Sunday, March 18, 2012

Silver Creek Brewing

                Today my wife and I went out for a drive.  We decided to head up to a new brewery and the closest one that we haven’t been to yet was Silver Greek Brewing in Cedarburg, WI.  Cedarburg is about 15 minutes north of Milwaukee and about 5 miles off Hwy 43.

The brewery is a little hard to find however because it is hidden behind a feed store, and the sign for it is fairly easy to miss.

Fortunately there were a few people that we met up with who were headed back to the brewery for what I had assumed at the time was beer, but when we got there all they ordered were two cans of Diet Coke…  I was floored.  The brewery was definitely picturesque although at the time it didn’t occur to me to actually take pictures of it.  The brewery has a rather large beer garden on the banks of a small creek (Silver Creek?) just downstream from a spillway.  I had my wife hold a table in the crowded beer garden and walked in to try the current sample tray.  Walking into the brewery I first walked past an overlook of the original mill race that was used when the building Silver Creek Brewery is in used to be a grist mill (pretty awesome).

                Surprisingly in addition to the 6 house brews on tap, Silver Creek had a wide variety of import and craft beers.  However, since I was visiting the brewery I decided it was more important to taste the beers that were crafted in house.  Service was quick, and I was able to have a brief conversation with the brewer, although I did not catch his name.  It was pretty neat to see the brewer hanging out at the brew house on a Sunday though, like everyone else who was there he was just relaxing and enjoying some of his craft brew.

                The current line-up consisted of: Silver Creek Hefe-Weiss, Silver Creek IPA, Silver Creek Harvest Lager, Silver Creek Vintage Ale, Silver Creek ESBlack, and Silver Creek Porter.

So, on to the beers:
Silver Creek Hefe-Weiss
                The Hefe-Weiss comes in at 5.3% ABV.  It poured yellow in color, the brewery says it's an unfiltered wheat, but it looked filtered to me.  It had a thin white head, although that may had had more to do with the pour that I got from the bartender rather than any quality of the beer.  So many bartenders seek to emphasize quantity over a good pour, probably because that’s what most Americans seem to want and they don’t want to start an argument.  The beer had very mild banana fruity esters, with slight wheat undertones.  Surprisingly, given the lack of a head the hefe-weiss was very carbonated.  It had a strong wheat flavor, followed up by an even stronger banana finish.
                This hefeweizen was better than some, but not as good as others that I have had.  However, on a hot day it was enjoyable and refreshing.

Silver Creek IPA
                Next up was the Silver Creek IPA, at 6.2% ABV.  The IPA was a hazy orange in color with a thin white head.  It had a pleasant floral hoppy aroma, potentially from dry hopping.  It was smooth with a low level hop bitterness and a much light hop flavor than I was expecting after the aroma.  The finish was slightly herbal and floral.  I was not very impressed with this IPA, it might have been passable as a bitter with a few minor modifications, but it was far too lightly hopped to for the IPA designation.

Silver Creek Harvest Lager
                The Harvest lager came in at 5.8% ABV.  It was amber in color with no noticeable head even when agitated.  There was a strong resiny hop aroma, however there was very little else to the aroma.  The harvest lager was bitter and hop forward with very little sweet maltiness to balance it out.  It was almost bitter to the point of being astringent, and was not especially pleasant to drink.

The Silver Creek Vintage Ale
I am glad that I pushed through the Harvest Lager to reach the next beer in the flight, the Vintage Ale.  The Silver Creek Vintage Ale, 9.7% ABV, was hazy dark amber in color with a very thin light tan head.  It had a very pleasant butterscotch and light floral hop aroma.  It was exceptionally full bodied, very smooth and almost chewy.  I was greeted by an excellent caramel, malty, and dark fruit flavor.  It was exceptionally well balanced and easily the best beer that I had tasted up to that point.  It was a definite turn around in what started out as a decent tasting and began to turn south.
Silver Creek ESBlack
                The ESBlack was mahogany in color with a tan head.  It had a strong roasted malt and floral hop aroma.  The aroma was followed up by a nice smooth roasted flavor with noticeable background hop flavor and bitterness.  The ESBlack was very well balance and was a great beer.  If it wasn’t for the final beer in the flight, this one easily would have been my favorite of the day.

Silver Creek Porter
                On to the porter.  The Silver Creek Porter came in at 7.7% ABV.  It poured an opaque dark brown to black with a nice light brown head that had excellent retention.  The Baltic porter had an exceptional chocolate aroma, almost like walking into an artisan chocolate shop, followed up with dark fruity esters.  The flavor did not disappoint, being very chocolate forward and smooth, with slight alcohol warmth.  This was definitely a big bodied beer, and was easily my favorite of the day.  If you love Porters like I do, and you are in the Milwaukee area it is definitely worth the trip to Silver Creek Brewery in Cedarburg for this beer alone.

                The Silver Creek Brewery trip was a fun one with 1 good beer (the hefe-weiss), 2 great beers (Vintage and ESBlack), and one extraordinary beer (Porter).  Would I go back again?  Most definitely!  However on future trips I know which beers I will be having more of, assuming there isn’t a new seasonal on tap the next time I head up there.
                If you live in the Milwaukee area you really have no excuse to not drive up to the Silver Creek Brewery and sample some of their beer, and if you are especially lucky and head there soon they may still have some of the Vintage Ale left, and might also still have their Porter.

That’s all for tonight, Happy Drinking!

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