Tag Archives: beer

Restaurant Q&A: Silver City Restaurant and Brewery

Megan Moran pours two beers for a Tuesday night crowd at Silver City Restaurant and Brewery.


Brothers Scott and Steve Houmes, sons and grandsons of restaurateurs and former owners of Top Notch Burger restaurants in Bremerton and Silverdale, opened Silver City Restaurant and Brewery in 1996. Last year, Silver City opened its Bremerton brewery to expand its beer-production capacity and increase restaurant seating in the space formerly occupied by brewing operations.

As part of my work on Kitsap Sun’s upcoming restaurant guide (due out in October), I interviewed co-owner Scott Houmes. A portion of the Q&A will appear in the guide, but Food Life readers get the full, uncut version. Well, uncut except for the parts where I didn’t type nearly fast enough (or forgot to type as I listened) and consequently portions of the conversation were omitted.

How did you and your brother decide to start a brewery?
We decided it was a good fit for Kitsap County. It’s something that we had a passion for as far as the food industry and great craft beer. We thought at that time that Kitsap County was ready for it.

How did you meet brewmaster Don Spencer?
We went on a recruiting trip for a brewmaster. We knew that brewmasters were kind of a brotherhood, so we took a tour of Thomas Kemper [which formerly brewed in Poulsbo]. We wanted to meet a brewer and put the word out there. In 1996, they didn’t have Monster.com or any of those things, so we were doing it the old fashioned way. … We took a tour with Don Spencer and after the tour, we took him aside and said this is what we were doing and if you know anyone, spread the word. Luckily, Don didn’t tell anybody and we ended up hiring him shortly after that. Being a brewmaster is a pretty coveted position. He was able to come in and create his own recipes and styles and brew what he wanted to brew and brew what Kitsap County would like.

About 50 additional seats have been placed in the area formerly occupied by the brewing operation.

How’s business?
Good. We have a good following. We just finished an expansion that we’ve been working on for the past eight to 10 months. Our business grew and grew every year since we opened in ’96. In the past five years, we’d have a waiting a line at the door every week, and we knew we needed space for more guests and our beer was becoming more and more popular so we took the brewing operations from the site… We have a production brewing facility down in in Bremerton and we’re now distributing our beer throughout Western Washington. We were able to open 50 more seats for our guests and eliminate the wait for our tables.

After 15 years, you still have steady business and a social media following most local businesses could envy. What do you think has kept Silver City so popular?
I think being a brewpub or this style of restaurant and brewery lends itself to having more of a neighborhood feel, a place that the community can call their own. The beer is brewed in the area … a lot of people have learned about craft beer through Silver City. It’s not just part of another chain. It’s a locally owned place that they can feel good about, that’s the first thing. And No. 2, we have a great staff with a great level of service, second to none and we offer a great selection of food that you can come and eat in any attire … with flip-flops or a tie.

You moved brewing operations to Bremerton and expanded the restaurant in the vacated vat space, how have the changes gone?
It’s gone over great. It’s given the operation a lot more space for the guests. The wait time has been reduced and it’s expanded our brewing capacity. We’re able to produce more seasonal beers on a consistent basis, give more variety for our gusts and it gives a better flow for the restaurant. One of the main things our guests would always comment on was a long wait for a table and it was cramped quarters in there. …Having people hungry and standing in line for 45 minutes is not something anybody wants to do.

When are you going to open a tasting room at the brewery?
That’s a good question. With the growth of the distribution business, it’s kept me on my toes. We’ve darn near tripled our production from what we had four years ago, so we’ve been busy with that and busy with remodeling the restaurant… The type of business we can open up down here is limited because of lack of parking in our industrial area. You can’t open a 50- to 60-seat restaurant with 15 parking spaces, so it will be something more like a tap room with a lack of food. If we can’t get them someplace to park, they won’t come.

The biggest excuse is: it’s been a matter of time. We have had it open for keg sales and bottle sales out of the brewer since the first of January. We sell between 20 and 30 kegs a weekend.

People can go down there and pick it up?
They can call ahead and order and we make sure its ready nine times out of 10 for the weekend.

What beers do you have under development?
As in new? We have our year-round beers, our most popular being Ridgetop Red and the Fat Scotch Ale, our Indianola Pale Ale, the Panther Lake Porter and our Bavarian Hefeweizen and Whoop Pass IPA.

We also have beers that we like to have our seasonal beer rotation and right now, we have our Oktoberfest … We’re one of the few that brew a traditional Oktoberfest lager. Our next seasonal lager will be our winter bock, which we’re very excited about.

When will (the winter bock) be out?
That will be out the beginning of November.

Is this the first year for the winter bock?
We brewed it on an annual basis at the brewpub, but now as far as distribution, this will be our first year.

Our seasonal beer this summer was a Ziggy Zoggy and it was very successful. It’s a great summer, easy-drinking beer with some honey notes to it much like a summer pilsner but very sessionable. … I don’t know if you’ll find that in the dictionary. What we mean is that you can drink them in succession.

Tell me about menu changes over the years.
Basically the guests have helped determine our menu over the years. We re-order the fresh sheet on a rotating basis. We bring out new items on the fresh sheet, an appetizer, several entrees and a dessert. They coincide with the season. For the fall, we have bratwurst and schnitzel. In the wintertime, you’re going to have more of  hearty dish and such. With those items, depending on how well they’re received and how well they sell determines what goes on the menu in the future.

We can’t just keep adding to the menu, though, to keep the flow of the kitchen and the restaurant. … Some restaurants just have a huge menu, and order to do what we do, we keep the food fresh. We just can’t offer a million different items.  … Something like a schnitzel, where it would be very popular, it won’t go on the menu because its a fun thing to have every season. It’s nice to change to the menu, but it’s also hard because people get in the habit of having their favorite item. … You have to make those tough decisions.

How do you decide which new beers to introduce?
They’re all inspired by Don Spencer, our brewmaster. … Throughout the years, we’ve had up to 40 different styles. We have a small brewery here called our pilot brewery where we can brew two kegs of beer at a time, so it can start in that fashion, and we’ll put that beer on at the pub and see how it’s received. If the brew is successful, it would evolve into a pub series beer that’s mainly for the pub. We’ll brew 20 barrels, that’s 40 kegs, and that wil be on at the pub for four weeks or so. Based on the success of the beer, not only the sales but how it fits our lineup, will determine that.

Some beers will be seasonal, but like the restaurant menu, you can only have so many brews year-round. Our brewery is getting larger, but it’s not that large.

Do you home brew beer?
No, my brother and I are restaurateurs. Since we opened the new facility, I’m more of an overseer of the brewing operations and brewing distribution and he’s more of an overseer of the restaurant. We come from a family of restaurant owners. Both my grandfather and father were in the business. My grandfather started a chain called Kings Table and my father joined it in late ’60s, early ’70s. They were part of growing it all along the West Coast.

What’s your favorite beer and food pairing?
My favorite, let’s see here. I would have to say my favorite pairing is a Ridgetop Red with our firecracker wings because a red is nice and sweet with nice caramel notes, and not overpowering, and the firecracker wings have a spicy ginger and garlic to it. Most wings are just spicy, but with ginger and garlic to our wings, its very unique. The spiciness slows me down so i don’t eat too much.

Tell me about the best beer you’ve ever had and why it was so memorable.
That’s a tough question … I’ve come to appreciate every beer for its own style. I used to be a real hop-head and say nothing was good unless it was an IPA or Double IPA, but the longer I’m in this business, the more I appreciate the number of styles there are and the number of flavors there are. My next favorite beer is the beer I haven’t had yet, and I’m going to ponder over.

What’s next for Silver City?
A lot of people have encouraged us to grow over the years. They say, ‘Open a restaurant in my town’ up and down the Kitsap Peninsula down to Gig Harbor and up to Port Townsend and Sequim. Growing up in this business. … What it takes is time away from our family and time away from a lot of our restaurants and it turns into a big battle. This business is hard enough as it is with one restaurant and one brewery. … We’re more content with ensuring our business in Bremerton and Silverdale do what we say we’re going to do as far as having great operations, great food and great beer rather than grow it and expand operations. We’re planning on making Silver City as good as it’s ever been if not better.

Weeklong events celebrate Kitsap beer

It was a fortuitous coincidence that sent us to tasting rooms at some of Poulsbo’s newest breweries. Not only did I learn that Slippery Pig now has a tasting area open (and also apparently a fine Dandelion Bitter and Rhubarb Pale Ale), but also that last weekend kicked off the weeklong Kitsap Hopstock.

Sadly, I missed a chance to tell you about Der Blokken’s dinner (that I missed too) last Saturday, but there will be plenty of other events going on this week. Various bars will have specials and add local brews to their lineups.

Some highlights:

From 5 to 7 tonight, Tizley’s Europub in downtown Poulsbo hosts a meet-and-greet with local brewers, after which they all head down to Marina Market for a “Throwdown!” to pit local beers against international bestsellers.

On Wednesday, Poulsbo Pub crawl with 4-ounce tasters of local beers at a dozen spots around town.

On Saturday, Stone Crow in Bremerton (on Sylvan Way at Wheaton) will have a pig roast, classic cars and  specials on local beers.

On Sunday, Slippery Pig will host what seems to be a big backyard barbecue including a $5 badminton tournament with prizes. The tasting area will be open and a grill will be on for anyone who wants to bring and grill their own meat.

A list of all events are available at kitsaphopstock.com.


Talk on world beers and food pairings in Port Orchard

For the beer (and food with beer) lovers out there, Bay Street Bistro chef and owner John Strasinger, who also worked for years at Pike Place Brewing, will talk about brewing styles from around the world as well as beer and food pairings from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 22 at the Port Orchard Library.

Afterward, Puget Sound Wine cellar John Ready will host a beer tasting and snacks until 9 p.m.

Beer Alert: A Little Brew and a Few Strange Folks Coming

I can get away with calling some people from Port Townsend strange. I mean, the unofficial town slogan is “We’re here because we’re not all there.” And I love that little city all the more for it.

I can find myriad reasons for going: to visit some pretty good people, fantastic consignment shops, good restaurants, a place to get vintage cookbooks and coming Jan. 28-30, the seventh annual Strange Brewfest.

In years past, it had been hosted at Water Street Brewing, which closed its doors in June. But people involved with Water Street are again involved in the Strange Brewfest, though this year it will be at the American Legion, which just happens to about double the space.

Thirty breweries will be there, as will food (the site hints at some kind of fresh fish tacos), and entertainment ranges from music to a costume contest Saturday. Cost is $25 cash.

Beer and Cupcakes: Grand Openings Friday and Saturday

Kitsap has two new venues to celebrate today and Saturday.

Today, Valhöll Brewery, 20186 Front Street, celebrates the grand opening of its taproom to the general public. Some locals got a taste of Valhöl’s beers at the Kitsap Oktoberfest this summer, where they served up a Smoked Cherry Rye and a Licorice IPA, both of which quickly disappeared. I tried one, the smoked cherry, at the suggestion of Charles Keating, who suggested rightly that it went well with the Popcorn Chef’s dark chocolate and chipotle flavor.

Reporter Tristan Baurick will have had a story on the brewery in Monday’s paper. He says the beers all pack a punch, (though apparently it was too early in the day for him to taste-test it) and are brewed to be full of flavor.

The grand opening is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (sorry for the late notice). Their beer also is on tap at Tizley’s and Hare & Hounds.

On Saturday, the trio of ladies from Bella Bella, who we met last spring, have opened a retail location for their cupcakes at 10726 Silverdale Way, Suite 107, in Silverdale. Their celebration goes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and they’ll serve cupcakes (of course), kolaches, Blue Bird Coffee and Espresso, Viking Feast Ice Cream, and Smith Brothers Farms Milk.

For much of the past year, they had been making cupcakes at a commercial kitchen in Bremerton for parties and for special order. They started baking in their new kitchen today, according to a post on their Facebook page.

Beer and Wine Taste-Tests at Farmers Markets? Maybe

The big talk during this legislative session will be, of course, about cutting the budget. However, many bills will be introduced (and will likely never make it out of committee) to address any number of issues.

Among those many pieces of suggested legislation is a bill that could pave the way for beer and wine tastings at farmers markets, according to a story from the Seattle Times. Tastings would have to be two ounces or less, and only four ounces per customer.

Last year, the Legislature allowed grocery stores to allow wine and beer tastings, though if there have been any locally, I missed them.

So far, this seems to be the only food-related bill, but it’s only the first day of this year’s session.

Food, Wine and Beer Events Happening Soon

Ideally, I’d write a blog post and expand upon each of these, but with time ticking away, I feel I should at least make sure I let everyone know about these upcoming food-related events. If you go, take a few photos and send them to me (adice@kitsapsun.com), and I’ll post them. I promise to do the same with the events I go to. If you know of more events, I’ll add ’em:

Saturday, September 18: Taste of Lynwood
The Taste of Lynwood celebrates the Bainbridge Island neighborhood. From noon to 8 p.m., the neighborhood will host food, live music and family activities.

Sunday, Sept. 19: KCCA Harvest Meal/Local Food chef Showoff
Foods from Kitsap farms are prepared by local chef and served buffet style. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bremer Student Center at Olympic College If you’re going, you should probably get tickets now. The Buy Local Food in Kitsap blog has more on the event at buylocalfoodinkitsap.org.

Continue reading

Big Local Beer News for Silverdale (and the Rest of Kitsap)

Rumors have been floating around town that after months of searching, Hales would put its new Kitsap location in Silverdale. Turns out rumors were true, as business reporter Rachel Pritchett confirmed today. Hales signed a 10-year-lease with the Kitsap Mall. It will move into the spot formerly occupied by Champ’s next to Kohl’s, which happens to be across the parking lot from Silver City brewery.

Silver City owners said they welcome the company and, in fact, have big news of their own. Anyone who’s been to the brewpub during dinnertime in the past year has probably run into a wait for a table. Just try going on a Friday night, and you’ll likely find yourself able to finish your Christmas shopping before you eat. Well, they’ve noticed, too.

Silver City is in the preliminary stages of moving its brewing operations elsewhere so they can both make more beer and expand the restaurant, as also reported by Rachel Pritchett.

Beer Review: Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale

You know you’re a lush when you roll through the grocery store checkout line with a basketful of beer and little else. I try to explain it away by saying I’m sharing, I don’t drink it all at once and I have to taste test things. I’m a food blogger.

So I’m legitimizing the basketful of beer I brought home last weekend with a review, though it be a well-warranted one.

I’m always looking to try something new, and I hit up several grocery stores that often have good beer selections. One being the beer aisles of Central Market in Poulsbo, the occasional gem found at the Red Apple in Silverdale and on occasion Fred Meyer in Bremerton. I’m also told the Albertson’s in Port Orchard also has a top-notch selection, though I’ve not seen it for myself.

On this particular day, I was in Fred Meyer. Not actually for beer, but while I was there … Their overall beer selection is OK, but what makes this place stand out are the Belgians. I picked out a few based on some vague memories of hearing the name from friends, beer sites or maybe just walking through a beer aisle one too many times.

But the first bottle we cracked, a Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend (Quadrupel) from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York, was a delight. It was my first quadrupel, a Belgian ale that isn’t as common as its sibling the Tripel ale. It’s more akin to wine, and has the same ability to improve with age.

But to heck with the aging (for now), on to the opening:

The bottle has instructions for pouring. That’s how serious it is. They mostly caution you to pour carefully so as not to disrupt too much sediment from the bottom.

It pours out dark amber with ruby notes in the color. There’s a fair amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle

Taking a good whiff before drinking, you get a malty fruity note. This beer is blended (as the name implies) with cherry Lambic (98-percent ale, 2-percent cherry) , but it’s not overt and it’s not cloyingly sweet.

Overall, it’s a complex beer mixing creamy notes with a fresh note from the cherry. It’s a fairly malty beer but doesn’t feel too heavy. It’s warming and, without too much bitter tone, very drinkable.

The slightly sweet and fruit tones paired well with the smoky, spicy kebabs I made. Heck, we may have thought it paired well with anything after half a glass. The beer has 9.8 percent alcohol by volume.

But don’t just take my word for it. Try it yourself (assuming you’re of drinking age, etc., etc.) or read reviews from more experienced beer reviewers than I: the beer geeks over at beeradvocate.com, have a fair set of reviews. Of the more than 1,000 reviewers, Three Philosphers got an overall A- rating.

Beer and Crab … Need I Say More?

Beer Batter Crab Fritters
Beer Batter Crab Fritters

Somehow, I managed to hold on to a half pound of crab meat without eating it immediately! For those who know me, this is quite a feat. I can barely wait for a crab to cool before I start ripping the thing open, let alone let shelled meat wait to become part of a cooked dish.

But I’d decided on making crab cakes.

My past attempts have been OK, variations on some flour, egg, maybe a few herbs and, of course, crab. The best I’d previously done was one that included very few of the former and a whole lot of the latter. It was basically crab meat loosely held together by some stuff you couldn’t taste at all over the crab.

But I wanted to do it up right and fancy. Plus I’d recently thumbed through Seattle culinary icon Tom Douglas’ “I Love Crab Cakes!”, 50 recipes that examine different cake styles, different crabs and recipes from all over.

And then I happened upon a recipe that included another one of my favorite food-like substances: beer.

So it ended up being not exactly a crab cake, it’s technically a deep-fried fritter.

It turned out well, though I could have used a little more crab for my personal tastes. I used a pilsner so as not to overpower the flavor, which also ends up being a great leftover to pair with the fritters afterward. I lack a hot oil thermometer, so I probably had it a little too hot, not cooking the inside quickly enough before getting a deep browned outside and allowing the whole thing to crisp. I paired it with a garlic-y remoulade dip, that was OK, but not spectacular so I’m not adding the recipe here. The book has one that I’ve yet to try. I also served a side salad and a corn cornbread.

And without further adieu, here’s the recipe: Continue reading