Brewery Crew Profiles: J.C. Mercer

The Hopeless Moderate: J.C. Mercer

By Bill Mickelson

On a recent Tuesday evening, J.C. Mercer strode through the swinging door of the Silver City taproom in Carharts and steel-toed boots after just finishing a batch of the brewery’s in-house root beer. He disappeared into the bathroom, like Clark Kent into a phone booth, and reemerged moments later in an electric blue collared shirt with a freshly waxed mustache, ready to take up his post as beertender.

J.C. has been with Silver City for just about a year, training in the cellar and on the packaging line, but over the past month he has spent most of his time learning taproom operations and filling in open shifts behind the bar. He was voted our crewmember of the month for February and this month he makes his triumphant return to the cellar side as production ramps up for the summer season.

Before signing on with Silver City, J.C. made movies, worked in live audio and ran sound and lights for concerts and stage performances throughout Kitsap County. He’s got one of the biggest laughs in the building, an award-winning mustache and initials that nobody knows what they stand for. On a rare night off for him, we met up at Rainy Daze in Poulsbo (since J.C. lives in the North End) in attempt to get him drunk enough to spill the beans on what J.C. really stands for and what keeps his mustache so pristine.  

 

SO THE QUESTION ON EVERYONE’S MIND, WHAT DOES J.C. STAND FOR?

After a pensive moment of silence, with a wry smile, J.C. responds, “It’s my name." He follows up with one of those big, resounding J.C. belly laughs.

 

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN MISTAKEN FOR JAMES CASH PENNEY?

"No, not mistaken for, but it has been posed as a guess for my name."


 

HOW ABOUT JC WHITNEY?

"Haven’t gotten that one before."

 

J. CREW?

"Yes, all the time."

 

JC HUTCHINS?

"A couple of times."

 

JACQUES COUSTEAU?

"Oh yeah."

 

JOHN COOLIDGE?

"Yeah."

 

“John Cougar Mellencamp, if you take out the Mellencamp,” Carla, our beertender for the evening, posits.

 

JOHN COUGAR!? IS THAT YOU?

“No… well,” J.C. replies. “If I was, would I tell you? That’s the question. I’ve been playing the name guessing game for awhile.”

 

JIMMY CARTER?

“Jimmy Carter is a good stand by. That one comes up a lot.”

 

I THINK CARLA MAY HAVE NAILED IT ON THE HEAD EARLIER, AND EVEN YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT THAT YOUR NAME MAY ACTUALLY, OR MAY NOT, BE… JAMES CAGNEY?

“That’s a good one!” J.C. exclaims. “I like that one. Let’s go with that.”

 

“Well, cause you’re not Johnny Cash,” Carla adds.

 

JOSE CUERVO?

“Jose Cuervo,” J.C. laughs. “I’ve gotten that one before too. I think (Silver City Beertender) Josh is on a roll with the J.C. names lately. One of my favorite ones that he’s come up with is Justice Commacho. That’s another good stand by for me."

 

JUSTICE COMMACHO! THE ONE WHO TRAVELS WITH ROSEY CHEEKS AND A WAXED MUSTACHE! WHICH LEADS TO THE NEXT QUESTION ON EVERYONE’S MIND, TELL US ABOUT THE MUSTACHE.

“Ok, yeah, so I did a lot of gig work before, worked at a lot of events and shows. And one of the things that I ended up working regularly was the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede. Really fun gig actually, that’s one I’m gonna miss a lot. This past year was the first year that I didn’t work it… Every year they have a whisker competition. So I’ve had a mustache since probably junior high school, and when this whisker competition came up, people said, ‘Hey, you should enter.’ And I said, ‘Ah, I just have a plain old mustache, there’s nothing crazy about it.’ And they said, ‘Yeah, but you should enter anyway.’ So I did and I ended up getting fourth place that year.”

 

THAT’S PRETTY GOOD.

“Well, it was my first year, and you know first through third place are the only ones who get to take anything home but I figured if I could take fourth with just a regular mustache, I could probably get up on the podium if I worked at it, you know? So I had a year to train… (He laughs another hearty J.C. laugh). And I tested out a variety of mustache products in that time: Tubed wax, bees wax, hair gel, hair spray. I’d read that (Spanish painter Salvador) Dali used fig sugar in his mustache, so I tried sugar and was not very happy with that. So I worked on it and by the next year, I ended up in third place. So I was getting there… the difference has always been that I still had the rest of this going on. That’s been my distinguishing feature the whole time is that I don’t just have the mustache but I also have the rest of my facial hair.”

 

YOU’RE A WELL-ROUNDED INDIVIDUAL.

“In technical terms, it’s a combination of a Dali and a Van Dyke, I think. So I’m kind of outside of any specifically defined mustache genres because I incorporate a few different aspects of facial hair. So anyway, a year in, I was able to get the Dali thing going, just straight out. I was working on perfecting my symmetry for awhile and then I started the curve. I started incorporating a little bit of a turn to things,” he motions with his hands. “It’s been five years in the making, but this is where we’re at now… and I’m pretty happy with it.”

 

“You kind of look like the strongman, you know like from a sideshow in the circus,” Carla says, pouring us a round of Empyre Porter.

 

“Well…” J.C. replies. “It goes back and forth between the strongman and the ring leader. It just depends on whether or not I’m wearing a top hat. I’m looking for the perfect top hat right now.”

 

THAT SOUNDS KIND OF LIKE HOW THE LAST MONTH HAS GONE FOR YOU AT THE BREWERY. WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE AND WHAT DO YOU DO AT SILVER CITY?

“It depends on the day,” J.C. laughs. “Sometimes I’m a beertender, sometimes I’m a packaging assistant. Those are my clock in titles. I’m a part of the cellar team, part cellar, part packaging, then I’m also in the taproom.”

 

YOU ALSO MAKE THE SODA.

“I also make soda. I am the soda man.”

 

YES! YOU’RE PROBABLY THE BEST SODA MAN WE COULD ASK FOR WITH THAT MUSTACHE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB, OF ALL OF THOSE THINGS THAT YOU DO?

“Honestly, I think I the most fun I have is talking to people about the beer and how we make it here at Silver City. Talking about the beer and talking about the process. But the only reason I can do that is because I’ve been back in the cellar doing it.”

 

DID YOU EVER IMAGINE YOURSELF WORKING AT A BREWERY?

“Not until recently. I’ve got 15 years experience in audio. And that’s a lot, I spent a lot of time there. When I was in high school, or even earlier, I wanted to be a filmmaker. I made a movie with my dad when I was like six or seven. I had a collection of Star Wars toys and he bought a VHS recorder, like one of the big, over-the-shoulder ones that actually recorded onto full VHS-size tapes and we filmed ‘Journey to the Golden Planet.’ It was Han Solo and Chewy and C3PO. For some reason, they found this Golden Planet and landed there and explored… Just a ten minute movie that I did with my dad, that got me hooked and I’ve wanted to make movies ever since. Then I went on and made a movie, did a lot of short films and professional video work… And then I ended up in audio kind of as an off-shoot but also just kind of because that’s where I found work. I still miss that stuff. It’s all the stuff in between that I don’t miss: The setting up, the tearing down, the ridiculous hours and the not-so-awesome pay.”

 

WHEN DID CRAFT BEER COME INTO YOUR LIFE?

“Pretty early on. I moved up here in ‘99 but before that, my mom had come up to visit friends who lived in the area and the thing she couldn’t stop talking about was the Silver City Restaurant. It was one of her favorite parts about coming up here to visit. So before I ever came here, all I ever heard about was Silver City. I moved up here in 1999, and I was very much not of legal drinking age, but Silver City was still like this big, cool thing. It’s the kind of thing where it’s like you can’t do this anywhere else. It’s not like a chain. This is the only spot where you can experience it. So that was kind of our family thing for awhile was going out to eat at Silver City. And we had Silver City beer in the house a lot of times cause that’s what my mom would buy. I think my first craft beer was actually an Alaskan Amber, but then I got on a big amber and red kick so Ridgetop Red was I think second or third and I was like, ‘This is f*cking awesome.’ So Ridgetop Red got me hooked. And then I was just trying everything at that point. I’ve gone through a lot of phases in my beer preferences, but I’ve always been a fan of Silver City beer. In a sense, I guess it started in ‘97 or ‘98 when I wasn’t even anywhere near Silverdale. I think I was living in, I can’t remember if we were in Texas or still in Nicaragua at that point. Either way, I was living very far away from here.”

 

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL BREWERY OUTSIDE OF SILVER CITY?

"Ahh," he hesitates. "You said you were gonna give me a bunch of 'what's you favorites,' and I'm like '$&#*!' I'm not good at favorites. I think it's more of I like different things from different places. I like the really unique vibe that you get, the unique differences you get at different places.

 

"I don't know, I'm kind of a hopeless moderate. I'm just kind of really good at playing the middle all the time. So favorites are not my gig."

Brewery Crew Profiles: Brady Harris

Giving the Full, 100 Percent with Brady Harris

By Bill Mickelson

brady_crop.jpg

Last year, around this time and into the summer, Brady Harris was a ridiculously busy guy.

Most days, he would start at 5 a.m. as a personal trainer for clients at The Factory Fitness Center--a warehouse gym in West Bremerton which he was partner in starting up. Then he would work a full day at the brewery, 11 a.m. til around 6 p.m., and from there, he would coach youth baseball for the West Hills Vipers select club until about 9 p.m.  

Then, go home, go to sleep, wake up and do it all again the next day.

He’s coming up on his second anniversary with Silver City in February and was our crew member of the month for January.

While his schedule has lightened slightly as he takes a break from coaching, Brady has recently taken on more responsibility at the brewery as a newly designated packaging lead, taking on the role of filling, organizing and overseeing the thousands of cases of bottles and cans produced at Silver City each week. This past month he’s been getting intimate with Silver City’s newly up-and-running in-house canning machine, getting stoked on the upcoming debut of Tropic Haze and still training at The Factory five days a week.    

I stopped in for a training session one morning before work this past week and learned more about Brady’s background, workouts and all around badassery. 

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 2.03.19 PM.png

 


BILL: WHAT WAS IT THAT YOU SAID YOU WENT TO SCHOOL FOR? 
Brady: “Kinesiology. But that degree turned into Exercise Science ‘cause I transferred to a different school. So Kinesiology, you could be like a P.E. teacher, but Exercise Science, you’ve seen those commercials where there’s people running on treadmills with all that electronic stuff hooked up to them, like gatorade commercials… the other school had that technology, and I was like, that’s awesome.”

WAS THAT SCHOOL IN IOWA? 
“Yeah. Two Iowa schools and they were right in the same town, like two or three minutes away from each other. I thought, you know, I don’t like this school, I don’t want to be a P.E. teacher, cause P.E. teachers are pretty much babysitters, so I went over there where they did personal trainers, and I was like f*** yeah, I want to get strong.” 

WHAT DO YOU DO ON DAYS LIKE TODAY WHEN IT’S JUST YOU?
“Well, it’s not always just me. Tuesday/Thursday are kind of my workout days, but I give people the option. I have like three-day clients and then I have maybe a three-to-four day client, so Tuesday/Thursday gives them the option if they miss, like on a Monday because nobody wants to wake up and come in on Monday, they can come in and get their spare day. But Tuesday/Thursdays are more me. If anything people come in at 8 or 9 and done by 11.” 

PERFECT, CAN YOU TRAIN ME? 
“Train you?”

YEAH, I’LL BE LIKE A ONE-DAY CLIENT…
“A one-day client,” he laughs.

HAVE YOU BEEN A TRAINER ANYWHERE ELSE OR IS THIS YOUR FIRST GIG?
“This is my first gig. Probably first and only. I don’t like the gym setting of like a Snap Fitness or something. Something you’ve gotta wear like a polo to. I like this, raw gym, grungy kind of thing. It’s more my style, strength training. I guess dead-lifting and all that kind of stuff. That boxing atmosphere I guess you could call it.” 

I FEEL IT. YOU’RE IN A WAREHOUSE. INDUSTRIAL. GRITTY. REGGAE MUSIC. 
“It’s cold as s***. In the YMCA it’s gonna be warm, you go in, get your pot of coffee and go talk to people and blah, blah, blah… You come in here, you just get to work. Basically you get going, so you can get warm.” 

“So what do you wanna do, man?”

ALL OF IT. I’M A ONE-DAY CLIENT, SO WE’VE GOT TO DO IT ALL IN ONE DAY… AND I THINK I HAVE LIKE 45 MINUTES BEFORE I HAVE TO GO TO WORK. 
“Cool… we’ll just touch every machine. Just lift every machine. All of it. Right. So… uh… let’s go row. Let’s go get the body warm.” 

[We head to the stationary rowing machines and start moving.]

“Some people run, some people, I don’t know, stretch…. I row. It’s good to row and get a good sweat going. Basically by the time people are done doing 500 meters on this, they can take their sweatshirt off and they’re ready to go.” 

SO YOU STARTED HERE BEFORE WORKING AT SILVER CITY? HOW’D YOU FIND SILVER CITY OR HOW’D THEY FIND YOU?
“So Silver City, that’s where coaching became involved. I coached the West Hills Vipers (Kitsap select youth baseball). I was an assistant coach over there, and lo and behold little Jack Houmes (son of Silver City Brewery owner Scott Houmes) was there. So I met Scott and Sunny through that. I’d been training Sunny (Scott's wife). Scott came around, he trained with Jesse (Cummings, owner of The Factory). And then Jesse and I both would train the athletes so Jack came in.” 

“I was only training until noon every day, so I was like, I want something to do, I’m bored. So… started looking for a second job and Sunny was like, why don’t you contact Scott, come into the brewery see what it’s like. So I talked to Scott, came in and saw the brewery. And I started, like two or three days a week.” 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH SILVER CITY? 
“It’ll be my second year in February.”

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
“Job title would be packaging lead… which I share with Uriah. He’s the morning guy and I’m like the afternoon/night guy. And, basically, what we do, we find our goal of bottles or cans we have to do for the next week or that day... We figure that out, make it happen, and basically, from start to finish, we finalize the product.”

“It’s a lead job which is nice. But yeah, it can be stressful. Then, in the night, I guess I’m kind of like the night Mel (distribution lead), or a night cellarman. So it’s pretty cool because I get to do almost everything. Like, last week, I washed kegs for like an hour straight, and I was totally fine with it because it’s nice to jump around.” 

WHAT ARE WE DOING NEXT? 
“Let’s do battle ropes.” 

BATTLE ROPES?! RAD.

WHAT KIND OF BEER WOULD YOU PAIR WITH THIS 7 A.M. WORKOUT? 
“Definitely like a nice citrus IPA… Something a little fruity to get the day going.” 

WHAT WERE THE NAME OF THOSE SCHOOLS IN IOWA? 
“First one was Clark University and the second one was University of Dubuque. Dubuque was the city, so the University of Dubuque would I guess be like their city college. But there was like four or five colleges in one little town. It was a party town for sure. The four-year universities, there were like three or four of those. Then you got some community ones. You even had like a bible church and even they still partied, you know…” 

DID YOU GO THERE TO PLAY BALL?
“Oh yeah… I wasn’t even gonna go to school and then some dude named Chad Harris, people thought he was my uncle, came hailing into OC to see three of my buddies, and said, ‘Any one else out here that wants to play ball?’ And they said, 'Well, there’s Brady. He throws hard. He’s a pitcher.’ So we went to Iowa on a recruiting trip. I threw bullpen and he was like, ‘Yeah. We can definitely use you.’ So I started doing all the scholarship stuff and an academic scholarship and it made sense, so I was like f*ck it, I’m gonna go play baseball.” 

HOW LONG DID YOU SPEND THERE? 
“Oh… three or four years. Baseball’s kind of what carried me. I probably wouldn’t have gotten the grades without it. Baseball has driven me my whole life, because if I didn’t get a C or B I wouldn’t be playing.” 

“Let’s move on to something else… let’s get some squats in.” 

YES, PERFECT QUESTION… HOW MUCH CAN YOU BENCH PRESS? 
“I’ll be honest, right now, I can probably bench 290, 290 right now. I’ve gotten to 300 before but my goal has always been 315. That means you get three 45’s on each side. That’s like my all time goal is to rep that out.” 

HOW MUCH CAN YOU SQUAT? 
“Right now I’m at about 385.” 

AND WHAT ABOUT DEADLIFT? 
Probably like 410. 

I THOUGHT I WAS MAKING THAT LAST ONE UP, THOSE ARE THE ONLY LIFTS I CAN REMEMBER THE NAMES OF. WHERE DID YOUR LOVE FROM THE GYM COME FROM? FROM BASEBALL? 
“Kind of… So at OC, we had like 90 guys trying out, freshman team baseball, very intimidating. Especially because I came from Belfair. I have this thing where I don’t think I’m good enough at some stuff when I actually am OK at it, so I was nervous as hell coming from lil’ town Belfair. We got kids coming from Seattle, Tacoma, all these kind of first-team kind of baseball people. And I went there, and they put us through this hell week. They put us through these speed agilities at like four or five in the morning, it was like a mental thing. Like if you couldn’t do it, we’re doing it over again. If someone didn’t get their knee low enough, we’re doing it over again. And I guess that’s what kind of pushed me. I was like ‘Hell yeah, if somebody’s telling me I can’t do something, I’m gonna prove them wrong that I can do it.’”

HOW DID COACHING COME ABOUT? 
“Coaching was another thing kind of like lifting, I wanted to give something back. I don’t know. I love the game of baseball. And I just like helping people.” 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU COACHED? 
“I actually just stopped this summer because three jobs is just too much. And I had to pick. I was basically not giving my 100 percent effort into baseball because I had two other jobs. It was like 60/60/60 or something like that, and I was just gassed. I was tired. But nowadays I do wish I could go back and coach.”

DID YOU EVER KNOW YOU’D END UP COACHING? 
“Oh yeah… It was always like after I hang up my cleats, I’m not gonna play softball, I’m gonna coach. But now I wanna play softball, kind of.”

TELL ME ABOUT THE NEW CANNING MACHINE. DOES IT HAVE A NAME YET? 
“Oh dude... It’s had Can Chancellor... um... it had something to do with Carmen Electra. But I don’t think we have a specific name. I think we’re trying to give it a name rather than a slogan. I think that’s the hardest part. Like Canatopia. I don’t know.”

YOU’VE BEEN CANNING THE RED, NICE DAY, COLD ONE 12-OUNCE TRIO LATELY… IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE COMING UP THAT YOU’RE STOKED TO CAN? 
“Tropic Haze, man. That’s a delicious beer, and the can is rad, and I can’t wait to try it, maybe shotgun the first can that comes off the line.” 

SO YOU GREW UP IN BELFAIR? 
“Yeah, I think was the only guy that didn’t have like a four-wheel-drive truck or a cowboy hat, I swear to god.” 

WHAT’D YOU DRIVE? 
“I had a Nissan Maxima. And that thing was pretty fast for a 16-year-old. It had a V6 in it and everything. It was my dad’s sports car at the time. But I let loose in that thing. Belfair. Small town. Yeah. Met my best friend there. Got a lot of friends there. That 10-year reunion’s coming up.”

WHAT DO YOU WANNA BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? 
“I’m chill with where I’m at right now. Doing the gym and the brewery. It’s what makes me happy, I mean, at times it’s stressful, some people think like you’ve got two jobs, or at the time you’ve got three jobs, but I’m doing what I love. And I’d rather spend my days doing that than sit in a cubicle or sit in a place where I’m like, ‘Man I wish I was doing something like training or working at a brewery.'” 

ian_gary_brady.jpeg
brady.jpg

Brewery Crew Profiles: Josh McKenna

Brewery Crew Profiles: Josh McKenna

Josh McKenna is arguably the most jolly member of the Silver City crew. The smile on his face is nearly ever-present. He’s quick with a joke and affable behind the bar. He pours a good beer and is a veritable craft beer connoisseur. Long before he started on at Silver City, he was a regular patron of the taproom. He used to inform the beertender back in those days when he’d stop in to have a few beers on his way home from work: “One day, I’m going to work for you guys.” 

!DOCTYPE html> insert_pixel_code_here