Silhouette Release Party at Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater

Great Beer; Ok Party

I love Russian Imperial Stouts. They have to be one of my favorite types of beer. And I love visiting breweries. It is one of my favorite things to do and I wish I had more time to visit them a bit more frequently. So, when I saw that Lift Bridge was having a release party for their Russian Imperial Stout, Silhouette, I snatched up a few of the free tickets, grabbed a few friends, and headed to Stillwater!
This review will be two fold. First the party, then we will get to the beer. I brought my wife and two friends. We all had a great time. I think if you like beer, anytime you are in a brewery you are going to have a blast. That said there were some downer parts to the party.
We got there right towards the beginning of the party. There was already a HUGE line to get beer tokens. Either they didn’t trust the beertenders with cash or felt this way would be more efficient. It was not. We sat in a line that wrapped around the entire tap room for quite a while. And this was just to buy tokens for beers, not to actually get beers.
When we finally got to the front of the line there were several choices for tokens depending on what kind of beer you would like. I will just come out with it; that sucked! Maybe for this party they could have streamlined things so there weren’t multiple price points. Plus, I don’t walk into a place saying, “I will have exactly one beer,” or, “I will have exactly three beers.” Not to mention you basically had to decide what kind of beer you wanted right then and there. We each purchased two tokens. I probably would have liked to of had another beer later in the evening, but I wasn’t going to sit in the token line AND an actual line for beer again.
After I purchased the tokens I asked the person I purchased them from where I go to get beer. She directed me outside saying there was an outdoor ice tap room, as advertised on the event announcement. So, my wife and I headed out only to find Biscotti with Vanilla and Farm Girl with Cinnamon in the outdoor “tap room” but no Silhouette. Ugh! I had to head back inside and finally found places to get the beer of the night.
By the way, the outdoor tap room? A small, and I mean small, chicken wire fence with some snow blown on it and two firkins sitting on a pile of ice blocks. There was room for the two firkins on the ice blocks and the two people pouring those beers. It should have just been called a parking lot with beer, not an “Outdoor Ice Taproom.”
Other than that there were several hobo barrel fires, a 10 foot by 3 foot rectangle of ice they billed as some sort of hockey shoot out, a couple patio heaters, and a food truck. Inside there was a pretty good band, although we didn’t get to hear much of them because they didn’t even start playing until we had waited in lines, found, purchased, and finished our beers, headed out to the food truck, purchased food, and went back inside. I am not sure what they were waiting for when it was only a three hour event.
So to sum up the party, we had a blast. But that was mainly due to great beer and great friends. The party, while fun, was a bit of an unorganized mess and a little bit of a let down when compared with what was advertised. But hey, the party was free so maybe we should have lowered our expectations a bit.
Now the beer… Man was it good! They had two versions, a barrel aged and one that was not barrel aged. I had the barrel aged. It was super dark, a bit boozy, a bit smoky, and had hints of coffee and chocolate. I am not super good at writing the beer snobbery notes that others do in a beer review, but all I can say is this beer was a damn good beer. My only complaint is that it could have just been a little bit smoother. It had a tiny bite to it that seemed unnecessary. I have had Russian Imperial Stouts that were a bit smoother than Silhouette, but the great complex flavors in this made up for it.  
I purchased a bottle to go as well. The price point of 15 bucks was at the very top of what they should charge, but within what I am willing to pay for a bomber of good Russian Imperial Stout. And hey, it is cheaper than Surly Darkness, which I have felt hasn’t really lived up to the hype nor the dollars. However, I will say that charging 5 bucks for a small plastic cup of Silhouette at the actual brewery seemed a bit steep to me. I get it is a release party, not a tour, but charge a few bucks to recoup some costs, not more money than if I had purchased it at a bar.
So, in conclusion I would say that Lift Bridge may want to work at throwing a bit better of a party for their customer’s benefit, but they have the beer part down pat!