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Belt’s Beer Garden: Better ESB-lieve it!

Silver City’s The Whole Cone, a tasty ESB made for autumn.

Silver City Brewery is situated in Bremerton, Washington between the Dyes Inlet and the Sinclair Inlet and just across the bay from Seattle. They’ve been around for quite awhile now, opening their doors back in 1996, and have even added a restaurant nearby, in the aptly named city of Silverdale, Washington.

While they distribute to a few states, it’s hard to find their brews outside of the Pacific Northwest, so when I saw one of their seasonals up for grabs, I quickly snagged a few cans.

I was able to grab two pints of their brand spanking new seasonal beer, The Whole Cone. This malt-forward ESB (Extra Special Bitter) was brewed with four types of malt - NW Pale, Maris Otter, Caramel, and Carapils - and unkilned whole-cone Cascade hops. Each 16-ounce can cost me $4 and features a 6% ABV with 31 IBU.

This Autumn Ale poured a translucent copper color with just over two fingers of dense, slightly tan, head that stuck around for a little while. Despite how long it lasted, the foam didn’t leave much lacing as it disappeared - just a few unconnected webs around the glass.

On the nose, The Whole Cone was sweet and malty. The grist dominates the aroma with huge aromas of bread and caramel, while some lighter pine notes (which I thought might be more prevalent) sit quietly underneath. There are also some nutty and resinous grass characteristics from the hops as well.

The sip starts subtly and works its way up, building sweetness as it goes. It begins with a slightly bitter and resinous hop flavor that showcases the nutty and grassy qualities before the malts begin to overpower everything and take control shortly thereafter.

Those malts add a big burst of biscuit and caramel flavor that pushes down the hoppy start and carries through for the majority of the sip, with some sticky-sweetness lingering around for a little while after everything else has faded away.

There’s a tiny dash of citrus, mostly lemon and grapefruit rind, that hits a few times during the sip, popping up with little spikes of flavor. And also appearing throughout it all, but somehow sitting underneath everything, is a pinecone quality.

It was quite the flavorful beer, with so many different aspects appearing in each sip. The hops give off piney, citrusy, and earthy notes. The malts counter with bready, toffee, and caramel notes. And it all blends together nicely to create what I’m calling a perfect campfire beer.

The Whole Cone would be the perfect accompaniment to sitting around a fire at night in the woods, swapping stories and eating smores. But, even if I’m not doing that, I’ll crack one of these guys open…it’s a very tasty brew.

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