Seven Brides Brewing

Seven Brides Brewing signWhile in Silverton for the Oregon Garden Brewfest last weekend, one of my goals was to visit Seven Brides Brewing, Silverton’s lone brewery that has been brewing beer since 2008, to check out their brewery and Tap Room and to sample the range of their brews. I’ve tried a few of their beers that have made their way over the mountains here to Bend, but nothing definitive so I was excited for the opportunity to check them out.

I had emailed ahead of time to see about a brewery tour during our visit, and co-founder Jeff DeSantis was kind and generous enough to spare some time to chat during our visit, but regretfully with the Brewfest going on that weekend we were all busy and didn’t get time to do the tour. However we were at least able to visit the Tap Room and try all the beers (though it was right before the Brewer’s Tasting Dinner so we didn’t eat anything to spoil our appetites for later).

Even for all that, the beers nearly spoiled my appetite for me—in a good way! The sampler consists of a stunning 12 beers for $10, all generously poured, and spanning a wide variety of styles. Working my way through all 12 nearly filled me up!

I’ll get to the beers in a minute, but first I wanted to share the Seven Brides story (from their site):

Several years ago, three dads and two uncles would gather on a Saturday in one of their garages to master the art of home brew. Before long, the salesman of the group said, “You know, this is good enough to sell.” So the friends set out to do just that.

The name “Seven Brides” actually came from the dads’ kids. Between the three of them, they have only daughters. With the rising cost of wedding nuptials, the guys decided they needed to sell enough beer to pay for their daughters weddings. Each of the girls has a beer named after her.

It’s charming and a little goofy yet fits well into the mindset of a small western Oregon town—or so it seems to me at least. Silverton has a population of about 9200 and everyone we ran into there was unfailingly friendly and talkative, especially at Seven Brides. Their story fits perfectly into the impression of Silverton that I formulated during our visit.

As to those beers: here are my notes on them, in the order they were served up in the sampler lineup (in my pictures, these start on the right and progress to the left):

  • Kili’s Kolsch, 4.4% abv: Tart and wheaty nose, cloudy and pale yellow. Crisp and tart with a grassy character.
  • Apple, seasonal (might be properly named Abbey’s Apple): Apple juice actually makes up 30% of the fermentables. Looks like cider. Subtle and sweet apple-y nose, nice. Very cider like flavor, apple juice with a touch of lacto maybe, over a pale ale background.
  • Lil’s Pils, 5% abv: Nice yellow with a touch of haze. Earthy, spicy-hop nose. Really nice earthy flavor with noble hops and a creaminess to the body. Crisp bitterness and nicely hot-weather-drinkable.
  • Oatmeal Ellie Stout, 4.4% abv: Black with thin tan/brown head. Roasty nose with a touch of chocolate. Thinnish body and dry, with a touch of astringency from the roasted barley. Easy drinking. Note, Jeff pointed out this is their lightest beer in terms of alcohol.
  • Emily’s Ember, 4.9% abv: Really nice red/amber ale with earthy-hoppy presence [starting to note this earthiness as a house character]. Something about it reminds me of homebrew (in a good way). Kind of a chocolatey Brown Ale character going on too.
  • Maggie’s Marzen, 6% abv: Color and appearance is just right. Nose has… a bit of diacetyl? Otherwise a classic profile. Creamy character to it was my first impression, and it has a malty character that I like.
  • Abbey, 8.1% abv: A Belgian Dubbel style fermented entirely in Pinot Noir wine barrels, which definitely piqued my interest. Even better, a tart nose with a touch of Brett! [This made me very excited for this beer.] Oooh I like this one—tart cherry and yes, Brettanomyces. Really nice, I quite like it, and it has a light enough flavor and mouthfeel to hide the higher alcohol levels.
  • Fresh Hop, seasonal: Hops are wiped by this point (this was brewed early last fall, of course), but a nice amber ale otherwise.
  • Becky’s Black Cat Porter, 7% abv: [Baltic Porter] Chocolatey, a bit dry, and rich. There’s an earthy note at the back (that house character I noted above).
  • Lauren’s Pale Ale, 5.5% abv: Standard pale ale without being too hoppy—they wanted a balanced pale without worrying about making it IPA-like since everyone does “IPA” for pale ale these days. Nicely drinkable.
  • Frankenlou’s IPA, 7% abv: Fruity and a touch of apricot which is a nice touch (it reminds me of Boneyard Beer’s Zwickelmania IPA sample after only 1 day of fermentation). Imperial IPA character with nice tropical fruit notes.
  • The Weezinator, 9.7% abv: Grainy, malty nose like raw malt. Big beer, a touch thin but definitely a malty Bock with an alcoholic kick. Fruity character, their notes say “plum.” A touch cloying with the maltiness.

My two favorites were the Apple and the Abbey (and my wife even liked the Apple, and she doesn’t like beer): both unique recipes/formulations that were really tasty and appealed to the beer hacker/geek side of me. I suspect the Abbey changes from batch to batch due to the (unpredictable) nature of fermenting in wine barrels and the various characteristics and microorganisms they contain; but the Brett in the beer really works wonders.

The Tap Room itself is part of their larger brewery facility, and consists of the long bar and a big open slightly industrial floor space with tables arranged throughout and a dedicated corner stage for live music. Even though they offer a food menu, it felt less like the usual brewpub eatery and indeed more like a (comfortable) tap room, a bit more spartan with darker wood accents. The building also houses the Vitis Ridge winery, and in addition to beer you can find the range of Vitis Ridge wines available too (and you can pop over to the Winery tasting room as we did as well).

The Tap Room and brewery is located less than a mile north of downtown Silverton, on the main highway heading north (which leads to Mt. Angel only four and a half miles up the road, the home of Oregon’s largest and longest-running Oktoberfest celebration). You can’t miss it.

I wish we’d had the time to try the food as well as the beers; the menus contain standard brewpub fare but it sounds tasty. And an interesting thing to note: their kitchen doesn’t have a deep fryer, which is a point of pride for them.

Overall it was a fun, worthwhile visit highlighted by a large selection of tasty beers to try and very friendly service. I’ll be making the trip back at some point to check out the menu and try the latest seasonals (and get that tour!).

Seven Brides Brewing
990 N. First Street
Silverton, OR 97381
(503) 874-4677

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