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Friday, August 26, 2016

New Beer Friday, Homemade Wine Edition (Aug 26)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Whenever folks ask me if it’s difficult to make homemade wine I always answer that it can be as easy as sitting on a calm lake fishing for bluegills with a cane pole or as complex as wading a narrow, brush-clogged stream using artificial flies to catch wary trout.

I tell them if they want to make wine as simply as possible they’re like anglers who prefer using elementary tackle and uncomplicated procedures and they’ll be perfectly happy making wine from concentrated kits or from fresh fruits and vegetables guided by a book of basic recipes. If they like delving into the nuts and bolts of a hobby they will probably want to take their winemaking to a higher level and will adopt advanced winemaking techniques such as measuring brix, conducting titration tests and taking pH readings.

Whether the home vintner opts for the easy route or the one that is more complex, Siciliano’s stocks everything the hobbyist needs to make good and even great tasting wine. If you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge into this gratifying do-it-yourself hobby, keep in mind that most equipment and supplies will be discounted first week of September during our annual beer and wine making sale. Go here for complete details.

In other winemaking news, we will again be offering the free on-site use of our fruit crushers and basket presses from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on four consecutive Saturdays in the parking lot behind the store. Dates for the free use of the equipment are as follows:

    • Saturday, September 17
    • Saturday, September 24
    • Saturday, October 1
    • Saturday, October 8

New and Returning Beer

  • Genesse Oktoberfest, $0.79/12oz - "When we think of a beer brewed for celebration, we think Oktoberfest. Genesee Oktoberfest is a recipe inspired by centuries of brewing and our proud German heritage. Our Oktoberfest is a deep-golden lager, big on malt flavor and complimented by subtle herbal notes of noble hops. We hope this beer gives you good reason to raise a stein and celebrate" (source).
  • Bell's Best Brown, $1.99/16oz - "A smooth, toasty brown ale, Best Brown is a mainstay in our fall lineup. With hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops" (source).
  • Bell's Octoberfest, $1.79/12oz - "Smooth and highly drinkable, Octoberfest opens the door to the coming autumn with a light, dry toasted malt note without too much sweetness" (source).
  • Roak Roaka Cadabra, $1.69/12oz - "Spiced apple Belgian style Brown Ale" (source).
  • St. Peter's Dirty Tackle, $4.99/500ml - "This smooth, moreish full-bodied, malty ale is red chestnut in colour with a complex fruity and roasted aroma. Medium bitterness" (source).
  • Boulevard Funkier Pumpkin, $12.99/750ml (1 per)  - "Never content with brewing "to style," our brewing team's approach to Funkier Pumpkin is far from your standard take on pumpkin spice beers. Choosing to focus on the complexity that brettanomyces can bring to a beer, Funkier Pumpkin offers subtle pumpkin flavor accented by traditional spicing in a beer that showcases the hallmark earthy/forest floor notes of our house wild yeast strain" (source).
  • Atwater Aphrodite, $1.79/12oz - "Spiced American Amber Ale" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Holy Gose, $2.19/12oz - "Originating in the town of Goslar, Germany in the early 16th century, the Gose style (pronounced “Go-zuh”) was traditionallybrewed using salted water and 50% malted wheat and was spiced with coriander and hops.  It was fermented with both traditional yeast and lactic bacteria, giving it a slight tartness, similar to that of a Berliner Weisse.  The brewing of Gose eventually migrated to Leipzig, Germany by the turn of the 18th century and became the most popular style in the region by 1900, only to virtually disappear after World War II brought destruction to the breweries and hard economic times" (source).
  • Crankers Ill Connect, $10.69/22oz - "Pine forest and lemon zest notes" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Cucurbitophobia, $15.29/750ml (1 per) - "Cucurbitophobia is a 6.1 percent ABV sour ale brewed with blood oranges and spices that was brewed at Jolly Pumpkin in Dexter, Mich. on Dec. 9, 2015" (source).
  • Short's Bucktricutioner, $1.99/12oz - "Bucktricutioner is a light bodied Berliner Weisse brewed with 50% malted wheat, strawberries, and limes.  This beer is pink in color with notable aromas of wheat and yeast esters that combine with some subtle citrus scents, creating a pleasantly refreshing nose. Delicate grain flavors give way to bright, tart lemon – lime qualities and sweet fruit before slightly drying the palate for an over all crisp and clean finish" (source).
  • Dark Horse Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "Delicious, on the sweet side, spicy, malty" (source).
  • Arcadia Jaw Jacker, $1.79/12oz - "This spiced amber-wheat ale is our celebration of the arrival of Autumn. Using the finest malted barley and a small amount of wheat for mouthfeel, Jaw-Jacker displays a brilliant orange-amber color, despite the absence of pumpkin in the recipe. The addition of cinnamon, all-spice and nutmeg (in the exact proportions of a family pumpkin pie recipe) creates a refreshingly spicy, season brew" (source).

Michigan Hops Make National News

Brian Tennis of Michigan Hop Alliance is ready for his close-up.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Homebrew Science: Hops Part I, Alpha and Beta-Acids

By Max Spencer

Without hops, we would not have the incredible variety of beers available to us. Hops (Humulus lupulus) are the primary way to add bitterness to beer in today’s world. While hops can also provide a wide variety of aromas and flavors from earthy to fruity, the historical importance of hops being added to beer stems from the same compounds that grant them their bittering abilities. Spoilage of beer used to be a much larger problem in the past than it is today. Before hops were used in beer, a wide variety of herbs and spices were added for flavor and bittering. If you have ever tasted a gruit or a sahti, you have enjoyed one such traditional ale without hops. However, none of the plants used in these ancient ales possess the same antibacterial properties that hops do (7).

In brewing, the word “hops” refers to the flower of the hop plant. Hop flowers (also called strobiles) contain lupulin glands that produce a sticky resin full of many different organic compounds and essential oils. Alpha-acids (α-acids) and beta-acids (β-acids) present in the resin are responsible for the bitterness found in finished beer, and are capable of ruining a bacterium’s day. These acids cause the cytoplasm (the quintessential guts of a cell) to leak out, and inhibits a large range of cellular functions including: cellular respiration (the way cells burn fuel); the synthesis of RNA, DNA and proteins; etc. (1,2,3). These effects only work on gram-positive bacteria, as gram-negative bacteria have a thick outer cell wall that shields them, hence why beer can still be infected after the addition of hops.

In their unaltered state, alpha-acids and beta-acids do not provide much bitterness. Alpha-acids contribute far more bitterness to a finished beer relative to beta-acids, and in order to “activate” the alpha-acids, hops must be boiled. The heat of boiling cause the alpha-acids to isomerize, which is a fancy way of saying that they change configuration; no atoms or pieces of the alpha-acids are lost, they merely shift and form new compounds (4,6). These new compounds, called iso-alpha-acids, are much more water soluble, provide far greater bitterness, stabilize beer foam, and provide the antibacterial properties discussed before. The length of time that hops are boiled affects the amount of alpha-acids that are isomerized, allowing for control of bitterness.

Beta-acids do not isomerize when boiled and are not very water soluble, so very little of the beta-acids present in hops end up in finished beer. The bitterness in beta-acids is activated by oxidation rather than isomerization, and this quality can actually help protect other compounds in beers from oxidizing over time, prolonging the shelf-life and allowing for longer aging processes (5). However, the bitterness derived from beta-acids tends to be harsher and generally unpleasant in high concentrations.

Every aspect of beer plays an essential role, or roles, in the finished product. Hops are at the heart and soul of what makes modern beer distinct from historical ales, and provide many benefits to the liquid sustenance that bring us all together as lovers of beer. From stouts to IPAs, from lagers to barleywines, we all have hops to thank for our beer.

Literature cited

1. Behr, J and R.F. Vogel. 2009. Mechanism of hop inhibition: Hop ionophores. J. Agric. Food Chem. 57:6074-6081.
2. Behr, J and R.F. Vogel. 2010. Mechanisms of hop inhibition include the transmembrane redox reaction. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76:142-149.
3. Behre, K. 1999. The history of beer additives in Europe – a review. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 8:35-48.
4. Jaskula, B., P. Kafarski, G. Aerts and L.D. Cooman. 2008. A kinetic study on the isomerization of hop α-acids. J. Agric. Food Chem. 56, 6408-6415.
5. Krofta, K., S. Vrabcova, A. Mikyška, M. Jurková, T. Čajka and J. Hajšlova. 2013. Stability of hop beta acids and their decomposition products during natural ageing. Acta Horticulturae 1010:221-230.
6. Malowicki, M.G. and T.H. Shellhammer. 2005. Isomerization and degradation kinetics of hop (Humulus lupulus) acids in a model wort-boiling system. J. Agric. Food Chem. 53:4434-4439.
7. Teuber, M. and A.F. Schmalrek. 1973. Membrane leakage in Bacillus subtilis 168 induced by the hop constituents lupulone, humulone, isohumulone and humilic acid. Arch. Microbiol. 94:159-171.

Friday, August 19, 2016

New Beer Friday, Big Big Sale Edition (Aug 19)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We are pleased to announce that the 2016 edition of the Siciliano’s Beer & Wine Making Customer Appreciation Sale will begin on Tuesday, September 6, and will continue through the close of business on Sunday, September 11.

Our annual Customer Appreciation Sale is a great time for beer and winemaking enthusiasts to stock up on supplies and upgrade equipment. This year we are offering incredible deals on beginners equipment kits so if anyone has been thinking about taking the plunge into one these life enriching hobbies this would be the ideal time to do so.

Attention Wine Makers: If you plan on stocking up on winemaking kits please email your orders to me ( by Sunday, August 28, and the orders will be put aside for you.

During the week-long sale most equipment, supplies and ingredients will be 15% off the retail price. Items that are already discounted—carboys, 50/55-lb. bags of grain, Blichmann Engineering products—will not be eligible for additional discounts nor will the 15% be combined with other existing discounts (like club discounts). We will honor the discount that is greater. Equipment and supplies on the following list are discounted deeper than 15%:

    • BEER EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $105.00, Sale $75.00
    • WINEMAKING EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $95.00, Sale $79.00
    • BREWERS BEAST EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $135.00, Sale $95.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/NEW KEG: Regular $289.00, Sale $225.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/RECONDITIONED KEG: Regular $239.00, Sale $180.00
    • ANALOG REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $75.00, Sale $65.00
    • DIGITAL REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $115.49, Sale $89.00
    • MASH/LAUTER TUN: Regular $125.00, Sale $100.00
    • ITALIAN FLOOR CORKER: Regular $142.00, Sale $109.00
    • PORTUGUESE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $63.00, Sale $50.00
    • CHAMPAGNE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $152.00, Sale $119.00
    • MILWAUKEE PH METER: Regular $85.00, Sale $64.00
    • BAYOU BURNER: Regular, $127.99, Sale $99.00
    • BARLEY CRUSHER, 7LB HOPPER: Regular $169.00, Sale $139.00
    • BARLEY CRUSHER, 15LB HOPPER: Regular $189.00, Sale $159.00
    • FAST FERMENT CONICAL FERMENTER: Regular $110.00, Sale $89.00
    • AERATION SYSTEM: Regular $25.39, Sale $18.00
    • MINI JET WINE FILTER: Regular $199.00, Sale $169.00
Finally, be sure to stop by the store on Saturday, September 10, for free German wieners, homemade sauerkraut and draft root beer.

New and Returning Beer

  • Fantome Dark White, $14.39/750ml - "Belgian Ale brewed with spices" (source).
  • Fantome Forest Ghost, $19.09/750ml - No commercial description.
  • Fantome Chocolat, $14.39/750ml - "A Belgian saison beer brewed with cocoa powder and chili pepper? Ay, caramba! Score another one for the unpredictable brewery that was the first — and so far, the only — to make ales out of dandelions and mushrooms, among other things" (source).
  • Fantome Saison, $14.39/750ml - "Fruity, complex saison beer from the Ardennes forest from a tiny farmhouse brewery very hard to find even in Belgium" (source).
  • Fantome/AZ Wilderness Desert Ghost, $17.89/750ml - No commercial description.
  • Cambridge Working Class Hero, $2.29/12oz - "Barley, wheat, rye and oats combine with hops and citrus peel in this new American saison. Created by men and women who have forged their own paths to craft your beer, here’s a liquid reward for heroic people everywhere who take pride in an honest day’s work" (source).
  • Cambridge Flower Child, $2.39/12oz- "Extensively hopped and dryhopped with a big roster of hops – Simcoe, Centennial, Cascade, Ahtanum, Chinook, and Amarillo – it’s big, bright, and floral, with just enough malt to balance. This American-style I.P.A. stands head and shoulders above its hoppy brethren, blending pale and honey malts to balance the palate without interfering in your herbal reverie, and creating a new American classic" (source).
  • Cambridge Remain in Light, $2.29/12oz - "American light lagers and Pilsners are easy to drink and refreshing. They are not, however, easy for a craft brewer to make – but we are always up for a challenge. Pilsner malt and flaked rice provide sweet cereal grain notes while German and Czech hops add spiciness and a balanced bitterness to the finish. Cold fermented and aged with a German lager yeast, the palate is clean with a snappy finish" (source).
  • Cambridge Tripel Threat, $8.19/22oz - "The tripels are generally the strongest specialty ales made by the Belgian and Dutch Trappist monastic breweries. Pale in color with a very distinct palate, they are painstakingly created as beers to be consumed on holidays and religious festivals" (source).
  • Siren Grapefruit 'Ting $8.69/12oz - "Grapefruit ‘Ting aka Pompelmocello is a tart, sour and puckering grapefruit IPA we’re brewing with Grapefruit Juice, Grapefruit Zest, the most grapefruity hop profile we can muster and lactose for a slightly creamy mouthfeel and sweet edge" (source).
  • Siren Broken Dreams, $4.49/12oz - "Breakfast stout with a gentle touch of smoke, coffee and chocolate. Broken Dream is deep and complex. She lurks in your imagination. She binds smoke and coffee aromas with chocolate, milk and oats to create something thick, velvety and slick. She will draw you towards a land of flavour, passion and colour" (source).
  • Siren Liquid Mistress, $4.49/12oz - "Cask conditioned and keg unpasteurised br A 5.8% west coast bright red ale: burnt raisins and crackers balanced by citrus. Liquid Mistress is our femme fatale – mysterious, seductive and disarming. She draws and charms drinkers with her full, red colours. You will soon desire her biscuit-and-burnt-raisin malt base, and peach and grapefruit spark. Her devious hop hit will steal your breath" (source).
  • Northern Natural Ciders Traditional, $2.69/12oz - "Our delicious hard cider is crisp and clean apply flavor. It is as if you are biting into a crisp apple and finishing with a dry white wine" (source).
  • Northern Natural Ciders Elderberry, $2.69/12oz - "The juicy, deep purple fruit of local elderberries offers an herbal aroma. The bitter taste from the tannins in the berries is balanced on your palette with our blend of local Heirloom Apple varieties" (source).
  • Northern Natural Ciders Cherry Cider, $2.69/12oz - "A pretty rose petal color and light cherry aroma, a moving effervescence on your palate followed with natural cherry and apple fruit flavors. Local Certified Organic Michigan Montmorency tart cherries and a blend of our Local Heirloom Apple varieties" (source).
  • Alpine Brewing Duet, $2.59/12oz - "A West Coast IPA Our original single IPA made with Simcoe and Amarillo hops" (source).
  • Alpine Brewing Hoppy Birthday, $2.59/12oz - "Truth is, everyone has a birthday. And when you want to celebrate, this Session IPA is a gift to the senses. Made with 6 different hops, this bold brew is refreshing enough to enjoy again and again. Now, make a wish and blow out the candles. But don’t tell anyone, or your wish won’t come true" (source).
  • Alpine Brewing Willy Vanilly, $2.59/12oz - "Since “Willy” is so versatile and can be flavored with fruits and essences, we add a touch of vanilla extract to compliment the sweet nuttiness" (source).
  • Blackrock Presque, $2.09/12oz can - "A nicely hopped Summer Ale. A beer made for watching sunsets and/or sunrises" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Bon Papa, $3.49/16oz - "Expect a slightly cloudy pour, a rustic farmhouse yeast presence, and a snappy hop character all rolled into one delightfully drinkable beer" (source).
  • Greenflash Nugget, $2.19/12oz - "This Single Hopped Pale Ale is built on an English malt base of Golden Promise, 2-Row malted barley, and Caramalt to allow the hop qualities to shine through. Juicy and resonant, Oregon-grown Nugget hops offer subtle fruity qualities that feature prominently in the flavor profile with exceptional notes of peach and pear" (source).
  • Sea Dog Apricot, $1.79/12oz - "Sea Dog Apricot Wheat Beer is a crisp and quenching wheat ale with a subtle essence of fresh apricots" (source).
  • Sea Dog Raspberry, $1.79/12oz - "A dry, crisp refreshing ale with the added essence of raspberries" (source).
  • Stone 20th Anniversary Citracado, $8.99/22oz (1 per) - "For 20 years our passion for brewing and our obsession with hops have challenged traditional styles and expectations for beer. So it’s only fitting we commemorate this momentous occasion by crafting a liquid ode to bold brewing that satisfies your hop thirst and pays homage to our flagship San Diego brewery, located on Citracado Parkway (which itself pays homage to the citrus and avocado agricultural history of the region). “Citracado” also teases the two key ingredients of this beer. “Citra” refers both to the juicy gem of a hop and its citrusy (and tropical) aromas and flavors. “Cado” inspired us to utilize wonderful, native avocado flower honey. Combine the two and the result pours like silk and abounds with enough hops to match our excitement for reaching this 20-year milestone. We thank you sincerely for the years of support and pledge that we will, as always, strive to live up to the reasons for your loyalty!" (source).
  • Stone B.A. Oakmeal Stout, $18.99/500ml/18.99 (1 per) - "Who knew a worldwide hop shortage in 2008 would give rise to such a memorable, delicious beer? When it came time to craft a commemorative offering for our 12th anniversary, we decided to trade in the bitterness of hops for the bitterness of unsweetened chocolate, and paired that with flaked oats. Featuring a thick, rich, roasty mouthfeel and chocolate-heavy flavors and aromas, this onyx-colored, malt-forward beauty became an instant classic that shares space on our liquid trophy case alongside our hop-focused fan favorites" (source).
  • Ballast Point Dead Ringer, $1.89/12oz - "Our Dead Ringer Oktoberfest lager is inspired by old-style Märzen brews customarily enjoyed during Bavaria’s world-famous beer festival. Thanks to an abundance of toasted malt and a lower hop bitterness, this dark reddish brown lager is loaded with sweet, caramel toffee flavors and aromas. All the taste and celebration of Oktoberfest packed into one bottle; no lederhosen required" (source).
  • Victory Selene Saison, $7.99/750ml - "Complex and captivating, this wild-fermented farmhouse-style saison is the celestial sister to our Helios Ale. Notes of chocolate, clove, and banana emerge as rye, oats, and roasted barley blend with herbal and spicy whole flower hops. Delve deep into the delicious darkness of Selene Saison and taste Victory" (source).
  • Victory Moonglow, $2.59/12oz - "This richly flavored dark amber wheat beer merges harvest fruit flavors, spicy aromas and a citric appeal for the perfect autumnal elixir" (source).
  • Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot, $4.79/22oz - "A big Ol’ Imperial Brown Ale to help you with your slipperly slide on into springtime. Rich, smooth, dangerous & chocolatey" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, $2.59/12oz - "Punkin' Ale is a full-bodied, spiced brown ale brewed with baked pumpkins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale is named after the annual Punkin' Chunkin Festival held near Lewes, Delaware the weekend after Hallowee" (source).

Video of the Week | Brewsader

Brewsaders welcome at Siciliano's Market.


Monday, August 15, 2016

August Brew of the Month: Golden Promise Saison

By Matt Ross

The Brew of the Month for August pairs well with outdoor patios, camping, grilling and sunshine. It is a diverse recipe that was a lot of fun to create. My inspiration behind it was to make a malt-forward grain bill with fruity hops and saison yeast (of course).

I chose Golden Promise in combination with Vienna and Wheat malt to add a richer malt character that was still going to be light and balanced. For a bit more complexity I added Carahell and Cara Gold (Cara20). These bring out caramel and grain aroma without adding a significant amount of palatable sweetness. This beer was mashed at 150F to create a dryer beer that is easy to drink. I also used Clarity Ferm in this brew. For those who are unfamiliar, Clarity Ferm is a product from White Labs that was initially created as a fining agent but they discovered that when used correctly it greatly reduces Gluten.

When I started draining the mash tun, 0.25 ounces of Simcoe were added as first wort hops. As discussed in previous posts, first wort hopping adds a well-rounded hop flavor through the entire beer. You get higher hop utilization and less sharp bitterness. Simcoe was added two more times, 0.25 ounces at 60 minutes and .5 ounces at 30 minutes. German Hallertau Blanc was selected as the final hop addition at 10 minutes. These hops are newer to us at Siciliano’s Market and I had not used them prior to this brew. When paired with Simcoe, they lend subtle citrus fruit with white grape juice and pineapple aroma.

My love for Wyeast 3711 French Saison goes without saying. This yeast is a work horse and being that it is summer I thought it would be a perfect fit. I fermented on the warm end, around 80 degrees, and had very high attenuation. This beer finished at 1.003 making the attenuation 93% but the ABV about 5.5%. Yikes.

Overall I found this beer mostly balanced but leaning more towards the fruity-hoppy end of the spectrum. The aroma is a great bouquet of yeast and tropical fruit with the malt adding a full grainy and biscuit flavor across the palate. One of my favorite parts about this beer is the bright golden color. If you want a fun beer to beat the heat, this brew is for you. As always, make the recipe your own. Want to try it is a pale ale? Consider adding American Ale yeast instead. Brew on.

All Grain Recipe

    • 6lbs Fawcett Golden Promise
    • 2lbs Breiss Vienna
    • 1lb Briess White Wheat
    • 12oz Weyermann Carahell
    • 6oz Castle Cara Gold
    • .25oz Simcoe First Wort Hops
    • .25oz Simcoe @ 60 minutes
    • .5oz Simcoe @ 30 minutes
    • 1oz German Hallertau Blanc @ 10 minutes
    • Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Extract with Specialty Grands

    • 4lbs Pilsen Light LME
    • 2.5lbs Bavarian Wheat LME
    • 12oz Weyermann Carahell
    • 6oz Castle Cara Gold
    • .5oz Simcoe @ 60 minutes
    • .5oz Simcoe @ 30 minutes
    • 1oz German Hallertau Blanc @ 10 minutes
    • Wyeast 3711 French Saison 
The staff at Siciliano's is always eager to answer your homebrewing questions. Stop by for help developing custom-made recipes like this one!

Friday, August 12, 2016

New Beer Friday, Clam Lake Edition (August 12)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I have to confess that when local homebrewer Adam Harden told me he had landed a part time brewing gig at a place called Clam Lake Beer Company, for some reason I visualized a rundown eatery in one of those sleepy northern Michigan communities in the middle of nowhere. Why would someone want to make the two-hour commute to the Cadillac area each week to brew beer on a one-barrel system I wondered? And where in the hell is Clam Lake?

Clam Lake Beer Company is actually located in a beautiful historic building in the heart of busy downtown Cadillac and its name is a nod to the area’s history— Clam Lake was once the name of both the community and the adjacent lake. When Clam Lake was incorporated as a city in 1877, both names were changed to Cadillac in honor of the Frenchman who established the first permanent settlement at Detroit.

The brewer himself, Adam Harden at Siciliano's
My wife Barb and I stopped by the packed restaurant/taproom last Sunday afternoon and were lucky to snag the only two empty seats at the bar. Cadillac is definitely a tourist town. The 1,150-acre Lake Cadillac is entirely within the city limits and the even larger Lake Mitchell and its state park are close by. Since opening in 2013, Clam Lake has garnered a reputation as one of the best places to go in the Cadillac area for well-prepared food and hand-crafted beer.

And as the name suggests, the establishment is serious about beer. The majority of the forty offerings on tap during the time of our visit were made in Michigan with three of those brewed by Adam in his spotless basement brew house.

Adam happened to stop by Siciliano’s this past Monday on his weekly commute north and I asked him how he landed the head brewer position at Clam Lake. Turns out he’s related to the owner and he’s afforded the use of a resort cabin during his sojourns to Cadillac. He spends the remainder of his time in Grand Rapids as a stay at home dad.

Sounds like he landed a pretty good gig after all. 

New and Returning Beer

  • Alaskan Coffee Brown, $1.69/12oz - "English Ales are typically malty-sweet, often with a rich, caramel or toffee-like character. Hints of coffee are often present in this style, so this was a perfect beer upon which to base this unique coffee creation" (source).
  • Coronado 20th Anniversary Ale, $2.89/12oz - "Each year be sure to prepare yourself for a HUGE Anniversary Imperial IPA. Brewed this year to commemorate our 20th anniversary with Citra, Mosaic, Hallertau Blanc and a careful selection of experimental hops" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Screaming Pumpkin, $2.19/16oz - "Our autumn seasonal. An Amber Ale brewed with roasted pumpkin in the mash then spiced with ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Spicy and refreshing. A great tail gating beer" (source).
  • New Holland Ichabod, $1.79/12oz - "Ichabod combines malted barley and real pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg in a delicious and inviting brew. After dinner, try it with your favorite dessert" (source).
  • Saugatuck Pumpkin Chai, $1.89/12oz - "Our new fall seasonal beer; an ale brewed with herbal chai tea and pumpkin. Aromas of chai tea and subtle pumpkin notes on the nose; Flavors of chai and pumpkin make this fall seasonal stand out from typical fall beers. Perfect for a brisk autumn day" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy by 9-5, $2.99/12oz - "In most cases, skipping a step is a bad thing. Not this time. This version of Stone Enjoy By IPA omits the part where we filter out the extra yeast, hop sediment and proteins that build up in beer as a natural result of the brewing process. Though it may sound like it, this missed step was no misstep. By letting this IPA go unfiltered, its peach and tropical fruit hop flavors are amplified while its golden-hued color takes on a hazy appearance. Like its filtered counterpart, this IPA is brewed specifically NOT to last, and is shipped immediately to ensure hopheads get their hands on it as soon as possible" (source).
  • St Ambroise Pumpkin, $2.59/12oz - "Each year as the leaves fall and the north wind blows, St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale make its return – a magical potion that casts a potent spell with its well-crafted blend of blond and caramelized malts, gentle hop, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and pumpkin. Its delicate malty character and hint of sweetness will quench any creature looking for easy-drinking refreshment" (source).
  • Atwater Pumpkin Spice Latte, $2.19/12oz - "Rich, clear red. Bubble. Nice lingering head. Smells like pumpkin spice. Full body. Tastes like a creamy pumpkin spice latte" (source).
  • Ballast Point Peppermint Victory at Sea, $3.99/22oz - "This Peppermint Victory at Sea is a festive take on our popular Imperial Porter. We took our trademark robust porter brewed with Caffe Calabria coffee and vanilla and added a dose of refreshing peppermint. The trio of flavo" (source).
  • Ballast Point Pumpkin Down, $1.89/12oz - "Some might think we’re out of our gourd for making a pumpkin ale, but our Pumpkin Down is not like the others.  The caramel and toffee maltiness of our Piper Down Scottish ale is the perfect backdrop for a boatload of roasted pumpkin. Just before bottling, we add a subtle amount of spice to complement, but not overwhelm, the earthy flavor. It was a smash at the brewery, and we think you’ll agree" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Sea Quench Ale, $2.09/12oz - "Our session sour quencher brewed with lime peel, black limes & sea salt" (source).
  • Southern Tier Warlock, $4.99/12oz - "Imperial stout brewed with pumpkins Warlock is brewed to enchant your palate on its own and also to counterpoint our Imperial Ale, Pumking. Make your own black magic by carefully pouring this Imperial Stout into a goblet" (source).
  • Southern Tier Vintage Pumking, $3.79/12oz - "" (source).
  • Oddside Electric Pineapple, $9.69/500ml (1 per) - " Sour Ale" (source).
  • Oddside Snozzberries, $2.29/12oz - "Wit IPA with cherries added" (source).
  • B Nektar Mutant Killer Zombie Manhattan Project Thingy, $11.79/500ml (1 per) - "Unfortunately, we’ve experienced some issues that we like to call “Uh-Oh’s”. We accidentally blended a few hundred gallons of Zombie Killer into one of the two tanks that contained Zombies Take Manhattan. Yep, we’re feeling pretty dumb" (source).
  • Shmaltz Reunion Ale, $9.59/22oz - "Complex dark ale brewed with chocolate, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger and Mexican chili pepper" (source).
  • Traveler Jack-O-Traveler, $1.59/12oz - "Jack-O Traveler is an alluring wheat beer illuminated by the tastes of fall. He strikes a perfect balance between bright refreshment and seasonal spice. Jack is brewed with fresh pumpkin, for a delicious dark-hued, Shandy-inspired beer" (source).
  • New Belgium Pumpkick, $1.69/12oz - "What’s that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. PUMPKICK is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but its the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your tastebuds sailing" (source).
  • Smuttynose Pumpkin, $1.79/12oz - "We brew Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale with real pumpkin and a blend of classic pumpkin pie spices in tribute to our colonial forebearers. Recipes calling for the use of pumpkins have been found from early European settlers in New England, when brewers sought to extend their supply of costly imported malt with locally grown ingredients, such as squash and “pompions.”" (source).
  • Clown Shoes Archdruid, $11.79/12oz - "A 9 percent ABV Imperial Irish red that has been aged in Irish whiskey barrels for three months" (source).

Link of the Week | Men's Journal

We're honored and humbled to be named one of the 50 best beer stores in the U.S.
by Men's Journal. Follow this link to see the complete list.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Anchorage Brewing Love Buzz Saison: Review

By Matt Ross (not pictured)

The Love Buzz from Anchorage Brewing Company is a big special beer. It is a saison brewed with rose hips, peppercorns and orange peel. It is fermented with saison yeast and brettanomyces. From there it is dry hopped with bright fruity Citra hops and then transferred into Pinot Noir barrels. This beer was a sensory overload. I felt like a dog chasing my tail, except that I had five tails all moving in different directions. And all of the tails were made of bacon. It’s a good thing.

The upfront appearance of this beer is stunning. It is a deep rich amber in color with a bright white head. It is very effervescent. The aroma is intense, full of grapefruit citrus and big brett with lots of underlying floral earth tones from the rose hips. This beer’s aroma reminded me of crisp leaves on a fall day. The flavor did not disappoint either. It was abundant with brett and oak. Paired with the orange and peppercorn, these flavors hung onto the palate. The finish had a mild, pleasant tannic flavor from the wine barrel.

Overall this beer was amazing. If someone handed you a glass and did not tell you what it was, it would be a very confusing beer to drink, but also a ton of fun to share and analyze with a friend. Each flavor was present which is a something Anchorage Brewing Company has been great about in my opinion. I would absolutely recommend this brew for sharing among friends. Beyond it being extremely well made, it will surely drum up lively conversation (especially due to it being 8%). Share the love!

Anchorage Brewing Love Buzz Saison is available now at Siciliano's ($15.99/750ml).

Friday, August 5, 2016

New Beer Friday, Hop Lot Edition (Aug 5)

Two Steves enjoy a beer.
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I’ve been hearing good things about Hop Lot Brewing Company so a few weeks ago my wife Barb and I decided to drive the hour north from our cottage on Big Bass Lake to check out one of the Traverse City area’s hottest new breweries. Visits to Tandem Cider and Mitten Brewing’s recently opened satellite location in Northport made our pleasant day trip to the Leelanau Peninsula even more enjoyable.

Hop Lot is located on M-22 just south of Sutton’s Bay. In just over a year the brewery has established itself as one of the area’s most popular tourist destinations. Owners Steve and Sarah Lutke have accomplished this by combining solid lineups of hand-crafted beer and well-prepared food with a beer garden that offers a unique “Up North” experience — campfires, community tables, a hop garden and a large, tree-shaded area with picnic tables and plenty of green space where patrons can play outdoor games.

There were only four beers on tap during our visit but head brewer Steve told us that he recently upgraded from a three-barrel to a ten-barrel system which he hopes will give him a better chance of keeping up with demand during the busy summer season. A selection of cider and wine is also available. Visit Hop Lot’s website for hours, special events and more information.

New and Returning Beer

  • Beard's Luna Wheat Ale, $2.29/12oz - "A medium wheat beer with notes of citrus" (source).
  • Beard's Oh, the Citranity, $2.29/12oz - "A pale ale featuring all Citra hops, bright citrus nose and flavor" (source).
  • Beard's Serendipity, $2.29/12oz - "Exceptionally smooth with a pronounced chocolatey flavor and balanced sweetness. Subtle notes of sherry and smoke on the finish. Pairs well with desserts featuring peanut butter and chocolate, or a second glass of Serendipity" (source).
  • Victory Berliner Weisse, $2.59/12oz - "Pale in color with a noticeable haze, this Berliner Weisse pours with fluffy white foam. Malt aromas combine with woody, spicy, and vanilla notes. Tart and sour flavors balance well with a floral, mildly sweet finish" (source).
  • Victory Sour Monkey, $10.79/750ml - "Aroma is very varied with lemon, sour, and mild brettanomyces notes. Flavor follows with a tart acidity. Not dry as it finishes with a malty grain flavor" (source).
  • Victory Festbier, $1.79/12oz - "Subtly sweet with a delicate malt nose, our Festbier gains its impressive body from our use of all imported German malts and decoction brewing process" (source).
  • Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Number four in our stout series, this beer is brewed with all malted barley and hardwood smoked malt. Aromas of smoked chocolate and coffee leave way to a full-bodied stout with a smokey finish. Fore is a house favorite among our brewer" (source).
  • Brooklyn Framboisie, $23.79/750ml - "Started as a base sour beer featuring barley malt, wheat, and spelt. This was then aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, each containing fifteen pounds of fresh raspberries. Finally, the beer was bottle conditioned with Brettanomyces lambicus and Champagne yeasts. The result is a sharp, dry, bombastic beer that is excellent with food. It is often enjoyed as a double feature with “Goat Cheeses,” “Salads,” “Chicken,” “Duck,” “Barbecue,” or “Game Meats”.No juices, purees or extracts were hurt during the course of this production" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "We’re exploring the roots of Germany’s famous Oktoberfest beers. Each year, we partner with a different German brewer to explore a different approach to the style. This year we’re working with Bamberg, Germany’s Mahrs Bräu on a new version of the classic style. This authentic version of the festival beer is deep golden in color with a rich malt complexity, but with a noticeable spicy hop character from the use of the nearly forgotten Record hop varietal" (source).
  • Stone Who You Callin' Wussie, $1.99/16oz - "For far too long the tyrannical industrialized beer overlords have disgraced and cheapened the noble heritage of the pilsner with their relentless multi-generational downward drive to commercialized homogenization. Over decades, this once vaulted style has been slowly and methodically gutted, bringing forth a soulless and anemic result, all the while spending billions in advertising to convince the unwitting public that their fizzy yellow end result was beer. Well, I will not have it. We are striking back for true craft by stealing the pilsner back from their evil clutches, and restoring it to its almighty glory. They do it cheaply. We do it right. Choose vapidity, or choose righteousness...but whatever you do, choose wisely" (source).
  • Odd Side I want my HTV, $2.29/12oz - "Imperial Citra Pale Ale" (source).
  • Left Hand Rye on the Prize, $9.99/22oz - "In 1993 we set out to change the world with better beer. To keep our eye on the prize, Left Hand has chosen an independent path to build a stronger community – founded on the best beer we can make. Rye on the Prize has a bold, hopped up character inspired by our mission to do good by you, the beer drinker, and our community" (source).
  • Hofbrau Oktoberfest, $1.89/12oz - "The Munich Beer Festival, or Oktoberfest, is an event of superlatives - it’s the largest popular festival in the world, staging in the beer metropolis of Munich. Millions of visitors from all over the world flock along every year to enjoy its very special atmosphere. For this occasion, Hofbräu brews a rich, full-bodied beer which goes down ideally with traditional Bavarian cuisine. With its deliciously bitter taste and alcoholic content of 6.3% volume, Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier is as special as the Beer Festival itself" (source).
  • Atwater Bloktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "Octoberfest, a German tradition that celebrates harvest. Now Atwater carries on the tradition with our own special lager "Blocktoberfest". Brewed with 100% German malt for a rich taste and amber color" (source).
  • Rogue Good Chit, $7.39/22oz - "Good Chit Pilsner is made with Rogue Farm barley that we Floor-Malted in small batches. Floor Malting is an old fashioned, 8 day process that includes steeping, germination, raking, roasting, bagging and hands-on love 24 hours a day. "Chit" refers to the start of the rootlets that emerge from the embryo of the kernel once steeping is complete and germination begins" (source).
  • Rogue 6 Hop IPA, $7.39/22oz - "The first in a fresh crop of Rogue Farms IPAs, crafted entirely from ingredients we grow ourselves in Oregon’s renowned Willamette Valley. The Rogue Farms Revolution, Independent, Alluvial, Rebel, Liberty and Freedom Hops in 6 Hop IPA create a well-balanced, drinkable IPA grown from Ground to Glass" (source).
  • Rogue 8 Hop IPA, $7.39/22oz - "The boss of the hop family, this IPA brings brash and burly flavors" (source).
  • Rogue Honey Kolsch, $2.09/12oz - "We grow bees. Taste the difference" (source).
  • Erdinger Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "This golden, clear Erdinger is brewed all-naturally, using traditional barrel-fermentation, never pasteurized" (source).
  • Sam Adams Octoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "The first thing you notice when pouring a glass of this seasonal beer is the color. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest has a rich, deep golden amber hue which itself is reflective of the season. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest is a malt lover’s dream, masterfully blending together four roasts of barley to create a delicious harmony of sweet flavors including caramel and toffee. The beer is kept from being overly sweet by the elegant bitterness imparted by the German Noble hops. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest provides a wonderful transition from the lighter beers of summer to the winter’s heartier brews" (source).
  • Great Lakes Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Cleveland’s celebration of Oktoberfest dates to the mid 1800’s when German immigrants gathered at outdoor beer gardens like Haltnorth’s and Kindvater’s St. Clair Gardens. Our amber lager with rich malt flavor and noble hops honors Cleveland’s diverse cultural heritage" (source).
  • Greenbush One and the Same, $1.99/12oz - "Raspberries from K & K Farms in Coloma, MI lend it tartness and sweetness and wheat lends it body. Where we’re from, these are One and the Same" (source).
  • Perrin Blackberry IPA, $1.89/12oz can - "Crisp and refreshing, our Blackberry IPA brings together floral and citrus hop notes and finishes with a sweet blackberry backbone" (source).
  • New Belguim Bretta IPA, $6.19/22oz - "Follow the rules, keep on the straight and narrow, play it safe—isn’t it time you shook things up a bit? Life’s too exotic to stick to the familiar, so hop on the wild side with Bretta IPA. This Hop Kitchen release dares to cross wickedly wild Brettanomyces yeast with some of our favorite fruity hop varieties. Conditioned on two strains of Brettanomyces for a month, the IPA’s citrusy, piney hop notes courtesy of Equinox, Galaxy and Warrior riff off the yeast’s pineapple flavors, while rustic undertones emphasize a wild streak. Bring the funk and mix it up with Bretta IPA" (source).
  • New Belgium & De Koninck Flowering Citrus Ale, $3.29/12oz (2 per) - "A beautiful summer day in Antwerp; the sun pours past the belfry and rooftops and floods into the market center. A ballet of brightly colored shoppers twists and twirls through the commotion, pinwheels of color against the cobblestone square. You find two seats on the café’s patio, ordering beers to pair with the bustling view: De Koninck Flowering Citrus Ale. This Lips of Faith collaboration with Antwerp’s historic De Koninck Brewery is a delightful burst of citrus and flowers, keeping pace with the color and commotion of summer. Sit back and enjoy the pop of key lime and whole lemons; breath in the fragrance of hibiscus, rose petals and strawberry-tinged Mistral hops; toast to life’s pleasant surprises. Soak in the summer scene with a Flowering Citrus Ale" (source).
  • Sunshine Meadery, $17.19/500ml - "Our meads begin and end with sunshine.  Every good mead begins with a love story between the sun and a flower, preparing it for the arrival of the honey bee. We put as much energy into developing honey into mead as the bee puts into making the honey for us. We strive to keep the sunshine flowing by adding enthusiasm, passion and energy to what we do. The result is a mead embodying its sunshine heritage" (source).

Video of the Week | Field & Fire Bakery

After all, bread is just solid beer.