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