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Friday, August 25, 2017

New Beer Friday, Get Your Grapes Edition (August 25)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you live in the environs of Beer City USA and are thinking about making wine from fresh grapes this fall, there are options available for home vintners who are looking to source locally grown fruit. Here is the contact information for Taylor Ridge Vineyards in Allegan and Morgan Vineyard in Coopersville, both good sources for fresh wine grapes:

    • Taylor Ridge Vineyards
    • 3843 105th Ave. Allegan, MI 49010
    • Email:
    • Cell: 269-491-1512
    • Home: 269-521-4047
We will be offering the free on-site use of our fruit crushers and basket presses from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on four consecutive Sundays in the parking lot behind the store. Dates for the free use of the equipment are as follows:

    • Sunday, September 10
    • Sunday, September 17
    • Sunday, September 24
    • Sunday, October 1
Bryan Taylor, Taylor Ridge

New and Returning Beer

  • Bell's Oktoberfest, $1.89/12oz - "Crafted as a flavorful session beer and perfect for autumn, Octoberfest spends a full six weeks fermenting. With herbal hop aromas, this balanced amber lager focuses on lightly toasted malt that lends body without too much sweetness. Perfect for a week-long wedding celebration in Germany or the start of the Michigan autumn" (source).
  • Founders Mosaic Promise, $1.29/12oz - "Mosaic Promise showcases two unique ingredients: Mosaic hops and Golden Promise malt. The versatility of the hop’s pleasing aroma and flavor characteristics and the traditional barley’s depth of flavor comprise this clean, rich, golden beer. We can brew complex beers with the best of them, but we recognize that there is also beauty in simplicity" (source).
  • Latitude 42 Party at the Moon Tower, $2.29/16oz - "Double IPA" (source).
  • Revolution Anti-Hero, $1.79/12oz - "Our flagship IPA is supremely aromatic, crisp, and drinkable. This iconic ale features a blend of Chinook, Centennial, Crystal, and Citra to create a crisp clean bitterness and imparts massive floral and citrus aromas. The Warrior hop is also used to add additional bitterness to the brew" (source).
  • Revolution Mosiac Hero, $2.19/12oz - "This speciality IPA is quite unique with a heavy usage of a rare and sought-after hop, Mosaic. Mosaic Hero is brewed with Pale and CaraFoam malts and Naked Golden Oats to yield a rich copper color and smooth mouthfeel. Finally, we dry hopped this unique IPA with Mosaic and a small amount of Crystal to enhance the aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, and fresh pine" (source).
  • Revolution Oktoberfest, $1.79/12oz - "Classic German-style Oktoberfest Lager that goes down smooth with a pleasant, toasty, malt flavor. 100% German malts establish a supple and flavorful base for this traditional Oktoberfest lager. Brewed with a hop called Hallertau Gold, grown on only one farm in the whole of Bavaria, to deliver a hop profile which is at the same time both classic and unique" (source).
  • Weihenstaphener Oktoberfest, $2.09/12oz - "A full rich bodied, hoppy, seasonal lager. Especially brewed for the Festbier season. This beer truly represents the Bavarian way of celebrating. Deep gold color, great mouthfeel and lots of flavor" (source).
  • Against the Grain Citra Ass Down, $3.89/16oz - "This is a very hop forward American style IPA. Brewed with Pale, Vienna, Munich and wheat malt for a solid base for all American hops, focusing mainly on the variety “Citra.” Citra hops are a relatively new variety introduced in 2008. It was bred as a hybrid of a number of different hops, including Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, U.S. Tettnanger, East Kent Golding, Bavarian, Brewers Gold, and other unknown hops. The resulting hop, Citra, has a distinct citrusy and tropical fruit flavor and aroma. In Citra ass down we used American Columbus for bittering and 11# of Citra at the end of the boil for late kettle addition flavor and aroma. Then we added 6 more pounds Citra and 5# Centennial post fermention for aroma. Rebrewed for your tasting pleasure" (source).
  • Pike 51 Onward and Upward, $5.79/12oz - "Session Wild Ale" (source).
  • Pike 51 Beer City Kolsch, $2.89/22oz - "Beer City Pro-Am collaboration with Jeff Carlson" (source).
  • Pike 51 Satisfied Mind, $10.79/22oz - "Double IPA" (source).
  • Odd Side Blood Orange, $2.19/12oz - "A hop forward IPA that boasts an abundance of hop aroma to go along with a blast of citrus and blood orange flavor" (source).
  • Odd Side Honey Blue Blue, $2.39/12oz - "Honey Ale with blueberries" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose, $1.99/12oz - "A tart, refreshing wheat ale that is kettle-soured with lactobacillus and brewed with sea salt and coriander, featuring liberal additions of blood oranges" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Holy Gose, $1.99/12oz - "With a bright, golden color and tight creamy head, the earthy wood undertones in our Gose develop into a light mineral aroma with a hint of lemon zest and tropical fruit. Before boiling, the wort is kettle soured with lactobacillus, imparting an initial refreshing tartness that gives way to a subtle fullness. Flavors of guava and peach are followed by a slight sea salt dryness and lemon sourness that is enhanced by coriander and post-fermentation additions of salt. The finish is dry, effervescent, and lemon tangy, reminiscent of a fresh sea breeze" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose, $1.99/12oz - "Born from our passion for experimentation, our Briney Melon Gose boasts a thirst-quenching tartness that is perfectly balanced by subtle watermelon flavors and aromas.  Gentle additions of sea salt create a refreshing harmony between the acidity and fruity sweetness leading to clean, dry finish" (source).
  • Short's Peachy Pom Pom, $2.39/12oz - "Peachy Pom Pom is a rosy colored American Sour Ale brewed with peaches and pomegranate. Tart berry aromatics accentuate the sweet and sour fruit flavors within this beer. A huge tangy mouth feel with some initial acidic citrus qualities shocks the palate before a clean and lightly dry finish" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Tiny, $3.29/12oz - "TINY is a Belgian inspired Imperial Stout weighing in at 11.8% ABV. You’ll find big chocolate and roasted notes, balanced with the Belgian flavors from the Abbey yeast strain" (source).
  • Avery Coconut Porter, $13.79/22oz - "Copious quantities of coconut coupled with time basking in bourbon barrels complement the chocolaty and sumptuous nature of this delectable porter" (source).
  • Atwater Teufel Bock, $1.99/12oz - "Our Weizen Dopplebock is dominated with 60% wheat that imparts a nutty-bisquit flavour. Ir is complimented with Perle and Hersbrucker hops for a nice sweet finish. Our biggest beer yet" (source).
  • Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot, $4.79/22oz - "Rich, smooth, dangerous, and chocolatey. It's a big ol' hoppy Imperial Brown Ale to help you with your slippery slide on into the heat of the night" (source).

Video of the Week | Green Zebra

Green Zebra is now available at Siciliano's.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

August Brew of the Month: Paint It Red Pale Ale

By Max Spencer

Brewing is an ancient tradition — one as old as civilization itself. I am often humbled by the fact that we get to take part in a ritual our ancestors have performed for millennia when brewing at home. It’s amazing to think about the effort that went into making beer before the rise of modern malts, yeast labs, hop companies and homebrewing stores. Nevertheless, despite new technologies and suppliers, ingredients and methods haven’t changed much in the last few hundred years. Occasionally, something comes along and drives this point home for me — in this case, it was a yeast.

In 2014, a homebrew enthusiast named Lars Garshol went to the Stranda region of Norway during a trip to learn about Norwegian farmhouse ales, local homebrewing methods, and kveik yeast — you can read about this trip on his incredibly informative Larsblog. Louis Pasteur was the first scientist to show that yeast is the agent of fermentation in 1857, but brewers were unintentionally propagating yeast centuries before this realization. One of the most illustrative examples of traditional yeast propagation is the kveik Lars sought. Most brewers have heard old stories of straw wreaths and wooden logs being soaked in batches of fermenting beer and transferred to future batches — this is the origin of kveik. Good strains of kveik were passed down for generations and traded between families; they are living artifacts.

Lars was successful in his quest for kveik thanks to the generosity of Stranda homebrewer Stein Langlo in the form of two sour cream containers full of gray flakes. Lars sent this yeast to the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) in the UK for analysis. Despite difficulties in propagating the yeast, they managed to recover one strain from the sample. Omega Yeast Labs eventually purchased a culture of the strain from the NCYC and made it commercially available in 2015 as the HotHead Ale OYL-057. It’s an amazing yeast with high attenuation, medium-high flocculation and an insane fermentation temperature range (62-98°F). The large temperature range makes it an ideal house strain for any homebrewers with a lack of temperature control in their home. HotHead produces mild fruity esters, but otherwise has a very clean character that lends itself well to any modern ale styles.

I decided to use the HotHead in a pale ale — a Norwegian farmhouse ale may be the next experiment on the docket for this yeast. I used Calypso hops which provide aromas and flavors of red apple, pear, tea and earth. I also dry hopped a small amount of my beer (one gallon) for two days with 0.25 oz of rooibos tea — an African tea with flavors of earth and vanilla. I enjoyed both variations of the beer, and the rooibos is unnecessary unless it appeals to you. I would use one ounce of tea for a full 5-gallon batch. My fermentation temperature varied between 70-95°F to push the yeast. The result was a beautifully clean fermentation with slight citrusy esters — this yeast can really take a beating on the temperature front. Try out the HotHead for your next batch — not only is it a great yeast in terms of fermentation, but it’s a living fossil that echoes forth from generations of homebrewers.

All Grain ($26.68)

    • 5.5 lbs. Pale Malt
    • 4 lbs. Munich Malt 10L
    • 0.5 lbs. Melanoiden Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Honey Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Golden Naked Oats
    • 15g Gypsum in mash / sparge
    • 0.25 oz. Calypso first wort @ 60 min.
    • 0.25 oz. Calypso @ 30 min.
    • 0.50 oz. Calypso @ 15 min.
    • 1.00 oz. Calypso @ 0 min. 
    • 1 package Omega Yeast Labs HotHead Ale (OYL-057)
    • OG: 1.054 FG: 1.010
    • ABV: 5.9% IBUs: 41.0
    • SRM: 8.2
Mash Schedule: Mash in with 3.3 gallons of water @ 164°F (target temp for mash is 152°F). Drain mashtun, batch sparge with 4.75 gallons of water @ 175-180°F.

Extract ($39.17)

    • (Boil volume: 3.5 gallons; if boiling full volume, use all grain hop additions)
    • 4.25 lbs. Light Liquid Malt Extract
    • 3.3 lbs. Munich Liquid Malt Extract
    • 0.25 lbs. Honey Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Biscuit Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Golden Naked Oats
    • 0.25 lbs. Corn Sugar
    • 0.50 oz. Calypso @ 60 min.
    • 0.50 oz Calypso @ 30 min.
    • 1.00 oz Calypso @ 15 min.
    • 1.00 oz Calypso @ 0 min. 
    • 1 package Omega Yeast Labs HotHead Ale (OYL-057)
    • OG: 1.055 FG: 1.010
    • ABV: 5.9% IBUs: 45.5
    • SRM: 8.6

Friday, August 18, 2017

New Beer Friday, Big Sale Edition (August 18)

Sale, sale, sale!
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We are pleased to announce that the 2017 edition of the Siciliano’s Beer & Wine Making Customer Appreciation Sale will begin on Tuesday, September 5, and will continue through the close of business on Sunday, September 10.

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 27, 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
    • BARLEY CRUSHER, 7LB HOPPER: Regular $169.00, Sale $139.00
    • BARLEY CRUSHER, 15LB HOPPER: Regular $189.00, Sale $159.00
    • REFRACTOMETER: Regular, $49.00, Sale $40.00
    • 8-GALLON BREWERS BEAST BREW POT: Regular $115.00, Sale $79.00
    • 16-GALLON BREWERS BEAST BREW POT, Regular $175.00, Sale $129.00
Finally, be sure to stop by the store on Saturday, September 9, for free German wieners, homemade sauerkraut and draft root beer.

New and Returning Beer

  • Rochester Mills Juice Bigalow, $2.19/16oz - "NE style IPA" (source).
  • Right Brain Chubby Squirrel, $1.79/12oz - "Brewed with secret blend of spices, this is a fall beer that keeps the pumpkin out of things" (source).
  • Rogue Cold Brew IPA, $2.09/12oz - "Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ Cold Brew Coffee is blended with an IPA made using Rogue Farms hops for a unique interplay of hops and coffee flavors. Opening with a huge hit of rich coffee aroma that is balanced by a not-so-subtle hop punch, the transition is seamless from one bold flavor to the next" (source).
  • Damm Daura Lager, $1.79/12oz - "Daura is the gluten-free beer from Damm. Thanks to Damm's technology and experience, we can now enjoy a real beer suitable for coeliacs" (source).
  • Damm Daura Shandy, $1.79/12oz - "Damm is launching its first lager with lemonade crafted to remove gluten. Daura Shandy has all the characteristics of Daura whilst at the same time offering the character, freshness and taste of a shandy. This refreshing beer is part of Damm’s commitment to innovation and research in the development of new products crafted to remove gluten, specifically for celiac and gluten aware consumers" (source).
  • Maui Pineapple Mana, $2.89/12oz - "Maui Gold pineapple gives sweet aroma to this smooth-bodied, tropical brew" (source).
  • Maui Mango Hefe, $2.09/12oz - "Bavarian-style wheat ale brewed with locally sourced mango" (source).
  • Alaskan Coffee Brown, $1.69/12oz - "Our latest Rough Draft Limited is a collaboration with Heritage Coffee -- a delicious beer we call Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown Ale" (source).
  • Blackrocks Presque Ale, $2.09/12oz - "A nicely hopped summer ale. A beer made for watching sunsets and/or sunrises" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Plein de Vie Escoffier, $11.99/500ml - "Escoffier is our much heralded collaboration with New Belgium Brewing in Ft. Collins, CO. Coinciding with their entry into Michigan in August 2012, this project began with a friendly meeting at our pub. After a few beers and some food, the idea to brew a beer together started to take shape" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Love Shadow, $5.39/16oz - "Taking up his (or her) mash paddle on brew day, the brewer has his (or her) eye on the future months when flavors all come together. However, there is always a shadow of mischief that comes in the forms of fermentation, wooden barrels, grain terroir or water pH. Still, guiding this magical elixir from start to finish is the brewer's duty. With Love Shadow, we have guided a powerful Belgian inspired Imperial stout through the bourbon barrel aging process and come out the other side with a full bodied behemoth with notes of chocolate, vanilla, and oak char. Drink Up" (source).
  • Founders Green Zebra, $1.79/12oz - "Subtly sour and a little sweet, this ale is a refreshing take on a nearly extinct German style, gose. Watermelon is the highlight of this lightly-hopped treat and gives it a hint of satisfying juiciness. The soft mouthfeel and dry finish comes courtesy of the addition of sea salt, a traditional gose ingredient" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Screaming Pumpkin, $2.19/16oz - "An Amber Ale brewed with roasted pumpkin in the mash then spiced with ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Spicy and refreshing. A great tailgating beer" (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).
  • Spencer Trappist Quad, $3.69/12oz - "Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale is fragrant, robust and full bodied, mahogany in color and crowned with a dense, tan, frothy head. Its malt-forward profile yields to a warm finish, with an ABV of 10.2%" (source).
  • Stone 21st Anniversary Hail to the Hop Thief, $8.99/22oz - "The big wide world inspires our imagination and fuels our passions. Anything from music, film, beer, literature, architecture, food, engineering, poetry…all art forms essentially, including more beer. We steal with any and all things that possess the one value that we hold most dear: authenticity. The important thing of course is that ‘It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.’ So, what are we saying about this beer, exactly? We gave it our take. We took all there is to love about the IPA, got creative, dry-hopped it a lot, left it unfiltered and shared it openly in the hopes that in some way it may, in turn, inspire you. Hail to The Hop Thief, an original" (source).
  • Evil Twin Sour Bikini, $2.59/12oz - "Named after atom bomb test grounds, designed by a French car engineer - the bikini was to many a disturbing and degrading creation and fortunately for others a symbol of emancipation. This is attractively light bodied, seductively well balanced and very drinkable Sour Bikini is anything but a sissy beer" (source).
  • Evil Twin Sumo in a Sidecar, $2.89/16oz - "This is our take on a classic cocktail with an Asian twist and a cool name. An IPA with apricot and a slim hint of umami. It’s crisp, fruity and perhaps full-bodied" (source).
  • Evil Twin Unstouttd, $4.79/16oz - "Smoked imperial stout" (source).
  • Moonlight Meadery How 'Bout Them Apples, $4.79/12oz - "Bourbon barrel aged New England hard cider" (source).
  • Tilquin Oude Mûre à l’Ancienne, $29.99/750ml - "Beer of spontaneous fermentation, the Oude Mûre Tilquin à l’Ancienne is made from the fermentation of 350 gr of blackberries by liter of lambic. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, this beer is refermented in the bottle" (source).
  • Tilquin Oude Quetsche à l’Ancienne, $29.99/750ml - "The Quetsche Tilquin à l’ancienne (6.4% alc / vol) is a spontaneous fermentation beer obtained from the fermentation of destoned fresh purple plums (Quetsche véritable d’Alsace, close to the Damson) in a blend of 1 and 2 years old lambics for a period of 4 months. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, it is re-fermented in the bottle for a minimum period of 3 months. The lambics used were fermented and matured in our own oak barrels at the blendery. They are made from worts brewed by Boon, Lindemans, Girardin and Cantillon. The taste is slightly tart but also fruity and round which makes this Quetsche à l’ancienne may be more accessible for non-experts or less sophisticated palates. It also has a slight dryness from the skin of the plums. The nose perceives a plum brandy perfume" (source).
  • Prairie Twist, $2.89/12oz - "Dry-Hopped Farmhouse Ale" (source).
  • Prairie Prison Rodeo, $4.09/12oz - "A hoppy coffee ale brewed with Idaho 7, mosaic, summit and simcoe hops as well as Ethiopia Konga Natural coffee sourced from Spaceship Earth Coffee in McAlester, Oklahoma" (source).
  • Traveler Brewing Jacko Traveler, $1.69/12oz - "Representing the darker side of Shandy, Jack-O Traveler is an alluring wheat beer illuminated by the tastes of fall. It strikes a perfect balance between bright refreshment and seasonal spice. Jack-O is made with real pumpkin for a delicious dark–hued, Shandy-inspired beer" (source).

Video of the Week | Glengarry Glenn Mitten



Friday, August 11, 2017

New Beer Friday, Paying Your Dues Edition (August 11)

The wooly bugger with another nice catch
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It began raining again as soon as we turned off the two track onto Six Mile Road.

“Rotten day for fishing,” Harry said while rolling up his window.

“Oh, we’re definitely going to get wet,” I said while rolling up mine.

When we got to the bridge Harry pulled his old Jeep into the clearing at the public access and we looked at the river through the slapping of the windshield wipers.

“It’s high all right,” Harry said. “We better get out and take a look.”

We walked up to the asphalt and then onto the bridge and looked downstream at the rain swollen river.

“See anything?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, lots of muddy water.”

“I think I saw a rise on the right by that cluster of logs.”

“Wishful thinking,” I said. “I don’t think they’ll be rising today.”

“Then we’ll use nymphs.”

“It may be too muddy for nymphs.”

“Streamers then.”

“It may be too muddy for streamers.”

“Well,” Harry said. “What do you think we should do?”

“I think we should go to breakfast.”

While we were walking off the bridge a pickup pulled into the parking area and by the time we got back to the Jeep a young man had the tailgate open and was threading line through the eyes of a fly rod. “Morning fellas,” he said. “Going fishing?”

“Not today,” Harry said. “Say, that’s a nice looking rod. Split bamboo?”

“Sure is,” the young man said. “1954 Abercrombie and Fitch. It was my grandfather’s.”

“You actually going out?” I asked. “The water’s pretty muddy and it doesn’t look like this rain is going to end anytime soon.”

The young man sat on the tailgate and began pulling on his waders. “Sure am. I might not catch any fish but like my grandfather used to say, it’s a perfect day for paying your dues.”

Harry pulled his oilcloth hat further down over his eyes. “What did he mean by that?”

The young man put on his fishing vest and took a fly box out from one of the front pockets. “Think I’ll start with a Wooly Bugger,” he said to himself then smiled and looked up at Harry. “It would only take ten seconds for grandpa to tie an improved clinch knot and he could tie a surgeon’s knot in the dark. I never saw him put a fly in a tree and he was a master at reading the water. But he was totally convinced that the only reason he caught a lot of trout was that he wasn’t a fair weather fisherman. He called it being willing to pay his dues. I know for a fact that if he was still alive he would be wading in that river.”

It was still raining an hour later when Harry and I were at the Irons Café. “We’ll take the check,” I said when the waitress came up to the table with a pot of coffee. When we were back in the Jeep we lit our pipes and sat staring out the window.

“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Harry asked.

“Probably,” I said.

Harry started the engine and put the Jeep in gear. “Well, where do you think we should go?”

“How about Hopper Junction” I said. “I’ve got a new wooly bugger I’ve been wanting to try.”

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Second Sun, $11.99/500ml - "We have been a pioneer in the craft beer industry since opening our original Arbor Brewing Company Pub and Eatery in downtown Ann Arbor, MI in July of 1995. Our commitment to handcrafted beer, exceptional hospitality, local sourcing, community involvement, and environmental stewardship has been the foundation for our growth and success for nearly two decades" (source).
  • Keweenaw Borealis Broo, $1.69/12oz  - "A coffee infused Amber Ale" (source).
  • Keweenaw Hefe Royal, $1.69/12oz - "A classic German Hefeweizen" (source).
  • Keweenaw Level 92, $1.69/12oz - "A Black India Pale Ale" (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).
  • Stone Enjoy by 9/4, $2.99/12oz - "Our all-important, hop- driven quest to deliver the most devastatingly fresh IPA on the planet facilitated a paradigm shift in 2012 with the launch of Stone Enjoy By IPA. Not only did we brew this beer with more than 10 different hops, we brewed it specifically NOT to last. For this version of Stone Enjoy By IPA, we thought: “We don’t always have a filter, so why should our beer?” By skipping a step and letting this devastatingly fresh, golden-hued double IPA go unfiltered, the beer takes on a hazy appearance and its peach and tropical fruit hop aromas are intensified. So though it may sound like it, this missed step was no misstep" (source).
  • Uinta Punk'n, $1.59/12oz - "This sessionable pumpkin ale is brewed with real pumpkin and a spice medley of nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice" (source).
  • Uinta Fest Helles, $1.59/12oz - "Flavors of graham cracker an biscuit, with a hint of honey. Spicy hops balance it out. Highly drinkable lager with a semi-dry finish" (source).
  • Unibroue Lune de Miel, $2.99/12oz - "Honey, which completes the bottle refermentation process, is a perfect match for the hoppy bouquet with rich hints of spices, herbs and wildflowers" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Oktoberfest, $2.19/16oz - "A malty, German-style Lager with low to moderate hop bitterness featuring a medium body and brilliant orange-ish amber color. Due to its popularity, Oktoberfest is consistently Rochester Mills best-selling seasonal beer. Rich, yet easy drinking, and incredibly delicious. Order early to get this limited Seasonal Release made popular by the annual Fall Festival that originated in Munich, Germany and is celebrated world-wide, including popular local celebrations" (source).
  • Spaten Oktoberfest, $1.79/12oz - "The beer of Munich’s famous Oktoberfest: aromatic, savoury, gold-colored" (source).
  • Deschutes HopZeit, $1.79/12oz - "If you’re looking for a traditional Oktoberfest, head to Munich. This modern ale inspired by the time-honored flavors of a Märzenbier combines classic malts with the latest hop varietals from Germany to deliver an herbal and balanced Autumn IPA that’s as at home in your backyard as the biergarten. Celebrate the season by sharing with friends, and skip the lederhosen- your friends will thank you" (source).
  • Deschutes Black Butte XXIX, $17.19/22oz (1 per) - "Every year, we celebrate our anniversary with an imperial, barrel-aged version of our flagship Black Butte Porter. This year, to celebrate 29 years, of brewing, we’ve added Chocolate Malt, cocoa and cinnamon for another multi-layered flavor experience" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, $3.29/12oz - "This 8.0% ABV pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! We have added lots of pumpkin along with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove, giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor" (source).
  • Atwater Blueberry Cobbler, $2.99/12oz - "Blueberry Cobbler is deceptively complex outing that features bready malts the dryness of fermented blueberries, light vanilla and blueberry aromatics. Strong, yet the flavors play well together" (source).
  • Atwater Pumpkin Spice Latte, $2.19/12oz - "Pumpkin Spice Latte features a Munich Dark malt which lends a walnut-like presence, Honey malt which lends a light honey note and Melanoidin malt which lends a bright sweetness. Flaked Barley creates a full mouthfeel. Our Pumpkin Spice and Coffee Extracts are custom designed locally and provide a balanced representation of this seasonal fascination" (source).

Video of the Week | Michigan Terroir

There's no place like the Mitten State.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Hops! August 2017 Edition

Cryo Hops

We recently brought in a new product from Yakima Chief-Hopunion (YCH) Hops called LupuLN2, a type of “Cryo Hop.” Cryo Hops are the result of a cryogenic freezing and separation process that creates two products — Debittered Leaf and LupuLN2 powder.

LupuLN2 powder is concentrated lupulin — the resins, essential oils and acids found in hops — allowing brewers to add intense hop flavors and aromas without introducing excessive vegetative material to their beer — material which can add astringent grassy flavors at high concentrations.

LupuLN2 is roughly twice as strong as traditional hop pellets and can be substituted in recipes by using half of the required additions by weight. Debittered Leaf retains some aroma and flavor characteristics of the base hop with lower alpha acids, but is currently unavailable to us. We have five varieties of LupuLN2 in stock as of August 2017.


    • Aroma: Medium intense floral, citrus and grapefruit flavors
    • Alpha Acid: 9 – 13%
    • Oil Content: 2 – 4%


    • Aroma: Grapefruit, melon, lime, gooseberry, passion fruit, lychee
    • Alpha Acid: 23 – 27%
    • Oil Content: 3.5 – 5.5%


    • Aroma: Melon, berry, orange peel, lime, papaya, fresh peppers
    • Alpha Acid: 23 – 27%
    • Oil Content: 5 – 7%


    • Aroma: Blueberry, tangerine, papaya, rose blossom, grass, bubblegum
    • Alpha Acid: 20 – 24%
    • Oil Content: 3.5 – 5.5%


    • Aroma: Passion fruit, pine, berry and earth
    • Alpha Acid: 21 – 25%
    • Oil Content: 2.5 – 4.5%

New Hop Varieties

Over the last three months we also accumulated six new hop varieties. Two varieties — the MI Empire and the MI Vojvodina — are from K&K Farms located on the Leelanau Peninsula, south of Sutton’s Bay. It makes us happy that we can carry a wider variety of local Michigan hops and hopefully that trend will continue.


    • Aroma: Citrus, stone fruit, resin, tropical fruit
    • Alpha Acid: 18 – 19%
    • Beta Acid: 5 – 6%
    • Beer Styles: IPAs, DIPAs, Reds, Saisons

MI Empire from K&K Farms (A Swedish descendant of Cluster)

    • Aroma: Plum, fig, cucumber and mild wood. 
    • Alpha Acid: 8.5 – 10.5%
    • Beer Styles: IPAs, Pale Ales, Cream Ales, Pilsners

MI Vojvodina from K&K Farms

    • Aroma: Mild wood, spice and citrus. “Super Golding”.
    • Alpha Acid: 6.5 - 8.5%
    • Beer Styles: Lambics, Porters, European Ales, Stouts, Pilsners

Dr. Rudi from Michigan Hop Alliance

    • Aroma: Herbal, resin, pine, lemongrass, dried fruit
    • Alpha Acid: 10 – 12%
    • Beta Acid: 7 – 8.5%

NZ Sticklebract from Michigan Hop Alliance

    • Aroma: Robust citrus and pine needles
    • Alpha Acid: 12 – 13%
    • Beta Acid: 6 – 7%
    • Beer Styles: IPAs, DIPAs, Barleywines

Triple Pearl from Michigan Hop Alliance

    • Aroma: Mellow and pleasant. Citrus, orange, spice, pepper, melon, tropical fruit, pine.
    • Alpha Acid: 10.3 – 11.2%
    • Beta Acid: 3.3 – 4.2%
    • Beer Styles: Pale Ales, Wheat Beers, Belgian Ales

Friday, August 4, 2017

New Beer Friday, Summer's Not Over Edition (August 4)

Steve fishing the Pere Marquette River.
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It’s August already and if my cache of Squirrel Nut Zippers got replenished each time I heard someone lamenting that fact in the store over the last few days I'd have enough nut-laced caramels to last me through the other side of Christmas.

It's easy to get discouraged when we realize that summer is zipping by (pun intended) but there's still plenty to look forward to over the next two months. Tomatoes are getting ripe and that means caprese salads and fresh spaghetti sauce. Bushels of peaches and plums are starting to show up on roadside stands and in a month or so my wife Barb and I will be sourcing Michigan grown grapes for our homemade wine.

Late summer means days of pastel blue skies and serenades of chirping crickets at night. I'm looking forward to the first tinge of red on the backyard maples, to fresh apple cider and to late summer fly fishing on the Big Sauble, Little Manistee and the Pere Marquette.

When the first of August arrives there's always a tendency to lament the ineluctable passing of summer. It's always good to remind ourselves that another eight weeks of summer still lie still ahead.

New and Returning Beer

  • Shiner Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "This festive seasonal has a deep amber color and slightly toasted flavor. The initial rich malty aroma and sweetness fades to a moderately dry, hoppy finish" (source).
  • Blakes Black Phillip, $2.09/12oz - "This new cranberry and blood orange infused semi-sweet cider veers away from the more predictable fall style brews with a more complex and interesting flavor that is perfect for Autumn. This is Blake’s Hard Cider’s first seasonal to be launched in a 12 oz can and it will be distributed in 8 states throughout the midwest" (source).
  • New Belgium VooDoo Atomic Pumpkin, 1.69/12oz - "Not too spicy, not too sweet, and not like any pumpkin beer you’ve had before. This pumpkin was brewed with Saigon Cinnamon and Habanero and De Arbol peppers for an explosion of flavors that’ll keep you coming back for more" (source).
  • Dark Horse Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "Copious amounts of Bonlander Munich Malt give this beer a great malt sweetness and very big body to enjoy with the change in season. This beer is released to coincide with the official Oktoberfest in Munich Germany" (source).
  • Dark Horse Thirsty Trout Porter, $1.99/12oz - "Thirsty Trout is a rich, robust American Porter. Dark brown in color with medium to heavy body and hints of light roast. Aromas of chocolate leave way to a full mouthfeel and somewhat sweet finish to make this porter a desirable companion..Thirsty Trout is a rich, robust American Porter that will have you yelling "CHOCOLATE!" after the first whiff. Dark brown in color with medium body and hints of light roast. The aromas of chocolate cupcake lead the way to a sweet caramel and toffee body that finish beautifully with hops. Stay trout my friends" (source).
  • North Peak Dauntless, $1.79/12oz - "Brewed with a traditional Munich lager yeast, Dauntless is a copper colored mal forward salute to the Oktoberfest celebration taking place in Germany every year sine 1810. Tettnang and Hallertauer hops compliment the malt flavors by adding subtle, spicy hop notes. Malty, smooth and eminently drinkable" (source).
  • North Peak Zephyr, $2.59/12oz - "Mosaic Lupulin Powder, Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, Columbus. Oats added" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Each year, we partner with a different German brewer to explore the roots of Germany’s famous Oktoberfest beers. This year, we’re collaborating with Germany’s Brauhaus Miltenberger, whose approach to the classic style we’ve long admired. The result is a festival beer true to their style—deep golden in color with deceptively rich malt flavor and balanced by traditional German-grown whole-cone hops" (source).
  • Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail, $2.89/12oz - "Did you like Before During and after Christmas, maybe you thought it poured brilliantly, the alcohol was admirable well hidden and you loved how the arrogant amounts of hops numbed your mouth. This beer will knock your tongue off - it’s a tour de force in hoppiness and by far one the craziest beer ever made by Evil Twin Brewing" (source).
  • La Sirène Sour Red, $11.99/500ml - "La Sirène’s Sour Red (6.0% ABV)  is a rustic hybrid ale brewed using age-old brewing techniques with modern innovation. Naturally soured using resident lactobacillus bacteria, this sour red ale is comprised of 5 specialty Belgian grains along with fresh organic rose petals and hibiscus to provide a provincial farmhouse style sour red ale experience" (source).
  • Mikkeller Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Passionfruit, $4.79/500ml - "Berliner-style Weisse beer brewed with Passionfruit" (source).
  • Still Water Stateside Saison, $2.59/16oz - "Pays homage to old world tradition while celebrating new world innovation. Naturally brewed with the finest European malts & fresh aromatic hops from the United States & New Zealand. It's then fermented using a classic farmhouse ale yeast and bottle conditioned to enhance stability. The outcome is a beer of unique design and exquisite taste, showcasing some of the best attributes of modern-day craft brewing" (source).
  • Erdinger Oktoberfest, $2.09/12oz - "This golden, clear Erdinger is brewed all-naturally, using traditional barrel-fermentation, never pasteurized" (source).
  • Hofbrau Oktoberfest, $1.89/12oz - "Modern style Oktoberfest. Like a Helles brewed to “Fest” strength. Blonde in color. Spicy, noble hops along with some maltiness. Enjoyable, honey-like finish" (source).
  • Left Hand Oktoberfest, $2.29/12oz - "This is no festivus for the restuvus – on the contrary – we start brewing in the Spring and it takes a full two months to reach lagered perfection. Biscuity, malty goodness dominates upfront while the noble pedigree hops lend a properly spicy, dry finish. Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi. Time to roast your chicken and upend your stein before the air gets crisp, the leaves flame and fall and the skies fade to black" (source).
  • Short's Hazy ControversiALE, $1.99/12oz - "Hazy ControversiALE is an American India Pale Ale brewed with Simcoe hops and dry hopped with Simcoe powder. Moderately hazy and copper-colored, this beer has a slightly off-white head with aromas of citrus, caramel, and toasted grain. This variation on Short’s classic, ControversiALE, has more prominent citrus notes and a juicier mouth feel in comparison to the original. A strong malt backbone allows the flavor of Simcoe hops to shine before a slightly bitter finish" (source).
  • Great Lakes Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Prost! Our take on this classic German style is a celebration of maltiness— packed with rustic, autumnal flavors to put a little more oomph into your oom-pah-pah" (source).
  • Southern Tier Harvest, $1.69/12oz - "Harvest Ale is our celebration of the changing weather and the sowing of hops and barley that will be used in our upcoming brews. We usher in the fall with a classic English style Extra Special Bitter of the highest order. Deep ruby in color with an even deeper hop flavor… in fact, we throw fresh English hops into every brewing vessel, then dry hop after fermentation to impart a zesty kick. This beer has real hop character that mingles with fresh malted barley for an experience that will make you wish it were fall year ‘round" (source).
  • Southern Tier Pumking, $4.19/12oz - "Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from which they return forever changed. Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow it’s alluring spirit to overflow. As spicy aromas present themselves, let it’s deep copper color entrance you as your journey into this mystical brew has just begun. As the first drops touch your tongue a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds making it difficult to escape the Pumking" (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).
  • O'Fallon Pumpkin, $1.99/12oz - "Like pumpkin pie in a bottle…we add 120 pounds of real pumpkin to the three-barley mash and then season the finished beer with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves" (source).
  • O'Fallon Vanilla Pumpkin, $1.99/12oz - "We decided to add some locally produced cold-pressed Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla to our most popular seasonal– O’Fallon Pumpkin. The vanilla adds another layer of flavor to the “pumpkin pie” theme of this amber ale and balances well with the cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. It tastes like a slice of pumpkin pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it" (source).
  • Atwater Blocktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "Absolutely traditional in design and execution, Atwater’s Bloktoberfest exhibits bready, nut-like characters with a clean, light sweetness brought to heel by a crisp hop finish" (source).
  • Tripelroot Training Session, $1.89/12oz - "Session IPA" (source).
  • Tripelroot Perception Defines Reality, $14.99/22oz - "Belgian-style Tripel" (source).
  • Wells Dry Hopped Lager, $1.99/12oz - "A well-hopped  continental lager which is both, refreshing and sessionable.  This delightful beer is cold conditioned for two weeks with Australian Galaxy and Ella hops, which bring out deep flavors and a dry-hop character" (source).
  • Crankers End of the World, $10.49/22oz - "This insanely aromatic Double IPA is brewed and Double Dry Hopped with a special blend of the most exclusive hops on the planet. This beer was designed to be consumed before the End of the World, not after it. So drink now, drink fresh, because tomorrow is never promised...and the aliens are moving at the speed of light" (source).
  • Lagunitas Lil' Sumpin Extra, $1.99/12oz - "The big sister of the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. Lots of wheat for a curious malt complexity and leaving it light in color, but huge in flavor and satisfaction" (source).
  • Knee Deep Auburn Pale Ale, $2.29/16oz - "A crisp, clean double-filtered West Coast Pale Ale brewed with citrusy, fruity and dank hops. This pale ale is juicy yet refreshingly clean. We double-filter this hoppy pale ale in the traditional North East Auburn manner" (source).
  • Oddside Zure Kers, $9.59/500ml - "Sour wheat ale fermented with tart cherries" (source).

Video of the Week | Summer Persists

A friendly reminder that, despite all the fall beers in this week's NBF, summer is still here.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Spencer Brewery: Profile and Tasting

By Max Spencer

St. Joseph’s Abbey of Spencer, Massachusetts, made history in 2013 by housing the first Trappist brewery in the United States. The official name of the brewery is The Spencer Brewery, and we are lucky enough to now have them on our shelves. To those unacquainted with Trappist breweries, this is a huge deal. There are only eleven Trappist breweries in the world — six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands and one each in Italy, Austria and the United States. Trappist breweries are considered amongst the best in the world, and rightfully so — included in their ranks are the likes of Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren. But what exactly are Trappist breweries, and what makes them so noteworthy?

Trappist breweries are all run by Trappist monks at Trappist monasteries — there is no other way to achieve this designation. Trappist monks belong to the Catholic Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. The order began in the 1600s at La Trappe Abbey in France as a reformist movement led by Jean de Rancé in response to the lax attitude of other monasteries during that time1. Trappist monks observe a strict monastic lifestyle, one based around prayer and work — ora et labora3. Much of their labor revolves around the production of goods to be sold to the public; products such as cheeses, chocolates, breads, jams, cleaning products, body care products, and — of course — beer4. The sales of these products support the financial needs of the monasteries and their charitable endeavors — meaning that your purchase of their beer benefits the entire community where the monastery is located3.

Spencer Refectory — from the website
Because labor is a central tenant to the lives of Trappist monks, they tend to put time and effort into their products on a level that not many other operations can't match. Their products are truly artisanal, truly hand-crafted and truly outstanding. The Spencer Brewery is no exception when it comes to this standard of quality and effort. When creating new beers, they meticulously create test batches before committing to a recipe to be released — 13 experimental brews over three years in the case of their Quadrupel Ale2. They use many local ingredients, including a proprietary yeast strain, and are currently working towards farming their own barley.

The decision to open a brewery followed the need for additional income besides their famous jams and jellies. The idea originated as a suggestion from a monk with brewing experience and a passion for it. After approval, a group of monks went on a two-year research trip, visiting the other extant Trappist breweries to learn methods and gain inspiration3. The monks at The Spencer Brewery have made some unique decisions on what to brew relative to other Trappist breweries. While they have several classic Belgian offerings in their arsenal — a patersbier, a quad, and a holiday dark — they also craft some modern styles not traditionally attributed to Trappist breweries — an IPA, a pilsner, an imperial stout and an Oktoberfest lager. Try a beer from Spencer Brewery — maybe you will find a new love in beautifully crafted beers from an ancient heritage of monks.

The Spencer Trappist Ale (patersbier)

Gold with a lacey white head. Aroma dominated by a stone fruit character — specifically apricot. There are also prominent spice notes, including clove and cinnamon. Slight tones of citrus and grain. Palate follows the nose — stone fruit, spice. There is a clear slightly sweet grainy character, yet the beer is bone dry. Very effervescent. The finish is dry and spicy with a light bitterness. A great example of a classic Trappist beer. Complex, yet incredibly balanced between fruit and spice — dry yet easily drinkable.

The Spencer Trappist Feierabendbier (pilsner)

Straw gold with a white head consisting of fine bubbles. Classic pilsner nose — earth, spice and floral tones from noble hops with a slight grainy character. Palate follows the nose closely — there’s a grainy cereal character up front with notes of oregano, basil and dried flowers from the hops in the middle. The malt and hop character mingle in the finish. Very dry, pleasantly bitter.

The Spencer Trappist IPA

The first ever Trappist-brewed IPA to be commercially available. Orange-gold with a white head when poured. A hop profile including German Perle, Apollo and Cascade results in a piney, resinous IPA with tones of pineapple and citrus in the nose and palate. The malt build has a fair amount of caramel and biscuit character with some slight sweetness to balance out a medium-high level of bitterness. The bitterness lingers with a prominent note of pine needles on the finish. Reminiscent of a West Coast IPA with a brash character, but slightly more reserved than some.


1 “A Newcomer’s Guide to the Trappists.” Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, 2017,
2 Keeley, Fr. Isaac. “The Spencer Brewery Releases New Beer: American Trappist Brewery Introduces New Quadrupel Ale.” The Spencer Brewery, 2017,
3 ”Our Story.” The Spencer Brewery,
4 “Products.” The International Trappist Association,