Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Rouge Brew" at Liberty Street

Support "Friends of the Rouge" and enjoy "ROUGE BREW" at Liberty Street Brewery.

Sunday November 8, 1-3PM.
Rex Halfpenny, and Liberty Street's Joe Walters will lead you through a tasting of 8 beers while talking about craft beer and brewing in the Rouge River Watershed. All proceeds to support Friends of the Rouge.
$30 includes the 8 beers, pizza and a pint at the brewery.

Beer dinner at Roast

Just in from Joseph.....

Tuesday November 3, 6.30PM
Michael Symon's Roast 1128 Washington Blvd • Detroit, MI • Phone: (313) 961-2500

$65 a person. RSVP is required with CC#
It includes feast style Charcuterie, House Made Sausages, Frommage,
Porchetta, Brussel Sprouts, and more. Some sort of Chocolate Dessert.
It will be alot of food and done in 3 family style courses with dessert course being served individually.
We will feature Michigan/Belgium beer battles where classic Belgium styles
with be put to the test against Michigan representations.
The Styles that will most likely be featured are listed below:
Fruit Beer
Belgium Strong Dark Ale
Biere de Garde
Oud Bruin
Belgium Pale
Wild Ale

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"So the joke was...."

....that Jolly Pumpkin does not brew a pumpkin beer. Well, now we do. Just this one, packed with real pumpkins, hints of spice and a gentle kiss of cacao to liven the soul."

It's called La Parcela, and has just arrived at Merchant's in very limited quantities.
Slows BarBQ will have it on draft for their Jolly Pumpkin beer dinner next Monday. Call for details and to reserve a place as the dinner is limited to 30 people.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The MBG Harvest festival

Oh, 'twas grand! The MBG and Metro Times put on a well-organized and efficiently run beer festival at Eastern Market yesterday. The Inaugural Harvest Festival comprised over 40 Michigan breweries and brewpubs with 203 (precisely!) beers to sample. The whole shebang was in an open parking lot, near Shed # 5 at the market, with the breweries set up under three tents. There were separate tents for food and a band shell. It was a wee bit cold and windy, but we were only rained on once, and it wasn't heavy. There was plenty of room under the tents for everyone to shelter from the rain, and I didn't hear any complaining. I stayed warm underneath about 4 layers of clothing on every part of my body thankfully, including the fabulous giant red fur pagoda that sat on my head.
Memorable beers for us were Arcadia's Cannon Ball Gold (5 varieties of Michigan-grown fresh-hop ale), North Peak/Northern United's Diabolical IPA (unfiltered version with 2/3 of the hops being Michigan-grown Cascades), Saugatuck Brewing's True Scot ale, Liberty St Brewery's House Mild Brown Ale, Big Rock's Red Rock Farmhouse Ale, Motor City's Pumpkin Ale (fermented with a Belgian yeast), Jolly Pumpkin's La Parcela and Bam with Juniper, Hopcat's "Sage Against The Machine" Pale Ale, Fort St Brewery's Bootlegger's Bourbon Porter, Right Brain's "Wicked Garden" beet beer (Wow!!-This was a crazy bright red beer that tasted like beets, but was light-bodied with a very dry finish. Quite something.)
My favourite of the day- Big Rock's farmhouse. Wow. Sour. Malty. Complex. I could have drunk a lot more.
Mr Cicerone's favourite- all of them.Mr Diabolical - Mike Turriff

Recap: Aaron & Beth's wedding

And what a wedding it was. Spectacular location (Belle Isle Casino), clear and sunny day (albeit a bit chilly!), gorgeous bride, behatted groom, moustachio'd officiant, and beer and food fit for kings. THE BEER. German-style pils and a cask of Irish stout, brewed by Mr Cicerone. Stone Levitation Ale. Founders Black Biscuit (maple-aged old ale).
THE FOOD. Prepared by genius-chefs Brian and Mike from Slows BarBQ. Appetizers were mini pumpkin tarts and bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese (Oh My!!). (Pils with the pumpkin tarts, and Levitation Ale with the dates.) Entrees were leg of lamb and brisket at the carving stations, the famed Slows mac & cheese, two other vegetarian dishes comprising pumpkin, beans and various other delicious ingredients and green beans. (Mr Cicerone's stout went well with all of this.) Dessert was creme brulee.....WITH BACON. (Another Oh My!). The Founders Black Biscuit was a perfect match with this.

We all had a ball. The "after party" at The Belmont in Hamtramck was an event all in itself.....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Selyodka pod Shouboy

That's "herring under a fur coat" for those that can't speak Russian. I had this dish at our homebrew club's annual BeerBQ a couple of years ago,thanks to a club member's Russian work colleague, and have been craving it ever since. There has been a large jar of pickled herring in my fridge for quite some time now, just waiting for me to turn it into this wondrous creation.....
It's herring, layered with mayonnaise, potato, mayonnaise, beetroot, mayonnaise, carrot, mayonnaise, herring- you get the picture. Topped with smashed boiled egg. And it cut into wedges perfectly, just like cake! Mmmmm. The accompanying beer? Imperial pilsner, brewed by Mr Cicerone.

Bigfoot Vertical Tasting

Last night, we were guests of Sierra Nevada Brewing, at the Winking Lizard in Bedford Heights, OH for a guided vertical tasting of four vintage Bigfoot Barleywines. (Bigfeet?) Only four, because otherwise it would have been a horizontal tasting, har. Four draft vintages, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2009. The '96 and the '01 were from the brewery's archives, and had been kept refrigerated since production; the others had been similarly kept at the Lizard. Compared to bottled beer, there is virtually no post-packaging exposure to oxygen, so these all were very well-preserved. We were also provided with a selection of Wisconsin artisanal cheeses: a sharp cheddar, stilton, fresh gouda and an aged gouda. And to add to the fun, our buddy Ray Daniels talked about the aging process (as related to beer.)

Some quick notes, from memory:

2009- I happen to love Bigfoot on the day it's released. It has huge hop aroma and flavor and a very candy-like lingering bittersweet finish. The deep caramelly malt flavors are there, but in a secondary role. The intense bitterness can be a bit rough, and is off-putting to some people.

2006- Still a lot of hop aroma and flavor, but rounding out. The rough edge is gone from the bittering hops, allowing more caramel to come out. This beer was well kept, and tasted more like a year-old bottle.

2001- Wow. I've had 8 year old Bigfoot before, and it tasted mellow, with typical sherry character, round, fruity malt in place of the citrusy hops, and some not-so-good oxidative flavors, as well. This was more like getting in a time machine and popping back to 2001 for a beer. Citrusy hops, candylike bitterness, smooooth, and only the barest hint of oxidation. It actually seemed fresher than the 2006!

1996- OK, at 13 years, the hops are barely discernible in the aroma. But they are still there in the flavor, and the bitterness, while diminished, is still enough to keep the beer from seeming sweet. There's a bit of nutty/sherry, and some noted honey. Amazing.

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Lunch Time!

At Great Lakes! Aww yeah...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another Fine Beer Dinner

Last night, a great dinner featuring Stone beers at Uptown Grille. Whoo. Here's the menu:

'08 Double Bastard with
Jalapeno peppers sauteed in extra virgin-garlic infused olive oil, stuffed with Arrogant Bastard beer-battered gulf shrimp, roasted red pepper cream cheese, topped with Fontiago cheese and baked golden brown.

Cali-Belgique with
Grilled fillet skewers, painted with a garlic and ginger paste, served on a bed of field greens with a spicy mango dressing.

Stone Pale Ale with
Asiago cheese stuffed gnocchi, pan fried in extra virgin olive oil.

Smoked Porter with
St. Louis BBQ ribs basted in Smoked Porter BBQ sauce, served with sweet potato mash.

Collaboration Holiday Ale with
Spicy Carrot Cake lace with walnuts and frosted with a mildly sweet cream cheese frosting.

Favorite bits: Cali-Belgique with the mango dressing, Pale Ale with the gnocchi, and the maple-y sweet potatoes with Smoked Porter. Also the Levitation, Vertical '08, and Vertical '09 samples that weren't officially on the menu, but were quite nice.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Night of The Living Ales at Slows, and Jolly Pumpkin dinner

Just in from Tara...

"Drink Michigan BEER and Eat Michigan BARBQ!!!!!!
See you at Slows Thursday Oct.22 for a night of Cask beers!

Part of Detroit Beer Week:

Starts at 6pm with 4 yummy cask ales!!!!! It will be a great night to kick
off fall and to keep Detroit beer week rolling til Saturday!!!1 Lot of
brewery personnel on hand!!! See you then!

Also Jolly Pumpkin beer dinner is Nov 2nd Monday at 6:30pm so if interested please let me know so we can lock you in!!!

Thanks, Tara"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wedding, Part 2: Entertainment

There was some unscheduled musical entertainment at Aaron and Beth's wedding:

Also, an unexpected extra fee for Aaron due to a soiled tux....

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Another Tap Handle

Now that the wedding is over, we can post a picture of the tap handle we made for our friends Aaron and Beth:

This adorned the jockey box we'd ginned up to look (sorta, if you squinted,) like a giant wedding cake:

If you've invited us to your wedding, be very afraid....

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Friday, October 9, 2009

New at Merchant's

But firstly, if you plan to "get on the bus" at Fort St brewery to go to
the MBG Harvest Fest, you need to purchase your pass by Monday. EDIT: Cancelled for lack of riders. Poop.


STONE VERTICAL EPIC 9/09/09 Supplies are limited (3 cases), so hurry.
STONE VERTICAL EPIC 8/08/08 I have one case.
BELL'S BEST BROWN IN 5L MINI KEGS (Two Hearted Ale 5L minis coming in Nov)
BELL'S ORACLE. One more case. Up for grabs.

*LA TRAPPE "ISID'OR" (Well, this one is actually from The Netherlands)

All for now...
Annette May, Certified Cicerone (TM)
Beer Department Manager
merchant's Fine Wine, Dearborn

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Detroit Beer Week

It's going ahead, with many events in the planning. It all starts on Friday October 16, and the beery fun will continue until the MBG Inaugural Harvest Beer Festival on Saturday October 24 at Eastern Market. There's a cask night at Slows on Thursday Oct 22nd, and there is even going to be a segway marathon through the Dequindre Cut on Saturday 24th.
A full list of events is available on Facebook- search for "Detroit Beer Week". Luddites that we are, we do not have (and do not want) a Facebook account, and hence cannot access the entire goings-on to post here.

Mr Cicerone and I will be at The Winking Lizard in Cleveland on the evening of October 16, enjoying a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine vertical tasting from 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2009. All on draft. And heckling Ray Daniels, the presenter of said event, from the front row.

Ashley's Westland Firkin fest

Ashley's are assembling the LARGEST Selection of cask ales in Michigan at
one time!!

Ashley's- Westland
7525 Wayne Rd., Westland MI 48185

Saturday November 14th 2-6pm
Some of the breweries expected to attend:
Flying Dog
Arbor Brewing
New Holland
Dark Horse
The Livery
Dragon Mead
Green King
Tickets are $20 in advance ($25 the day of the event) each.


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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tap Handles

It's a bit of trouble, but every once in a while I like to make a custom tap handle for a special beer. For instance, Mrs. Cicerone's nickname is the Black Sheep, (Schepsele Schwartze in Yiddish,) and the beer I surreptitiously made to commemorate her 50th birthday was thus christened "Schepsele Schwarzbier." And hence the tap handle:

Then there's this one I made for the doppelbock brewed for the wedding of our friends Skip and Cat:

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Fit for a king....

A recent meal at home.....

Duck breast- marinated in balsamic, oil, shallots, garlic & smashed blackberries. Seared until slightly pink on the inside. Pan deglazed with the marinade. Duck breast sliced and crunchy oniony bits from the pan spooned on top. Served over salad greens with a blackberry sage cream drizzled over the whole dish. Roasted fennel bulb on the side. Oh my. Beer number one was Hanssen's "Experimental" Cassis Lambic. Deep purple colour, and aromas of fruit and Hanssen's "funk". The aromas followed through into the flavour, with a nice balanced sourness blending with the fruitiness. Unfortunately the beer was totally flat, and we found the fruit to be a little too pronounced to match perfectly with the duck because of this. The beer did go extremely well with the fennel though, contrasting the licorice flavours nicely. Plan B? Switch to Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek (2005). We'd been saving this gem for quite some time, and this was the perfect opportunity. It was smashing. In all the right places. Fruity, but not sweet. Sour, complex, and perfect with our duck. We drank the rest of the Cassis for dessert. Sigh.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Harvest Festival, All Aboard!

On October 24th, the Michigan Brewers Guild is conducting its inaugural Harvest Festival at Eastern Market. We're going, and we've found a great way to get there: Fort Street Brewery is chartering a bus. Here's the deal: $55 for a ticket to the Fest (which includes 15 beer samples), lunch and a beer before the Fest, and round trip transportation to and from Fort Street Brewery. Sweeeet!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Brew Day, Batch #308

Scottish-y winter warmer-y thing. OG 1.060ish, 30 BU. Fawcett Marris Otter with 5% of a secret blend of adjuncts, given the full Scottish treatment. Stay tuned....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Recap: Wolfgang Puck / New Holland Dinner

Wow. I'm not going to do justice to this. For one thing, there were a lot of chef-y technical terms like "sabayon," that I don't have a solid grasp of. Plus, I still am apparently still not smart enough to cadge a copy of the menu to aid in the inevitable blog post.

Full Circle Kolsch with


Tempura shrimp with capers

White cheddar potato puff

Crab cake with fresh basil

Sundog Amber with

Pork Two Ways:

Braised pork belly

Pork (and a little duck) sausage with red bell pepper marmalade

Golden Cap Saison with

Mussels and halibut with smoked paprika sabayon

Mad Hatter IPA with

Szechuan lamb chops with shiitakes and napa cabbage

The Poet Oatmeal Stout with

Chocolate insanity

This was wonderful, and no wonder- talking to the various restaurant staff, it was clear that Chef Marc Djolija worked hard on this, trying variations repeatedly until he had it where he wanted it. Sounded like he had some willing guinea pigs, too. This was their first beer dinner; Marc worked with New Holland because they have a good existing relationship, and because he wanted to support a Michigan brewery. My only quibble was that the Sundog was not quite big enough for the pork belly, though it went very nicely with the sausage. We'd had the same dish with Stone's 13th anniversary beer, and that was a better match. Everything else was perfect, with the halibut, mussels, and saison course being my favorite. The Mad Hatter and lambchops, according to Marc the hardest to get right, were also amazing. The dessert (that is not its correct name above,) was really like 3 or 4 desserts: a wafer cookie made of roasted, caramelized cocoa beans on top of a layer of pudding-like chocolate on top of chocolate mousse with caramelized bananas inside, on top of a praline cookie, garnished with hazelnut pralines and caramelized bananas. I am both proud and embarrassed to state that I ate the whole damn thing.

Brett and Isaac from New Holland introduced and explained the beers as each was poured, and Chef Marc explained each dish in a complete but concise manner. We got the distinct feeling that he enjoyed the whole thing as much as we did.

This is a pretty fancy place, and we were waited on hand and foot, yet the dinner cost $40 plus tax and tip- an outstanding value. Check them out at

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