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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.