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Friday, February 23, 2018

New Beer Friday, Fake Cohibas Edition (February 23)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

My wife and I were cruising in the Caribbean last week and while on shore in Cozumel we spent a few hours sitting at a shaded table outside a waterfront bar. While we sipped Salty Dogs (Grey Goose vodka, grapefruit juice and a slice of lime in a salt rimmed glass. Refreshingly cool on a blistering hot afternoon), we watched roaming peddlers hawking wares to hordes of meandering tourists. One peddler standing on a nearby street corner was waving a small box above his head and when he glanced in my direction I motioned him over to the table.

"How much?" I asked after inspecting the cigars in the glass-topped box.

"Fifty dollars," he said.

"How do I know they're real?" I asked him.

He assured me that the five cigars were authentic Cuban Cohibas.

"Hmm," I said. "I'm not sure I like the way they look."

"Forty dollars," he said.

"But they look pretty rough."

"Thirty-five," he told me. "The best price."

"Let me think about it," I said.

I handed the box back to him and he went back to hawking the cigars on the crowded sidewalk.

I knew the Cohibas were fake. I knew they were fake as soon as I looked at them but the stash of cigars I had brought with me on the trip was running low and I was willing to take a chance on the bogus Cubans if I could get them at a good price. "How bad could they be?" I thought to myself.

After I paid our tab I stuck a twenty in my shirt pocket and as soon as we got up to leave the peddler walked up to me.

"Thirty dollars," he said.

"No," I said and kept on walking.


I stopped and took the bill out of my pocket. "This is all that I'll pay," I told him. He handed me the box and I handed him the twenty.

Later that night in the cigar lounge on the ship I fired up one of the bogus Cohibas. It was harsh and bitter and had the acrid aroma of burning oak leaves. I discarded the cigar after three puffs. I gave three of the fake Cohibas to three fellow cigar smokers I had met on the trip after warning them how awful they were. I tossed the last one in the waste basket in my stateroom.

One of the things I like about traveling is the fact that sometimes you have to take calculated risks. I knew those sticks weren't authentic Cohibas, same as I knew they weren't worth the $50 asking price. What I didn't know was if the fakes would be any good or even smokable. I took a chance and came up short. It happens sometimes. How boring would traveling be — for that matter, how boring would life be — if the weather was always perfect, all scenarios were guaranteed and all cigars were Cuban.

New and Returning Beer

  • Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Barrel Aged Stout, $11.69/22oz - "Aged for three months in Wild Turkey® Bourbon barrels, this luxurious stout has a deep ebony hue and a beautiful mahogany head. The woody, vanilla-like notes imparted by the barrels mingle with aromas of fresh baked bread, toffee, and espresso and envelop the rich chocolate and roasted barley flavors with a fine bourbon character" (source).
  • Ballast Point BA Victory at Sea, $4.09/12oz - "Our Ballast Point Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with vanilla and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate" (source).
  • Creston Pilz, $3.89/16oz - "Mi zuper saazer hops and pilot makt house pilsner malt" (source).
  • Dark Horse Thirsty Trout, $2.09/12oz - "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).
  • Deschutes American Wheat, $1.99/12oz - "Crafted in our Bend Pub as an easy-drinking crowd favorite, this American Wheat Ale is sessionable year-round. With a subtle hop aroma and thirst quenching citrus finish, it’s the perfect companion for adventure anytime, anywhere" (source).
  • Gonzo's BiggDogg Yummy Hoppy Double IPA, $3.49/16oz - "Our specialty DIPA begins with a fruity prelude that disguises the inevitable impact of seven different level hop varieties. As you sip and maybe even share, we think you’ll agree with our decree to simply call it what it is: yummy and hoppy! 91 IBUs" (source).
  • Odd Side Car Ramrod, $2.39/12oz - "Imperial Black Citra Pale Ale" (source).
  • Odd Side Morning Wood, $6.49/12oz (2 per) - "This complex imperial chocolate coffee stout aged in bourbon barrels provides a mouth watering vanilla, oak, whiskey, chocolate and espresso flavors" (source).
  • Odd Side Occular Pat Down, $2.49/12oz - "Vanilla Coffee Porter" (source).
  • Perrin Big Griz, $12.49/22oz - "This bourbon barrel imperial brown ale was crafted with specialty malts and unique hops from all over the world. Undertones of fresh American oak and vanilla carry through with not-so-subtle hints of warm maple syrup and melted caramel sweetness that book end this uncommon monstrosity of a beer" (source).
  • Pigeon Hill Your Mom on French Toast, $4.69/12oz - "We also call this the “Morning After Stout,” because it’s a perfect way to ease the pain on the morning after a night of celebrating. By combining our Imperial Stout with maple, vanilla, and cinnamon, we created a beer that is both bold and comforting, with a flavor that unmistakably reminds us of your mom’s French toast" (source).
  • Roak Blow Your Face Out, $3.59/12oz  - "A double IPA loaded with Mosaic and Chinook hops" (source).
  • Rogue Cold Brew 2.0, $2.29/12oz - "Blonde Ale blended with cold brew coffee" (source).
  • Rogue Honey Kolsch, $2.29/12oz - "Situated just across from 40 acres of Rogue hops, 119 colonies of bees are carefully kept and fed and the honey is uncapped, extracted, filtered and finally infused into a refreshing Honey Kolsch Ale" (source).
  • Stone Exalted, $2.29/12oz - "Stone Exalted IPA represents the elevated state of reverence that Stone extols for the venerable and almighty Hop. Loral & Citra hops have been anointed to bestow their divine qualities on this sacred brew. This limited release is part of Stone’s Hop Worship Seasonal IPA Series…Glory be to those who imbibe it in its freshest form…and faithfully worship thy Hop in the beauty of blissful bitterness" (source).

Video of the Week | Ballast Point

Enjoy this fascinating aerial tour of Ballast Point Brewery.


Friday, February 16, 2018

New Beer Friday, Hop Pre-Order Edition (February 16)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We have exciting news for anyone looking to establish or expand a hop garden this spring. This year the folks at Sandy Ridge Farms in Zeeland, Michigan, will once again be supplying us with established hop plants as opposed to the hop rhizomes we have offered in the past. According to the growers at Sandy Ridge, the advantages to purchasing established hop plants versus rhizomes are three-fold:
  1. An established plant eliminates the risk of questionable viability as often found with rhizomes. It is typically recommended to plant more than one rhizome per pot/hole which increases costs.
  2. An established plant with a developed root system and mature top growth will produce larger yields in the first 2 years than a planted rhizome.
  3. Hop plants are susceptible to virus and disease out in the hop yard. A rhizome from an infected plant will produce another infected plant. Plants are obtained from the National Clean Plant Network at Washington State University where they are virus/viroid tested prior to being shipped. Sandy Ridge Farms has a strict protocol in place regarding clean plants and preventative pest-management. A healthy plant produces more hop cones.
We will be taking hop plant pre-orders now through the end of business on Thursday, March 22. Those wishing to place orders may do so via email (, by phone (616-453-9674) or in person here at Siciliano's. When ordering by email please ensure that you indicate the desired quantity of the specified variety. Price per plant is $8.59 and payment will not be due until the time of pickup.

We anticipate that the hops plants will be available for pickup by the end of May. Those placing orders will be personally notified when the shipment arrives. Go here to see a full list of the hop plants being offered. Please note that this list includes Hallertau m.f. but they are not available this year.

Sandy Ridge Farms

New and Returning Beer

  • New Holland Passion Blaster, $1.99/12oz - "Passion Fruit, Tropical Peaks. Rosy Ale, Blush as Raspberry Cheeks. Exotic notes excite your tongue, the satisfying adventure has just begun" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Love Shadow, $7.19/16 - "Bourbon Barrel Aged Plow Horse Imperial Stout" (source).
  • Schramm's Mead Blackberry, $46.39/750ml - "Schramm's Blackberry Mead is made with raw, unfiltered honey and whole blackberries. It is an intensely fruity, medium sweet melomel with vanilla and cinnamon aromatics. This hand-crafted beverage pairs well with creamy cheeses, duck, veal and good company. Serve at cellar temperature or lightly chilled" (source).
  • Upland Cherry, $24.99/750ml - "When we started experimenting with Belgian-style sour ales back in 2006, we immediately knew we wanted to add cherries to our program. We get over 4,500 lbs of red, tart Montmorency cherries each year from King Orchards in northern Michigan. We add the cherries to the mildly tart sour ale base and let it ferment for three more months before kegging and bottling, giving this barrel-aged fruited sour ale the distinct cherry characteristics. The beer pours with rich hues of red and pink foam, with zesty effervescence. Tart cherries dominate the aroma, with hints of wine and cider, and the finish is dry, with lingering cherry fruitiness" (source).
  • Upland Prim, $9.29/500ml - "Sometimes a name says it all. Prim was inspired by blending the names of the two main ingredients, plum and cardamom. This sour ale uses Basis as the base beer, adding whole plums to capture the sweet fruit flavor and tartness of the skins, and the incredibly aromatic cardamom. Prim is aged in wine barrels for 4-6 months, further intensifying the complex flavors of this brew. It’s tart, fruity, herbaceous, and very refreshing" (source).
  • Upland Crimson, $13.99/500ml - "Crimson, formerly released as Malefactor, is an American take on a Belgian Flanders-style Red Ale. Upland’s twist on this classic brewing style is aging the beer for eight months in previously used bourbon barrels rather than white oak, which contributes to a slightly higher ABV than most Upland sours, clocking in at 10%. Crimson pours a dark copper beer with hues of red and amber. Long fermentation reveals aromas of plum, red wine and cherry. The bourbon barrels add subtle notes of charred dark oak to this medium-bodied sour ale. Crimson finishes dry with notes of tanginess" (source).
  • Upland Oak And White, $13.99/500ml - "Our relationship with Bloomington-based Oliver Winery continues in this bottle of Oak & White. Ten years ago, we traded beer for barrels from the winery to create our first batches of sour beer. Today, we still age many of our sours-such as this one-on previously used, neutral, Oliver oak wine barrels. This blend of base sour blonde ale aged in Traminette grapes from Oliver’s Creekbend Vineyard creates tart flavors reminiscent of a dry white wine. Beer and wine drinkers alike will love this creation" (source).
  • Upland Peach, $24.99/750ml - "We first began experimenting with Belgian-style ales in 2006, and fresh, whole peaches were selected as one of the first fruits to add to the sour beer that we had fermented for over eight months in white oak barrels. We use 7,000 pounds of fresh Indiana peaches from Huber’s Orchard and Winery in Starlight, Indiana, destoning the peach pits by hand before adding to the barrels. Peach is a fruited ale with gold and straw colors that shine upon pouring, and zesty amounts of carbonation. Fresh peach aromas meld with floral and wine-like notes. Wonderful peach flavors follow in the taste, accompanied by refreshing tartness with a dry finish and mouth-watering tanginess" (source).
  • Short's Batch 8000, $17.39/22oz - "Batch 8000 is a Quadruple IPA with raspberry brewed in celebration of the 8,000th batch of beer brewed at the Short’s Brewing Production Facility in Elk Rapids. Pale amber in color, this beer carries scents of dank berries and tropical fruit. Slightly sweet to start it is quickly balanced by the tart raspberry and pungent hops. Intense citrusy dank hops coat the drinkers’ mouth balancing the high alcohol content. Powerful, intense, and boozy, Batch 8000 is the perfect sipper to share" (source).
  • Odd Side Dank Frank, $2.79/12oz - "Imperial version of Dirty Dank Juice. Hazy NE style IPA" (source).
  • Left Hand Chai Milk Stout Nitro, $2.89/16oz - "Super smooth Milk Stout Nitro with aromatic spices" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Wood-Aged Bitches Brew, $3.89 - "The Bitches is back, only this time we aged it our oak and Palo tanks! An off-centered twist on our classic Bitches Brew, Wood-Aged Bitches Brew is still the same bold, dark, Imperial Stout you know and love" (source).
  • Darkhorse Barrel Aged Scotty Karate, $6.19/12oz - "If the original Scotty Karate wasn’t enough for you, check out what happens when we age it in bourbon barrels for a while. We brew this big bold scotch ale with cherry wood smoked malt instead of the traditional peat smoked malt offering up warm notes of coffee, caramel and sweet caramelized brown sugar. We then age it in bourbon barrels for several months to pick up some mellow vanilla and oak notes to bring you a mature, quite refined Scotty Karate" (source).
  • Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Blackberry Porter, $4.59/12oz - "This is a big and dark beer with bold flavors to ease you into spring. Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Blackberry Porter has been brewed with the official state fruit of Kentucky and aged in bourbon barrels. This spring seasonal comes out with the bold roasted malt flavors complemented by a nose of fresh blackberries" (source).
  • Flensburger Pils, $2.89/11.2oz - "Ingredients: Water, barley malt, hop extract" (source).
  • Flensburger Dunkel, $2.89/11.2oz - "The dark site of pleasure. Fine bitter, fresh and rich in taste. Thanks to dark superior malt that provides the amber colour and the elegant smoothness" (source).
  • Flensburger Weizen, $2.89/11.2oz - "Brewed with the finest wheat and barley malt. Full-bodied and tangy" (source).

Video of the Week | Wood-Aged Bitches Brew

Now available at Siciliano's!


Friday, February 9, 2018

New Beer Friday, Little Manistee Edition (February 9)

The Little Manistee River
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

You know how it is when you walk into one of those up north saloons and you're given the once over by a couple of the locals? Well, a few winters ago Harry Winston and I stopped by the Bear Creek Inn and the only guy who didn't bore a hole through us was wearing a Santa suit and he was passed out in one of the booths. After brushing aside the stares and stomping off our boots we sat down at the bar.

"What, did we suddenly turn invisible?" Harry said after a few minutes.

"Relax," I said. "She's busy talking to her boyfriend."

"What'll it be?" the bartender asked when she finally walked up to us.

"Long neck Blatz," Harry said.


"The same."


"No glasses."

Harry pushed a twenty towards the bartender when she came back with the beers. "Both out of here. We'll take some peanuts too."

"Buck for the peanuts," the bartender said.

"A buck? They used to be free."

"Lots of big changes around here," the bartender said. "Want them or not?"

"Forget the peanuts," Harry said. "Is Pete around?"

"Pete?" The bartender looked past us to where two men were throwing darts. 'Hey Ralph," she yelled. "Guy here wants to talk to Pete."

"Well go get him," one of the men yelled back.

The bartender shrugged then picked up the twenty Harry had laid on the bar. She walked to cash register, made change from the open till, grabbed a step stool and then reached for a wooden cigar box from a high shelf on the back bar.

"What's this?" Harry asked when she put the bills and the cigar box in front of him.

"You asked if Pete was around."

Harry looked up at the bartender then looked down at the cigar box and then turned around and looked at Ralph.

"C'mon Harry," I said. "Let's finish these beers and get the hell out here."

"When did it happen?" Harry asked the bartender.

"Two years ago last spring. Couple of fishermen found him halfway down the hill at Bowman Farm." She motioned a finger towards her chest. "It was his ticker. No family. Some of the boys took up a collection and had him cremated. Big Ralph over there picked up the joint for back taxes."

"Nice. Pete runs this place for forty years and now he's stuffed in a cigar box," said Harry.

The bartender leaned forward. "Bad blood between him and Ralph," she whispered. "Word is that Big Ralph owed him some money."

"I didn't owe Pete shit." We turned and saw that Ralph had walked up to the bar and was standing in back of Harry.

"Just saying what I heard," the bartender said.

"And I 'm saying that I didn't owe that little bastard any money. Is there a problem here?" he said to Harry.

Harry swiveled around in his stool and looked up at Ralph. 'Maybe. Pete was a friend."


"And I don't like how he's being treated. How about I take him with me?"

"Fat chance," Ralph said. "I paid for him just like I paid for the tables and stools. He came with the joint."

Harry reached around for his beer and looked down at the floor. "Tell you what," he said after a few moments. "Let's you and I play a dart match. Two out of three. Cricket and 401. If I win I get Pete."

"And what if I win?" asked Ralph.

Harry finished his beer and placed the empty on the bar. "If you win you get 500 bucks."

"Get me a bottle," Ralph told the bartender while keeping his eyes glued on Harry. He poured and drank a shot of Jack, poured another, drank that, poured another and then pulled at his lower lip. "Alright buddy," he said. "Show me the damn money."

By then the whole bar had gotten wind of what was going on and everyone followed us to the dart boards. After some practice throws Harry insisted that the cigar box holding Pete's ashes be placed on the high-top table I was sitting at and Ralph insisted that the five C-notes be placed under the box. Harry won the cork and the cricket game was nip and tuck. When he closed it out with a triple fifteen and a bull, double bull, you could hear a pin drop. Ralph won the cork and immediately hit a ton forty. He followed that up with a ton and two fat 60s. When he threw a two-dart out to even the match everyone but me and the passed out Santa cheered.

"Show me a cork, sport," Ralph said after some hard slapping high fives and another shot of Jack.

"In a minute," Harry said and walked over to the high top.

"Well, what do you think?" Harry said to me in a low voice.

"I think you better win the next cork," I said back.

"Then what?'

"Then you better call cricket."

"Think so?"

"I know so."

Later that year on a day in early June Harry and I fished the Au Sable and the Pine in the morning and the Manistee in the afternoon. After a shore lunch we drove down to Bowman Farm and fished the Little Man until just before dark. When fireflies began blinking in the stands of tag alders I found Harry and told him I would meet him back at the truck.

"I'll be there in a few minutes," he said.

I made my way up the steep hill and when I got to the top of the bluff I sat on a big pine log and spotted Harry standing in the middle of the river. Then I watched while he gave Pete Hamlin a proper burial.

New and Returning Beer

  • Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock, $2.99/12oz - "A traditional Doppelbock fermented with an old world yeast. Reddish brown in color with a mild hop profile, Consecrator is a well-balanced, full-bodied lager with hints of caramel and molasses in its smooth, malty finish after spending 3 months maturing in our fermentation tanks" (source).
  • Brooklyn Naranjito, $1.69/12oz - "Brooklyn Naranjito is a classic American pale ale pushed a tiny bit further. An extra burst of aromatic hops and a sizable helping of sweet orange peel create just the right pop of citrus. It elevates your favorite meals, brightens spices, and proves what a little orange can do" (source).
  • Decadent Ales Double Toasted Marshmallow, $4.99/16oz - "Our DIPA recipe with toasted marshmallows. A truly unique blend of hops and the roasted, mellow sweetness of campfire toasted marshmallow" (source).
  • Epic Brainless on Peaches, $13.99/22oz - "We took our double gold medal winning Brainless® Belgian, added peach puree and aged it in French Chardonnay casks. It develops nicely as it warms displaying more fruit and wine" (source).
  • Epic Son of a Baptist, $2.59/12oz - "Son of a Baptist is an 8% ABV imperial stout. It is not barrel aged like its father, Big Bad Baptist; instead its flavor profile was designed to highlight the complex and often unique flavors of small batch coffees. Instead of sourcing a coffee that would play well in a beer we sought out creative and innovative roasters, then asked them which beans they’re passionate about. Each resulting release of Son of a Baptist is widely different depending on the coffee selected. Some are fruity and sweet with notes of jam and chocolate, others are rich and earthy with a big roasted finish. Each limited release will return to the Roaster’s home market where the beer and the coffee can be sampled side by side" (source).
  • Evil Twin B is for Blueberry, $4.09/12oz - "B Is For Blueberry is a Gose-style ale brewed with salt and blueberry" (source).
  • Evil Twin Breaking the Waves, $4.39/16oz - "A double dry-hopped imperial IPA brewed with lactose" (source).
  • Evil Twin It's Like Having the Most Beautiful IPA and the Most Terrible Nightmare at Once, $6.99/16oz - "A 10.5% ABV Double Dry Hopped IPA with Galaxy, Simcoe and Citra hops" (source).
  • Great Lakes Hop Madness, $3.49/12oz - "Maniacally dry-hopped, with a frenzy of juicy aromas and formidable pine finish" (source).
  • Greenbush Jadis, $2.19/12oz - "A Winter White Ale because what else is Winter? The cold sets in and hangs for months it seems. Everything slows down. Time warps… and you’re covered with a wash of white. Thought I meant winter, didn’t you? Jadis will take you away from winter, even if temporarily" (source).
  • Goose Island Brassiere Noir, $22.99/750ml - "Imperial Stout aged in wine barrels for 11 months" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Gammadeluxe, $16.29/750ml - "GAMMADELUXE was brewed in collaboration with our good friends at Jester King Brewery in Austin, Texas. We wanted to share knowledge and techniques that we had acquired from Henry of Monkish Brewing Co. and with that we brewed this sour Monkish inspired IPA. This IPA pours a beautiful bright yellow with just the right amount of haze. An aroma of funky fruit tannins in the nose. Packed full of seven different hop varieties giving notes of grapefruit, light Brett characteristics, a tannin dryness, and a touch of pineapple" (source).
  • Kona Kanaha, $1.79/12oz - "A bright, sessionable beer that will ease you ashore without weighing you down. Real mango fruit adds a juicy, tropical flavor that is easy like the islands. Pairs well with lighter fare including grilled fish, shrimp, and salads" (source).
  • Lagunitas Eroica, $2.29/12oz - "Stepping up to the podium, Brettanomyces collects his notes; fragments of ideas on melody, thematic development, recapitulation, mutation, thematic variation, restatement, and so on. Water, Hops, and Malted Barley sit first, second and third chair. The toasted oak walls await the sonic wort, anticipation fills the hall. The whole room watches, bated breath, as the Maestro, wiping phenol, guaiacol, and isovaleric acid off his brow, raises the baton and begins" (source). 
  • Maui Makawao Wheat, $2.39/12oz - "A hoppy pale wheat ale brewed with Denali, El Dorado, and Motueka hops for a tropical, fruity flavor" (source).
  • Melovino Midnight Jack, $23.39/500ml - "This is no silly rabbit. This eager and voracious beast forages through the dark midnight hour in search of only the darkest and sweetest of berries to devour. So we went as dark as we could by using blackberry, black currant, black raspberry, and black cherry to make the most bad ass, tart, sweet, and densely rich, fruit mead there is" (source).
  • N.I.P. Brewing Batch 17, $2.19/12oz - "We like to weird stuff. Whether it's the beers the make or the way we live our lives its just who we are. In that vein we decided to make this yellow hazy beast of an IPA. Shit tons of mango were added to complement the already tropical flavors of Galaxy hops, then lactose joined the mix to give a full sweet body, and vanilla finally jumped into the party to give that lovely milkshakey flavor. Crack one open with your crew or your main squeeze and ring the new year in right" (source).
  • North Peak Bolt, $2.59/12oz - "Imperial Amber Ale" (source).
  • Right Brain Thai Peanut, $10.29/22oz - "Spicy American Brown Ale made with peanut butter, cilantro, serano pepper and coconut oil" (source).
  • Short's Hot Loins, $2.59/12oz - "Hot Loins is an aphrodisiac-filled Experimental Specialty Ale. The ingredients rotate every year. Look for the next edition in February 2018. Hot Loins 2017 was an aphrodisiac-filled Experimental Brown Ale with honey, rose hips, and cinnamon. Light brown with an off-white head and ample lacing, this Experimental Brown Ale smells of cinnamon and toasted malts with floral notes. Flavorful and balanced, Hot Loins has a slightly sweet taste provided by the use of honey before turning slightly dry and floral in the finish" (source).
  • Short's Uncle Steve, $1.89/12oz - "Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout is Short’s version of the classic Irish Stout, complete with a dark color, soft head, and smooth full flavor typical of this lighter bodied style. A simple grist formula provides a base of roasted malt flavors with a creamy drinkability everyone loves" (source).
  • Southern Tier All Is Well, $3.99/16oz - "This is a hop head’s dream at 80 IBUs, featuring Amarillo, Chinook, CTZ & Simcoe hops for big citrusy, stone fruit & earthy character with a dank edge. It is a remarkably drinkable double IPA as the malt bill leaves just enough residual sweetness to perfectly balance its hoppiness" (source).
  • Stone Loral & Dr. Rudi's Inevitable Adventure, $3.49/12oz - "Loral hops were released in 2016 and quickly became one of our brewers’ favorite varieties. It was highlighted in our single hop IPA series, Stone Hop Revolver IPA, and was the featured hop in the hugely popular Stone Ghost Hammer IPA. Then there’s Dr. Rudi, which has been around since 1976. Originally known as Super Alpha, this hop brings classic piney and herbal notes, which pairs it perfectly with the floral, citrusy aroma of Loral. A pairing like this was bound to happen. Some might even call it inevitable" (source).
  • White Flame Black Flame, $18.69/22oz - "Released at the end of January each year - This bourbon barrel aged imperial stout is brewed with copious amounts of Michigan Maple syrup and is a crowd favorite" (source).
  • White Flame Black Sheep, $3.29/12oz - "Black IPA. Very complex. Roasted and hoppy, this big beer is a favorite of the adventurous drinker" (source).
  • White Flame Red Shoes, $2.79/12oz - "Classic American Pale Ale aged on Fresh Habanero Peppers to give it a great pepper flavor with a kick that builds in the back of your throat" (source).

Video of the Week | Little Manistee River

No one in this video is affiliated with Siciliano's; we just think it's a
nice introduction to the Little Man for anyone unfamiliar.


Friday, February 2, 2018

New Beer Friday, Smoke 'Em If You Like 'Em Edition (Feb 2)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

During a recent visit to a cigar review website, I came across a blog post addressing the burning question of whether one should keep the cigar band on after lighting up a high end smoke. The blogger contended that those who don’t remove the band are guilty of “bad form” and that a cigar smoking “gentleman” would never be gauche enough to flaunt his ability to buy expensive cigars.

Perhaps it’s because I rarely smoke cigars north of the ten dollar range that I dismissed this writer’s sentiments as much ado about nothing, and while I have never accused my male cigar smoking friends of being gentlemen, I certainly wouldn’t think any less of them if I spied them puffing on a banded, thirty-dollar smoke.

When it comes to beer, wine, liquor, food and cigars my philosophy has always been drink, eat and smoke what you like. If you enjoy jug wine, inexpensive suds and liquor that has been aged for less than two days, more power to you. If you would rather eat hamburgers and hot dogs instead of filet mignon, who am I to judge. Conversely, it’s none of my business if someone would rather savor a twenty dollar Cohiba instead of a cheap gas station stogie.

Regardless of what your thoughts may be on the subject of cigar band etiquette, it should be mentioned that there is a practical reason for keeping the band on until the last third of the smoke. If the band is removed too soon there is the danger of ripping the wrapper which may cause the cigar to unravel. Wait until the ash is about a pinky width away. The heat will loosen any adhesives that might hamper the band’s easy removal.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Faricy's Stout, $2.19/12oz - "We blend black malts with roasted and flaked barley to brew this Irish-style stout, giving it a full body, notes of roasted coffee and dark chocolate, and smooth dry finish" (source).
  • Blackrocks Classic Pilsner, $1.99/12oz - "The finest German malt, American hops and Lake Superior water collide to create our take on the world's most popular style. As crisp and refreshing as the Great Lakes, this beer is a nod to European tradition with a distinct American disobedience" (source).
  • Blackrocks MyKiss, $2.19/12oz - "A well hopped, bright, bold, succulent American IPA with Simcoe, Citra, and Mosaic" (source).
  • Blake's Santa Rosa Plum, $12.09/22oz - "Extended contact with plum skins and a long cold fermentation produces a cider of complex depth" (source).
  • Blake's Tonic, $2.19/12oz - "The Tonic is our spring seasonal that pairs well with warm weather, sunshine, and everything outdoors. The crisp cucumber notes meld well with the fresh ginger we juiced and added in at the end of fermentation. The Tonic is a fan favorite here on the farm and we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome" (source).
  • Great Lakes Holy Moses, $1.89/12oz - "Refreshment or bust! Orange peel, coriander, and chamomile stake their claim in this unfiltered White Ale, named for our fair city's founder, Moses Cleaveland" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Project Clementine, $3.19/16oz - "A Double IPA brewed with e zest of clementines for a fresh orange flavor. The hops are balanced well by a malty, citrus taste. A perfect Summer DIPA" (source).
  • Innus and Gunn Kindred Spirit, $3.29/12oz - "Our smooth Scottish stout meets Tullamore D.E.W. triple distilled Irish whiskey barrel staves in our unique ageing process to create a flavour packed beer with notes of dark chocolate and coffee alongside hints of vanilla and oak" (source).
  • New Belgium Tartastic Raspberry Lime, $1.79/12oz - "Brewed with raspberry and lime purees for an irresistibly playful sweet-tart sip that’ll put a smile on your face every time" (source).
  • Saugatuck Uncommonly Tweaked, $1.89/12oz - "Kick off Spring with this beautiful Amber Ale brewed with organic Peruvian El Cautivo Coffee Beans from our friends at Uncommon Coffee Roasters (located in Saugatuck, MI). A smooth coffee flavor and kick bring out the rich malt characteristics of the Amber base" (source).
  • Tallgrass Velvet Rooster, $1.89/12oz - "The first Belgian-style Tripel ever released in a can, Velvet Rooster initially launched in 2011. After a brief hiatus in 2016, it’s back as part of our seasonal lineup! This clean and crisp tripel boasts big, fruity esters and slight peppery spice from Belgian yeast. It’s bubbly like champagne with hints of citrus fruit, earthy-grassy notes and a sweet, candy-like finish" (source).

Video of the Week | Blake's Tonic

Now available at Siciliano's.