Silver Springs Brewing Co. letterhead - image
 

1st Silver Springs DeLuxe Beer label - image
DeLuxe Beer label, ca.1936


 Silver Springs Brewing Co. of Port Orchard (1935-1950)

including its predecessor
Kitsap Brewing Corp. (1933-1935)
and its successor
Silver Springs Brewing Co. of  Tacoma (1950-1967)


Photo of Silver Springs Brewery ca.1940
Silver Springs Brewery "the Tallest Building in Kitsap County," ca.1940
 

Kitsap Brewing Corp.

On May 9, 1933, a month after the repeal of Prohibition a group of local businessmen from Bremerton and Port Orchard formed a corporation to erect a brewery. The Kitsap Brewing Corp., was lead by Harry C. Maston, pres.; Charles Hackett, v-pres.; Lyman E. Woolfolk, sec.; and Harry B. Howe, treasurer. It was capitalized at $250,000, and contracted for the construction of a six story, wooden frame building that would house the newest brewing equipment available. The site was on East Bayside Rd., Port Orchard., and was chosen for the artesian well found there. The company chose well known architect, Carl Siebrand, to design the plant. It was a stylish art-deco building that was a departure from most breweries. It was to be finished off with a top floor tasting room to take advantage of the panoramic view of the mountains and water.

Construction began on January 4, 1934, and by May 25th the brewing operations began. The plant operated on only one shift and could produce 50 barrels per day.

On August 4th, seven months after breaking ground, Kitsap Beer was available on draft using the slogan: “If beer is to be drunk, then why not Kitsap beer!"  Apparently there were some technical difficulties and the resulting brew was not well received. Their brewmaster, Ernest Richter, attempted to improve the product but the company struggled. In January of 1935, the Kitsap Brewery acknowledged their start-up problems and looked ahead with great expectations. They planned to install a bottling line in order to move beyond the greater Bremerton area, since their beer was only available on draft in local establishments.

In spite of their optimism the company continued to struggle and when the Silver Springs Brewing Co. of Seattle made them an offer the stockholders agreed to sell. A group of venture capitalists had established the Silver Springs corporation specifically to buy or build a brewery, and they found what they were looking for with the troubled Kitsap Brewery.

By June of 1935, the sale was completed and the brewery assumed the name of the parent company, whose head office remained in the Dexter Horton Building in Seattle.

 

Silver Springs Brewing Co.

Silver Springs Beer label, c.1936 - image
Silver Springs Beer label, ca.1935

The brewery's flagship brand was now Silver Springs Beer - "with that mellow well aged flavor." With the infusion of needed capital a bottle line was installed, which gave them the ability to enter markets further a field. About this time they also introduced the Oldstyle and DeLuxe brands to their line-up.

However, they were soon to drop the Silver Springs brand since the Star Brewery Co. of Vancouver, WA had also been producing the same brand. Coast Breweries of Vancouver, B.C. were majority owners of the Star Brewery, and the Silver Spring Brewery of Victoria, B.C. was one of their Canadian breweries. They had a long history of using Silver Springs Beer and had no doubt objected to the use of the same brand by this Port orchard brewer.
 

Oldstyle Lager Beer label - image Oldstyle Beer label, ca.1937

DeLuxe Beer label - image DeLuxe Beer label, ca.1937

In May of 1937, the company moved their head office from Seattle to the plant, but maintained a sales agency in the McDowell Bldg., at 1331 3rd Ave., Seattle. By now the company was shipping its products to distributors in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Yakima, Bellingham, Wenatchee, Kelso and Longview.

John A. Holmberg was now president of the company, with Harry B. Howe, vice-pres., and his brother, Edwin S. Howe, treasurer. Tyre H. Hollander remained the company's sec. and attorney. Albin Otto replaced Ernest Richter as the plant's brewmaster. Prior to Prohibition, Otto had been brewmaster for the Claussen Brewing Co. in Seattle. In Nov. of '40, Otto suddenly died and was replaced by Konrad Lux, who came to them from the Horluck Brewery in Seattle. Prior to that Lux had been brewmaster for the Pilsener Brewing Co. in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Oldstyle Beer from the Salem Bry Assn. - imageBy 1939 canned beer had been on the scene for a few years and had gained general acceptance. Unfortunately, adding a canning line was a major expense. So, instead of taking on this financial burden, Holmberg made arrangements with the Salem Brewery Assn. to produce, can and distribute Oldstyle Pale Export. However, two years later war time restrictions were imposed and brewers were unable to obtain steel cans unless they were contracted to provide canned beer for military consumption. Consequently, in early '42, Salem shut down the canning line and was limited to bottles only.

By 1942, John H. Hoeschen had replaced Lux as brewmaster.

In 1943, controlling interest in the brewery was purchased by Williams Brothers, Inc., controlled by George and Elmer Williams of Tacoma. They installed William D. Bryan as the company's new president, and with that, additional brands were introduced. 

The Williams Brothers had previously purchased the Mutual Brewing Co. in Ellensburg. In so doing they acquired both the Gold Seal and Hartz brands. These were now added to Silver Spring's product line - with Gold Seal being canned at the Port Orchard plant. It was packaged in "high profile" cone-top cans, which allowed them to utilize their bottling line instead of incurring the cost of adding a canning equipment.

That they chose to use any canning scheme at all is surprising, considering George Williams' attitude towards canned beer. He was quoted as saying: "Cans are for garbage - bottles are for beer."

The Williams Brothers had also purchased the Pioneer Brewing Co. of Aberdeen in June of 1944. Pioneer Beer was now being produced by Silver Springs, as well as by their newly formed Pioneer Brewery in Walla Walla. The Pioneer label (below) has Walla Walla blocked out and Port Orchard added.
 

Hartz Beer label, Silver Springs Bry. - image
Hartz Beer label, ca.1943

Pioneer Beer label, Port Orchard, WA - image
Pioneer Beer Label, ca.1945

But Bryan's management of Silver Springs was terminated in 1946 when younger brother of the principals, Gene Williams, assumed the position of president. The Brothers had planned to shift production to the United Union Brewery in Tacoma and shut down the Port Orchard plant, but the plant continued operating for four more years.

Pioneer Beer ball tap knob
Pioneer Beer, ball tap knob, ca.1945


Silver Springs Brewing Co. of Tacoma

In August of 1950, the Williams Brothers chose to make the move. The Silver Springs Brewery was moved to their plant at 105 E. 26th St., Tacoma - prior home to the Northwest Brewing Co. and its successor, the United Union Breweries. The Port Orchard plant was then closed.



Deluxe Malt Liquor label, Silver City Bry. - image

 

DeLuxe Beer Lives!

The Silver City Brewery of Silverdale (Kitsap County) produced a tribute brew for the 75th anniversary of the end to Prohibition. They replicated a recipe that represented the brewing style of the 30's, and made a DeLuxe Malt Liquor. The product was so well received that they plan to offer it again.

Visit their web-site:  www.silvercitybrewery.com

 

 

 

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  • Special thanks to Josh Klein, Silver City Brewery's General Manager, for historical background and image of the old Silver Springs Brewery.
     

  • To Jeff Henry for the Silver Springs letterhead.
     

  • And to Bob Kay, labelologist, for the great Silver Springs labels - as seen in his publication, US Beer Labels, Vol. 1 - The Western States. For this, or other volumes, go to - BobKayBeerLabels.com   


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