Booze notebook: Head brewer leaving Scuttlebutt after 18 years

The latest on Snohomish County’s breweries, wineries and distilleries.

Matt Stromberg has worn a lot of hats during his tenure at Scuttlebutt. Along with his main job as overseer of the production brewery, which brews more than 8,000 barrels per year, and head recipe designer, Stromberg has helped run beer festivals, put on concerts, shepherd label designs and much more.

After 18 years of juggling all of those balls, Stromberg is announcing last call. The head brewer will be leaving Scuttlebutt Brewing. He plans to take the summer off, and hopes to open his own brewing operation sometime in the future.

“This wasn’t a decision I made lightly,” Stromberg said. “There’s no bad blood between myself and the brewery. It feels healthy for both parties and, hopefully, we’ll work together on some level in the future.”

Stromberg joined Scuttlebutt soon after Phil Bannan Sr. and Cynthia “Scuttle” Bannan started operations on the Everett waterfront in 1996. He’s helped steer the brewery through some major growth, including the opening of the current restaurant on the waterfront in Everett, an increase of distribution channels nationwide and to Europe and Asia, and, most recently, the massive expansion of the production brewery.

One of his most memorable moments was a mistake he made with a batch of beer early on in his career at Scuttlebutt. While brewing a weizenbock, a severely stuck mash maxed out what the then-small brewery’s mash tun could handle. There was no way to get it out, so Stromberg had to open the manway and let 1,500 pounds of hydrated grain spill out over the brewhouse floor.

While spending the next four hours cleaning every nook and cranny of the brewery, he thought about what had happened. The next time he brewed the beer, he made a small change to the process of brewing it, which became a defining characteristic of that beer and something that taught him much about the art of creating beer.

“That mistake defined a lot of things for me and my brewing career,” said Stromberg, who brewed for McMenamins prior to Scuttlebutt. “A little mistake can teach you a lot and translate to bigger success.”

Stepping in to Stromberg’s brewing shoes will be Eric Nord, who has been working at Scuttlebutt for six years. Nord, who worked at Edmonds’ Gallagher’s Where-U-Brew for eight years before coming to Scuttlebutt, will be overseeing the production brewery and doing some of the recipe design.

“This is a great opportunity, and I’m very excited,” said Nord, who promised no dramatic changes to Scuttlebutt’s beers and a few new and exciting additions to the lineup, including the upcoming release of a pineapple hefeweizen.

Foggy Noggin collaborates with Redhook: The Bothell brewery known for brewing beers based on historical recipes teamed up with one of the standard bearers of Pacific Northwest microbrew culture to create a Scottish ale inspired by an 1850s recipe.

Foggy Noggin and Redhook Brewlab brewed FnHook, a Scottish ale that will be released June 2 at both Foggy Noggin’s tasting room and Redhook Brewlab on Capitol Hill. Made with Crisp Number 19 Maris Otter malts, and Cluster and East Kent Golding hops, FnHook has flavors of graham cracker and light stone fruit.

The recipe wasn’t based on a specific beer, but rather an amalgamation of ingredients from a number of mid-19th century Scottish beers. The water profile was based on Edinburgh’s.

“We looked at who was using what ingredients in the mid-1850s in Scotland and what the typical ABV and IBUs were,” said Foggy Noggin owner Jim Jamison. “I was able to taste it last week and was really impressed on the bright crispness it delivered.”

Redhook Brewlab, a reinvention of the Redhook brand, is a pub that opened last summer that focuses on experimental and small-batch beers.

Scuttlebutt concert series announced: Everett Music Initiative and Scuttlebutt Brewing have announced the S.S. Scuttlebutt summer concert series.

A series of four concerts will be held at 8 p.m. on the third Friday of the month from June through September at Scuttlebutt’s Taproom & Brewery, 3314 Cedar St., Everett.

The first concert is June 15 with bands Weeed, Spesh and King Mammoth and celebrates EMI’s sixth birthday. Other concerts are scheduled for July 20, Aug. 17 and Sept. 14.

Tickets are $10. For more information, call 425-252-2829 or go to scuttlebuttbrewing.com.

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