Scuttlebutt takes a top honor for barley wine

Scuttlebutt Brewing Co. won a gold medal for its 2009 Old No. 1 Barley Wine Style Ale in the 2014 World Beer Cup, one of the most prestigious beer contests in the world.

The competition, which occurs every two years and is often referred to as the “Olympics of Beer,” took place earlier this month in Denver with the awards ceremony occurring last Friday.

Scuttlebutt’s head brewer Matt Stromberg watched it live streaming on the Internet.

“I was trying not to watch it, but I couldn’t stop myself,” Stromberg said. “I had a local brewer call me within 30 seconds before I could even digest it.”

He got a steady stream of congratulation texts, emails and phone calls.

Flyers Restaurant &Brewery in Oak Harbor also took home a gold medal in the “other strong beer category” for a batch called Brouwers 8 made for the eighth anniversary of Brouwers Cafe in Seattle.

“There are so many good beers entered in that competition,” said Tony Savoy, Flyers’s brewer and co-owner. “To be able to take anything away from there is a pretty awesome achievement.”

Scuttlebutt’s has won several regional and national awards for its beer, but has never taken an award home from this competition.

The World Beer Cup is the pinnacle because they’re competing with brewers around the world, Stromberg said.

Scuttlebutt’s had two brews they felt good about going into the competition. One is the Jalapeno Triple 7 and the other is the barley wine. The winning brew is a strong drink with hints of raisin, cherry, maple, vanilla and blackcurrant, Stromberg said.

“It’s something that you’d drink like a sherry,” Stromberg said. “It’s not something that you would pound. It’s got 13.3 percent alcohol. “I personally like to smoke a cigar with one but to each their own.”

Phil Bannan, whose family started Scuttlebutt in 1996, said that the barley wine is not the type of “beverage you pound down after cutting the grass.”

“There are some people who really love it,” Bannan said. “There are some people who love beer who have never heard of it.”

More than 4,750 beers were entered into 96 categories in the competition from 1,403 breweries in 58 countries. A panel of 219 judges from 31 countries worked in teams to conduct blind tasting evaluations.

Medals are only awarded if the beer meets the style guideline laid out by the Brewer’s Association. The 2014 judges awarded 281 of a possible 282 medals. A total of 253 breweries took home awards.

Washington brewers accounted for nine of the medals awarded.

Savoy, who took home a gold in 2004 with Snipes Mountain Brewery in Sunnyside and a silver medal in 2008 with Flyers, said that most of the batch was sold to the Seattle restaurateur.

They still have a couple of kegs of the beer left at Flyers.

Redhook Brewery in Woodinville won a gold in the English-style pale ale category for their Audible Ale.

Scuttlebutt’s took first place in February with the same barley wine in the ninth annual Cole’s Barleywine Competition in Buffalo, N.Y.

The winning barley wine was brewed in January 2009 and aged for 10 months before being sold. Stromberg said it has continued to get better, becoming “deeper and rounder and silkier — it really matured.”

The brewing company has sold out of the 2009 batch, but it does have a few cases of the similar 2008 barley wine at its restaurant at 1205 Craftsman Way in Everett and Scuttlebutt’s Production Brewery, 3310 Cedar St., Everett.

Scuttlebutt Brewing distributes beer in 21 states along with limited distribution in Canada and Japan.

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