Feb 12, 2012

It’s All About The Beer And Then Some

Please take a moment and check out Roving Beer Czar corespondent "Uncle Gary" for his excellent review of Siciliano’s Market in Grand Rapids Michigan. Take note all you Michigan beer folks, especially home brewers, sounds like this is a must stop for Central Michigan beer runs!! Enjoy, and again, my thanks to Uncle Gary for his contribution!

It’s All About The Beer And Then Some

by Gary W. Morrison

It’s only fitting that Siciliano's Market in Grand Rapids is considered the Charles Atlas of all things beer and beer supplies.

Just as Charles Atlas (who real name was Siciliano) changed his body from scrawny to robust; market owner Steve Siciliano changed a dusty party store from failure to success.

“When I bought this place in 1993, it was going out of business,” Siciliano said. “It was nothing like it is now.”

Beer Advocate give’s Siciliano’s Market a rating of 100; it’s designation for world class status.

Steve said he struggled a few years trying different things before he started carrying micro beers such as Michigan produced Bells. Business improved, but he said it improved even better when he began also selling beer individually instead of just in six packs or cases.

“About that time people became interested in making their own beer so I started carrying beer supplies,” he said. “I carry all types of craft beer, beers from all over the country and world, about 30 different beer making kits as well as have one of the largest supplies of beer components available anywhere.

“I have stuff for the dabbler as well as the advance brewer,” he said. “I even have some breweries coming in for supplies.”

Ren Hanselman
Warehouse manager Ren Hanselman knows full well the amount of beer supplies the store carries. They are getting beer components in everyday; it’s nonstop, he said.

“We have many different kinds of grains as well as malts from Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, as well as the United States,” he said. “We have everything anyone could ever want for making beer.”

Lets make some beer!
But it is the beer that first brings people into Siciliano’s. When you walk into the store the first thing you see are the seemingly endless shelves of beer. It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to the vast selection. You may at first be looking for your favorite beer, but after facing so many different brews you start saying to your self: I’ve got to try that and that and that….”

If you’re an adventurist, you just grab blindly, buy what you can get your hands around, and contemplate the pleasure of trying something new as you leave the store.

Kati Spayde
Beer buyer Kati Spayde said her father taught her how to home brew. That instituted in her a strong appreciation of beer and that makes her job a lot of.

She really doesn’t know how many different beers the market carries. After a quick count she stopped when she reached 800.

“We really have more than that,” Kati said. “It would probably take a few years for someone to try them all.”

Once you’re in the store you start to realize that is much more to it than beer. You will notice the selection of cigars at the counter and the walk-in humidor next to it, a large selection of wine and liquor, cider, mead, and saki.

You’ll also discover wine making kits and supplies, kits for making your own cheese, bread making kits, green coffee beans, and 20 varieties of lose tea in bulk.

When Steve bought the business, the building also housed a pizzeria. After that business moved out, Steve expanded his business because he needed the space for beer kits and supplies. They now have over 4,000 square feet retail space.

“My staff is very knowledgeable,” Steve says. “Whatever we carry we have a knowledge curve.”

Steve Siciliano,
the world needs more people like him in it!
And keeping ahead of the curve is a constant job for Steve. He still hasn’t seen it all when it comes to what is next in home brewing, but does see people developing an interest in what they find is offered in many brew pubs and microbreweries.

“Sour beers are getting hot and barrel aged beers are two trends I see people getting into,” he said. “We always need to talk to people and we are always learning.”

Bottoms Up my friends, until next time!
Beer Czar

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