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Friday, June 27, 2014

New Beer Friday, Road Trip to Ludington Edition (June 27)

Steve with Jamesport's head brewer,
Tom Buchanan
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Last Saturday Barb and I visited Jamesport Brewing Company in downtown Ludington with friends Pat and Marcie MacAuley.

Jamesport’s head brewer Tom Buchanan has been quietly producing a stellar lineup of traditional ales and lagers on the brewpub’s three-barrel system for over ten years now. Before relocating to the Ludington area, Tom and his wife Patty lived a few miles from Siciliano’s and were long time craft beer and home brewing customers. In fact it was Tom who convinced me that I should carry brewing supplies.

It was good to see my old friend again. I enjoyed an excellent Kolsch and then an equally excellent German Hefe while we sat in Jamesport’s comfortable pub and talked about how much craft beer and the hobby of homebrewing have grown and evolved over the past twenty years. Tom joined us later for a few pints at the Mitten Bar and he introduced me to a young man who hopes to have a nanno brewery open in the area this fall.

Sounds like a good reason for another road trip to Ludington.

New and Returning Beer

  • New Belgium La Folie, $15.99/22oz (limit one) - "La Folie, French for ‘the folly’, is a beer steeped in New Belgium brewing tradition. This wood-aged, sour brown spends one to three years in big, oak barrels, known as foeders. And when the beer finally hits the glass, La Folie is sharp and sour, full of green apple, cherry, and plum-skin notes. Pouring a deep mahogany, the mouthfeel will get you puckering while the smooth finish will get you smiling. Not a beer for the timid, La Folie is a sour delight that will turn your tongue on its head" (source).
  • New Belgium & 3 Floyds Gratzer, $9.19/22oz (limit one) - "It's not dead, but Gratzer is definitely a long-buried style from Poland. And together with 3Floyds we have unearthed the best of beer zombies. Full of bold flavors from oak-smoked wheat, and along with Midnight Wheat, this beer presents a pure black pour. A subtle, spicy note from the Polish Lublin hops hides in the aroma, just below the dark and smoky surface. Despite all appearances, the Gratzer is very drinkable at 4.5% ABV, and walks itself with a nice, light body. Cheers to drinking smoky, undead beers" (source).
  • Founders Double Trouble, $3.09/12oz (limit one 4-pack) - "An imperial IPA that was brewed to turn your world upside down. Hops will get you coming and going. Pungent aromatics up front pair with a malt-balanced backbone and a smooth, bitter finish" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Namaste, $1.99/12oz - "A witbier bursting with good karma. Made with dried organic orange slices, fresh-cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander, this Belgian-style white beer is a great thirst quencher" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Sixty-One, $2.59/12oz - "
  • The name Sixty-One is a reminder that this beer is Dogfish Head’s best-selling 60 Minute IPA plus one new ingredient: syrah grape must from California. The label, painted by Sam, is a twist on a typical watercolor. Rather than using water, Sam mixed the green pigment with beer and the red pigment with wine. And because Sixty-One pairs so well with chocolate, he painted the browns on the label with melted chocolate" (source).
  • Stiegl Radler, $2.59/16oz - "Real fruit juice gives the new Stiegl Radler a distinct, tart aroma and natural cloudiness" (source).

Siciliano's Official Recommendation of the Week

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Friday, June 20, 2014

New Beer Friday, Bland No More Edition (June 20)

Well, consider it again!
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

“I used to buy beer in your store when I was senior at Grand Valley,” a middle-aged man named Eric told me when he stopped by our booth last Friday afternoon at the American Homebrewers Conference. “I was there this morning to buy some bottles to take home to Florida and I couldn’t believe how much it has changed.” He took a sip of the Siciliano’s AHA Amber Ale I had poured him and smiled. “But then again, I can’t believe how much this city has changed.”

It’s probably safe to say that the beer Eric was buying at our store back in 1994 were European imports or light American lagers. That was pretty much the extent of the selection that was available in the bars, restaurants and retail stores in West Michigan back then. But in the mid-nineties things were beginning to change. There’s a chance that Eric was still coming in when we began stocking six packs of Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Perhaps he was among the first few customers to begin buying 22 ounce bottles of Solsun. Maybe he was still around when we added the three foot section of home brewing supplies.

In 1994, Siciliano’s Market was a struggling business, and my decision to stock craft beer and homebrewing supplies was a desperate attempt to bring customers into the store. Of course I had no idea that twenty years later Siciliano’s would be one of the area’s premier homebrew shops and that the store would become a destination location for craft beer.

In 1994, Grand Rapids had the reputation of being a rather boring community and its downtown was dying. No one back then knew that craft beer would play a major role in GR’s downtown revitalization and that it would give the entire West Michigan area a new identity.

Last week over three thousand people were in downtown Grand Rapids and they were there because of craft beer and the enriching hobby of homebrewing. On May 2, over three hundred homebrewers brewed beer on the Calder Plaza. Each year thousands of out of state tourists visit the area’s beer bars and breweries.

“We used to call this city Bland Rapids,” Eric said at our booth last Friday. “I’m kind of sorry now that I left.”

Yes, Eric. Both Siciliano’s Market and the city of Grand Rapids indeed have changed.

New and Returning Beer

  • New Holland Incorrigible, $4.79/22oz (limit 1/person) - "Incorrigible celebrates the beauty of mischief. Wild yeasts and bacteria run free in our sour-aging cellar, the House of Funk, creating vibrant sour and acidic character in this delicate, yet complex wheat beer. The refreshingly tart session beer will tease your palate with a subtle, layered nuance." (source).
  • Stone Stochasticity Project, Quadrotritricale, $.8.69/22oz (limit 1/person) - "Trappist ales as we know them have a proud lineage dating back nearly a century. Rather than follow the footsteps of the monks who forged the quadrupel—the warmest and darkest of monastery offerings—we aimed to test its inherent makeup. In doing so, we added triticale, a hybrid grain combining the pleasant flavor of wheat with the elemental durability and spice of rye, to breathe new life into the malt bill. Because of this, this reimagined brew comes across differently than its classic Belgian predecessors, and beautifully so. Lower in sweetness, but rich with flavors mirroring dried fruit, it’s a modern interpretation of one of the most historically sacred styles on Earth" (source).
  • Saugatuck Michigan Wheat Ale, $1.79/12oz - "Saugatuck’s latest release, Michigan Wheat, is a great beer to throw back - it’s light without compromising flavor. It has great balance and is crisp and refreshing" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche, $2.59/12oz (limit 4/person) - "A refreshing neo-Berliner Weisse fermented with peaches" (source).
  • Great Lakes The Wright Pils, $1.79/12oz - "A classic pilsner style beer with a flowery bouquet and elegantly dry finish. Named after the brothers Wright who built the world’s first successful controlled airplane, this pilsner, like these local heroes, has all the Wright stuff" (source).
  • Motor City Honey Porter, $1.79/12oz - "A full bodied, creamy porter with distinct chocolate malt overtones. A touch of pure clover honey adds a subtle sweetness to this smooth, well balanced ale" (source).
  • Motor City Ghettoblaster, $1.79/12oz - "This accessibly great tasting beer, patterned after the English Mild style, is the lightest of the Motor City line up. But don’t let the adjectives throw you, its deliciously flavorful. The label was designed by Artist Glen Barr and there is rock CDs to go along with the beer" (source).
  • Motor City Nut Brown, $1.79/12oz - "This darker brew’s very subtle aftertaste, vaguely reminiscent of fine coffee, is derived from our blend of Wisconsin’s finest roasted barley malt. Its rich, velvety texture and creamy head make for an exceptionally drinkable beer. Motor City Nut Brown entices even those who traditionally stay away from darker beers" (source).
  • Motor City IPA, $1.79/12oz - "Motor City India Pale Ale is a classic example of an India style micro brewed Pale Ale. Brewed for 120 minutes to extract the fruity tartness from Warrior, Columbus and Simcoe hops" (source).
  • Epic Escape to Colorado, $1.79/12oz - "Epic Brewing has been making high-strength beers in the land of low-strength (Utah). Rather than expand their operations there, they chose to open a 2nd brewery in a more encouraging state, Colorado. This is their first batch of beer brewed here in Denver. Big, fruity hop aromas" (source).
  • Epic Hop Syndrome, $1.79/12oz - "This wonderful hoppy lager is a new addition to our ever-expanding Exponential (Seasonal) Series. The Crystal hops give it a clean spice while the Calypso hops give it a pleasant, almost fruity aroma. Easy to drink, perfect for a summer day out" (source).

Employee Picture of the Week

Edward, looking incorrigible with an Incorrigible
from New Holland Brewing Company
(For more Headcheese, visit the official Headcheese Facebook page)


Friday, June 13, 2014

New Beer Friday, Too Busy for a Preamble Edition (June 13)

Editor's Note: The boss has been exceptionally busy this week preparing for and attending events related the 2014 National Homebrewers Conference, going on now in downtown Grand Rapids. So, instead of his usual New Beer Friday preamble, he sent me the following email laying out the reasons why no preamble was coming.


Needless to say it's been a busy week:

    • I had a radio interview Monday morning at WGVU about the National Homebrewers Conference
    • Tuesday evening Barb and I were at Graydon's Crossing for the Siciliano's Best of Show tapping
    • Wednesday afternoon found us setting up and manning our booth at the conference (see photo); Wednesday evening we were at Perrin for the Beer City Brown tasting and Ron Pattinson presentation
    • Thursday morning I had a 5:30 a.m. television interview, then worked for a few hours at the store before heading back to the conference to work the booth and attend seminars
Unfortunately, I'm not going to have time to do a preamble for New Beer Friday. Perhaps you can write a few words about the above and incorporate the Wood TV 8 clip. Just a thought.


No problem, Pop. I'll think of something.

New and Returning Beers

  • Stone Collective Distortion IPA, $9.09/22oz (limit 1/person) - "An epic double IPA infused with elderberries and coriander" (source).
  • Short's Cerveza De Julie, $1.49/12oz - "Cerveza De Julie is a pale yellow Mexican Lager brewed with real lime. Delicate yeasty aromas gather quickly from the ample amount of carbonation in this lighter bodied beer style. Soft grain sweetness enhanced by unobtrusive lime qualities bring out a subtle snappy tartness, which turns mildly bitter before a crisp refreshing finish" (source).
  • Short's Prolonged Enjoyment, $1.79/12oz - "Prolonged Enjoyment has a huge earthy hop fragrance of green grass, pine, and citrus fruit. The sweet, malty flavors are met quickly by zesty American hop characteristics. This India Pale Ale has a light body but is packed with extraordinary bitterness. Bitter qualities linger briefly, before the mildly dry finish takes over" (source).
  • Aecht Schlenkerla Double Bock, $5.39/17oz - "While for the classic 'Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier' traditionally beech has been - and still is - used, the malt for Schlenkerla Oak Smoke is kilned with Oak wood. The resulting Schlenkerla Oak Smoke Malt has a smoother and more multi layered smoky note than the intensely aromatic Beech Smoke Malt. The hence complex smokiness in the Schlenkerla Oak Smoke is paired with the multifaceted bitterness of finest Hallertau aroma hops. With 8% alcohol and amber color it matures for months in the deep brewery cellars underneath Bamberg into a special treat for smoke beer lovers" (source).
  • Duckstein Weizen, $2.89/17oz - Commercial description not available (yet) in English.
  • Duckstein Original, $2.89/17oz - "A unique style of beer making revived from a fifteenth century tradition gives Duckstein Original its distinctive taste.  At 4.9% ABV this top-fermented speciality beer is matured in beechwood and is the perfect accompaniment to a wide range of foods" (source).
  • Samichlaus Helles, $19.39/22oz - "Samichlaus is brewed once a year on December 6, and is aged for 10 months before bottling. It is one of the rarest specialties in the world. Samichlaus may be aged in the bottle for many years to come, as older vintages become more complex. Brilliant deep amber, complex dry toasted malt nose and huge intensely sweet palate" (source).
  • Kasteelbrouwerij Ter Dolen Kriek, $4.69/12oz - "This unfiltered top-fermented beer with an alcohol volume of 4.5% to which fresh cherry juice is added, is made from one type of wheat and  malt and two kinds of hops with addition of spices like coriander and orange peel. It is a sweet fruit beer with a lemon flavour without denying the real beer taste" (source).
  • Hof Ten Dormaal Zure Van Til Dansk, $14.7912oz - "Zure Van Tildonk is an original Belgian Sour Ale from Farm-Brewery Hof Ten Dormaal. With this beer, the brewery strived to create a special, spontaneoussly-fermented beer via traditional methods using ambient yeast from the brewery-farm in Tildonk. Each batch of Zure van Tildonk is carefully aged in the cellars of Engelburch Monastery for several months prior to release" (source).

Video of the Week | Steve on Wood TV 8 


Friday, June 6, 2014

New Beer Friday, Event at Perrin Edition (June 6)

By Steve Siciliano

If you’re interested in the historical aspects of brewing you’ll want to be at Perrin Brewing Company next Wednesday, June 11, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to hear author and noted beer historian Ron Pattinson talk about vintage beers.

Ron has been a busy guy lately. After giving presentations this week and next in Southern California, Toronto and Chicago, he's heading in coming days to the American Homebrewers Conference in Grand Rapids for more presentations and book signings. Ron graciously agreed to take time out of his busy schedule for the Perrin appearance.

Ron is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers and the author of a blog called Shut Up about Barclay Perkins. What’s the meaning behind the blog’s rather incongruous title? Ron said that his children once told him to shut up when he wouldn’t stop talking about the historical British brewery. He has written a number of European beer and pub guides and his latest book is The Homebrewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer.

Barb and I will be bringing Ron and fellow author and good friend Stan Hieronymus (Brew like a Monk, Brewing with Wheat, For the Love of Hops) to the store Wednesday before heading out to Perrin. Books from both authors will be available for purchase Wednesday evening at discounted prices. The event is free of charge and open to the public.

New and Returning Beer

  • Green Flash Road Warrior Imperial IPA, $3.59/12oz, $9.99/22oz - "Our imperial rye IPA is brewed in the name of our road warriors - the sales team that tirelessly hit the streets, traveling from town to town and pub to pub sharing the Green Flash experience. Road Warrior charge full flavor forward. Columbus and Mosaic hops, rich crystal and spicy rye malts pave the way for Mosaic and Amarillo dry hopping to boldly shine through in the finish" (source).
  • Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA, $5.29/12oz - "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).
  • Oddside Ales Lolly Catcher, $1.99/12oz - "The beer formerly known as Banana Hammock" (source). A German-style hefeweizen.
  • Pilsner Urquel - 16oz can, $2.09/16oz - "It is called the "model of meter" among beers. All other pilsners are a better or worse attempt to copy the original - the first ever Pilsner Urquell. Its unparalleled exceptionality is guaranteed by the same recipe dating from 1842" (source).
  • Victory Mad Kings, $5.39/22oz - "High powered with all German malts and the subtle, spicy complexity of our special yeast, Mad King's Weiss offers a quenching quality that can't be beat" (source).
  • Stone Russian Imperial Stout, $8.69/22oz - "Intensely aromatic (notes of anise, black currants, coffee, roastiness and alcohol) and heavy on the palate...expect this mysterious brew to pour like used motor oil and taste even heavier" (source).

Video of the Week | The Origin of All Day IPA