Silver Moon – On The Rise

by Spence on November 21, 2011

in In The Brewhouse

Silver Moon LogoA little over a month ago, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Silver Moon brewers, Tyler West and Brett Thomas, for a chat about their recent Great American Beer Festival wins, beer, the challenges of brewing it, and a growing demand … all of it over some tasty beers. It was a great time, and we walked away with a sense that the Silver Moon is on the rise.

Even though it is one of the the more-established breweries in Bend, opening in 2000, there was a long period where I had been taking Silver Moon for granted. Its beers weren’t bad, but I preferred the offerings from other breweries in town. That opinion began changing a little over a year ago when I started noticing a discernible improvement in their beer. The last time I had spoken with the brewers at Silver Moon was before their first GABF medal in 2010, so I figured it was time to hit the personal reset button with the brewery and find out what’s behind the reinvigorated Silver Moon.

Clean beer tanksFocus on quality

If a brewery makes bad beer, no amount of marketing will breed a loyal fan base.  What had Silver Moon been doing to make such a recognizable improvement in their beers’ quality over the past year? This was a topic about which Brett and Tyler had plenty to say.

Yeast health

As the business grew and the brewery needed to produce more, they began to struggle with getting consistent, predictable performance from their yeast. They spoke of undertaking a significant and deliberate effort to get their yeast program under control. Pitching the right amount of yeast, for a given strength beer, at the right time is both a science and an art. To get the consistency, the brewery invested in a lab (microscope) and focused on getting the timing, temperatures and amounts all dialed in. With the effort of onboarding those practices mostly in the rear view mirror, the beer being produced is of a much higher quality, with less off flavors and greater consistency from batch to batch.

Tyler, Brett, and SpenceNever stop learning

Both Brett and Tyler spoke of their passion for brewing and furthering their knowledge. They have spent vaction time to collaborate with fellow brewers, attended Hop Union’s Hop School in the Yakima Valley, attended the American Brewer’s Guild via winning a Glen Hay Falconer scholorship, and spent countless hours poring over endless literature on brewing. These guys are dedicated and in it for the long haul. Currently, Tyler and Bret said, they have been focusing on Vienna Lagers and Barrel aging sours, which is nothing but good news for me!

Spread the word

“If you build it, they will come” can work, but if you let people know that something’s been built (or brewed), even better.

Spence with bottlesEpic beer deals

Silver Moon has some great deals, available to those close enough to take advantage, that help facilitate the growth of powerful word-of-mouth advertising and create evangelists in the community. First, it pays to be a local. The growing tradition of Locals Night is alive and well at Silver Moon. Every Monday, they have $2.50 pints all day. Second, they have one of the best growler fill programs in town. Their Growler Power Hour offers $5.00 refills of featured beers between 4:00 and 5:00 every Tuesday through Thursday. $5.00 for four U.S. pints … come on!!!

When we walked in, it was about 4:30, which put us right in the middle of Growler Power Hour. While we were talking with Brett and Tyler, we heard an employee say they went through 1.5 kegs for growlers in about one hour. My math says that is almost 50 growler fills in one hour, in addition to the normal Friday traffic. Another way to look at this … they were BUSY!

Tyler West and Brett ThomasStay competitive

One sure way to help keep a brewery in peoples’ minds is by winning awards in brewing competitions. These days, it has almost become a requirement to compete in the regular competitions. Winning results in free advertising and gives the marketing department bragging rights to work with. Tyler and Brett wouldn’t characterize it like that though. They say they are simply competive by nature, and that shows in some of the competitions they have been participating in lately.

  • 2010 Great American Beer Festival

    Bronze: Bridge Creek Pilsner [Bohemian-Style Pilsener]

  • 2011 Great American Beer Festival

    Gold: Darkside Stout [Foreign-Style Stout]

    Bronze: Legacy Lager [American-Style or International-Style Pilsener]

  • 2011 North American Brewers Awards

    Silver: Bridge Creek Pilsner [Bohemian Pilsener]

  • 2011 KLCC Microbrew Festival

    2nd Place: Bourbon Barrel Aged Export Stout [People’s Choice]

Fill the demand

As word has spread about Silver Moon, demand has continued to pick up beyond Bend’s city limits. Their five house brands (Amber, Porter, IPA, Pilsner and Bitter) and rotating seasonals are building a fan base on the other side of the mountains. The challenge for any brewery dealing with rising demand is to keep the quality up while increasing production. The brewers are well aware of this, and are doing a good job thus far defending the quality gains they have made over the recent past.

My unabashed speculation says, if demand contues to trend up, they will have to green light capacity expansion projects in the not-too-distant future. This doesn’t necessarily mean a new location, but could include fine tuning equipment to focus on local and distribution demands. For example, we were talking by a row of unused tanks that could be put into use. This is equipment that is already owned, but would need to be installed. Regardless of how they fulfill their fanbase’s beer needs, the people at Silver Moon are sitting in a much better position for lasting success given the focus they have put on quality and growing demand.

Hats off to Silver Moon, and we look forward to more growth and more great beer!

Cheers!

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Tyler Reichert December 6, 2011 at 11:21 am

Hey thanks for swinging in and meeting with my brewers. Hope they showed you a good time. Great write up too. Thanks, it’s much appreciated. Great beer must be heard. If ya get some RD time, swing down for a taste of BOYZ Inda Wood. Barrel aged yummyness. We’re serving BOYZ in brandy snifters. Cheers.

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