View our Main Site »

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bootleg Biology Yeast Wrangling Kits, Now Available

Kits now available at Siciliano's
By Max Spencer

Whether we know it or not, microbes impact almost every aspect of our existence upon this rock we call home. Most people go about their daily lives never giving a thought to the tiny microscopic critters all about and within them. As homebrewers, we must forego this ignorance in favor of understanding and utilizing the metabolic processes that yeast provides us. Yeast, that holiest of microbes, is what enables us to make the beer we love so much. Without yeast our brewing efforts would amount to unpalatable hop soda. On the flip side, adding hops to beer and our preoccupation with sanitation techniques are designed to prevent other microbes from finding their way into our beer, though they need not always be excluded. Microbes are at the core of our hobby.

As a lover of all things biology and homebrewing, I am thrilled that we will be carrying Yeast Wrangling Kits from Bootleg Biology™. The Wrangling Kit allows you to capture wild yeast and other microbes from a variety of environmental sources with three main methods: open air capture, putting fruit, flowers and so on into test tubes, and using cotton swabs. It also contains everything needed to then culture and isolate microbes from these wild fermentations. The kit and methods involved are very approachable and do not require a science background to undertake. Additionally, if you’re a little nervous using wild microbes the kit is also capable of isolating microbes from the bottle dredges in your favorite beers!

The components of the Wrangling Kits
The Bootleg Biology website has useful articles in the DIY section on how to capture, cultivate and isolate wild yeast using the materials provided in the kit. This section is worth glancing at before and after making a purchase as it breaks down the methods involved into clear and easy to understand steps. Jeff Mello, Chief Yeast Wrangler, also takes the time to respond to any questions sent his way via his email in the contact section on the company website.

We carry the Yeast Wrangling Kit for $60.00 + tax and agar plate and agar blend refill kits for $30.00 + tax.


    • ½ Gallon mason jar (for open air capture and making starters)
    • 4 Cheesecloth covers for the mason jar
    • 10 Agar plates (for culturing / isolating)
    • 18g Agar blend
    • 1’ x 2” Parafilm (seals agar plates)
    • 6 Test tubes (for collecting from fruit, flowers, etc.)
    • 6 Plastic pipettes
    • 4 packets of 2 sterile cotton swabs
    • 1 Paper clip
    • 2 Fermetrics™ stickers (fermentation trackers)
    • One pre-paid contributor pack (to submit yeast to the database)
Be sure to keep an eye out for Part II of this blog post (coming soon) to read about Jeff’s inspiration and his advice for homebrewers looking to use the kit. Until then, happy wrangling!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Do It Yourself: Citronella Howler Torch

By Kati Spayde

It's summer in Michigan and that means I want nothing more than to spend an evening relaxing on the deck with a cold beer. But it's also summer in Michigan, which means the mosquitos are crazy! Instead of some questionable looking tiki torches, why not make some fashionable citronella howlers. The process is fairly easy and relatively cheap.

Equipment needed for two lanterns:

    • 2 Howlers
    • 2 Metal Howler Caps
    • 1 Package of Wicks
    • 1 Jug of Citronella Torch Fuel
    • Screwdriver
    • Hammer
With the cap on the howler, gently tap the screwdriver through the cap with the hammer*. I like to make three holes and then connect them into one larger hole. Then use the screwdriver to bend back the lid material until it's flush with the inside of the cap. Fill the howler with fuel and insert the wick through the hole in the cap, easy as that.

Light and enjoy!

*Loosen the cap first to make sure there is no excess pressure in the howler. Or remove the cap entirely and place it on a work bench before gently tapping the hole.

The materials
Gently tap a hole in the cap
With the wick

Friday, June 24, 2016

New Beer Friday, Doc's Sauble River Inn Edition (June 24)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you’re traveling in northern Michigan in the vicinity of Mason County this summer you should make it a point to stop by Doc’s Sauble River Inn on Highway 31 about five miles south of Manistee. Located just a short cast from the Big Sauble River, this little bar and grill doesn’t look like much from the outside but its recently remodeled interior provides a comfortable setting for enjoying an eclectic array of well-made dishes at reasonable prices.

My wife Barb and I have visited Doc’s a number of times since Derek ‘Doc” Campbell purchased and revamped the restaurant three years ago and we have always been happy with the food and service. On our most recent visit Barb had Doc’s version of surf and turf — peel and eat shrimp and prime rib — while I opted for a Greek salad (pictured) followed up by an excellent burger. A couple glasses each of crisp Sauvignon Blanc went well with our meals. Doc’s also has a good assortment of liquor and a nice selection of craft beers. Visit their Facebook page for hours and daily specials.

New and Returning Beer

  • Vivant Plein de Vie Angeline, $12.09/500ml (2 per) - "The mother of all Vivant’s sours, if you will, is finally offered in bottles—much to the delight of long time Brewery Vivant fans. The very first sour beer made at the pub, a barrel named Angelina produced something tasty, magical, and sparked the direction of Vivant’s future sour offerings. Inoculating other barrels from this mother to keep the culture going, this pleasant, wood-barrel aged sour retains its majesty for (hopefully) years to come" (source).
  • Vivant Plein de Vie Harvest Breed, $9.99/500ml (2 per) - "A brand new brew, this stainless steel brettanomyces wild sour ale offers a big sour punch on the noise, with the bretta coming through as the beer warms to room temperature. Almost citrusy, this sour offers a bergamot, earl gray tea flavor with a hint of lemon pith or orange rind" (source).
  • Vivant Plein de Vie Habanango, $12.09/500ml - $12.09 (2 per) - "Many of you may remember this from a previous Wood Aged Beer Fest, but don’t expect the exact same brew. Feeder fermented and barrel-aged, this sour is blended with habanero peppers and mango to give a little heat with the sweet. Strongly mango on the nose, the peppery sweet heat of the habanero creeps up on you, making you want to take that next sip" (source).
  • Rockford Rhubarb Radler, $6.99/22oz - "Light, slightly tart & resfreshing – slight hint of tart rhubarb, lemon" (source).
  • Rockford Paradigm, $6.99/22oz - $6.99 - "From farm to glass, this is the local flavor of Pure Michigan!! 100% of the grain and hops come from Michigan. Michigan grown barley and wheat, malted by Michigan Malt Company in Shepherd, Michigan, help to develop the beautiful amber body. Expect an underlying sweet, malty base with hints of cotton candy and toasted marshmallow. Mango, orange and piney are just some of the unique signature characteristics of our local hop varietals from Hopyards of Kent in Greenville, Michigan, which reveal West Michigan’s terroir! This beer is part of our Permaculture Series, showcasing the seasons in Michigan" (source).
  • Hop Cat Beer Right Meow, $2.29/16oz - "Coming this summer in Michigan, Beer Right Meow is an American IPA that practically purrs in your mouth. Developed at HopCat's in-house brewery in Grand Rapids and brewed under our supervision for distribution by Brew Detroit, this delicious craft beer connects Beer City and the Motor City unlike any other. Look for Beer Right Meow on tap at HopCat locations in Michigan beginning June 29 at special release parties and in your favorite craft beer bar and at retailers throughout Michigan" (source).
  • Odd Side Touch of Red, $9.69/500ml - "According to a post on the Grand Haven, Mich.-based brewery’s Facebook page, the new beer is Touch of Red, a sour red ale. The name of the beer and the tagline of “We will get by. We will get by. We will survive.” is inspired by the Grateful Dead’s song “Touch of Grey,” which was released in 1987 on the band’s “In the Dark” album. A Touch of Red will be packaged in 500ml bottles. An email sent to the brewery for additional info was not immediately returned" (source).
  • Odd Side Funk Soul Brother, $9.69/500ml (1 per) - "Dry hopped sour ale" (source).
  • Odd Side El Dankerino, $2.49/12oz - "West Coast IIPA" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Last Chance Apricot, $2.29/12oz - "We started with our 5.9% ABV Last Chance IPA, a full-flavored IPA with pleasant citrus flavors of tangerine and grapefruit. To that delightful brew, we’ve added apricots. Not just a few, but over 15 pounds of them per barrel" (source).
  • Right Brain Cake Walk Vanilla Cream Ale, $1.79/12oz - "Right Brain’s ’gateway beer’ to craft brewing, Cakewalk has the light body and effervescent mouth feel of a domestic, but with all the heart & soul of a hand made craft beer. A mild vanilla finish balances this easy drinker with just enough sweetness to keep your mouth watering and your right brain stimulated. Brewed with real Madagascar vanilla beans" (source).
  • Right Brain Blue Magic, $1.79/12oz - "Blue Magic Lavender Wheat Ale is a uniquely different & refreshing brew. Did we mention it’s magical too? It’s brewed with local honey from Honey Pot Priory & fresh local lavender from Light Of Day Organics. This is a straight forward wheat with dried lavender.  This brew has a floral nose and a wheat finish" (source).
  • Bells Poolside, $1.99/12oz - "A Belgian-style wheat ale, brewed with Montmorency cherry juice from Traverse City, Michigan" (source).
  • Bells Q Falls, $1.99/12oz - "A dry-hopped lager that possesses a crisp, dry bitterness you would expect from a German pilsner, but the use of highly aromatic Simcoe hops from the Pacific Northwest, evoke the fragrant pine forests that inspired this beer" (source).

Video of the Week | Plein De Vie

A repost from a couple of weeks ago, but fitting now that these
exciting beers from Vivant are finally in stock at Siciliano's.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Matt's Chats: The Right Yeast for Summer Brewing

By Matt Ross

I still have not acquired a fermentation chamber so for the time being my fermentation temperature continues to remain at the will of the weather. Fortunately summer is my favorite time to brew. It is now warm and consistent enough that I can ferment with Belgian yeast in the heat and also use American yeast in the cooler areas of my home. There are a few things I have learned over the years that have generally improved the quality of my brews.

First off, fermentation temperature is one of the most crucial things throughout the entire brewing process. It can be difficult to ballpark ambient temp. At my current location I have what I consider a warm spot and a cooler spot. One thing I do to get a better idea of temperature consistency is leave a glass of water in the room I plan to ferment in. I will periodically check the temp with a trusted thermometer at different times to see what sort of variations may occur. I typically base the beer I am making off the temperature ranges observed.

This weather has finally turned a corner. I mentioned that I love fermenting with saison yeast and the season is upon us. The 3711 from Wyeast is their French saison yeast and is one of my personal favorites. There are a couple of things worth mentioning about this yeast. First it is an absolute beast that attenuates very high, particularly under warmer temperatures. This yeast produces spicy peppery esters that when paired with a simple malt build create a bold yet refreshing beverage.

The next thing I do is a pretty common practice that never fails to get funny looks but is worthy of mentioning regardless. The fermentation process produces small amounts of heat. To encourage consistent temperatures, I usually wrap my vessels as an added form of insulation. There is no better way to get curious eyebrow raise from a new houseguest than to have a bucket wrapped in old clothing sitting in the corner of your room. As a side bonus, this helps to prevent light from reaching the beer as well.

As a follow up to the last fermentation discussion, I have been taking my own advice and fermenting within my means. I made a rye beer using smoked malt and the Wyeast 1007 German Ale yeast. All in all it is a clean finishing ale yeast that can ferment cooler. My primary fermentation occurred around 59 degrees and was shockingly aggressive. It was my first time using that yeast and it will be added to the lineup of winter/spring yeasts.

For those of you who share my temperature control issues I've included a list of yeast (see below) that are versatile and don’t mind moderate heat. Come in and share your experiences with seasonal brewing with any of us at Siciliano’s Market. Brew on.

Friday, June 17, 2016

New Beer Friday, Jeff Carlson Edition (June 17)

Jeff Carlson
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Our good friend Jeff Carlson continues to garner awards for his homemade ciders. The longtime member of the Primetime Brewers homebrew club was once again named Cidermaker of the Year at the National Homebrewers Conference last week in Baltimore, marking the fifth time he has taken top honors in the home cidermaking category. Jeff’s entry in the national competition was awarded the gold medal in the Specialty Cider & Perry category and was judged to be the best out of the gold-medal-winning entries in the cider categories.

I have been fortunate enough to sample many of Jeff’s beers and ciders over the years and can personally attest to his skills both as a homebrewer and cidermaker. Winning Cidermaker of the Year once is a remarkable accomplishment. Winning the prestigious award five times is nothing less than amazing. Congratulations, Jeff!

New and Returning Beer

  • Long Road Wheat Whisky, $39.99/750ml - "The third release in our Wayfarer’s Whisky Series! Batch #1 of Long Road Wheat Whisky is now available! Each bottle of this limited-release Whisky is individually numbered by one of our distillers and is released at 93 proof. It was carefully distilled on our Vendome Copper & Brass Pot Still and created with West Michigan Wheat from Heffron Farms in Belding, Michigan" (source).
  • Pike 51 Heavy Soul, $18.89/22oz - "An Imperial Milk Porter aged in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels" (source).
  • New Belgium Fat Tire and Friends, $18.39/12pk - "New Belgium Brewing celebrates its 25th anniversary with the release of five collaboration beers reinterpreting the brewer’s flagship, Fat Tire Amber Ale. Fat Tire was first conceived on a bike ride through Belgium and came to life as a homebrew in the late 1980’s. Spurred on by accolades from friends and a grip of homebrewing awards, New Belgium co-founders Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch took the beer commercial in 1991. Since then, the 100% employee-owned company has become the nation’s 4th-largest craft brewery with distribution in 41 states and a second brewery just opening in Asheville, NC. New Belgium brewers teamed up with brewing friends at Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME), Avery Brewing (Boulder, Colo.), Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA), Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, OR) and Rhinegeist Brewery  (Cincinnati, OH) for the project" (source).
  • Smuttynose Blueberry Short Weisse, $2.19/12oz - "Berliner-style wheat ale brewed with blueberries" (source).
  • Roak Melonfest, $1.69/12oz - "American Wheat Ale infused with Cantaloupe" (source).
  • Perrin Big Griz, $11.49/22oz (1 per) - "This bourbon barrel imperial brown ale was crafted with specialty malts and unique hops from all over the world. Undertones of fresh American oak and vanilla carry through with not-so-subtle hints of warm maple syrup and melted caramel sweetness that book end this uncommon monstrosity of a beer. Be careful when our Big Griz gets ahold of you" (source).
  • Alaskan SMaSH Galaxy Double IPA, $8.99/22oz  (1 per) - "SMaSH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop — and in this beer we have exclusively used Australian Galaxy hops" (source).
  • Founders reDANKulous, $3.09/12oz - "reDANKulous Imperial Red IPA is a no frills, bold 9.5% ABV India Pale Ale. It pours a pleasing burnt amber with some sweetness due to the Caramalt and roasted barley used in the malt bill. But hops are the true headliner in this elaborate sensory experience. The spicy, piney, tropical complexities of Chinook, Mosaic and Simcoe hops hit you right away with their dank aroma—and they stick around. Take a sip to have your palate simultaneously walloped and caressed in all the right places. Combined, the hops take the beer to 90 IBUs. It’s not just ridiculous. It’s reDANKulous" (source).
  • Anchorage Anadromous Belgian Black Bier, $16.09/750ml - "Ale brewed with summit hops. Triple fermented. First in French Oak Foudres, second in pinot noir and whiskey barrels with brett and other critters. Finally in the bottle for natural carbonation" (source).
  • Jopen Koyt Gruit, $4.29/330ml - "Koyt is a dark beer with 8,5% alcohol and a warming herbal taste. The reddish-brown Koyt is the strong version of the old gruit beer" (source).
  • Unity Vibrations Citra Blood Orange Kombucha, $10.19/22oz - "Blood orange. Light and sparkly tart. Almost like grapefruit. Really good option for gluten free folks" (source).
  • Victory Anniversary XX Imperial Pilsner, $10.79/750ml (1 per) - "In celebration of twenty years of Victory, it is only fitting that we offer you a brew that truly embodies European tradition and American ingenuity. This bold pilsner, complete with fragrant noble German hops, delivers rich earthiness and light citrus flavors, creating a deliciously drinkable beer" (source).
  • Victory Tart Ten, $10.79/750ml 10.79 (1 per) - "Belgium’s vast history of brewing and beer styles has inspired us at Victory for decades. Settling in on the comfort a dubbel ale provides, we sparked that style up a bit with brettanomyces fermentation. The result is rich in flavor but light in body—sharp in impression but smooth in finish" (source).
  • Odd Side Nihilist, $4.89/12oz - "El Dankerino aged in bourbon barrels" (source).
  • Odd Side Implication, $4.49/12oz - "Imperial/Double IPA" (source).
  • Jolly Pumpkin La Vida Improvisacion, $15.29/750ml - "Dry Hopped Sour Saison brewed with Liliko’l, Papaya, Mango & Apricot" (source).
  • Lagunitas  DownLow, $4.79/22oz - "This dry and hoppy copper ale is packed full of some of our favorite Northwestern Hops from Perrault Farms (over 2 lbs. per barrel!), and copper-fied with some dark crystal malts to make this tropical, earthy, and stoooopidly slammable ale" (source).
  • Arcadia Cereal Killer, $4.19/12oz - "Brewed in tradition of Englishstyle barley wines, Cereal Killer offers an explosion of full-bodied, liquid goodness. Robust malty flavors converge with caramel, toffee, molasses and dark fruit notes to produce a remarkably complex yet palate-pleasing beer. Its intense malt character is complemented by a subtle citrus finish from the hops. With cellar-aging Cereal Killer’s flavor evolves further, developing a sherry-like aroma and flavor similar to a cask-aged port. Winner of the Gold Medal for Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beers at 2009 GABF" (source).
  • Arcadia Imperial Stout, $4.19/12oz - "Our extraordinary Imperial Stout is black as midnight with a rich, palate warming mouth feel. It offers an alluring aroma of dark roasted malts and blackstrap molasses with a hint of smoke. The flavor features notes of coffee, bittersweet cocoa, black licorice and hints of prune. A generous addition of hops contributes to the complexity and balance, and gives the liquid a pleasantly astringent finish. With proper aging, our Imperial Stout matures for up to fours years" (source).

Video of the Week | Long Road

We've shared this before, but in honor of their new whiskey, here again
is a very cool video from Long Road Distillery.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June Brew of the Month: Mark’s Sleeping Bee Honey Smoked Pale Ale

Recipe by Mark Iacopelli

I love laying in my hammock or sitting in around a bonfire on a warm summer day.  This homebrew recipe was inspired by my desire for an ale that is both complex and quaffable while lounging around in the summer. My thought was for something that was reminiscent of a lightly peated scotch. Creating flavors of spice, honey and a touch of smoke was my objective with this beer.

The two distinct variations on this beer as opposed to traditional pale ales are honey and smoke. The honey flavor in this brew was achieved through a combination of honey malt and actually honey. Honey is so highly fermentable that it can be difficult to use in brewing and get much flavor. I used honey malt to give the beer perceived honey sweetness. I also waited until three days into primary fermentation to add the non-pasteurized honey. This is an excellent way to promote a great fermentation and complete attenuation. It also helps retain a little bit of that real honey flavor. In order to introduce the honey affectively and not have it just sink straight to the bottom of the fermenter I pulled off some of my wort during the boil and added it to the jar of honey to thin it out. As for the smoke I have never used the Weyermann beechwood smoked malt before. I was informed by my co-workers that this malt is subtle which lead to me doubling my original plan of using one pound.

The results: From brew day to kegged and carbed this beer took about seventeen days to make. I found that it really needed an additional week of conditioning to allow for acetaldehyde (green apple/cider flavor common in young beers) to clear up. My efficiency was low at 61% (1.050 OG) but it fully attenuated down to almost 1.000. It has near perfect clarity, golden color and a white head (head retention is somewhat lacking). On the nose a light graininess and smoke is present with a small touch of hops. The initial smoke flavor and a crisp bitterness quickly give way to a nice balance of grain and malt sweetness. Despite the sweetness it still finishes bone dry and just begs for another sip. Everything is very well balanced and makes this a great beer to sip on or to drink in more of a session style. Either way this keg of beer will likely not stick around for long.

All Grain Recipe ($29.55)

    • 7lb Breiss Brewer’s 2 Row
    • 2lb Weyermann beechwood smoked malt
    • 1lb Pilot Munich
    • 1lb Gambrinus Honey Malt
    • .5lb Non-Pasteurized Honey

Extract with Specialty Grains ($36.16)

    • 7.5lb pilsner light liquid extract
    • 2lb Weyermann beechwood smoked malt
    • .5lb Pilot Munich
    • .5lb Gambrinus Honey Malt
    • .5lb Non-Pasteurized Honey

Boil Hops

    • .5 oz Centennial (60 mins)
    • .5 oz Horizon (30 mins)
    • 1 oz Liberty (30 mins)
    • OPTIONAL: yeast nutrient & whirfloc tablet (15 Mins)
    • RECOMMENDED: Place Immersion Chiller in kettle to sterilize (15 Mins)    
    • .5 oz Horizon (10 mins)
    • 1 oz Liberty (10 mins)


    • Mash @ 150F for 75 Mins
    • Sparge @ 168F
    • Ferment with 1 package of Safale US-05 @ 68F
    • 3 days into primary fermentation add .5lb Non-Pasteurized Honey dissolved in wort from the boil that was stored in the refrigerator for this addition.
    • Leave in primary of 2 weeks then bottle or keg according to your own process.

Optional Water Additions

    • 1 campten tablet
    • 10g gypsum
    • 3g calcium chloride
    • 5ml 88% lactic acid (all grain only)
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, June 10, 2016

New Beer Friday, The Beauty of Beer Edition (June 10)

Matt Ross, Preambler
Preamble by Matt Ross

Steve and Barb are currently on vacation in Philadelphia, eating cheese steaks and enjoying one or two (or more) of the local brews. Steve offered me the opportunity to write the New Beer Friday preamble in his leave. It took me a while to come up with an idea but in the spirit of NBF I thought I would discuss why we should drink beer. This is a pretty easy question for most of us to answer. But besides the obvious answer of it tasting good and having certain desirable effects, I wanted to delve deeper into it.

The first point that deserves investigation is location. I love Grand Rapids. This city has turned into the Midwest beer Mecca. I talk to people every day that come in from all over the country to drink Michigan beer. If you live in or visit Grand Rapids, you should drink local beer because we have great beer to drink. Along with having quality breweries, there are also a lot them. The sheer variety is something to take into account too. Each brewery has their own portfolio of beers to call their own. If you tried going to all of them in a weekend it would make for a pretty rough Monday.

Keep in mind that I work at Siciliano’s Market. Drinking beer goes hand in hand with making beer. If you have not yet tried someone’s homebrew, you should. It is more than just an activity and I am blessed with having too much homebrew as opposed to the alternative. For me, drinking beer and making beer have transitioned into a lifestyle. For others, homebrewing is something that happens a couple times a year. Regardless, some of the best beers I have tried were from local homebrewers. Anyone who homebrews can confirm that it takes beer to make beer.

The last and largest reason why you should drink beer is because it pairs well with friends. There are few pleasures greater than sitting down with some of your people and sharing pints. In my experiences, the beer community is welcoming to people from all walks of life. There are some great breweries that only serve beer and provide places to sit. Besides their tasty beer, they fill up because people enjoy the company of their peers. You should drink beer because whether or not you arrive with old friends, you will likely leave with new ones.

Good beer with better friends is what drinking beer is all about.

New and Returning Beer

  • New Belgium Shift, $1.59/12oz - "New Belgium employee-owners work in shifts to brew to life world-class beers. Those efforts are rewarded daily with a shared end-of-shift beer. We're passing that welcomed occasion onto beer drinkers in this Shift Pale Lager. Think American pale ale meets American lager. It's easy to drink, crisp and congratulatory. So, clock out and crack open a Nelson Sauvin-hopped Shift Pale Lager to reward your work. Or play. Or, if you're like us, combine the two and surround yourself with drinking buddies" (source).
  • New Belgium Tart Lychee, $15.99/22oz - "According to Lauren, the imaginator of this pucker-pleasing ale, Lychee fruit is so insanely sweet and flavorful you almost can’t stand it alone. Sour to the rescue! Tart Lychee is brewed with exotic lychee fruit and cinnamon, and then blended with sour Felix from our wood cellar for a citrusy, tropical sip that attacks with an invigorating tart bite.  Explore the tropics, but brace for the wild" (source).
  • Cranker's Accuser, $15.99/22oz - A Belgian-style tripel.
  • Short's Freedom of '78, $2.39/12oz - "Freedom of ’78 is a medium-bodied IPA brewed with guava. This IPA is bright and clear with a pleasing bronze hue. The beers aroma is a unique fusion of citrus fruit and subtle pine. The distinct characteristics of the guava nectar are impossible to miss with flavors of tangerine, nectarine, and even faint honey detectable. The finish is bitter and dry" (source).
  • Abita Seersucker Pils, $1.69/12oz - "Abita Seersucker Summer Pils (June – September) is a traditional pilsner with a full bodied malt flavor, hop bitterness and a light golden color. It is made with pilsner and carapils malts, hopped with German Tradition and Spalt hops. This Pils pairs well with seasonal summer favorites like grilled chicken, salmon or garden salads. It also is a refreshing choice with spicier dishes, Mexican food and most Asian cuisines. Try it with a mild white Vermont cheddar, Havarti or Monterey Jack cheese" (source).
  • Boulevard Saison Brett, $12.99/750ml - "Saison-Brett, based on our very popular Tank 7, is assertively dry hopped, then bottle conditioned with various yeasts, including Brettanomyces, a wild strain that imparts a distinctive earthy quality. Though this farmhouse ale was given three months of bottle age prior to release, further cellaring will continue to enhance the “Brett” character, if that's what you're after" (source).
  • Boatyard Lake Effect DIPA, $3.39/16oz - "Welcome to the biggest IPA ever created by Boatyard Brewing.  After tasting the great double IPA’s of Vermont, we decided to bring that Citra goodness to Michigan.  We worked diligently for 4 months to create a recipe with pale ale and light caramel malts. We used torrified wheat and brown sugar to round out the malt flavors. We bittered with generous portions Magnum, Centennial and Cascade hops. The finish was made luscious with the addition of Warrior and Citra after chilling the wort. This IPA is sweet and full of citrus flavors" (source).
  • Victory Cage Radler, $1.79/12oz - "Our spin on a German classic connects lemon freshness with crisp lager. E ffervescent notes of lemonade, lemon zest, and a hint of graininess" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Festina Pêche, $2.59/12oz - See video below.
  • Dogfish Head Biere de Provance, $2.99/12oz - "Inspired by the fields of Provence in southern France, Bière de Provence begins with 2-row wheat and rye malts, and Jarrylo hops. A bounty of herbs, including lavender, bay leaf, marjoram and chervil, gives it a floral and spicy nose. With a hazy golden appearance, Bière de Provence is fermented using a Belgian yeast strain lending to a sweet and malty flavor profile. This summer saison has a smooth finish with a flavor that’s just as complex as it is crisp and refreshing" (source).
  • Epic Lil Rapsberry, $1.79/12oz - "Lil’ Brainless Raspberries is an easy drinking canned version of our big, bold 22 oz. bottle of Brainless Raspberries, crafted especially for those who seek bright, fresh, and real raspberry flavors in a convenient size. We brew exclusively with natural raspberry puree, which gives this beer its unique pink color as well as hints of raspberry bubble-gum, sweet fruit jam, and a pleasant dryness that makes this beer perfect for easy going affairs, indoors or out" (source).
  • Epic Los Locos, $2.19/12oz - "Los Locos is a sessionable, refreshing lager with a hint of corn sweetness, a dash of sea salt and the perfect kick of natural lime juice. It not only pairs perfectly with spicy Mexican dishes but is a great accompaniment to all of your favorite summer activities" (source).
  • Epic Tart and Juicy IPA, $2.29/12oz - "We've combined the clean, puckering tartness of kettle souring with an abundance of juicy, citrus-driven hops to create a beer that’s the best of both worlds - Tart n' Juicy Sour IPA" (source).
  • Arbor Mackinac Island Fudge, $2.89/12oz - "A roasty, dry stout made with real fudge for a subtle chocolate-fudge character without being sweet or heavy" (source).
  • New Holland Michigan Awesome Hatter, $1.79/12oz - "This beer celebrates community, collaboration & local agriculture. Cascade hops from the Leelanau Peninsula provide bright citrusy counterpoint to the delicious and earthy malt notes from Michigan barley. Thanks to our collaborators, Michigan Awesome" (source).
  • New Holland Tasmanian Hatter, $1.79/12oz - "Tasmanian Hatter brings you flavors from the region of the Tasman Sea. Hops from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest combine to present bright, tropical flavors of mango and citrus, beautifully framed with biscuity malt character" (source).
  • New Holland Imperial Hatter, $2.59/12oz - "Assertive dry-hopping provides an aromatic telltale nose, indicative of the robust, bitter symphony to follow. Bold hop character with lively grapefruit and citrus notes" (source).
  • Paw Paw Vanilla Bean Porter, $1.99/12oz - "Porter brewed with real vanilla beans. In Memory of the best dog ever" (source).
  • Paw Paw  Citra Melon, $2.19/16oz - "Brewed with Citra & Hüll Melon hops" (source).
  • Shipyard Seadog Sunfish, $1.99/12oz - "Beer with natural flavors added. Our unique light bodied wheat beer with a fragrant peach essence, and a clean refreshing grapefruit finish. A Sunfish pairs well with salads, pork, chicken, light fare, and fruit desserts like Peach Cobbler" (source).
  • Stone Citrusy Wit, $1.99/12oz - "When it comes to our beers and the ingredients we use, we give a wit. So rather than spinning just the same fruit wheel of the classic orange peel, we punched up our wit with the dynamic duo of tangerine and kaffir lime leaf. The fruit-forward aromatics and flavors are perfectly balanced, so you don’t have to bother adding a slice (or leaf) to the rim of your glass. Even with this lack of unnecessary garnish, you won’t find an absence of intense fruit. In fact, each dryly refreshing, citrusy sip of this coriander-spiced, tangerine-infused, Mandarina Bavaria-hopped creation will satisfy even the most hardcore fan" (source).
  • Stone Mocha IPA, $2.99/12oz - "Clearly, style lines have been crossed. Is it half-IPA, half-stout? Not quite. It’s definitely all IPA, but it’s also the best of both styles, making this love child of a beer simply just a beautiful, pleasure-seeking meld of imperial IPA and mocha indulgence. How did we come up with this inexplicably delicious creation? Well, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it exists and that it’s here for you now, thanks to our deliberate disregard for brewing norms. Some things are not meant to be known, just enjoyed...thoroughly" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy By 7-4-16, $2.99/12oz, $8.99/22oz - "Our all-important, hop-driven quest to deliver the most devastatingly fresh IPA on the planet facilitated a paradigm shift in 2012 with the launch of Stone Enjoy By IPA. Not only did we brew this beer with more than 10 different hops, we brewed it specifically NOT to last. Acclaimed for its groundbreakingly short shelf life, this intense double IPA brought forth a whole new concept of what constitutes “fresh”—guaranteeing fans the ultimate level of hoppiness. The devastatingly independent batch you have in your hands is no different. It, like its predecessors before, is a celebration and declaration of the fresh beer." (source).
  • Stone Arrogant Bastard Cans, $1.99/16oz - "This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth" (source).

Dogfish Head | Festina Pêche

Now available at Siciliano's ($2.59/12oz)


Monday, June 6, 2016

Misadventures in Homebrewing: Safe and Sane on Brew Day

By Matt Ross

I try to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. Unfortunately, most mistakes on brew day are beer related since, as we all know, you must drink beer to make beer. Most rules start after someone did something regrettable. (Ever wonder why there are signs surrounding electric fences reminding you not to touch them?) My regrettable moment: I connected my corny keg to an open faucet and pushed beer all over my feet and floor. Now I don’t drink beer until I am done with the boil.

I digress. Not all of my mistakes are that dramatic and more often than not they turn out fine. I suppose the purpose behind this blog post is to laugh at myself and point out avoidable pitfalls to help your brew day run without a hitch. 

    • If you are using glass anything, do not leave it in your murky Star San. I broke a lab thermometer (filled with mercury) in a plastic fermenter filled with sanitizer. It is now a compost bucket.
    • Never ferment 5 gallons of wort in a 5-gallon glass carboy unless you have a blow-off tube. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
    • If you have a boil pot with a valve and screen, be aware of protein production and the power of Irish moss. I clogged my screen while making a beer that was 40% rye and using a Whirlfloc tablet. It was a mess. 
A large portion of brewing is controlling variables to the best of your ability. Sometimes life intervenes and you’re caught with your pants down. Moments like these are humbling and make me sympathize with Homer Simpson (D'oh!). My stories are mostly laughable but as brewers we are responsible for gallons of boiling wort and powerful chemicals, which is to say: Be safe and brew smart.

Friday, June 3, 2016

New Beer Friday, Nine Mile Bridge Edition (June 3)

Actually the Big Sable River,
but you get the idea.
A longtime Siciliano's customer steps in with this week's NBF preamble, giving Steve a well-deserved break from his weekly blogging duties.

By Harry Winston

Last week I was going through a bookcase in my cabin up north when I came across a Moleskine notebook that I had rescued about thirty years ago from the Little Manistee River. It’s mostly filled with barely legible notes but on a few pages there are some neatly printed poems that were written, I have always assumed, by the same person who tossed the notebook into the river one late summer evening off Nine Mile Bridge.

I was fishing in the sharp bend just upriver from the bridge when I heard a motorcycle stop down the road and a few minutes later noticed a young man leaning over the concrete railing. I had just caught and released a good sized rainbow and was sitting near the river bank on a half-submerged log behind the low hanging branches of a pine tree smoking my pipe. I watched him balance an object on the railing then he lit a cigarette and stared down at the river.

I watched him while he smoked. Every so often he would pick up what turned out to be the notebook, flip through the pages, and then place it back on the railing. When he was finished smoking he crushed the cigarette against the concrete and deposited the butt in the pocket of his flannel shirt. He picked up the notebook, put it back down, picked it up again, hesitated, and then flipped it into the river. He watched it for a few moments before walking away.

I was about to start fishing again when I saw the half submerged notebook rushing by in the current. I reached over and scooped it up with my net and looked through it briefly before putting it in the creel of my fishing vest. A few minutes later the motorcycle sped north across the bridge. That night I read the poems while drinking a few bourbons in the Elk Tavern and for the next five years or so I kept the notebook in my glovebox but never saw the young man again.

I’ve occasionally wondered about him over the years — whether he was married, if he had children, what he did for a living. I wondered whether he kept on writing poetry and, the biggest wonder of all, what made him throw the notebook into the river. And I have always wondered what I should do with the poems and whether or not I should share them. After finding and reading them again this past week, I finally decided that I should. Here’s the first one.
Meditation on a Morning Moon 
This morning the moon shining bright
Through barren branches removing
Night time shadows from your sleeping face
Made me think of how you’re drifting into orbit,
(Becoming as distant as the moon), your
Light reflecting now through cold space I’m
Holding you only by the gravity of memories.
Sometimes the moon seems so close you can touch it.
I reached out this morning and brushed a hand
Against its softness, then looked on helpless,
As it faded into the day.
Editor's Note: Want to see your writing featured on New Beer Friday? Send it to for consideration. We encourage writing about food, beer, wine, spirits, the Great Lakes, family, friends, good times or anything else that makes you happy.

New and Returning Beer

  • Alpine Mandarin Nectar, $7.89/22oz - "Fresh organic orange zest and cracked coriander complement the orange blossom honey used in this ale. Like a mountain breeze through the citrus trees" (source).
  • Brooklyn Defender, $1.79/12oz - "The Defender is constantly vigilant, standing guard over all those who dare to create, to dream, and to drink great beer. This bright, juicy, West Coast-style IPA takes on a reddish twist from a dash of roasted malt. Bold, fruity hop bitterness and an intensely resinous nose lead the way into a dry finish that blazes the trail for your next sip" (source).
  • Brooklyn American Ale, $1.49/12oz - "Here in New York City, things are complicated, fast and loud. So sometimes we want a nice beer that's simply tasty and refreshing. Brooklyn American Ale is easygoing, versatile, and dependable. It's a beer you and your friends can hang out with, no matter where you're from. Try it alongside pizza, burgers, spicy foods, sharp cheese, or just another bottle of American Ale" (source).
  • Brooklyn Summer, $1.49/12oz - "Summer in Brooklyn is all about following your impulses, winging it from beaches and barbecues to stoops and rooftops. Brooklyn Summer Ale is a refreshing, flavorful pale ale made to accompany you on all your warm weather adventures. 100% British 2-row barley brings its famed bready flavors, capped off with German and American hops to provide a snappy, clean bitterness and a bright, floral aroma. It's a sunny pale ale, Brooklyn style" (source).
  • Green Flash Styrian Golding Single Hop, $2.19/12oz - "This Single Hopped Pale Ale is built on an English malt base of Golden Promise, 2-Row malted barley, and Caramalt to allow the hop qualities to shine through. The zesty bitter orange peel qualities of Styrian Golding hops are balanced by the English malt base, offering a slightly spicy, assertive, herbal, and dry finish" (source).
  • Griffin Claw The Old Wood Shed, $9.49/22oz (1 per) - "Cherrywood Smoked Porter" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Bonnie's Raggedy Ass Imperial IPA, $10.19/22oz (1 per) - "Our 2010 World Beer Cup Silver award winner. Brewed and dry-hopped with American hops, Centennial, Columbus, Cascades and Bravo" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Flying Buffalo Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, $21.39/22oz (1 per) - "Beginning its life in charred oak barrels in the fall of each year and remaining there until the first Michigan snow, our imperial stout is then moved to a special cellar which we call 'The Bourbon Bunker'. The barrels, under strict supervision of our brew master Dan Rogers, are stored at temperatures ranging from a dry winter 40 degrees to moist and humid 65 degrees. This painstaking process is unique to Griffin Claw Brewing Company and can be duplicated nowhere else in the world. Bottled at the peak of barrel-aged perfection, and only released in limited supply" (label).
  • Griffin Claw Flying Buffalo Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee Imperial Stout, $21.39/22oz (1 per) - "Aged 9 months in bourbon barrels, this unbelievable beer is a perfect harmony of flavors that will wake up your pallete, just like coffee is supposed to do. Our bourbon-barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout is combined with fair trade whole coffee beans to impart a perfectly balanced flavor that takes over 9 months to blend before it's ready" (label).
  • New Holland Lost Dune, $1.79/12oz - "A refreshing and aromatic summer ale. Tropical notes of Mosaic hops and bright citrus of coriander complement the rounding smoothness of blueberries from Michigan’s dune-laden west coast" (source).
  • Petoskey Cranium Crush Waffle Cone Raspberry Cream Ale, $2.39/16oz - "This unique ale has actual waffle cones added into the mash. Very slight hints of this ingredient can be picked up in the finished beer. More prevalent are the fruit notes from the addition of fresh raspberries added during fermentation. the low IBU makes this an easy drinking ale" (source).
  • Southern Tier 2xTangier, $1.99/12oz - " A Double India Pale Ale with spicy citrus aromas and stone fruit flavors. These flavors, with the addition of lightly roasted malts and brilliant hop bitterness, make 2XTangier a beverage as refreshing as it is exotic. 2XTangier is brewed as a stronger, bolder ale than its older brother, Tangier. It shares the same synergy between tangerine peel and spicy, citrusy, Mosaic hops" (source).
  • Southern Tier Salted Caramel, $9.29/22oz - "We brewed Salted Caramel to pay tribute to one of our favorite sweets. In the same vein as salted caramel chocolates and truffles, our Salted Caramel stout is the perfect balance of sweet decadence and savory salt. Perfect alone, or enjoyed as a float" (source).

Brewery Vivant | Plein de Vie

This week's featured video comes from Brewery Vivant.
Plein de Vie Series, coming soon to Siciliano's!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Can You See the Difference? (Bad Pun Intended)

By Kati Spayde

If you have been in the store recently you may have noticed the influx of canned beer. Siciliano's, along with the beer industry as a whole, is moving beer to cans whenever available. Cans are better for many reasons:

    • They are better at keeping light and oxygen away from the beer, both of which harm beer's flavor
    • They weigh less, meaning a smaller carbon footprint resulting from shipping beer from the brewery
    • Cans are 100% recyclable, you can make new cans from all those old cans
    • Beer cans are more beach, river and festival friendly
For Siciliano's, it's all about the real estate. Every year more breweries start packaging and distributing beer, but sadly our store is not getting any bigger. Cans can be stacked, which allows us to fit two cases of cans in the space taken up by one case of bottles.

So please, give cans a chance. They're just little, tiny kegs!

The selection of canned beer grows everyday at Siciliano's