deep dark brew is an ode to Old Shuck, the ghostly demon dog that roamed the countryside in 16th century England. Big coffee aromas pairs perfectly with a late addition of earthy English hops, making this the perfect roasty ale to drink all year round" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Warrior Goddess, $2.59/16oz - "Ale brewed with Pink Grapefruit, Lemons and a splash of Pomegranate, this light-bodied, American-style shandy beer has bright citrus aromas and flavors of fresh fruit with a sweet, yet subtly tart finish" (source).
  • Southern Tier Cinnamon Roll, $4.39/12oz - "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).
  • Southern Tier Old Man Winter, $1.89/12oz - "Our winter offering is here to quell your shivers and get you through the coldest of nights. A rich marriage of hops and barley to cast light upon the evening and melt your mind out of the snowdrifts. Old Man Winter’s earthy hue and thickness lace around the glass, inviting you to linger in its warmth and share the spirits of the season with your friends and family. A deceptively strong brew, it’s best to sit and ponder with this old man, sip by sip" (source).
  • Terrapin Gamma Ray, $3.99/16oz - "Gamma Ray is a wheat beer brewed with a massive amount of honey from Savannah Bee Company. This super powered blast from the past will make you believe time travel is possible" (source).
  • Terrapin Moo-Hoo, $2.19/12oz - "Dark brown to black in color. Aromas of dark chocolate. Dark roasted malt flavor with hints of caramel and chocolate, rounded out by a sweet, creamy finish" (source).

Video of the Week | Pennsylvania Tuxedo

Now available at Siciliano's.


Friday, October 12, 2018

New Beer Friday, One-Winged Gargoyle Edition (Oct 12)

Procured by dubious means
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I got quite a start the other morning when I glanced in the mirror and saw the reflection of my late father. With each passing year I’m looking more like the elder version of Sam — the thinning hair, the high forehead, the drooping nose, the elongated ears, the tufts of hair growing out of that nose and those ears that would look a tad unsightly if my barber didn’t trim them back every three weeks.

While I’m beginning to look like Sam in his late sixties, my siblings frequently remind me that I take after my mother. I’m okay with that but it’s not entirely true. I may have Nita’s overall demeanor but she’s generally regarded as a saint and I can state with a high degree of certainty that saintliness is a virtue no one has or ever will be inclined to bestow on me.

The truth is I’m more like the old man that I’m given credit for. I don’t have his boisterous personality but I too like a good party and I make sure that visitors to our house and cottage have plenty to eat and drink. I love food and wine as much as he did and I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good cook.

The old man could also be a bit “mischievous.” When they were youngsters he and his brothers pilfered watermelons off produce trucks and one time they came home with a branch laden with sweet cherries that they sawed off a neighbor’s tree.  And I’m quite sure the "Dead End" sign he had nailed to a tree along the two-track leading to his property up north wasn't found laying on the side of the road.

There have been times when I was a bit mischievous too. I also swiped fruit from neighbors’ trees when I was a kid and when I was in college a coed talked me into helping her pinch a street sign that bore her Italian surname. And then there was the one-winged gargoyle affair.

I won’t delve too deep into the details but the one-winged cement gargoyle that has been perched in Siciliano's for the past twenty years was ill-gotten. I confess that a couple of pints of beer on the night of the caper relaxed my inhibitions. The beer was Two Hearted which should give the astute reader a clue as to where the incident took place. If measured on the Scoville Scale my remorse the next morning registered somewhere between a Scotch Bonnet and a Ghost Pepper. I sent the establishment an apologetic note and a fifty dollar bill, a price I deemed fair for a cement gargoyle that was missing a wing.

A couple of weeks ago I took the gargoyle down from its perch and placed it on the curling corner of an area rug next to a display case. A few minutes later a customer knocked it over and cracked off the other wing.

New and Returning Beer

  • Decadent Ales Pacific Punch, $6.29/16oz - "DIPA featuring a blend of south pacific hops. Notes of citrus, freshly squeezed lemon, lime fresh peaches and apricot compliment the fruit-cup hop profile" (source).
  • Decadent Ales Pog Nog, $6.29/16oz - "Brewed with pineapple, guava, & orange peel. Hopped with Citra & Mosaic" (source).
  • Evil Twin/Blank Brewing The Check Please, $4.59/12oz - "A double dry-hopped black IPA" (source).
  • Evil Twin Even More Pecan Pie Jesus, $4.59/16oz - "Imperial Stout brewed with Molasses and with Pecan Extract added" (source).
  • Evil Twin F Is for Fruit Salad, $4.99/16oz - "Gose-style ale brewed with salt and blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, peach, and blood orange added" (source).
  • Evil Twin Island Bliss, $5.49/16oz - "Malt beverage with natural flavors" (source).
  • Fat Orange Cat All Cats are Grey in the Dark, $4.99/16oz - "A light colored stout with a hint of coffee and strong notes of both chocolate and vanilla" (source).
  • Fat Orange Cat Living in Our Own Private Idaho, $6.29/16oz - "The Azzaca combination brings out an intense orange/grapefruit flavor with a classic Idaho 7 finish" (source).
  • Stillwater People Power, $5.49/16oz - "Nitro Multigrain Pale Ale in support of the ACLU" (source).
  • Stillwater Please Take a Number, $5.69/16oz - "New England style double india pale ale" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake Stout, $2.59/16oz - "This stout is brewed with lactose (milk sugar) to impart a fuller body and sweeter palate. Flavored with toasted marshmallows" (source).
  • Short's Pangalactic Gargle Blaster, $2.59/12oz - "Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is a Belgian-style Double IPA brewed with Australian Galaxy hops. The nose is an impressive dank blend of citrus aromas reminiscent of guava and lemons, very green and fresh with subtle Belgian yeast esters. An intense clean bitterness dominates the flavor profile with little malt character to compete with. A slight, fruity yeast sweetness is noticeable in the finish alongside a resounding bitterness" (source).
  • Great Lakes Ohio City Oatmeal Stout, $1.89/12oz - "Dark and roasty yet light and smooth as a fresh coat of snow, our Oatmeal Stout will kick your cabin fever and inspire you to toss another log on the fire" (source).
  • Odd Side Caged Wisdom, $2.39/12oz - "A dry, hoppy, crisp and light Brut IPA" (source).
  • Blackrocks Nordskye, $2.19/12oz - "Session IPA" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Haze Force, $3.69/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Lansing Brewery Velvet Villain, $1.99/12oz - "Formally known as Black Velvet... Imperial black ale meets oatmeal porter. Silky smooth chocolate dominates the palate throughout this beer. Have it for breakfast or have it for dessert, it doesn’t matter. This beer drinks very easy for an 8.2% ABV beer" (source).
  • Lansing Brewery Peninsula Pils, $1.99/12oz - "Forget the watered down domestic pilsner beers. Peninsula Pils is a true to style pilsner with a distinct hop presence.This pilsner has two different hop varietals, Hallertau Blanc and Saaz. Together these hops give Peninsula Pils an herbal and delicate fruit note. We also dry hopped this sessional beer with Hallertau Blanc for your aromatic enjoyment. A perfect thirst quencher after a jog on the river trail" (source).
  • Revolution Coffee Eugene, $3.09/12oz - "Our Eugene Porter was sent to a bright tank and aged for an additional week with whole bean coffee from Dark Matter Coffee. The cold-aging allows us to extract the aromatic oils from the coffee without extracting any additional bitterness that it may impart if we were to have added it to the near boiling wort in the kettle" (source).
  • Revolution Citra-Hero, $2.39/12oz - "Citra-Hero is an elegant American IPA designed to showcase the Citra Hop variety. This IPA is exploding with citrusy flavors and aromas" (source).
  • Saugatuck Oak Wizard, $1.89/12oz - "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).

Video of the Week | Lansing Brewing Co.

Now available at Siciliano's.


Friday, October 5, 2018

New Beer Friday, Raw Cider for Sale Edition (October 5)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

September is apple harvesting time here in West Michigan and that means there will soon be plenty of fresh juice available for beer and winemaking hobbyists looking to whip up a batch or two of hard cider.

On Saturday, October 6, Klein Cider Mill will be selling fresh-squeezed juice in our back parking lot between the hours of 10am and 1pm. The price for Klein’s award-winning cider is $3.75 per gallon and you must supply your own containers. Of course, as always, we will have containers available for purchase along with yeast, pectic enzyme and anything else you might need for making hard cider.

Go here for a good article on the process of making hard cider.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arcadia Morning Nightcap, $2.19/12oz - "The beer lover’s consummate coffee beer, a perfect marriage of rich coffee and creamy porter. Brewed with BIGGBY® COFFEE’s Papua New Guinea blend, a roast created by Paramount Roasters especially for this collaboration. Emotes rich notes of dark chocolate, fruit, and tons of refreshingly intense coffee flavor. Oat malt lends a powerfully silky body and hints of nuttiness. Reminiscent of a refreshing cold-brew, but with a pleasant buzz. Pairs perfectly with your choice of smoking jacket, bathrobe or favorite slippers. Because when the day drags on and the night’s too long, it’s time to pickup a Nightcap" (source).
  • Batch Brewing Festbier, $2.79/12oz - No description available.
  • Brewery Vivant Plien de Vie Stone Fruit Sour, $10.89/375ml - "Foeder Aged Weissbier with all-Michigan grown peaches, plums, apricots, and cherries" (source).
  • Cigar City Cubano Style Espresso Brown, $2.59/12oz - "This English-style Brown Ale is brewed with a heaping of Cuban-style espresso beans from Tampa’s Buddy Brew Coffee.  Lactose and cacao are added as well, creating a bold ale that brings to mind a fine cup of Cuban coffee" (source).
  • Dark Horse Smells Like a Safety Meeting, $1.99/12oz - "S.L.A.S.M. is our most Aromatic IPA. This India Pale Ale is very reminiscent of the hop’s cousin in the Mulberry family. Lots of hop aroma with just the right amount of bitterness as we like to keep balance around here. Between the secret blend of the most DANK hops we can get our hands on and a "more than healthy" dose of double dry hopping, this beer can be announced to the nose from across the room that someone is definitely having a Safety Meeting" (source).
  • Grimm Guava Mango Pop, $15.99/22oz - "This tropical sour beer is a creamsicle in a glass. Mangoes, guavas, vanilla, and milk sugar are backed with a grapefruit-like acidity" (source).
  • NIP Batch 29, $2.99/12oz - "Cherry Lime-Aid" (source).
  • North Coast Barrel Aged Old Rasputin, $25.19/500ml - "Every year we age a special batch of our much-loved Russian Imperial Stout in Bourbon barrels. The depth, intensity, and complexity of the flavor profile of this special release, like its predecessors, make it a worthy tribute to Old Rasputin" (source).
  • Odd Side Cap De Night, $6.29/12oz - "Full bodied imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels. Bold flavors of roasted barley give way to subtle notes of vanilla, cinnamon, bourbon, and oak with a rich cocoa finish. A perfect end to any evening" (source).
  • Ommegang Mother of Dragons, $12.99/750ml - "A beer for Daenerys - is a richly complex blend of smoked porter and Belgian kriek" (source).
  • Short's Mule Beer, $1.89/12oz - "Mule Beer is an Ale brewed with lime and ginger. Hazy copper in color with an off-white head, Mule Beer pours with aromas of pungent ginger and tangy lime. Pronounced flavors of ginger and lime are accompanied by a biscuit like maltiness and a creamy body. This light-bodied, Moscow Mule inspired brew finishes with a spicy ginger kick" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy by 10.31.18, $3.19/12oz - "Consistently delivered faster than any bottled IPA on the planet, Stone Enjoy By IPA facilitated a paradigm shift in respect for and enjoyment of hoppy beers by ensuring craft beer fans the ultimate level of freshness. We brew this intense double IPA with more than 10 different hops, employing hop-bursting and dry-hopping techniques to amp up the peach and tropical fruit notes and overall hop factor. Brewed specifically NOT to last, this devastatingly fresh, golden beauty should be enjoyed within 37 days" (source).
  • Stone Xocoveza, $3.19/12oz - "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).
  • To Øl Dangerously Close to Stupid Amounts of Bananas, $7.69/16oz - "Smells like banana, tastes like… sweet malty banana. This is a mellow, malty DIPA with a smooth amber body and medium carbonation. Almost taffyesque in taste, you want to hate it but you can’t" (source).
  • To Øl Dangerously Close to Stupid Lychee, $7.69/16oz - "The more subtle of the trilogy, DCTS Lychee is clean, crisp and malty. Expect ample bitterness without it being overpowering, and subtle end notes of lychee. A clean and clear, west coast style DIPA" (source).
  • To Øl Ms. Black, $9.79/16oz - "Imperial stout with liquorice & dates Ms. Black is our attempt to make an evil and beastly black imperial stout and we would call it a success. Featuring triple the amount of liquorice we have ever brewed with – Ms. Black is a full, dark, sweet and bitter imperial stout with bitter dark malt notes" (source).

Video of the Week | Dark Horse

Smells Like a Safety Meeting, now available at Siciliano's.