Preamble by Steve Siciliano
Last Saturday evening, when we were sitting around a campfire up north, my brother Mark chided me about the fact that a preponderance of my weekly blogs posts as of late have revolved around fly fishing, even having the insolence to go on to suggest that a good number of NBF readers may be tiring of the subject matter. It didn’t matter that he was probably right, and it didn’t matter that just seconds earlier he gave me a nice compliment about a recent NBF post about our deceased mother. I was, of course, slightly piqued by my younger brother’s unsolicited advice and, after a long sip of bourbon, gave him a stare that I thought his impertinence deserved.
“And what’s with that new hairdo?” he asked, returning my steely gaze. “Lose the part.”
I’m twelve years older than Mark. My sister Laurie and I were perfectly happy being the only children of Sam and Nita Siciliano and then he came along. Matt joined the family thirteen months later. Mark tells anyone who will listen that Laurie was a good babysitter while I was not. Apparently, Laurie played games with him and Matt and taught them to dance. He claims that I threatened to leave if they didn’t toe the line. It’s an accusation my foggy memory doesn’t enable me to confirm nor deny.
I do, however, clearly remember the time I came home from my summer job to find my brothers dousing our grandmother Fulvi with water from a garden hose. The young imps had the old lady cornered on the front porch. I grabbed them both, hauled them into the garage and read them the riot act. Mark claims that it was the first time he heard the F word.
My relationship with Mark got better as he grew older. When I had a 7-Eleven franchise I gave him a job. He was, for the most part, a good employee despite the fact that one day when I crawled into a recycling dumpster to tamp down the cardboard, he closed the lid and wouldn’t let me out. I gave him a job at my convenience store in Creston Heights too. Again, he was a good employee despite the fact that he would get into occasional tiffs with a few of the more unsavory characters. I enjoy ribbing him that he’s one of the few family members I would never rehire.
We became drinking buddies after he turned 21. We especially enjoyed hitting dive bars on the West Side of Grand Rapids and the country saloons up north in Lake and Mason counties. We would rate the watering holes on things such as décor, the condition of the rest room and the friendliness of the bartenders.
Mark has a degree from Kendall College of Art and Design and a good job at Howard Miller. He’s an accomplished artist (see cartoon below), a skill he inherited from our mother; he is also a talented cook and a wonderful host, skills he learned from our father. I'm not sure if I ever told him that I’m really quite proud of him. Like my wife Barb and I, he and his wife Barb have a cottage on Big Bass Lake. On a cold day last fall he helped me take our docks out while wearing leaky waders. When he took off the waders, he got charley horses in both legs and I laughed while watching him roll around on the lawn. Afterwards I watched him don a bathing suit and brave the icy water to haul his elderly neighbor’s swim dock to shore.
On a cold day last spring he helped me put the docks back in. I made a snide comment about his cheesy new rubber waders. I only found out later that he had helped his older brother while dealing with a nasty case of the flu. I would say that earns him the right to rib me about my fly-fishing posts now and then.
New and Returning Beer
Arvon Broadway, $4.69/16oz - "Hoppy Blonde Ale brewed with Idaho 7 and Dry hopped with Citra and Galaxy" (source)
Arvon Sidetracked, $4.99/16oz - "NEIPA brewed with Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra" (source).
Arvon The Ranch, $5.49/16oz - "This New England style double IPA w/ lactose is a big, sweet beer. The citrus and stone fruit characteristics of Vic Secret and Mosaic push the flavor behind the lactose sweetness, with moderate bitterness to provide some balance" (source).
Blackrocks Presque Ale, $2.29/12oz - "A nicely hopped summer ale. A beer made for watching sunsets and/or sunrises" (source).
Champion Champagne Problems, $2.99/12oz - "A Brut Double IPA - Brewed with over 30 lbs of hops for this six barrel batch. Incredibly dry, flavorful, and effervescent, this is one ready drinking DIPA" (source).
Champion Missile, $1.89/12oz - "An American India Pale Ale with firm bitterness and intense citrusy hop aromas. Made with 2-row pale ale malt and dry hopped with Simcoe, Cascade, Summit and more for the full experience of an American IPA" (source).
Champion Shower Beer, $1.89/12oz - "Perfect for any relaxing occasion, this Bohemian Pilsner sings with fresh, clean maltiness and spicy flavor and aroma contributions from 100% traditional Czech Saaz hops. Aged cold on lager yeast for weeks for maximum refreshment. If you’ve never had a Shower Beer, it’s high time" (source).
Champion True Love, $1.89/12oz - "A party in a can. Clean and refreshing lager beer inspired by classics from south of the border and brewed with our friends at Cockfight Skateboards. Enjoy with a lime or as is" (source).
Dinkelacker Hopfenwunder, $2.59/12oz - "iese untergärige Bierspezialität passt perfekt zur warmen Jahreszeit. Das sommerlich-frische Aroma des Hopfens sorgt für einen blumig-fruchtigen Geschmack, der durch bestes Gerstenmalz aus Baden-Württemberg abgerundet wird" (source).
Ellison Citra Evolution, $3.69/16oz - "The second iteration of our Evolution IPA series, this Citra hopped beer blasts out of the glass with tropical fruit, tangerine, and passion fruit. Smooth bitterness is complemented by more fruit flavors and a pillowy mouthfeel. It won't disappoint" (source).
Founders Pilsner, $1.39/12oz - "Always brewing to taste and rarely to style, Pilsner is the culmination of our love of American hops and appreciation of easy-drinking styles. Where traditional Pilsners typically feature European Noble hops, our version celebrates some of our favorite American varieties: Chinook, Centennial, Cascade and Crystal. Crisp and bright, with notes of citrus, this Pilsner is refreshingly untraditional" (source).
New Holland Cerveza Con Limón, $1.99/12oz - "A light, crisp, and refreshing lime-forward Mexican-style lager. The perfect beer for summer that will appeal to light beer, import and craft drinkers alike" (source).
Sierra Nevada Trip In the Woods Rum Barrel Aged Quad, $21.99/750ml - "This classic Quad in rum barrels is a nod to the great Trappist brewers of Belgium. Deep ruby-brown in color, the beer is rich and full-bodied with the style's familiar dark fruit flavors, while the yeast creates a hint of spice. Rum barrels impart delicate sweetness and complexity to this beer that can be enjoyed today or cellared for years to come" (source).
Tripelroot Sour Sister, $2.09/12oz - "Raspberry Sour Ale" (source).
Cartoon of the Week