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
How did you and your brother decide to start a
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
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.
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
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
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
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
How do you decide which new beers to
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
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
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
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.
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