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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Alaska Relived with Anchorage Brewing Company

Matt tours the brewery
By Matt Ross

Anyone who has been to Alaska will tell you it is truly wild. For me it resembled Michigan but replace deer with moose, hills with mountains and add a sense of unknown adventure.

While traveling from town to town the friendly locals were more than willing to share great camping spots along with locations of their favorite watering holes.  It felt like walking into a surprise party at an unfamiliar location where everyone had been waiting for you.

To make all of this relevant, I was in Alaska this past summer for a wedding and became very nostalgic recently when Anchorage Brewing Company hit our shelves. Anchorage Brewing artfully uses Belgian Saison yeast and brettanomyces for the backbone of their beers and then they add fruity American hops to compliment the yeast character. These unique brews take bold flavors and make something special that left me wanting more.

My excitement about these great beers has spread throughout the staff at Siciliano's. Over the next few weeks we will be doing reviews of their beer to help spread the word about this great brewery. We are currently selling the Mosaic Saison and the Galaxy White IPA ($14.39/750ml) as year round releases (when available through distribution), but they are also putting out seasonals such as the Whiteout Wit. Keep on the lookout for collaborations with other breweries like the Invasion IPA with Mikkeller. Stop in to find out more about this great new brewery. Brew on.

Bellying up at Anchorage Brewing
Where the magic happens

Friday, March 25, 2016

New Beer Friday, Stand Up to Cancer Edition (March 25)

In place of Steve's regular NBF preamble, this week we're pleased to bring you an important message from his oldest son, Dominic Siciliano.

This is a picture of my daughter Ava when she was very young. She’s nine now (going on 21) and either she’s going to end up the nation’s best lawyer, or West Michigan’s new millennium version of her Grandma Pat (a powerhouse in the insurance business). Miss Ava is a cancer survivor. She was only two years when she was diagnosed and treated by Dr. Dickens from the Helon Devos Children's Hospital. Her tumor manifested in her cheek below her eye and if you look closely you can see her nose is slightly smaller on one side of her face. Ava’s treatment consisted of radiation and chemotherapy that lasted eight months.

On May 14th, 2016 I am running the 5/3 Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Why? Not because I'm crazy (although sometimes it feels that way). It started out as a way to lose some weight and get in better shape but when I signed up it turned out to be something more.

Turns out I can run and raise money for Stand Up 2 Cancer. If you don't know about the organization, you should. It's doing amazing things in the field of cancer research and helping to find ways to cure cancer and mitigate the side effects of treatment. This is outlined in a recent article about Ava's doctor who utilized research from a Stand Up 2 Cancer team to treat a young boy.

I'm proud to ask you to donate to my cause. Help me support the countless Americans who have fought, who are fighting and who are feeling the effects of cancer and its treatment. The goal is to find a cure with minimal side effects (and finish the race in under 2 hours!)

Want to know more about my family's story with cancer? Read this. Want to come train with me or follow my training? Bump me on RunKeeper. The entire Siciliano family appreciates your support!

New and Returning Beer

  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotty Karate, $4.49/12oz (4 per) - Scotch Ale aged in Bourbon barrels.
  • Founders Mosaic Promise, $1.79/12oz - "Mosaic Promise showcases two unique ingredients: Mosaic hops and Golden Promise malt. The versatility of the hop’s pleasing aroma and flavor characteristics and the traditional barley’s depth of flavor comprise this clean, rich, golden beer. We can brew complex beers with the best of them, but we recognize that there is also beauty in simplicity" (source).
  • Pigeon Hill OPC, $2.19/12oz - "Oatmeal Crème Pie is the result of a challenge made by Joel Kamp’s wife: “I want a beer that tastes like an oatmeal crème pie.” Through the use of oats, marshmallow fluff, and other highly secret ingredients, O.C.P. was born. Tasting notes: Seriously, it tastes just like an oatmeal crème pie" (source).
  • Alaskan Summer Kolsch, $1.69/12oz - "Just when you’ve had enough of winter, we release Alaskan Summer Ale in March. This traditional Kölsch beer is a great way to celebrate warmer weather and more daylight. Its crisp, clean flavor is the perfect complement for crab, halibut, salads and longer days" (source).
  • New Belgium + Hof ten Dormaal Lips of Faith, $3.29/12oz - "A deliciously uncommon springtime beer, our Golden Ale brewed with Hof Ten Dorsal blends modern Mosaic hops and malted sunflower seeds with Old World ingredients such as Saaz hops, spelt, and wild carrot herbs. It’s New and Old Belgium together in a bottle" (source).
  • Deschutes Hop Henge, $6.69/22oz - "Stonehenge is a mystery. Hop Henge is a discovery. Millennium, Mandarina Bavaria, and experimental hops come together to erect a hop sanctuary. Revere the almighty hop" (source).
  • Rockford Big Jack Horner, $16.99/750ml - "The richest and strongest of the English Ales, yet not as hop focused as American versions. Historically English Barleywines were brewed for the winter or holiday season. A showcase of malty richness and complex, intense flavors balanced with higher levels of warm alcohol. We aged ours with fresh Michigan plums grown by the Meachum family at High Acres Fruit Farm in Hartford, MI, which add a pleasant, soft fruitiness to the background" (source).
  • Rockford Shanty Warmer, $16.99/750ml - "An intensely rich Imperial stout with a big, bold flavor! Loaded with a deep malt complexity of molasses, bittersweet chocolate and dark caramel with hints of prune, licorice and raisin. Aged 6 months in Stainless Steel vessels" (source).
  • Short's Goodnight Bodacious, $2.39/12oz - "Goodnight Bodacious has the maltiness of a barleywine and the hoppiness of an India Pale Ale. 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 compliments of dark fruit and green hops. Strong alcohol flavors and pleasant warming qualities become more noticeable as the beer approaches room temperature" (source).
  • O'Fallon Strawberry, $2.09/12oz - "Try our new refreshingly light and crisp Strawberry Best! We start with an American Wheat style recipe that’s a perfect compliment for fruit. We add real strawberry puree to the secondary fermentation, which gives the beer a naturally subtle strawberry flavor and aroma with a slight tartness. Light in color and soft in bitterness this beer is designed specifically to be enjoyed during the hot summer months" (source).
  • Lagunitas Aunt Sally, $1.99/12oz - "Dry-hopped sweet tart sour mash ale" (source).
  • Atwater VJ Black, $2.99/12oz - "A huge Imperial Stout based on their best seller. Thick, Black as Tar and Brewed with 6 different malts and Barley flakes and Magnum Hops. The rest is a secret" (source).
  • Oddside Simcoe, $1.99/12oz - "Simcoe Sensation is a seductive brew with succulent simcoe hops and a splash of sublime spunk. When you pop the top, an aroma of pine, resin and grapefruit with permeate the air" (source).
  • Vander Mill / Green Bush Green Mill Cyser, $14.49/22oz - "It is in the spirit of camaraderie that we present Green Mill, a collaborative cyser made with our friends at Greenbush Brewing Company. Michigan apple juice and wildflower honey provide an experience at once sweet and dry, while aging in Greenbush's Delusion barrels a distinct bourbon character. Here's to great friends" (label).
  • Prairie Brewing with Friends, TRVE Editions, $11.39/500ml - "A collaboration between our friends at TRVE Brewing in Denver and us, and the beer turned out just as great as we had hoped! This beer is a red sour that has amazing dark fruit/cherry notes that are highlighted by a delicate tart base. The citra hops balance everything out with the perfect amount of citrus" (source).
  • Nickel Brook Bolshevik Bastard, $3.39/12oz - "Our Nickel Brook 'Bolshevik Bastard' Russian Imperial Stout is scientific creation brewed especially for those of you who aren't afraid of big and bold flavours! Made with a blend of Roasted, Chocolate and Crystal malts; this Imperial Stout exhibits many deep flavours of rich, roasty chocolate and dark fruit. To counterbalance the sweetness, the Bolshevik Bastard is aggressively hopped to give rise to this remarkably smooth Russian Imperial Stout" (source).
  • Nickel Brook Naughty Neighbor, $2.79/12oz - "Sometimes our neighbours are just too enticing to resist! In this case, our newest ward-winning product pays homage to our naughty neighbours to the south, as our American Pale Ale has something for everyone! For hop lovers, the huge aroma of citrus and pine greet the nose and the hops continue on the palate as hoppy flavour persists, leaving a remarkably easy drinking crisp, dry finish. We pack all this hop aroma and flavour in a brew that is only 4.9% on purpose, which leaves a hugely sessionable beer that is perfectly refreshing on hot summer days! No additives. No preservatives. Naturally carbonated for a smooth, crisp finish" (source).
  • Nickel Brook Head Stock, $2.79/12oz - "Our amazing co-founder Peter Romano loves his pumpkin beer. Peter is also known to get rather excited from time to time. So in his honour, we created 'Pissed Off Pete's' Pumpkin Porter! We fused together the deep chocolate and roast flavours from a robust porter with traditional pumpkin and spices found in your mothers best pumpkin pie" (source).

Picture of the Week | Joeberon

In case you haven't heard, Oberon is here.


Friday, March 18, 2016

New Beer Friday, Let's Party Edition (March 18)

ATTENTION: The deadline for signing up for the 13th Annual Homebrew Party is Monday, May 9th at 12 Noon. Don't miss out on all the fun — Get your tickets today!

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The Siciliano’s Homebrew Party will be held this year on Saturday, May 21, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the enclosed shelter at Johnson Park. Tickets will go on sale Monday, April 11. 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 pertinent details:

    • 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.
    • Entertainment will be provided by Jimmie Stagger.
    • Score sheets for the Thirteenth 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 22. 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 Thirteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition is now open. Go here for Competition details.

The beer is always flowing at Siciliano's homebrew parties

New and Returning Beer

  • Blackrocks Flying Sailor, $2.09/12oz - "This beer has been an employee/pub favorite for the last few years. Falconer's Flight hops hold up against the spicy, peppery, full-body from the crystal rye malt. No lack of flavor here, so quit playing with your dingey and round the break-wall" (source).
  • Coronado / Bear Republic Mer Bear, $8.29/22oz - "By land and by sea, MerBear Rye IPA is a unique union of styles. Amarillo, Hallertau Blanc, Centennial, and Equinox hops lend to the beer’s pungent, fruity character that ends on a spicy, malty caramel backbone. Rarely seen, yet never ignored, it’s an unforgettably full-bodied ale, carefully crafted for those particularly audacious craft beer drinkers" (source).
  • Founders Rubaeus Ruby Cube, $19.39/9-pack - "Optimizing the flavor of fresh raspberries, Rubaeus is Founders’ way of celebrating the joys of summer year-round. This stunning berry-red masterpiece is the perfect blend of sweet, tart and refreshing. No question about it, this beer is 100% Founders" (source).
  • Green Flash Passion Fruit Kicker, $2.09/12oz - "We’ve kicked it up a notch by adding a tropical twist to this refreshing ale. Get amped on Passion Fruit Kicker—a jaw-dropping, mouth-watering, smooth brew with sweet, tart, fruity flavor. We layer passion fruit tea and passion fruit juice with wheat malt and 2-row malted barley to bring you this exhilarating crowd pleaser. Your palate will do a 360 for more of this luscious wheat ale" (source).
  • Green Flash Tangerine Soul Style, $2.09/12oz - "Enjoy a SoCal summer year-round with Tangerine Soul Style IPA. This delectable brew is a one way ticket to taste bud paradise. Relax and take in the brilliant, golden color and fresh aroma of effervescent tangerine. Tangerine zest carries throughout, accented by bright, floral, tropical flavors and a juicy finish. Brewed with American malts and a blend of Citra and Cascade hops, this is a beautiful brew to behold" (source).
  • Green Flash Dia De Los Serranos, $8.49/22oz (1 per) - "Turn up the heat with our Dia de los Serranos Double Stout. With rich layers of flavor reminiscent of your abuela’s celebrated mole recipe, this Double Stout reveals notes of roasted malt, coffee, and sweet bakers chocolate with a caliente kick of fresh Serrano Chiles. Paired with spicy foods or BBQ, it’s delicioso" (source).
  • Perrin Pack of Problems, $20.99/12pk 12oz - "The “Pack of Problems” is an IPA variety pack containing four 12oz. cans of each: 98 Problems IPA, No Problems “A Session IPA” and Lotsa’ Problems Imperial IPA" (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).
  • O'Fallons Wheach, $1.79/12oz - "Imagine our smooth, clean wheat beer with a touch of peach and you get the idea behind O’Fallon Wheach, our peach wheat beer. Refreshing and crisp, it’s perfect for warm summer weather" (source).
  • Hofbräu München Maibock, $2.09/12oz - "By tradition, the first barrel of Maibock is tapped in the Hofbräuhaus in the last week of April, in time for the merry month of May. The success story of Munich’s oldest bock beer goes back as far as 1614. With its powerfully aromatic flavour and its alcoholic content of some 7.2% volume, Hofbräu Maibock marks one of the high points in the beer-lover’s calendar" (source).
  • Lagunitas Equinox, $4.79/22oz - "A creamy, pale oat ale hopped up with a huge charge of Equinox and Simcoe hops for a piney, eucalyptusy, cedary, sprucey, foresty blast" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose, $1.99/12oz - "Born from our passion for experimentation, our Briney Melon Gose boasts a thirst-quenching tartness that is perfectly balanced by subtle watermelon flavors and aromas. Gentle additions of sea salt create a refreshing harmony between the acidity and fruity sweetness leading to clean, dry finish" (source).
  • Old Nation Golden 7, $1.99/12oz - "The Golden 7 was a “musik café” in Berlin which didn’t play music or serve coffee. The Golden 7 in this bottle is a result of giving German wheat beer yeast exactly what it needs to produce a perfect clove flavored soul. Specialty malts darken the color and deepen the yeast’s contribution. Hops are used sparingly, to balance the rest. Ein Prosit! from Old Nation" (source).
  • Gonzo's Geyser Brown, $2.69/16oz - "This energetic beer ALWAYS explodes out of the vessel when it’s made. Rich and nutty with caramel and chocolate undertones" (source).
  • North Coast Old Stock Wheat, $24.09/500ml (1 per) - "Old Stock Cellar Reserve is a small batch, limited release that has been aged in rye whiskey and wheat whiskey barrels. The aging process gives this world-class beer added layers of complexity and flavor. Bottled in a 500 ml bottle with a cork and wire finish, it is a memorable drink that should be enjoyed as a unique offering." (source).
  • North Coast Rye, $24.09/500ml (1 per) - See above description.
  • North Coast Bourbon Reserve, $24.09/500ml (1 per) - "Old Stock Cellar Reserve is a small batch, limited release that has been aged in bourbon barrels. The aging process gives this world-class beer added layers of complexity and flavor" (source).
  • Ballast Point Mango Even Keel, $1.89/12oz - "Our Mango Even Keel is the ideal beer for easy drinking. This hoppy, session ale gets a flavor boost from mango, which perfectly plays off the citrusy hop bouquet. With fruit, hops, and a low ABV, this beer truly is on another level" (source).
  • Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado, $2.59/12oz - "Our Watermelon Dorado Double IPA is not one to back down from big flavors. Mash, kettle, and dry hopping blend to create a huge hop profile that is balanced with a blast of watermelon. The result is a refreshing brew that is all summer and no seeds" (source).
  • Odd Side Car Ramrod, $2.29/12oz - "Imperial Black Citra Ale" (source).
  • Prearis Grand Cru, $19.09/375ml (1 per) - "Exlusive brew: Préaris Quadrupel 2013 version aged for 10 months in Bourbon barrels from Makers mark. Limited to 2700 bottles" (source).

Video of the Week | Small Batches

There's just something about the beer in Pure Michigan.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Brew of the Month, March Edition: Joe's Witbier

By Joe Potter

Last month, a certain Pennsylvanian rodent predicted an early spring, but with the way March has started, that might be wishful thinking. Keeping in that spirit, however, March’s BOTM is a refreshing Witbier, which (I’m hoping) might help beckon in spring a little sooner. If brewed now (or soon), the beer will be ready to enjoy when this month, presumably, goes out like a lamb.

I tried a handful of new things with this brew: I mashed in with water directly from my tap, performed my first step mash, added fresh orange zest, and fermented with a brand new yeast strain, the K-97 from Safale™. The yeast is a German ale strain with low ester production, also recommended for Belgian wheat beers. It forms a nice, firm head during fermentation making it great for “top cropping,” the act of harvesting yeast from an already active fermentation and pitching it into a new batch. Top cropping can be used when you’re brewing multiple batches close together, saving you money on yeast.  

The resulting beer is straw colored, and almost glows. A small amount of flaked oats lends it a haziness reminiscent of sundown on a summer day, where imbibing began an hour or two earlier. It’s aroma is wheaty and sweet, with a touch of tartness. The citrus is subtle, but becomes incredibly prevalent as the beer warms. It’s smooth and creamy, medium-bodied, with a long finish due to the lower attenuation of the yeast. In an act of stylistic defiance, I left out the traditional coriander. I now feel the beer would benefit from some spicy complexity, perhaps black peppercorn. Feel free to make it your own.

My starting gravity was 1.043, and the beer finished out at 1.008, giving the K-97 an apparent attenuation of 81% (which is exactly what Safale™ reports on their website), and a nice 4.6% ABV. Here is the recipe for 5.5 gallons:

All Grain ($18.63)

    • 5 lbs Castle Pilsner
    • 4.5 lbs Briess Flaked Wheat
    • 0.5 lbs Briess Flaked Oats

Partial Mash ($19.84)

    • 0.25 lbs Pilot 6-Row
    • 0.5 lbs Briess Flaked Oats
    • 6 lbs Briess Wheat LME


    • 0.75 oz German Hallertau @ 60 mins
    • 0.25 oz German Hallertau @ 15 mins
    • Zest of one orange @ 5 mins          
If you care, here is the mash schedule I used: Having a grain bill composed of 50% adjuncts, I decided to try my first step-mash with a protein rest at 128° F for 20 minutes before raising the mash temperature to a usual 154° for starch-breakdown.

I discovered that the hottest water which runs out of my tap is a piping 133°. Incidentally, for my mash tun, this is nearly the perfect temperature to achieve 128° after infusion. I used the side sprayer to “mash in” directly from the sink, and kept filling until I arrived at what I estimated to be a 1:1 quarts to pounds ratio. (This is essentially analogous to the couple breweries I know of which utilize tankless water heaters to provide their mash and sparge water, forgoing hot liquor tanks altogether.)

After the 20 minute rest, I infused boiling water from my pot to get up to 154°. My reasoning was that starting with a relatively thin mash ratio of 1:1 would allow me to infuse as much water as needed to bump up the temp while still staying close to the totally reasonable ratio of 2:1. (No surprise, this required way more hot water than I expected, so I recommend having a lot on hand and ready to go before even mashing in.) I added just enough hot water to bring me up to temp, and rested for an additional 30 minutes before sparging.

I hope you enjoy this brew and that it succeeds in building excitement for the approaching summer and brewing season. Brew on, Grand Rapids.

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, March 4, 2016

New Beer Friday, Reminders & Updates Edition (March 4)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you were one of the hardy folks attending the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival last weekend I’m sure you were pleased that you were able to enjoy samplings of great Michigan beer without having to worry about getting frost bitten appendages. The late February weather couldn’t have been much better — practically balmy compared to last year’s bone-chilling and beer-line-freezing cold.

While my wife Barb and I are way too wimpy to attend these annual winter celebrations of Michigan’s hand-crafted brews, we look forward each year to the last weekend in February. The Winter Beer Festival draws hundreds of craft beer aficionados to Beer City USA and we love chatting with the dozens of out-of-towners who stop by Siciliano’s Market to stock up on the Mitten State’s excellent offerings.

Kudos to the Michigan Brewers Guild for giving a boost to West Michigan’s economy and for organizing another highly successful event.

Reminders & Updates

THIRTEENTH ANNUAL SICILIANO’S HOMEBREW COMPETITION: Entry registration for the Thirteenth Annual Siciliano’s Homebrew Competition will open on Monday, March 14, at 8 a.m. and will close Sunday, April 10, at 10 p.m. Complete details can be found here.

Please note that we still need judges and stewards. Judging for this year’s competition will take place Saturday, April 23. Registration for judges & stewards is now open. The Siciliano’s competitions are BJCP registered events.

The following is pertinent information regarding the judging for the 2016 Siciliano's competition:

    • Date: Saturday, April 23th
    • 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 would like to participate in the competition as either a judge or steward please go to, click on the Siciliano's link under Upcoming Competitions and you will redirected to the Siciliano's Competition page. After creating an account you will be able to register.

Important: Click on the Guest House Judging Session and then indicate whether you will be participating as a judge or steward. Judges should indicate their judging preferences & dislikes and then click the Update Judging Preferences button.

BEER CITY BIG BREW ON THE CALDER: Information on how to participate in the 2016 edition of Michigan’s largest Big Brew Day event can be found here.

Registration opens Saturday, March 5. Visit this Buzz blog post for more information.

New and Returning Beer

  • Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortel, $5.09/12oz - "Péché Mortel (French for "Mortal Sin") is an intensely black and dense beer with very pronounced roasted flavours. Fair trade coffee is infused during the brewing process, intensifying the bitterness of the beer and giving it a powerful coffee taste. Péché mortel is brewed to be savored; we invite you to drink it in moderation" (source).
  • Dieu du Ciel Aphrodite, $5.09/12oz - "Black ale with aromas and flavours of vanilla, dark chocolate, bourbon and roasted malt. The vanilla and cocoa marry nicely, without out-competing each other, to produce a surprisingly well balanced beer. This beer is mildly hoppy, but the cocoa introduces a touch of bitterness. Its colour may be intimidating, but it is a very smooth beer within reach of most beer drinkers. This highly appreciated dessert beer is brewed with organic fair-trade cocoa and first rate vanilla beans" (source).
  • Dieu du Ciel Grande Noirceur, $5.09/12oz - "The Grande Noirceur is an intensely black and dense beer with pronounced roasted flavours. The bitterness is very imposing but is balanced by a malty-caramel taste. The alcohol content is quite high, but its presence remains discrete in this beer" (source).
  • To Øl Black Malts and Body Salts, $11.39/375ml - "A Black Imperial IPA brewed with black malts, body salts and french press coffee" (source).
  • To Øl Gose to Hollywood, $6.49/500ml - "To Øl got starstruck. This is how we went to Hollywood. Salty, sour, light gose brewed with the best fruits California can offer. Best consumed on warm summer days or on the red carpet" (source).
  • Eku Pils, $2.79/12oz - "A truly great Pils, a little maltier and more ‘Bavarian’ than the rest. The 6-packs are brand new for the American market" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Blueberry Pancake, $2.29/16oz - "One of our fan favorites from the 12 Days of Milkshake Stout, Blueberry Pancake Flavored Mikshake Stout™ is a unique brew that surprises the senses combining the distinct scent and taste of blueberries layered with the familiar taste of Milkshake Stout™ and a pleasant aftertaste of pancakes. Blueberry Pancake bridges the gap and appeals to non-beer drinkers as well. Limited Release and by special arrangemen" (source).
  • Founders Mango Magnifico, $11.49/750ml (2 per) - "Mango Magnifico is a high-gravity fruit beer brewed with mango and a touch of habaneros to add just the right amount of heat. The delicate flavors imparted by the sweet richness of the mango are punctuated perfectly by the subtle heat of the habaneros, proving that fruit beers do not have to be one-note. Each 750mL bottle of this 10% ABV ale is both sophisticated and refreshing, making it the perfect beer to share… or to keep all to yourself" (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).
  • Saugatuck Serano Pepper, $1.79/12oz - "An amber ale spiced with fresh Serrano Peppers, pleasing to both the nose and palate. A great beer for casual enjoyment and perfect for food pairing" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Higher Math, $10.19/12oz (1 per) - "Celebrating 20 off-centered years with our luscious chocolate cherry birthday cake in liquid form. A golden ale brewed with chocolate & sour cherry juice" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Oak Aged Nobel Rot, $15.09/750ml (1 per) - "Noble Rot is the head-on collision of the beer world and the wine world ... and now we've aged it on oak ... for a whole year! This saison-esque science project gets complexity and fermentable sugars from the addition of two unique white wine grapes, sourced with our friends at Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser, Washington. The first addition is the must of viognier grapes that have been infected with a benevolent fungus called botrytis. This 'noble rot' reduces the water content in the grapes while magnifying their sweetness and complexity. The second is a pinot gris intensified by a process called 'dropping fruit,' where large clusters of grapes are clipped to amplify the quality and distinction of those left behind. We then aged Noble Rot in one of our oak tanks for an entire year, making for a hazy ale that has a spicy white wine body and a dry, tart finish" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Romantic Chemistry, $2.59/12oz - "What you have here is a serious India Pale Ale shacking up and hunkering down with mango and apricots. At the same time! Romantic Chemistry is brewed with an intermingling of mangos, apricots and ginger, and then dry-hopped with three varieties of hops to deliver a tropical fruit aroma and a hop-forward finish" (source).
  • Avery Uncle Jacob, $13.99/12oz (1 per) - "Jacob Spears, our 6th Great Grand Uncle, is credited as the first distiller to label his whiskey "Bourbon." He built his distillery in Bourbon County, Kentucky in 1790 - 203 years before began brewing. While obviously a bit too late to produce Uncle Jacob’s wash, we’ve instead created something far more complex. In his honor, we present this robust, silky smooth, full-bodied and altogether extremely American rendition of an Imperial Stout aged for 6 months in the very finest bourbon barrels. This explains a lot about our penchant for big brews! It’s in our blood" (source).
  • Avery Vanilla Bean Stout, $13.79/22oz (1 per) - "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. After Raspberry Sour, this is the 2nd installment of Avery’s Botanicals & Barrels series" (source).
  • Oddside Nihlist, $4.89/12oz (1 per) - "El Dankerino aged in bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado, $2.59/12oz (1 per) - "Our Watermelon Dorado Double IPA is not one to back down from big flavors. Mash, kettle, and dry hopping blend to create a huge hop profile that is balanced with a blast of watermelon. The result is a refreshing brew that is all summer and no seeds" (source).
  • Short's Peachy Pom Pom, $16.69/22oz (1 per) - "Peachy Pom Pom is a rosy colored American Sour Ale brewed with peaches and pomegranate. Tart berry aromatics accentuate the sweet and sour fruit flavors within this beer.  A huge tangy mouth feel with some initial acidic citrus qualities shocks the palate before a clean and lightly dry finish" (source).
  • Crankers End of the World IPA, $10.49/22oz - "This insanely aromatic Double IPA is brewed and Double Dry Hopped with a special blend of the most exclusive hops on the planet. This beer was designed to be consumed before the End of the World, not after it. So drink now, drink fresh, because tomorrow is never promised...and the aliens are moving at the speed of light" (source).
  • Greenbush 400 Divine Rabbits, $1.99/12oz - "This heavenly brew is sure to satisfy all who you offer it to… and by all, we mean ALL. Two or twenty, be sure to keep enough of this Agave Nectar Wheat Ale on hand lest you anger the gods" (source).

Picture of the Week | Siciliano's Gothic

A true masterpiece of American art, featuring Joe, Ed and
Founder's Mango Magnifico.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review: Passport & Antiquary Blended Scotch Whiskies

Review by John Barecki

There are a couple of reasons I occasionally return to blended Scotch whisky on my travels through the world of spirits. I quite enjoy the overall flavor of Scotch whiskies but I don't always like the price tag that accompanies them. Some of the lower-priced blends can be very enjoyable and, best of all, you don't mind sharing them with friends as much as you do the prized single malts in your collection. Blends have good versatility and can be used in a variety of cocktails like the simple but effective highball, which is a measure of whisky mixed with a bit of water or club soda. A drink like this is a fun mix that allows you to imbibe the spirit like beer (and keeps you hydrated).

The other reason I go to blends periodically is my interest in master blenders and what they do. The blends and the non-single barrel single malts require a professional nose, tongue and eye for detail. The ability to recreate all of the smells and tastes of the whiskies that we have come to love takes years of experience and personal training. Here is a small run down of what these people do.

A single malt whisky is described as a whisky made from malt produced at only one distillery. Single malts are a bit like blends but they work in a different way. Professionals describe it with a term called marring, which means they take various single malt whiskies from the same distillery and mix them all together, allowing them to mingle with one another and creating a consistent product. In a way, it's similar to the Grand Cru style of wine and beer blending where producers mix young and old product together.

With single malts, the age statement on bottles usually refers to the youngest and most times the highest volume of whisky in the blend. Then there are additional percentages of older malts added in to create the end product. The blended Scotch whiskies are similar, but a lot more of the whiskies are comprised of single malts from multiple distilleries with varying age (with up to 30 different ones, claimed by some companies) along with the addition of grain whiskies, which are usually made using corn, wheat or rye.

There are also blended malt whiskies that are blends of single malts from different distilleries without the adjunct of grain whisky in the bill. With all of these whiskies the ability to decipher the flavor, smell, body, barrel type and so on can be both mind and palate numbing. I have great respect for the puzzle masters who can unravel and recreate whisky that can be delightful and sometimes sublime. For this review I chose two blends that are new to me.

Passport Blended Scotch Whisky ($17.99/750ml) is a surprisingly drinkable and affordable blend composed of multiple Highland and Speyside single malts, including The Glenlivet. The nose is fresh and fruity with slight flowery notes. There is apple and pear, a bit of cereal tone with some oxidative slightly sulfury/fruity qualities coming from the sherry aging on some of the single malts used. The palate is creamy, very fresh and vibrant, like fruit leather with a slight butterscotch tone. Passport finishes well and long with the apple/pear returning along with a touch of honey and wood spice.

The Anitiquary Blended Scotch Whisky ($21.96/750ml) comes from the Tomatin distillery, so with that we can expect more of their single malt to be used. There is a good amount of cereal and honeyed malt notes on the nose with a bit of wood spice and dried fruit. A very easy drinking blend, there is a hint of smoke that comes through which balances some fruit notes in the middle. The finish is long and drying a smattering of malt, honey, vanilla, fruit and spice.

Both of these are great table whiskies to have around. They are enjoyable to the senses and show us a different perspective in terms of contemplating this wonderful spirit. They are available at Siciliano's Market along with some other very good blends. We suggest you come take a look.