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Friday, May 30, 2014

New Beer Friday, Brewers Please Apply Edition (May 30)

Photo courtesy of
Marinade's Facebook page
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

This past week I got a call from a local business owner who told me he was looking for a new head brewer to produce a lineup of hand-crafted beer on the restaurant’s small in-house system.

Aaron Zainia, the owner of Marinades Pizza Bistro, said the brewer would receive a flat fee for each keg of beer produced and would work for the restaurant as an independent contractor.

The downtown Rockford location has been producing and pouring its own hand-crafted beer for the last three years and is looking to expand production. Aaron said that eventually he would like to have five in-house brews on tap.

This sounds like a great opportunity for a homebrewer looking to take steps toward the eventual goal of becoming a brewing professional. Anyone interested should call Aaron at 616-901-8370 or email him at

In other news, I can’t believe this is the last New Beer Friday of May, but time flies when you’re busy and having fun. We were certainly busy this past month working on the Big Brew on the Calder and the 11th Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party and, as anyone who attended these events knows, they were certainly a lot of fun.

Next up is the National Homebrewers Conference which is coming to Grand Rapids the second week of June. Since Siciliano’s Market is both the Keynote Speaker sponsor and the Volunteer sponsor for this event, the busyness continues for Barb, myself and the staff. If you’re attending the conference make sure you stop by our booth. There will be some fun things going on. Until then, please enjoy the latest new beers to hit the shelves at Siciliano's.

New and Returning Beer

  • Goose Island The Ogden, $3.19/12oz - "This limited release Belgian style Tripel is dry hopped to balance spicy, tropical American hop flavors with a unique Belgian yeast, giving it a bold more complex palate" (source).
  • Saugatuck Hop on a Blonde, $2.59/12oz - "This hopped up version of Oval Beach Blonde maintains a crisp and refreshing feel. Hop on a Blonde is an excellent summer beer with a little extra kick of hops (without all the bitterness). I rate this as an exceptional beer that can please many palates" (source).
  • Green Flash 30th Street Pale Ale, $6.19/22oz - "30th Street Pale Ale is a strong pale ale that is well dry-hopped making it taste like an IPA by many hop head’s standards. The beer was brewed to recognize the synergy behind the craft beer culture on 30th Street in San Diego and was released for the Green Flash 6th Anniversary Celebration" (source).
  • New Holland Rye Hatter, $4.79/22oz - "Rye lends spiciness to the caramel-malt base, while creating a creamy texture. Dry-hopping contributes a fresh citrus finish. Pairings: blue cheese, blackened seafood, herb-roasted poultry" (source).
  • New Holland Black Hatter, $4.79/22oz - "IPA brewed with black malts which add dark roasted flavors. Dry hopped. Centennial finish. Pairings: Aged cheddars, arugula in vinaigrette, portabella sir-fry" (source).
  • New Holland Michigan Awesome Hatter, $4.79/22oz - "The epitome of Hand Crafted, Michigan Awesome Hatter celebrates community, collaboration & local agriculture. Centennial hops from the Leelanau Peninsula provide bright citrusy counterpoint to the delicious and earthy malt notes from Michigan grown and malted 2-row barley. Thanks to our collaborators, Michigan Awesome" (source).
  • New Holland Imperial Hatter, $4.79/22oz - "A robust renovation of the India Pale Ale. Assertive dry-hoppying provides an aromatic telltale nose, indicative of the bitter symphony to follow. Bold hop character with lively grapefruit and citrus notes" (source).
  • Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus Classic, $5.79/12oz - "The once strongest beer in the world is back ! Brewed only once a year on December 6. Samichlaus is aged for 10 months before bottling. This beer is perhaps the rarest in the world. Samichlaus may be aged for many years to come. Older vintages become more complex with a creamy warming finish. Serve with hardy robust dishes and desserts, particulary with chocolates, or as an after dinner drink by itself. Brewed under the exclusive licence of Feldschlösschen-Hürlimann-Holding, Switzerland" (source).
  • Left Hand Nitro Sawtooth Ale, $2.19/12oz - "Sawtooth Ale is an English style Extra Special Bitter. It is an extremely well balanced beer, with significant hop character, medium body, and a maltiness which increases in evidence as the beer warms to its "proper" drinking temperature. . The water used is quite hard, bringing it to near Burton on Trent levels, keeping it true to the style. This gives it the appropriate character and improves the malt extract significantly" (source).
  • Redhook/Resignation kcco, $1.69/12oz - "A Resignation Recipe Brewed In Collaboration with Redhook. A toast lager with notes of chocolate and coffee. Unlike a heavy porter or a stout it’s amazingly light, crispy, and sessionable. KCCO Black is a delicious misfit" (source).

Video of the Week | Pure Michigan Craft Beer

We've posted this before, but it just seems appropriate
with summer finally here.


Friday, May 23, 2014

New Beer Friday, Homebrew Party Recap Edition (May 23)

2014 Best of Show winner,
Elias TerHaar
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It was 38 degrees last Saturday morning when Barb and I arrived at Townsend Park to set up for the 11th Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Party, but there was a lot to do and no time to fret about the weather. After getting things ready inside the enclosed shelter we went outside and looked at the sky.

“Looks like rain,” Barb said.

“Hell,” I grumbled. “It looks like snow. Maybe some year we’ll have nice weather for one of these parties.”

As it turns out we wouldn’t have to wait long.

The cold, dreary, November-like weather that I fussed about, grumbled about and cursed gradually grew more May-like as the day progressed. By the time we were holding the afternoon awards ceremony for the 2014 homebrew competition the sky had cleared and jackets, sweaters and sweatshirts had been discarded.

After handing out medals and presenting the Siciliano’s Cup to Best of Show winner Elias TerHaar for his extra special bitter, Barb and I joined in the festivities. We sampled some excellent homebrews and enjoyed the good food prepared by Three Men and a Grill Catering. We agreed that Jimmie Stagger never sounded better.

Eventually I made my way over to where the Siciliano’s Cup was sitting on top of a multi-tap jockey box and where Elias was being congratulated by his fellow Brewers on the Lake (BOTL) club members.

“How does it feel to win Best of Show,” I asked him.

“Wonderful,” he said. “I still can’t believe it.”

Elias is the fourth member of BOTL to win the Cup.

Later I heard someone say that the Siciliano’s homebrew parties are the best local craft beer events of the year. I don’t know about that, but I do know that these annual spring gatherings have become a very special way for a very special community of craft beer lovers to celebrate a rewarding, enriching and very special hobby.

More photos from the event are posted in an album on our Facebook page. The list of new beers to arrive on the shelves at Siciliano's is posted below.

New and Returning Beer

  • Lakefront Cherry Lager, $2.59/12oz - "An American style fruit beer made with Wisconsin’s Door County cooking cherries and lager yeast. The tartness of the cherry is balanced with the sweetness from the 2-row barley and the flavoring of Mt. Hood hops" (source).
  • Thirsty Dog Rise of Mayan Dog, $2.89/12oz - "Celebrate the new rise of civilization with this bittersweet, big, bold, black beer filled with old world and traditional Mayan spices, including honey and cocoa nibs" (source).
  • Thirsty Dog Bernese Barley Wine, $3.59/12oz - The beer that won last year's inaugural Bottle My Brew Ohio Homebrew Challenge. The beer, made by brothers Nick and Justin Herstich of Akron, is a dry-hopped American barley wine. It's 10.5 percent alcohol by volume" (source).
  • North Peak Archangel, $2.19/12oz - "North Peak Archangel is an American Wheat Beer brewed with Michigan cherries. Subtly hopped with Perle and Vanguard hops, Archangel is refreshing, clean and crisp" (source).
  • North Peak Wanderer, $1.99/12oz - "North Peak Wanderer is a Session IPA. This exciting new style is balanced with malt and hop characters and has a clean finish. The combination of full hop flavor and lower alcohol gives Wanderer a a wonderful drinkability! Wanderer has a light, clean and refreshing body, and is hopped with Perle, Willamette, Centennial and Citra hops that gives Wanderer a Citrus and Pine finish. Wanderer is rounded out with a generous amount of dry-hopping with Citra hops to fill the nose. It is brewed in Traverse City, MI, on Old Mission Peninsula incorporating locally grown hops" (source).
  • Coronado Idiot IPA, $2.99/12oz - "Brewed with 8 different hops and dry hopped with whole cone Cascades. Its more powerful than our Islander IPA and even the most intelligent have become "idiot" after a few pints of this super hopped up beer" (source).
  • Coronado Blue Ridge Coffee Stout, $5.19/22oz - "Just as the iconic Coronado Bay Bridge connects our island home to the mainland, this java-tinged dry stout, brewed using dark roasted coffee beans from a local San Diego artisanal roaster, provides a bridge uniting craft beer drinkers with CBC’s rich, flavorful SoCal brewing traditions" (source).
  • Coronado Orange Avenue Wit, $1.89/12oz - "Our spiced California style Wit is both refreshing and complex. Brewed with wheat, coriander, California orange peel and local orange blossom honey. From the first sip to the last you’ll find subtle flavors of bread, spice, citrus and a thirst quenching orange honey finish" (source).
  • Coronado Islander IPA, $2.09/12oz - "Named after Coronado Island, our original India Pale Ale is a liquid expression of hometown pride. Cascade, Chinook, and Columbus hops combine to provide an explosive burst of piney bitterness and lucioius notes of apricot, grapefruit, and mango that are sure to envoke imagery of swinging palms and sun-kissed shores" (source).
  • Coronado Mermaids Red, $1.89/12oz - "A well-balanced, medium- to full-bodied beer, red in color and very flavorful" (source).
  • Coronado Juratu, $8.19/22oz - "When naming this Baltic porter, a collaboration with Tampa’s famed Cigar City Brewing, we opted for Jurata as a nod to a mythological mermaid known to roam the depths of the Baltic Sea, just as energetic yeast used to brew this deep dark beer navigated our fermentation tanks. Dive in and enjoy Jurata’s true-to-style rich and complex flavors" (source).
  • Lagunitas NightTime, $4.79/22oz (limit 1/person) - "There are two kinds. There is the DayTime kind, which is bright and welcoming and then there is the NightTime kind, which should never be confused with the DayTime. NightTime is dark and deep and may take you to unexpected places, places that the DayTime cannot. But then, the NightTime is not suited for ordinary life and ordinary tasks. In fact, NightTime may be the answer for that sort of thing, meaning that those sorts of things may never get done. Things take time in the NightTime, things slow down and you can puase (you have to, actually) and investigate carefully to find that level of objective detachment that is only possible under the spell of the NightTime. Seek the Day, but fear not the Night" (source).
  • OddSide Ales Lucid Dreams, $4.49/12oz (limit 2/person) - "A Belgian Dubble aged in red wine barrels" (source).

Video of the Week: Hereford & Hops | Escanaba, MI

Heading to the  U.P. for summer vacation? Check out ABC 10 UP's Thirsty Thursday series,
which turns the spotlight on breweries north of the Mackinac Bridge.


Friday, May 16, 2014

New Beer Friday: Ron Pattinson Edition (May 16)

Mr. Pattinson's new book
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I have to admit that I had never heard of Ron Pattinson until Stan Hieronymus mentioned his name in an email a couple of months ago. Stan informed me that Ron’s new book, The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer, had been recently published by Quarry Publishing and that the author was coming to Grand Rapids in June for the American Home Brewer’s Conference. Stan suggested that I might want to contact him to set up a speaking engagement.

After doing some internet research on Mr. Pattinson, I discovered that the Netherlands native has published over a dozen books about a wide range of beer related topics, was a recent guest on a Beersmith podcast and is considered to be an expert on historical brewing. He also writes a blog incongruously titled Shut up about Barclay Perkins. He certainly sounded like someone our customers would like to meet and have a few beers with.

I am pleased to announce that Ron will be giving an informal talk and holding a book signing at Perrin Brewing Company on Wednesday, June 11 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. As an added bonus Mr. Hieronymus will be accompanying Ron, and I’m quite sure we’ll be able to coax our good buddy into sharing some of his encyclopedic knowledge about beer and homebrewing.

Copies of both authors’ books will be available for purchase at the event which is free of charge and open to the public.

New (and Returning) Beer

  • 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).
  • Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Double IPA, $3.29/12oz - "An Imperial IPA with huge hop flavor" (source).
  • Stone Saison, $2.09/12oz - "Ale brewed with with lemon zest, lemon thyme & lavender" (source).
  • New Belgium Gruit, $9.19/22oz - "Experimentation doesn’t mean new. With our Gruit, the latest Lips of Faith release, it’s all about revisiting the ancient craft of bittering with herb mixtures, not hops. In here horehound, bog myrtle, yarrow, wormwood and elderflowers get together with rich malts to create a bitter, dry, velvet-like sweetness worth revering" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Zaison, $4.29/16oz - "Imperial saison ale. Beer brewed with Tellicherry Black Peppercorns and Orange Peel" (source).
  • Frankenmuth Twisted Helles, $1.39/12oz - "The "twist" of its namesake comes from the mild but memorable zests of orange and lemon, which are kept in perfect balance by the unmistakable presence of German noble hops and elegant notes of malt proving that bitterness has no place in a true Helles lager (nor a well-lived summer)" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Hoptimum, $2.59/12oz - "Hops, hops and more hops are the stars of this big, whole-cone Imperial IPA. Resinous ‘new-school’ and exclusive hop varieties carry the bold and aromatic nose. The flavor follows the aroma with layers of aggressive hoppiness, featuring notes of grapefruit rind, rose, lilac, cedar and tropical fruit – all culminating in a dry and lasting finish" (source).
  • New Holland Paleooza, $1.59/12oz - "This beer has a golden colored body with a creamy white head. Its slightly sweet malt flavor makes up the base and offers a supporting role to the refreshing hop profile. Cascade hops provide a floral, citrus and almost fruity character to this well balanced easy drinking ale" (source).
  • Brooklyn Summer Ale, $1.69/12oz - "Brooklyn Summer Ale is a modern rendition of the "Light Dinner Ales" brewed in England throughout the 1800's right up until the 1940's. They were also called "luncheon ales" or even "family ales", because they were refreshing and flavorful without being too heavy. We brew our Brooklyn Summer Ale from premium English barley malt, which gives this light-bodied golden beer a fresh bready flavor. German and American hops lend a light, crisp bitterness and a citrus/floral aroma resulting in a beer with a very sunny disposition" (source).

Video of the Week | Brewnited We Stand

Celebrating American Craft Beer Week 2014


Friday, May 9, 2014

New Beer Friday, Mother's Day Edition (May 9)

The following Buzz post was originally published on Mother's Day, 2011. Please enjoy.

Dear Moms,

Thank you for raising so many weird and wonderful homebrewers, beer geeks, oenophiles, foodies, enthusiasts and just good people in general.

When your sons and daughters come into Siciliano's Market they are always on their best behavior. They say please and thank you. They hold the door for strangers but never take candy from them. They turn the lights off when they leave a room. They play well with others. They never put their elbows on the table. They always put the toilet seat down. Their jokes are funny and never crude unless they warn us first. They wait patiently for their turn in the hop cooler. They never take the last ounce of Amarillo hops unless there is simply no other option.

Your hard work has paid off, Moms. We appreciate everything you do to keep us all in line. Happy Mother's Day. You all deserve a beer.

New (and Returning) Beers

  • Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers, $9.09/22oz - "Stone Smoked Porter w/ Chipotle Peppers is a thing of spicy glory, with the just-right heat of smoked jalapeños (aka chipotles) that combines beautifully with the beer’s peat-smoked malt and roasty character. The idea came about in 2006 when Merchandise Manager Chris Carroll suggested we make a special "South of the Border Stone Smoked Porter" for Cinco de Mayo that year. One sip, and we were hooked" (source).
  • New Holland Black Tulip Trippel Ale, $2.59/12oz - "Since the early 1600's, the Dutch have attempted to breed a pure black tulip. Many have tried and a few have come close...but none have succeeded. Call it the Holy Grail of the tulip world. In honor of this elusive flower we have brewed this special elixir. We have combined the finest Belgian malt, rare European hops, an authentic Belgian yeast and finally, the brew is dusted with tulip petals. The resulting blend is nothing less than magical" (source).
  • Founders Rübæus, $2.99/12oz - "Not another boring summer wheat beer or lemonade shandy—Rübæus is Founders’ way to celebrate the season’s warmest months. Optimizing the flavor of fresh raspberries added at multiple stages during fermentation, this stunning berry red masterpiece is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. No question about it, with a hefty malt bill and 5.7% ABV, this beer is 100% Founders" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Platinum Blonde Lager, $2.19/16oz - "An American Premium lager brewed with a classic German lager yeast for a clean crisp flavor. Low malt and hop character makes this a refreshing summer beer" (source).
  • Goose Island The Illinois, $3.19/12oz - "Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandiose vision for a mile-high skyscraper dubbed "The Illinois," we set out to brew an imperial IPA that would be similar in name and ambition. "The Illinois" Imperial IPA is dry-hopped with three of our favorite hops: Cascade, Meridian, and Citra. the result is a harmoniously hoppy ale with a flavor and aroma that is uniquely Goose Island" (source).
  • Latitude 42 Lil Sunshine Golden Ale, $1.89/12oz - "The perfect introduction to craft beer, this brilliant Golden colored ale tastes crisp and clean, with a well-balanced malt profile blended with a subtle floral hopping. Premium 2-row and Munich malts with a hint of flaked corn provide the clean malt flavor. Willamette and cascade hops add the perfect balance of subtle spiciness and floral notes" (source).
  • Latitude 42 Powerline Porter, $1.89/12oz - "The smooth robust style porter ale features symmetry between the complex malts and hops required for the style. Black in color with deep streaks of dark amber, the medium bodied ale starts smooth with a perfect blend of caramel, coffee and chocolate and subtle yet crisp roasted malt flavors finishing clean and slightly dry" (source).
  • Latitude 42 Red Beard's India Red Ale, $1.89/12oz - "Our red ale is a cross between a northwest red ale and an India pale ale hence the style India red ale. The dark amber-colored brew uses a variety of crystal malts and premium 2-row malt as well as Munich malt to create a full bodied ale. Generous additions of Chinook, centennial and simcoe hops impart abundant hop character. Together the malts and hops generate a tasty rich and quaffable ale" (source).
  • OddSide Paranoia, $2.49/12oz - Imperial India Pale Ale.

Photo of the Week 

The Boss photobombing a shot at last weekend's
Big Brew on the Calder


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

2014 Big Brew on the Calder: Official Recap

Visit the Siciliano's Facebook page to see many more photos from this year's Big Brew event on Calder Plaza.

By Steve Siciliano

Cloudy skies, cool temperatures, sporadic rain showers and gusting winds did nothing to diminish the enthusiasm of the 200+ homebrewers who gathered in downtown Grand Rapids this past Saturday for the second annual Siciliano’s Big Brew on the Calder.

During the height of the festivities Barb and I were standing in the middle of the plaza taking in the surrounding buzz of activity when a team captain walked up and offered us a taste of an excellent barrel aged imperial stout.

“This a great event,” he said as we clinked our glasses together. “Thanks for sponsoring this.”

We replied that there was no need to thank us as he does just that every time he spends his hard earned dollars in our store. Barb and I would repeat those words dozens of times throughout the day.

Sponsoring a local Big Brew Day is one of the ways that Barb and I express our appreciation to the community of homebrewers for supporting Siciliano’s, but it’s not the only reason we organize this annual downtown event. The Big Brew on the Calder gives West Michigan homebrewers the opportunity to display their passion for the hobby on a very public stage and is a great way of showing the area, the state and the country what a vibrant homebrewing community there is in the Grand Rapids area.

After city commissioner Rosalynn Bliss led the simultaneous, country-wide toast to the enriching hobby of homebrewing, I looked out on the fifty-three teams of homebrewers surrounding the towering red sculpture that has become the iconic symbol of Grand Rapids. To me that scene was just one more example as to why our city is, and always will be, “Beer City USA.”

A little wind can't stop homebrewers

Thursday, May 1, 2014

New Beer Friday, Meet Edward Long Edition (May 2)

Introducing Edward Long
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

A while ago I received an email from a fellow in Texas looking for advice about opening a homebrew shop. In response to his questions about staffing I told him that if possible he should focus on hiring experienced homebrewers, especially those who enjoy sharing their passion for the hobby with others. I’m pleased to say that I was able to follow my own advice recently with the hiring of our newest Siciliano’s staff member, Edward Long.

Edward may be the rookie on the Siciliano’s team but he’s not new when it comes to homebrewing. He began brewing with extract six years ago and for the past three years has been doing all-grain on equipment that he designed and fabricated. And he certainly enjoys sharing his passion for the hobby with others. When he was a student at Calvin College he organized a beer tasting for students and faculty and coordinated a homebrew swap event.

Ed graduated from Calvin in 2012 with a degree in philosophy and before joining the Siciliano’s team he was a GED specialist for Americorps. Like many avid homebrewing hobbyists he has aspirations of someday turning pro. In view of the number of former Siciliano’s staffers and customers who have joined the ranks of professional brewers and cider makers, I would say that he has a pretty good chance of realizing that goal.

New and Returning Beers

  • Arbor Buzzsaw IPA, $2.29/12oz - "A big, bold hop-forward west coast style IPA. The malt character is subdued to showcase a blend of Simcoe, Amarillo, and Centennial Hops creating a lingering dry finish with notes of pine, grapefruit, and apricot" (source).
  • Arbor Jackhammer Old Ale, $2.29/12oz - "The Jackhammer is a very dark brown ale with a nice reddish hue. Offering a welcome warming sensation, it has a rich malty sweetness. Fruity esters, expected in this style beer, add to the already complex palate and help to provide an immensely satisfying experience" (source).
  • Dark Horse Smells Like a Safety Meeting IPA, $2.19/12oz - "An extremely hoppy ale, that really does smell like weed" (source).
  • Ommegang 3 Philosophers Cellared Set, $45/3-750ml - One bottle each 2011, 2012 and 2013 vintage 3 philosophers.
  • Dogfish Head 61 Minute IPA, $2.59/12oz - "The continually hopped India Pale Ale brewed with Syrah grape must" (source).
  • Original Sin Elderberry Cider, $2.19/12oz - "A balanced cider combining the natural acid and sugar of apples with the tart qualities of elderberries" (source).
  • Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding, $2.69/12oz - "Based on the Great British pudding, full of rich sticky toffee-ness" (source).
  • Samuel Adams Porch Rocker, $1.69/12oz - "Samuel Adams is currently in the process of brewing up a German style called “radler.” The name radler translates to “cyclist,” A 50/50 (ish) blend of beer and lemonade. (Like a shandy). Perfect for any summer day, Samuel Adams® Porch Rocker was inspired by traditional Bavarian Radlers that mix beer with German-style lemonade. For our bright and citrusy Radler, we blended a Helles beer with lemon for a fresh-squeezed lemon taste, effervescent sweetness, and slightly tart, refreshing finish. A light malt character and hint of hops balance out this summer brew" (source).

Video of the Week | Steve on eightWest