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Friday, March 17, 2017

New Beer Friday, Let's Party Edition (March 17)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The Siciliano’s Homebrew Party will be held this year on Saturday, May 20, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the enclosed shelter at Johnson Park. Tickets will go on sale Monday, March 20. Seating is limited so if you plan on attending this homebrew event — one of Beer City USA’s most popular — you are encouraged to buy your tickets early. Here are the details you need to know:

    • Bring some homebrew to drink and share. If you are not a homebrewer simply bring a six-pack or two of your favorite beer.
    • Tickets are $45.00 and must be paid in advance with cash, check or credit card either in person at Siciliano's Market or over the phone. Tickets purchased over the phone may be picked up on the day of the party.
    • Please note that party attendees will again be receiving T-shirts this year and we will be asking for sizes at the time you purchase your ticket. If you are purchasing tickets for a spouse, friend, family member or significant other, you will need to know the correct size. Please don’t guess.
    • Snacks and munchies will be provided and brats, hamburgers and sides will be served from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 
    • Attendees will receive a logoed Siciliano’s tasting glass at the time of check-in.
    • Live entertainment will be provided Jimmie Stagger.
    • Score sheets for the Fourteenth Annual Homebrew Competition will be available for pick-up. Medals will be presented and the Best-of-Show winner of the Siciliano’s Cup will be announced at 4:30 pm. Score sheets for those not attending the party will be available for pick-up at the store on May 21. If you live outside the Grand Rapids area and would like your scoresheet (and medal) mailed to you, contact
Just a reminder that entry registration for the Fourteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition opens on Monday, March 20. Go here for competition details.

A cooler full of homebrew at a previous homebrew party.

New and Returning Beer

  • New Belgium Juicy Melon, $1.69/12oz - "Cool off with this refreshingly fruity summer beer brewed with watermelons and limes" (source).
  • New Belgium Tartastic, $1.69/12oz - "Brace yourself for a refreshingly tart snap. Tartastic's lacto sour profile and fruity, spicy undertones enliven the taste buds with each bright, sessionable sip" (source).
  • Ommegang Short Sleeve, $2.59/12oz - "This beer is brewed with lemon peel, coriander and grains of paradise" (source).
  • Great Lakes Turntable Pils, $1.69/12oz - "Flip that record and wax nostalgic about Ohio's deep-cut music legacy with our refreshing pilsner. Consider this our reissue of a classic style" (source).
  • Southern Tier Tangier IPA, $1.69/12oz - "Where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean is the ancient city of Tangier. This confluence has made Tangier a cultural waypoint for millennia. From Greek heroes to Cold War spies and uprisings, Tangier has inspired thousands of legendary stories. It is written that before his battle with the giant Antaeus, Hercules rested in a nearby cave. But where myths end, our tale begins. Tangier is brewed as a Session India Pale Ale with spicy citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. These flavors, with the addition of lightly roasted malts and brilliant hop bitterness, make Tangier a beverage as refreshing as it is exotic. The approachable 4.6% abv yields more time to enjoy the synergy between the tangerine peel and spicy, citrusy, Azacca hops. Enjoy Tangier in celebration of your epic adventure" (source).
  • Abita Creole Cream, $1.69/12oz - "Ready for a tasty break from the super-heavy and super-hoppy? Our new Creole Cream Ale is all about easy drinking and interesting flavors. It’s Abita’s unique take on a true American style, brewed with pale malted barley for sweetness and Louisiana-grown Blanca Isabel Purple Rice for a crisp, dry finish. Mild dry-hopping delivers a pleasant fruity, piney aroma that balances the grains. And the welcoming result is a lighter, warm-weather ale that’s not too fancy and always fun — the perfect partner for everything from a front porch jam session to a Sunday sauce piquant" (source).
  • Detroit Brewing Woodward Wit, $1.79/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Ballast Point Bonito, $1.89/12oz - "Our Bonito blonde ale is inspired by our perma-sunny days. This brew draws you in with its golden color and soft malt character, while the light mouthfeel and dry finish keeps you coming back. And what would set a San Diego blonde apart? A subtle hint of hops, naturally" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Ee Tah IPA, $2.19/12oz - "Our Ee Tah! IPA pours to a bright, golden yellow color with aromas of rich tropical fruit, passion fruit with a hint of citrus. Pale, pilsner, and midnight wheat malts give it a solid malt character while Chinook, Citra, and Amarillo hops impart flavors of ripe tropical fruit, peach and apricot leading to a clean hoppy finish" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Apocolocynposis, $14.39/750ml - "A 4.3 percent ABV sour ale brewed with both blackberries and lime. The ale’s name refers to the fear of turning into a pumpkin" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin Smashed, Grabbed and Hop Dusted, $14.39/750ml - "Have you ever been smashed, grabbed and hop dusted? It's what can happen should you take a trip to Holy Mountain" (source).
  • Short's Goodnight Bodacious, $2.39/12oz - "Goodnight Bodacious is a Double Black India Pale Ale with the maltiness of a Barleywine and the hoppiness of an IPA. A rich, hoppiness dominates the aroma, with earthy and loamy scents. A medium body presents big, bitter black barley and roasted coffee flavors, with subtle complements of dark fruit and green hops. Strong alcohol flavors and pleasant warming qualities become more noticeable as the beer approaches room temperature" (source).
  • Boulevard Noble Prize, $3.09/12oz - "Pouring brilliant golden in color, Noble Prize opens with aromas of bready, honey-like malt sweetness with subtle floral and black pepper notes from the use of Saaz and Mandarina Bavaria hops. With the flavor of freshly baked bread, the 100% pilsner malt base provides a crisp platform to showcase spicy herbal and earthy noble hop tones provided by first wort and end of boil hopping. The delicate, simple malt bill and cooler than normal fermentation temperature, 49 F as opposed to 55 F for KC Pils, result in an incredibly balanced, complex beer born from an amazingly simple recipe" (source).
  • Boulevard Scotch on Scotch, $4.09/12oz - "Stylistically speaking, Scotch on Scotch is an Imperial Scotch Ale aged on Scotch barrel chips. A massive malt presence is created by layering caramel and amber malts with just a touch of peat smoked malt for additional complexity. Brief resting on oak chips following primary fermentation allows Scotch On Scotch to coax rich woody, char and vanilla notes along with the essence of Scotch whisky into a hearty, warming beer, 
a liquid fireplace of sorts. Hopping with Magnum, Chinook and Northern Brewer hops contributes a spicy earthiness 
to Scotch On Scotch" (source).
  • Boulevard Show Me Sour, $1.69/12oz - " A touch of acidity, some dehusked black malts for a rich, dark color followed by a short time in whiskey barrels before being blended back with fresh beer should make for a nice, round 4% beer that’s unique and inviting. Show-Me Sour is our play on a beer version of a whiskey sour." (source).

Video of the Week | Jimmie Stagger

Siciliano's Homebrew Party: Come for the beer. Stay for the music.


Friday, March 10, 2017

New Beer Friday, Dog Drank My Homework Edition (March 10)

Preamble by Mark Iacopelli

The staff at Siciliano's is pleased release the schedule for our homebrew and winemaking classes in 2017. Locations will be announced prior to each class. Unless otherwise noted, walk-ins are welcome. However, please keep in mind that space is limited. Sign up in person at Siciliano's or call ahead to reserve your spot. See you soon, everyone!

Introduction to Kegging and Draft Maintenance

March 12 (2:00 p.m.): Are you a homebrewer that's sick of bottling? Or a beer lover seeking the convenience of a kegerator? In this class we will go over how to keg and carbonate beer at home, design and build a home kegerator, and best maintenance practices. We will also go through anatomy of commercial kegs and connections for those interested in having their favorite commercial beer on tap at home. Cost: $10

Introduction to Homebrewing (Extract Brewing 101)

April 9 (2:00 p.m.): This class focuses on the basics of brewing your first beer. We will go through the steps and equipment necessary in brewing beer at home. The style of beer we will be brewing is an American IPA. We will also look at the history, characteristics, and tips for brewing a great IPA. Cost: $10

Yeast Heath, Propagation and Capturing

May 21 (2:00 p.m.): Learn about the basic biology of yeast and how it relates to healthy beer fermentation. This class will cover how to grow yeast populations for proper pitching rates using starters, storage, and how to manipulate yeast during fermentation. You will also learn how to harvest wild yeast and microbes from your backyard for truly unique beers derived from your surroundings. Cost: $10

Introduction to All Grain Brewing

June 12 (6:30 p.m.): This class is designed for homebrewers that wish to make the transition into all-grain brewing. We will go through the additional steps and equipment necessary for brewing all grain recipes. This class will also go through the basic techniques for designing recipes. The style of beer we will be brewing is an Belgian Saison, which we will look at the history, characteristics, and tips for brewing a great Belgian Saison. Cost: $10

Introduction to Fruit Winemaking

June 19 (6:30 p.m.): An introduction to making wine from fresh fruit. This class will cover the basic process and equipment of winemaking as well as a variety of other subjects. You will learn how to test your pH, make acid adjustments, sugar adjustments, and how to prepare the fruit for a healthy fermentation. Cost: $10

Off Flavor Seminar

July 10 (7:00 p.m.): Understanding and identifying off flavors in beer is critical in being an educated drinker and brewer. For brewers, proper identification can help trouble shoot brewing problems. For this class we will be spiking beer samples with the six most common off-flavors found in beers to better train our palettes to identify problems. This event is just two days before the next Certified Cicerone exam in Chicago for those needing practice before taking the test. Cost: $30. Deadline for sign up is July 1.

Grape to Glass Introduction on Grape Harvest & Winemaking

August 21 (6:30 p.m.): An introduction to making wine from fresh grapes. This class will cover the basic process and equipment for winemaking as well as a variety of other subjects. You will learn how to harvest your grapes, press the the grapes, test sugar content, make sugar adjustments test pH, and make acid adjustments. Cost: $10

Hops, Harvest and Wet Hopping

September 10 (2:00 p.m.): Join us for an in-depth discussion on the anatomy of hops and chemistry of hops in beer. We will go through how to harvest and use home grown hops, drying techniques, and wet hopping. While we cover this discussion on hops we will also be brewing an all-grain batch of beer with freshly picked wet hops. Cost: $10

Introduction to All Grain Brewing

October 8 (2:00 p.m.): This class is designed for homebrewers that wish to make the transition into all-grain brewing. We will go through the additional steps and equipment necessary in brewing all grain recipes. This class will also go through basic techniques for designing recipes. The style of beer we will be brewing is an American Stout. We will look at the history, characteristics, and tips for brewing a great American Stout. Cost: $10

New and Returning Beer

  • Bell's Third Coast Old Ale, $2.79/12oz - "Third Coast Old Ale starts with a rich, caramel base, and finishes with a heavy hop bitterness. Sharply intense at first, it will age gracefully, adding complexity and subtlety in your cellar. Go ahead, test your patience" (source).
  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotty Karate, $4.49/12oz - "It is hard to believe it has been 10 years, since we first released Scotty Karate Scotch Ale!!! What better way to celebrate the decade than to release a Bourbon Barrel Aged edition of this mighty fine Scotch Ale" (source).
  • New Holland Lost Dune, $1.79/12oz - "A refreshing and aromatic summer ale. Tropical notes of Mosaic hops and bright citrus of coriander complement the rounding smoothness of blueberries from Michigan’s dune-laden west coast" (source).
  • North Peak Archangel, $1.79/12oz - "Archangel is a light wheat ale brewed with Michigan cherries from the Traverse City area Crisp with a refreshing tartness, it’s the perfect beer for sunny days and beaches" (source).
  • Saugatuck Reverent Monk, $1.79/12oz - "A traditional Belgian Tripel with complex flavors of clove, banana, and spicy esters. Deep yellow in color and medium bodied with a sweet finish" (source).
  • Lagunitas Doppel Weizen, $4.79/22oz - "This special brew was designed with the help of our Freistaat Bayern brothers who also built the brewhouse upon which we brewed it. It's a new twist on an old tradition" (source).
  • Heavy Seas Alpha Effect, $2.19/12oz - "With a lightning strike of exotic hops, the Alpha Effect is a hazy and dank IPA thundering with juicy hop aroma and flavor. With a hefty 7%, the Alpha Effect has enough malt to balance the ridiculous amount of hops we used to create this category 5 monster. Hazy, but never muddy, this is an expertly brewed IPA" (source).
  • Short's Chief Hopper, $1.99/12oz - "Chief Hopper is a Double IPA hopped with Vic Secret, Simcoe, and Centennial hops inspired by the show “Stranger Things.” Chief Hopper is deep gold in color and has a dense white head. Dank aromas of pine, grapefruit, pineapple, and mango are accompanied by just a hint of malt. Smooth and balanced in flavor, a citrus forefront is matched with equal malt character" (source).
  • Short's Publican Porter, $1.99/12oz - "Publican Porter is a full-flavored London Style Porter with a black, opaque color that leaves a pleasing dark brown lace. Rich, decadent aromas of espresso entice the senses, eventually giving way to subtle biscuit like tones. The use of heavily roasted malt imparts tasty flavors of burnt coffee and dark chocolate, accompanied by a suitable and pleasant bitterness" (source).
  • Oddside I Want My HTV, $1.99/12oz - "Imperial Citra Pale Ale" (source).

Video of the Week | Founders Brewing Co.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Speciation Artisan Ales: Take a Sip on the Wild Side

By Max Spencer

Mitch and Whitney Ermatinger — after creating and rewriting multiple business plans over the course of years — decided to found a brewery in the Grand Rapids area that focuses on mixed-culture wild ales after seeing how popular they were in the rest of the country. The result of their hard work and planning is the new Speciation Artisan Ales in Comstock Park. The name Speciation is a reference to the evolutionary process by which new species emerge — an appropriate name for a brewery that uses wild microbes in its beers. “We wanted to create a cohesive brand,” Mitch explained to me during a visit to the brewery, “a theme with a large pool of names to draw from.” The theme of evolution is well suited for wild ales, as wild microbes tend to impart a wide range of characteristics to beer and exhibit variation from batch to batch — from microbe to microbe.

Mitch has a strong history of brewing. He cut his teeth as a homebrewer and employee at O’Connor’s Homebrew Supply before moving with Whitney to Colorado. Once there, Mitch joined the brewing team at Former Future Brewing Company — now known as Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales. Black Project — run by James Howat — specializes in spontaneously fermented beers. It was during this time that Mitch learned a great deal about wild and spontaneous fermentation. James, Mitch and the rest of the team at Black Project won two bronze medals for their wild ales at GABF in 2014 and 2015. Then, in 2016, Harmony Brewing Company hired Mitch to assist them in creating their sour program.

Speciation barrels
The beers released by Speciation so far were fermented using a mixture of lab cultures, wild microbes and a yeast Mitch harvested from a crab apple flower in Holland, Michigan. “We plan on shifting towards 100% wild fermentations as time goes on,” Mitch said, “once we have coolships and a collection of wild yeasts.” Many beer styles rely on malt or hops for their characteristic flavors — but wild and spontaneously fermented beers are all about the microbes. Not that malt and hops do not contribute, but the acidity — AKA sourness — and most of the complex flavors found in such beers are the result of microbial metabolism. A reliance on wild microbes promotes experimentation, as microbes from different sources (various fruits, flowers, etc.) bestow beer with distinct flavors and aromas.

Open fermentation
Mitch has some unique and exciting projects in the works. For the summer, they will be releasing a series of Berliner weisses aged with different fruits. There are also plans for a dark sour, an IPA, and an array of variants using base beers with different additions such as mangoes, honey or rhubarb and vanilla. The most exotic of Speciation’s upcoming ventures is a family of spontaneously fermented beers currently codenamed the Laurentian Spontaneous Series. What makes the Laurentian Series one-of-a-kind is the intended source of the microbes — the Great Lakes. Mitch plans to place coolships on the shores of each Great Lake to capture the terroir of the individual lakes, releasing each separately and together as a blend. Additionally, Mitch has several bourbon, red wine and maple syrup barrels to age beers in — with hopes of incorporating oak foeders soon. Keep in mind that wild microbes can be finicky, and any future releases are subject to change based on results.

Fermentation tank
A new batch of beer is released every second Saturday of every month. The first two batches released were Genetic Drift, an American Saison contained in a solera system and dry hopped with Mosaic and Saaz, and Incipient, a golden sour dry hopped with Belma, Cascade and Mosaic hops. The next slated release, on March 11, is a variation of the Incipient with Black Currants. Currently, releases are handled through a ticket-based system on Eventbrite and leftovers are sold at bottle shops like Siciliano's — so keep an eye out!

Tasting Notes for Genetic Drift

An American farmhouse Saison open-fermented with Brettanomyces bruxellensis var. Drie, Belle Saison, and Speciation’s house strain which was captured from a crabapple tree in Holland, MI. The malt build consists of Pilsner, Vienna, wheat, rye and oats. To top it off, this batch was dry hopped with Mosaic and Saaz. Mitch is utilizing solera techniques (adding fresh wort to containers with already fermented beer) to create future batches of Genetic Drift—which should result in similar beers that steadily change over time due to shifts in the microbial community of the solera.

Appearance: Pale gold, hazy, with a delicate seafoam white head.

Aroma: Rustic, earthy funk. Overripened fruit, mango, pineapple, light stone fruit. Peppery phenols.

Palate: Follows the nose well—rustic, earthy, funky and lightly acidic. Fruit smoothie with tropical and stone fruits. Lemon. A light, grainy malt character. High carbonation. Pillowy mouthfeel with a light-medium body.

Finish: Dry with lingering acidity and bitterness.

Friday, March 3, 2017

New Beer Friday, Reminders & Updates Edition (March 3)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Spring is coming and with it a number of exciting homebrew events here at Siciliano's. See below for a list of dates, updates, details and reminders.

FOURTEENTH ANNUAL SICILIANO’S HOMEBREW COMPETITION: Online registration for entries will be accepted from Monday, March 20 through Sunday, April 9 or until 200 entries are submitted, whichever occurs first. This year’s Best of Show winner will again have the opportunity to brew his or her winning recipe at Trail Point Brewing Company in addition to winning a $500.00 gift card to Siciliano’s Market and, per tradition, having his or her name engraved on the prestigious Siciliano’s Cup. Go here for complete details.

CALL FOR JUDGES & STEWARDS: Information on how to register as a judge or a steward for the 2017 Competition can be found here.

THE FOURTEENTH ANNUAL SICILIANO’S HOMEBREW PARTY: Saturday, May 20, at Johnson Park on Butterworth.

HOP PLANT PREORDERS: We are taking hop plant pre-orders through the end of business on Thursday, March 16th. Go here for complete details.

Entries in last year's homebrew competition.

New and Returning Beers

  • Short's Cat Pajama's, $2.69/12oz - "Cat’s Pajamas is a Double IPA brewed with Blood Orange and guava. This India Pale Ale is pale orange in color with big aromas of sweet, tropical fruit. Cat’s Pajamas is balanced with flavors of sweet fruit and bitter hops and has a resinous, mouth coating feel. High in ABV, this beer finishes dry with a bit of warmth" (source).
  • Avery Vanilla Bean Stout, $13.79/22oz - "A double dose of vanilla derived from both fresh Bourbon barrels and the trio of Tongan, Ugandan, and Mexican whole vanilla beans is complemented by essences of chocolate, caramel and molasses to round out this luxuriously silky stout" (source).
  • Southern Tier Nu Skool, $1.69/12oz - "We spent over a year prototyping R&D versions of Nu Skool. This final version is one special beer. It is an IPA with a slight malty sweetness, but overall balanced & brimming with tropical, fruity, spicy, piney & citrus character. To contrast our IPA, which most closely resembles a traditional English IPA in malt & hop bills, we wanted to brew an India Pale Ale in a new way. West Coast brewers have been brewing lighter, more “Americanized,” yet still full of hop character & our brewers wanted to try their hand by brewing their take" (source).
  • Lagunitas Davey Murray's Best, $2.19/12oz (2 per) - "This Scotch Ale is sweet, but not cloying. It's strong, but not brash. It's smooth and smokey, like a good dram among friends" (source).
  • Greenbush 400 Divine Rabbits, $1.99/12oz  - "This heavenly brew is sure to satisfy all you offer to it. And by all, we mean ALL. Two or twenty, be sure to keep enough of this agave wheat ale on hand lest you anger the gods" (source).
  • Ballast Point Red Velvet Nitro, $2.59/12oz - "Impossibly reddish in color (due to the beets) with nitro cascade fading into a pink cap of stable foam, great clarity. Seeing the beer in the glass shows the obvious resemblance to a slice of red velvet cake (red cake on the bottom topped with a layer of creamy white frosting). But the similarities don’t end there. The aroma is dominated by chocolate with earthy notes of beets and subtle wafts of roast coco. The flavor is similar to the aroma but with faint roast and hop bitterness coming in at the end balance it out, not cloying or overly sweet. The mouthfeel is medium and the finish is luxuriously smooth" (source).
  • Ballast Point Sea Rose, $1.89/12oz - "American Wheat Ale with Cherries & Pomegranate" (source).
  • Alpine Windows Up, $2.39/12oz - "This IPA is extra dank and resinous. Enjoy its piney aromas and tropical notes from a blend of Citra and Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Arbor Phat Abbot Tripel, $2.89/12oz - "This traditional Belgian-style triple is strong, fruity, and slightly sour. It starts with a big malt presence, followed up by a pronounced candy sugar sweetness, and balanced with a spicy hop finish. A must-try" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Contemplation, $3.49/16oz - "Clover honey added during the boil contributes color and complexity but adds no sweetness to the beer as the sugars are broken down during fermentation. Look for whispers of apricot and nectarine on the palate, mixed with the floral aroma of the hops grown in northern Michigan" (source).
  • Burnt City Balloon Boy, $1.79/12oz - "Easy to drink, but hard to pin down, Balloon Boy is a refreshing Belgian-style wheat that is fun for the whole family.* Subtle tart citrus up front gives way to a beautifully complex fruitiness. A wheat ale that sits well with every kind of beer drinker" (source).
  • Burnt City Dick the Butcher, $1.79/12oz - "Our take on the American Pale Ale is balanced and refreshing. Classic American hops lend prominent grapefruit notes and just a little bitterness" (source).
  • Burnt City Face Melter, $1.79/12oz - "A righteous dose of hops and hibiscus give this IPA a powerful aroma of citrus and tropical fruit. Citra, Centennial, and Cascade hops team up to provide a strong, yet smooth bitterness. Intense flavor without a harsh aftertaste" (source).
  • Burnt City Freight Handler, $1.79/12oz - "Our milk stout is full-bodied and smooth, with rich chocolate flavors and complex maltiness along with a touch of subtle lactose sweetness" (source).
  • Dark Horse Toonilla, $2.09/12oz - "Cream stout brewed with coffee from Dark Street Roasting Company and vanilla beans" (source).
  • Arcadia Whitsun, $1.79/12oz - "Brewed in the style of a mid-19th century English Festival Ale, this unfiltered wheat beer displays a translucent orange color topped with a creamy, white head. Wheat enhances the mouthfeel of the beer and produces pleasant bread-like notes while Michigan honey provides a caramelized sweetness in the flavor profile. This beer is spiced with orange peel and coriander and small amounts of three hop varieties pleasantly counterbalances the sweetness" (source).
  • Arcadia Apollyon, $2.29/12oz - "Belgium strong ale with hints of fruits and spice" (source).
  • Arcadia Mango Surprise, $1.99/12oz - "Tropical aromas of mango, pineapple, papaya and citrus gently play off a bright hop profile with a slight malt nose" (source).
  • Blakes Grizzly Pear, $2.09/12oz - "Blake's first pear hard cider, Grizzly melds soft notes of pear & prickly pear cactus balanced with a sharp apple finish with a hint of elderflower. No bears were harmed in the making of this product" (source).
  • Right Brain Broken Nose Double Black India Pale Ale, $6.49/22oz - "A malty American style black IPA with mild citrus and melon notes, a roasty body, and all around soft hop presence" (source).
  • Right Brain Peanut Butter CEO, $8.39/22oz - "Our flagship CEO Stout brewed with house-made peaunt butter" (source).
  • ROAK Blow Your Face Off, $3.29/12oz - "ROAK’s Blow Your Face Out Double IPA was crafted to maximize the dark characters of hops with piney, tropical and stone fruit aromas and flavors. With over 100 IBUs, these hops are ready to explode right out of the bottle. So grab a glass, this beer is going to blow your face out" (source).

Video of the Week | Spent-Grain Mushrooms

Someone needs to bring this to Grand Rapids.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Beer Friday, Formal Call for Judges Edition (Feb 24)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

This is a formal call for judges and stewards for the Fourteenth Annual Siciliano's Homebrew Contest, one of Michigan's premier homebrew competitions. This a BJCP registered event.

The following is pertinent information regarding the judging for the 2017 Siciliano's competition:

    • Date: Saturday, April 22th
    • Location: The Guest House, 638 Stocking Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
    • Check in for judges & stewards: 10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
    • Judging: 11:15 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
    • Best-of-Show judging: 3:30 p.m.
    • Competition organizer: Steve Siciliano,, 616-453-9674
Coffee and pastries will be provided in the morning and there will be a lunch and liquid refreshments at the conclusion of the judging.

If you plan on participating in this year's competition either as a judge or a steward please go to this website. After logging in you will be able to register as a judge or a steward.


After logging in, click on the Guest House Judging Session and indicate whether you will be participating as a judge or a steward. If you are registering as a judge, click the Update Judging Preferences button after indicating your judging preferences and dislikes.

Preregistration is encouraged as it will help reduce lines at the check-in table on the day of the judging.

Please ensure that you arrive at the judging venue by 10:30 a.m. so that the competition staff can organize flights and complete table assignments by the 11:15 judging start time.

Please be reminded that your participation as a steward or judge does not preclude you from entering a beer in this competition.

New and Returning Beer

  • Guinness Irish Wheat, $1.69/12oz - "Brewed with Guinness Ale yeast and 100% Irish Wheat. This is a clean crisp refreshing tasting beer with notes of zesty citrus, subtle clove and banana " (source).
  • Anchorage Tide and Its Taker Triple, $16.09/750ml - "Brewed with Sorachi Ace and Styrian Golding Hops. Aged in French Oak Chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces" (source).
  • Brekeriet Sour White, $13.39/750ml - "A fruity and subtly sour Wheat beer" (source).
  • Libertine Wild IPA, $19.99/750ml - "A heavily dry-hopped beer, this unique take on an IPA will expand your perception of the category.  Using our unique brewing and open fermentation techniques, but taking the majority of the hopping to the final part of the process, you are left with a very funky, yet hoppy, floral beer that showcases the hops’ aromas instead of their bittering qualities" (source).
  • To ├śl Berry White, $5.99/11oz - "White Ale brewed with blueberries and blackberries" (source).
  • Carlsberg Elephant, $1.59/12oz - "Carlsberg Elephant is a so-called ’Bock Bier’, brewed for the first time in 1959. The ample use of malt gives Carlsberg Elephant a vinous and rich character with apple, melon, banana, and caramel flavours balanced with a dry bitterness and hints of oak, bark, nuts and pine needles. The colours is pale gold with white foam" (source).
  • Dark Horse German Hobo, $2.09/12oz -A malt liquor collaboration beer with Old Nation.
  • Kronenbourg Blanc, $1.59/12oz - "1664 White is a fresh and fruity white beer. Because of its flavor and its design, it embodies the elegance and taste of French in the world of wheat beers. Authentic, it is accessible and slightly fruity, revealing subtle aromas of citrus, lemon and coriander" (source).
  • New Holland Mischievous II, $5.49/22oz - "A kettle-soured brown ale finished with local peaches which contribute a fruity nose and hint of sweetness" (source).
  • Pigeon Hill Your Mom on French Toast, $4.59/12oz (4 per) - "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 1762 Russian Imperial Stout with maple syrup 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).
  • Tapistry Prehistoric Rhetoric, $12.89/22oz (1 per) - No commercial description.
  • Greenbush Dystopia, $3.49/12oz (2 per) - "Don't be surround by sameness. Pull back from the droll daily grind with our Russian Imperial Stout that showcases just the right roasty, bitter qualities to help you escape whatever scene you're in" (source).
  • Odd Side Car Ramrod, $2.29/12oz - "Imperial Black Citra Pale Ale" (source).
  • Odd Side Orange Mocha Beer-A-Cino, $2.49/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura, $14.39/750ml - "A Belgian inspired stout that is as dark as a moonless midnight, brimming of roasted malts and bitter hops. It will keep you good company in all places, be thay light or dark" (source).
  • Tallgrass Raspberry Jam, $1.69/12oz - "Raspberry Jam was initially developed at our brewpub, the Tallgrass Tap House. It became an instant hit and we decided it should “go on tour” as part of the Tallgrass lineup. Its crisp, natural tartness is balanced by the addition of raspberries, creating a sour wheat ale that’s light-bodied and refreshing" (source).
  • Tallgrass Velvet Rooster, $1.69/12oz - "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).
  • Perrin Ceaser's Gimp, $11.49/22oz - "The Roman Empire’s lust for global dominance and power was only matched by their love of wine, which led to their mastery of the oak barrel. With this in mind we brewed a hybrid Imperial Red Ale fermented with Cabernet Sauvignon grape juice and then aged in California Merlot oak wine barrels. This Roman Imperial Red Ale will excite your baser passions with a deep Imperial red color and purple highlights. Oak, malt and grapes blend together making it hard to tell where one flavor begins and another ends. We all have our vices and we hope you enjoy this one" (source).
  • Perrin Triangulation, $3.39/12oz - "We decided to create a rich but approachable strong stout. It will have dark caramel components. We are using experimental hop HBC 472 which can provide vanilla, macaroon, and even barrel notes" (source).

Siciliano's Rare Beer Easter Egg Hunt

In honor of Michigan Beer Week, we're hiding rare beers like this one
throughout Siciliano's all weekend, just a few at a time. Stop in and see us —
you'll never know what you find!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February Brew of Month: Matt's Tropical Fruit Saison

By Matt Ross

This brew of the month is a special two-part edition. In this recipe, I combined two of my favorite things: big Brett character and bold fruity hops. Be forewarned that Brett will nest in most of your plastic equipment and is notorious for cross contamination. Keep your equipment clean and separate unless you really like Brettanomyces.

To get the ball rolling, this was initially an eleven-gallon batch. I used a base of pilsner malt with smaller additions of carahell and aromatic. These malts contribute significant complexity and backbone without becoming overwhelming. I wanted to keep it simple with the grain as to not take away from the focus of the recipe.

The hop schedule on this beer is also simple but quite aggressive for the style. While it comes in between 30 and 40 IBUs, the IBUs are more geared towards flavor and aroma. For all-grain, I used half an ounce of Columbus at 60 minutes, half an ounce of Centennial at 30 and one ounce each of Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin at 10 minutes. This combination proved to be very efficient at giving a big hoppy punch. If you are doing a half-size boil for extract and topping up with water at the end, be sure to double the 60 and 30 minute additions due to the lowered hop utilization from the highly-concentrated wort.

Experimenting with homebrew is still one of my favorite things. I made 11 gallons of wort so this beer could be split into 2 fermenters with 5.5 gallons in each. Both were fermented warm (around 75 degrees) using the Wyeast’s 3711 French Saison and after a week transferred into glass carboys. Each carboy received a dose of a different strain of Brettanomyces and sat for just shy of 3 months. Generally, Brett works slower than brewer’s yeast which is why I did the long conditioning in secondary. I selected bruxellensis and claussenii.

To keep it short and sweet, Brett is the weird second cousin twice removed from brewer’s yeast. It ferments sugars but at a slower pace, will even consume long chain sugars that brewer’s yeast can't, and will work well under different environments. As mentioned before, it is notoriously hard to kill. After the world ends it will be full of cockroaches, Twinkies and Brett.

This beer turned out very dry. The French saison yeast does a great job of attenuating by itself but the Brett made these beers bone dry. The bruxellensis produced more classic Brett flavors like barnyard and funk while which made for a nice contrast with the hops. Overall it was very refreshing and fruity. The claussenii created a very different beer. The hops and Brett worked together swimmingly to create a perfect storm of over ripened tropical fruit with a big citrus kick.

This was a great recipe if you have open carboys and patience. This brew of the month is out of place for February but you can thank me when you are grilling on the porch in June with a bright hoppy Brett-saison.

As always I love to encourage people to put their own twists on recipes. Don’t want to pay for expensive yeast twice? Try the WLP644 Sachromyces “Bruxellensis” Trois or one of our great new Omega products like the C2C American Farmhouse. Make it your own. Brew on.

11-Gallon Extract Version ($79.36)

    • 18lbs Pilsen Light LME
    • 1lb cara hell
    • .75lb aromatic
    • 1oz Columbus
    • 1oz Centennial
    • 1oz Mosiac
    • 1oz Nelson Sauvin
    • Wyeast 3711 French Saison
    • WLP645/WLP650

11-Gallon All-grain ($57.13)

    • 21lbs Pilsner Malt
    • 1lb Carahell
    • .75lb aromatic
    • 1oz Columbus
    • 1oz Centennial
    • 1oz Mosiac
    • 1oz Nelson Sauvin
    • Wyeast 3711 French Saison
    • WLP645/WLP650
The staff at Siciliano's is always eager to answer your homebrewing questions. Stop by for help developing custom-made recipes like this one!

Friday, February 17, 2017

New Beer Friday, Cast Your Vote Edition (Feb 17)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Beer City USA continues to garner national recognition for its vibrant craft beer culture. This past week USA Today announced that Grand Rapids has again made the publication’s list of the twenty best beer scenes in America, presenting GR with the opportunity to reprise its 2016 USA Today’s Readers’ Choice award as the number one destination for craft beer in the country.

“Michigan’s second-largest city sports the state’s strongest beer scene, thanks largely to the presence of the world-renowned Founders Brewing Co.,” the publication states on its 10Best website. “Not to be outdone, there are several other brewing operations around town, most notably the Belgian-inspired Brewery Vivant. The city’s official “Beer City Ale Trail” lists more than 40 breweries in the surrounding area, and the local calendar is constantly filled with beer festivals, events and promotions. Throw in exceptional beer stores such as Siciliano’s Market, and it’s easy to see why Grand Rapids proudly stakes its claim as Beer City USA.”

Also nominated for USA Today’s Readers’ Choice awards this year are Brewery Vivant and Founders Brewing Company for the country’s best brewpub and HopCat for the best beer bar. Voting for each specific category is limited to one vote per day per device and ends Monday, March 13. Click on the following links to cast your votes:

New and Returning Beer

  • Short's Uncle Steve, $1.69/12oz - "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 beer. A simple grist formula provides a base of roasted malt flavors and a creamy drinkability everyone loves" (source).
  • Victory Selene Saison, $7.99/750ml - "Dark as the night sky and fermented with unique yeast, this Saison delivers earthy and spicy undertones to warm your senses all winter long" (source).
  • Atwater Cherry Wheat, $1.99/12oz - "The addition cherries from Traverse City, MI, prior to fermentation, Atwater’s Cherry Wheat brings a bright tartness together with the crispness of an American Wheat ale" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Beer to Drink Music To, $2.59/12oz - "Our music-inspired Tropical Blonde brewed with kiwi juice & hibiscus flowers" (source). See video below.
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche (2016), $2.59/12oz - "Our tart summer-session-sour" (source).
  • Shiner Coffee, $1.69/12oz - "For our 108th birthday, we’ve brewed up something special. Our first coffee ale, crafted in collaboration with Austin’s own Chameleon Cold-Brew, made with dark-roasted specialty malt and Chameleon’s beloved cold-brewed coffee, it’s sure to wake up your tastebuds. But it won’t be here forever, so pour yourself a fresh cup while you can" (source).
  • Right Brain Firestarter Chipolte Porter, $7.19/22oz - "A deep bodied and roasty porter with strong smokey notes and a mild spicy finish. Flavor profile very similar to mexican mole’ sauces" (source).
  • Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock, $2.79/12oz - "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).
  • Dark Horse Too Cream Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Number two in our stout series, this beer is made with milk sugar (lactose) which gives this beer a nice creamy mouth feel, pleasant sweetness, and aromas of chocolate and coffee. An earthy hop profile that mingles with flavors of roasted coffee and sweet milk chocolate provide a fulfilling finish" (source).
  • Dark Horse Rail, La Spar, $2.09/12oz (4 per) - "Stout brewed with sarsapilla root and vanilla beans" (source).
  • New Holland White Hatter, $1.79/12oz - "Flavorfully blends the soft malt, fruity esters and delicate spicing of a Belgian White with hoppy citrus notes of an IPA. Pleasant hints of orange are framed with chamomile, coriander and grains of paradise" (source).
  • Stone Jindia Pale Ale, $2.99/12oz - "A double India Pale Ale instilled with Juniper, ginger and lemon peel" (source).
  • Stone Pataskala, $1.99/12oz - "A massively dry-hopped deep crimson IPA" (source).

Dogfish Head Beer to Drink Music To

Now available at Siciliano's Market.