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Friday, August 31, 2018

New Beer Friday, Winexpert LE Wine Kits Edition (August 31)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Each year Winexpert releases five super-premium kits from the world’s great wine regions that are not part of the company’s regular portfolio.

These kits are available only on a pre-order basis and are released during the first four months of the year. Each kit yields six gallons of wine which translates into thirty 750-ml bottles.

We are now taking orders for this year's Limited Edition offerings. Please note that we must receive pre-orders by Wednesday, November 28, 2018, either by phone (616-453-9674), email ( or in person at Siciliano's.

The following are descriptions of the individual varieties along with the respective pricing and release dates.


Black Cab is an intriguing blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay Noir. Gamay is a light-bodied red wine revered for its floral aromas and earthiness, with tart red berry and lively acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red loaded with black fruits, cherry, black pepper and hints of earth. This balanced blend marries the best of both varietals into an energetic medium-bodied beauty. Ripe and round with vibrant acidity and silky-smooth tannins, expect pronounced cherry and juicy red berry flavors rounded out with notes of cassis, spice, subtle earthy undertones and soft vanilla. Pair with grilled red meats, pizza, black peppercorn tuna, black bean stews or roasted pepper dishes.

    • Sweetness: Dry
    • Body: Medium
    • Oak: Medium
    • Alcohol: 12.5%

Don’t let the name fool you – though ‘Fume’ means ‘smoke’, don’t expect a smoky white wine. Coined in the 1960s to denote a new and different style of dry, oak-ed Sauvignon Blanc, the name is derived from Pouilly-Fume, a popular French appellation that specializes in a similar style wine. Made with lush New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, this mouth-filling wine delivers a rush of ripe tropical fruit on the palate, with complex layers of gooseberry and melon, bright acidity and hints of grassy mineral notes expertly harmonized with a gentle creamy vanilla oak. Pair with goat cheese, seafood platters and chicken or pasta dishes with creamy sauce and spring vegetables.

    • Sweetness: Dry
    • Body: Medium
    • Oak: Light
    • Alcohol: 13%

This wine is a charismatic blend of Carmenere, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Pais. Carmenere, the signature Chilean grape, delivers jammy raspberry and herbal spice. Cab Franc brings bold cherry, juicy berry and acidity, while Syrah lends intense black fruit flavors and tannin. Pais, widely planted in Chile for centuries but little-known elsewhere, rounds out the blend with rustic red fruit and crisp acidity. This juicy blend is full of expressive black and red berries, surrounded by cherry and tart plum notes in harmony with underlying oak, bright acidity and smooth polished tannins. Pair with rosemary lamb chops, beef skewers, Portobello mushroom burgers and aged cheddar.

    • Sweetness: Dry
    • Body: Medium to full
    • Oak: Medium
    • Alcohol: 13%

Symphony is one of California’s hidden gems bringing peach, apple and tropical fruit flavors, it is a natural and perfect complement to Gewürztraminer’s characteristic lychee notes. An aromatic blend with floral and juicy peach aromas, this o-dry wine deliciously combines lush tropical and stone fruit flavors. Crisp and bright with expressive fruit and subtle sweetness, this wine really sings when chilled. A beauty to sip on its own, or a perfect companion to spicy Asian dishes, zesty barbecue or baked ham.

    • Sweetness: Off-dry
    • Body: Light-medium
    • Oak: None
    • Alcohol: 12%

Widely regarded as one of Italy’s top wines, the Barbaresco style is undeniably delicious. Made with Nebbiolo, Piedmont’s most respected and most loved red wine grape, this wine exudes intense aromas of juicy cherry combined with toasty oak and spice. The sumptuous palate seduces with cherry and ripe red berries, licorice, baking spice, leather and earthy notes. It boasts balance and structure with firm velvety tannins, a full body and a beautiful long-lasting finish. Pair with grilled or braised meat, mushroom risotto, Ragu Bolognese and mature cheeses.

    • Sweetness: Dry
    • Body: Full
    • Oak: Medium-heavy
    • Alcohol: 14%

New and Returning Beer

  • Alaskan Cranberry Tart, $1.79/12oz - "This American tart-style ale exhibits cranberry fruitiness in harmony with malt, wheat, hops, and spruce tips" (source).
  • Arbor Violin Monster, $2.79/12oz - "Brewed with Midnight Wheat, warming spices, and a hint of brown sugar, the Violin Monster is black as night and packs a punch at 9.5%.  Unleash your inner beast, but beware…. it finishes with a bite" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Dawn of Vim, $5.29/16oz - "The return of one of our favorite beers from our "Planet Vim" series. This IPA wows with bold Mosaic and El Dorado hops" (source).
  • Ellison Citra Revolution, $3.69/16oz - "The second iteration of our Evolution IPA series, this Citra hopped beer blasts out of the glass with tropical fruit, tangerine, and passion fruit. Smooth bitterness is complemented by more fruit flavors and a pillowy mouthfeel. It won't disappoint" (source).
  • Founders Curmudgeon's Better Half, $4.49/12oz & $12.99/750ml - "What tames an old ale like Curmudgeon? The tender embrace of oak and sweet maple, that’s what. The result is Curmudgeon’s Better Half, a harmonious matrimony of our deceptively smooth old ale brewed with molasses and time spent aging in bourbon barrels that have previously held maple syrup. Because all counterparts should be sweet, rich and utterly delicious" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Oktoberfest, $2.39/16oz - "Light amber to copper in color with a nice toasted malt characteristic up front from the use of Vienna malt. This brew is balanced on the back end with just the right amount of hop bitterness" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Screaming Pumpkin, $2.39/16oz - "A spicy and refreshing Amber Ale brewed with roasted pumpkin in the mash, then spiced with ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Copyright Cream Ale, $2.39/16oz - "When the best brewers in the world have problems, they call us. That could be because we have a world-class brewmaster perfecting his craft in a cutting-edge facility. And with beer this down-right delicious it’s a miracle we don’t pour it on our heads, use it as cologne and bathe in it" (source).
  • New Holland Sour Inc: Apple Rhubarb, $1.99/12oz - "Sour Inc: Apple Rhubarb Gose is kettle soured with in-house grown lactic culture. Apple and rhubarb are blended to bring the sweet and sour, then lightly salted to attain the light and crisp gose style" (source).
  • Revolution Double Dry Hopped Citra Hero, $2.99/12oz - "Citra-Hero is amping up the intensity with a new concept suit fueled by the dynamic Type-45 Citra hop. Reduced plant matter triggers more essential hop oils, further accelerating her citrusy impact. Two rounds of dry hops unleash a staggering 5 pounds of Citra, Simcoe, and Kohatu per barrel, triggering an explosive amount of melon, berry, and tropical fruit flavors" (source).
  • Wolverine Oktoberfest, $2.99/16oz - "This always anticipated release from Michigan’s only all-lager brewery is characterized by toasted bread crust notes, uncanningly clean flavors, and finished off with a mild toffee sweetness.  German Noble hops balance out this elegant, malty brew, leaving you refreshed and clamoring for your next sip as you enjoy the change from Michigan Summer to Michigan Fall" (source).
  • Arcadia Jaw Jacker, $1.99/12oz - "This spiced amber ale is our celebration of the arrival of Autumn. Brewed with cinnamon, all-spice, and nutmeg (a riff on Grandma Davies’ pumpkin pie recipe), and additions of Caramel and Crystal malt for balanced flavor, drinkability, and a brilliant orange-amber color, despite the absence of pumpkin in the recipe. A refreshingly spicy, season brew" (source).
  • Deschutes Fresh Haze IPA, $1.99/12oz & $2.99/19.2oz - "Introducing Fresh Haze IPA, our newest IPA is hazy with a chance of obsession. The flavor explodes in your mouth with notes of orange citrus sweetness and a soft malt body. Carrying both citrus and tropical fruit from Mandarina, Amarillo and Simcoe hops…OJ for days" (source).
  • Cigar City Guayabera, $2.19/12oz - "A 5.5 percent ABV pale ale brewed with Citra hops" (source).
  • Cigar City Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "Our Festbier nods firmly toward the style’s history with it’s amber color, bready malt complexity and restrained hop flavor and bitterness. At the heart of this beer is a malt bill of six different German malt varieties, including a generous helping of Munich malt.  After adding Hallertauer Mittlefruh hops we ferment the beer with an authentic Bavarian lager yeast, resulting in a clean, dry and complex lager that’s at once intriguing and drinkable" (source).
  • Perrin Caribbean Nights, $4.29/16oz - "A tropical Milkshake IPA made with tangerine, mango, pineapple and lactose milk sugar utilizing Mosaic, Comet, Galaxy, Citra, Enigma, El Dorado, and Centennial hops" (source).
  • Southern Tier Cold Press Pumking, $4.39/12oz - "Many coffee beers are made using beans on the hot side- but not ours. A cold brew leaves behind the bitter acids and some fatty oils that can lead to a harsher, more vegetal taste transfer, and instead, highlights the roasted, comfortable coffee taste we all love. This, paired with the perfect pumpkin pie spice in our imperial Pumking ale creates the entire picture in just one sniff and sip" (source).
  • Big Lake Haze and Blue, $3.39/16oz - "A New England IPA brewed with loads of juicy Citra and Mosaic hops complimented with Fresh Local Blueberry. Brewed for those “Haze & Blue” Alumni" (source).
  • Nowhere In Particular Batch No. 26 Orange Vanilla Sour, $2.99/12oz - "We all know those Orange popsicle with the creamy filling. Well this beer is like that, but better because it has alcohol in it! Packed with enough oranges to cure scurvy, a little vanilla sweetness on the end, and just enough tartness to wake you up your tastebuds and let them know that its time to party. So party on, soak up the sun, and live life likes its an adventure because it is" (source).
  • Short's The Mighty Shorse, $2.59/12oz - "The Mighty Shorse is a dank and fruity Imperial IPA brewed with a blend of Azacca, Citra, El Dorado, and Motueka hops and peaches. Very hazy and dark copper in color with an off white and frothy head, The Mighty Shorse smells of floral citrus and fresh peach. Initial flavors of sweet peach are quickly matched by notes of dank citrus followed by a slightly bitter finish. This medium-bodied and refreshing Imperial IPA has a thick and juicy mouth feel" (source).
  • Lagunitas Mozango, $5.19/22oz - "The flesh is weak, but the spirit is willing. So, what's at the heart of it? Is it the patient and diligent servant or the committed messenger, through their many routes and vessels? The salient soldier, slinging suds on the front lines daily, or the very brewers themselves? The answer is... we can't tell you here. From seed to sprout to fruit, and back to seed, we're all tangled on the same vine. And while fruit is momentary, the roots hold on for another season. It's all just a matter of perspective..." (source).
  • Riegele Augustus, 3.29/11.2oz - "A stronger, 8% cloudy Bavarian wheat beer with a creamy, manila head, notes of grape and ripe banana, peach, and fig-like dark fruit" (source).
  • Port Brewing Hop-15, $7.59/19.2oz - "With more citrus character than a farmer’s market, Hop-15 is bursting with notes of tropical and stone fruits. Bolstered by a spicy hop finish, this Imperial IPA has always wowed the crowd and judges alike" (source).
  • Great Lakes Imperial Oatmeal Stout, $12.79/22oz - "" (source).
  • Southern Tier Barrel House Rum Barrel Aged Pumking, $11.89/500ml - "Imagine our inimitable Imperial Pumking Ale as the captain on the high seas, flying the Jolly Roger. The ‘King sails for ports unknown in this limited release. Rum Barrel Aged Pumking has been kept like secret treasure in the hollows of the brewery, patiently awaiting discovery" (source).
  • Ace Pumpkin, $2.19/12oz - "Flavored with cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Tastes like pumpkin pie" (source).
  • Dinkelacker Oktoberfest, $2.39/12oz - "A distinctive spicy, drinkable Märzen. Full salary and full-bodied in flavor, golden yellow in color. Original beer tastes just as before" (source).
  • Arclight Soursmith Strawberry, $21.79/750ml - "American Sour with Strawberries" (source).
  • Arclight Soursmith Mango, $21.79/750ml - "American Sour with Mango" (source).
  • Arclight Soursmith Kriek, $21.79/750ml - "American Wild Ale aged in wine barrels on cherries and fermented with wild yeast and bacteria harvested from local orchards in SW Michigan" (source).

Video of the Week | Arcadia Jaw-Jacker

Now available at Siciliano's.


Friday, August 24, 2018

New Beer Friday, Crush & Press Edition (August 24)

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
    • Morgan Vineyard
    • 15775 40th Avenue, Coopersville, MI 49404
    • Email:
    • Phone: 616-648-3025
We will be offering the free on-site use of our fruit crushers and basket presses from 3 p.m. to 6 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 16
    • Sunday, September 23
    • Sunday, September 30
    • Sunday, October 7

New and Returning Beer

  • Omnipollo Oaxaca, $4.39/16oz - "Mango margarita slush IPA brewed with lactose, mango, lime, grapefruit & vanilla" (source).
  • Omnipollo Zodiak Multiverse, $4.59/16oz - "Our new house IPA. A blend of grains, untouched post fermentation and aspiringly hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Centennial" (source).
  • Stillwater Nu Tropic, $2.79/12oz - "India Pale Ale with Mango & Passionfruit" (source).
  • Stillwater Wild is the Will, $4.99/16oz - "Rustic sour ale aged on cedar. Inspired by the music of Prince Billy, hunt down "Wild is the Will" on Bandcamp" (source).
  • Stillwater Frond, $5.99/16oz - "Double India pale ale brewed with palm sugar" (source).
  • Evil Twin Key Lime Pie IPA, $4.99/16oz - "India Pale Ale with graham crackers and key lime added" (source).
  • Decadent Blackberry Creme Pop, $5.49/16oz - "Our all-mosaic dry-hopped double IPA brewed with blackberries, Madagascar vanilla and a proprietary blend of sugars" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Pumpkin Tart, $3.79/16oz - "Ale brewed with real pumpkin & spices" (source).
  • Pigeon Hill Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "Through our Marzen-style Oktoberfest we celebrate the great art of celebrating beer itself! This lightly hopped beer has a semi-dry finish that nicely complements its light to medium body. A light caramel and malty sweetness provide a pleasing smooth flavor" (source).
  • Grand River 313 Polish Lager, $2.39/16oz - "Soft, easy drinking lager with a creamy smooth Saaz/Lublin hop accent. Nice lacy head with a clean smooth profile. An homage to Detroit area Polish immigrants that craved the beer from homeland while they powered the industrial revolution" (source).
  • Grand River Monkey Mouth, $3.29/16oz - "NYIBC North American IPA of the Year - piney, bitter, red grapefruit, citrus zest, clean and smooth" (source).
  • North Pier Springtooth, $4.19/16oz - "This Double IPA uses a juicy blend of Mosaic and Idaho 7 hops to provide a huge tropical aroma reminiscent of pineapple and mango. Brewed with Rye and Oats for a smooth mouthfeel and co-fermented with a funky wild yeast and a classic farmhouse yeast" (source).
  • Roak Roaktoberfest, $2.79/16oz - "Traditional German-style Oktoberfest" (source).
  • Erdinger Oktoberfest, $2.09/12oz - "This golden, clear Erdinger is brewed all-naturally, using traditional barrel-fermentation, never pasteurized" (source).
  • Left Hand A Blessing & a Curse, $3.09/12oz - "This double IPA delivers a synthesis of hops from opposite hemispheres with an aggressive disposition of citrus, pine, and tropical fruit characteristics for a delightfully juxtaposed consequence. Count your blessings, accept the curse" (source).
  • Left Hand Nitro Belgian-Style Dubbel, $2.89/13.65oz - "Super smooth with rich malt flavors and a dry finish" (source).
  • Odd Side Stinger, $2.59/12oz - "Double IPA brewed with honey" (source).
  • Odd Side Cat in the Wall, $2.59/12oz - "NE Style DIPA" (source).
  • Stroh's Spirit Witbier, $1.59/12oz - "Beer brewed with coriander and orange peel" (source).
  • Deschutes Black Butte Porter 30th Anniversary, $18.69/22oz - "This beer celebrates our 30th Anniversary, and 30 years of Black Butte Porter. The 2018 version is an Imperial Porter that was 100% barrel-aged using eight different varieties of oak barrels. Release of Black Butte XXX at our pubs in Bend and Portland on June 27th, 2018 and shipping out soon to most locations that carry our Reserve Series beers" (source).
  • Heavy Seas Blackbeards Breakfast Porter, $4.89/12oz - "Blackbeard's Breakfast is a robust porter with a new world twist. Aged in bourbon barrels and brewed with Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company's Dark Sumatra coffee, this porter is flavorful and complex. Featuring unique English malts, this brew will have strong notes of caramel and a slight nut character. Paired with bourbon notes and the sumptuous Sumatran Coffee, Blackbeard's breakfast will please coffee and beer connoisseurs alike" (source).
  • Port Brewing High Tide IPA, $3.49/16oz - "A citrusy IPA drenched in notes of tangerine and stone fruit from the judicious amounts of Simcoe and Amarillo hops, finishing with a crisp hop bite and a smooth piney finish" (source).
  • Kentucky Brewing Barrel-Aged Pumpkin, $4.59/12oz - "As the ale is aged in fresh bourbon barrels, the sweetness of caramel and vanilla are imparted upon the brew and complement its spicier base. At 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), this robust, limited release seasonal makes for a flavorful sipping beer to slowly warm up with as the weather cools" (source).

Press the Issue: Make Wine!

Use our fruit presses free of charge on four consecutive
Sundays starting September 16.


Friday, August 17, 2018

New Beer Friday, 2018 Customer Appreciation Sale (August 17)

Get ready to stock up!
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We are pleased to announce that the 2018 edition of the Siciliano’s Beer & Wine Making Customer Appreciation Sale will begin on Tuesday, September 4, and will continue through the close of business on Sunday, September 9.

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 26, 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 $122.00, Sale $98.00
    • WINEMAKING EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $125.00, Sale $100.00
    • BREWERS BEAST EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $153.00, Sale $123.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/NEW KEG: Regular $289.00, Sale $225.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/RECONDITIONED KEG: Regular $239.00, Sale $180.00
    • ANALOG REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $87.79, Sale $70.00
    • DIGITAL REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $115.49, Sale $92.00
    • ITALIAN FLOOR CORKER: Regular $143.00, Sale $109.00
    • PORTUGUESE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $63.00, Sale $50.00
    • CHAMPAGNE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $153.00, 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, $52.00, Sale $42.00
    • 8-GALLON BREWERS BEAST BREW POT, PORTED: Regular $123.00, Sale $98.00
    • 16-GALLON BREWERS BEAST BREW POT, PORTED: Regular $187.00, Sale $150.00
Finally, be sure to stop by the store on Saturday, September 8, for free German wieners, homemade sauerkraut and draft root beer.

New and Returning Beer

  • Brew Detroit Operation Pluot, $3.89/16oz - "Wheat ale brewed with pluots" (source).
  • Brew Detroit Yum Town, $2.79/12oz - "Started with an easy drinking Mexican Lager base, addition of tart cherries & key lime provide a pleasant sweetness to this perfect summer brew" (source).
  • Grand Armory Sippin' on Gin Barrel Juice, $5.19/12oz - "Laaaiiiddd back! When you're Sippin' On Gin Barrel Juice, you'll have Blood Orange on your mind and your mind on Blood Orange! This Gin barrel-aged IPA is chronically hopped with Centennial, Citra and Mosaic" (source).
  • Grand Armory Tied Down to Michigan, $2.19/12oz - "Tied Down to Michigan - There ain't no home like this one! This nicely balanced, seasonal IPA draws its rich hop aroma and flavor from locally sourced, all Michigan grown Copper hops. A perfect compliment to summer in the Great State of Michigan" (source).
  • Great Lakes Oktoberfest, $1.89/12oz - "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).
  • Hacker Pschor Oktoberfest, $1.89/12oz - "Bavarian barley slow roasted, caramelized to a rich, red amber color combined with the purest spring waters from the Alps, exclusive yeast and the finest Hallertau hops" (source).
  • Hofbrau Oktoberfest, $2.19/12oz - "This is a beverage brewed from pure water, the best quality malt and perfect hops. Brewed by Hofbräu München, the Oktoberfestbier is a full-bodied lager known for its clean, crisp edge and ability to get any party started" (source).
  • Lagunitas Passion Grass, $2.29/12oz - "We had a Joint Session with our friends at Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, Mich. to create this smooth and drinkable 4.6% ABV West by Midwest Ale. With some passion fruit juice added for that pleasant summery-ness and rounded off with a special zing of lemongrass, it’s best imbibed with your ‘buds … it’s good to have friends" (source).
  • Prairie Color Block, $4.39/12oz - "Brewed with Warrior and Citra for a smooth citrus bitterness.The beer was fermented on Cara Cara, Satsuma & Naval oranges with vanilla & a double dose of Citra" (source).
  • Prairie Era, $2.39/12oz - "Hoppy Farmhouse ale dosed with lemon zest, along with a combination of cascade and centennial hops for an extra kick of citrus" (source).
  • Prairie Pink Guava Funk, $3.49/12oz - "Kettle Sour with Brett and Pink Guava" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, $1.79/12oz - "We’ve partnered with Bavaria’s Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery, for this American take on the classic German Oktoberfest. A malt backbone is balanced by subtle hop character in this crisp, clean, and drinkable crowd-pleaser. Nothing captures the spirit of celebration like a beer among friends" (source).
  • Southern Tier Pumking, $4.39/12oz - "All Hallow’s Eve is a time of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world, and when magic is most potent. It is thought that we harness this magic to brew our powerful pumpkin ale. Not so, but it is with great respect to the magic of their trade that our brewers produce this fine beer. Take a whiff of this complex ale and your journey has just begun. At first sip, a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds, yet another victim enraptured by the Pumking" (source).
  • Southern Tier Warlock, $4.39/12oz - "Warlock is brewed to enchant your palate on its own & also to counterpoint our Imperial Ale, Pumking. Make your own black magic by carefully pouring this Imperial Stout into a goblet. Dark and mysterious, reanimate your senses with Warlock’s huge roasted malt character, moderate carbonation & a spiced pumpkin pie aroma" (source).
  • To Ol Ms. Magenta, $9.79/500ml - "Dragonfruit & Strawberry Berliner Weisse" (source).
  • To Ol Ms. Teal, $8.79/16oz  - "Seaweed Gose" (source).

Video of the Week: Brewery Vivant

U of M: "Brewery Vivant serves up a healthier planet."


Friday, August 10, 2018

New Beer Friday, One That Got Away Edition (August 10)

Barb with one that didn't get away
By Steve Siciliano

When my wife Barb and I were fly fishing in southwestern Montana a few weeks ago we had to quickly learn how to fight the area’s muscular trout. I got a crash course in the proper technique the first time I hooked into one of those piscatorial torpedoes. As soon as I set the hook the big rainbow took off on a reel-screeching run downriver and I instinctively reared back on the rod and tried to put the brakes on the fly line. “Let it run!” shouted Chris our guide. “Get your hand off the reel!”

When you’re fishing with light tackle and you try to rein in a big, Big Sky Country trout before it tires, you’re chance of netting the brute goes down dramatically. When it goes on its multiple runs you keep the line taut and when it stops running and starts doing some high flying acrobatics you hold on and enjoy the show. Sometimes it keeps running until you get perilously close to the end of the line. When that happens your guide weighs anchor and chases after it with the boat. If it decides to shoot back in your direction you reel furiously to take up the slack. When it finally begins losing steam you keep the rod tip high and you slowly retrieve the line. If everything goes right you eventually guide it into the net.

Of course everything doesn’t always go to plan. While we netted a good deal of beefy browns and rainbows on our trip more than a few got away. When one does get away you let out a few expletives and get back to fishing.

One time Barb tied into a huge brown and I reeled in to make sure it didn’t tangle up in my line. After sitting idle for fifteen minutes while she fought the beast I got out of the boat, waded upstream and resumed fishing. It happened to be lunch time so our guide decided to fire up the portable gas grill which immediately began emitting a huge plume of smoke while burning off the grease from the previous day’s burgers. When the trout went on a long run Chris pulled up the anchor and began rowing around a bend downriver. “We’ll come back for you, Steve,” he shouted through the billowing smoke. An hour later I saw the boat rounding the bend with Chris in the water hauling it back upriver with a rope a la Humphrey Bogart in the African Queen. Unfortunately, Barb lost the fish, which Chris guessed to be about twenty-six inches, after an hour long fight.

That big brown trout keeps getting bigger each time she tells the story.

New and Returning Beer

  • Anderson Valley Chia Solstice, $2.19/12oz - "A variation of our classic Solstice ales. Additions of cardamom, star anise, and vanilla create a mélange of sweetness and complexity; while orange peel, ginger, black pepper add a zesty freshness and a touch of spicy heat" (source).
  • Big Lake Seed Spitter, $2.79/12oz - "An American Wheat Ale brewed with loads of natural watermelon.  This is a perfect summer quencher" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Plein de Vie Cherry Angelina, $12.99/500ml - No commercial description.
  • Dark Horse Smells Like A Citra Safety Meeting, $2.29/12oz - "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).
  • Epic New England IPA, $2.79/12oz - "These juicy, hazy, hop bombs are packed to the brim with flavor. In fact, we’ve been downright irresponsible when it comes to hop utilization. Our brewers have been experimenting with everything from lupulin powder, to massive hop backs, exploring the flavor synergies of fermentation hopping, and literally cramming in more dry hops then our tanks can even hold" (source).
  • Maui Pau Hana Pilsner, $2.39/12oz - "European Pilsner malt offers sweetness balanced by a spicy hop profile" (source).
  • Right Brain Chubby Squirrel, $1.99/12oz - "Brewed with secret blend of spices, this is a fall beer that keeps the pumpkin out of things" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake Stout, $2.59/16oz - "This stout is brewed with lactose (milk sugar) to impart a fuller body and sweeter palate. Flavored with toasted marshmallows for the 9th day of 12 Days of Milkshake Stout " (source).
  • Short's Citra Local, $1.89/12oz - "Citra Local’s is our flagship American Lager but with a fun new twist. Dry hopped with Citra hops, this beer is bursting with fresh grapefruit aromas. Similar complementary hop flavors are perceived within, but without any imparted bitterness. The light pilsen malt creates a soft and subtle flavor profile that finishes crisp and clean, once the initial hoppy perceptions subside" (source).
  • Stone Brewing 22nd Anniversary, $3.19/12oz - "Stone Brewing has spent over 20 years pursuing clean, bitter, hop forward beers. It would be passé to suggest this beer is simply another gigantically juicy and extremely complex Stone Double IPA. It’s a middle finger to the haze craze proving that clean, crisp IPA’s can still be smashed full of big, juicy, tropical flavor. It’s also the winner of our 2018 Spotlight Series contest, which pits teams of brewers against each other to see who can brew the best beer. Citrus takes the forefront, with plenty of fruit character to back it up. With incredible mouthfeel from the malted oats, the beer isn’t sweet at all, but its light amber color would make you think it is sweeter than it tastes" (source).
  • Tallgrass Coastal Fusion, $1.89/12oz - "Tallgrass is back in the IPA game!  We have taken our time to develop a unique IPA that fuses the best characteristics of both coasts.  Coastal Fusion has big, juicy citrus notes upfront with a dry, bitter finish; creating a new “Midwest IPA” category!  Already a company favorite, this IPA comes in at 7%, and is the punch in the mouth you’ve been missing from our lineup.  We send this “From Kansas With Love” to you, our loyal Tallgrassers" (source).

Video of the Week: Sierra Nevada

Where it all started: Sierra Nevada's original brewhouse.


Friday, August 3, 2018

New Beer Friday, Big Sky Country Edition (August 2)

Barb, Steve and a couple of healthy browns
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Last May, just a few days after landing her first trout on a fly rod, my wife Barb told me that she would like to go fly fishing in Montana. After giving my face a hard slap to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, I told her that angling for wild browns and rainbows in the famous trout streams of Big Sky Country sounded like a pretty good idea to me too. We did some research and after a week or so of weighing our options we decided to book a weeklong stay at the Broken Arrow Lodge, a ranch and outfitter located in the Snowcrest Mountain Range in the southwest portion of the state. It turned out to be a good decision.

Broken Arrow Lodge sits on a high ridge overlooking the Ruby Valley, supposedly one of the best areas for hunting elk, grizzly bears, mountain lions, antelopes and mule deer in the state. In addition to guided fishing and hunting outings, the lodge offers hiking, horseback riding and overnight pack trips. The family run operation is rustic but comfortable, laid back but chaotic with most of that chaos being generated by owners Irwin and Sherri Clark’s brood of grandchildren and enhanced by a pack of mischievous goats and a couple of chicken-chasing hound dogs. It didn’t take long before we felt right at home.

Broken Arrow Lodge
Barb and I fished hard for five days, expertly guided by the Clarks’ son Chris, and we were able to catch and release an incredible number of trophy sized trout. We would leave the lodge after a hearty early breakfast, have a lunch on the river and on some days we didn’t sit down for an excellent home cooked supper until it was dark. After relaxing with a few Manhattans on Broken Arrow's front porch we were ready for bed.

Guide Chris
Chris is an extraordinary guide. His fly fishing knowledge is unsurpassed and he seems to know every run, riffle and hole on the area’s rivers. Each day after landing our first fish he would pump its stomach to see what it was eating (a procedure that is harmless to the fish). One day he placed the contents in a plastic container filled with water and that night back at the lodge he tied a bunch of flies that matched the bugs. The next day we used those flies to tie into some huge rainbows.

At the end of the week our feet hurt, our legs ached and our arms and shoulders were sore. But aches and pains are a small price to pay for a week’s worth of incredible fly-fishing memories.

New (and Returning) Beer

  • Arbor Brewing Crystal Peacock, $2.19/12oz - "This kettle-soured Berliner Weisse pours hazy straw yellow with a stark white foam. Aromas of lemon rind, pineapple, and tart grapefruit complement the pleasant malty wheat flavor. A combined fermentation from ale yeast as well as the souring Lactobacillus give it a quenching tartness, light body, and crisp finish" (source).
  • Atwater Brewing Raspberry Vanilla Java Porter, $1.99/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale, $1.79/12oz - "A crisp, single-hop pale ale with floral and citrus notes from 100% Cascade hops and a smooth caramel malt character" (source).
  • Short's Brewing Synalpheus Pinkfloydi, $2.59/12oz - "Synalpheus Pinkfloydi is a cherry lemonade Gose brewed with Lemondrop hops, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, coriander, lemon and Balaton cherries. With a red hue and great clarity, this summertime Gose smells of bright cherry, tart lemon, and a little salt. Despite a lengthy list of ingredients, Synalpheus Pinkfloydi has a great balance of flavors. Tart cherry and lemon complement the saltiness of a classic Gose. A dry and tart finish rounds out this easy drinking summer brew" (source).
  • Southern Tier Help! On The Way!, $4.09/16oz - "The fourth release in our Science is the Art Collection leverages mangoes and tropical hops to create a fruit bomb that combines the extra body and creamy richness of the Double IPA with the addition of lactose. Turn the can upside down before opening for increased hazy appeal. Or don’t. Either way, it’s a flavorful and aromatic trip into the cosmos" (source).
  • Boulevard Berliner Weisse, $1.89/12oz - "Few beer styles can match the delicate, sparkling character of the classic Berliner Weisse, with its light body and tart palate. It’s said that Napoleon’s troops referred to it as “The Champagne of the North,” high praise for beer, coming from Frenchmen. With Berliner Weisse, we pay tribute to the style, while giving it a distinctively American twist. Bright and thirst-quenching, the beer is enlivened by soft lactic notes" (source).
  • Nowhere In Particular Batch 027, $2.89/12oz - "Juxtaposition can be a fun little thing when it comes to beer. This is a prefect example of that, with more traditional C hops being used in conjecture with some fun new techniques we have picked up along the way. Combine that with Hornindal Kveik yeast, a fun little  Norwegian yeast strain thats just a couple centuries old, almost went extinct, and has seen a recent rise in popularity. It's easy to see why all these ingredients have been popular at one time or another, this guy is flavorful and juicy, has almost no bitterness, and my personal favorite, has plenty of well disguised alcohol! You'll be drunk before you know it, seeing ghosts of your Norwegian ancestors looking on with pride. Maybe our parents weren't wrong when they said they don't make em like they used to, so cry out jubel and drink promiscuously friends" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Fruitful Fort, $9.99/12oz - "A twist on our beloved Fort, Fruit-Full Fort is brewed with four types of berries - Raspberry, Blackberry, Boysenberry and Elderberry! This juicy blend of dark berries creates depth and complexity reminiscent of a jammy red wine" (source).
  • Odd Side Ales Thunder Gun Express, $2.59/12oz - "A hazy American DIPA brewed with oats and lactose with loads of late addition Citra, Amarillo, El Dorado, and Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Schramm's Mead Heritage Raspberry Mead, $40.69/375ml - "'Heritage' is a variety of red raspberry, which has been grown in the Schramm family for generations. Our estate-grown raspberries all go into in The Heart of Darkness, but we recently found some delicious Heritage raspberries for purchase. Tasting these raspberries took us right back to berry picking in the backyard of Great-Grandpa Schramm's house. We think this tasty jammy mead would make him proud" (source).

Video of the Week | Boulevard Brewing

The story of Boulevard Brewing.