You’ve probably heard of Silver Lake. No, not where all those kids got murdered, that’s Camp Crystal Lake, and that was a movie. Our region’s newest brewery and tasting room is located in Perry, about an hour’s drive southwest of Rochester. Yes, it’s about an hour, and yes, this pretty much stretches my outer boundary of what I’ll consider part of the region I wish to cover in this blog. You’re probably imagining a medieval map with “Thar Be Dragons” scrawled in the area south of Rochester where you imagine this place to be. Look, I know driving up to Webster is still a challenge for most of you, but hear me out before you miss out on some great beer from Silver Lake Brewing Project.
Perry is a small village with a quaint Main Street surrounded by a largely agricultural community just inside the Wyoming Count line. It’s beautiful country, but practically a “desert” for craft beer as identified by SLBP founders Ryan Fitzsimmons, Pilar McKay, and Tony Jones. By planting their flag in Perry, they are establishing the only brewery and tap room in a 30-mile radius. What’s more, they campaigned to be included on the Finger Lakes Beer Trail connecting them to great beer stops across the region. Before you go searching Wikipedia, yes, Silver Lake is considered to be a “minor lake” and part of the Great Lakes watershed.
Technicalities aside, a Victorian-era legend is the inspiration for the SLBP serpent logo. Sightings of a sea serpent in Silver Lake brought a boom in tourism to the small town as visitors came from far and wide hoping to catch a glimpse of the terrible monster. When the local hotel burned down in 1857, a pile of charred canvas revealed the hoax that had been perpetuated by the owner. One hundred fifty years later, the founders of SLBP don’t need tall tales to draw people to Perry.
A “soft opening” was announced during the first week of March, and so an expedition was assembled to make the trek south. It was an easy drive south on 390 to Avon, where we detoured down Route 20 for a quick dinner at Tom Wahl’s before continuing west. We then followed Route 39 all the way to Perry. The tasting room is easy to find, right in the center of the village off Borden Ave. As they note on their web site, the tasting room is just three miles from the Perry entrance to Letchworth Park, something to consider if you’re looking to combine weekend activities.
The tasting room is beautifully done, with very nice rustic tones and bright, welcoming lighting. The exposed beams and tall peaked ceiling help absorb the sounds of a boisterous full house, which means everyone can have a good time and still hear each other talk at a reasonable level. I really enjoyed the thought put into the details, from the colors of the walls and trim, to the different tones of exposed wood finishes. I took a peek through the windows and saw a beer patio that is going to make a great hangout in the summer months.
Getting down to business, I ordered a flight of beers and noticed I had no way to carry them back to my table (hopefully trays or some sort of holder are planned for the future). I started with the Standard Cream Ale (5.5%), which is a style that most new brewers in this region seem to tackle on their first go-around. Can you blame them? Genesee Cream Ale reintroduced this unique style in 1961 and kinda set the bar pretty high from the start. Silver Lake’s entry was bright, not overly hoppy, with a deep malt flavor that I enjoyed. Of course, I had to try the Winter Warmer (6.8%). The brewers explain they had planned on being open by the end of 2016, but things didn’t quite turn out as expected. A nice deep brown color, I thought there was a nice mix of rich malt and chocolate flavors, but not quite as sweet as I expected (or feared). Next up was the Oat Pale (5.6%), which is a funny play on words for a pail of oats that you might feed a horse. There was no horsing around with this beer (sorry, couldn’t help myself)! I enjoyed this take on the pale ale style, the hop flavors were present and not overpowering, and there was no bitter finish. Of course, every brewery has to bring their hop game to the table with a tasty IPA, and Silver Lake’s IPA No. 1 (7.1%) was a great start. The beer smelled wonderful, and there were great pine and citrus flavors throughout.
I didn’t get a chance to sample any of the snacks offered, so that will have to wait until next time. I didn’t get a chance to chat with any of the folks behind the bar, as the room was quite crowded right up until close. I was impressed by the variety of beers available for a “soft open,” and it’s clear that the folks in charge have put a lot of thought and effort into the development and execution of the Project. Don’t let geography get in the way of a fun beer adventure. I know I’m already planning my next visit.