View our Main Site »

Friday, March 15, 2019

New Beer Friday, Return of the Snowbirds Edition (March 15)

Snowbirds: Steve & Barb
By Steve Siciliano

Well, I’d like to say it’s nice to be back in Michigan but you have to be a little crazy if you like coming home to grey skies and frigid temperatures after the warmth and blue skies of Florida.

Actually, weather notwithstanding, it is good to be back in Beer City USA. I’ve been reclaiming my perch in the corner of the store for a few hours each day and it’s been nice reconnecting with friends and customers between periods of working on the Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition and May 4th’s Big Brew at Trailpoint Brewing Company.

Folks who have been to Ft. Meyers Beach warned Barb and I that the traffic would be a bit of an annoyance and they were right. Estero Boulevard is the town’s only main thoroughfare and there are times that it can take an hour to drive five miles. You quickly learn that if you want to get off the island you have to leave early and return late. You also learn that hoofing it is sometimes the best way to get around. There is a trolley that runs up and down Estero but it’s usually as packed as a cattle car and about as reliable as my former cable provider. After waiting for the trolley for forty-five minutes one evening we gave up and walked the mile to our destination. From that time on we referred to the Beach’s public transportation as the “Effin' Trolley.”

In spite of the traffic we thoroughly enjoyed our extended stay on Ft. Meyers Beach. The weather for the most part was great, the beach itself is beautiful, the restaurants are good and there are some nice watering holes where you can kick back and listen to some solid live entertainment. We even formed a friendship with a couple of transplanted Midwesterners who traveled with us on the ferry down to Key West.

The area draws a good number of vacationers of all ages looking to get away from the cold for a spell but it is also a popular winter roosting place for thousands of snowbirds. Like many of these retired and semi-retired sojourners, Barb and I took a brisk walk on the beach almost every day in an effort to stay in shape. One day while walking out on the pier we stopped to watch two dolphins frolicking in the surf. It was also pretty cool watching squadrons of pelicans soaring in formation over the Gulf of Mexico and then plunging like dive bombers down into the water and coming up with a meal.

The realization that Barb and I now officially belong to the ranks of older folks who get out of Dodge for the winter really sank in on the day we went to a Minnesota Twins spring training game. Before walking through the metal detector, I informed the elderly fellow who was manning the station that I have titanium hips.

“Don’t worry about it, buddy,” he said and smiled. “Almost everyone down here this time of year sets this gizmo off.”

New and Returning Beer

  • Anderson Valley Brut IPA, $2.19/12oz - "Extra dry IPA brewed with Champagne yeast" (source).
  • Atwater Whango, $1.59/12oz - "There’s nothing complex about this beer: it’s a straightforward, pale wheat ale made with mango that finishes clean. A real easy drinker" (source).
  • Big Lake Little Red Ale, $2.79/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Destihl Wild Sour Apricot, $2.99/12oz - "Dry-hopped sour ale with apricot" (source).
  • Glutenberg Stout, $3.19/16oz - "Robust notes of espresso coffee, dark chocolate and ripe dark malted fruit give it a pleasant mouthfeel that will not leave Stout lovers indifferent. The Glutenberg Stout is distinguished by its opaque black color and its powerful scents of cocoa and roasted cereals" (source).
  • Grand Armory BBA Sap On Tap, $5.19/12oz - "Bourbon barrel aged for three-plus months, this complex and full bodied imperial rye stout showcases its natural roasty and chocolate malt profile with a smooth rye finish" (source).
  • Hemptails Citrus Gold, $1.89/16oz - "Stay gold with big hemp aromas and fresh twist of citrus flavors" (source).
  • Hemptails Passion Fruit, $1.89/16oz - "Tart passionfruit flavors gives a tropical twist to herbal hemp flavors" (source).
  • Odd Side Double Brut, $2.79/12oz - "Double Brut IPA. 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" (source).
  • Odd Side Fruitsicle Boysenberry, $2.89/12oz - "Juicy, fruity, slightly tart ale brewed with lactose, boysenberry, and blueberry" (source).
  • Perrin Lil' Griz, $2.49/12oz - "Deliberately blazing our own trail, we brewed this barrel aged brown ale believing there is room for a new craft beer category: “Sessionable Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers”. Weighing in at 6.8% ABV ( Alc. 6.8% by Vol. ), the rich chocolate notes & creaminess of the flaked oats easily justify this beer bringing home a FoBAB medal this year" (source).
  • Roak Wee Who See, $3.39/16oz - "Beguiling undertones of dark berries and citrus subtly illuminate the bold, dark palate of coffee and chocolate in this sour ale" (source).
  • Tripelroot Eighteen 99, $2.09/12oz - "German Style Hefeweizen with subtle notes of cloves and bananas" (source).

Video of the Week | Anderson Valley

Welcome to the Valley.


Friday, March 8, 2019

New Beer Friday, A Formal Call for Judges Edition (March 8)

Let the judging begin!
By Steve Siciliano

This is a formal call for judges and stewards for the 16th Annual Siciliano's Homebrew Competition. This a BJCP registered event.

The following is pertinent information regarding the judging for the 2019 Siciliano's competition.

    • Date: Saturday, April 27
    • Location: 17 Seward Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
    • Check in for judges & stewards: 10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
    • Judging: 11:15 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
    • Best-of-Show judging: 3:30 p.m.
    • Competition organizer: Steve Siciliano,, 616-453-9674
Coffee and pastries will be provided in the morning and there will be a lunch and liquid refreshments at the conclusion of the judging.

If you plan on participating in this year's competition either as a judge or a steward please go to

After logging in you will be able to register as a judge or a steward.


After logging in, click on the 4/27 Judging Session and indicate whether you will be participating as a judge or a steward. If you are registering as a judge, click the "Update Judging Preferences" button after indicating your judging preferences and dislikes.

Preregistration is encouraged as it will help reduce lines at the check-in table on the day of the judging.

Please ensure that you arrive at the judging venue by 10:30 a.m. so that the competition staff can organize flights and complete table assignments by the 11:15 judging start time.

Please be reminded that your participation as a steward or judge does not preclude you from entering a beer in this competition.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arvon Beach Day, $5.49/16oz - " unique creation that pushes the bounds of possibilities. Brewed with more than the recommended amount of oats and without wheat. Smooth, silky, full-bodied and drinkable" (source).
  • Arvon The Grand, $4.69/16oz - "New England style IPA hops with Citra and Mosaic" (source).
  • Arvon White Shoal, $5.49/16oz - "Arvon Brewing Co.'s Lighthouse Series of New England 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 Hops featured in White Shoal IPA is best experienced when this beer is kept cold and enjoyed fresh - drink now" (source).
  • Big Lake Razz Shandy, $2.79/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Big Lake Z's Pet Dinosaur, $3.99/16oz - "NEIPA with Galaxy and Citra hops" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Citron Saison, $3.79/16oz - "Light, bright and lemon-forward, this straw yellow farmhouse saison is brewed with lemon peel and lemon drop hops" (source).
  • Drie Fonteinen Armand and Gaston, $18.39/375ml, $34.89/750ml - "3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston is a blend of one-, two-, and three-year old traditional lambics, all brewed at Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen. Spontaneous fermentation, patient maturation in oak barrels, and continued evolution in the bottle result in a distinctively complex beer. No two bottlings are alike, as there are multiple variables in the blending process, a variety of barrel sizes and shapes, differences in aged lambic proportions, etc. This cuvée, like all of our lambic, is 100% natural, authentic, spontaneously fermented, and crafted with steadfast adherence to tradition, like Armand and Gaston Debelder have always done it. This geuze has fermented in the bottle and will continue to develop its tastes and aromas over its long life when properly cellared. Traditional Lambic is living, cultural heritage rooted in the Zenne valley! Taste, savour, enjoy, and experience this unfiltered, unpasteurised, and unadulterated beer with friends new and old" (source).
  • Drie Fonteinen Golden Blend, $59.49/750ml - "Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend is the first commercially released geuze with a four-year-old component included in the blend, as well as the standard one-, two-, and three-year-old lambics" (source).
  • Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze, $15.29/375ml, $27.19/750ml - "Blend of 1, 2, and 3 year old lambics. A true Geuze - a blend of 1, 2, and 3 year-old lambic, unfiltered and unpasteurized, and aged in the bottle for at least a year after blending. Refermentation in the bottle gives this Geuze its famous champagne-like spritziness. The lambic that goes into it is brewed only with 60% barley malt, 40% unmalted wheat, aged hops, and water, spontaneously fermented by wild yeasts, and matured in oak casks" (source).
  • Lagunitas Dark Swan, $2.29/12oz - "Observers of yestercentury once denied the existence of the Dark Swan as obstinately as flat-earthers once denied the shape of our spherical home. They insisted the species was confined to a singular snowy hue. But there is a fragile futility to such narrowness of thought. The broader of mind understood that light and dark must forever compliment each other as eternal counterpoints. And just as Aristotle convinced us of our circularity, so adventuring ornithologists eventually contradicted the misconception of the monochrome swan, astonishing the world and casting light upon the Dark. This beer may well do the same" (source).
  • Lord Hobo Angelica, $1.99/12oz - "A New England take on a classic beer style, Angelica offers the refreshing drinkability of a wheat beer combined with fruit juice characteristics and elegant haze" (source).
  • Lord Hobo Boomsauce, $3.79/16oz - "Our flagship IPA features six hop varietals and a blend of spelt, oat and wheat. A late hop addition of Mosaic, Falconer’s Flight and Amarillo delivers a notable citrus and tropical fruit finish" (source).
  • Lord Hobo Glorious, $379/16oz - "This beautifully smooth New England-Style Pale Ale pours a hazy, straw color. A double-dose of sought-after Galaxy hops delivers a silky peach-grape aroma, tropical fruit flavors, and an elegant mouth feel" (source).
  • Lord Hobo Meat and Potatoes, $3.49/16oz - "A hearty seasonal offering, this American Stout features a generous amount of Roasted Barley, Chocolate Malt and Midnight Wheat balanced with Nugget and Centennial hops. Medium-bodied with a silky mouth feel, Meat & Potatoes boasts classic flavors of roasted malts and dark chocolate with hints of dried fruit" (source).
  • Lord Hobo Virtuoso, $4.69/16oz - "A style-defining New England-Style Double IPA that delivers big on juice and haze" (source).
  • Odd Side Bean Flicker Hoof Hearted, $2.19/12oz - "Our Bean Flicker Blonde Ale brewed w/ an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe blend of coffee from Hoof Hearted" (source).
  • Rochester Chocolate Cheesecake Milkshake Stout, $2.69/16oz - "Fans of the 12 Days of Milkshake Stout were especially fond of this one – pours a super dark brown with an off-white foamy head. Chocolate notes are more prominent than those found in the original Milkshake Stout™ mingling with rich, velvety cheesecake. Medium to full-bodied with no booziness. Chocolate Cheesecake is a well balanced beer that pairs nicely alongside a smoked brisket, beef barbecue or vanilla ice cream for a dessert" (source).
  • Saugatuck Blueberry Lemonade Shandy, $1.89/12oz - "You’re craving something light, refreshing and unique. That’s why we created our tasty version of a Radler with an added twist of blueberries. The tart lemonade will help quench your thirst, while the blueberry finishes off this perfectly invigorating beer" (source).
  • Short's Soft Parade Shandy, $1.79/12oz - "Soft Parade Shandy is a blend of Short’s flagship Fruit Ale, Soft Parade, and homemade lemonade. This beer is raspberry in color and smells like fresh berry lemonade. Soft Parade’s signature berry flavor is enhanced by the addition of citrus. Soft Parade Shandy finishes with the faint taste of fruit candy. It is light in body and very refreshing" (source).
  • Stone Enter Night, $2.59/16oz - "In collaboration with Metallica, this beer represents the cataclysmic collision of two uncompromising supernatural forces. It's a crisp and refreshing Pilsner that, much like the band, transcends genres, shatters preconceptions and challenges convention" (source).
  • Stone Espresso Totalitarian, $3.19/12oz - "With a beer as bold and robust as Stone Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout, it’s not easy to build another level of flavor.  That’s why we use hundreds of pounds of espresso beans to give Stone Espresso Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout an added layer of rich complexity. The coffee flavors meld beautifully with the roasty bitterness of the dark malts for an intense complement of flavors, while staying true to the essence of this classic, historical style" (source).
  • Wild Tonic Hoppy Buzz, $4.89/12oz - No commercial description available.
  • Wild Tonic Mango Ginger, $4.89/12oz - No commercial description available.
  • Wild Tonic Raspberry Goji, $4.89/12oz - No commercial description available.

Video of the Week | Enter Night

Stone Enter Night is available now at Siciliano's.
(While supplies last.)


Friday, March 1, 2019

New Beer Friday, Great Equilibrium Edition (March 1)

With Steve in transit back from Florida, we thought this week, rather than trouble him for a preamble, we'd repost something the from the extensive Buzz archives. Our pick: A post from March 29, 2012, in which former Buzz advice columnist Hey Kevin explains the phenomenon of out-of-season seasonal beer releases. Please enjoy.

Bring on the spring/summer beers!
Hey Kevin,

I was in Siciliano's the other day and even though it's March, the spring and even summer beers are out in full force. What gives?

Lem in Cedar Springs

Hey Lem,

You often hear it said that professional brewers and brewery owners march to the beat of their own drum. The out-of-season-seasonal-beer-release is scientific proof that this and similar statements are absolutely true.

We should not attribute the phenomenon solely to the quirkiness of idiosyncratic beer folk, however. What's happening is far more complicated than that, and to pin it all on mere personality traits is shortsighted.

I'll spare you the physics lesson (mostly because I don't know physics), but the appearance of seasonal beers before they're "due" has everything to do with regular (aka seasonal) distortions in the space-time continuum, particularly the way light bends around conical fermenters in the brewhouse. Such bending will often cause brewers and the beer they make to literally catapult back and forth through time, more so in certain "transitional" months of the year. In the simplest terms, the beer we're drinking now doesn't actually exist. It will at some point, but not yet. Follow me?

To date, there is no way for the individual brewer to anticipate or compensate for time travel, neither in his brewing schedule nor his shaving ritual (another reason why professional brewers tend to have such epic beards).

On a grander scale, the relative intensity of time travel is subject to evolving patterns within a 28-year cycle—we've figured that out at least. In other words, the lag between beer and season will grow more and more extreme at a generally predictable rate until summer beers are released in the dead of winter and vice versa. The phenomenon will then reverse itself, wrap back around the calendar and eventually settle for a short time—just a week or two—in a sweet spot, a space where season and beer are paired in perfect harmony.

According to our best calculations, the next projected balance in the seasonal beer release schedule will occur in November 2030, at which time enthusiasts will enjoy harvest and pumpkin beers at their most logical point in years.

Some in the industry have named this event The Great Equilibrium of 2030 and a number of breweries are planning to release special beers to commemorate the occasion. Expect to see them begin to hit shelves in early 2028.

Hope this helps.


New and Returning Beer

  • Alaskan White, $1.79/12oz - "Alaskan White Ale is based on a Belgian-style witbier, literally translated to “white beer.” White beers, or “witbieren,” are named for the suspended wheat proteins creating a cloudy appearance in this unfiltered beer" (source).
  • Arcadia Whitsun, $1.99/12oz - "Brewed in the style of a mid-19th century English Festival Ale, this unfiltered wheat beer displays a translucent orange color topped with a creamy, white head. Wheat enhances the mouthfeel of the beer and produces pleasant bread-like notes while Michigan honey provides a caramelized sweetness in the flavor profile. This beer is spiced with orange peel and coriander and small amounts of three hop varieties pleasantly counterbalances the sweetness" (source).
  • Big Lake Dinosaur Death, $3.99/16oz - "A New England Style IPA with bitter orange peel" (source).
  • Big Lake Midnight Rider, $3.19/16oz - "This is our Black IPA brewed with Columbus, Amarillo, and Simcoe hops. The mix of citrus, pine, lemony hops, and debittered roasted malts help create a beer to not be forgotten" (source).
  • Brewdog Juggernaut, $2.29/12oz - "Imperial IPA" (source).
  • Central State DDH New Money, $4.09/16oz - "Double Dry-Hopped Hazy India Pale Ale — 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 with malted Indiana oats and aggressively double dry-hopped with Mosaic, Hull Melon, and Simcoe hops this beer is anything but old school" (source).
  • Dark Horse Toonila, $2.19/12oz - "Cream stout brewed with coffee from Dark Street Roasting Company and vanilla beans" (source).
  • Decadent Mango Coconut Smoothie, $6.29/16oz - "DIPA brewed with Mango & Coconut" (source).
  • Deschutes Da Shootz, $1.79/12oz - "Clean, lightly toasted, light citrus, bubbly, and refreshing. A simple style with low ABV and low IBU so you can keep on keeping on" (source).
  • Evil Twin 90 Day Dry Aged Stout, $4.09/16oz - "Milk stout brewed with dry-aged malt" (source).
  • Fat Orange Cat/Decadent Baker's Dozen, $6.49/16oz - "Collaboration with Decadent Ales. Cinnamon Chocolate Fudge Imperial Stout brewed with ancho peppers and a hint of vanilla, creating a unique, smooth blended flavor" (source).
  • Foundation Brewing Afterglow, $4.89/16oz - "Afterglow is an American IPA, rich in West Coast and South Pacific hop flavors and aroma. The juicy malt base enhances the notes of tangerine, pine, and berries from the hops. It finishes with a pleasingly dank and firm bitterness" (source).
  • Foundation Brewing Epiphany, $5.19/16oz - "We indulged in our desire to create an IPA that personifies the vivid flavors that can be coaxed from the hop cone, painted on a canvas of soft malt that allows the flavors to shine through. Extensively hopped in the kettle and in the fermentor, we spared nothing in making this beer" (source).
  • Foundation Brewing Venture, $5.19/16oz - "Venture is a Maine IPA created to revel in the breadth of flavors and aromas that can be coaxed from hops. The blend of hops in this beer provide rich flavors of berries, tropical fruit, citrus and pine without lingering bitterness" (source).
  • Golden Road Agua Fresca Mix Pack, $14.39/12pk - "Aguas Frescas are classic Mexican fruit drinks made with fresh fruit and pure water. Enjoy this refreshing, subtly sweet Agua Fresca mix pack with cucumber lime, mango and strawberry pineapple flavors" (source).
  • Golden Road Melon Cart, $1.99/12oz - "Second in a series inspired by the iconic fruit cart vendors of Los Angeles.Tastes like freshly cut Melons and the California sun right in your hand. This light, crisp Wheat Ale is bursting with Watermelon, Honeydew, and Cantaloupe flavors, finishing bright and refreshing" (source).
  • Great Divide Hop Disciples, $2.59/12oz - "Rotating Hop Project takes a bright, clean IPA and puts a different hop variety at the forefront of the sensory experience every year. The 2019 release features Callista, which showcases floral and tropical notes with hints of citrus and pine. Hop Disciples may look tough on the outside, but with its golden blonde hue and approachable ABV, we promise it’s a lover not a fighter" (source).
  • Great Divide Chocolate Cherry Yeti, $11.69/22oz - "CHOCOLATE CHERRY YETI is the newest version in our revered Yeti Series. We’ve tweaked the hop bitterness for this special release and then added sweet and sour cherries and cacao. The roasty malt backbone of Yeti melds perfectly with the cherries and cacao to make this one smooth sipper. A Yeti in a cherry orchard can be a great thing" (source).
  • Great Divide Orabelle, $2.19/12oz - "ORABELLE is brewed with barley, wheat, oats, and rye.  This Belgian-Style Tripel is a golden beauty.  Its two yeast strains, orange peel and dash of coriander impart surprising complexity and richness to this delicate ale. Don’t let Orabelle’s demure nature fool you; this is one flavorful pour.  Watch out, she’s a charmer – one sip and you’ll be in love" (source).
  • Great Lakes Chillwave, $3.49/12oz - "Inspired by the North Coast’s dedicated (and sometimes chilly) surf community, our Double IPA will melt the ice in your beard and never lose its balance" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Belloq, $5.49/16oz - "Smooth caramel & chocolate notes get a massive coffee rogering. Competitively intellectual flavor that makes you feel smarter than you look. Pair with a corduroy blazer and look out world" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Dorks of Hazard, $5.49/16oz - "Double dry-hopped IPA in collaboration with Embassy Boardshop and #dudleyclips" (source).
  • New Belgium Mural, $1.79/12oz - "This agua fresca ale features hibiscus, agave, watermelon and lime for a fresh, vibrant sip. Settling of sediment may occur as Mural is unfiltered in the agua fresca tradition" (source).
  • New Holland Kombucha IPA, $1.99/12oz - "Kombucha IPA blends the bright citrus flavors of an india pale ale with tart kombucha tea and a hint of ginger in perfect harmony" (source).
  • Omnipollo Agamemnon, $5.69/16oz - "Invited to brew in the US I wanted to use local ingredients. Agamemnon is an Imperial Stout brewed with maple syrup. Boiled 7 hours" (source).
  • Omnipollo Pleroma, $4.39/12oz - "Raspberry crème brûlée sour ale brewed with lactose sugar, raspberries and vanilla" (source).
  • Omnipollo Shploing!, $4.59/12oz - "This beer is an IPA brewed with marshmallows, graham crackers, salt and lactose sugar and the beer erupts in at 7%-Abv" (source).
  • Short's Batch 10,000, $2.99/12oz - "Batch 10,000 is a Double Brut IPA with mango and black currant celebrating the 10,000th batch brewed at Short’s. Powerful flavors of mango fruitiness and black currant tartness blend with alcohol notes from the high ABV. A huge amount of hops contributes to a palate coating body that smooths as you enjoy more. The burnt orange color is indicative of the warming finish" (source).
  • Short's ControversiAle, $1.99/12oz - "ControversiALE is an American IPA brewed exclusively with Simcoe hops originally brewed for the City Park Grill in Petoskey, MI. Earthy, citrus and pine laced aromas are instantly delectable. Large amounts of toasted grains and high alpha hops form a perfect union that creates the cool sensation of toasted sourdough covered with zesty grapefruit hop marmalade. ControversiALE has an enchantingly straightforward hop aroma, flavor, and overall intensity through ample additions of Simcoe hops. While this beer is hopped like an IPA, it drinks like a pale ale. The light, refreshing qualities of this beer make it perfect for springtime" (source).
  • Southern Tier Swipe Light, $1.89/12oz - "Swipe Light isn’t like the other basic light beers. This ale provides a complex and refined craft flavor at only 110 calories. With a 4% ABV, it’s a match for those who crave a refreshing, easy drinking experience" (source).
  • Stella Spritzer, $1.79/12oz - "A bubbly and refreshing cider made from crisp apples & hibiscus, it is the perfect complement to your afternoon. Using centuries of French & Belgian tradition, Stella Artois created this naturally gluten-free spritzer specifically for the wine glass. It impeccably pairs with an apple walnut salad, romano cheese, prosciutto and apricot jam" (source).
  • Weyerbacher BA Insanity, $4.89/12oz - "Aging adds a combination of vanilla & oak notes to the intense malt profile" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Sexy Mother Pucker, $2.79/12oz - "Inspired by a classic beverage blending lemonade and iced tea, Sexy MotherPucker is a 7.5% ABV sour ale with bright citrus notes. Amber hued, tangy and dry on the palate, this tart beer nicely balances sour and malt with a late addition of Citra hops to give it a nice citrus kick in both flavor and aroma" (source).

Video of the Week | Alaskan White

Available now at Siciliano's.


Friday, February 22, 2019

New Beer Friday, Sandy Ridge Hops Edition (February 22)

Image courtesy of Sandy Ridge
By Steve Siciliano

If you are looking to establish or expand a hop garden this spring, the folks at Sandy Ridge Farms in Zeeland, Michigan, are once again supplying us with established hop plants. According to the growers at Sandy Ridge, the advantages to purchasing established hop plants versus rhizomes are three-fold:
  1. An established plant eliminates the risk of questionable viability as often found with rhizomes. It is typically recommended to plant more than one rhizome per pot/hole which increases costs.
  2. An established plant with a developed root system and mature top growth will produce larger yields in the first 2 years than a planted rhizome.
  3. Hop plants are susceptible to virus and disease out in the hop yard. A rhizome from an infected plant will produce another infected plant. Plants are obtained from the National Clean Plant Network at Washington State University where they are virus/viroid tested prior to being shipped. Sandy Ridge Farms has a strict protocol in place regarding clean plants and preventative pest-management. A healthy plant produces more hop cones.
We will be taking hop plant pre-orders now through the end of business on Thursday, March 21. Those wishing to place orders may do so via email (, by phone (616-453-9674) or in person here at Siciliano's. When ordering by email please ensure that you indicate the desired quantity of the specified variety. Price per plant is $8.59 and payment will not be due until the time of pickup.

We anticipate that the hops plants will be available for pickup by the end of May. Those placing orders will be personally notified when the shipment arrives. Go here to see a full list of this year’s offerings.

New and Returning Beers

  • Arclight BBA Berrien County Stout, $15.59/22oz - "Maple Variant of BBA Berrien County Stout" (source).
  • Arclight Pineapple Mango, $21.79/750ml - "American wild ale with pineapple and mango" (source).
  • Arclight Swayze Crazy, $13.19/22oz - "Golden Imperial Java Milk Stout. This beer goes against everything you come to know about stouts. But damn it is delicious" (source).
  • Barrel + Beam Grisette, $5.19/375ml - "A light, hop forward belgian ale. Very sessionable and crisp. Subtle melon in the aroma and a clean finish" (source).
  • Barrel + Beam Terre Magique, $8.99/375ml - "Light, tart, dry and fruity" (source).
  • Big Lake Stoner, $3.19/16oz - "A dank, resinous medium bodied IPA. Goes well with the munchies" (source).
  • Boulevard Tequila Barrel Lime Gose, $1.99/12oz - "A traditional German-style sour beer, infused with sea salt, coriander and lime peel, goes on holiday to the home of the blue agave, sunny Mexico. The aroma offers assertive notes of oak, vanilla, caramelized banana, and coconut. A malty sweetness is balanced by tart lime and hints of lively tequila, tapering to a slightly salty finish" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Love Shadow, $7.19/16oz - "Taking up his (or her) mash paddle on brew day, the brewer has his (or her) eye on the future months when flavors all come together. However, there is always a shadow of mischief that comes in the forms of fermentation, wooden barrels, grain terroir or water pH. Still, guiding this magical elixir from start to finish is the brewer's duty. With Love Shadow, we have guided a powerful Belgian inspired Imperial stout through the bourbon barrel aging process and come out the other side with a full bodied behemoth with notes of chocolate, vanilla, and oak char. Drink Up" (source).
  • Ellison Haz'N'Stein, $3.59/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Epic Son of a Baptist, $2.59/12oz - "Son of a Baptist is an 8% ABV imperial stout. It is not barrel aged like its father, Big Bad Baptist; instead its flavor profile was designed to highlight the complex and often unique flavors of small batch coffees. Instead of sourcing a coffee that would play well in a beer we sought out creative and innovative roasters, then asked them which beans they’re passionate about. Each resulting release of Son of a Baptist is widely different depending on the coffee selected. Some are fruity and sweet with notes of jam and chocolate, others are rich and earthy with a big roasted finish. Each limited release will return to the Roaster’s home market where the beer and the coffee can be sampled side by side" (source).
  • Ommegang BA Smoked Vanilla Porter, $8.89/12oz - "falling in love with, our Ommegang Smoked Porter. Sampling the first pilot batches, it was clear that this was a beer that was meant for barrel ageing. Thus, when we brewed Smoked Porter to release in the winter of 2017, we also set some aside in bourbon barrels. Each individual barrel then received additions of several whole Madagascar vanilla beans to impart their rich and creamy flavors into the beer as it aged. Now, six months later, it is ready to drink. Only 100 1/6 bbl kegs of this beer were produced for distribution, making this one of our most limited releases ever" (source).
  • Pigeon Hill MI Irish Stout, $1.99/12oz - "As with any proper dry Irish Stout, this beer was brewed to be drank (and we don't just mean a single pint) - and, at 5% ABV, it isn't merely a sipper. Slight notes of coffee, chocolate, and sweetness are balanced by a clean, dry finish - leading you to want the next pint sooner rather than later" (source).
  • Prairie Bible Belt, $4.89/12oz - "Let’s face it – we love big, flavorful stouts. As luck would have it, our friend Jeppe at Evil Twin Brewing feels the same way. We decided to brew a beer together that took elements from our favorite stouts we each produce to come together as one beer. Bible Belt takes elements we love from Prairie Bomb! and combines them with Evil Twin Brewing’s world famous stout, Even More Jesus. The end result is a smoky, spicy stout that is sure to please the pallet" (source).
  • Stone Moxee Gold, $2.29/12oz - "Behind every great beer are amazing stories of all the people, places and ingredients that culminate in what you have in your hand. The Stone Farm to Can Series is our heartfelt tribute to the dedicated farmers who cultivate the hops that help bring our beers to life. Each beer in this series features hops grown at a single specific farm as our way of paying homage to their harvest. Many of these growers breed and develop their own varieties, like CLS Farms in Moxee, Washington did with El Dorado hops, named for the mythical hidden City of Gold. Moxee lies nestled in Yakima Valley, the very real paradise of hop production in the American Pacific Northwest. Stone Moxee Gold IPA is loaded with Centennial and of course El Dorado hops, all sourced from the fruitful bines of CLS Farms. The valley itself may be mostly green, but its bounty of hops are as good as gold" (source).
  • Upland Champagne Velvet, $1.49/12oz - "Champagne Velvet has a refreshingly light pilsener body with some sweet complexities given off by the corn malt used in this recipe, making this the perfect lager. It’s smooth and light, but still full of flavor, the perfect everyday beer for craft beer drinkers and a step up for domestic drinkers" (source).
  • Wolverine Snakes & Shamrocks, $2.99/16oz - "Now the actual beer we’ve brewed here is based on an Irish Red Ale style which is the predominant style in the style guidelines but it lends itself to much interpretation.  Including reformulating the recipe to be a LAGER.  The recipe is very simple but makes for a very quaffable and flavorful beer because of the way Oliver designed it" (source).

Must Read: A Rising Tide

A Rising Tide: Stories of from the Michigan Brewers Guild
is now available at Siciliano's Market ($20).


Friday, February 15, 2019

New Beer Friday, American Oak Barrel Edition (February 15)

By Steve Siciliano

We have exciting news for our beer and winemaking customers.

We have been able to secure a small quantity of new, unused 5-gallon American oak barrels that we are retailing for $199.00 each. These barrels have a medium char (Level 3) and are approximately 16 inches high and 12 inches wide. Each barrel comes with a silicone bung.

Our source is indicating that this will probably be a one-shot deal. Please note that supplies are limited and barrels will be available on first-come, first-serve basis. We are expecting the barrels to arrive this weekend. Please call for additional details.

New and Returning Beer

  • Siren/Cigar City Collab Barrel Aged Caribbean Chocolate Cake, $10.89/12oz - "First available at Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2016 (Yellow session) at 8.4%. Bourbon Barrel Aged Tropical Stout with Cacao Nibs & Cypress Wood. The barrel aged version has been ageing in a selection of bourbon barrels, picking up delicious vanilla, whiskey and wood character" (source).
  • Siren Barrel Aged Shattered Dream, $8.79/12oz - "Shattered Dream is the imperial version of our favourite breakfast stout - Broken Dream. Even more unctuous than the original, we’ve amped up the flavours to deliver sweet biscuit, dark chocolate and deep roasted coffee notes. This rare release has been aged in a selection of bourbon barrels which accentuates the delicate vanilla and offers distinct whiskey tones with a drying oak finish" (source).
  • Siren Old Fashioned, $7.69/12oz - "We’re big fans of the classic old fashioned a 19th Century cocktail traditionally made by muddling sugar with butters then adding whiskey and a twist of citrus. This is our take with barley wine as the base as the base beer and the classic orange zest to serve. It’s been in barrels for 12 months picking up a well rounded bourbon profile with some vanilla and caramel sweetness" (source).
  • Batch Gentle Jack Jones, $2.79/12oz - "Gentle Jack Jones Brown Ale from Batch Brewing Company in Detroit, Michigan is a 5.8% ABV Brown Ale" (source).
  • Batch Vault of Heaven, $3.69/12oz - "A New England IPA with a vivid, fresh hop aroma & flavor of citrus, pine needles, apricot, mango & grapefruit pith. Hazy, full-bodied and a smooth mouthfeel with a soft, inviting finish that lacks a hop bitter harshness" (source).
  • Bell's Official, $1.99/12oz - "Two of our favorite ingredients come together in the brewhouse; pungent American hops and delicious wheat malt. This Hazy IPA is double dry-hopped (a combination of Mosaic, Citra, Azacca, Amarillo and El Dorado hops) resulting in complex peach, stone fruit and tropical notes with a dry finish and balanced bitterness. A refined beer for those who love hops and for those who prefer wheat beers. Go ahead and make it Official" (source).
  • New Holland Dragon's Milk White, $2.59/12oz - "A full flavored White Stout with strong notes of vanilla, cocoa, coffee roast, and oak from its time in bourbon barrels, drinkers can expect a smooth, velvety mouthfeel that compliments the flavor profile" (source).
  • Revolution Northwest Hero, $2.39/12oz - "A burly Cascadian hulk featuring hops from the Pacific Northwest, this uncompromsing IPA cuts balanced grapefruit and pine bitterness with floral and spice notes" (source).
  • Revolution Spirit of Revolt, $2.99/12oz - "Spirit of Revolt is brewed with specialty malts from woman-lead Weyermann Malting, with an addition of oat malt, giving it a smooth, round body. A unique dry-hop blend of Michigan grown Cascade, Cashmere, and Slovenian Styrian Fox hops add notes of citrus, pineapple, and melon features. Both Revolution’s Tap Room and Brewpub locations are donating 100% of the beer’s sales to Connections for Abused Women and their Children (CAWC) for Spirit of Revolt’s entire duration on tap" (source).
  • Odd Side Diggity Dank Amarillo, $2.39/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Odd Side Ocular Pat-Down, $2.39/12oz - "Vanilla Coffee Porter." (source).
  • Perrin Blonde Porter, $2.09/12oz - "A new take on a classic style creating a light blonde-colored, full flavored beer" (source).
  • Shorts FLOAD, $2.59/12oz - "FLOAD is a Dark American Sour Ale brewed with raspberries. Very dark in color with a red hue and mauve head, this beer smells of fresh fruit, sour raspberries, and a hint of chocolate. Leading with an intense raspberry tartness, FLOAD is complemented with a light chocolate malty backbone. The finish is dry with lingering sourness" (source).

Video of the Week | Inside the Cooperage

In light of the limited supply of barrels we are receiving,
here's a fascinating look at how such barrels are made.


Friday, February 8, 2019

New Beer Friday, Help Wanted Edition (February 8)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It was Confucius who said that when you choose a job you love you will never have to work a day in your life. I have a feeling that the members of Team Siciliano would beg to differ with the great sage on this one.

I can say with certainty that our employees love helping customers with craft beer, fine wine, liquor, homebrew and winemaking supplies, cheese-making supplies, coffee, tea, premium cigars and every other lifestyle enhancing product that we sell here at the store. I also know that there are many times when they are working their tails off.

During an average week the members of our staff price and stock hundreds of cases of beer, wine and liquor. They unload skids of inventory and unpack dozens of boxes. They keep the shelves full, the coolers stocked and the store looking good. That’s a lot of hard work. But they are passionate about selling the things we offer here at the Siciliano's and that is what makes the job so enjoyable.

We are now looking to add a part time person to our sales team who is equally passionate. The successful candidate will be someone who loves craft beer and fine wine. A knowledge of homebrew and winemaking is always a plus.

If you would like to join the sales staff of one of the area’s premier specialty stores and if you wouldn’t mind working hard at a job you can love, I urge you to drop a resume off at the store or contact me at

New and Returning Beer

  • Blackrocks Classic Pils, $1.99/12oz - "With German malt, American hops and Lake Superior water, it’s a crisp and refreshing nod to a European tradition with a distinct American disobedience" (source).
  • Blackrocks Flying Sailor, $2.29/12oz - "This Red Rye IPA combines Falconer’s Flight and Falconer 7C’s hops, along with Malt and Rye to form the perfect storm of flavor, aroma and color" (source).
  • Blakes Great Blakes, $2.09/12oz - "Our take on a cold brew, Great Blakes is steeped with sustainably-sourced coffee grounds from our friends at Great Lakes Coffee, resulting in bold flavor & a smooth finish" (source).
  • Decadent Ales Blueberry Frosted Pastry, $5.99/16oz - "India Pale Ale with blueberry, marshmallow, all spice - reminiscent of a blueberry pop tart" (source).
  • Decadent Ales Pecan Pie IPA, $5.49/16oz - "Session IPA hopped with Mosaic Hops. We then added crushed pecans and burnt sugar reminiscent of pecan pie" (source).
  • Decadent Ales Strawberry Frosted Pastry, $5.99/16oz - "India Pale Ale with Strawberry, marshmallow, all spice - reminiscent of a blueberry pop tart" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Downtown Bourbon Brown, $3.59/16oz - "Brown ale aged in bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Everybody Wants Some, $5.99/16oz - "And he's got me vuelto loco, amigos. Everybody Wants Some!! is a rotating single-hop DIPA. It's the only acceptable response to the call of DLR-era Van Halen + 80's cult classic movies. A giant teddy bear, bigger than you. Sounds great. No, it really does sound good. But look Beth, I gotta go. The Christmas tree is on fire" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Rose Gose, $4.09/16oz - "Rosé Gosé is hot pink in appearance with a tart berry flavor" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Slo Turbo, $6.79/16oz - "Double IPA brewed with New Zealand Hops" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Tickling the Ivories, $5.99/16oz - "A 7.2 percent ABV IPA brewed with a blend of Conan and the yeast formerly known as Brett Trois as well as calypso, comet and eureka hops" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Co-Operation Ale, $16.29/750ml - "This ale is the first collaboration we’ve brewed with our friends and cohorts over at Bastone Brewery. Our brewpubs now share a space together in Royal Oak, Michigan and what better way to solidify the partnership than with a collaboration? We took the recipes for our two greatest hits, Jolly Pumpkin La Roja, and Bastone Brewery Nectar des Deux, then fused the ingredients together making what will forever be known as Co-Operation Ale. Aromas of brown sugar and sweet candy fill the nose. Flavors of molasses, chocolate, and oak blend nicely with the light acidity and slight Jolly Pumpkin funk. Team work makes the dream work" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Lo Fi Mai Tai, $16.29/750ml - "ALE brewed with Almonds, sugar, honey with ORANGE peel, pineapple juice and lime juice added" (source).
  • Old Nation Electron Brown, $4.09/16oz - "In honor of our dear friend, and engineer, Ron Brown, we released this special tribute! Electron Brown is an aggressive, double brown ale finished with fresh ground coffee beans for a huge espresso aroma and flavor" (source).
  • Oskcar Blues Death by Coconut, $3.39/12oz - "Intense pure liquid cacao flavors swirl with popping coconut aromas, all supported by a semi-sweet porter made from loads of our dark chocolate and extra dark caramel malt. This limited release specialty comes around once a year to satisfy that sweet tooth, so get ’em while you can before they disappear. At 6.5% ABV and 25 IBUs, this choconut goodness will have you yellin’ “Pass. Dash. Hit.” all winter long" (source).
  • Perrin Clear Coast, $15.99/12pk - "Continuing to push the boundaries of craft beer, Perrin Brewing launches Clear Coast Fresh Hard Seltzer, the first ever Michigan-made craft hard seltzer. Clear Coast is a low-calorie, refreshing alternative to traditional adult beverages, offering unique flavor profiles crafted with natural flavoring" (source). 
  • Perrin Kingdom of Tonga, $2.49/12oz - "The vanilla beans used in this beer come from... you guessed it: The Kingdom of Tonga. Tonga has over 170 islands and is located in the South Pacific. The taste profile is much different than our former Vanilla Porter. Those beans were sweeter; whereas the profile of these beans consists more of fig and raisin . Chocolate and coffee notes (with a subtle caramel touch) set this beer off while the vanilla beans lead into a delightfully dry finish" (source).
  • Short's Juicy Brut, $2.09/12oz - "Juicy Brut is a sessionable Ale with the best of both hop juiciness and brut dryness. It has a relentless tropical aroma emphasized by the increased carbonation level. This easy-drinking beer has a light body filled with tropical, juicy flavors before finishing dry" (source).
  • Stillwater Password, $5.69/16oz - "NE DIPA" (source).
  • Stillwater Remember Me, $5.69/16oz - "Double India pale ale double dry-hopped with citra and nelson sauvin" (source).

Video of the Week | Blackrocks Brewery

"Dive into craft beer."


Saturday, February 2, 2019

New Beer Saturday, Polar Vortex Edition (February 2)

"Hey Steve, you bring any KBS to Florida with you?"
(Photo courtesy US Fish & Wildlife.)
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

“How’s it going down there?” Siciliano’s GM Sarah Derylo asked during a phone conversation a few weeks ago.

“Fine,” I replied. “Big thunderstorm rolling through. Our power is out.”

“Getting a little excitement, huh?”

“Yeah, like I need more excitement.”

“What do you mean?” Sarah asked.

“Barb got into a bar fight last night,” I told her. “She actually held her own. I was quite proud of her.”

I was fibbing of course. While Barb and I have had a drink or two in one or two Fort Meyers Beach bars over the last four weeks, the chances of my wife getting into a bar fight are about as remote as me being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a New Beer Friday preamble.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that Barb and I are spending an inordinate amount of time hanging out in southwest Florida watering holes. We’ve been doing a ton of walking, sometimes as much as fifteen thousand steps a day, and we’ve taken trips to the Naples Zoo, some nature preserves and a park where you can rent kayaks and have up close encounters with manatees. One of those big, placid “sea cows” swam right underneath our kayak. Pretty cool!

Barb and I have also been closely monitoring the weather back home and our hearts go out to our friends, relatives and customers who have dealt with the drifting snow, hazardous roads and sub-zero temperatures this past week. Thankfully it appears that things are finally improving.

Stay warm and stay safe everyone!

New and Returning Beer

  • Central State Lazer Raptor, $4.09/16oz - "Once thought to be extinct, Lazer Raptor is a gose style beer brewed with cranberries, limes, sea salt, and fermented with our unique yeast blend" (source).
  • Central State Polyjuice Potion, $2.99/12oz - "Brewed with our friends from Emporium Chicago, this collaborative ale is for wizards & muggles who solemnly swear they are up to no good. A sour brew concocted with plums, elderberries, and magical bits and bobbles" (source).
  • Left Hand Hard Wired Nitro, $2.39/16oz - "Innately predisposed to be smooth when Poured Hard, this nitro coffee porter builds a pillowy, toffee-sweet head. Coffee and flavors of caramelized sugar, cacao and hints of blueberry lead to a light, smoky finish" (source).
  • Odd Side Jared's Mom, $2.39/12oz - "Love Belgian IPAs? So does Jarod’s Mom. Nelson Sauvin hops are the highlight in this IPA" (source).
  • Odd Side Mosaic Dank, $2.39/12oz - "100% Mosaic hopped version of our New England IPA. Aromas of tangerine, grapefruit, and berries give way to a smooth, hazy beer with citrus flavors with a hint of pine" (source).
  • Oskar Blues Can-O-Bliss, $1.79/12oz - "A hopped up, tropical-fruit-packed island experience. A rogue wave of kiwi, papaya, pineapple, mango and citrus flavor crashes into a jungle of Mosaic, Azacca, Galaxy, Eldorado, and Idaho 7 hops to create a tropical paradise" (source).
  • Oskar Blues Guns ‘n’ Rosé, $1.79/12oz - "A 6% ABV ale brewed with hibiscus and prickly pear" (source).
  • Perrin Fiesta, $12.69/22oz - "Take a swing at this barrel aged coffee cake stout. A full-body, robust stout with a balance of malts and spices. Each sip filled with hints of cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee" (source).
  • Prairie Okie, $12.69/12oz - "Okie is an imperial brown ale aged in whiskey barrels. Notes of toffee and brown sugar are infused with sweet notes of bourbon, vanilla, oak, and molasses" (source).
  • Sam Adams Cold Snap, $1.79/12oz - "The crisp character of this lively unfiltered White Ale gets a kick from a bright blend of spring spices. Orange peel and plum add subtle sweetness, while coriander contributes a peppery bite, creating a refreshing flavor that signals spring is on its way" (source).
  • Saugatuck Bourbon Barrel Blueberry Maple, $5.39/12oz - "We took our Blueberry Maple Stout and kicked it up a few notches for this release by amping up the ABV to 9.5% and aging it in bourbon barrels for 10 months. This aging process perfectly adds in a hint of vanilla and bourbony good-ness to this already unique and incredible brew" (source).
  • Short's Woodmaster, $2.59/12oz - "Woodmaster is a high gravity, American Brown Ale fermented with Northern Michigan maple syrup and toasted pecans. This dark brown, full bodied ale is rich with sweet malt and syrup flavors. These flavors are complemented by the presence of hop aromas and a faint nuttiness" (source).
  • Stone Grapefruit Slam, $3.19/12oz - "We’ve made a hell of a lot of beers since 1996. Probably thousands at this point. Some stick around for decades, somefor a few years and some are brief visits, gracing us with their hoppy presence fora short time before becoming fond memories. Occasionally stars, planets and brewing schedules align and we bring back one of these ephemeral creations. In fallof 2014 we created a draft-only version of this delicious double India pale ale. Its bitter, zesty grapefruit peel infusion created a bright accent to flavors of pine resin and fresh citrus well in advance of the explosionof fruited beers we’re all reveling in atthe moment. We never stopped thinking about it, so a long five years later, we’re bringing back Stone Grapefruit Slam IPA for round two. It’s a link to the past planted delightfully in the present" (source).

Video of the Week | Stone Brewing 2019

Find a wide selection of Stone beers at Siciliano's.


Friday, January 25, 2019

New Beer Friday, Homebrew Competition Edition (Jan 25)

By Steve Siciliano

From its humble beginnings sixteen years ago, the Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition has developed into one of Michigan’s most respected competitive homebrewing events.

We are pleased to announce that once again, this year’s Best of Show (BOS) brewer will have the opportunity to brew his or her winning recipe at a local brewery. The BOS winner will also receive a $500.00 gift card to Siciliano’s Market and, per tradition, will have his or her name engraved on the prestigious Siciliano’s Cup. See below for contest rules and regulations for the Sixteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition. Good luck, everyone!

    • Every homebrewer is allowed one (1) beer entry. All entries must be brewed by the registrant on a homebrewing system. Please do not submit entries under the names of significant others, insignificant others, siblings, offspring, distant relatives, estranged roommates, pets, fictional characters, imaginary friends or anyone else. 
    • Beers are submitted according to the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines. Ciders and meads are excluded from this competition. If you are unsure of which is the correct style for your beer, contact us and we will help. 
    • Entries require two (2) plain, unlabeled/unmarked 12-ounce amber bottles. Please no clear bottles or bottles of any other size. 
    • We are again using Reggiebeer as our competition website. Go here to enter your beer and print bottle labels. 
    • The entry fee is $7.00. 
    • The total number of contest entries will be capped at 200. Do not delay in submitting your entry. Once the cap is reached no additional entries will be accepted. 
    • Online registration for entries will be accepted from Monday, March 18 through Sunday, April 14 or until 200 entries are submitted, whichever occurs first. 
    • Entries must be received by Sunday, April 14. Entries will not be accepted after that date. If mailing an entry, please include paperwork and submission fee. Ship in a well-packed box to: Siciliano’s Market // 2840 Lake Michigan Dr. NW // Grand Rapids, MI 49504
All entries in the Siciliano’s Homebrew Competitions are judged by industry professionals and/or trained judges according to the standards of style, not in comparison to each another, with the exception of Best of Show. Entries that receive scores falling within designated point totals will be awarded bronze, silver or gold medals. A reminder too that we are looking for judges and stewards to help us evaluate all that homebrew. Judging will be held on Saturday, April 27 at 17 Seward Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Registration for judges and stewards is now open. Please visit this page for sign-up information.

New and Returning Beer

  • 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).
  • Batch Centennial Pilsner, 2.79/12oz - "A German style pilsner brewed with whole Michigan-grown Centennial hops and Weyermann malt. Light straw colored, clear with a bright white foam. Aromas of fresh herbs, grapefruit and freshly kilned pilsen malt. Dry, crisp and lightly bitter" (source).
  • Atwater Bavarian Cream VJP, 1.99/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Brewery Vivant Space Queen Immortal, 5.79/16oz - "Sour Golden Ale aged in oak barrels for one year. Double dry-hopped with with Citra and Amarillo" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Nordhouse IPA, 3.79/16oz - "Juniper IPA" (source).
  • Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree, 4.69/12oz - "We actually took the Crooked Tree recipe and doubled all of the ingredients except the water, just the way a DOUBLE should be made. Big hops balanced with tons of malt give this beer a huge body. Enjoy right away or let it mellow and smooth with some age" (source).
  • Mitten Doc's No-No, 3.29/12oz - "Our house Double IPA showcases honey malt and a single hop varietal. This batch features Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Cheboygan Cherry Chocolate, 2.99/16oz - "A cordial stout rich in malts, dark chocolate and cherries. Reminiscent of its namesake this ale is the perfect blend of decadent chocolate and tart cherry" (source).
  • Perrin Soops Joos, 4.29/16oz - "Soops Joos is our first double dry hopped New England IPA. Blending an array of exotic hops, this NEIPA finishes super juicy" (source).
  • Petoskey Robusta Nut, 2.79/16oz - "Robust porter, brewed with shredded coconut amd cocoa nibs, meshing nicely with the rich coffee undertones" (source).
  • Pura Still Spiked Water, 1.79/12oz - "The first spiked water that doesn’t need bubbles to keep things interesting. Made with a splash of coconut water and a hint of fruit flavor" (source). Available flavors: Mandarin Orange, Blackberry and Mango.
  • Dogfish Head The Perfect Disguise, 2.79/12oz - "On the surface, The Perfect Disguise looks like a straightforward Kölsch with a crisp Kölsch yeast and traditional German malts and hops … but things aren’t always what they seem. With a quick sniff and a slight sip, you’re greeted by a creamy mouthfeel and full body thanks to the addition of a unique German chit malt - the first hint that this beer may be somewhat different. Hiding deeper behind that German disguise is the double dry-hopping of an American Double IPA, with nearly 4 lbs. of German and American hops per barrel. It brings tropical flavors of citrus, tangerine, mango, gooseberries and peach" (source).
  • Incline Cider, 2.79/12oz - "Utilizing only 100% fresh pressed apples as the base for ciders that stand in a category of their own." Flavors available: Scout Hopped Marionberry Cider, Explorer Hopped Cider, Compass Rosé Hibiscus Cider (source).
  • New Planet Seclusion, 2.39/12oz - "An India Pale Ale brewed with light malts and dry hopped to create a hop forward citrus note. This four-times hopped IPA is robust and aromatic with just the right amount of bitterness" (source).
  • New Planet Tread Lightly, 2.19/12oz - "A well balanced and easy drinking ale with subtle citrus hop character and a crisp, clean finish. As refreshing as a summer ale but made to enjoy all year" (source).
  • Ommegang Saison Rosé, 5.89/12oz - "We’re pleased to announce Saison Rosé, a new limited edition blend that will make you want to “rosé all day.” This blend of saisons, one aged in oak, the other brewed with hibiscus flowers and co-fermented with chardonnay grape juice, is fruity, tart, dry, and incredibly quaffable" (source).

Image of the Week | Best of Show

Homebrewer Phil Pierce celebrates winning Best of Show
at the 15th Annual Siciliano's Homebrew Competition.


Friday, January 18, 2019

New Beer Friday, The Beauty of Beards Edition (January 18)

With Steve out of town, we're taking the opportunity this week to repost one of our favorite Buzz pieces — an explanation from now-retired advice columnist (Hey Kevin) regarding the evolutionary reasons so many professional brewers wear beards. Enjoy!

Darwin's Beard
Q: Hey Kevin, Like many obsessed homebrewers, I aspire to become a professional brewer one day. Just one thing worries me: my beard sucks. It’s patchy at best and sorry in general. It seems like a lot of pro brewers wear beards. What are my chances of succeeding in the beer world if I can’t grow a sweet face-coat?

—Chuck in Bay City

A: It depends, Chuck. How are you at adapting? Conventional thinking has it that brewers grow beards in order to identify each other in large groups of people. Recently scientists have uncovered evidence suggesting something else is at work. Evolution.

Have you ever seen a bloodhound close up? If not, Google it. The distinctive wrinkly face and folds of skin have a very important job to do — they trap scent from the environment and direct it toward the bloodhound’s greatest tool. Its nose.

Though the professional brewer is tracking neither rabbits nor convicts on the run, his face full of whiskers functions in much the same way, trapping scent in the thousands of empty pockets created by the confluence of individual beard hairs. It’s these pockets wherein aromas and even flavors are stored for future reference.

When a brewer scratches his beard, it’s not because his face itches. It’s because he’s working on a new IPA recipe. Said scratching prompts the release of microscopic chemical compounds which are directed toward the brewer’s nostrils and up into his brain where they are combined to recreate, or rather pre-create the beer that will eventually find its way into your pint glass.

Research has shown that different flavor and aroma compounds are stored in different subsections of the beard. For example, notes of caramel sweetness are found in the left sideburn while the distinctive grapefruit quality of certain hops is common to the extreme right quadrant of the mustache. Interestingly, the entire “goatee zone” appears to be a scent-neutral locale, storing different compounds at different times, depending on the season. 

It’s important to note that there are successful brewers who do not have any facial hair at all, particularly women but also many men in the industry. Researchers believe (and I agree) that these brewers have necessarily experienced positive biological mutations elsewhere. Studies show, for instance, that members of the beardless population typically score better in the Barron-Shaw Taste-Memory test. Armed with the pronounced ability to remember taste, it would seem the beardless have little reason to store a database of flavor on or near their faces. 

So, the question is ultimately one for you, Chuck. If you can’t grow a beard, in what way can you evolve? 

Hope this helps. 


New and Returning Beer

  • Abita Mardi Gras, $1.89/12oz - "Mardi Gras Bock is the first of our seasonal brews. Abita Mardi Gras Bock is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops. Our bock is similar to German maibocks with its rich malt flavor and full body. A perfect choice during Carnival season in New Orleans. Gruyére, Emmental and Swiss are nice cheese choices with Bock. Great with roasted beef or pork. Try it with Mexican food, too" (source).
  • Atwater Voodoo Vator, $3.19/12oz - "VooDoo Vator Dopplebock tempers the sweetness of caramel malt with the crisp, more nutty flavor of Munich malt. Despite the depth of color, burnt flavors are not present. Traditional extended lagering makes the VooDoo Vator deceptively smooth though high in alcohol. Be warned" (source).
  • Bell's Flamingo Fruit Fight, $2.19/16oz - "The name “Larry’s Latest” is a nod to the spirit of innovation and experimentation that Larry started in 1985 and continues within the brewery to this day. Our latest Tart Fruit Ale is brewed with passionfruit and lime zest, resulting in a tart blend of tropical, citrus flavors and aromas" (source).
  • Bell's Hopslam Mini Keg, $37.99/5L - "Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell's Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell's repertoire" (source).
  • Boulevard Bou Lou, $4.69/16oz - "Drawing inspiration from the ingredients and flavors that Tech melded in his original cocktail invention, Bou Lou starts with a wheat beer base that’s enhanced by additions of juicy pineapple and tropical coconut. At 5.5% ABV and bursting with fruit flavor, these 16oz cans are ready to be enjoyed at a show, a party, or wherever you need a refreshing beer that reps KC to the fullest" (source).
  • Boulevard Chocolate Ale, $4.69/12oz - "Smooth layers of dark chocolate intertwine with threads of caramel, vanilla, and nutty malt as the flavor warms and rounds to a bittersweet finish" (source).
  • Detroit Garage Project Test Drive PJDIPA, $4.49/16oz - "Pineapple Jalapeño DRIPA collaboration with Wolf Moon Mixers" (source).
  • Lagunitas Daytime, $1.89/12oz - "The beer in this can has achieved what we all hope for ourselves; to be made new again. There is freedom in burning down the house of expectations and it confers an undeniable lightness to being. We didn't invent these truths; they invented us" (source).
  • Revolution A Little Crazy, $2.09/12oz - "A Pilsner malt base provides a nice toasty flavor with hints of caramel and enough fermentable sugar to make this a rather substantial beer. The Belgian-Style Pale Ale is brewed with Magnum, Cascade and Citra hops in the brewhouse and then dryhopped with a blend of Citra and Cascade. This drives home the aromas of fresh citrus rind to make this a very drinkable and extremely aromatic beer" (source).
  • Roak Blow Your Face Out, $3.59/12oz - "A double IPA loaded with Mosaic and Chinook hops" (source).
  • Shorts Not Unofficial, $2.19/12oz - "Not Unofficial is a dry-hopped India Pale Ale brewed with mango and guava in collaboration with Lagunitas Brewing Company. Golden in color and slightly hazy, this beer has huge aromas of juicy tropical fruit. Medium bodied this beer leads with flavors of mango and guava before finishing with dank hoppiness" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, $2.49/12oz - "Bigfoot is a beast of a beer, brimming with bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops. First introduced in the winter of 1983, Bigfoot is a cult-classic beer brewed in the barleywine style, meaning a strong, robust, bruiser of a beer with the refined intensity of a wine. Bigfoot is prized by beer collectors for its supreme cellarability. Under the proper conditions, it can age like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle. Each new release or “expedition” is vintage dated. Collect your own and see the flavors develop and progress" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Resilience, $1.79/12oz - "When the Camp Fire started in the hills above our Chico brewery on November 8, 2018, it soon became the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. The fire burned more than 153,000 acres, killed at least 85 people, and destroyed more than 13,000 homes. Many of our employees and community members were severely impacted by this tragic event. In the days following the fire, we announced plans to brew Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, a fundraiser beer for Camp Fire relief. We committed to brewing the beer and donating 100% of the sales to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund, aimed at long-term community rebuilding support. And we asked every brewery in the country to do it with us. We sent out the “bat signal” calling our friends in the industry, asking our suppliers to donate ingredients, asking other breweries (our competitors) to donate their time and labor costs, and asking our wholesalers and retailers to carry the beer for free. It was a big ask, and we never could have anticipated the response. More than 1,400 breweries signed up to brew Resilience. Our suppliers donated ingredients to every brewery nationwide. Wholesalers and retailers agreed to carry the beer and donate every dollar they received. All of them agreed to do this for free to benefit people they had never met. In all, Resilience Butte County Proud IPA should hit the market in mid-late December more than 17,000 barrels—or 4.2 million pints—strong. Every dollar Sierra Nevada receives will go to those impacted by the Camp Fire. Thank you to the brewing community. Thank you to our suppliers. Thank you to our wholesalers and retailers. And thank you to every single customer who is helping us rebuild our Butte County community—one pint at a time" (source).
  • Ska Euphoria, $2.09/12oz - "This seasonal beer is brewed in the DIY spirit along with our friends from Venture Snowboards. We brew Euphoria with them, and they make a Euphoria snowboard with us. We call it a Ska/Venture venture. Both make winter better, and both are hand-crafted in the mighty San Juans" (source).
  • Ska Modus Hoperandi, $2.19/12oz - "Strong citrus aromas followed by pine rise from the glass. As it moves across your tongue... bitterness... following close behind is a melding of citrus and pine with light caramel sweetness" (source).
  • Ska Modus Mandarina, $2.19/12oz - "A unique twist on Modus Hoperandi, this citrus IPA is dry-hopped with a generous portion of Mandarina Bavaria hops and brewed with sweet orange peels" (source).
  • Ska Moral Panic, $2.19/12oz - "A wealth of Galaxy and Citra hops added post-boil give this Brut IPA low actual bitterness and big tropical flavor. Fruity and citrus notes abound in this smooth and refreshing, Champagne-like brew. Moral Panic Brut IPA is well carbonated and spritz; drinks easy and finished dry" (source).
  • Ska Pinstripe Red, $2.09/12oz - "The balance of this beer is what has made it our flagship. The hops simply meld with the caramel malts into a nice sessionable ale. This beer is brilliantly clear and is a beautiful copper penny color" (source).
  • Ska Rue B Soho, $2.09/12oz - "If where you want to go is beer heaven. At first, your nose is treated to the aroma of bright and crisp citrus. Then your tongue is tickled by the carbonation that delivers flavors of tart and light grapefruit juice. Lightly acidulated, Rue B. Soho is a refreshing lager brewed with Cascade hops and grapefruit" (source).
  • Ska Sour Apple Gose, $2.19/12oz - "Tastes like you’re sipping on a crisp apple juice with a bright tartness that’s refreshing, not drying" (source).

Video of the Week | A Rising Tide

Stories from the Michigan's Brewers Guild.


Friday, January 11, 2019

New Beer Friday, Michigan Beer Champion Edition (1/11)

Last night the Michigan Brewers Guild presented Steve Siciliano with The Michigan Beer Champion Award at the Guild’s annual winter conference in Kalamazoo. According to Scott Graham, the executive director of The Michigan Brewers Guild, this award is given to a person who continually strives to promote or protect the craft beer industry in Michigan. Steve was unable to attend the event so Siciliano’s general manager Sarah Derylo read his prepared remarks and accepted the award on his behalf.

Sarah accepts the Michigan Beer
Champion Award from Isaac Hartman
on behalf of Steve Siciliano
Remarks by Steve Siciliano

When Scott Graham notified me that I was to be honored with the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Michigan Beer Champion Award at this year’s Winter Conference, I immediately asked him if there were any other nominees.

Scott chuckled and assured me that there were.

Needless to say, I am humbled and extremely appreciative to be the second recipient of this award. At the same time, I am well aware that there are many other folks in the craft beer industry who are just as deserving of this high honor.

For those of you who are not familiar with the story of Siciliano’s, I’d like to share a brief history of the market. After a five-year stint as a 7-11 franchisee followed by eight years owning a small convenience store in the Creston Heights area of Grand Rapids, I was ready for a new challenge and in the early 90s began looking for a location where I would be able to focus on selling fine wine.

The party store that I bought on Lake Michigan Drive on the West Side of Grand Rapids seemed an ideal location, the only problem being the store was on the verge of going out of business. After remodeling and restocking I began waiting for what I expected to be hordes of customers.

Five years later I was still waiting.

Recognizing that I had to do something to bring people through the door, I made the decision to bring in some hand-crafted beer from a few relatively obscure local Michigan breweries. I distinctly remember the day that I received my first case of Bell’s Amber. After working out the retail I couldn’t imagine that anyone would pay such a high price for a six pack. I decided to price and sell the bottles as singles. It’s a practice that we continue to this day.

The response to craft beer was positive. It’s not an exaggeration to say that craft beer saved Siciliano’s.

There’re two other instances from those early days that I distinctly remember.

The first was when a customer suggested that I begin carrying brewing supplies. I took the suggestion and filled three feet of shelf space with products I knew nothing about. The rest, as they say, is history, and today Siciliano’s has about a thousand square feet of beer- and winemaking supplies.

That customer was Tom Buchanan and whenever I see Tom, he never fails to remind me about that day. I am proud of the fact that a number of professional brewers in this room purchased their first brewing supplies from our store. I’m also proud of the fact that Siciliano’s has become somewhat of a farm team for local breweries and that a number of our former employees work in the industry.

The other instance I would like to share involves the time a sales rep from a local macro beer distributor told me that craft beer was a passing fad and that I couldn’t do what I was trying to do on the West Side of Grand Rapids. I’m happy to say he was totally and emphatically mistaken on both counts.

Before closing I want to say a few words about the good woman who has been standing not behind, but rather shoulder to shoulder, with this very lucky man. Many of you have gotten to know my wife Barb over the years and know how hard she has worked behind the scenes. Barb has been with me every step of the way and she shares in this high honor.

Finally, I would like to recognize our current and past employees. Siciliano’s wouldn’t be the store it is today without their efforts. As some of you may know, for the past year or so I’ve been easing into semi-retirement and now Barb and I are relying on them even more.

In view of this, it is perhaps appropriate that one of those employees, our very capable General Manager Sarah Derylo, is accepting this award on my behalf.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Brewing Faricy's Dry Stout, $2.19/12oz - "To create our World Beer Cup Bronze Medal winning Irish-Style Dry Stout, we blend black malts with roasted and flaked barley to give it a full body, notes of roasted coffee and dark chocolate, and smooth dry finish" (source).
  • Arcadia Salted Caramel Morning Nightcap, $2.19/12oz - "Coffee Porter brewed with BIGGBY Coffee, now with the flavor of salted caramel" (source).
  • Bell's Hopslam, $3.19/12oz - "Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell's Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell's repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style" (source).
  • Decadent Winter Spice French Toast, $5.49/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Dogfish Head Raison D'extra, $10.69/12oz - "Our Raison D'Etre, with a little extra. This immodest brew, made with an obscene amount of malt, brown sugar and raisins, takes Belgian-style browns to new heights" (source).
  • Elk Brewing Hefe Bridges, $1.99/12oz - "Unfiltered Hefeweizen" (source).
  • Evil Twin Learn What is to be Taken Seriously, $5.49/16oz - "Erase & Rewind #28" (source).
  • Evil Twin/Prairie Bible Belt, $8.99/16oz - "Let’s face it – we love big, flavorful stouts. As luck would have it, our friend Jeppe at Evil Twin Brewing feels the same way. We decided to brew a beer together that took elements from our favorite stouts we each produce to come together as one beer. Bible Belt takes elements we love from Prairie Bomb! and combines them with Evil Twin Brewing’s world famous stout, Even More Jesus. The end result is a smoky, spicy stout that is sure to please the pallet" (source).
  • Fat Orange Cat Write Drunk Edit Sober, $5.69/16oz - "Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado hops" (source).
  • Founders Blushing Monk, $4.59/12oz - "When our love of fruit and our love of beer come together, Blushing Monk happens. Brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberries for tart yet luscious raspberry-jam character and fermented with Belgian yeast for subtle fruit and spice esters. Think of Blushing Monk as Rubaeus’ older sibling – more intense, slightly larger and just a little bit more mature" (source).
  • Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale, $1.89/12oz - "A malty beer with a notable toasty flavor derived from lightly roasted malt. Slight fruit and hop accents add to the overall complexity" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Thanks for Letting us Play, $5.99/16oz - American Pale Ale.
  • Lagunitas Monzango, $2.29/12oz - "The flesh is weak, but the spirit is willing. So, what's at the heart of it? Is it the patient and diligent servant or the committed messenger, through their many routes and vessels? The salient soldier, slinging suds on the front lines daily, or the very brewers themselves? The answer is... we can't tell you here. From seed to sprout to fruit, and back to seed, we're all tangled on the same vine. And while fruit is momentary, the roots hold on for another season. It's all just a matter of perspective" (source).
  • Odd Side Hop Milk, $2.79/12oz - "Milkshake IPA. India Pale Ale with lactose and vanilla added" (source).
  • Ommegamg Brut IPA, $3.79/12oz - "With Brut IPA, we’ve created a distinctively Ommegang expression of this hop-driven style, using high attenuation and bottle conditioning to achieve a bright, dry, champagne-like character" (source).
  • Omnipollo Fatamorgana, $4.99/16oz - "Drawing inspiration from the fidelity of a saison — rustic, alluringly cloudy and crisp — this imperial IPA was brewed using oats and wheat. Dry-hopped twice and completely untouched post fermentation to preserve aroma and flavor" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Milkshake IPA, $2.69/16oz - "A tropical smoothie hop sensation. This IPA combines the citrusy and tropical hop flavors of Citra & Mosaic hops with ripe mangos, subtly sweet lactose and a hint of vanilla" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Brut IPA, $1.79/12oz - "This is our Brut IPA, a new take on IPA brewed for a bone dry champagne-style finish. Late hop additions give the beer balanced bitterness and a bright pop of citrus flavor. It’s as intriguing as it is drinkable" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Sierraveza, $1.79/12oz - "pired by the classic cervezas served ice cold by the beach, we created our own take on those light and easy beers born south of the border. Sierraveza is golden and crisp, with a balanced malt flavor and a hit of floral hops that will have you calling out for another round" (source).
  • Victory Storm King, $2.79/12oz - "A thundering hop presence collides with massive espresso and dark chocolate flavors in our dense and full-bodied imperial" (source).

Video of the Week | Hopslam

Available now at Siciliano's Market.