On the Road to Silver City Brewing Company

September 9th, 2009 · 3 Comments · Beer Travels, Washington Breweries

I love Silver City Brewing.I’d tasted several of their beers over the past few years and been impressed, but I had never visited the brewery. Located in Silverdale, WA, it really isn’t very far away from Seattle (like 30 miles). The main barrier that makes it seem further away than it really is, is the fact that it’s located over on the Kitsap Peninsula to the west. It’s a short ferry ride and a short drive to get there, but I’ve never really had anything that has brought me over to that general area. Well this past weekend found Jeanne & I heading down to Potlatch State Park, near Hoodsport, WA, on the Hood Canal and in the vicinity of the Staircase section of Olympic National Park. Although it would have been quicker to just drive down through Tacoma/Olympia, this seemed like a great opportunity to check out the brewery.

The brewpub sits in a stand-alone building situated near a shopping mall; a very high traffic area that keeps plenty of thirsty customers stopping by. The building itself is quite large, and it has a welcoming interior with high ceilings and a very open feel to it. As you walk in through the front door, you’re greeted by a cooler full of 22oz bottles that you can buy to take home (or, in our case, to go camping). You can also see a stack of the “buzzers” that customers are given while they are waiting for tables at a restaurant; always a good sign that business is good. As you belly up to the bar, you can view the tanks and fermenters of the brewery off to your right. They recently went through a brewery expansion and picked up a few new tanks that you can see are literally packed in with just inches to spare. An assistant brewer by the name of Brady gave Jeanne and I a nice tour of the brewery and cold room downstairs. Brady started working in the restaurant part of the business a few years ago, and over time has moved into the brewing operations. Nicely done!

I had corresponded with General Manager Josh Klein about various things in the past, and he was kind enough to meet us for lunch and a couple of beers. Josh’s passion for the business was overflowing, and he’s been with them in several different positions for about 7 years. Bless him for suggesting the Bavarian Bacon & Onion Pizza for lunch…which was AMAZING. Seriously, I mean it was damn good. I might drive back tonight for another one (OK, probably not…but I want to). A few takeaway points from speaking with Josh:

  • Silver City is thriving. Even though they recently expanded their brewery capacity, they also recently made the move to pull back on the number of accounts outside of their immediate area, including in Seattle. They have enough demand to keep them busy in their own backyard at this point. They will still be available at select accounts in Seattle, but they won’t be as widespread.
  • They are discussing another expansion in the near future that would move most (possibly all) of the brewery operations off-site. This would allow them to once again grow the brewing operations, and also grow the restaurant capacity at the same time. This move would hopefully allow them to expand back into the Seattle market, as well as possibly others, in full force.
  • Sometimes, it’s easy to think of local breweries as small operations. But, according to Josh, Silver City has a support staff of over 100 employees! That’s a combined count of the brewery, restaurant service and cooking operations, and management. Considering there are several one man brewery operations out there (HOTD comes to mind), this seems huge in comparison to many local places. Talk about a local brewery supporting the community with jobs.
  • Their Oktoberfest celebration is coming up on September 18 to 20. They’ll tap their version of a traditional Oktoberfest, and profits will go to support the Kitsap County Firefighter’s Benevolent Fund.

We sampled the Indianola IPA, Ridgetop Red, Fat Strong Scotch Ale (weighing in at 9.2% ABV), Panther Lake Porter, Clear Creek Pale Ale and Bavarian Style Hefeweizen. All of the beers were solid at the very least, and several of them are way above average. I’d had the Strong Scotch Ale and IPA in the past, and those 2 were my favorites. But, the Panther Lake Porter and Ridgetop Red both made quite an impression on me as well. I also had a schooner of “Fred”, which is a mix of half Ridgetop Red and half Fat Strong Scotch Ale. You still get some of that deep, smokey malt flavor from the scotch, but it cuts down on the ABV quite a bit. Overall, this is a great lineup of beers. You’ve got several styles with a little something for everyone, then you’ve got a very solid IPA with plenty of hop flavor, and you top it off with the adventurous Strong Scotch. No off flavors in any of the beers we tried, and all were very well crafted. They also do quite a few seasonals, including an Oktoberfest that we just missed out on. Their Whoop Pass Double IPA is a summer release that will fix your need for hops in no time, and you can look for a 9.2% ABV Imperial Stout around the holidays. Check out their beer listingsfor complete info on their entire lineup. Cheers to Brewmaster Don “Big Daddy” Spencer, who’s been  brewing professionally for over 15 years (formerly at Thomas Kemper Brewing/Pyramid), and the rest of the Silver City team.

Thanks again to Josh, Brady and the bar staff for a great visit. We left with happy stomachs and a few bottles of the porter for the campsite. The rest of the weekend was pretty fantastic as well, despite the almost constant torrential downpours.

You can see pictures from the brewery and the rest of our trip here.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Jesse

    You mentioned Hair of the Dog as a one-man operation. Alan recently hired on the old Head brewer from Silver City.

  • Washington Breweries Shine at GABF

    [...] just celebrated its 1st anniversary this past July!  Not to be overlooked, Silver City Brewery (who I recently profiled here) earned 3 medals. They took gold in the Old Ale or Strong Ale and Irish Style Red Ale categories, [...]

  • madbeerman

    Jesse Shue is now with Hair of the Dog…as far as I understand!

    Thanks for the great write up and kind words!

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