Silver City Restaurant & Brewery: Another Excuse to Ride the Ferry

Silverdale eatery's been pumping out award-winning beer for a decade.

Across the sound and around the inlet from Bremerton, Silver City Restaurant & Brewery in Silverdale is the X that marks the spot after a summer's long afternoon ferry ride. Located off a busy street orbiting the Kitsap Mall, Silver City's brewpub has been serving burgers, brew, and more to locals for about 10 years. Owners Scott and Steve Houmes know a little something about meat; they used to own and operate Kitsap County's cultish Top Notch Burger restaurants for years before stepping into the brewing business. What makes Silver City special is the beer, brewed by peninsula native Don Spencer, who has more than 20 years' experience. Friends and patrons call him Big Daddy, and all the waitresses brim with pride when they speak of him. Spencer has been the brewmaster at Silver City since the beginning. He brewed at Thomas Kemper in Poulsbo before the operation moved, which was when the brothers lured him away to Silver City, allowing Spencer to stay local. In the years since, his beers have medaled in all the top national festivals. My favorite Silver City beer—and I am hardly alone—is the "Fat" Scotch Ale. This style of beer, which emphasizes malt, is dark caramel in color and higher in alcohol. Good Scotch ale is like the slow-cooked pork of beer, sweet and savory and oozing with flavor. The Fat is just that, full of coffee, graham, and chocolate goodness, but it's still a smooth drink that hides its 9 percent alcohol astonishingly well. As dark brew goes, the seasonal Sasquatch Stout, the color of French roast, comes in a close second, with an offset of hops that lets every decadent sip finish on a refreshing high. I have my beer propensities as much as the next guy (see above paragraph). I'm not a hophead, for example. I know we grow a ton of the stuff; I just don't think we need to use it all up in every Northwest beer. To me, strongly hopped IPAs (India pale ales) always finish like green tea that's steeped way too long. Silver City's hopped ales have uncommon balance and easy elegance, as well as crazy aromatics. The Clear Creek Pale Ale has a soft carbonation, and it's easy to pick out both the malt and hop characteristics, with bright wildflower aromas taking the beer to another level. The Indianola Pale Ale, Spencer's take on IPA, named after a town to the north of Silverdale, is vibrant and light, with lots of citrus and forest aromas. It might disappoint the hop worshipper, but it's a refined version of a classic, maximum hops used for a more subtle effect. Perhaps in homage to his stint at Thomas Kemper, Spencer also makes root beer and ginger ale, sweetened with cane sugar and honey from the local Stedman Bee Supplies. The honey makes the difference in both nonalcoholic brews. Both come off as softly sweet, and the honey gives the ginger ale in particular an almost buttery quality. In Seattle, Über Tavern habitually offers a Silver City keg on tap, and I've spotted Silver City at Beveridge Place in West Seattle and on the shelves of Bottleworks in Wallingford. Silver City participates in local beer festivals regularly, but to experience the full lineup, you'll have to go over the Sound and through the woods to Big Daddy's house, where beers for take-away are available in bottles or growlers.

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