View our Main Site »

Friday, July 28, 2017

New Beer Friday, John Palmer's Itinerary Edition (July 28)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you're involved in the West Michigan homebrewing community, I'm sure you're excited about noted author John Palmer coming to the environs of Beer City USA during the second week in August.

We'll be keeping John busy during his visit to West Michigan. In addition to scheduling a couple of meet-and-greets and book signings at Siciliano's Market, we have arranged for John to make appearances at Founders, The Mitten Brewery and Pigeon Hill. He will also be taping a radio interview, will participate in the Beer City Brewers Guild Pro-Am judging and will be attending the Guild's summer picnic at Long Lake Park.

The following is the complete schedule of John's public appearances.

Thursday, August 10

11 a.m. - 12 noon
Radio interview on the Grillin Guys
I Heart Media
77 Monroe Center NW, # 1000
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Airing schedule: Saturday, August 12, 8am Eastern ESPN 96.1 FM Grand Rapids, Michigan
Sunday, August 13, 7pm Eastern WOOD 1300 AM  106.9 FM Grand Rapids, Michigan

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing
Siciliano's Market
2840 Lake Michigan Dr NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing hosted by the Muskegon/Ottawa Homebrew Club
Pigeon Hill Brewery production facility
441 W. Western Ave.
Muskegon, MI 49440

Friday, August 11

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing
The Centennial Room, Founders Brewing Company
235 Grandville Ave. SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing
Siciliano's Market
2840 Lake Michigan Dr NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing hosted by Brewsquitos and Primetime Brewers Homebrew Clubs
Mitten Brewery production facility
527 Leonard St, NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

New and Returning Beer

  • Dark Horse Smells Like A Citra Safety Meeting, $2.19/12oz - "A new addition to the Smells Like family this IPA uses the same malt profile as our seasonal IPA called Smells Like a Safety Meeting and clocks in at 8.5% ABV. Instead of the proprietary hop blend we like so much in the original Smells Like a Safety Meeting, we removed all of the hops and replaced them with Citra hops giving this beer a very citrus forward nose and flavor profile" (source).

Video of the Week | John Palmer

John Palmer on the latest edition of his seminal book, How to Brew.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July Brew of the Month: Mark's Herbaceous Wheat Ales

By Mark Iacopelli and featuring Moondrop Herbals

Summer ales are booming! The warm weather came out of nowhere this year and I found myself without any brews for the season. In order to fill my taps for summer, I brewed a ten-gallon batch and split it to create two distinct beers. With many light summer beers a dash of herbs and spices add an extra layer of complexity to what would otherwise be a rather one-noted beer. For this month’s brew I wanted to showcase how the use of adjuncts and different yeasts can create two very different beers from the same malt and hop profile. This allows you to easily split batches and create a wide range of beers with only a few brew sessions.

MoonDrop Herbals Spotlight

At Siciliano’s Market we strive to always be a one-stop shop for homebrewers and we do carry a selection of herbs and spices for brewing and winemaking. However, sometimes when trying to create something new and unique a passionate brewer must look elsewhere for ingredients. This is where MoonDrop Herbals comes in.

MoonDrop Herbals features a wide array of ingredients from all over the world that can be used to spice up any homebrew. Conveniently, MoonDrop Herbals is located just a three-minute drive from our store west on Lake Michigan Drive.  I sat down with the owner Linda Snow to asked her a few questions.

How long has MoonDrop Herbals been around?

Moondrop Herbals Cottage of Natural Elements celebrated its fifth year as a brick and mortar business this past March. We are an aroma studio and retail space selling essential oils, herbs, teas and handmade skin and comfort care products. I've been studying the properties and uses of herbs and essential oils for the past twenty years and I am an advocate for the safe, informed and sustainable uses of Earth’s resources.

What are some of your favorite herbs and spices?

Since I stock over 150 dried herbs that have a multitude of uses and preparations, this is a tough question to answer! In terms of my experiences with flavorings for beverages in the form of tea, bitters or infused alcohol, here are a few of my favorites.

    • Floral - Lavender, roses, chamomile
    • Fruity – Lemon verbena, lemongrass, rosehips, dried berries
    • Herby – Sage, mint, rosemary, artemisia
    • Pungent – Black Pepper, Szechuan, Chili pepper
    • Spicy – cardamom, cacao nibs, cinnamon, ginger, star anise
    • Bitter – gentian root, orange peel, artichoke leaf
 . . . And don’t overlook teas for flavoring alcohol infusions - try Earl Grey, Jasmine green, or Rooibos!

Do you have any tips for trying new herbs and spices, or extracting their flavor?

Don’t be afraid to play with different combinations of flavors and lengths of time steeping the herbs. I like to mix cooling, floral herbs such as lavender with more warming or pungent herbs like Szechuan, cardamom or fennel, with maybe a lemony herb mixed in. Also – develop an appreciation for the taste of bitter herbs like gentian root, orange peel and lavender (lavender moves from floral, soft and light to very bitter the longer the steep) because they can really enhance and pull the other flavors together. In addition, studies have shown that bitter flavors improve digestion and increase metabolism of nutrients. For cooking – break down the ingredients in some of your favorite spice mixtures and try those spices or herbs separately to understand the individual flavors.

For these two beers elderberries, elderflowers, and sezchuan peppercorns were used. What are some other (non-beer related) uses for these ingredients?

    • Elderberry: (Sambucus nigra) Fresh elder berries are used to make jams, syrups and wine. Fresh and dried are used by herbalists to make syrups and elixirs for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.
    • Elder flowers: The flowers of Sambucus nigra are sometimes lightly fried and eaten or tossed in salads, and have traditionally been used as a cooling remedy for fevers and respiratory conditions. It is often used in natural skin care recipes to treat certain skin conditions. It is also said to bleach freckles.
    • Szechuan Pepper: (Zanthoxylum bungeanum) Szechuan, a member of the citrus family, is the pod of the fruit. Contrary to popular belief, szechuan pepper is not hot but is often paired with hot spices. Its flavor is a complete journey for the palate, moving from salty to zesty to tingling numbness that finishes with salty-sweet-citrus.  It is said to prepare the palate for the heat of accompanying spices.

Szechuan Pepper Saison

The saison that made up half of this batch turned out great. The beer pours a hazy golden color with a bright white head. On the nose light fruit, spice, biscuit come through from the malt and yeast. The peppers also imparted salty and citrus character in the aroma. The flavor of the beer reflects that of the aroma with some additional earthy character. The finish on the beer is dry but the wheat keeps it from being thin in body. By the end of a glass (or two) of this beer you start to get some of the numbing/tingling sensation from the peppers, as well as the palate altering effects. Pair this beer with any of your favorite dishes and it will change how they taste in interesting ways.

If this beer sounds interesting to you and you would like to try it before you brew it, you’re in luck. As part of the first annual Beer City Pro-Am this beer is currently on tap at Railtown Brewing Company for a limited time!

American Wheat with Elderflowers and Elderberries

The American wheat that made up the remaining wort is a great summer sipper for any fruit beer lover. The beer has a reddish hue from the elderberries. It has an rustic, slightly tart jammy character in the aroma that carries into the flavor. This beer also has a nice spicy wood and floral flavor from the elder flowers. This is all wrapped into a great cracker and biscuit malt profile. Despite a bold body on this beer it still finishes crisp and dry due to a warmer fermentation.

These beers were both an experiment for me. At first my only intention was to do a beer with elderberries and elderflowers because you rarely see anything that uses both. Then while talking to Linda I was amazed by the complexity of the Szechuan peppers she suggested I try, and I had to use them in a beer. At the end of the day I am happy with both beers. Either one of the beers is capable of being a summer staple. I think the American wheat would pair well with caramelized fruit off the grill and chicken. While the Szechuan Saison would pair with a tender steak rubbed in some slightly spicy herbs.

All Grain Malt Bill ($13.75/5 gallon)

    • 6 lb Briess Pilsner Malt
    • 3.5 lb Pilot White Wheat
    • .5 lb Caramunich I
    • 1 lb Rice Hulls

Extract 5 Gallon Malt Profile ($18.52/5 gallon)

    • 7.25 lb Wheat LME
    • 1 lb Caramunich I

Hops for 5 gallons ($4.87)

    • .5 oz (60 min) MI Super Cascade
    • .25 oz (30 min) Czech Saaz
    • .25 oz (20 min) Czech Saaz
    • .25 oz (20 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (15 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (10 min) Czech Saaz
    • .25 oz (10 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (5 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (0 min) Czech Saaz
    • If doing extract adjust hopping rates to account for top up water

Yeast/Additional Ingredients

    • Belle Saison (with the Szechuan Saison) ($4.99)
    • Safale US-05 ($3.49), 1056 ($7.99), or 001($7.99) (with the American Wheat)
    • Saison: 1 oz Szechuan Peppers steeped in 4 oz of vodka (add vodka after 7 days)
    • American Wheat: 1 oz elderberries steeped in 4 oz of vodka (add vodka after 14 days); 1 oz elderflowers in 8 oz hot or cold tea infusion (add liquid to taste)

Friday, July 21, 2017

New Beer Friday, Squirrel Nut Zipper Edition (July 21)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Every other week or so my wife Barb takes a trip to United Wholesale to pick up the supplies that we use in the day-to-day operations of Siciliano’s Market. In addition to such pertinent items as register tape, paper bags and replacement blades for box cutters, Barb always ensures that we have a good supply of the Smarties Double Lollies that we give to kids who accompany their parents into the store.

I love watching kids' faces light up when we offer them a lollipop. It's something that we've done for a number of years now. The small gesture always makes the children happy, usually make the parents happy and is, I think, one of the little things that helps to give our store that “mom & pop” ambience that our customers really seem to enjoy.

Barb was out of town a few weeks ago so I had to make the warehouse run. In addition to picking up a jar of suckers, I also picked up a jar of Squirrel Nut Zippers. I have fond memories of the little peanut-laced caramels from my childhood and I was sure the kids would, quite literally, eat them up.

I was wrong. So far not one kid has opted for a Squirrel Nut Zipper instead of a sucker. I wonder if it's the name.

New and Returning Beer

  • Ridge Cider Raspberry, $1.99/12oz - " Sweetened with raspberries to show you our sweeter side.  When it comes to Michigan made cider, there’s no place like home" (source).
  • Elk Brewing PB& Jaley, $1.79/12oz - "Blonde ale flavored with grape juice and peanut butter" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Lupa Luau, $2.59/12oz - "The story of Lupu-Luau began when Sam was hanging outside with coworkers during an overly-sunny day. One present coworker in particular was lacking heavily in the melanin department, to put it lightly. A friendly joke about a total tan aversion led to this legendary comment, “You can say it, Sam, I’m pale as f**k.” The brewer in Sam thought that would make a cool name for a super pale beer. From there the wheels started turning and the iterative R&D process began. Sam set out to make a hazy, overly pale, beer but the test batches weren’t quite there yet. However, during that process, he found out how great coconuts work in an IPA and decided that the new goal was to make an IPA using as much coconut as possible. We started with a combination of Pils malt with flaked barley, rolled oats, and malted and raw wheat to get it all hazy. Then we introduced coconuts three ways by adding toasted coconut, dehydrated coconut water and an experimental hop variety that provides a unique coconut & woody aroma. The result? A lupulin-loaded, coconut-centric ale. Our Lupu-Luau IPA" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Overnight Sensation, $2.19/16oz - "Fruity and lightly tart" (source).
  • Odd Side Instagator, $2.19/12oz - "An inclusive immoral ale with an impulsive ignorant hop bite" (source).
  • Abita Cypress Kriek, $4.69/22oz - "Cypress Kriek, a sour cherry ale by Abita Brewing Co. is a Lousiana take on the Belgian style. The hallmark of a traditional kriek is the secondary fermentation with sour cherries added to a spontaneously fermented lambic base. For Abita’s version, the beer is brewed with pale and wheat malts. Next, cherries were added and allowed to ferment slowly before the beer is aged. Cypress Kriek will feature 6 percent ABV in 22-ounce bottles according to a label submitted to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau" (source).
  • Abita Strawgator, $4.69/22oz - "Abita Strawgator™ is the fusion of Strawberry Harvest Lager sweetness with the bite of Andygator. This golden lager is made with malted barley and wheat. It is hopped with German Perle hops for a delicate hop flavor. After filtration, generous amounts of fresh Louisiana strawberry juice are added, giving the beer a pleasant sweet taste and aroma, as well as a rich golden color and slight cloudiness. Strawgator is a great dessert beer. It pairs well with fruit, dessert or sorberts. It is also excellent with chocolate dishes and cheeses such as St. Andre, Mascarpone and Brie" (source).
  • B. Nectar Stupid Man Suit, $7.99/500ml - "Crisp apple and cherry forward. The sides of the tongue garner the tartness of dry apple and unripened berries while a mild sweetness rounds and balances. Medium body with a dry, refreshing finish" (source).
  • Big Lake Brewing Triple Hopped Ryecoe, $7.99/22oz - "A decidedly hoppy and bitter ale with a light grainy spicy character and lingering dryness" (source).
  • Evil Twin Westbrook Imperial Mexican Biscotti Break, $15.99/22oz - "Evil Twin Brewing in collaboration with Westbrook Brewing Co. Ale with coffee, cinnamon, almonds, cocoa nibs, vanilla, and habanero peppers added" (source).
  • Farmhaus Crushable, $3.29/16oz - "You know that feeling when you jump in the water on a hot, sunny day? That's this cider. Cool, crisp and refreshing, it's like a poolside afternoon for your taste buds. Freshly picked cucumbers straight from our garden combined with all local apples create an easy-drinking cider that will quench your thirst and leave you craving that next sip. Enjoy it straight or use it as a mixer. Try and savor it if you can, but be warned: this cider is completely crushable" (source).
  • Short's Slurm Lord, $2.39/12oz - "Slurm Lord is a double New England style India Pale Ale brewed with oats and a blend of Citra, Azacca, Amarillo, Galazy, and Mosaic hops. We’re excited to say that the brewing of Slurm Lord employs the largest dry hop to date in SBC history! Deep orange in color with a permanent haze and a minimal head, a glass of Slurm Lord resembles a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Aromas of dank passion fruit, mango, and pineapple are accompanied by bold flavors of citrus. This medium-bodied India Pale Ale is incredibly juicy from start to finish. A final sip leads into a slight, warming bitterness" (source).
  • Tall Grass Blueberry Jam, $1.69/12oz - "After a successful solo tour, we decided to put a band together with our Jam Series! Jam out with this refreshingly tart, German-style wheat ale brewed with blueberries" (source).

Video of the Week | Michigin

Congrats to our friends at Long Road, makers of the "Best Gin in the World".


Friday, July 14, 2017

New Beer Friday, Relationship with Rum Edition (July 14)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I've had love affairs with various distilled spirits over the years but it was only recently that I entered into a relationship with rum. It began last January in Nicaragua when I was introduced to an aged Flor de Cana and was smitten by its seductive flavors of nougat, almonds and molasses.

I keep a bottle or two of rum in my liquor cabinet now. Over the last six months I've gotten to know some lovely Dominicans, Jamaicans and Venezuelans and I've got my eye on some beauties from Brazil, Trinidad, Guyana and Haiti.

Siciliano’s stocks a wide array of this captivating liquor. If you have an affinity for quality spirits but have yet to discover the seductive pleasures of a fine aged rum perhaps it’s time you give one a try.

New and Returning Beer

  • Founders DKML, $11.99/750ml, $3.99/12oz - "Here you have what could be the first malt liquor worthy of a glass. Typically a slighted style, we thought we would class it up with a stay in the wood and a healthy dose of dry-hopping. A huge hit of corn gives this one a smooth sweetness while its time spent aging in bourbon barrels will give you reason to share. Be warned: this one’s a pry-off, not a twist-off" (source).
  • Stone Wootstout, $9.49/22oz - "From the most unlikely yet intensely imaginative trio that is actor and uber-geek champion Wil Wheaton, alternative news website creator Drew Curtis and Stone CEO/Co-founder Greg Koch, comes an imperial stout unlike any ever made. Brewed with rye, wheat malt and pecans and partially aged in Bourbon whiskey barrels, this viscous yet silken brew erupts with an oaky, nutty bouquet and rich flavors of vanilla, toast and bitter chocolate. Enjoy now or cellar this celebration of nth degree passion and geekery applied most gracefully to the craft of brewing and collaboration-Drew Curtis/Wil Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout" (source).
  • Evil Twin Modern IPA, $2.09/12oz - "This is a tasty tribute to a beloved and iconic beer style - the India Pale Ale. The style goes 200 years back - has been through every spectrum of the flavor palette and had it’s ups and downs on the IBU scale. This time around we re-created a contemporary style IPA - basically the taste of the perfect IPA right now. Understated hop flavors, fruity and crisp. The future is now" (source).
  • Mikkeller San Diego California Dream, $2.99/16oz - "Hoppy Pilsener" (source).
  • Mikkeller San Diego Raspberry Blush, $2.99/16oz - "Berliner Weisse with raspberry and coffee" (source).
  • Mikkeller San Diego Waves, $2.99/16oz - "Notes of mosaic and citra, lots of dank tropical fruit, white wine, peach, and light malt. A very good rendition of a west coast IPA" (source).
  • Clown Shoes Space Cake #7, $4.29/16oz - "Why are Miracle Mike and his dog, Bionic, being chased by many evil laser beam shooting cupackes and two giant layer cake mother ships?  Because we’re straight up lunatic fools?  Well, maybe, but with a few brain cells remaining we managed to craft Space Cake double IPA, utilizing citrusy Mosaic hops and an immaculate West Coast style malt backbone.  Dude… chill out.  Enjoy some Space Cake" (source).
  • Clown Shoes La Pinguina En Fuego, $15.39/22oz - "People have been asking us to make a truly spicy chile beer, so we finally complied. Aged in rum barrels with habaneros, this version of chocolate sombrero is on a mission from God (to ingnite your palate)" (source).
  • Ommegang Bigger and Bretter, $16.09/750ml - "This is Bigger And Bretter and it is a Biere de Garde ale refermented with brettanomyces" (source).
  • Boulevard Foeder #2, $17.99/750ml - "The base beer for Foeder Project #2 is best categorized as a Flanders-style Red. Following primary fermentation with our house Belgian yeast strain, the beer was transferred into the foeder where lactobacillus brevis and brettanomyces had already taken up residence. No additional microbes or yeast strains were pitched to begin secondary fermentation. Over the course of several months, the beer evolved and developed beautiful flavors of tart peach/apricot and notes of under ripe berries and rhubarb with a borderline bracing acidity resulting in a refreshing, zippy finish" (source).
  • Rodenbach Fruitage, $1.89/8oz - "RODENBACH Fruitage gets its name from aged-old brewing techniques, combined with fruit infusions.  It's an instant classic – comprised of 25% authentically aged RODENBACH (2-year matured beer from oak standing Foeders) blended with 75% young RODENBACH ale, with added fruit of cherries and elderberries.  With an ABV of 4.2%, RODENBACH Fruitage is light and refreshing, perfect for easy drinking and to be enjoyed year-round" (source).
  • Oddside Hoplicated, $2.19/12oz - "Imperial Citra Red" (source).

Video of the Week | Founders Fest Recap

A look back at one of the area's most popular parties.


Friday, July 7, 2017

New Beer Friday, Perdomo Habano Edition (July 7)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The environs of Beer City USA have been blessed with some great summer weather lately and according to the forecasters there is more of the same on the way. Conditions should be ideal this weekend for one of my favorite warm weather pastimes — evening backyard deck sitting with a cold beverage and a good cigar. This summer I've been mixing my G&Ts primarily with excellent Junipero gin  ($29.99/750ml), and lately my evening smoke of choice has been a Perdomo Habano Sun Grown Churchill.

This medium-bodied, hour-long smoke features rich earthy flavors and subtle hints of spice. The Nicaraguan leaf wrappers in Perdomo's Habano series are aged for six years before being placed in bourbon barrels for an additional fourteen months of maturing. While the barrels impart no flavors or aromas of whiskey to the leaf, they do provide an excellent environment for aging tobacco and allow the wrappers to acquire a distinctly aromatic taste.

The Perdomo Habano series is also offered in Connecticut and Maduro wrappers and is available at Siciliano's in the following sizes and prices.

    • Robusto, 5 x 54, $6.59
    • Epicure, 6 x 54, $6.99
    • Torpedo,  6 ½ x 54, $7.19
    • Churchill, 7 x 54, $7.39

New and Returning Beer

  • Rockford Brewing Hoplust IPA, $1.99/12oz - "Hoplust is a profoundly hoppy and craft-style West Coast IPA! An intense bouquet of fresh hops will greet you on the nose.  Bursting tropical, citrus and piney flavors then explode on your palette.  Our approach to this IPA focuses more toward satisfying your craving for hop flavor than ramping up the bitterness. Using a proprietary blend of six hop varieties results in a unique, hoppy, flavor experience" (source).
  • Alesmith Speedway Stout, $8.59/16oz - "A HUGE Imperial Stout with coffee added for a little extra kick, jet black with a multitude of toasty, roasty and caramel malt flavor" (source).
  • Alesmith Orange X Pale, $2.39/12oz - "Extra pale ale with oranges" (source).
  • Alesmith Spezial Pils, $2.39/12oz - "Inspired by classic European lagers, our entire Brewing Team got together to create this truly collaborative beer that captures the essence of European tradition. The result, Spezial Pils, is our take on a German-style pilsner with a pleasant balance between light, grainy malt and spicy, floral hops. We lager it at freezing temperatures for an extended period to round out its delicate flavors and improve drinkability. The finish is crisp and clean with a pleasant dryness and subtle bitterness" (source).
  • Short's Power of Love, $2.39/12oz - "Power of Love is a truly unique pink-colored Shandy created by blending Northwoods Soda & Syrup Co. Gourmet Lemonade and a Wheat Ale brewed with raspberry and rosemary. Enticing sugary aromas intermix with appealing citrus and herb fragrances. Very sweet lemon flavors give way to a shock of tart raspberry before turning sharply dry, as if eating a piece of grapefruit" (source).
  • Arbor Cucumber Lime Gose, $2.89/12oz - "A Gose with cucumber and lime peel" (source).
  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Toonilla, $4.49/12oz - "Cream stout brewed with coffee from Dark Street Roasting Company and vanilla beans aged in bourbon barrels" (source).

Weekly Video | How to Make a Gin & Tonic

A solid tutorial on making gin & tonics, just in case.