Rainy days can put a damper on my spirits, especially during autumn when the season is already so short! A couple of months (which feel like days) is just not enough to fully enjoy the beautiful colours and crisp air. Alas, I made the best of it and dragged Robin to Niagara-on-the-Lake… for a beer tour at Silversmith Brewing Company! I definitely had to twist his arm on that one.
Every Saturday and Sunday Silversmith Brewing Company does a tour where you learn about their process and enjoy a sampling of each of their four main beers for $20 – and you get to keep the sampling glass! We arrived a little early so we enjoyed a pint of their limited edition brew, Smokey & The Bandit. Silversmith releases limited edition beers that vary from season to season (I heard rumblings of a delicious oyster stout that I just might have to try come spring!), and their current one is a perfect autumn beer. I’d definitely suggest trying a pint before their next brew, Easy Tiger (an orange chocolate stout), comes around!
Silversmith Brewing Company started as the brainchild of the owners Matt & Chris, outdoor tourism enthusiasts who wanted to bring craft beers like that of cottage country to Niagara. Four years ago they started brewing and with the help of their head brewer John, they’ve never looked back! As we learned about this process and the early years of Silversmith, we sampled their Bavarian Breakfast Wheat Beer. A lighter, more carbonated brew, it has some citrusy undertones and is “not only meant to be enjoyed before noon.” Side note: Bavarians take tradition very seriously. You can only enjoy the traditional breakfast of weißwurst, pretzels, Bavarian mustard, and wheat beer before noon. This is referencing that tradition!
This was followed by their most famous brew, the Black Lager which won best in Ontario this year. Brewed in the German style, it uses a typical American lager malt combined with an extremely dark roasted German malt and a Munich malt. It is rich and full-bodied with hints of espresso and chocolate flavours. I’m not a fan of dark beer at all (I barely go darker than an amber), and I could see myself drinking this snuggled up in front of the fire. I’d say this is a great winter beer!
As we enjoyed our Black Lager, we heard more about the brewing process. The entire process of mixing, fermenting, bottling, etc is done at the brewery. This means they add all the malts, hops, etc are done themselves, and the types added as well as the timing their added is what gives the beers their distinct flavours. They also try to give back as much as they can to the local community since the leftover malts from the process go to a local farmer to feed his cows! How cool is that?!
Silversmith’s third beer is often referred to as their “patio crusher” for it’s refreshing summertime qualities. The Hill 145 Golden Ale is dedicated to the Canadian Troops as it’s in reference to the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a prominent milestone in Canada’s history. The Canadians objective was to capture Hill 145, the highest and therefore most important feature of the ridge. Many countries tried to capture it but failed, however Canada prevailed and it became one of the country’s greatest war time accomplishments.
With this beer hops are added aggressively to give it hints of grapefruit and other citrus flavours. This segued into a deeper hops discussion as we learned that hops can be added dried or wet. Silversmith uses dried hops and gets some of theirs from a local farmer. Hop farmers grow them like grapes, horizontally along lines of wire. The brewery actually grows Mosaic hops themselves, but they aren’t used in their brews.
The last beer of the tasting is their Dambuster, referencing a British plan of attack on German dams in World War II (it seems as if Matt & Chris are history buffs!) formally known as Operation Chastise. Dambuster is brewed in the style of a typical English bitter, making it not as carbonated as the rest. It has a big malt flavour with caramel and orange pekoe tea undertones. The English bitter title was definitely a no brainer.
Robin and I enjoyed the last of our beer as the tour came to a close. Our tour guide Lindsay did a fabulous job of educating us not just on Silversmith itself but the process and characteristics of beer. It’s an extremely interesting and enlightening tour, so I suggest heading there if you’re in town! Even if it’s just for a beer, any of the staff would be happy to answer any questions you have. You can tell they all love their job, and the homey atmosphere definitely makes you want to stay a while. Don’t worry, you can have some tasty treats with your beer as Tide & Vine is there to supply a small yet delicious menu. I haven’t had a chance to taste their oysters yet, but I plan to on my next visit!
Matt, Chris, John, & the crew at Silversmith Brewing Company – thanks for a fantastic time. I’ll be sure to visit again soon, but until then I’ll tell everyone else to come say hi!