Beer of the Week: Silva Stout

Green Flash’s brewmaster explains his renowned namesake beer

There are a lot of “special” beers out there. That descriptor can mean many things. Sometimes it signifies a brew’s exceptional taste, but usually it comes down to nothing more than limited availability. Many are the times when I open up an esoteric, incredibly difficult-to-obtain beer with anticipatory glee only to find that it’s no better than a standard, readily available brew. In far too many cases, they register below a consistent standby. This has never been the case for me with a truly special beer called Silva Stout.

A 10% ABV imperial stout aged at least 17 months in used Heaven’s Hill Distilleries Bourbon barrels, Silva Stout was first released by Green Flash Brewing Company (6550 Mira Mesa Boulevard, Mira Mesa), back when they operated out of their original Vista brewhouse in 2010. Viscous and rich with notes of dark chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, and toasted oak, it’s named after brewmaster Chuck Silva, and considered one of the best brews in a county awash with high quality craft beer.

Late last month, Green Flash celebrated the second release of Silva Stout (and a new, brandy barrel-aged version of their Barleywine called Sleepin’ With Shaggy) with a party in their tasting room including food pairings and other specialty beers. It was a rare opportunity to score bottles of this limited edition offering. Beyond the party, there will be a handful of chances to get Silva Stout on tap at accounts hand-selected by the brewmaster.

It will be difficult to come by, but take it from a critic who can be pretty hard to please, it’s one worth doing some legwork to experience. The brewery states the best way to find out about where to get the beer is by consulting its events page. Prior to the release, Silva took a moment to talk about his eponymous stout, explain the process by which it is crafted and clear up some common misconceptions about the beer.

“This beer was originally called Bourbon Barrel Double Stout until [Green Flash owner] Mike Hinkley named the beer after me as recognition for making such an amazing beer and I'm very proud to have made it. I'm also super stoked that the beer got peer recognition last year with a silver medal win at the Great American Beer Festival,” said Silva.

“Silva Stout actually starts out as Green Flash Double Stout, which is not an imperial stout, but rather, an Old World style with a New World twist. The resulting Silva Stout gets touted as an imperial stout and that’s fine with me as long as the folks drinking the beer feel that it's the appropriate style. The first iterations of this beer were aged in just three Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels, then eight the next time, and 30 the next time for the first bottle release in 2010.

“The new version is from only nine barrels, so you can see that this has been just a side project for us and remains very limited…rare, even. Sadly, there is no more Silva Stout in process as it has such a long, extended barrel-aging that we won’t have more to release until 2014—and that’s if we get more beer in the barrels immediately. The good news is that just the other day, Mike and I had a conversation about how many barrels we want to get this time around, and I've already been in contact with our barrel broker, so we will be getting more barrels in soon. This time around, I expect we will order more barrels than in the past.”

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