Scuttlebutt Brewing, Everett
Style: Coffee and Coconut Ale
Stats: 7.1 percent ABV
Available: Six packs of 12-ounce bottles in select grocery stores and bottle shops and on tap at Scuttlebutt taproom and restaurant.
My thoughts: For Scuttlebutt head brewer Matt Stromberg, the arduous journey to dialing in this beer caused him to give this beer a different name: Nightmare Circus.
The most difficult part of brewing the beer, which is a dark ale with flavors of coffee, chocolate, fruit and coconut, was getting the coconut flavor stable, Stromberg said. He first tried untoasted coconut and got a solid coconut flavor, but after about 36 hours the flavor dissipated. Conditioning the beer on toasted coconut was found to give the beer the coconut flavor and aroma that Stromberg wanted and it lasted.
“I’ve never used coconut in a beer, so in talking to a number of brewers it became clear that toasted was the way to do it,” Stromberg said. “I toasted 100 pounds of coconut in my oven at home.”
Along with figuring out the coconut, Stromberg had to get a coffee that worked with the beer. He didn’t want the overpowering roastiness and bitterness in most coffee beers, so he worked with Everett’s Velton’s Coffee to pick out a blend that showcased flavors of fruit and citrus. Velton’s Bonsai Blend is cold brewed and then mixed in with the beer.
The beer is complex and changes over time. The coconut dominates the aroma and flavor at first, then recedes into the background as the beer warms up and your palate starts to fatigue. After about 10 minutes, the chocolate notes from the malts, and fruit and citrus flavors from the coffee and hops, start to shine through.
“We’re really happy with the beer,” Stromberg said. “Getting it stable was the hardest part. It took a long time to get it right in a way that we wanted, but this is what we envisioned.”
Stromberg said a release party for the beer is Feb. 3 and that it should be on shelves into March. The beer will likely be a regular in the winter months, but Stromberg said they’re trying to decide whether the recipe will change from year to year.
Another new beer on tap at Scuttlebutt’s taproom is its Bicycle Tree Sour, a kettle sour brewed for a festival at Skagit Valley Malting last month. The beer was dry hopped with spent botanicals from Skip Rock Distillery’s Bicycle Tree Gin, allowing the dry and tart flavor to interplay with the juniper notes. The beer is available for a short time.
From the brewery: A dark ale featuring multiple performers. A rich grain bill provides chocolate attributes while Everett’s Velton’s Bonsai Blend Coffee contributes caramel, hazelnut, strawberry and citrus notes. Contrasting those complementary flavors is the coconut, boldly claiming the spotlight without any desire to share.