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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?