Hopp Diva's Blog


What or Where is Siciliano’s? January 27, 2019

Filed under: Hopp Diva Blog — Hopp Diva @ 3:58 pm
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Over 10 years ago when my husband Forrest started brewing lots of people  told us we “just had to go” to Siciliano’s to get our supplies because they have everything!  OooooooK…………………

Well Forrest and I called, got directions and headed out one Saturday afternoon.  Now, we live in a very small community (4000 people , 25000 in the  whole county) so my little dutch husband was a bit leery about me telling him we were driving about 60 miles to go get some grain and hops.  I got Forrest in the car, made sure he had his recipes and we headed out.  Yes, there was some grumbling but that is to be expected with him 🙂

Once we parked the car and you approach the door it looks like any other little market as you can see by the pic below BUT once inside – holy crow!!!!  Your first look is the rows and rows of different beers (which they sell by the bottle/can) and then to the right rows of wines.  Behind the sales counters are oodles and oodles of different liquors from all over the world.  I am sure we looked like quite a site as we stood just steps inside the door with our eyes wide with anticipation and our mouths open.  Within a few short seconds we were greeted by one of the staff and were asked if we needed help finding anything.  Forrest explained he had come to get some grain and supplies for brewing a batch of beer.  We were taken over to yet another area where all the brewing supplies were located.  It was AMAZING!!!  Siciliano’s had any  grain, yeast, hop or piece of  brewing equipment that a person could  ever imagine they would  need. Forrest explained he was just a beginner and was using a Mister Beer Kit (which only made about 2 gallons) to hone his beer making skills.  Forrest didn’t want to start out making 5 gallon batches of beer and doing all grain when he was not sure how much he would enjoy the process or the beer.  What solidified our love of this market is how they treated Forrest at that point.  Not one staff member in the place looked down on him or treated him any differently because he was using a “Mister Beer” instead they told him it was a good way to start out by making pilot batches to see what style of beer he likes.  It also was a way  to make many different types of  beer and if you were not crazy about a certain beer or you messed up,  you were not left with 5 gallons of a brew you couldn’t drink. And believe me Forrest did that more than once, like the batch of Wet Dog Beer he made.  It smelled so bad you thought you were drinking a wet dog!

Fast forward about 10 years.  Forrest is still brewing beer ( in fact he has one fermenting right now and helped a fellow brewer do his first batch of all grain this weekend ) and enjoys it.  Before we started getting all sorts of brew magazines and books Forrest has gone into the Siciliano’s  with a name or beer style  he wants to clone and a staff member looked  up a recipe that worked perfectly for him.  To this day Forrest or I will go in and ask advice on tweaking a recipe or asking advice on why a beer just not have the mouth feel/ taste he was looking for.

It doesn’t  matter if you are a novice or a brew master Siciliano’s has what you want right along with any support you might need from the staff. Almost every one of Siciliano’s staff has brewed or has been involved in the brew trade for years.  These people could write books!  Not sure what you want?  One  staff  or another is very knowledgeable about  every beer, wine, cider or liquor in the store.

So you are saying to yourself I don’t want to brew beer I just like to drink it, well no problem.  Siciliano’s has hundreds and hundreds of different beers from stout to big time hops to sours to gluten-free.  Are you into ciders?  Siciliano;s has a huge variety of those also.

The staff at Siciliano’s is like family in many ways to us.  Although we are not there on a weekly basis or even monthly, they know us by name.  I try to bring in some of the items I make from beer or spent grain to get their feedback.  Sometimes they even give me suggestions on a beer to try when making a certain item or beer to substitute if they don’t have what I want.

Before I sign off I want to tell you about a couple more things regarding Siciliano’s.  Each week they put out The Buzz where you hear about the latest beers, breweries and other stuff.  They also talk about a big home-brew competition they have.  It’s a great event, lots of fun and a way to mingle with other home brewers.  We have met home brewers there who have gone on to not only win the competition but started their own brewery!

Here is the link for The Buzz  http://sicilianosmkt.blogspot.com    

If you are in the West Michigan area check this fantastic market out.   https://www.yelp.com/biz/sicilianos-convenience-market-grand-rapids

Until next time………………………………..YOLO




How My Journey Began January 24, 2019

Filed under: Hopp Diva Blog — Hopp Diva @ 2:31 pm

A few years ago I took my love for creating foods/recipes down a different path.  I loved this idea so much that I changed my original logo from my web site and took off like a wild woman on a mission.

My husband has been brewing beer for a few years now and loves to create recipes…..for beer.  I wanted to be supportive with his home brew interest but the truth is I like to “taste test” beer but I do not like to drink it! Soooo, this is how my Hopps Diva came about.  My husband would make the beer and I would come up with ways to develop or adapt recipes for the beer.

At first the ideas were just with the “spent grain” but you can only use so much of that at a time and spent grain bread made from the “mash” gets to be very boring.  I moved on to incorporating the beer into recipes that I had developed  or used on a regular basis .  Close your eyes and picture this, Creamy Coffee Stout Cupcakes, Dark Porter Cake, Beer Bacon Muffins, Raspberry Wheat Beer Donuts, Beer Sorbet, homemade beer marshmallows dipped in chocolate or Hearty Pork Stew with a Brown Ale.  Any of that tantalize your taste buds if so you can find most of the recipes right here on my blog page.

Well all of that was fun but not enough, I wanted more.  The ideas were there but I was stumped about one process, getting the spent grain down fine enough to really be a good flour.  I worked on this process for over a year and I knew what had to happen only I also knew different equipment was going to be needed.  Long story short, I met a guy who has the equipment and after a lot of teaching on both of our parts we made my dream happen; spent grain flour as fine as any flour you could find at the market.  Bad news, “the guy” only wants to do this process on a hundreds of pound scale because of the cost of production.  Don’t get me wrong, in my mind as a business person I totally get it but in my heart – well not so much.  Even the absolutely delish spent grain flour beer banana bread didn’t nudge him.

As you can guess by now my journey is not over but just had a hiccup in the road. My adventures continue as I “taste test” microbrew beer, develop more recipes and continue the search for a new way to make the spent grain flour that I want to use as well as teach others how to incorporate it into their own recipes………………………………………………….until next time and hopefully we see each other in a brewery


Hopp Diva



Beer Banana Bread January 19, 2019

Beer Banana Bread you ask?  Why yes, she replies!!!

I came up with this recipe a few years ago and I tweak it on a regular basis.  Each time I make it I keep thinking I change one little thing to improve it even when my husband Forrest says it quite tasty.  Of course he doesn’t mind when I continue to make the different varieties either.

You can use what ever beer you like but I highly recommend that you do not use an IPA.  I have found they are just too bitter with this recipe.  I like using a stout or porter or even a Christmas style beer.  If you have access to a banana beer you can use that or probably any fruit style beer,  Just have fun with the recipe and let me know what you create!

1 3/4 cup flour

1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depends on beer)

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. soda

3/4 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

2 mdeium bananas smashed

1/2 stp. banana flavoring

1/3 cup oil

1/4 cup room temp beer

Spray a bread pan with cooking spray and lightly dust it with flour

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.  Whisk this all together.

In a mixing bowl place the eggs, bananas, oil, banana flavor and beer.  Gradually stir in the flour mixture.  Stir only until incorporated – over mixing will cause tough bread.

Pour into a prepared pan and bake at 350 for about 45/50 minutes   Time will depend on the oven and if you use a glass pan or metal one.

Side note:  I find if I let the bananas get really ripe (blackish) the flavor profile is lost so don’t let your bananas get too dark


You can find this recipe and many others on the side bar of the web site.


An Energy Bar Made With Spent Grain January 16, 2019

Filed under: Hopp Diva Blog — Hopp Diva @ 9:58 pm
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In my stocking for Christmas  this year my daughter gave me an energy bar called Regrained Supergrain Bar.  Time got away from me and I forgot to try it so today before I went to work out I decided to try the bar. At first I thought maybe it was out of date and that is why it was so dry and not edible.

OMG not only was the taste not pleasant but I could hardly chew it  – so not yummy!  I looked the bar up on the internet and wanted to check it out.  I found where you could purchase them at 29.99 for 12 bars (no they are not big).  There were a couple of flavors and one was coffee like the bar I had.

These spent grain bars may give you energy but wow, I am not sure how I could get it down to give me the energy.  I have made a lot of things with spent grain and have made some granola bars with it but the bars I made were not this dry and they had flavor.

My suggestion is to probably avoid buying the Regrained Supergrain Bars and if you want to try one see if you can get a sample.  Like I said it’s possible my bar was out of date or something but I have a feeling after I read the ingredients my first bite of the bar is how it’s suppose to taste.

Would love to hear from anyone who has tried one of the bars and what your opinion was.  Do you have a favorite spent grain granola bar recipe?  Let me know!

Here is some into on this product if you want to check things out.   https://www.regrained.com/


Biere de Mac January 9, 2019

Filed under: Hopp Diva Blog — Hopp Diva @ 3:40 pm

First Brewery Trip of 2019

Michigan weather has been super fickle this season, so when the weather man says high of 40 and patchy sun it’s time for a quick road trip.  Quick because of my husband’s job.  He rarely gets away on Saturdays before 3 but my hope is with nice weather we could finally get up to Mackinaw City where a guy I went to school with started a brewery.  George ( the owner) has a small brewery called Biere de Mac.  George along with his son Danny started the brewery I believe a couple of years ago and although not right in Mackinaw City  the brewery has developed a great following.  Their web site gives you the back story on why George, who was raised in Fremont MI, married and  after raising  his family in Michigan  decided to move all the way up to Mackinaw City.

Here is a link to their web site   http://bieredemac.com/about/

My goal was to not only get up North to see the brewery but to also have the guys and their staff  try my beer marshmallows so  I made up some fresh, grabbed a couple jars of beer jelly and hit the road.  After about 3.5 hours (with only 1 quick potty break stop) we checked into our hotel and headed to the brewery.

One of things I first noticed was how peacefully quiet the area was.  That being said the brewery had a fair amount of customers  for dinner.  Our server was Molly and she was quite a delight.   Molly took the time to tell Forrest (my husband) and I the specials for the night and what were her favorites.  We then moved onto the beer menu and she was very knowledgeable about all the selections.  Forrest chose 3 different styles to try.  As I have explained on my “Home Page” I like to sample beer but not drink it so Forrest always tries to pick out some unique styles he thinks I might like to try.  Being a big time hophead he also selects some that have a high IBU and just giggles when I attempt to taste it.  Usually I get the glass to my nose and that is as far as things progress!

Forrest felt the beer was pretty solid for  being a relatively new brewery.  All had a good mouth feel and were not “thin” like many other breweries we have visited.  The food was ok also.  I had buyers remorse with what I choose because I saw plates of other things I wish I would have ordered instead but there is always next time 🙂

You are probably wondering how the beer marshmallows went?  Well, I can say about the way it normally does when I have brewery guys try them  – “they are ok”.  I feel its a win when the staff gets a chance to taste them or other people in the brewery and their faces light up when they bite into something they will never forget.  The OMG this is a marshmallow made with beer?  The green flecks are hops?  The dark chocolate on the outside is awesome and blends so well.   Women  beer drinkers are usually the most descriptive so that is fun for me.  The guys so far…ehhh.

Side note:  I have not heard from my high school friend on how he like the beer marshmallows or the jelly.  My taste tester friends say I should contact him and ask – my response is…nope!

If you want to try  a new brewery  check out  Biere de Mac.  They are not open on Mondays and there are  a lot of things  that are not open  in Mackinaw City so do your homework first by using your pall Google.

So until next time, happy beer travels……………………………..


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