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Friday, September 27, 2013

New Beer Friday, Fond Farewell To Greg Edition (September 27)

Preamble By Steve Siciliano

It is with mixed emotions that I am prefacing this week’s New Beer Friday with the news that long time staffer Greg Johnson is leaving Siciliano’s Market to take a position as assistant cider maker at Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan.

While we share Greg’s excitement as he begins this new phase of his career, we are certainly sorry to see him go. In his six years at the store Greg has proved to be a valuable employee. He played a key role in the planning and execution of our expansion a few years back and was the project manager for our recent reconfiguration of the homebrew area. Greg was also responsible for the weekly ordering of a good percentage of our homebrewing inventory and he did a great job in organizing and managing our annual homebrew competition.

Of course the minor sting of losing a valuable employee is soothed by the fact that another Siciliano’s alumnus will be working as a professional in the local brewing industry.

We wish Greg much success with his new position, and we dedicate this New Beer Friday to him. In his honor we present the latest beers to arrive at Siciliano's.

New and Returning Beer at Siciliano's

  • Bell's Oracle, $2.99/12oz - "Our take on the West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale, The Oracle places hop intensity first & foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt & balance. The fireworks start with the floral aromatic punch of two separate dry-hop sessions with Amarillo and NZ Pacific Jade. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise" (source).
  • New Castle Werewolf, $1.49/12oz - "What better way to toast the fall than to have a bottle of this formidable, dual character brew. At first smooth with mellow overtones of sweet berry fruit, a bite of bitterness suddenly cuts through, long, deep and lingering. Brewed with Rye Malt, it is naturally "blood red" in colour. Unlike the mythical wolf-like creature said to roam the bleak moorland surrounding Newcastle, this is real, so consider yourself warned!" (source).
  • New Belgium Lips of Faith Yuzo Berliner Weisse, $9.19/22oz - "Yuzu is a strange fruit- citrusy and bold. Those three words: strange, citrus and bold are the perfect beginnings for a great beer. So, our brewers paired yuzu with the sourness of a Berlinerweiss to create this beerlicious Yuzu Berlinerweiss. Brewed with pale malt and wheat this Berlinerwiess was acidified with Lactobacillus for a light, dry mouthfeel and tart refreshment. Hazy and straw-colored, the yuzu fruit brings a tropical charm to a traditional beer" (source).
  • New Belgium Lips of Faith Coconut Curry Hefeweizen, $9.19/22oz - "Coconut Curry Hefeweizen has been pouring down the history of American Home Brewing for many years, from the legendary Charlie Papazian to the 2010 National Homebrewer, Remi Bonnart. The latter helped New Belgium brew this hazy, straw-colored gem to life. The aroma is bold and big with coconut and curry tones and a hint of banana from the hefe yeast. With a vast spice list of cinnamon, coriander, fenugreek, ginger, kaffir lime, and cayenne pepper this beer carries a bit of heat but the alcohol soothes the finish. Coconut Curry Hefe will leave an inquisitive smile on the drinker’s mug" (source).
  • Shiner Holiday Cheer, $1.49/12oz - "Happy Holidays from the "Little Brewery" in Shiner, TX. We hope you enjoy your Shiner Cheer, an Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The malty flavors of this dark wheat ale are enhanced through the use of malted barley and wheat. And Kräusening ensures a smoothnessthat makes the subtle peach and pecan flavors all the more satisfying. May your days be merry and bright and your Shiner be cold" (source).
  • Left Hand Homefront IPA, $6.69/22oz - "Homefront IPA is a collaborative beer produced by nine U.S. breweries to raise money & awareness for Operation Homefront. Thanks to our friends at Fremont Brewing Co., Left Hand got to be a part of this awesome beer & cause. Homefront is an American IPA, brewed with orange zest and aged on maple Louisville Slugger bats, for a truly American offering" (source).
  • Atwater Blocktoberfest, $1.79/12oz - "Octoberfest, a German tradition that celebrates harvest. Now Atwater carries on the tradition with our own special lager "Blocktoberfest". Brewed with 100% German malt for a rich taste and amber color." (source).
  • Arbor Brewing Sodibo Barrel Aged Blond Ale, $17.49/750ml - "Sour Series: Brasserie Blonde aged in oak and soured. Sodibo is a sophisticated and complex ale with a bright golden hue and moderate carbonation. It features a burst of complex fruity, spicy, sweet-tart, and earthy flavors with a quenching acidity in the finish" (source).
  • Ommegang Game of Thrones Take The Black Ale, $9.29/750ml - "Inspired by the brotherhood of the Night’s Watch, Take the Black Stout was made to be deep, dark and complex like those who have sworn the oath to defend Westeros against threats from the north. The label depicts the Weirwood tree where Jon Snow recited the oath before joining the Night’s Watch" (source).

Virtue Cider | Video of the Week

Here's a look at where and with whom Greg will be working. Enjoy!

Best of luck, Greg!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Beer Friday, Post Big Sale Edition (Sept 20)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

German Wieners from Sobie Meats.
It doesn't get much better.
The 2013 edition of the annual Beer & Wine Making Customer Appreciation Sale was once again a huge success. The week long sale began with a bang on Monday, continued unabated through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, picked up steam on Friday and as usual reached a Saturday crescendo during the time Barb was serving up German wieners, sauerkraut and draft root beer to appreciative Siciliano’s shoppers.

We are now focusing on restocking our depleted shelves and turning our attention to what is shaping up to be a busy fall winemaking season. Just a reminder that beginning this Saturday and continuing for the three following Saturdays we will be offering the free use of our cider and winemaking equipment during designated times in the parking lot behind the store.

Call 616-453-9674 for more details or, better yet, just stop in for more information. After all, a list is one thing, but nothing will beat browsing this week's selection of new beers in person.

New and Returning Beers

  • Founders Breakfast Stout, $3.59/12oz - "You’ve got to love coffee to truly appreciate this phenomenal brew. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and sweetened imported chocolates, Sumatra and Kona coffee. We’re actually not sure if this is some type of coffee cake or a beer. Either way you can drink this ale with a fork. Breakfast Stout has an intense fresh roasted coffee nose toped with a cinnamon colored frothy head that seems to never fade and makes you wish breakfast could last forever" (source).
  • Atwater Cherry Stout, $1.79/12oz - "Cherry Stout is a blend of 6 malts combined with Montmorency Cherry concentrate from our home state of Michigan. A stout to be cherished. Open It!" (source).
  • Left Hand Oktoberfest, $2.09/12oz - "This beer is available each autumn in celebration of the great Bavarian festival season. Brewed in late spring and cellared throughout the summer, our Oktoberfest is produced through traditional methods as it has been for centuries in Germany, This copper-hued lager owes its rich malt flavor to a generous combination of select Vienna and Munich malts. Cool, open-fermentation develops a subtle elegance and drinkability suited to any festive occasion" (source).
  • Brash Smoglifter Stout, $10.39/22oz - "Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. Chocolate isn’t like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good. Imperial chocolate milk stout brewed with real cocoa, clocking in at 10%abv, and making love to your mouth like a horny sorority girl" (source).
  • Brash The Bollocks Imperial IPA, $10.39/22oz - "We love ipa. Especially big hoppy ones. This west coast style imperial India pale ale is not messing around. At 12% abv and 110 ibu’s, it’s the liquid equivalent of Lenny in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Gently tending rabbits then suddenly….snap, it’s a whirlwind of crazy. Big citrusy aromatics, solid bitter backbone, and candy-like finish" (source).
  • Clown Shoes Genghis Pecan Pie Porter, $9.29/22oz - "Our new Pecan Pie Porter no longer uses extract, but rather brown sugar and pecans roasted by friends at The Gallows in Boston. Buddy Hadry, a rep at Bella Vista in PA, gave me the name for this beer, the second Pecan beer now that he has named" (source).
  • Odd Side Mayan Mocha, $2.19/12oz - "Be prepared to be blown away by the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, dutch chocolate coffee, and habaneros" (source).
  • The Great St.-Ambrois Pumpkin Ale, $2.79/12oz - "Brewed with victory malt and has a less pronounced hop profile that allows the spices to come to the fore and contributes to a harmonious, balanced brew" (source).
  • Lakefront Pumpkin Lager, $1.49/12oz - "Pumpkin Lager is brewed with pumpkins in the mash, spices added during the boil, and lightly hopped. The rich specialty grains and lager fermentation combine to produce the taste and the texture of pumpkin pie" (source).
  • Greenbush Unicorn Killer Pumpkin Ale, $2.19/12oz - "Flavored ale brewed with pumpkin and spices" (source).
  • Greenbush Demeter, $1.49/12oz - "Live in the now - that’s is what we always say when we have fresh hops, straight from a local Michigan grower. What a better way to enjoy the summer harvest?" (source).
  • Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen, $1.69/12oz - "Schöfferhofer German Wheat Beer Hefeweizen is brewed in Bavarian tradition using wheat malt. The live yeast gives bottle "conditioning" guaranteeing a refreshing fruity flavor. The yeast sediment also leads to the "cloudy" nature of the beer. Care needs to be taken when pouring. Tilt glass and poor slowly. Before pouring last quarter, roll bottle gently back and forward until sediment is dissolved" (source).
  • Arcadia Shipwreck Porter, $8.59/12oz (limit 2 bottles/person) - "Aged in in 22 year-old Bourbon Barrels for almost two years" (source).
  • Shorts Ale la Reverand, $1.99/12oz (3 bottles per) - "A distinctively dry, light-bodied IPA with an appealing golden hue, thirst-quenching crispness, and laden with pungent hop aromas of citrus and spruce" (source).

Founders "Brewed for Us" | Video of the Week


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bulk Cider from Ridge Cider Company: Saturday, Sept 21

By Chris Siciliano

Clear your calendars, folks. Starting at 11 a.m. this Saturday, September 21, Ridge Cider Company will be in Siciliano's back parking lot to sell fresh raw cider in bulk.

According to Matt Delong, our contact at Ridge, recent pressings have produced gravity readings between 1.055 and 1.060. All the apples used in the Ridge Cider company's blend—gala, red delicious, ginger gold and macs—are sourced locally from the Sparta area. The cider will be available in bulk quantities at $4.50/gallon. Please bring cash.

Matt and company will stick around filling buckets and carboys until the cider is gone or until demand wanes. However, interested customers should plan to stop by before 2 p.m. for the best shot at securing a share of the 500 gallons Matt is bringing in.

Be sure to bring your own buckets or carboys to fill, or be prepared to purchase a vessel for transportation from Siciliano's along with the other supplies you'll need (yeast, etc). Here's more information about Ridge Cider Company.
Ridge Cider Company is in the process of becoming a craft cider producer in West Michigan. In addition to the soon-to-be craft cider and apple wine products we also like to share our fresh pressed, unpasteurized, no preservative apple cider for the cider lovers, homebrewers, & fall festivities we all enjoy.
Our apples come from "The Ridge" area near Conklin, MI. To a historic apple cider mill to be pressed. The apples are pressed in an original 50-ton apple press within the mill, driven by a 17-ft water wheel. Experience a piece of history when you drink Ridge cider.
We select the finest mixture of apples, generally 50% sweet 35% sharp 15% tart, depending of the varieties being used. Great for hard cider and apple wine. The varieties we use vary depending on the time of the season as the different breed of apples are harvested at different times. However all of our apples are among the youngest and healthiest trees in "The Ridge" area ensuring flavorful apples for our cider. 
With almost 1000 acres of apple trees we have virtually every variety preferred from the consumer's perspective. We are especially pressing to sell in bulk with the homebrewer in mind.
 See you Saturday at Siciliano's Market!

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Beer Friday, Steve Smith Edition (September 13)

Steve Smith: Beer Mind
By Chris Siciliano

As you might expect, New Beer Friday begins this week with a reminder to check out our annual weeklong sale on homebrew and winemaking supplies. If you or somebody you know has been thinking about making beer or wine at home, now is the perfect time to begin the obsession—in addition to deep discounts on many big ticket items, our basic equipment and ingredient kits are marked down to their lowest prices of the year. In fact, most of our homebrew/winemaking products (with some exceptions) are at least 15% off the regular retail price. Trust us when we say it's worth checking out.

Also worth checking out is this Thursday, September 12 article on starring none other than hall-of-fame former Siciliano's staffer Steve Smith. Not only has Steve crafted for himself a reputation as one of the preeminent beer minds in all of West Michigan, he remains an honorary lifetime member of the Siciliano family for (a) playing an important role in the early development of the Siciliano's Market craft beer and homebrew departments, and (b) just being an all-around good guy.

With hope that our man Steve Smith approves, we humbly present the newest beers to hit the shelves at Siciliano's.

New and Returning Beer

  • Schmaltz and Terrapin Reunion 13, $7.19/22oz - "Reunion Ale ’13® is a dark Imperial Brown Ale brewed with vanilla, cinnamon, and cocoa nibs from Nashville, Tennessee’s Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company. Local favorites Creekside Café & Coffee House (Glenville, NY) and Brooklyn Roasting Company (Brooklyn, NY) contributed signature dark roasts to this year’s recipe" (source).
  • Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin, $7.19/22oz - "This rich and luscious brew indulges in flavor with over 28Ibs of pumpkin per barrel, for a full bodied sweetness and deep russet color. Classic pumpkin pie spices of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice ignite a warmth and spark that’s deepened by an undercurrent of roasty smoked malts. The result is a delectable brew full of enveloping layers of flavor and spice. At Samuel Adams we love experimenting. This series of limited edition brews represents some of our favorite small batch creations" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout, $2.49/12oz - "Narwhal Imperial Stout is the latest beer in Sierra Nevada’s High Altitude Series. This malt-forward monster is bold – with notes of baker’s cocoa, molasses, and dark roasted coffee. This massive imperial stout is incredibly complex, rich, and intense and will develop in the bottle for years to come" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Flipside Red IPA, $1.59/12oz - "Flipside Red IPA is a rebuttal to the mild-mannered beers of summer. Tropical fruit and citrus hop flavors from the use of whole-cone Citra, Simcoe and Centennial hops are the perfect notes for this in-between season" (source).
  • Dark Horse Perkulator Coffee Doppelbock, $2.09/12oz - "This is a true dopplebock and Dark Horse Brewing’s only publicly distributed lager. It was so normal that we couldn’t stand it so we made it into a coffee dopplebock. Ha, take that Germany, with your Reinheitsgebot purity law! Anyway, we use fair trade organic coffee from our friends at The Ugly Mug Cafe in Ypsilanti, MI We did a label contest and opened it up to the public for this beer. We had so many awesome entries that we couldn’t just pick one winner so we have 2 labels for this beer. We stagger the bottles in the six packs but with no order in mind" (source).
  • Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA, $5.09/12oz - "Founders most complex, most innovative, most feared and yet most revered ale produced. Massive in complexity the huge malt character balances the insane amount of alpha’s used to create this monster. More IBU’s than any brewery has documented, more than you would believe and dry-hopped for twenty-six days straight with a combination of 10 hop varieties. Dangerously drinkable and deliciously evil. We dare you to dance with the Devil. 112 IBUs" (source).
  • Founders Double Trouble Imperial IPA, $3.09/12oz - "An imperial IPA that was brewed to turn your world upside down. Hops have got you coming and going. Pungent aromatics up front paired with a malt balanced backbone and a smooth bitter finish. 86 IBUs" (source).
  • O'fallon Pumpkin Beer, $1.79/12oz - "Like pumpkin pie in a bottle...we add 136 pounds of real pumpkin to the three-barley mash and then season the finished beer with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Available September 1" (source).
  • He'brew St. Lenny's R.I.P.A., $9.59/22oz - "St. Lenny’s® flips the award-winning rye double IPA on its head using a custom Belgian yeast blend (2 Trappists and 1 Abbey) with the original R.I.P.A.® recipe. With a spicy punch of rye and caraway, fruity clove and anise flavors, and a gorgeous Belgian character, St. Lenny’s® is destined to intrigue hop heads and Belgian beer fans alike" (source).

Port Austin, Michigan | Picture of the Week

How could you not love this state?


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Introducing Pilot Malt House, Locally Grown and Malted Grains

By Steve Siciliano

Germinated grain
Siciliano’s Market’s beer making customers will soon have the option of using locally grown and malted grains to produce their hand crafted ales and lagers.

Pilot Malt House has been in the planning stages for the past eighteen months and, according to co-owner Erik May, the operation is currently awaiting lab analysis reports before making products available to area breweries, distilleries and homebrewers.

May said that the Jenison, Michigan, malting operation will initially focus on three base grains—a 2-row, a 6-row and wheat—but will eventually produce a number of base malt varieties as well as a line up of specialty grains.

“The quality of the product is paramount,” May said. “We won't add new varieties until those we are currently producing are hitting the benchmarks we set. We are working with a local lab to produce independent analysis of our grains to assist us with a robust quality assurance/quality control process and to offer the analysis to customers.”

Malted grain
May said that a passion for craft beer and homebrewing was the motivation he and partner Paul Schelhaas needed to start the malting operation. “We feel really strongly, as do many others, about the Michigan craft beer industry and the explosive growth we've all seen in recent years. It has really become a source of pride for so many, those involved in the industry and just those that are avid fans.”

May said that he and Schelhaas are excited about the prospect of bringing local farmers together with local brewers. “The tighter the craft beer and spirit supply chain is, the better off we all are, provided there is no compromise on quality.”

The malt house is currently getting its grain from a farm near Niles and is planning on working with a number of additional growers, one of which is a farm located just northwest of Grand Rapids that also grows hops.

“We decided early on that it was best to leave the growing to the experts,” May said.

Look for products from Pilot Malt House
to hit the shelves at Siciliano's very soon!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Siciliano's Homebrew & Winemaking Sale: It begins

Homebrew equipment kits, now on sale!*
The 2013 edition of the Siciliano's Beer & Wine Making Customer Appreciation Sale starts today, Monday, September 9, and continues through the close of business Sunday, September 15.

Our homebrew and winemaking section has been reconfigured and recently we added great new equipment for the seasoned homebrewer and winemaking hobbyist.

For folks new to homebrewing, our basic homebrew and winemaking equipment kits are deeply discounted for the duration of the sale.

During the 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 discount nor will the 15% be combined with other existing discounts (like the club discount). We will honor one discount or the other, whichever is greater. Equipment and supplies on the following list will have discounts deeper than 15%:

    • BEER EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Reg. $105.00, Sale $85.00
    • WINEMAKING EQUIP KIT/GLASS: Reg. $95.00, Sale $79.00
    • WORT AERATION SYSTEM: Reg. $38.49, Sale $31.49
    • YEAST STARTER KIT: Reg. $75.00, Sale $55.00
    • MASH/LAUTER TUN: Reg $125.00, Sale $102.00
    • REFRIGERATOR THERMOSTAT (RANCO): Reg. $95.00, Sale $78.00
    • ESCALI PRIMO DIGITAL SCALE: Reg. $26.00, Sale $21.00
    • ESCALI TASO DIGITAL SCALE: Reg. $39.95, Sale $32.79
    • 25 FT. IMMERSION WORT CHILLER: Reg $64.99, Sale $56.00
    • 50 FT. IMMERSION WORT CHILLER: Reg. $130.00, Sale $107.00
    • COUNTER FLOW WORT CHILLER: Reg. $118.00, Sale $97.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM (NEW KEG): Reg. $289.00, Sale $225.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM (USED KEG): Reg. $229.00, Sale $180.00
    • STAINLESS MIX STIR: Reg. $29.69 Sale $23.69
    • CHAMPAGNE FLOOR CORKER: Reg. $153.00, Sale $119.00
    • ITALIAN FLOOR CORKER: Reg. $143.00, Sale $109.00
    • PORTUGUESE FLOOR CORKER: Reg. $63.00, Sale $50.00
    • MILWAUKEE PH METER: Reg. $81.00, Sale $64.00
    • REFRACTOMETER: Reg. $91.00, Sale $70.00 
Finally, be sure to stop by Siciliano's Market on Saturday, September 14, for free German wieners, homemade sauerkraut and draft root beer. See you at the sale!

*Sale ends Sunday, September 15, 2013 at 10 p.m. ET.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

New Beer Friday, The Big Sale Approaches Edition (Sept 6)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The warehouse is overflowing, the basement is jam packed and every nook, cranny, corner and alcove of the sales floor is crammed with back stock. In other words, we’re locked and loaded for next week’s beer- and winemaking Customer Appreciation Sale (starting September 9).

This annual event certainly has evolved over the years. What began as a humble one-day sale is now a week-long retailing extravaganza. If you're already a homebrewer or winemaker you're going to want to take advantage of the 15% discount on most equipment and supplies and check out the items on the deeply discounted list. If you're thinking about taking the plunge into these life-enriching hobbies, now's the time to do it as the beer and winemaking equipment kits are both heavily discounted.

Don't forget that we will be offering free German wieners, sauerkraut and draft root beer to all our great customers on Saturday, September 14. And in the meantime, here's a little New Beer Friday.

New and Returning Beers at Siciliano's

  • Weihenstephaner Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "A full rich bodied, hoppy, seasonal lager. Especially brewed for the Festbier season. This beer truly represents the Bavarian way of celebrating. Deep gold color, great mouthfeel and lots of flavor" (source).
  • Goose Island Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "The best domestic and imported German malts are used to produce our delicate yet complex bottom fermented lager. Its sweet maltiness dominates the palate but leaves behind a subtle, clean hop finish. Each batch of our Oktoberfest is cold lagered ensuring optimal enjoyment in the finest old-world tradition" (source).
  • Dark Horse Scotty Karate Scotch Ale, $2.09/12oz - "For those of you who don't know who "Scotty Karate" is... He is a local one man band who plays an amazing slurry of honky tonk influenced, punk country songs. His voice is amazing as well as his high energy shows. (Check him out @ So, we decided to make a beer and name it in his honor. This beer is a big, full bodied Scottish ale. It is 9.75% alc. but it is very smooth and balanced. Since Scotty is also very passionate about beer I asked him to write a description for you, so from the man himself... Aroma: Smells like A fresh caramel apple with a hint of cinnamon inside of cranberry shortbread. Or maybe fresh home made hard candy (from home economics class-7th grade). Flavor: Tastes like a smokey chocolate chip cookie, wild roadside cherry-asparagus, woody, crispy leaf on a fall day" (source).
  • Founders Reds Rye, $3.09/12oz - "Pours a spectacular crimson red with a creamy tan head. Brewed with four varieties of Belgian caramel malts imparting a sweet richness. Reds Rye is impressively balanced with its hop bitterness and floral bouquet achieved from the dry hop. In the finish, the generous amount of malted rye used accentuates a spicy crisp finish" (source).
  • North Peak Hooligan Hoppy Pumpkin Ale, $2.19/12oz - "With North Peak’s Hooligan Hoppy Pumpkin Ale you will never have to choose between your favorite pumpkin beer and IPA again. Hooligan is brewed with real pumpkin and fresh spices to give you all the spicy pumpkin goodness you could ask for. And did we mention the hops? Hooligan is brimming with hops! It is brewed in Traverse City, MI, on Old Mission Peninsula incorporating locally grown hops" (source).
  • Shipyard Pumpkinhead, $1.79/12oz - "Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale is a crisp and refreshing wheat ale with delightful aromatics and subtle spiced flavor" (source).
  • Stone Gotterdammerung IPA, $7.59/22oz - "Our latest anniversary beer, starring an all-German cast of malt and hops, is yet one more glorious example of a Stone IPA brewed outside the box. Our brewers have brought their experiments with German hops to fruition, leaving convention behind to create this hefty IPA entirely with pilsner malts. These provide a superbly crisp mouthfeel, while a unique mix of noble and new-school hop varieties adds layers of bright, bitter flavors. Despite the daunting name, this beer isn’t designed to bring about the end of the world, but it just might destroy some of your preconceived notions of what an IPA can be" (source).
  • Southern Tier 2X Rye Double Rye Ale, $1.99/12oz - "Moderate sweetness, piney, firm graininess with spicy rye finish" (source).
  • Shorts Autumn Ale, $1.99/12oz - "Lore of the season captured in ale. A malty amber ale overtoned with slight caramel flavors and notable pleasant happiness throughout" (source).
  • Great Lakes Nosferatu, $3.29/12oz - "Often referred to as Burning River Pale Ale’s big brother, this stock ale is remarkably balanced for such a highly hopped beer. A rich deep blood red color makes this beer scary enough to be served every Halloween and a few other times of the year" (source).
  • Victory Red Thunder, $9.59/22oz - "Victory Brewing Company is known for melding traditional styles and unique concepts to produce the highest quality, full flavored beers. Red Thunder does just that. By aging their popular Baltic Thunder in once-used red wine barrels from Wente Vineyards, Victory Brewing Company created Red Thunder. The burnished cocoa creaminess of the Baltic-style porter is accented by the tannic dryness of the wood to produce a rich, fruity final product" (source).
  • Right Brain Willpower Pale Ale, $2.59/16oz can - "A snappy pale ale. Smooth with just a tinge of bitterness. The choice of many patrons" (source).
  • Right Brain Stowaway Reclaimed Saison, $7.19/22oz - "From the amazing to the mundane, all things are eventually reclaimed by the forces that created them. Yeast is no exception. Bringing new meaning to the idea of ’trash as treasure,’ Stowaway Reclaimed Saison is equal parts science project and beer-making. Right Brain brewers have painstakingly cultivated the unique strain of yeast used in this brew from reconstituted sediment found in the bottom of ’empty’ beer bottles. Over a 7-month period, brewers patiently cultured and pampered less than a teaspoon of yeast until it propagated and grew strong enough to use in a commercial batch. A traditional Saison with a hazy golden color, fruit-forward aroma, crisp complex flavor, and mildly acidic finish" (source).

Picture of the Week

A stumper/honey mushroom found near Big Bass Lake
in Northern Michigan


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Widmer Brothers Omission Gluten Free Lager: A Review

What follows is the last installment in staffer Doug Dorda's review series focusing on gluten-free alternatives to malt-based beers.

By Doug Dorda

A “hallelujah” escaped my lips as I slowly lowered the glass and allowed waves of rapturous finality to wash unbroken over my slightly frustrated mind—I had finally discovered a gluten-free (GF) beer that tasted like beer! Here was found an American lager that was as crisp and refreshing as any gluten-burdened kin that had arisen in post-prohibition America and, in the opinion of this author, to simply say that Widmer Brewing Company's Omission Lager tastes like beer could be as much an understatement as saying that Napoleon was only mildly aware of his short stature.

It is important to note, however, that amidst my throws of triumphant exclamations, I noticed that the packaging of the beer clearly states that is not in fact gluten free, but rather a lager that has had its gluten significantly removed or reduced. Before busting out the party hats and streamers, I decided that finding more information about the beer would be in the best interest of all parties.

Without getting too technical, it may suffice to say that modern brewing practice in cooperation with scientific advances have devised a few methods by which to significantly lower the amount of gluten in Omission lager and ale. The most important factor is that the beer is not entirely gluten free, much to my personal dismay. The packaging clearly states that the level of gluten in the beer has been dropped to below 20 parts per million, far lower than the threshold at which many of the country's gluten-intolerant population could be affected by. However, as the beer is not entirely devoid of gluten, true celiac sufferers have reported experiencing reactions. The debate that has arisen over the distribution of the beer is this: are extremely low levels of gluten effectively the same as no gluten at all? Perhaps the best person to help answer that question is you. Read this article further, and specific, information.

Stunned a bit by the gluten-free mirage I staggered so quickly toward, I slumped back into my chair and began to ponder this final frontier of alternative beer. Though the Omission beers offer a wondrous alternative to many, it would seem it can not meet the needs of all. Again I hear the question, “Do any of these taste like beer?” Again I find the answer seasoned with a host of caveats as opposed to a blissful yes. Perhaps it is time to say that most GF beer tastes like GF beer. Those who have experimented with sugar substitutes will undoubtedly remark that an uncanny flavor will always be present in foods once devoid of that particular signature. Beers fermented with sorghum and rice may also be expected to play host to a different sweetness that will always be the familiar signature of their “author.” However, time may be the key to developing a love for said signature: perhaps the alternative will usurp the original, and perhaps the mind will begin to associate the flavor of sorghum and rice as beer for those who may not have gluten.

For the mildly intolerant, or those sure of their threshold, the Widmer Brothers Omission beers eagerly await you. For those who must live gluten free, a myriad of GF beers, as well as ciders, meads and wine, are now available for your palate's exploration. May it come to fruition that a new love is only a taste away.

This concludes my series of gluten free experimentation.