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Friday, February 22, 2019

New Beer Friday, Sandy Ridge Hops Edition (February 22)

Image courtesy of Sandy Ridge
By Steve Siciliano

If you are looking to establish or expand a hop garden this spring, the folks at Sandy Ridge Farms in Zeeland, Michigan, are once again supplying us with established hop plants. 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 21. 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 this year’s offerings.

New and Returning Beers

  • Arclight BBA Berrien County Stout, $15.59/22oz - "Maple Variant of BBA Berrien County Stout" (source).
  • Arclight Pineapple Mango, $21.79/750ml - "American wild ale with pineapple and mango" (source).
  • Arclight Swayze Crazy, $13.19/22oz - "Golden Imperial Java Milk Stout. This beer goes against everything you come to know about stouts. But damn it is delicious" (source).
  • Barrel + Beam Grisette, $5.19/375ml - "A light, hop forward belgian ale. Very sessionable and crisp. Subtle melon in the aroma and a clean finish" (source).
  • Barrel + Beam Terre Magique, $8.99/375ml - "Light, tart, dry and fruity" (source).
  • Big Lake Stoner, $3.19/16oz - "A dank, resinous medium bodied IPA. Goes well with the munchies" (source).
  • Boulevard Tequila Barrel Lime Gose, $1.99/12oz - "A traditional German-style sour beer, infused with sea salt, coriander and lime peel, goes on holiday to the home of the blue agave, sunny Mexico. The aroma offers assertive notes of oak, vanilla, caramelized banana, and coconut. A malty sweetness is balanced by tart lime and hints of lively tequila, tapering to a slightly salty finish" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Love Shadow, $7.19/16oz - "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).
  • Ellison Haz'N'Stein, $3.59/16oz - No commercial description.
  • 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).
  • Ommegang BA Smoked Vanilla Porter, $8.89/12oz - "falling in love with, our Ommegang Smoked Porter. Sampling the first pilot batches, it was clear that this was a beer that was meant for barrel ageing. Thus, when we brewed Smoked Porter to release in the winter of 2017, we also set some aside in bourbon barrels. Each individual barrel then received additions of several whole Madagascar vanilla beans to impart their rich and creamy flavors into the beer as it aged. Now, six months later, it is ready to drink. Only 100 1/6 bbl kegs of this beer were produced for distribution, making this one of our most limited releases ever" (source).
  • Pigeon Hill MI Irish Stout, $1.99/12oz - "As with any proper dry Irish Stout, this beer was brewed to be drank (and we don't just mean a single pint) - and, at 5% ABV, it isn't merely a sipper. Slight notes of coffee, chocolate, and sweetness are balanced by a clean, dry finish - leading you to want the next pint sooner rather than later" (source).
  • Prairie Bible Belt, $4.89/12oz - "Let’s face it – we love big, flavorful stouts. As luck would have it, our friend Jeppe at Evil Twin Brewing feels the same way. We decided to brew a beer together that took elements from our favorite stouts we each produce to come together as one beer. Bible Belt takes elements we love from Prairie Bomb! and combines them with Evil Twin Brewing’s world famous stout, Even More Jesus. The end result is a smoky, spicy stout that is sure to please the pallet" (source).
  • Stone Moxee Gold, $2.29/12oz - "Behind every great beer are amazing stories of all the people, places and ingredients that culminate in what you have in your hand. The Stone Farm to Can Series is our heartfelt tribute to the dedicated farmers who cultivate the hops that help bring our beers to life. Each beer in this series features hops grown at a single specific farm as our way of paying homage to their harvest. Many of these growers breed and develop their own varieties, like CLS Farms in Moxee, Washington did with El Dorado hops, named for the mythical hidden City of Gold. Moxee lies nestled in Yakima Valley, the very real paradise of hop production in the American Pacific Northwest. Stone Moxee Gold IPA is loaded with Centennial and of course El Dorado hops, all sourced from the fruitful bines of CLS Farms. The valley itself may be mostly green, but its bounty of hops are as good as gold" (source).
  • Upland Champagne Velvet, $1.49/12oz - "Champagne Velvet has a refreshingly light pilsener body with some sweet complexities given off by the corn malt used in this recipe, making this the perfect lager. It’s smooth and light, but still full of flavor, the perfect everyday beer for craft beer drinkers and a step up for domestic drinkers" (source).
  • Wolverine Snakes & Shamrocks, $2.99/16oz - "Now the actual beer we’ve brewed here is based on an Irish Red Ale style which is the predominant style in the style guidelines but it lends itself to much interpretation.  Including reformulating the recipe to be a LAGER.  The recipe is very simple but makes for a very quaffable and flavorful beer because of the way Oliver designed it" (source).

Must Read: A Rising Tide

A Rising Tide: Stories of from the Michigan Brewers Guild
is now available at Siciliano's Market ($20).


Friday, February 15, 2019

New Beer Friday, American Oak Barrel Edition (February 15)

By Steve Siciliano

We have exciting news for our beer and winemaking customers.

We have been able to secure a small quantity of new, unused 5-gallon American oak barrels that we are retailing for $199.00 each. These barrels have a medium char (Level 3) and are approximately 16 inches high and 12 inches wide. Each barrel comes with a silicone bung.

Our source is indicating that this will probably be a one-shot deal. Please note that supplies are limited and barrels will be available on first-come, first-serve basis. We are expecting the barrels to arrive this weekend. Please call for additional details.

New and Returning Beer

  • Siren/Cigar City Collab Barrel Aged Caribbean Chocolate Cake, $10.89/12oz - "First available at Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2016 (Yellow session) at 8.4%. Bourbon Barrel Aged Tropical Stout with Cacao Nibs & Cypress Wood. The barrel aged version has been ageing in a selection of bourbon barrels, picking up delicious vanilla, whiskey and wood character" (source).
  • Siren Barrel Aged Shattered Dream, $8.79/12oz - "Shattered Dream is the imperial version of our favourite breakfast stout - Broken Dream. Even more unctuous than the original, we’ve amped up the flavours to deliver sweet biscuit, dark chocolate and deep roasted coffee notes. This rare release has been aged in a selection of bourbon barrels which accentuates the delicate vanilla and offers distinct whiskey tones with a drying oak finish" (source).
  • Siren Old Fashioned, $7.69/12oz - "We’re big fans of the classic old fashioned a 19th Century cocktail traditionally made by muddling sugar with butters then adding whiskey and a twist of citrus. This is our take with barley wine as the base as the base beer and the classic orange zest to serve. It’s been in barrels for 12 months picking up a well rounded bourbon profile with some vanilla and caramel sweetness" (source).
  • Batch Gentle Jack Jones, $2.79/12oz - "Gentle Jack Jones Brown Ale from Batch Brewing Company in Detroit, Michigan is a 5.8% ABV Brown Ale" (source).
  • Batch Vault of Heaven, $3.69/12oz - "A New England IPA with a vivid, fresh hop aroma & flavor of citrus, pine needles, apricot, mango & grapefruit pith. Hazy, full-bodied and a smooth mouthfeel with a soft, inviting finish that lacks a hop bitter harshness" (source).
  • Bell's Official, $1.99/12oz - "Two of our favorite ingredients come together in the brewhouse; pungent American hops and delicious wheat malt. This Hazy IPA is double dry-hopped (a combination of Mosaic, Citra, Azacca, Amarillo and El Dorado hops) resulting in complex peach, stone fruit and tropical notes with a dry finish and balanced bitterness. A refined beer for those who love hops and for those who prefer wheat beers. Go ahead and make it Official" (source).
  • New Holland Dragon's Milk White, $2.59/12oz - "A full flavored White Stout with strong notes of vanilla, cocoa, coffee roast, and oak from its time in bourbon barrels, drinkers can expect a smooth, velvety mouthfeel that compliments the flavor profile" (source).
  • Revolution Northwest Hero, $2.39/12oz - "A burly Cascadian hulk featuring hops from the Pacific Northwest, this uncompromsing IPA cuts balanced grapefruit and pine bitterness with floral and spice notes" (source).
  • Revolution Spirit of Revolt, $2.99/12oz - "Spirit of Revolt is brewed with specialty malts from woman-lead Weyermann Malting, with an addition of oat malt, giving it a smooth, round body. A unique dry-hop blend of Michigan grown Cascade, Cashmere, and Slovenian Styrian Fox hops add notes of citrus, pineapple, and melon features. Both Revolution’s Tap Room and Brewpub locations are donating 100% of the beer’s sales to Connections for Abused Women and their Children (CAWC) for Spirit of Revolt’s entire duration on tap" (source).
  • Odd Side Diggity Dank Amarillo, $2.39/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Odd Side Ocular Pat-Down, $2.39/12oz - "Vanilla Coffee Porter." (source).
  • Perrin Blonde Porter, $2.09/12oz - "A new take on a classic style creating a light blonde-colored, full flavored beer" (source).
  • Shorts FLOAD, $2.59/12oz - "FLOAD is a Dark American Sour Ale brewed with raspberries. Very dark in color with a red hue and mauve head, this beer smells of fresh fruit, sour raspberries, and a hint of chocolate. Leading with an intense raspberry tartness, FLOAD is complemented with a light chocolate malty backbone. The finish is dry with lingering sourness" (source).

Video of the Week | Inside the Cooperage

In light of the limited supply of barrels we are receiving,
here's a fascinating look at how such barrels are made.


Friday, February 8, 2019

New Beer Friday, Help Wanted Edition (February 8)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It was Confucius who said that when you choose a job you love you will never have to work a day in your life. I have a feeling that the members of Team Siciliano would beg to differ with the great sage on this one.

I can say with certainty that our employees love helping customers with craft beer, fine wine, liquor, homebrew and winemaking supplies, cheese-making supplies, coffee, tea, premium cigars and every other lifestyle enhancing product that we sell here at the store. I also know that there are many times when they are working their tails off.

During an average week the members of our staff price and stock hundreds of cases of beer, wine and liquor. They unload skids of inventory and unpack dozens of boxes. They keep the shelves full, the coolers stocked and the store looking good. That’s a lot of hard work. But they are passionate about selling the things we offer here at the Siciliano's and that is what makes the job so enjoyable.

We are now looking to add a part time person to our sales team who is equally passionate. The successful candidate will be someone who loves craft beer and fine wine. A knowledge of homebrew and winemaking is always a plus.

If you would like to join the sales staff of one of the area’s premier specialty stores and if you wouldn’t mind working hard at a job you can love, I urge you to drop a resume off at the store or contact me at

New and Returning Beer

  • Blackrocks Classic Pils, $1.99/12oz - "With German malt, American hops and Lake Superior water, it’s a crisp and refreshing nod to a European tradition with a distinct American disobedience" (source).
  • Blackrocks Flying Sailor, $2.29/12oz - "This Red Rye IPA combines Falconer’s Flight and Falconer 7C’s hops, along with Malt and Rye to form the perfect storm of flavor, aroma and color" (source).
  • Blakes Great Blakes, $2.09/12oz - "Our take on a cold brew, Great Blakes is steeped with sustainably-sourced coffee grounds from our friends at Great Lakes Coffee, resulting in bold flavor & a smooth finish" (source).
  • Decadent Ales Blueberry Frosted Pastry, $5.99/16oz - "India Pale Ale with blueberry, marshmallow, all spice - reminiscent of a blueberry pop tart" (source).
  • Decadent Ales Pecan Pie IPA, $5.49/16oz - "Session IPA hopped with Mosaic Hops. We then added crushed pecans and burnt sugar reminiscent of pecan pie" (source).
  • Decadent Ales Strawberry Frosted Pastry, $5.99/16oz - "India Pale Ale with Strawberry, marshmallow, all spice - reminiscent of a blueberry pop tart" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Downtown Bourbon Brown, $3.59/16oz - "Brown ale aged in bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Everybody Wants Some, $5.99/16oz - "And he's got me vuelto loco, amigos. Everybody Wants Some!! is a rotating single-hop DIPA. It's the only acceptable response to the call of DLR-era Van Halen + 80's cult classic movies. A giant teddy bear, bigger than you. Sounds great. No, it really does sound good. But look Beth, I gotta go. The Christmas tree is on fire" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Rose Gose, $4.09/16oz - "Rosé Gosé is hot pink in appearance with a tart berry flavor" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Slo Turbo, $6.79/16oz - "Double IPA brewed with New Zealand Hops" (source).
  • Hoof Hearted Tickling the Ivories, $5.99/16oz - "A 7.2 percent ABV IPA brewed with a blend of Conan and the yeast formerly known as Brett Trois as well as calypso, comet and eureka hops" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Co-Operation Ale, $16.29/750ml - "This ale is the first collaboration we’ve brewed with our friends and cohorts over at Bastone Brewery. Our brewpubs now share a space together in Royal Oak, Michigan and what better way to solidify the partnership than with a collaboration? We took the recipes for our two greatest hits, Jolly Pumpkin La Roja, and Bastone Brewery Nectar des Deux, then fused the ingredients together making what will forever be known as Co-Operation Ale. Aromas of brown sugar and sweet candy fill the nose. Flavors of molasses, chocolate, and oak blend nicely with the light acidity and slight Jolly Pumpkin funk. Team work makes the dream work" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Lo Fi Mai Tai, $16.29/750ml - "ALE brewed with Almonds, sugar, honey with ORANGE peel, pineapple juice and lime juice added" (source).
  • Old Nation Electron Brown, $4.09/16oz - "In honor of our dear friend, and engineer, Ron Brown, we released this special tribute! Electron Brown is an aggressive, double brown ale finished with fresh ground coffee beans for a huge espresso aroma and flavor" (source).
  • Oskcar Blues Death by Coconut, $3.39/12oz - "Intense pure liquid cacao flavors swirl with popping coconut aromas, all supported by a semi-sweet porter made from loads of our dark chocolate and extra dark caramel malt. This limited release specialty comes around once a year to satisfy that sweet tooth, so get ’em while you can before they disappear. At 6.5% ABV and 25 IBUs, this choconut goodness will have you yellin’ “Pass. Dash. Hit.” all winter long" (source).
  • Perrin Clear Coast, $15.99/12pk - "Continuing to push the boundaries of craft beer, Perrin Brewing launches Clear Coast Fresh Hard Seltzer, the first ever Michigan-made craft hard seltzer. Clear Coast is a low-calorie, refreshing alternative to traditional adult beverages, offering unique flavor profiles crafted with natural flavoring" (source). 
  • Perrin Kingdom of Tonga, $2.49/12oz - "The vanilla beans used in this beer come from... you guessed it: The Kingdom of Tonga. Tonga has over 170 islands and is located in the South Pacific. The taste profile is much different than our former Vanilla Porter. Those beans were sweeter; whereas the profile of these beans consists more of fig and raisin . Chocolate and coffee notes (with a subtle caramel touch) set this beer off while the vanilla beans lead into a delightfully dry finish" (source).
  • Short's Juicy Brut, $2.09/12oz - "Juicy Brut is a sessionable Ale with the best of both hop juiciness and brut dryness. It has a relentless tropical aroma emphasized by the increased carbonation level. This easy-drinking beer has a light body filled with tropical, juicy flavors before finishing dry" (source).
  • Stillwater Password, $5.69/16oz - "NE DIPA" (source).
  • Stillwater Remember Me, $5.69/16oz - "Double India pale ale double dry-hopped with citra and nelson sauvin" (source).

Video of the Week | Blackrocks Brewery

"Dive into craft beer."


Saturday, February 2, 2019

New Beer Saturday, Polar Vortex Edition (February 2)

"Hey Steve, you bring any KBS to Florida with you?"
(Photo courtesy US Fish & Wildlife.)
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

“How’s it going down there?” Siciliano’s GM Sarah Derylo asked during a phone conversation a few weeks ago.

“Fine,” I replied. “Big thunderstorm rolling through. Our power is out.”

“Getting a little excitement, huh?”

“Yeah, like I need more excitement.”

“What do you mean?” Sarah asked.

“Barb got into a bar fight last night,” I told her. “She actually held her own. I was quite proud of her.”

I was fibbing of course. While Barb and I have had a drink or two in one or two Fort Meyers Beach bars over the last four weeks, the chances of my wife getting into a bar fight are about as remote as me being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a New Beer Friday preamble.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that Barb and I are spending an inordinate amount of time hanging out in southwest Florida watering holes. We’ve been doing a ton of walking, sometimes as much as fifteen thousand steps a day, and we’ve taken trips to the Naples Zoo, some nature preserves and a park where you can rent kayaks and have up close encounters with manatees. One of those big, placid “sea cows” swam right underneath our kayak. Pretty cool!

Barb and I have also been closely monitoring the weather back home and our hearts go out to our friends, relatives and customers who have dealt with the drifting snow, hazardous roads and sub-zero temperatures this past week. Thankfully it appears that things are finally improving.

Stay warm and stay safe everyone!

New and Returning Beer

  • Central State Lazer Raptor, $4.09/16oz - "Once thought to be extinct, Lazer Raptor is a gose style beer brewed with cranberries, limes, sea salt, and fermented with our unique yeast blend" (source).
  • Central State Polyjuice Potion, $2.99/12oz - "Brewed with our friends from Emporium Chicago, this collaborative ale is for wizards & muggles who solemnly swear they are up to no good. A sour brew concocted with plums, elderberries, and magical bits and bobbles" (source).
  • Left Hand Hard Wired Nitro, $2.39/16oz - "Innately predisposed to be smooth when Poured Hard, this nitro coffee porter builds a pillowy, toffee-sweet head. Coffee and flavors of caramelized sugar, cacao and hints of blueberry lead to a light, smoky finish" (source).
  • Odd Side Jared's Mom, $2.39/12oz - "Love Belgian IPAs? So does Jarod’s Mom. Nelson Sauvin hops are the highlight in this IPA" (source).
  • Odd Side Mosaic Dank, $2.39/12oz - "100% Mosaic hopped version of our New England IPA. Aromas of tangerine, grapefruit, and berries give way to a smooth, hazy beer with citrus flavors with a hint of pine" (source).
  • Oskar Blues Can-O-Bliss, $1.79/12oz - "A hopped up, tropical-fruit-packed island experience. A rogue wave of kiwi, papaya, pineapple, mango and citrus flavor crashes into a jungle of Mosaic, Azacca, Galaxy, Eldorado, and Idaho 7 hops to create a tropical paradise" (source).
  • Oskar Blues Guns ‘n’ Rosé, $1.79/12oz - "A 6% ABV ale brewed with hibiscus and prickly pear" (source).
  • Perrin Fiesta, $12.69/22oz - "Take a swing at this barrel aged coffee cake stout. A full-body, robust stout with a balance of malts and spices. Each sip filled with hints of cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee" (source).
  • Prairie Okie, $12.69/12oz - "Okie is an imperial brown ale aged in whiskey barrels. Notes of toffee and brown sugar are infused with sweet notes of bourbon, vanilla, oak, and molasses" (source).
  • Sam Adams Cold Snap, $1.79/12oz - "The crisp character of this lively unfiltered White Ale gets a kick from a bright blend of spring spices. Orange peel and plum add subtle sweetness, while coriander contributes a peppery bite, creating a refreshing flavor that signals spring is on its way" (source).
  • Saugatuck Bourbon Barrel Blueberry Maple, $5.39/12oz - "We took our Blueberry Maple Stout and kicked it up a few notches for this release by amping up the ABV to 9.5% and aging it in bourbon barrels for 10 months. This aging process perfectly adds in a hint of vanilla and bourbony good-ness to this already unique and incredible brew" (source).
  • Short's Woodmaster, $2.59/12oz - "Woodmaster is a high gravity, American Brown Ale fermented with Northern Michigan maple syrup and toasted pecans. This dark brown, full bodied ale is rich with sweet malt and syrup flavors. These flavors are complemented by the presence of hop aromas and a faint nuttiness" (source).
  • Stone Grapefruit Slam, $3.19/12oz - "We’ve made a hell of a lot of beers since 1996. Probably thousands at this point. Some stick around for decades, somefor a few years and some are brief visits, gracing us with their hoppy presence fora short time before becoming fond memories. Occasionally stars, planets and brewing schedules align and we bring back one of these ephemeral creations. In fallof 2014 we created a draft-only version of this delicious double India pale ale. Its bitter, zesty grapefruit peel infusion created a bright accent to flavors of pine resin and fresh citrus well in advance of the explosionof fruited beers we’re all reveling in atthe moment. We never stopped thinking about it, so a long five years later, we’re bringing back Stone Grapefruit Slam IPA for round two. It’s a link to the past planted delightfully in the present" (source).

Video of the Week | Stone Brewing 2019

Find a wide selection of Stone beers at Siciliano's.