Forward Drinking: Scuttlebutt’s Small Batch Releases Take on Modern Flavor Palates
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There’s an old adage that says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
If it were up to Everett’s Scuttlebutt Brewing Company, that adage would be revised to say something along the lines of, “if it ain’t broke, expand on it.”
While Scuttlebutt has made a name for itself over the past two decades with its classic brews such as the Porter, Homeport Blonde, Galeforce IPA, Hoptopia Pale Ale and its best-selling Amber, the craft brewer’s decision to create a new lineup of year-round and seasonal brews with unique flavors and styles comes from the desire to keep up with the ever-expanding tastes of beer enthusiasts.
“Beer customers aren’t loyal the way they used to be,” said Scuttlebutt Head Brewer Eric Nord. “You can’t just get by on one type of beer anymore. People want to develop their tastes and expand their horizons as much as brewers want to do new recipes. The way we are doing things is evolving and fits that model.”
Nord, a 14-year brewing veteran in his sixth year with Scuttlebutt and in his first as Head Brewer, oversees all day-to-day activities of the family-owned brewery’s brewing process— which includes everything from recipe formulation, and design and packaging, to directing the schedule of all future releases.
With a passion for beer that developed during a transformative trip to Germany as a teen, Nord has enjoyed working at Scuttlebutt for the brewery’s drive to keep innovating and crafting beer that everyone can enjoy— no matter their taste.
“Times change, and people’s tastes change,” said Nord. “What’s popular on the market changes faster now than ever and you have to stay relevant. You don’t want to be boring.”
Research and Development
Banking on its reputation as one of the top craft beer makers in the Pacific Northwest, Scuttlebutt set out to separate itself even further from other brewers in the area by embarking on a research and development pilot program to create an assortment of new beers.
After purchasing new equipment designated for recipe experimentation a couple years ago, Nord and his team of brewers got to work. Scuttlebutt’s brewers attended local hops and brews schools and met with other professionals in the industry to learn about the new trends within craft brewing. These educational exercises led to aggressive experimentation in mixing ingredients the team never used before and attempting processes and techniques that were new, which resulted in the creation of some intriguing new flavors.
“My boss said the tanks always need to be filled,” said Nord. “If there’s nothing being made for R&D purposes, we can just create—and we have room to get creative about 99 percent of the time.”
Since adopting the pilot program, Scuttlebutt has consistently created new beers that have pushed the boundaries of their operation, including the creation of its first lager-style beer— a bohemian pilsner by the name Ray of Hope— earlier this year. The two new releases coming down the pipeline that are top of mind for Scuttlebutt brewers include the full-bodied, hoppy, and fruit-forward Milkshake IPA and a Belgian ale that will be either pale or spiced. Both releases, set for August and January respectively, are currently being tweaked by Nord and company for optimal taste experiences.
“We are always trying to make ourselves better and more efficient,” said Nord. “Our beers are a great reflection of what Scuttlebutt is right now and they give us ideas about where we can go in the future.”
BRIGHTS Small Batch
One of the key elements to Scuttlebutt’s research and development is community outreach— in other words, getting people to drink the beer. The most effective approach Scuttlebutt has taken to get feedback on their countless hours of research and experimentation is through distribution of their BRIGHTS small batch series.
As an extension of the R & D pilot program, the double-barrel 60-gallon limited batches are released exclusively in 16-oz four-pack cans, which are then put to the test before patrons of Scuttlebutt’s restaurant and taproom locations, as well as select specialty beer suppliers.
“The smaller batches give us the opportunity to gauge our progress with a certain style or recipe,” said Nord. “Having a buddy come over and crack a Scuttlebutt beer you wouldn’t find otherwise is a good way to get the beer out there and to see what people think before we make any commitments to mass production.”
The canning process is quite labor intensive for Scuttlebutt’s brewing team, as each can within the BRIGHTS series is individually canned by an employee in the company’s North Everett brewery. As involved as this process may be, it has definitely paid dividends for Scuttlebutt, who continue to find success in many of their batch releases, which have added to their growing lists of both mainstay and seasonal beers.
“It’s nice to see the excitement surrounding our releases and the willingness people have to let us try new stuff,” said Nord. “We are just getting started and got a lot of cool stuff coming up.”
Next small batch release in BRIGHTS series: Fresh off the release— and subsequent sell out— of the 10 Weeks of Sunshine citrus IPA comes El Mariachi, a Mexican-style lager, that will be available on Cinco de Mayo. Stop by the Scuttlebutt restaurant or taproom to buy a pack before it’s gone!
Event Spotlight: Fisherman’s Village Music Festival
There are few things better than enjoying a good beer while listening to some choice tunes. Just as it’s important for the music and mood of each setting to be in sync, it’s essential for the music and beer to hit the same note. In fact, scientific research suggests that music has the ability to influence taste— and the right music can make a beer taste even better.
When the Fisherman’s Village Music Festival returns to Everett this month, it’s sound will be the perfect complement to Scuttlebutt’s diverse lineup of beers—no matter what taste gets you in the mood to groove.
With over 50 musical acts on three stages over the course of 3 days, FVMF is the celebration of Everett’s vibrant indie music and arts scene thrust upon the big stage— with acclaimed international acts such as Wolf Parade, Laura Veirs and Broncho scheduled to appear. Popular Seattle acts such as Pickwick, Travis Thompson and The Coathangers will also be on hand, as will local favorites I Will Keep Your Ghost, Fretland and Tellers, who will round out Everett’s biggest party of the year.
In its sixth year, FVMF is an Everett Music Initiative event orchestrated by man about town Ryan Crowther. EMI partnered with Scuttlebutt to bring the sounds of FVMF to the brewery for the first time in festival history. Not only will FVMF have one its stages at Scuttlebutt’s taproom and brewery, the brewery will also be the exclusive craft beer vendor throughout the entire festival weekend.
“Scuttlebutt Brewing was one of the first businesses to support Everett Music Initiative and Fisherman's Village Music Festival,” said Crowther. “We're bringing dozens of the latest and greatest emerging acts from the region and to be able to offer brand new, delicious beers from Scuttlebutt just seems like the perfect fit.”
With 7,500 people expected to attend FVMF— which runs from Thursday, May 16 to Saturday May 18—Scuttlebutt will have a great opportunity to continue its growth among local beer enthusiasts and music fans.
Fisherman’s Village Music Festival Presented by Everett Music Initiative
Thursday, May 16-18
Buy tickets here
Nick has a professional background rich in digital marketing and media. His work has appeared in The Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The New York Post, and on MSN.com, among others. He has a graduate degree in journalism from Syracuse University, as well as creative writing and philosophy degrees from Seattle University. He grew up in Woodinville and spends his free time playing and coaching baseball, running half marathons, and seeing as much live music as possible.