beer

Press Release: Fall Seasonals Oktoberfest Lager & Sesh Appeal Classic Lager

Oktoberfest Lager
 

As the sunburns subside, the last of the empty Ziggy Zoggy cans find their way into the recycler, and the shadows grow longer, inevitability sets in: autumn approaches. You'd be hard pressed to find a more breathtaking atmosphere than a Pacific Northwest summer, but in reality early fall in Washington State rivals it in almost every way.

Temperatures mellow out just enough to draw us willingly out of our air-conditioned hideaways, the scenery for hiking and kayaking is ever-more beautiful with the changing of leaves and vegetation, the ubiquitous blackberry bushes ripen, and it marks the return of a custom near and dear to the hearts of every true Washingtonian. Football.

For the crew at Silver City Brewery, football holds an additional special significance- the preseason annually coincides with the bottling and kegging of the year's first batches of Oktoberfest Lager. "B...but... October isn't for over a month yet," one may ask. While that may be true, its namesake Bavarian festival actually begins in mid-September. In anticipation of the mass frickin' quantities our thirsty, devoted drinking team will imbibe... well, let's just say we wanted to make sure we were ready for you. And we are.

It's no secret that German-style lagers are favored styles around Silver City Brewery. There's no greater homage to the tradition than Oktoberfest Lager. A light butterscotch-colored liquid that pours with white, frothy suds, Oktoberfest Lager instantly explodes with spiced aromas not unlike cinnamon and nutmeg, entirely symptomatic of the German Hersbrucker hops. A deep breadiness hits the palate, the fresh-baked pretzel character of rich Munich malt. Lingering just long enough to watch Rawls run it in for six, the lager cleans itself up gracefully with the unmistakably brilliant dry finish of authentic Pilsner yeast.

Oktoberfest Lager is practically built to be paired with bratwurst. That's a no-brainer, especially as bratwurst makes for excellent gameday grub. Find yourself a local butcher that makes truly authentic Bavarian-style sausages and minds will be blown. However, the beer also stands up incredibly well to buffalo wings, providing a nice, rich malt profile that doesn't get overshadowed by the peppery vinegar-based sauce and also acts as a solid digestif. It pairs well with chili for many of the same reasons (especially if you can spare a few sips to deglaze the pan).

Oktoberfest Lager is now available on draft and in 22oz bottles... but what about cans?

Sesh Appeal Classic Lager

We've gotten pretty used to having a crushable lager around with Ziggy Zoggy Summer Lager and Cold One Pilsner Beer immediately preceding it. It was almost too great a tragedy to consider that Ziggy is done for the year and Cold One doesn't get its start until late December. Enough of a tragedy that we decided to do something about it.

Sesh Appeal Classic Lager is literally everything you could possibly want out of a smashable lager beer. Excellent flavor? Check. Light body? Check. German-influenced? Check. Comes in a can? Sextuple-check.

Taking inspiration from last year's Sieben Braü Seattle Beer Week Lager, Sesh Appeal Classic Lager is a refined take on the classic Helles-style. Pouring bright gold with the perfect amount of carbonation, aromas of fresh baked bread hit the nose instantly. Like its big brother, Oktoberfest Lager, Sesh Appeal makes great use of the Hersbrucker hop, but sets itself apart with the addition of Mt. Hood hops for a touch of sweetness. Vienna malt joins Pilsner malt to provide a light toasted note and a complexity that finishes crisp & clean. When sipped, it's subtly can be deeply appreciated, but the beer is deliberately light enough that it can be smashed on throughout an entire game while staying easy on the belly.

Like Oktoberfest, Sesh Appeal is amazing with gameday food. It's light profile enables pairing with richer foods like burritos or nachos. It's a great companion while grillin' up some dogs, especially when prepared Seattle-style with cream cheese and tomatoes on the bun. But honestly, this beer holds up well with just about any food you throw at it. Its complexity can be enjoyed out of a snifter, but its attitude and immediacy makes it perfect for crushing cans on a Sunday afternoon.

Sesh Appeal Classic Lager is now available in 6-packs of 12oz. cans.

The Giant Made of Shadows & 2015 Vintage Bourbon Barrel-Aged Giant Made of Shadows

Silver City Brewery Announces a Dual-Release: Giant Made of Shadows and its Bourbon Barrel-Aged Variant

 

The Giant Made of Shadows
 

Behold, the Giant. A monolithic masterpiece of bombastic flavor, domineering the senses with its intense, roasty, caramelization and fiery, fruity spiciness imparted by its specialized fermentation. Run from the shadows, not from the Giant.
 

A relatively recent addition to the Silver City Brewery canon, the Giant Made of Shadows was brought to fruition in summer of 2013 partly by the true-brew aficionados of taproom. Earlier that year, Matt Riggs, the brewery's notoriously Belgian-obsessed director of pilot beer development introduced a series of small-batch, experimental recipes utilizing a variety of Belgian yeast strains. Unlike anything that had emerged from the brewery to-date, this series of high-strength delicacies gained an immense following- to the point that the draft-only offerings would often times sell out within a single weekend. Demand was particularly strong for two of the exotic ales: Liquid Sunshine Tripel [currently an annually recurring April release] & The Giant Made of Shadows Strong Ale.

Now an annual tradition available on draft & in 22oz bottles throughout the region, The Giant Made of Shadows fulfills the deepest desires of dark beer fans that feel abandoned in the summertime landscape of hoppy pales and sessionable lagers. Unashamedly toasty, utilizing deeply-roasted premium English malts and the bold, coffee-like Carafa malt, the Giant detonates the palate with elements of dark fruit and caramel character. This is one strong beer, and should most certainly be approached as such.

The Giant mandates hearty cuisine. Well-aged English cheddar is a must. As a summer offering, we would be remiss if we didn't mention this bier's spectacular kinship with the BBQ, particularly smoked brisket. If you can spare a few ounces, beef short ribs sing if glazed with a reduction of the Giant with garlic, rosemary, red onion, and balsamic.

...but we didn't stop with just the conventional Giant Made of Shadows. A beer of its strength and crepuscule commands real-estate in the barrel-aging room...
 

2015 Bourbon Barrel-Aged Giant Made of Shadows
 

The Giant returns to the shadows. Towards the end of each release, a portion of the season's final batch is diverted to a year-long slumber in Silver City's barrel-aging room. The complexity of a beer like the Giant provides a unique opportunity: determining which type of barrel would best accentuate the fluid within as there many remarkable options. 
 

And so, the 2015 Giant Made of Shadows was selected for aging in single-use Kentucky Bourbon barrels, providing a rich vanilla & smokey charcoal element to the monstrous brew. Unable to be contained by stave or hoop, the Giant explodes with richness and complexity.

The 2016 Giant Made of Shadows will chart new territory. Plans are unfolding that will see the current year's batch aged in Port wine barrels, for release in mid-2017. As such, this will be the final opportunity to acquire Bourbon Barrel-Aged Giant before it returns to the Shadows indefinitely...

Available in extraordinarily limited 500ml bottles, this rarity will be released at the brewery taproom on Thursday, July 28th and in specialty bottle shops across Western Washington.

Silver City Brewery Celebrates Don "Big Daddy" Spencer's Twenty-Year Milestone as Brewmaster

July 1st, 1996
 

Brothers Scott & Steve Houmes were putting the finishing touches on the building that was soon to become Silver City Restaurant & Brewery. Their beautiful new brewing system had arrived, awaiting assembly... and the most critical piece of the brewhouse, the brewmaster, was now officially signed.

"The windows weren't installed yet, and there was all of this brewing equipment laying around unsecured," Don recollects, "I actually brought a mattress onto the brew floor and lived at the brewery for a couple of weeks. I wasn't about to leave everything unattended just weeks before launch. I'd run up to the gas station, grab a six-pack of [whatever], and sit watch all night while installing the fittings on the fermenters."



Don's journey as brewmaster hardly begins with Silver City Brewery. His fascination with fermentation dates back to high school, where he had developed quite a following among his peers as "the beer man" at a time before even most adults knew what homebrewing was all about. This eventually led to a tutelage at Thomas Kemper Brewing Co. in Poulsbo, where he honed his talents from 1992 to 1996, eventually achieving the Head Brewer title.

It was at Thomas Kemper where Don became acquainted with two fledgling businessmen, the Houmes brothers, who had attended a public tour of the brewery. While dishing the technical details of the art & science of brewing, little did Don know that these young beer enthusiasts and restauranteurs were in the hunt for an expert to spearhead a brewery of their own. When the tour concluded, the brothers briefed their guide on their grandiose plans to open a brewpub in Silverdale the following September in 1996.

"They asked me to spread the word to anybody I knew that might be qualified and interested in the job... of course I didn't tell anyone else about it," Don remembers with a grin.

Officially part of the team, Don had little more than two months to develop a complete brewing program. "The first beer we ever brewed was Clear Creek Pale. The first batch came out a lot more bitter than I imagined, so we dialed back the hopping to make sure it was perfect for launch." 

Amusing, in 2016, to think about a pale ale being deemed "too bitter".

Today, sitting in his office, Don reaches deep into a file and produces a stack of weathered, wide-ruled notebooks. 

"Just starting out, we didn't have all of these computers with Excel. We had to do all of this by hand," he shares as he pours over the fermentation schedules and temperature notes from 20 years ago.



When asked his proudest achievements are of his twenty-year career as brewmaster, "I'd really have to say all of the people I've had the privilege of working with who have gone on to do great things of their own. A lot of Silver City brewers have moved on to open breweries or their own or achieved head brewer positions elsewhere."

"The 2009 Great American Beer Festival was pretty amazing. We won three medals that year, including a Gold for Ridgetop Red. Also winning three awards at the 2012 World Beer Cup as well, with a Gold for Imperial Stout, a recipe that's very dear to me."

Even with half a lifetime of brewing achievements under his belt, Big Daddy only continues to push the envelope. In 2015, Silver City brewery was bestowed with the honor of producing the official lager of Seattle Beer Week #7, largely due to Don's extensive experience with German-style lagers. 

So far in 2016, Silver City Brewery has experienced another great year with new successes including Nice Day IPA, the first addition to the year-round lineup since 2010, and the revisiting of old classics as part of the 20th Anniversary Series lineup including Copper Mountain Bock and Big Daddy's own namesake ESB.

Of his longtime friend & colleague, brewery owner Scott Houmes adds, "Don has truly been the foundation of Silver City Brewery. I am extremely grateful to have had Don at the helm of the brewery. His passion, perseverance and patience has played a huge part of the success that we enjoy today.   Twenty years flew by, I look forward to the next twenty."

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