Every beer festival has an unofficial winner: The brewery that takes home the most tokens.
At large festivals, like the Washington Brewers Festival, it’s usually the big hitters like Fremont Brewing and Skookum Brewery that have the longest lines and collect the most tokens. But at this year’s festival there was a shock wave that went through the beer community when the top token taker was announced.
When the dust and hops settled, little ol’ Scrappy Punk Brewing from Snohomish was standing alone atop the standings.
“It was mind-blowing,” said Greg Krsak, owner and head brewer at Scrappy Punk Brewing. “It was a team effort. It wasn’t just me. I feel like just a random home brewer mixing it up with the big boys.”
It’s been a big year for Scrappy Punk, which is still located in a tiny garage off of 88th Street in Snohomish. Not only did they take first at the Washington Brewers Festival, but they helped organize the new River’s Edge Brewfest — where they also took first in tokens — and aided in promotion of the Snohomish Ale Trail, a self-guided journey to all six Snohomish breweries.
This Saturday, Scrappy Punk will celebrate its third anniversary the brewery. There will be four new beers, including a cranberry blonde and spiced dark ale, a food truck and special growlers for sale.
The turning point for Scrappy Punk this year was the state festival at Marymoor. Starting the final day in second place behind neighboring Fremont, Scrappy Punk was trailing late in the day as brewers started to pack up and get ready to head home. That’s when Scrappy Punk super fan and hype man Raymond Ceasar went into action.
Ceasar, who was helping pour Scrappy Punk beer at the festival, noticed that there was room in the Scrappy Punk line and scurried off. A short time later, he returned with a bevy of dancing imbibers gathered in a conga line that soon formed at the Scrappy Punk booth. The huge swath of beer drinkers helped put the tiny brewery over the top.
For Scrappy Punk, which produced less than 500 barrels of beer last year, beating Fremont and its more than 50,000 barrels of beer was a modern David vs. Goliath moment.
“If David loved Goliath,” Krsak quickly retorted.
“Everyone came together and it took the whole team to make this happen,” Krsak said. “People pouring beer and working the crowed. Everything helped.”
Along with Ceasar, Krsak credited Scrappy Punk bartender Emily Nichols, super fan Adam Malpass and marketing coordinator and part-time brewer Elise Mattson with helping make the brewery’s third year one to remember.
Krsak credited Mattson as especially integral to the brewery. Mattson started designing Scrappy Punk’s marketing materials last year, but this year she took it to the next level. She designed and helped create the brewery’s festival booth, poured beer at the taproom and even started brewing her own recipes.
With Mattson providing graphic design materials, Krsak offered to help teach her how to brew. She’s been producing beer since early in the year and recently wrote her own recipe for an Amarillo fresh hop ale.
While her ability to brew has helped Krsak better manage the brewery and keep fresher beer on tap, it’s her graphic design skills that have helped the tiny brewery stand out. She gave the Scrappy Punk festival booth a tiki hut look, which was a huge draw at festivals and went perfectly with Scrappy Punk’s two fan-favorite brews: Coconut Blonde and Mango Champagne IPA.
Along with working on the Snohomish Ale Trail and River’s Edge Beer Festival marketing materials, Mattson also produced a number of posters for the brewery, including the third anniversary poster. In a nod to the iconic “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” movie poster, the poster includes herself, Krsak, Ceasar and Malpass flying through space in and on a phone booth. Of course, Nichols is standing guard in the moon, taking the place of George Carlin.
So will Scrappy Punk’s big year result in a boom of growth? Don’t count on it. Krsak said he’s content in their small space and believes Scrappy Punk fills a specific niche in the Snohomish County brewing community.
“We’re a small brewery,” Krsak said. “The whole reason I started this was to meet good people and have conversations with my neighbor over a beer. If we expanded, we’d alienate some of our customers who love coming here. I love where we’re at.”