Brewery News: Silverdale: 20 years ago, Silver City Brewery & Restaurant hired Don "Big Dady" Spencer

Press Release

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."
image courtesy Silver City Brewing
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.
image courtesy Silver City Brewing
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."
image courtesy Silver City Brewing
Top Photo: Brewmaster Don Spencer on Silver City Brewery's opening night in September of 1996 with Silver City's original, 10-barrel brew system.

Bottom Photo: July of 2016, Don with Silver City's brand new 36-barrel brew system, installed in mid-2015.
image courtesy Silver City Brewing

Additional Info:

For most in the Puget Sound, when you look west at the Olympic Mountains you're looking right at the "Silver City". The convergence point right before you jump off into the wilderness of the Olympic National Forest on your way to the Pacific Ocean, resting between the edge of the Puget Sound and the base of the Olympic Mountains, rests Silver City. This Urban-Suburban experience is a sweet brewer's mash of Seattle city life and breathtaking outdoor adventure, all within ones reach. Beer, well made, brings the people of the "Silver City" together in celebration of having it all.

Silver City Restaurant & Brewery 
is the Kitsap Peninsula's premier destination for award-winning, handcrafted beers, Northwest-inspired food, legendary hospitality, and great memories in a fun, friendly environment. 

Silver City was started in 1996 by Co-owners Steve & Scott Houmes, and it remains a locally owned and operated family establishment. Silver City Brewery's handcrafted beers are available on draft, in 22oz bottles, and 12oz bottle & aluminum can 6-packs around the Western Washington area in bars, restaurants, and grocery stores.

Silver City Brewery's production facility & brewery taproom is located at 206 Katy Penman Ave. in Bremerton, WA. Silver City Restaurant is located in Silverdale at 2799 NW Myhre Rd.