Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A chip off the old block...or Baby's first outing.

Mr Cicerone's first grandchild Mia (being held by Son O'Cicerone). 4 days old; her first outing is to a brewpub.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Brew Day, Batch 352: Rye Peppercorn Pale Ale

A favorite.

A recipe:

10 US gallons


11   lb. pale 2 row malt
5    lb. Munich malt
2    lb. flaked rye
1/4  lb. Special B

Infusion mash 1 qt./lb. at 150-152F. Rye can make for a slow runoff, so consider doing a mashoff with an infusion of boiling water.


1 1/2  oz. Centennial 10.5 % for 60 min.
1/2    oz. Cascade 8.6% for 15 min.
1/2    oz. Cascade 8.6% for 5 min.
2      oz. coarsely ground Tellicherry pepper for 5 min.

Total estimated BU is around 35.
OG around 1.055ish.

Chill and pitch with ale yeast; I like to use Wyeast 1098 for a wee bit of esteriness, but this is really an ingredient-driven beer, so don't sweat yeast choice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Quick post on a truly delicious dinner! Gnocci (store bought) with home-made pesto (garden-grown basil), garnished with toasted pine nuts and fresh Parmigiano. Beer- 5 Rabbit Brewery- 5 Vulture Oaxacan-style ale brewed with ancho chili and piloncillo sugar.

I'd purchased this beer last weekend while in Chicago, and was dying to try it. We popped open a bottle while preparing dinner, and found it tasted wonderful with our basic vinaigrette-dressed salad that incorporated greens and red bell peppers. Mr Cicerone's dry-hopped-with-Goldings-Bitter was our beer of choice with the gnocci, but we also found that the rich malt character and nice mild chili flavour paired nicely with the pesto sauce.

Note- I am to believe that the 5 Rabbit guys, yet to own their own brewery, have just started to brew their beers at our very own Saugatuck Brewery! I had a pint of their Vida y Muerte ale at Hopleaf in Chicago this past weekend, their first beer brewed at Saugatuck.

5 Rabbit Vida y Muerte Harvest Ale
"For fall, we wanted to make a beer that celebrates the spirit of the harvest season. The beer itself is loosely based on an Oktoberfest/märzen style, a rich, caramelly beer. Our version, which we call a "müerzen," is fermented with ale yeast for a slight fruitiness, and has some very nontraditional ingredients in it. First is dulce de leche, a delicious milk caramel popular throughout Latin America. It brings a delicate carameliness to the beer, plus a touch of milk sugar, which being unfermentable, adds a very slight sweetness to the finished beer. In addition, we chose some spices to give the beer a delicate spiciness that is a bit reminiscent of graham crackers."

(The beer tasted of malt, cinnamon and anise. Delicious!)

The Rockery rocks!

The Rockery in Wyandotte have an amazing Michigan beer selection that just keeps getting better. The Lovely Melanie has just announced the inaugural  meeting for the Downriver Women's Craft Beer Lovers Society at The Rockery on Thursday December 8 at 7PM. More details here if you use Facebook.

See you there!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brew Day, Batch 351: Return of Leap Beer

A long, long, time ago, in a brewery far away... uh, OK, 15 years ago, several blocks from here, I made my first beer with rye as an adjunct. I had seen scant mention of rye in the brewing literature, but knew it was used occasionally in some way. I picked up a small amount of flaked rye on a whim one day, and decided to include it in a batch of simple ale to see what it was like. My wife-of-those-days questioned the wisdom of using this unknown adjunct without following some sort of recipe or procedure, but I countered with the point that it was February 29, and I was taking a leap. Not much of a leap, really- it was a pre-gelatinized cereal, and only 15% of the grist, the bulk of which was good old super-diastatic Briess 2 row. But Leap Beer was kind of a fun name, so it stuck. And we loved the beer. It was your basic blond ale with a little spicy something extra, and the unexpectedly heavy body that rye brings. Many subsequent batches of beer included rye, but I never made anything like that first experimental ale again, until today. Technical geekery below the fold:

...Full post

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Tap Handle For Buster

My friend Dan used to have a tap handle that was a spring-loaded wiggly hula girl. This tap handle was so cool that you would actually drink more of whatever beer it was dispensing than you would otherwise, just for the fun of operating the tap. I recently made a tap handle that might have a similar effect on the drinker, made more dangerous by the beer it was designed for, Buster. Also, Buster. Check it out:

...Full post

Monday, November 7, 2011

Movie night....

...at The "New Burton Theatre", AKA Chez Cicerone. 
(Named as such after the original Burton closed, though I believe it has opened again. So, we're the "New Burton", and they are the "New Old Burton"?)

 Besides all things Ciceroney, I'm a big independent movie nut. Nothing makes me happier than combining my love of beer and food with the delights of interesting and different movies. I've seen countless independent, foreign & "arty farty" movies, and wish I'd started and kept some sort of listing when I first discovered there was something more to movies than  "Rocky" which everybody was raving about, and which I have never seen to this day. Aptly, I think my first foreign movie was Tampopo, a bizarre Japanese movie about food.
Anyway,  Mr Cicerone surprised me over the summer with a projector and screen all set up in the basement. So we can have many more movie nights, like this.
This past Sunday it was Leningrad Cowboys Go America, an old favourite from that strange Fin, Aki Kaurismaki.

The Cowboys.
Dinner was onions. Amongst many other good things. Many beers were drunk, including Einbecker Maibock and Mr Cicerone's Buster 2009 and 2010.We did consider Wodka, but hey, we're beer people!

Previous Movie Nights included The Room and Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster. (Slight digression- Mr Cicerone and I watched this movie the very first time we spent an evening together. It was a very promising start to our future together!)  Future Movie nights will include such gems as The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T, Barbarella, The Abominable Dr Phibes, Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, Triplets of Belleville, and many more.

Doing what we do.....

Dinner at home- rack of lamb, rubbed with a Moroccan spice blend of cumin, sweet paprika, cayenne, ginger, cloves, turmeric, nutmeg & coriander. (Delicious!!) Spinach- simply done. Israeli couscous infused with garlic and preserved lemon. And our second last home-grown Caspian Pink heirloom tomato. Served with The Bruery/Cigar City collaboration beer, Marron Acidifie Oud Bruin. Wonderful.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brew Day, Batch 350: Nugget Pale Ale

Mmm, my most favoritest pale ale ever. American Pale Ale, target gravity 1.048, 45 BUs from 3 additions of the esteemed Nugget variety of hops. I usually tell people that this one is exactly how the voices in my head described it. Closer to the truth would be that it's what I've settled on after brewing many, many batches of pale ale. Because the voices said to....

Friday, November 4, 2011

Brew Day, Batch 349: Rauchbier

Ja... rauchbier! 'Bout damn time. We're looking at high 1.050s and 24 BU, with a medium to dark amber color from 2/3 home-smoked rauchmalz, and 1/3 a blend of Weyermann Munich 1 and 2 (mostly 1.) I'm cutting the rauchmalt on this one because it's the first significant use of this batch and thus somewhat unknown- I expect the beer to be somewhere between the light smokiness of Spezial and the robust smokiness of Schlenkerla. I further expect some rich malt flavor from the good Deutscher malt and a decoction mash. Fortunately, the hot, steamy work of conducting said mash is made easier by Batch 346, a nicely balanced, dry-hopped, under-4% ale....