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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.


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