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Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Beer Friday, New Year's Eve Edition (Dec 31)

Luke & Kelly Finchem,
Owners of Dutch Girl Brewing
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Last Sunday my wife Barb and I had nothing pressing to do around the house, nothing critical to do around Siciliano's and had no more holiday parties to attend so we took advantage of the free time and the snow free roads to visit two of West Michigan’s newest breweries. The first stop on our afternoon excursion to the lakeshore was Dutch Girl Brewery in Spring Lake.

Dutch Girl opened last July in a building directly across from Vander Mill Cider and owners Luke and Kelly Finchem did a fine job of transforming the front section of the former Midwest Motorsports location into a comfortable pub. After sampling a few of head brewer Josh Lentz’s brews we were given a tour of the spacious brew room. Luke informed us that he and Kelly plan on opening a restaurant in the pub in the near future and they hope to be canning a few of their beers by next spring.

Nachos from Righteous Cuisine
Our next stop was Grand Amory Brewing in downtown Grand Haven. Located in the old armory building two blocks away from Odd Side Ales, Grand Armory also opened last July and shares space in the historic location with a restaurant called Righteous Cuisine (order at the window and food will be delivered to your table), a coffee shop and an art center. Owners and brewers Ben Tabor and Ryan Andrews are producing their lineup of solid beers at an offsite production facility.

Grand Armory Brewing

New and Returning Beer

  • Brewery Vivant Barrel Weiss, $10.69/500ml (1 per) - "This Barrel-Aged Sour is our loose interpretation of a Berliner Weiss, but brewed with a nod to both our inspiration in Belgium and our home in West Michigan" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Wild Hop IPA Neomexicanus, $5.69/24oz - "A few years back, we caught wind of rogue hop heads in the Southwest who began collecting some of the wild hops they found while scrambling down hillsides near their home in New Mexico. These bizarre, multi-headed, native U.S. cones have a flavor like nothing we’ve tasted, and for the first time, we’re showcasing their unusual melon, apricot and citrus aromas and flavors in our beer. Neomexicanus is the literal wild card in our five-bottle Harvest series which features single hop, fresh hop, wet hop, and wild hop beers" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhat, $18.99/750ml (1 per)  - "Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come" (source).
  • Atwater Blueberry Cobbler, $2.99/12oz - Ale brewed with blueberries.
  • Odd Side Aint No Sunshine When Saison, $1.99/12oz - "Sarah’s Saison" (source).
  • Odd Side Joker of Tarts, $9.69/500ml (1 per) - "Sour Blueberry ale" (source).
  • Ballast Point Grunion, $2.59/12oz - "Our Grunion Pale Ale wasn’t born on a beach, but in a backyard.  Originating from an employee-only home brew contest, this award-winning hoppy pale ale is named after the tiny local fish known for late night frolics on shore.  A pair of new hop varieties lend strong yet balanced summer melon aromas and herbal flavors, while a soft caramel malt sweetness holds it all together" (source).
  • Ballast Point Sea Monster, $8.99/22oz - "Our Sea Monster Imperial Stout explores the darkest reaches of the traditional oatmeal stout. This bold, rich brew first lures you in with roasted coffee notes, then grabs hold with hints of bittersweet chocolate and currant. Backed with a perfect hop balance, you’ll soon discover this is one monster of mythic proportions" (source).
  • Avery Raja, $2.99/12oz - "Brazenly bitter. Dashingly dry-hopped. Raja is an audacious addition to our lengthy lineage of intrepid IPAs" (source).
  • Evil Twin Hipster Ale, $2.99/12oz - "Perhaps you heard of a worldwide beer-movement that tributes favorite hipster neighbourhoods across the globe. If you feel excluded because you’re hip but your city is not, this cutting-edge, ‘hip without border’ pale ale is an homage to you - the global hipster" (source).
  • Evil Twin Mission Gose, $14.99/750ml - "Effortlessly cool, popping up up in a cultish fashion and constantly on a tasty mission. This is mission Gose: our take on a old-fashioned and slightly odd German style beer that is with good reason trending as the tastiest right now. It’s tart, salty, low in alcohol and probably the most refreshing beer you’ll have. Perhaps enjoy this beer in a restaurant with a mission near you. Wherever you are we made it stylishly good and exclusively well balanced just for you" (source).
  • Evil Twin MSHIIPAW Lager, $16.59/22oz - "Mosaic Single Hop Imperial India Pale American Wheat Lager " (source).

Video of the Week | Pure Michigan

Ring in the New Year with by raising your glass to Michigan craft beer.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

New Beer Friday, Christmas Eve Edition (Dec 24)

Please note that Siciliano's will be open today, December 24, until 4 p.m. We are closed Christmas Day with regular hours resuming for the rest of the weekend. Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus, everyone!

Now that's a beer belly.
Preamble* by Steve Siciliano

As soon as I unlocked the door a cherry-red Subaru pulled into the parking lot. An old man with a long white beard got out, hitched his pants up over his considerable midsection, crossed his arms behind his head and had a good stretch. Before walking into the store he replaced his wire-rimmed spectacles with dark glasses and put a red-plaid Stormy Kromer on his head.

“What can I help you with,” I asked.

“Am I the only one here?” he whispered looking around.

“Yes,” I said. “I just opened.”

“Good,” he whispered. “I’m looking for Michigan beer.”

“Well you’ve come to the right place.”

“That’s what I hear,” he whispered and pulled his hat further down on his forehead.

“You don’t have to whisper,” I told him.

“Of course not,” he said. “Can you show me where your Michigan section is? I’m afraid I’m in a bit of a hurry and I’ve got a long drive ahead of me.”

“Where are you from?” I asked him.

“North,” he said.

“Up north?” I asked.

“Way north.”

“The U.P.?”



“Farther yet,” he said.

“Farther than Canada? And you came all this way just to get Michigan beer?’

The old man looked at the five case stack of Breakfast Stout that was sitting in front of the sales counter and smiled.

“Yes I did,” he said. “Merry Christmas to me.”

*Originally published December 12, 2014.

New and Returning Beer

  • Short's Twist of Cain, $1.99/12oz - "Twist of Cain is a pitch black lager with notable aromas of roast, molasses and hints of sweet chocolate.  Intense flavors of rich sugary malt and dark fruit resonate with a big coating sweetness.  Coupled with a cocoa like bitterness, all of the flavors seem to linger equally and dry the palate" (source).
  • Shorts Juicy Tree, $1.99/12oz - "Juicy Tree is an experimental India Pale Ale made with blue spruce tips, juniper berries, and cranberries. Big aromatics of piney evergreen and sweet berries tingle the senses. After some slightly tart and tangy flavors up front, a harmonious balance between pleasant fruit sweetness and bitter pine is reached. A sizable malt bill, ample hop additions, and the floral qualities of American Ale yeast, all contribute to symmetry of this beer" (source).
  • Southern Tier Creme Brulee, $9.29/22oz - "Caramelized sugar, vanilla, custard, nicely sweet and balanced, rich and milky " (source).
  • Avery Dugana, $6.99/22oz - "Lupulin Rapture Incarnate! As fervent devotees of hops, we found ourselves on a quest to create a transcendental IPA capable of quenching our voracious lupulin desires. Our mantra became “unity of bitterness, hop flavor and aroma.” Enlightened, duganA IPA was born: A brutally bitter, dank, piney and resinous ale designed for those seeking a divine hop experience" (source).
  • Avery Vanilla Bean, $13.79/22oz - "A double dose of vanilla derived from both fresh Bourbon barrels and the trio of Tongan, Ugandan, and Mexican whole vanilla beans is complemented by the essences of chocolate, caramel and molasses to round out this luxurious silky stout" (source).
  • Atwater Tunnel Ram, $2.19/12oz - "A noticeably strong, rich, and very malty German-style lager" (source).
  • Praire Artisan Ales Coffee Okie, $11.39/12oz - "Okie is an imperial brown ale that we aged in bourbon barrels, and we’ve taken that barrel aged base and added our favorite blend of roasted coffee.  The intense coffee flavors are complemented by notes of caramel, toffee, and vanilla resulting in a boozy, sweet and aromatic experience" (source).

Video of the Week | Vivant Flash Mob

This kind of thing should happen more often.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ball Lock to American Sankey Conversion Kit

By Matt Ross

As an avid homebrewer I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my brewing and kegging systems more efficient. While perusing through one of our whole catalogs recently I was excited to find that there’s an easy way to convert my homebrew kegging system into a setup that can also be used to dispense commercially produced beer.

Siciliano’s is now carrying the hardware that enables an American Sankey coupler to be used with ball-lock disconnects. That’s right folks. You can now push commercial craft beer through an American Sankey using your Cornelius kegging system. This setup is ideal for homebrewers looking for an easier transition between homebrew and commercial kegs. Stop in and ask any of our staff about these handy conversion kits which retail at Siciliano’s for $36.99. Happy Holidays and brew on!

Please note that the American Sankey couplers ($44.00 at Siciliano’s) are sold separately.

Friday, December 18, 2015

New Beer Friday, Dreaming of a White Xmas Edition (Dec 18)

Will it be a white Christmas?
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you live in the environs of Beer City USA you’re either ecstatic about not having to deal with snow so far this winter or you’re lamenting the fact that the unseasonably mild temperatures are going to continue through the end of the year. Depending on your point of view, one of the strongest El Nino’s on record is either the boon or the bane in this rather uncommon weather scenario.

While I’m not upset that I haven’t had to pull out my boots, my heavy coat and my wool-lined Stormy Kromer, I can empathize with folks who love to ski and snowmobile and fish on frozen lakes. I no longer have the desire to engage in those hardy outdoor winter activities but I am disappointed that we won’t be having a white Christmas this year.

When you’re accustomed to white Christmases the absence of snow around the holidays is a little disconcerting. Colored lights draped on houses and trees look peculiar without a contrast of white. Christmas carols for some reason sound less lovely. Wreaths and garlands hanging on doors and windows somehow seem out of place.

Because I’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas I’ll have to search a little harder to find the holiday spirit this year. But then again, a little inner searching may be a good thing. Perhaps I need an occasional Christmas without snow to reawaken the inner child, and to help me rediscover the enchantment and true meaning of Christmas.

New and Returning Beer

  • Brewery Vivant Wizard Burial Ground, $$6.29/16oz (4 per) - "Brewed once a year, this special quadrupel is aged in freshly drained bourbon barrels and disappears into the shadows for a full year of cellaring. This year's brew becomes next year's release. We've been wood-aging beers and experimenting with wild fermentation since we opened in 2010. We encourage those in search of funky flavors to join us at our annual Wood-Aged Beer Festival each Autumn to find out more" (source).
  • Thirsty Dog Barrel-Aged Siberian Night, $6.89/12oz (1 per) - "We took our award winning Siberian Night Russian Imperial Stout and aged it for 11 months in fresh bourbon barrels. The result blew us away. The dark chocolate malt yields a milk chocolate flavor that blends perfectly with the vanilla flavor from the barrel. The bourbon aroma adds the finishing touch" (source).
  • Thirsty Dog Wulver, $6.89/12oz (1 per) - "We made this beer specifically for bourbon barrels. The result is our most acclaimed bourbon barrel beer. Bourbon barrel aging and specialty malts create flavors of vanilla and carmel that blend in perfect balance" (source).
  • North Peak Sinous, $1.79/12oz - "North Peak Sinuous is a unique hoppy celtic ale brewed with Cascade, Amarillo and Simcoe hops" (source).
  • Stone & Sierra Nevada NxS, $9.49/22oz - "For many, California is considered an epicenter for brewing innovation, particularly where hoppy IPAs are concerned. We teamed up with longtime craft compatriots and mutual hop admirers Sierra Nevada to create a truly one-of-a-kind IPA. This special-edition beer conveys the true character of collaboration with touches of inventiveness and creativity. Two batches of an IPA were brewed and expertly blended to craft this multilayered beer. The first batch was split down the middle, with 50% being aged in gin-infused bourbon barrels and the remaining half aged in rye whiskey barrels. These beers were blended with the fresh second batch of IPA, which was generously dry-hopped to impart rich aromas to accompany the citrusy, piney, woody, herbaceous flavors achieved from this truly one-of-a-kind collaboration" (source).
  • Stone Stochasticity Grainiac, $9.49/22oz - "This hoppy, deep amber-hued beer was created to shine a light on rare, unexplored grains seldom used in the brewing world. In addition to barley, wheat, rye and triticale, we added malted millet and malted buckwheat to bring the total unique grain count to nine. The earthy, nutty notes of granola found in this experimental multigrain malt bomb are complemented by the citrusy, floral flavors of four classic American hops. We dry-hopped the beer with Cascade and Centennial hops at the end, adding more citrus notes and rounding out the grain bill’s rich, bready character" (source).
  • Lagunitas Bitter Oats, $9.09/22oz (1 per) - "A Big Boozy Blonde was brewed with a boatload of oats, giving it a creamy sweet mouthfeel with a hoppy blast. It’s like a powdered sugar donut topped with deliciously dank resinous hops" (source).
  • Tapistry Peck's Porter, $2.59/16oz - "Nate’s robust porter recipe incorporates British malts and hops creating a rich and dark flavorful porter with a hint of sweetness" (source).
  • Short's Liberator, $2.39/12oz - "The Liberator was made as a 30th birthday gift to Joe Short. As a double IPA, this beast employs a sizable malt bill, but it is the crazy amount of hops added to the boil every 4 minutes, for 120 minutes, that really make this beer special. Fruity, floral, and piney hop flavors penetrate throughout the caramelized malt profile. The Liberator is a well-balanced, full bodied brew that has a bitter finish due to the post fermentation addition of lemon and orange zest" (source).
  • Victory Java Cask, $17.29/750ml (1 per) - "Depth, complexity and richness occur when delicious ale ages in a barrel, just as friendship grows over the years. This stout was created in collaboration with our friends from Philadelphia’s Standard Tap and Johnny Brenda’s restaurants. Using their delicious hand-roasted JB’s Coffee, our bourbon barrels deliver a bold and robust, chocolate malt-tinged stout. We invite you to toast the Victory of friendship and beer with Java Cask" (source).
  • Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball, $4.79/22oz - "A roasty, toasty, malty, hangover-halting beer. Especially formulated for when you wake up feelin' like you need to shave your eyeballs to see the new day" (source).
  • Ballast Point Pale Kolsch, $1.89/12oz - "The beer that launched Ballast Point. Our original Pale Ale is a rich golden brew, crafted with aromatic German hops and rounded out with a blend of American and Munich malts. While it’s hopped like a lager, we ferment it like an ale to create a smooth, bright taste that has just a hint of fruit and spice. It’s extremely drinkable, like a Kolsch should be, yet complex, like a good craft beer demands" (source).
  • Perrin Black Goat, $11.49/22oz - "This beer is aged in Woodford Bourbon Barrels, some of the most sought after bourbon barrels in the craft brew industry. We took the recipe for our Black Lager and doubled the ingredients. Forty days after the magic happened, the goat was birthed. Black Goat is a Double Black Lager, sure to please the harshest of critics" (source).

Video of the Week | Long Road Distillers

Long Road Distillers. Taking the time to do things right.


Friday, December 11, 2015

New Beer Friday, Saturation Point Edition (December 11)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The Chief Economist for the Brewers Association recently reported that a milestone in the resurgence of American brewing was reached this year when the association’s database surpassed a total of 4,000 active breweries. Bart Watson went on to state that precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm but it is quite probable that this is the first time the United States has crossed the 4,000 brewery threshold since the 1870s.

Beer, beer and more beer at Siciliano's.
According to Mr. Watson, new breweries are opening in the US at the rate of 1.9 per day (after closings were factored in) but maintains that we are far from approaching a saturation point and the resurgence is far from over. “Most of the new entrants continue to be small and local, operating in neighborhoods or towns,” he wrote. “What it means to be a brewery is shifting back toward an era when breweries were largely local and operated as a neighborhood bar or restaurant.”

Mr. Watson makes a valid point but fails to address other aspects of the resurgence—the fact that many new breweries are making the decision to package and distribute their products and established regional breweries are constantly expanding their distributions into new markets.

Here at Siciliano’s, we’ve finally gotten to the point where we’re running out of shelf, floor and cooler space and unfortunately we’ve had to begin culling slower moving products from our inventory. We certainly get excited about new products and will continue to stock them as they become available, especially from our local partners, but there is only so much room to work with.

I agree with Mr. Watson’s assertion that there is significantly more room on the craft beer landscape for new breweries and I have no doubt that new breweries that produce, and package, quality products will be successful. As a craft beer retailer, however, I can unequivocally state that in terms of the sheer number of craft beers being packaged and distributed, the saturation point, at least in our store, has already been reached.

New and Returning Beer

  • Humboldt Black Xantus, $17.19/22oz - "Our Imperial Stout is infused with fair-trade, organic coffee from a local roaster, Jobella, and aged for 6 months in a combination of Bourbon, retired Firestone Union and wine barrels. Black Xantus packs a powerful punch" (source).
  • White Birch Nyx, $2.69/12oz - "The White Birch Brewing Apprentice Series is the culmination of months of hard work and fun. Adam Romanow is our third brewer apprentice. His release is an exploration into a newer beer style, the Black IPA. Black as night, bitter, with a full flavored Cascade hop profile and smooth finish" (source).
  • Alpine Pure Hoppiness, $3.09/12oz - "A West Coast Double IPA So mega-hopped it will take you to hop heaven. We’ve used hops in the boil, more hops in the giant hopback, and added to that, an incredible amount of dry-hopping for that cutting-edge “hop bite.” Once you’ve tasted this unique beer, all others pale in comparison" (source).
  • Arbor Faricy Stout, $1.79/12oz - "Our award-winning Irish Stout, fashioned after Guinness on tap in Ireland, is light and dry with a dense, creamy head. Ours is accented by a noticeable roasted coffee flavor, and a touch of bittersweet chocolate" (source).
  • Arbor Fig Jam Quad, $2.89/12oz - "Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like this FIGJAM QUADRUPLE with it’s warming alcohol, figgy undertones, dark dried fruit flavors of raison dates, hints of fresh baked bread, and a beautiful dry finish that leaves you wanting more" (source).
  • Arbor Jackhammer, $2.29/12oz - "This high gravity traditional old ale combines a warming sensation with a rich malty sweetness for an outstanding initial complexity. Fruity esters, hints of hot buttered rum, burnt caramel, and a subtle chocolate covered cherry quality dissolve into a dry spicy finish with a robust hop counter balance" (source).
  • Coronado Bobble Head Red IPA, 8.29/22oz - "Columbus, Nugget, Pacifica, Simcoe and Topaz hops combine to provide an IPA capable of garnering a nod of approval from the hop-obsessed craft beer connoisseurs. There's more than bracing bitterness to the West-Coast gem: namely big aromas of pine and citrus, plenty of tropical notes and a robust malt backbone" (source).
  • New Holland Mischievous, $4.79/22oz - "Mischievous presents flavors derived from its 100% brettanomyces fermentation. This wild yeast contributes earthiness, spice, mineral-character and slight tartness" (source).
  • North Peak Snapper, $1.89/12oz - A pale ale.
  • Shipyard GingerBreadHead, $1.99/12oz - "Shipyard GingerBreadHead Ale is like a spicy, rich, gingerbread cookie you can drink.  The warm flavors of molasses and brown sugar are accented with ginger, cloves, and cinnamon" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Pine Knob Pils, $2.19/16oz - "Locally brewed beer that uses quality Michigan ingredients to deliver the crisp, refreshing and flavorful taste you expect from a world-class Pilsner style beer" (source).
  • Arcadia Porter Rico, $1.79/12oz - "Take a trip to the lost island of Porter Rico, where the cacao and coconut live in harmony and frolic the sandy shores. Our island getaway takes the form of a dark, chocolatey beer, with a balancing sweetness, medium body, and lingering mouthfeel. Intense toasted coconut rides the trade winds for a truly exotic, yet comfortingly familiar pint" (source).
  • DogFish Head Piercing Pils, $2.59/12oz - "A Perry-Pils hybrid, Piercing Pils is a Czech Style Pilsner brewed with a White Pear Tea and Pear juice. Both the juice and the tea were added in the kettle during the whirlpool (after the boil) for maximum flavor and aroma contribution. The Pear fruit complexity pierces right through the spicy Czech Saaz hops beautifully, adding a gentle acidity to this pale lager that makes for a crisp refreshing sipper. Amarillo hops add nuanced citrus notes that meld perfectly with the fruit" (source).
  • Atwater VJ Black, $2.99/12oz - "Brewed in Detroit. Single Batch Series" (source)
  • Odd Side Project Mayhem, $2.59/12oz - "Belgian IPA" (source).
  • North Coast Barrel Aged Old Rasputin (Wheat Whiskey), $26.29/500ml (1 per) - "Every year we age a special batch of our much-loved Russian Imperial Stout, Old Rasputin, for a year to 18 months in freshly emptied spirits barrels. In the past we have used bourbon barrels exclusively for the project, but this year we are offering this barrel-aged classic done three ways: aged in Rye Whiskey or Wheat Whiskey barrels in limited quantities throughout our distribution network, as well as aged in Bourbon barrels in very limited quantities exclusively at the brewery’s two retail locations in Fort Bragg, California. The depth, intensity, and complexity of the flavor profile of these special releases, like their predecessors, make them a worthy tribute to Old Rasputin" (source).
  • North Coast Barrel Aged Old Rasputin (Rye Whiskey), $26.29/500ml (not 1 per) - See above.
  • DogFish Head Fort, $10.19/12oz (1 per) - "An ale brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberry juice. Fort has a Belgian-style base, then we follow a similar fermentation process to the one we use on beers like 120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout" (source).
  • Greenbush Mr Hyde, $2.19/12oz (1 per) - "Take a walk on the dark side with Mr. Hyde, a delicious and roasty sumatran coffee milk stout coming in at 7.8% ABV" (source).
  • Greenbush Delusion, $5.69/12oz (1 per) - "Our Imperial Cream Stout is aged in whiskey barrels for months for a mind-blowing experience. This concoction will make you ponder the randomness of the universe" (source).
  • Oddside Mokka Mutt, $5.69/12oz (1 per) - "Imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with mint added" (source).
  • Oddside Scally Wagger, $4.49/12oz - "American IPA" (source).
  • Anchorage Galaxy White IPA, $14.39/750ml - "Ale brewed with Galaxy hops, coriander, kumquats, and peppercorns. Fermented and aged in French oak foudres with a wit yeast. Dry hopped with Galaxy hops. Bottle conditioned with brettanomyces and wine yeast. Drink fresh or age to bring out the funk" (source).
  • Anchorage Mosaic Saison, $14.39/750ml - "Ale with brettanomyces aged in fermented in oak tanks" (source).
  • Dieu Du Ciel Rosee d'Hibiscus, $5.09/12oz - "The Rosée d’Hibiscus is a soft spoken wheat beer. The rose colour comes from the hibiscus flowers added during the brewing process. The aromas and flavour of this tropical flower are very prominent in the beer, giving it a slight acidity and a very agreeable fragrance. It is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot summer day" (source).
  • Fantome Pissenlit, $14.39/750ml - "Dany, the offbeat brewer at Fantôme, will try anything, and the results are always interesting. A beer made from dandelions would be worth a try if only because no one has ever brewed one before, but the great news is that this is actually a very good beer. Dany and some cohorts get busy every spring picking bushels of dandelions that grow in the fields around the picturesque farmhouse brewery. The yellow flowers are removed and dried in the sun, then soaked in water for a few days. The thick, dark dandelion “tea” that results is the basis for the Pissenlit, which is made also from traditional barley malt and hops. It resembles a classic saison beer – golden spritzy brew, strong and very flavorful, with a good hop bite. You may have to strain to taste the dandelions, but you know they’re in there. “Pissenlit” is the French word for dandelion. Literally, it means “pee in bed,” which we guess describes the physical effect the flower has on French-speaking persons. We are happy to report, however, that we haven’t had any problems with incontinence after downing a bottle of this beer" (source).
  • Freigeist Geisterzug Gose, $6.19/500ml - "Based on a recipe dating back at least six hundred years, this is Freigeist’s quirky version of the nearly-extinct traditional sour beer of Leipzig. “Geisterzug” (“Ghost Train”) spruced gose is unusually complex, funky, and full-bodied, the perfect modern-day medieval German ale" (source).
  • Baird Kurofune Porter, $5.09/12oz - "Kurofune (means "Black Ships") was the word the Japanese used to describe the American gunboats that came to open Japan to western trade. Kurofone Porter is sleek and forceful, but leaves a winning bittersweet taste of chocolate and coffee on the tongue" (source).
  • Goller Rauchbier, $4.29/500ml - "Feinrauchig, würzig mit Zugabe von speziellem Rauchmalz. Nach alter Rezeptur gebraut, werden Kenner diese regionale Spezialität lieben und neue Genießer dem Bier leicht verfallen" (source).
  • Kulmbacher Eisbock, $2.79/12oz - "The ice bock, also known as "Bayrisch Gefrorns", owes its discovery to a coincidence. According to the chronicles of the Kulmbacher brewery, some time around 1900 an apprentice forgot on a cold winter day to carry two barrels of bock beer into the brewery cellar. The barrels stayed outside, were covered by ice and snow and weren’t discovered until the following spring. The barrels had burst and the apprentice was reprimanded. But the carelessness was a stroke of luck because under the thick ice coat, a bock beer extract remained, strong tasting and high in alcoholic content. Even if the dark, tasty speciality is not produced in this spectacular way anymore, the chance that gave birth to this beer became a tradition. Today this beer rarity is brewed in a modern brewing and freezing process, but the incomparable taste is still the same and can always be enjoyed in winter months" (source).
  • Ritterguts Gose, $6.29/500ml - "Gose – the lactic and salty specialty ale associated with the German cities of Goslar and Leipzig – has a chronicled history dating back over a thousand years. But not so long ago, it was virtually extinct, known only to a shrinking base of locals and the odd beer tourist who made the trek to the few Leipzig pubs that still served the quirky specialty. Today, with interest in sour ales soaring , “new-traditionalist” brewers in Germany, the U.S., and beyond are recreating the style – generally with a nod towards a sweeter, more “drinkable” palate, or to a relatively simplified, aggressive lacticity. Ritterguts Gose is the real thing, the one example still made to the traditional recipes – boldly sour and funky, but with the elusive old-German qualities of balance and complexity. Once we tried this beer in Leipzig, we were both amazed and delighted that no one was importing it" (source).
  • Prairie Funky Gold Mosaic, $11.39/500ml - "Funky Gold Mosaic is a dry-hopped sour ale. We took Prairie Gold and dry-hopped it with a huge amount of Mosaic hops. The end results are tropical, sour, and an all around new beer drinking experience! This beer is great fresh, but will continue to develop as the wild yeast continues to work in the beer" (source).
  • Prairie BOMB, $8.99/12oz - "Bomb! is an imperial stout aged on espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chile peppers. All the flavors meld to create a truly unique beer. The peppers add just the right amount of heat to complement the intense coffee and chocolate flavors" (source).
  • Prairie HOP, $11.39/500ml - "Prairie Hop is our hop driven saison. This beer is packed with Simcoe and Citra hops. Notes of peach, mango, and tangerine can be found in the flavor and aroma of this beer. The beer finishes dry which helps the hops jump out of the glass flavor wise" (source).

Video of the Week | Vintage Brewing

"The wholesale murder of innocent young barley." Now that's writing.


Friday, December 4, 2015

New Beer Friday, Alexander Atkin Edition (Dec 4)

Our man Alex.
What makes the Grand Rapids craft beer community so unique is not the quality of its beer but the character of its people, the passionate individuals who support each other through the good times and bad, who are always ready to share a pint and just as ready to help out when help is needed most.

If you agree with this statement, then please consider donating to the GoFundMe campaign for Alexander Atkin, a great guy and former employee of Siciliano's Market (now a brewer at Mitten Brewing Co.) who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident last Monday.

From his GoFundMe campaign: "On November 30th, Alex was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident while vacationing in Guatemala. He suffered a head injury and a spinal injury. He will be back in Michigan early Wednesday, December 2nd. He will likely need multiple surgeries and extensive medical care. He will need great help with living expenses. The Atkin family can use any help you can give. Thank you."

Let's show Alex and his family how much we appreciate him and how we take care of our own. Donate now if you can, but at the very least, please keep Alex in your thoughts as he travels the long road to recovery.

New and Returning Beer

  • Pike 51 For Whom The Sleigh Bells Toll, $10.79/22oz - "Opaque brown black color. Delicate, dense aromas of chai tea, orange jelly, sweet potato, and mocha with a supple, finely carbonated, body and a smooth, medium-length creamy cappuccino and fruity caramel finish. A very pleasant and relaxing winter ale" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Plowhorse, $4.29/16oz - "The famous Belgian heavy plow horse descends from medieval war horses that carried armored knights into battle. Eventually they became common work horses for family farms. Great strength and mellow temperament made them ideal for tilling heavy soil. This seemed a fitting name for one of our biggest beers we release. The recipe calls for much dark-roasted grain that they literally spill out the top of the tank on brew day" (source).
  • Big Eddy Cherry Doppelschwarz, $2.99/12oz - "Bittersweet chocolate and coffee-like malt character blends beautiful with the subtle tartness of Door County, Wisconsin cherries to create a decadent, yet amazingly balanced Big Eddy Cherry Doppelschwarz" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy By 12-25, $2.89/12oz, $8.29/22oz - "This exquisite liquid patchwork of more than a dozen hops is a devastatingly fresh double IPA. Freshness is a key component of many beers—especially big, hoppy IPAs—but we've taken it further, a lot further, with this one. We brewed this IPA specifically NOT to last. We've gone to extensive lengths to ensure you get your hands on this beer within an extraordinarily short window, and we've sent a very clear message in the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right NOW to enjoy this IPA" (source).
  • Smuttynose Baltic Porter, $2.89/12oz - "Indigenous to northern Europe, Baltic Porters historically stem from the shipping of British porters to the Russian hinterland. Unlike their British cousins, Baltic Porters are often brewed with lager yeast, which is the tradition we follow. Big & bold, with flavors of coffee, dark fruit & raisins, this black beer is smooth as a chocolate swirl" (source).
  • Smuttynose Smiseltoe, $11.69/22oz (1 per) - "This Christmas, why not offer a delicious New Hampshire-brewed gift that does both? Smuttynose Smistletoe is back to fill that void. The beer itself is a festive take on Bière de Garde, a more robust variant of the farmhouse ale family tree; brewed with sweet cherries, black currants and plums then aged on lightly toasted American oak" (source).
  • Smuttynose Chestnut Saison, $8.59/500ml - "Farmhouse ale brewed with chestnuts and spices" (source).
  • Roak Around the Clock, $1.6912oz - "Around the clock is our session India Pale Ale. It balances malt and hop character to achieve a bright easy-drinking beer with notes of tropical fruit and citrus. With its low alcohol content and clean profile, any time is the perfect time for this session IPA." (source).
  • Avery Joe's Pilsner, $1.99/12oz - "A contemporary rendition of a classic style, Joe’s is hopped with purpose: beautifully bitter and dry with an abundance of floral, Noble German hops" (source).
  • Shorts Evil Urges, $2.39/12oz - "Evil Urges is a Belgian dark strong ale with a deep dark brown color. A sharp aroma of chocolate and molasses hits the senses, reminiscent of a rich liqueur. Aided by additions of Belgian amber candi sugar, the initial flavors are sweet and malty, with some unique, dark fruit qualities. This full bodied beer is defined by its roast malt character and slight black coffee bitterness that lead into an intense warming finish" (source).
  • Ballast Point Longfin Lager, $1.89/12oz - "Our Longfin Lager has become one of the go-to beers with the team at the brewery. A solidly balanced Helles that finishes clean with a hint of hops, it would easily fit in at any German beer garden. But we think it’s perfect for enjoying on the beach, the boat or anywhere else you can put an ice chest full of beer" (source).
  • Ballast Point Fathom IPL, $6.09/22oz - "Our Fathom India Pale Lager combines time-honored lagering techniques with the hop profiles of a West Coast IPA recipe. The cold-fermenting lager yeast provides a clean base that allows the citrus and pine aromas from the hops to really shine. The result is a gold medal beer with a refreshing, easy drinking character and just the right amount of depth" (source).
  • Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, $2.59/12oz - "Our Sculpin IPA is a great example of what got us into brewing in the first place. After years of experimenting, we knew hopping an ale at five separate stages would produce something special. The result ended up being this gold-medal winning IPA, whose inspired use of hops creates hints of apricot, peach, mango and lemon flavors, but still packs a bit of a sting, just like a Sculpin fish" (source).
  • Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, $2.59/12oz - "Our Grapefruit Sculpin is the latest take on our signature IPA. Some may say there are few ways to improve Sculpin’s unique flavor, but the tart freshness of grapefruit perfectly complements our IPA’s citrusy hop character. Grapefruit’s a winter fruit, but this easy-drinking ale tastes like summer" (source).
  • Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin, $2.59/12oz - "Our Sculpin IPA with Habanero Pepper began as a crazy experiment that’s taken on a life of its own. While its bright fruit notes and hoppy bite has made the original one of our favorites, this version takes that balance of flavors to the next level with the citrusy, floral heat of habaneros. Sculpin are known to sting, but this one’s got a kick" (source).
  • Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm, $2.59/12oz - "Calm Before the Storm came from a quest for a warm weather alternative to our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. Like its more robust cousin, we infuse a punch of flavor using cold brewed Caffé Calabria coffee and a hint of vanilla. But this time, we added it to a lighter-bodied golden cream ale. The end result is a surprisingly bright, coffee-forward beer that’s perfectly refreshing" (source).
  • Ballast Point Victory At Sea, $2.59/12oz - "Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with vanilla and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate" (source).
  • Ballast Point Commodore, $1.89/12oz - "The Commodore came out of our search for a medium-bodied American Stout. The recipe began at our R&D pilot brewery, but quickly became a favorite of our crew. Strong flavors of roast coffee and bittersweet chocolate balance with light citrusy hop aromas, highlighted by a crisp, bitter finish. One sip of this gold medal-winning stout will have you ready to take command of your own fleet" (source).
  • Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA, $2.59/12oz - "Our Dorado Double IPA immediately hooks you with massive hops that never stop. Mash hopping, kettle hopping and dry hopping makes this beer a serious hop lover’s prize catch. It’s an amazingly drinkable, award-winning beer that’s as beautifully balanced as it is big" (source).

Photo of the Week | Who Else But Alex