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Friday, August 18, 2017

New Beer Friday, Big Sale Edition (August 18)

Sale, sale, sale!
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

We are pleased to announce that the 2017 edition of the Siciliano’s Beer & Wine Making Customer Appreciation Sale will begin on Tuesday, September 5, and will continue through the close of business on Sunday, September 10.

Our annual Customer Appreciation Sale is a great time for beer and winemaking enthusiasts to stock up on supplies and upgrade equipment. This year we are offering incredible deals on beginners equipment kits so if anyone has been thinking about taking the plunge into one these life-enriching hobbies this would be the ideal time to do so.

Attention Wine Makers: If you plan on stocking up on winemaking kits please email your orders to me ( by Sunday, August 27, and the orders will be put aside for you.

During the week-long sale most equipment, supplies and ingredients will be 15% off the retail price. Items that are already discounted — carboys, 50/55-lb. bags of grain, Blichmann Engineering products — will not be eligible for additional discounts nor will the 15% be combined with other existing discounts (like club discounts). We will honor the discount that is greater. Equipment and supplies on the following list are discounted deeper than 15%:

    • BEER EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $105.00, Sale $75.00
    • WINEMAKING EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $95.00, Sale $79.00
    • BREWERS BEAST EQUIPMENT KIT/GLASS: Regular $135.00, Sale $95.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/NEW KEG: Regular $289.00, Sale $225.00
    • KEGGING SYSTEM/RECONDITIONED KEG: Regular $239.00, Sale $180.00
    • ANALOG REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $75.00, Sale $65.00
    • DIGITAL REFRIGERATION THERMOSTAT: Regular $115.49, Sale $89.00
    • MASH/LAUTER TUN: Regular $125.00, Sale $100.00
    • ITALIAN FLOOR CORKER: Regular $142.00, Sale $109.00
    • PORTUGUESE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $63.00, Sale $50.00
    • CHAMPAGNE FLOOR CORKER: Regular $152.00, Sale $119.00
    • MILWAUKEE PH METER: Regular $85.00, Sale $64.00
    • BARLEY CRUSHER, 7LB HOPPER: Regular $169.00, Sale $139.00
    • BARLEY CRUSHER, 15LB HOPPER: Regular $189.00, Sale $159.00
    • REFRACTOMETER: Regular, $49.00, Sale $40.00
    • 8-GALLON BREWERS BEAST BREW POT: Regular $115.00, Sale $79.00
    • 16-GALLON BREWERS BEAST BREW POT, Regular $175.00, Sale $129.00
Finally, be sure to stop by the store on Saturday, September 9, for free German wieners, homemade sauerkraut and draft root beer.

New and Returning Beer

  • Rochester Mills Juice Bigalow, $2.19/16oz - "NE style IPA" (source).
  • Right Brain Chubby Squirrel, $1.79/12oz - "Brewed with secret blend of spices, this is a fall beer that keeps the pumpkin out of things" (source).
  • Rogue Cold Brew IPA, $2.09/12oz - "Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ Cold Brew Coffee is blended with an IPA made using Rogue Farms hops for a unique interplay of hops and coffee flavors. Opening with a huge hit of rich coffee aroma that is balanced by a not-so-subtle hop punch, the transition is seamless from one bold flavor to the next" (source).
  • Damm Daura Lager, $1.79/12oz - "Daura is the gluten-free beer from Damm. Thanks to Damm's technology and experience, we can now enjoy a real beer suitable for coeliacs" (source).
  • Damm Daura Shandy, $1.79/12oz - "Damm is launching its first lager with lemonade crafted to remove gluten. Daura Shandy has all the characteristics of Daura whilst at the same time offering the character, freshness and taste of a shandy. This refreshing beer is part of Damm’s commitment to innovation and research in the development of new products crafted to remove gluten, specifically for celiac and gluten aware consumers" (source).
  • Maui Pineapple Mana, $2.89/12oz - "Maui Gold pineapple gives sweet aroma to this smooth-bodied, tropical brew" (source).
  • Maui Mango Hefe, $2.09/12oz - "Bavarian-style wheat ale brewed with locally sourced mango" (source).
  • Alaskan Coffee Brown, $1.69/12oz - "Our latest Rough Draft Limited is a collaboration with Heritage Coffee -- a delicious beer we call Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown Ale" (source).
  • Blackrocks Presque Ale, $2.09/12oz - "A nicely hopped summer ale. A beer made for watching sunsets and/or sunrises" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Plein de Vie Escoffier, $11.99/500ml - "Escoffier is our much heralded collaboration with New Belgium Brewing in Ft. Collins, CO. Coinciding with their entry into Michigan in August 2012, this project began with a friendly meeting at our pub. After a few beers and some food, the idea to brew a beer together started to take shape" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Love Shadow, $5.39/16oz - "Taking up his (or her) mash paddle on brew day, the brewer has his (or her) eye on the future months when flavors all come together. However, there is always a shadow of mischief that comes in the forms of fermentation, wooden barrels, grain terroir or water pH. Still, guiding this magical elixir from start to finish is the brewer's duty. With Love Shadow, we have guided a powerful Belgian inspired Imperial stout through the bourbon barrel aging process and come out the other side with a full bodied behemoth with notes of chocolate, vanilla, and oak char. Drink Up" (source).
  • Founders Green Zebra, $1.79/12oz - "Subtly sour and a little sweet, this ale is a refreshing take on a nearly extinct German style, gose. Watermelon is the highlight of this lightly-hopped treat and gives it a hint of satisfying juiciness. The soft mouthfeel and dry finish comes courtesy of the addition of sea salt, a traditional gose ingredient" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Screaming Pumpkin, $2.19/16oz - "An Amber Ale brewed with roasted pumpkin in the mash then spiced with ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Spicy and refreshing. A great tailgating beer" (source).
  • Saugatuck Pumpkin Chai, $1.89/12oz - "Our new fall seasonal beer; an ale brewed with herbal chai tea and pumpkin. Aromas of chai tea and subtle pumpkin notes on the nose; Flavors of chai and pumpkin make this fall seasonal stand out from typical fall beers. Perfect for a brisk autumn day" (source).
  • Spencer Trappist Quad, $3.69/12oz - "Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale is fragrant, robust and full bodied, mahogany in color and crowned with a dense, tan, frothy head. Its malt-forward profile yields to a warm finish, with an ABV of 10.2%" (source).
  • Stone 21st Anniversary Hail to the Hop Thief, $8.99/22oz - "The big wide world inspires our imagination and fuels our passions. Anything from music, film, beer, literature, architecture, food, engineering, poetry…all art forms essentially, including more beer. We steal with any and all things that possess the one value that we hold most dear: authenticity. The important thing of course is that ‘It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.’ So, what are we saying about this beer, exactly? We gave it our take. We took all there is to love about the IPA, got creative, dry-hopped it a lot, left it unfiltered and shared it openly in the hopes that in some way it may, in turn, inspire you. Hail to The Hop Thief, an original" (source).
  • Evil Twin Sour Bikini, $2.59/12oz - "Named after atom bomb test grounds, designed by a French car engineer - the bikini was to many a disturbing and degrading creation and fortunately for others a symbol of emancipation. This is attractively light bodied, seductively well balanced and very drinkable Sour Bikini is anything but a sissy beer" (source).
  • Evil Twin Sumo in a Sidecar, $2.89/16oz - "This is our take on a classic cocktail with an Asian twist and a cool name. An IPA with apricot and a slim hint of umami. It’s crisp, fruity and perhaps full-bodied" (source).
  • Evil Twin Unstouttd, $4.79/16oz - "Smoked imperial stout" (source).
  • Moonlight Meadery How 'Bout Them Apples, $4.79/12oz - "Bourbon barrel aged New England hard cider" (source).
  • Tilquin Oude Mûre à l’Ancienne, $29.99/750ml - "Beer of spontaneous fermentation, the Oude Mûre Tilquin à l’Ancienne is made from the fermentation of 350 gr of blackberries by liter of lambic. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, this beer is refermented in the bottle" (source).
  • Tilquin Oude Quetsche à l’Ancienne, $29.99/750ml - "The Quetsche Tilquin à l’ancienne (6.4% alc / vol) is a spontaneous fermentation beer obtained from the fermentation of destoned fresh purple plums (Quetsche véritable d’Alsace, close to the Damson) in a blend of 1 and 2 years old lambics for a period of 4 months. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, it is re-fermented in the bottle for a minimum period of 3 months. The lambics used were fermented and matured in our own oak barrels at the blendery. They are made from worts brewed by Boon, Lindemans, Girardin and Cantillon. The taste is slightly tart but also fruity and round which makes this Quetsche à l’ancienne may be more accessible for non-experts or less sophisticated palates. It also has a slight dryness from the skin of the plums. The nose perceives a plum brandy perfume" (source).
  • Prairie Twist, $2.89/12oz - "Dry-Hopped Farmhouse Ale" (source).
  • Prairie Prison Rodeo, $4.09/12oz - "A hoppy coffee ale brewed with Idaho 7, mosaic, summit and simcoe hops as well as Ethiopia Konga Natural coffee sourced from Spaceship Earth Coffee in McAlester, Oklahoma" (source).
  • Traveler Brewing Jacko Traveler, $1.69/12oz - "Representing the darker side of Shandy, Jack-O Traveler is an alluring wheat beer illuminated by the tastes of fall. It strikes a perfect balance between bright refreshment and seasonal spice. Jack-O is made with real pumpkin for a delicious dark–hued, Shandy-inspired beer" (source).

Video of the Week | Glengarry Glenn Mitten



Friday, August 11, 2017

New Beer Friday, Paying Your Dues Edition (August 11)

The wooly bugger with another nice catch
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It began raining again as soon as we turned off the two track onto Six Mile Road.

“Rotten day for fishing,” Harry said while rolling up his window.

“Oh, we’re definitely going to get wet,” I said while rolling up mine.

When we got to the bridge Harry pulled his old Jeep into the clearing at the public access and we looked at the river through the slapping of the windshield wipers.

“It’s high all right,” Harry said. “We better get out and take a look.”

We walked up to the asphalt and then onto the bridge and looked downstream at the rain swollen river.

“See anything?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, lots of muddy water.”

“I think I saw a rise on the right by that cluster of logs.”

“Wishful thinking,” I said. “I don’t think they’ll be rising today.”

“Then we’ll use nymphs.”

“It may be too muddy for nymphs.”

“Streamers then.”

“It may be too muddy for streamers.”

“Well,” Harry said. “What do you think we should do?”

“I think we should go to breakfast.”

While we were walking off the bridge a pickup pulled into the parking area and by the time we got back to the Jeep a young man had the tailgate open and was threading line through the eyes of a fly rod. “Morning fellas,” he said. “Going fishing?”

“Not today,” Harry said. “Say, that’s a nice looking rod. Split bamboo?”

“Sure is,” the young man said. “1954 Abercrombie and Fitch. It was my grandfather’s.”

“You actually going out?” I asked. “The water’s pretty muddy and it doesn’t look like this rain is going to end anytime soon.”

The young man sat on the tailgate and began pulling on his waders. “Sure am. I might not catch any fish but like my grandfather used to say, it’s a perfect day for paying your dues.”

Harry pulled his oilcloth hat further down over his eyes. “What did he mean by that?”

The young man put on his fishing vest and took a fly box out from one of the front pockets. “Think I’ll start with a Wooly Bugger,” he said to himself then smiled and looked up at Harry. “It would only take ten seconds for grandpa to tie an improved clinch knot and he could tie a surgeon’s knot in the dark. I never saw him put a fly in a tree and he was a master at reading the water. But he was totally convinced that the only reason he caught a lot of trout was that he wasn’t a fair weather fisherman. He called it being willing to pay his dues. I know for a fact that if he was still alive he would be wading in that river.”

It was still raining an hour later when Harry and I were at the Irons Café. “We’ll take the check,” I said when the waitress came up to the table with a pot of coffee. When we were back in the Jeep we lit our pipes and sat staring out the window.

“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Harry asked.

“Probably,” I said.

Harry started the engine and put the Jeep in gear. “Well, where do you think we should go?”

“How about Hopper Junction” I said. “I’ve got a new wooly bugger I’ve been wanting to try.”

New and Returning Beer

  • Arbor Second Sun, $11.99/500ml - "We have been a pioneer in the craft beer industry since opening our original Arbor Brewing Company Pub and Eatery in downtown Ann Arbor, MI in July of 1995. Our commitment to handcrafted beer, exceptional hospitality, local sourcing, community involvement, and environmental stewardship has been the foundation for our growth and success for nearly two decades" (source).
  • Keweenaw Borealis Broo, $1.69/12oz  - "A coffee infused Amber Ale" (source).
  • Keweenaw Hefe Royal, $1.69/12oz - "A classic German Hefeweizen" (source).
  • Keweenaw Level 92, $1.69/12oz - "A Black India Pale Ale" (source).
  • New Holland Ichabod, $1.79/12oz - "Ichabod combines malted barley and real pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg in a delicious and inviting brew. After dinner, try it with your favorite dessert" (source).
  • Stone Enjoy by 9/4, $2.99/12oz - "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. For this version of Stone Enjoy By IPA, we thought: “We don’t always have a filter, so why should our beer?” By skipping a step and letting this devastatingly fresh, golden-hued double IPA go unfiltered, the beer takes on a hazy appearance and its peach and tropical fruit hop aromas are intensified. So though it may sound like it, this missed step was no misstep" (source).
  • Uinta Punk'n, $1.59/12oz - "This sessionable pumpkin ale is brewed with real pumpkin and a spice medley of nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice" (source).
  • Uinta Fest Helles, $1.59/12oz - "Flavors of graham cracker an biscuit, with a hint of honey. Spicy hops balance it out. Highly drinkable lager with a semi-dry finish" (source).
  • Unibroue Lune de Miel, $2.99/12oz - "Honey, which completes the bottle refermentation process, is a perfect match for the hoppy bouquet with rich hints of spices, herbs and wildflowers" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Oktoberfest, $2.19/16oz - "A malty, German-style Lager with low to moderate hop bitterness featuring a medium body and brilliant orange-ish amber color. Due to its popularity, Oktoberfest is consistently Rochester Mills best-selling seasonal beer. Rich, yet easy drinking, and incredibly delicious. Order early to get this limited Seasonal Release made popular by the annual Fall Festival that originated in Munich, Germany and is celebrated world-wide, including popular local celebrations" (source).
  • Spaten Oktoberfest, $1.79/12oz - "The beer of Munich’s famous Oktoberfest: aromatic, savoury, gold-colored" (source).
  • Deschutes HopZeit, $1.79/12oz - "If you’re looking for a traditional Oktoberfest, head to Munich. This modern ale inspired by the time-honored flavors of a Märzenbier combines classic malts with the latest hop varietals from Germany to deliver an herbal and balanced Autumn IPA that’s as at home in your backyard as the biergarten. Celebrate the season by sharing with friends, and skip the lederhosen- your friends will thank you" (source).
  • Deschutes Black Butte XXIX, $17.19/22oz (1 per) - "Every year, we celebrate our anniversary with an imperial, barrel-aged version of our flagship Black Butte Porter. This year, to celebrate 29 years, of brewing, we’ve added Chocolate Malt, cocoa and cinnamon for another multi-layered flavor experience" (source).
  • Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, $3.29/12oz - "This 8.0% ABV pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! We have added lots of pumpkin along with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove, giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor" (source).
  • Atwater Blueberry Cobbler, $2.99/12oz - "Blueberry Cobbler is deceptively complex outing that features bready malts the dryness of fermented blueberries, light vanilla and blueberry aromatics. Strong, yet the flavors play well together" (source).
  • Atwater Pumpkin Spice Latte, $2.19/12oz - "Pumpkin Spice Latte features a Munich Dark malt which lends a walnut-like presence, Honey malt which lends a light honey note and Melanoidin malt which lends a bright sweetness. Flaked Barley creates a full mouthfeel. Our Pumpkin Spice and Coffee Extracts are custom designed locally and provide a balanced representation of this seasonal fascination" (source).

Video of the Week | Michigan Terroir

There's no place like the Mitten State.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Hops! August 2017 Edition

Cryo Hops

We recently brought in a new product from Yakima Chief-Hopunion (YCH) Hops called LupuLN2, a type of “Cryo Hop.” Cryo Hops are the result of a cryogenic freezing and separation process that creates two products — Debittered Leaf and LupuLN2 powder.

LupuLN2 powder is concentrated lupulin — the resins, essential oils and acids found in hops — allowing brewers to add intense hop flavors and aromas without introducing excessive vegetative material to their beer — material which can add astringent grassy flavors at high concentrations.

LupuLN2 is roughly twice as strong as traditional hop pellets and can be substituted in recipes by using half of the required additions by weight. Debittered Leaf retains some aroma and flavor characteristics of the base hop with lower alpha acids, but is currently unavailable to us. We have five varieties of LupuLN2 in stock as of August 2017.


    • Aroma: Medium intense floral, citrus and grapefruit flavors
    • Alpha Acid: 9 – 13%
    • Oil Content: 2 – 4%


    • Aroma: Grapefruit, melon, lime, gooseberry, passion fruit, lychee
    • Alpha Acid: 23 – 27%
    • Oil Content: 3.5 – 5.5%


    • Aroma: Melon, berry, orange peel, lime, papaya, fresh peppers
    • Alpha Acid: 23 – 27%
    • Oil Content: 5 – 7%


    • Aroma: Blueberry, tangerine, papaya, rose blossom, grass, bubblegum
    • Alpha Acid: 20 – 24%
    • Oil Content: 3.5 – 5.5%


    • Aroma: Passion fruit, pine, berry and earth
    • Alpha Acid: 21 – 25%
    • Oil Content: 2.5 – 4.5%

New Hop Varieties

Over the last three months we also accumulated six new hop varieties. Two varieties — the MI Empire and the MI Vojvodina — are from K&K Farms located on the Leelanau Peninsula, south of Sutton’s Bay. It makes us happy that we can carry a wider variety of local Michigan hops and hopefully that trend will continue.


    • Aroma: Citrus, stone fruit, resin, tropical fruit
    • Alpha Acid: 18 – 19%
    • Beta Acid: 5 – 6%
    • Beer Styles: IPAs, DIPAs, Reds, Saisons

MI Empire from K&K Farms (A Swedish descendant of Cluster)

    • Aroma: Plum, fig, cucumber and mild wood. 
    • Alpha Acid: 8.5 – 10.5%
    • Beer Styles: IPAs, Pale Ales, Cream Ales, Pilsners

MI Vojvodina from K&K Farms

    • Aroma: Mild wood, spice and citrus. “Super Golding”.
    • Alpha Acid: 6.5 - 8.5%
    • Beer Styles: Lambics, Porters, European Ales, Stouts, Pilsners

Dr. Rudi from Michigan Hop Alliance

    • Aroma: Herbal, resin, pine, lemongrass, dried fruit
    • Alpha Acid: 10 – 12%
    • Beta Acid: 7 – 8.5%

NZ Sticklebract from Michigan Hop Alliance

    • Aroma: Robust citrus and pine needles
    • Alpha Acid: 12 – 13%
    • Beta Acid: 6 – 7%
    • Beer Styles: IPAs, DIPAs, Barleywines

Triple Pearl from Michigan Hop Alliance

    • Aroma: Mellow and pleasant. Citrus, orange, spice, pepper, melon, tropical fruit, pine.
    • Alpha Acid: 10.3 – 11.2%
    • Beta Acid: 3.3 – 4.2%
    • Beer Styles: Pale Ales, Wheat Beers, Belgian Ales

Friday, August 4, 2017

New Beer Friday, Summer's Not Over Edition (August 4)

Steve fishing the Pere Marquette River.
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

It’s August already and if my cache of Squirrel Nut Zippers got replenished each time I heard someone lamenting that fact in the store over the last few days I'd have enough nut-laced caramels to last me through the other side of Christmas.

It's easy to get discouraged when we realize that summer is zipping by (pun intended) but there's still plenty to look forward to over the next two months. Tomatoes are getting ripe and that means caprese salads and fresh spaghetti sauce. Bushels of peaches and plums are starting to show up on roadside stands and in a month or so my wife Barb and I will be sourcing Michigan grown grapes for our homemade wine.

Late summer means days of pastel blue skies and serenades of chirping crickets at night. I'm looking forward to the first tinge of red on the backyard maples, to fresh apple cider and to late summer fly fishing on the Big Sauble, Little Manistee and the Pere Marquette.

When the first of August arrives there's always a tendency to lament the ineluctable passing of summer. It's always good to remind ourselves that another eight weeks of summer still lie still ahead.

New and Returning Beer

  • Shiner Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "This festive seasonal has a deep amber color and slightly toasted flavor. The initial rich malty aroma and sweetness fades to a moderately dry, hoppy finish" (source).
  • Blakes Black Phillip, $2.09/12oz - "This new cranberry and blood orange infused semi-sweet cider veers away from the more predictable fall style brews with a more complex and interesting flavor that is perfect for Autumn. This is Blake’s Hard Cider’s first seasonal to be launched in a 12 oz can and it will be distributed in 8 states throughout the midwest" (source).
  • New Belgium VooDoo Atomic Pumpkin, 1.69/12oz - "Not too spicy, not too sweet, and not like any pumpkin beer you’ve had before. This pumpkin was brewed with Saigon Cinnamon and Habanero and De Arbol peppers for an explosion of flavors that’ll keep you coming back for more" (source).
  • Dark Horse Oktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "Copious amounts of Bonlander Munich Malt give this beer a great malt sweetness and very big body to enjoy with the change in season. This beer is released to coincide with the official Oktoberfest in Munich Germany" (source).
  • Dark Horse Thirsty Trout Porter, $1.99/12oz - "Thirsty Trout is a rich, robust American Porter. Dark brown in color with medium to heavy body and hints of light roast. Aromas of chocolate leave way to a full mouthfeel and somewhat sweet finish to make this porter a desirable companion..Thirsty Trout is a rich, robust American Porter that will have you yelling "CHOCOLATE!" after the first whiff. Dark brown in color with medium body and hints of light roast. The aromas of chocolate cupcake lead the way to a sweet caramel and toffee body that finish beautifully with hops. Stay trout my friends" (source).
  • North Peak Dauntless, $1.79/12oz - "Brewed with a traditional Munich lager yeast, Dauntless is a copper colored mal forward salute to the Oktoberfest celebration taking place in Germany every year sine 1810. Tettnang and Hallertauer hops compliment the malt flavors by adding subtle, spicy hop notes. Malty, smooth and eminently drinkable" (source).
  • North Peak Zephyr, $2.59/12oz - "Mosaic Lupulin Powder, Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, Columbus. Oats added" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Each year, we partner with a different German brewer to explore the roots of Germany’s famous Oktoberfest beers. This year, we’re collaborating with Germany’s Brauhaus Miltenberger, whose approach to the classic style we’ve long admired. The result is a festival beer true to their style—deep golden in color with deceptively rich malt flavor and balanced by traditional German-grown whole-cone hops" (source).
  • Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail, $2.89/12oz - "Did you like Before During and after Christmas, maybe you thought it poured brilliantly, the alcohol was admirable well hidden and you loved how the arrogant amounts of hops numbed your mouth. This beer will knock your tongue off - it’s a tour de force in hoppiness and by far one the craziest beer ever made by Evil Twin Brewing" (source).
  • La Sirène Sour Red, $11.99/500ml - "La Sirène’s Sour Red (6.0% ABV)  is a rustic hybrid ale brewed using age-old brewing techniques with modern innovation. Naturally soured using resident lactobacillus bacteria, this sour red ale is comprised of 5 specialty Belgian grains along with fresh organic rose petals and hibiscus to provide a provincial farmhouse style sour red ale experience" (source).
  • Mikkeller Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Passionfruit, $4.79/500ml - "Berliner-style Weisse beer brewed with Passionfruit" (source).
  • Still Water Stateside Saison, $2.59/16oz - "Pays homage to old world tradition while celebrating new world innovation. Naturally brewed with the finest European malts & fresh aromatic hops from the United States & New Zealand. It's then fermented using a classic farmhouse ale yeast and bottle conditioned to enhance stability. The outcome is a beer of unique design and exquisite taste, showcasing some of the best attributes of modern-day craft brewing" (source).
  • Erdinger Oktoberfest, $2.09/12oz - "This golden, clear Erdinger is brewed all-naturally, using traditional barrel-fermentation, never pasteurized" (source).
  • Hofbrau Oktoberfest, $1.89/12oz - "Modern style Oktoberfest. Like a Helles brewed to “Fest” strength. Blonde in color. Spicy, noble hops along with some maltiness. Enjoyable, honey-like finish" (source).
  • Left Hand Oktoberfest, $2.29/12oz - "This is no festivus for the restuvus – on the contrary – we start brewing in the Spring and it takes a full two months to reach lagered perfection. Biscuity, malty goodness dominates upfront while the noble pedigree hops lend a properly spicy, dry finish. Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi. Time to roast your chicken and upend your stein before the air gets crisp, the leaves flame and fall and the skies fade to black" (source).
  • Short's Hazy ControversiALE, $1.99/12oz - "Hazy ControversiALE is an American India Pale Ale brewed with Simcoe hops and dry hopped with Simcoe powder. Moderately hazy and copper-colored, this beer has a slightly off-white head with aromas of citrus, caramel, and toasted grain. This variation on Short’s classic, ControversiALE, has more prominent citrus notes and a juicier mouth feel in comparison to the original. A strong malt backbone allows the flavor of Simcoe hops to shine before a slightly bitter finish" (source).
  • Great Lakes Oktoberfest, $1.69/12oz - "Prost! Our take on this classic German style is a celebration of maltiness— packed with rustic, autumnal flavors to put a little more oomph into your oom-pah-pah" (source).
  • Southern Tier Harvest, $1.69/12oz - "Harvest Ale is our celebration of the changing weather and the sowing of hops and barley that will be used in our upcoming brews. We usher in the fall with a classic English style Extra Special Bitter of the highest order. Deep ruby in color with an even deeper hop flavor… in fact, we throw fresh English hops into every brewing vessel, then dry hop after fermentation to impart a zesty kick. This beer has real hop character that mingles with fresh malted barley for an experience that will make you wish it were fall year ‘round" (source).
  • Southern Tier Pumking, $4.19/12oz - "Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from which they return forever changed. Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow it’s alluring spirit to overflow. As spicy aromas present themselves, let it’s deep copper color entrance you as your journey into this mystical brew has just begun. As the first drops touch your tongue a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds making it difficult to escape the Pumking" (source).
  • Southern Tier Warlock, $4.99/12oz - "Imperial stout brewed with pumpkins Warlock is brewed to enchant your palate on its own and also to counterpoint our Imperial Ale, Pumking. Make your own black magic by carefully pouring this Imperial Stout into a goblet" (source).
  • O'Fallon Pumpkin, $1.99/12oz - "Like pumpkin pie in a bottle…we add 120 pounds of real pumpkin to the three-barley mash and then season the finished beer with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves" (source).
  • O'Fallon Vanilla Pumpkin, $1.99/12oz - "We decided to add some locally produced cold-pressed Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla to our most popular seasonal– O’Fallon Pumpkin. The vanilla adds another layer of flavor to the “pumpkin pie” theme of this amber ale and balances well with the cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. It tastes like a slice of pumpkin pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it" (source).
  • Atwater Blocktoberfest, $1.99/12oz - "Absolutely traditional in design and execution, Atwater’s Bloktoberfest exhibits bready, nut-like characters with a clean, light sweetness brought to heel by a crisp hop finish" (source).
  • Tripelroot Training Session, $1.89/12oz - "Session IPA" (source).
  • Tripelroot Perception Defines Reality, $14.99/22oz - "Belgian-style Tripel" (source).
  • Wells Dry Hopped Lager, $1.99/12oz - "A well-hopped  continental lager which is both, refreshing and sessionable.  This delightful beer is cold conditioned for two weeks with Australian Galaxy and Ella hops, which bring out deep flavors and a dry-hop character" (source).
  • Crankers End of the World, $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).
  • Lagunitas Lil' Sumpin Extra, $1.99/12oz - "The big sister of the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. Lots of wheat for a curious malt complexity and leaving it light in color, but huge in flavor and satisfaction" (source).
  • Knee Deep Auburn Pale Ale, $2.29/16oz - "A crisp, clean double-filtered West Coast Pale Ale brewed with citrusy, fruity and dank hops. This pale ale is juicy yet refreshingly clean. We double-filter this hoppy pale ale in the traditional North East Auburn manner" (source).
  • Oddside Zure Kers, $9.59/500ml - "Sour wheat ale fermented with tart cherries" (source).

Video of the Week | Summer Persists

A friendly reminder that, despite all the fall beers in this week's NBF, summer is still here.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Spencer Brewery: Profile and Tasting

By Max Spencer

St. Joseph’s Abbey of Spencer, Massachusetts, made history in 2013 by housing the first Trappist brewery in the United States. The official name of the brewery is The Spencer Brewery, and we are lucky enough to now have them on our shelves. To those unacquainted with Trappist breweries, this is a huge deal. There are only eleven Trappist breweries in the world — six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands and one each in Italy, Austria and the United States. Trappist breweries are considered amongst the best in the world, and rightfully so — included in their ranks are the likes of Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren. But what exactly are Trappist breweries, and what makes them so noteworthy?

Trappist breweries are all run by Trappist monks at Trappist monasteries — there is no other way to achieve this designation. Trappist monks belong to the Catholic Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. The order began in the 1600s at La Trappe Abbey in France as a reformist movement led by Jean de Rancé in response to the lax attitude of other monasteries during that time1. Trappist monks observe a strict monastic lifestyle, one based around prayer and work — ora et labora3. Much of their labor revolves around the production of goods to be sold to the public; products such as cheeses, chocolates, breads, jams, cleaning products, body care products, and — of course — beer4. The sales of these products support the financial needs of the monasteries and their charitable endeavors — meaning that your purchase of their beer benefits the entire community where the monastery is located3.

Spencer Refectory — from the website
Because labor is a central tenant to the lives of Trappist monks, they tend to put time and effort into their products on a level that not many other operations can't match. Their products are truly artisanal, truly hand-crafted and truly outstanding. The Spencer Brewery is no exception when it comes to this standard of quality and effort. When creating new beers, they meticulously create test batches before committing to a recipe to be released — 13 experimental brews over three years in the case of their Quadrupel Ale2. They use many local ingredients, including a proprietary yeast strain, and are currently working towards farming their own barley.

The decision to open a brewery followed the need for additional income besides their famous jams and jellies. The idea originated as a suggestion from a monk with brewing experience and a passion for it. After approval, a group of monks went on a two-year research trip, visiting the other extant Trappist breweries to learn methods and gain inspiration3. The monks at The Spencer Brewery have made some unique decisions on what to brew relative to other Trappist breweries. While they have several classic Belgian offerings in their arsenal — a patersbier, a quad, and a holiday dark — they also craft some modern styles not traditionally attributed to Trappist breweries — an IPA, a pilsner, an imperial stout and an Oktoberfest lager. Try a beer from Spencer Brewery — maybe you will find a new love in beautifully crafted beers from an ancient heritage of monks.

The Spencer Trappist Ale (patersbier)

Gold with a lacey white head. Aroma dominated by a stone fruit character — specifically apricot. There are also prominent spice notes, including clove and cinnamon. Slight tones of citrus and grain. Palate follows the nose — stone fruit, spice. There is a clear slightly sweet grainy character, yet the beer is bone dry. Very effervescent. The finish is dry and spicy with a light bitterness. A great example of a classic Trappist beer. Complex, yet incredibly balanced between fruit and spice — dry yet easily drinkable.

The Spencer Trappist Feierabendbier (pilsner)

Straw gold with a white head consisting of fine bubbles. Classic pilsner nose — earth, spice and floral tones from noble hops with a slight grainy character. Palate follows the nose closely — there’s a grainy cereal character up front with notes of oregano, basil and dried flowers from the hops in the middle. The malt and hop character mingle in the finish. Very dry, pleasantly bitter.

The Spencer Trappist IPA

The first ever Trappist-brewed IPA to be commercially available. Orange-gold with a white head when poured. A hop profile including German Perle, Apollo and Cascade results in a piney, resinous IPA with tones of pineapple and citrus in the nose and palate. The malt build has a fair amount of caramel and biscuit character with some slight sweetness to balance out a medium-high level of bitterness. The bitterness lingers with a prominent note of pine needles on the finish. Reminiscent of a West Coast IPA with a brash character, but slightly more reserved than some.


1 “A Newcomer’s Guide to the Trappists.” Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, 2017,
2 Keeley, Fr. Isaac. “The Spencer Brewery Releases New Beer: American Trappist Brewery Introduces New Quadrupel Ale.” The Spencer Brewery, 2017,
3 ”Our Story.” The Spencer Brewery,
4 “Products.” The International Trappist Association,

Friday, July 28, 2017

New Beer Friday, John Palmer's Itinerary Edition (July 28)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

If you're involved in the West Michigan homebrewing community, I'm sure you're excited about noted author John Palmer coming to the environs of Beer City USA during the second week in August.

We'll be keeping John busy during his visit to West Michigan. In addition to scheduling a couple of meet-and-greets and book signings at Siciliano's Market, we have arranged for John to make appearances at Founders, The Mitten Brewery and Pigeon Hill. He will also be taping a radio interview, will participate in the Beer City Brewers Guild Pro-Am judging and will be attending the Guild's summer picnic at Long Lake Park.

The following is the complete schedule of John's public appearances.

Thursday, August 10

11 a.m. - 12 noon
Radio interview on the Grillin Guys
I Heart Media
77 Monroe Center NW, # 1000
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Airing schedule: Saturday, August 12, 8am Eastern ESPN 96.1 FM Grand Rapids, Michigan
Sunday, August 13, 7pm Eastern WOOD 1300 AM  106.9 FM Grand Rapids, Michigan

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing
Siciliano's Market
2840 Lake Michigan Dr NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing hosted by the Muskegon/Ottawa Homebrew Club
Pigeon Hill Brewery production facility
441 W. Western Ave.
Muskegon, MI 49440

Friday, August 11

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing
The Centennial Room, Founders Brewing Company
235 Grandville Ave. SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing
Siciliano's Market
2840 Lake Michigan Dr NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Meet/Greet/Book signing hosted by Brewsquitos and Primetime Brewers Homebrew Clubs
Mitten Brewery production facility
527 Leonard St, NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

New and Returning Beer

  • Dark Horse Smells Like A Citra Safety Meeting, $2.19/12oz - "A new addition to the Smells Like family this IPA uses the same malt profile as our seasonal IPA called Smells Like a Safety Meeting and clocks in at 8.5% ABV. Instead of the proprietary hop blend we like so much in the original Smells Like a Safety Meeting, we removed all of the hops and replaced them with Citra hops giving this beer a very citrus forward nose and flavor profile" (source).

Video of the Week | John Palmer

John Palmer on the latest edition of his seminal book, How to Brew.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July Brew of the Month: Mark's Herbaceous Wheat Ales

By Mark Iacopelli and featuring Moondrop Herbals

Summer ales are booming! The warm weather came out of nowhere this year and I found myself without any brews for the season. In order to fill my taps for summer, I brewed a ten-gallon batch and split it to create two distinct beers. With many light summer beers a dash of herbs and spices add an extra layer of complexity to what would otherwise be a rather one-noted beer. For this month’s brew I wanted to showcase how the use of adjuncts and different yeasts can create two very different beers from the same malt and hop profile. This allows you to easily split batches and create a wide range of beers with only a few brew sessions.

MoonDrop Herbals Spotlight

At Siciliano’s Market we strive to always be a one-stop shop for homebrewers and we do carry a selection of herbs and spices for brewing and winemaking. However, sometimes when trying to create something new and unique a passionate brewer must look elsewhere for ingredients. This is where MoonDrop Herbals comes in.

MoonDrop Herbals features a wide array of ingredients from all over the world that can be used to spice up any homebrew. Conveniently, MoonDrop Herbals is located just a three-minute drive from our store west on Lake Michigan Drive.  I sat down with the owner Linda Snow to asked her a few questions.

How long has MoonDrop Herbals been around?

Moondrop Herbals Cottage of Natural Elements celebrated its fifth year as a brick and mortar business this past March. We are an aroma studio and retail space selling essential oils, herbs, teas and handmade skin and comfort care products. I've been studying the properties and uses of herbs and essential oils for the past twenty years and I am an advocate for the safe, informed and sustainable uses of Earth’s resources.

What are some of your favorite herbs and spices?

Since I stock over 150 dried herbs that have a multitude of uses and preparations, this is a tough question to answer! In terms of my experiences with flavorings for beverages in the form of tea, bitters or infused alcohol, here are a few of my favorites.

    • Floral - Lavender, roses, chamomile
    • Fruity – Lemon verbena, lemongrass, rosehips, dried berries
    • Herby – Sage, mint, rosemary, artemisia
    • Pungent – Black Pepper, Szechuan, Chili pepper
    • Spicy – cardamom, cacao nibs, cinnamon, ginger, star anise
    • Bitter – gentian root, orange peel, artichoke leaf
 . . . And don’t overlook teas for flavoring alcohol infusions - try Earl Grey, Jasmine green, or Rooibos!

Do you have any tips for trying new herbs and spices, or extracting their flavor?

Don’t be afraid to play with different combinations of flavors and lengths of time steeping the herbs. I like to mix cooling, floral herbs such as lavender with more warming or pungent herbs like Szechuan, cardamom or fennel, with maybe a lemony herb mixed in. Also – develop an appreciation for the taste of bitter herbs like gentian root, orange peel and lavender (lavender moves from floral, soft and light to very bitter the longer the steep) because they can really enhance and pull the other flavors together. In addition, studies have shown that bitter flavors improve digestion and increase metabolism of nutrients. For cooking – break down the ingredients in some of your favorite spice mixtures and try those spices or herbs separately to understand the individual flavors.

For these two beers elderberries, elderflowers, and sezchuan peppercorns were used. What are some other (non-beer related) uses for these ingredients?

    • Elderberry: (Sambucus nigra) Fresh elder berries are used to make jams, syrups and wine. Fresh and dried are used by herbalists to make syrups and elixirs for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.
    • Elder flowers: The flowers of Sambucus nigra are sometimes lightly fried and eaten or tossed in salads, and have traditionally been used as a cooling remedy for fevers and respiratory conditions. It is often used in natural skin care recipes to treat certain skin conditions. It is also said to bleach freckles.
    • Szechuan Pepper: (Zanthoxylum bungeanum) Szechuan, a member of the citrus family, is the pod of the fruit. Contrary to popular belief, szechuan pepper is not hot but is often paired with hot spices. Its flavor is a complete journey for the palate, moving from salty to zesty to tingling numbness that finishes with salty-sweet-citrus.  It is said to prepare the palate for the heat of accompanying spices.

Szechuan Pepper Saison

The saison that made up half of this batch turned out great. The beer pours a hazy golden color with a bright white head. On the nose light fruit, spice, biscuit come through from the malt and yeast. The peppers also imparted salty and citrus character in the aroma. The flavor of the beer reflects that of the aroma with some additional earthy character. The finish on the beer is dry but the wheat keeps it from being thin in body. By the end of a glass (or two) of this beer you start to get some of the numbing/tingling sensation from the peppers, as well as the palate altering effects. Pair this beer with any of your favorite dishes and it will change how they taste in interesting ways.

If this beer sounds interesting to you and you would like to try it before you brew it, you’re in luck. As part of the first annual Beer City Pro-Am this beer is currently on tap at Railtown Brewing Company for a limited time!

American Wheat with Elderflowers and Elderberries

The American wheat that made up the remaining wort is a great summer sipper for any fruit beer lover. The beer has a reddish hue from the elderberries. It has an rustic, slightly tart jammy character in the aroma that carries into the flavor. This beer also has a nice spicy wood and floral flavor from the elder flowers. This is all wrapped into a great cracker and biscuit malt profile. Despite a bold body on this beer it still finishes crisp and dry due to a warmer fermentation.

These beers were both an experiment for me. At first my only intention was to do a beer with elderberries and elderflowers because you rarely see anything that uses both. Then while talking to Linda I was amazed by the complexity of the Szechuan peppers she suggested I try, and I had to use them in a beer. At the end of the day I am happy with both beers. Either one of the beers is capable of being a summer staple. I think the American wheat would pair well with caramelized fruit off the grill and chicken. While the Szechuan Saison would pair with a tender steak rubbed in some slightly spicy herbs.

All Grain Malt Bill ($13.75/5 gallon)

    • 6 lb Briess Pilsner Malt
    • 3.5 lb Pilot White Wheat
    • .5 lb Caramunich I
    • 1 lb Rice Hulls

Extract 5 Gallon Malt Profile ($18.52/5 gallon)

    • 7.25 lb Wheat LME
    • 1 lb Caramunich I

Hops for 5 gallons ($4.87)

    • .5 oz (60 min) MI Super Cascade
    • .25 oz (30 min) Czech Saaz
    • .25 oz (20 min) Czech Saaz
    • .25 oz (20 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (15 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (10 min) Czech Saaz
    • .25 oz (10 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (5 min) Tardif De Bourgogne
    • .25 oz (0 min) Czech Saaz
    • If doing extract adjust hopping rates to account for top up water

Yeast/Additional Ingredients

    • Belle Saison (with the Szechuan Saison) ($4.99)
    • Safale US-05 ($3.49), 1056 ($7.99), or 001($7.99) (with the American Wheat)
    • Saison: 1 oz Szechuan Peppers steeped in 4 oz of vodka (add vodka after 7 days)
    • American Wheat: 1 oz elderberries steeped in 4 oz of vodka (add vodka after 14 days); 1 oz elderflowers in 8 oz hot or cold tea infusion (add liquid to taste)

Friday, July 21, 2017

New Beer Friday, Squirrel Nut Zipper Edition (July 21)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Every other week or so my wife Barb takes a trip to United Wholesale to pick up the supplies that we use in the day-to-day operations of Siciliano’s Market. In addition to such pertinent items as register tape, paper bags and replacement blades for box cutters, Barb always ensures that we have a good supply of the Smarties Double Lollies that we give to kids who accompany their parents into the store.

I love watching kids' faces light up when we offer them a lollipop. It's something that we've done for a number of years now. The small gesture always makes the children happy, usually make the parents happy and is, I think, one of the little things that helps to give our store that “mom & pop” ambience that our customers really seem to enjoy.

Barb was out of town a few weeks ago so I had to make the warehouse run. In addition to picking up a jar of suckers, I also picked up a jar of Squirrel Nut Zippers. I have fond memories of the little peanut-laced caramels from my childhood and I was sure the kids would, quite literally, eat them up.

I was wrong. So far not one kid has opted for a Squirrel Nut Zipper instead of a sucker. I wonder if it's the name.

New and Returning Beer

  • Ridge Cider Raspberry, $1.99/12oz - " Sweetened with raspberries to show you our sweeter side.  When it comes to Michigan made cider, there’s no place like home" (source).
  • Elk Brewing PB& Jaley, $1.79/12oz - "Blonde ale flavored with grape juice and peanut butter" (source).
  • Dogfish Head Lupa Luau, $2.59/12oz - "The story of Lupu-Luau began when Sam was hanging outside with coworkers during an overly-sunny day. One present coworker in particular was lacking heavily in the melanin department, to put it lightly. A friendly joke about a total tan aversion led to this legendary comment, “You can say it, Sam, I’m pale as f**k.” The brewer in Sam thought that would make a cool name for a super pale beer. From there the wheels started turning and the iterative R&D process began. Sam set out to make a hazy, overly pale, beer but the test batches weren’t quite there yet. However, during that process, he found out how great coconuts work in an IPA and decided that the new goal was to make an IPA using as much coconut as possible. We started with a combination of Pils malt with flaked barley, rolled oats, and malted and raw wheat to get it all hazy. Then we introduced coconuts three ways by adding toasted coconut, dehydrated coconut water and an experimental hop variety that provides a unique coconut & woody aroma. The result? A lupulin-loaded, coconut-centric ale. Our Lupu-Luau IPA" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Overnight Sensation, $2.19/16oz - "Fruity and lightly tart" (source).
  • Odd Side Instagator, $2.19/12oz - "An inclusive immoral ale with an impulsive ignorant hop bite" (source).
  • Abita Cypress Kriek, $4.69/22oz - "Cypress Kriek, a sour cherry ale by Abita Brewing Co. is a Lousiana take on the Belgian style. The hallmark of a traditional kriek is the secondary fermentation with sour cherries added to a spontaneously fermented lambic base. For Abita’s version, the beer is brewed with pale and wheat malts. Next, cherries were added and allowed to ferment slowly before the beer is aged. Cypress Kriek will feature 6 percent ABV in 22-ounce bottles according to a label submitted to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau" (source).
  • Abita Strawgator, $4.69/22oz - "Abita Strawgator™ is the fusion of Strawberry Harvest Lager sweetness with the bite of Andygator. This golden lager is made with malted barley and wheat. It is hopped with German Perle hops for a delicate hop flavor. After filtration, generous amounts of fresh Louisiana strawberry juice are added, giving the beer a pleasant sweet taste and aroma, as well as a rich golden color and slight cloudiness. Strawgator is a great dessert beer. It pairs well with fruit, dessert or sorberts. It is also excellent with chocolate dishes and cheeses such as St. Andre, Mascarpone and Brie" (source).
  • B. Nectar Stupid Man Suit, $7.99/500ml - "Crisp apple and cherry forward. The sides of the tongue garner the tartness of dry apple and unripened berries while a mild sweetness rounds and balances. Medium body with a dry, refreshing finish" (source).
  • Big Lake Brewing Triple Hopped Ryecoe, $7.99/22oz - "A decidedly hoppy and bitter ale with a light grainy spicy character and lingering dryness" (source).
  • Evil Twin Westbrook Imperial Mexican Biscotti Break, $15.99/22oz - "Evil Twin Brewing in collaboration with Westbrook Brewing Co. Ale with coffee, cinnamon, almonds, cocoa nibs, vanilla, and habanero peppers added" (source).
  • Farmhaus Crushable, $3.29/16oz - "You know that feeling when you jump in the water on a hot, sunny day? That's this cider. Cool, crisp and refreshing, it's like a poolside afternoon for your taste buds. Freshly picked cucumbers straight from our garden combined with all local apples create an easy-drinking cider that will quench your thirst and leave you craving that next sip. Enjoy it straight or use it as a mixer. Try and savor it if you can, but be warned: this cider is completely crushable" (source).
  • Short's Slurm Lord, $2.39/12oz - "Slurm Lord is a double New England style India Pale Ale brewed with oats and a blend of Citra, Azacca, Amarillo, Galazy, and Mosaic hops. We’re excited to say that the brewing of Slurm Lord employs the largest dry hop to date in SBC history! Deep orange in color with a permanent haze and a minimal head, a glass of Slurm Lord resembles a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Aromas of dank passion fruit, mango, and pineapple are accompanied by bold flavors of citrus. This medium-bodied India Pale Ale is incredibly juicy from start to finish. A final sip leads into a slight, warming bitterness" (source).
  • Tall Grass Blueberry Jam, $1.69/12oz - "After a successful solo tour, we decided to put a band together with our Jam Series! Jam out with this refreshingly tart, German-style wheat ale brewed with blueberries" (source).

Video of the Week | Michigin

Congrats to our friends at Long Road, makers of the "Best Gin in the World".


Friday, July 14, 2017

New Beer Friday, Relationship with Rum Edition (July 14)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I've had love affairs with various distilled spirits over the years but it was only recently that I entered into a relationship with rum. It began last January in Nicaragua when I was introduced to an aged Flor de Cana and was smitten by its seductive flavors of nougat, almonds and molasses.

I keep a bottle or two of rum in my liquor cabinet now. Over the last six months I've gotten to know some lovely Dominicans, Jamaicans and Venezuelans and I've got my eye on some beauties from Brazil, Trinidad, Guyana and Haiti.

Siciliano’s stocks a wide array of this captivating liquor. If you have an affinity for quality spirits but have yet to discover the seductive pleasures of a fine aged rum perhaps it’s time you give one a try.

New and Returning Beer

  • Founders DKML, $11.99/750ml, $3.99/12oz - "Here you have what could be the first malt liquor worthy of a glass. Typically a slighted style, we thought we would class it up with a stay in the wood and a healthy dose of dry-hopping. A huge hit of corn gives this one a smooth sweetness while its time spent aging in bourbon barrels will give you reason to share. Be warned: this one’s a pry-off, not a twist-off" (source).
  • Stone Wootstout, $9.49/22oz - "From the most unlikely yet intensely imaginative trio that is actor and uber-geek champion Wil Wheaton, alternative news website creator Drew Curtis and Stone CEO/Co-founder Greg Koch, comes an imperial stout unlike any ever made. Brewed with rye, wheat malt and pecans and partially aged in Bourbon whiskey barrels, this viscous yet silken brew erupts with an oaky, nutty bouquet and rich flavors of vanilla, toast and bitter chocolate. Enjoy now or cellar this celebration of nth degree passion and geekery applied most gracefully to the craft of brewing and collaboration-Drew Curtis/Wil Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout" (source).
  • Evil Twin Modern IPA, $2.09/12oz - "This is a tasty tribute to a beloved and iconic beer style - the India Pale Ale. The style goes 200 years back - has been through every spectrum of the flavor palette and had it’s ups and downs on the IBU scale. This time around we re-created a contemporary style IPA - basically the taste of the perfect IPA right now. Understated hop flavors, fruity and crisp. The future is now" (source).
  • Mikkeller San Diego California Dream, $2.99/16oz - "Hoppy Pilsener" (source).
  • Mikkeller San Diego Raspberry Blush, $2.99/16oz - "Berliner Weisse with raspberry and coffee" (source).
  • Mikkeller San Diego Waves, $2.99/16oz - "Notes of mosaic and citra, lots of dank tropical fruit, white wine, peach, and light malt. A very good rendition of a west coast IPA" (source).
  • Clown Shoes Space Cake #7, $4.29/16oz - "Why are Miracle Mike and his dog, Bionic, being chased by many evil laser beam shooting cupackes and two giant layer cake mother ships?  Because we’re straight up lunatic fools?  Well, maybe, but with a few brain cells remaining we managed to craft Space Cake double IPA, utilizing citrusy Mosaic hops and an immaculate West Coast style malt backbone.  Dude… chill out.  Enjoy some Space Cake" (source).
  • Clown Shoes La Pinguina En Fuego, $15.39/22oz - "People have been asking us to make a truly spicy chile beer, so we finally complied. Aged in rum barrels with habaneros, this version of chocolate sombrero is on a mission from God (to ingnite your palate)" (source).
  • Ommegang Bigger and Bretter, $16.09/750ml - "This is Bigger And Bretter and it is a Biere de Garde ale refermented with brettanomyces" (source).
  • Boulevard Foeder #2, $17.99/750ml - "The base beer for Foeder Project #2 is best categorized as a Flanders-style Red. Following primary fermentation with our house Belgian yeast strain, the beer was transferred into the foeder where lactobacillus brevis and brettanomyces had already taken up residence. No additional microbes or yeast strains were pitched to begin secondary fermentation. Over the course of several months, the beer evolved and developed beautiful flavors of tart peach/apricot and notes of under ripe berries and rhubarb with a borderline bracing acidity resulting in a refreshing, zippy finish" (source).
  • Rodenbach Fruitage, $1.89/8oz - "RODENBACH Fruitage gets its name from aged-old brewing techniques, combined with fruit infusions.  It's an instant classic – comprised of 25% authentically aged RODENBACH (2-year matured beer from oak standing Foeders) blended with 75% young RODENBACH ale, with added fruit of cherries and elderberries.  With an ABV of 4.2%, RODENBACH Fruitage is light and refreshing, perfect for easy drinking and to be enjoyed year-round" (source).
  • Oddside Hoplicated, $2.19/12oz - "Imperial Citra Red" (source).

Video of the Week | Founders Fest Recap

A look back at one of the area's most popular parties.


Friday, July 7, 2017

New Beer Friday, Perdomo Habano Edition (July 7)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The environs of Beer City USA have been blessed with some great summer weather lately and according to the forecasters there is more of the same on the way. Conditions should be ideal this weekend for one of my favorite warm weather pastimes — evening backyard deck sitting with a cold beverage and a good cigar. This summer I've been mixing my G&Ts primarily with excellent Junipero gin  ($29.99/750ml), and lately my evening smoke of choice has been a Perdomo Habano Sun Grown Churchill.

This medium-bodied, hour-long smoke features rich earthy flavors and subtle hints of spice. The Nicaraguan leaf wrappers in Perdomo's Habano series are aged for six years before being placed in bourbon barrels for an additional fourteen months of maturing. While the barrels impart no flavors or aromas of whiskey to the leaf, they do provide an excellent environment for aging tobacco and allow the wrappers to acquire a distinctly aromatic taste.

The Perdomo Habano series is also offered in Connecticut and Maduro wrappers and is available at Siciliano's in the following sizes and prices.

    • Robusto, 5 x 54, $6.59
    • Epicure, 6 x 54, $6.99
    • Torpedo,  6 ½ x 54, $7.19
    • Churchill, 7 x 54, $7.39

New and Returning Beer

  • Rockford Brewing Hoplust IPA, $1.99/12oz - "Hoplust is a profoundly hoppy and craft-style West Coast IPA! An intense bouquet of fresh hops will greet you on the nose.  Bursting tropical, citrus and piney flavors then explode on your palette.  Our approach to this IPA focuses more toward satisfying your craving for hop flavor than ramping up the bitterness. Using a proprietary blend of six hop varieties results in a unique, hoppy, flavor experience" (source).
  • Alesmith Speedway Stout, $8.59/16oz - "A HUGE Imperial Stout with coffee added for a little extra kick, jet black with a multitude of toasty, roasty and caramel malt flavor" (source).
  • Alesmith Orange X Pale, $2.39/12oz - "Extra pale ale with oranges" (source).
  • Alesmith Spezial Pils, $2.39/12oz - "Inspired by classic European lagers, our entire Brewing Team got together to create this truly collaborative beer that captures the essence of European tradition. The result, Spezial Pils, is our take on a German-style pilsner with a pleasant balance between light, grainy malt and spicy, floral hops. We lager it at freezing temperatures for an extended period to round out its delicate flavors and improve drinkability. The finish is crisp and clean with a pleasant dryness and subtle bitterness" (source).
  • Short's Power of Love, $2.39/12oz - "Power of Love is a truly unique pink-colored Shandy created by blending Northwoods Soda & Syrup Co. Gourmet Lemonade and a Wheat Ale brewed with raspberry and rosemary. Enticing sugary aromas intermix with appealing citrus and herb fragrances. Very sweet lemon flavors give way to a shock of tart raspberry before turning sharply dry, as if eating a piece of grapefruit" (source).
  • Arbor Cucumber Lime Gose, $2.89/12oz - "A Gose with cucumber and lime peel" (source).
  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Toonilla, $4.49/12oz - "Cream stout brewed with coffee from Dark Street Roasting Company and vanilla beans aged in bourbon barrels" (source).

Weekly Video | How to Make a Gin & Tonic

A solid tutorial on making gin & tonics, just in case.


Friday, June 30, 2017

New Beer Friday, John Palmer Edition (June 30)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I'm excited to announce that we are bringing noted homebrewing author John Palmer to Grand Rapids during the second week of August. John recently released the fourth edition of How to Brew and we are setting up a number of meet & greets, book signings and presentations during his four-day visit to Beer City USA. We will post specific information on John's itinerary in future issues of The Buzz.

In other homebrewing related news, I received an email this past week from a casting producer at Viceland, Vice Media's television network. Tina Logie informed me that she is currently working on  the second season of Beerland, a series that focuses on homebrewing communities across the United States.

Tina apprised me that they will be filming the next episode in Michigan and asked if I knew of any homebrewers who would like to appear on the show. Those interested should send the following information to Tina at

    • Name, Age and Photo
    • Years brewing
    • Who you brew with
    • Where you brew
    • Any “specialty” brews
    • Where you DRINK your brew
    • Homebrew events/club involvement
    • What makes you/your brew unique

New and Returning Beer

  • Evil Twin Tropical Itch, $3.89/12oz - "Berliner style weisse ale with passionfruit added" (source).
  • Evil Twin Even More Coco Jesus, $3.89/16oz - "Imperial Stout with maple syrup & coconut added" (source).
  • Evil Twin Lemonade IPA, $3.89/12oz - "A refreshing drink often associated with childhood nostalgia to others a pop-cultural symbol of emancipation. Whatever the association we teamed up with good old Swedes, Henok and Karl of the fashionable Omnipollo to squeeze out a tasty, tempting and deceivingly well balanced IPA with sweet and sour notes of old-fashioned memories. Perhaps you can taste the dishonesty, it's all over your breath -it's Lemonade" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Woodward Milkshake Stout, $2.39/16oz - "Rochester Mills Beer Co. & Production Brewery announce the 2017 release of Woodward Bold, a Coffee flavored Milkshake Stout brewed with locally roasted Detroit Bold Coffee Co.’s Woodward Ave. Blend coffee" (source).
  • Rochester Mills Raspberry Radler, $2.19/16oz - "Blends even parts Razz Mills Pills and house made lemonade that then has a higher level of carbonation added to create a sparkling and very refreshing" (source).
  • Petoskey Juicy, $3.09/16oz - "Bursting with rich, mouthwatering citrus and tropical hop aromas, this New England style IPA is a melange of juicy flavors" (source).
  • Odd Side Chicka Chicka Yeah, $1.99/12oz - "A Belgian summer wheat ale with chamomile, orange peel, lemon peel and peppercorn. Finishes light and citrusy" (source).
  • Odd Side Lolly Catcher, $1.99/12oz - "A carefully crafted, comforting concoction of creamy cohesiveness" (source).
  • Odd Side Havanna Lima, $1.99/12oz - "Ale with habanero and lime" (source).
  • Epic Oak and Orchard, $13.59/375ml - "Epic's cellar contains many curiosities and one of kind beers. These extremely limited sour releases are fruited and aged in oak for months until our brewmaster decides they're at their peak. Each release is unique and range from light to dark with a large variety of fruit. Check the release notes for specifics" (source).
  • Epic Sour Peaches, $13.79/375ml - "The intense and complex sour character of this beer is developed in oak Foeders containing select cultures of Lactobacillus, Pidiococcus and wild yeast. The process is slow and delicate, regularly taking a year or more. Once our brewers have decided it’s ready, we blend the soured beer into hand-selected oak barrels with fresh peach puree, where it undergoes additional sour fermentation and aging" (source).
  • Epic Blizzard Conditions, $8.59/22oz - "New England style IPA" (source).
  • Avery Hog heaven, $3.29/12oz - "This dangerously drinkable garnet beauty is a hop lover’s delight. The intense dry-hop nose and the alcohol content are perfectly balanced for a caramel malt backbone. This is a serious beer for serious beer aficionados. Oink" (source).
  • Avery Real A Peel, $2.19/12oz - "Inspired by a summer's day and crafted to crush year-round, our IPA twists real tangerine peel and citrusy hops into this juicy experience. It's the real deal" (source).
  • Short's Space Drop, $13.29/22oz - "Space Drop is a bourbon barrel aged American Pale Ale we make by aging Short’s Flagship American Pale Ale, Space Rock, in bourbon barrels for 7 months and dry hopping the nearly finished brew. Bright with a golden hue, Space Drop pours with a big head that settles quickly into a thin layer that clings to the glass. Citrus aromas are accompanied by subtle scents of oak and bourbon. Upon first sip bitter, citrus flavors abound. Accompanied by light oak and bourbon, Space Drop is quite balanced. This brew finishes dry with a slight bitterness" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant, $4.29/16oz - "" (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).
  • New Holland Dragon's Milk Reserve S'mores, $4.29/12oz - "Hints of toasted marshmallow and Graham Cracker complement the chocolate character of Dragon’s Milk, giving this Reserve a flavor reminiscent of campfires and summer nights" (source).

Video of the Week | Beerland

Homebrewers, this could be you!


Friday, June 23, 2017

New Beer Friday, Gin & Tonic Edition (June 23)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Summer officially arrived in the environs of Beer City USA this past week and while a frosty craft beer can help beat the heat on a scorching summer day, my favorite cold beverage for cooling off on a sultry summer evening is a refreshing gin and tonic.

It wasn’t that long ago that gin lovers only had a handful of decent options to choose from. That began to change a few years ago with the widespread emergence of craft distilleries and today there is a wide array of both domestic and imported hand-crafted gins on the market.

Siciliano’s stocks a number of these unique, botanically infused spirits. There’s plenty of warm weather ahead of us so there’s plenty of time to try a few new gins if a cooling G & T is one of your go-to beverages for beating the summer heat.

New and Returning Beer

  • Against the Grain Rico Sauvin, $3.89/16oz - "An India Pale Ale featuring Nelson Sauvin hops. Named after the Sauvignon Blanc grape, is a variety of hop developed and grown in New Zealand. It has a strong fruity flavor and aroma that is described as resembling white wine, or fresh crushed grapes or gooseberries. Some reviewers of this hop perceive the fruitiness as being very tropical with descriptions including passion fruit, tangerines, and grapefruit. These hops are organic and are about 4 times as expensive as our normal American varieties, hence the footed glass only" (source).
  • Against the Grain Pile of Face, $3.389/16oz - "What's the first thing you need to do when you start a brewery? Develop your logo, of course. With any potentially decent brewery, your logo must be a skull, it has to be a skull, you'll be laughed out of the room if you don't have a skull. So we went hunting in the area where all the great skulls have come from and were shit out of luck. By those fateful dumpsters all we found was this deformed neanderthal type deal, or maybe it's from an ape, and a big ol' pile of face. To celebrate our lack of success in finding a really cool skull, we are embracing another required cliché by brewing this American IPA. A modicum of simple malts provide the mediocre backbone to the mountain of various hops that are utilized and rotated throughout the brewing process. Look for dank overtones supported by various citrus and heirloom fruits. It's the straight forward fuckin' IPA that you always wanted from us. You lucky bastard" (source).
  • Against the Grain Brown Note, $3.09/16oz - "The brown ale to end all brown ales. Enjoy it, because there is no longer any reason to drink another. You’ve reached the pinnacle. A healthy blend of traditional British malts give this popular style a semi-sweet, biscuity, slightly roasted flavor. Oats thicken the mouthfeel, and a handful of specialty malts add complex chocolate, toffee, and caramel notes. The hops are mostly traditional, earthy British hops, but we cocked it up a bit with some Cascade late in the boil just to show those snooty Brits that we don’t approve of that Constitutional Monarchy crap" (source).
  • Evil Twin Food and Beer, $10.29/22oz - "This all Brett pale ale is brewed with peaches and it is brewed to celebrate the release of the chef Daniel Burns / Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso’s Phaidon book Food & Beer" (source).
  • Prairie Flare, $2.89/12oz - "Gose Ale Brewed with Orange and Coriander" (source).
  • Grimm Super Shine, $11.99/22oz - "Oak conditioned gose dry hopped with Mosaic & Azacca" (source).
  • Grimm Rainbow Dome, $11.99/22oz - "Tart aromas of stone fruit and fruity hops (El Dorado, Columbus, Cascade). Intense apricot on the palate with soft, inviting acidity" (source).
  • Anchorage Darkest Hour Whiskey Barrel Aged, $27.99/50ml (1 per) - "This years batch is totally new recipe using regular ale yeast and several high end whiskey barrels for aging" (source).
  • Anchorage Darkest Hour Brandy Barrel Aged, $27.99/750ml (1 per) - "Spanish brandy barrel aged Darkest Hour" (source).
  • Arbor Framboozled, $11.99/500ml - "The newest addition to the sour series is richly complex and reminiscent of brandy-soaked dark fruits, toasted nuts, and a sweet balsamic reduction. Framboozled features a hint of barnyard funk from extended barrel aging in the presence of friendly microbes" (source).
  • Bells Q Falls, $1.89/12oz - "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).
  • Brewery Vivant Angelina, $11.99/500ml - "Sour Ale" (source).
  • Dark Horse Tres Blueberry, $2.09/12oz - "Number three in our stout series, this stout is full-bodied and brewed with all malted barley and fresh blueberries added after fermentation. The nose is where you will begin to realize this stout is in a league of its own. Blueberry, chocolate and roasted aromas lead the way to a very pleasant drinking experience which leaves you wanting the next November to arrive sooner than last year" (source).
  • Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Tres, $3.29/12oz - "This stout is full-bodied and brewed with all malted barley, fresh blueberries added after fermentation and then aged in bourbon barrels. The nose is where you will begin to realize this stout is in a league of its own. Blueberry, chocolate and roasted aromas lead the way to a very pleasant drinking experience which leaves you wanting the next December to arrive sooner than last year" (source).
  • Innis and Gunn Original, $3.29/12oz - "For 30 days this honey-hued beer sleeps in hand selected oak barrels, locked inside a bonded warehouse, gradually assimilating the subtle flavours that reside in the wood. Barrels are then emptied and maturation continues for a further 47 days in a marrying tun where these natural flavours infuse and fall into perfect balance. This 77-day process is unique and produces a delicious, refreshing beer: Aromas of vanilla and toffee, hints of citrus, with a malty, lightly oaked,palate. Deftly balanced and light in texture, soothing and warming in the finish" (source).
  • Innis and Gunn Rum Cask, $3.59/12oz - "We are delighted to present this unique limited bottling of Innis & Gunn finished in oak barrels which previously contained navy rum. Maturation in special oak barrels imparts Navy rums with the sweet, spicy character for which they are renowned. We have long wondered what flavours might be imparted to our beer by finishing it in these same barrels and earlier this year we decided to find out. We brewed a special batch of Innis & Gunn beer and matured it in oak for 60 days. Every single drop spent half of that time in American oak barrels before being refilled into selected navy rum barrels to finish the lengthy maturation. Once the beer had absorbed the unique character the barrels were emptied, the beer blended and then maturation continued for a further 47 days until all of the flavours had married together and mellowed. We think the result is absolutely delicious" (source).
  • Innis and Gunn Bourbon Dark, $3.69/12oz - "This very special dark ale has been brewed in small batches and then matured in hand-selected, first-fill bourbon casks to give it its rich, rounded character. Notes of brown sugar, orange oil and coconut are complemented by an earthy freshness from the hops, and the 30 days the beer’s spent in oak have ensured a satisfyingly smooth finish. We spend a lot of time at Innis & Gunn finding the perfect casks to home the new beers that we make. So many factors can influence the reaction between the wood and the beer, that we like to give the casks the best possible chance of success, by considering things like their age, their previous occupants, their finish, their char level... We’ve selected relatively new bourbon casks for this recipe in order to complement the rich, heady flavours of the beer with a light touch of vanilla and spice from the wood. The casks have also helped to smooth the finish of the beer, making it velvety and very long" (source).
  • Victory Old Horizontal, $9.99/22oz - "Massive amounts of barley malts, combined with fresh harvest American hops make it aromatic and spicy on the nose. Floral, fruity aromas slide into honeyed malt depth with lingering sensations of candied and citrus fruit. Late warming alcohol brings all of these flavors into wonderful harmony to finish" (source).
  • Odd Side mango IPA, $2.19/12oz - No commercial description.
  • Jolly Pumpkin Olas Espaciales, $14.39/750ml - "Bottle conditioned sour ale with cherries, salt and lime added" (source).
  • Boulevard Love Child, $17.99/750ml (1 per) - "Boulevard's Love Child Series of "wild" ales are barrel-aged with such boisterous cultures as Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces. These wayward offspring can prove so complex that we employ gauges on the label to convey the intensity of three key personality traits, Funk, Sour and Fruit, presenting a picture of the ale at the time it was released. It will change as it ages, but don't we all? A blend of wood-aged sour beer, Love Child No. 8 is composed of multiple vintages of a Flanders-style sour red ale and a sour Belgian-style golden. This release features soft lactic acidity punctuated with slight acetic notes and a tart, fruity flavor remiscent of sour cherries and green strawberries" (source).
  • Lagunitas 12th of Never, $1.99/19.2oz - "The magical, mystical 12th of Never is a blend of Old and New School hops that play bright citrus, rich coconut, and papaya-esque flavors, all on a solid stage of English puffed wheat. Tropically hoppy. Light, yet full-bodied. Bright and citrusy. The 12th of Never Ale is everything we’ve learned about making hop-forward beer expressed in a moderate voice.  Pale, cold, slightly alcoholic and bitter" (source).

Video of the Week | Tres Blueberry

Now available at Siciliano's.