Bali Ha’i is Scuttlebutt’s newest offering, a pomegranate and hibiscus fruit beer. (Aaron Swaney)

Bali Ha’i is Scuttlebutt’s newest offering, a pomegranate and hibiscus fruit beer. (Aaron Swaney)

Drink this: Scuttlebutt no longer brewing with English ale yeast

Scuttlebutt’s Bali Ha’i, a pomegranate and hibiscus fruit beer, is included in your weekend six-pack.

After nearly two decades, Scuttlebutt is switching from English to American.

Yeast that is.

It’s common to talk about malt and hops when discussing beer changes, but there’s another key ingredient that often gets short shrift: yeast. The tiny microorganisms that munch on all the fermentable sugars in the beer-making process can be key to giving beer a certain flavor.

The brewers at Scuttlebutt had tired of their English ale yeast. It was yielding inconsistent results and the flavors it produced were outdated. But it’s no easy task to just flip yeasts, especially when you have flagship beers with a cult following.

So the brewers tested batches of beer made with different yeasts and then tested them again. Much beer was drank.

“There was a ton of R&D on this,” said Scuttlebutt head brewer Eric Nord. “We made multiple batches of our blonde, amber and other flagship beer on the pilot system until we felt we had it right. We can’t mess with our flagship lineup, so we wanted to make sure that it was a good fit for those beers first.”

The brewers finally settled on US-05, an American ale yeast. When they put them in front of the big bosses, it was unanimous.

“Everybody was choosing the beers made with US-05 as their favorite,” Nord said.

Nord said the new yeast strain imparts a crisper and cleaner flavor profile for the beer and does a better job of showcasing the hop flavor and aroma. He added that the brewery’s consistency with gravity and ABV have gone up as well.

Where the new yeast really sings is in the new version of Cashmere Dreams, the brewery’s seasonal brut IPA. Made with Cashmere and Mosaic hops, the new version of the brut IPA, just released on draft and in cans, is cleaner, smoother and easier to drink.

“I think the hop flavor expresses more in this version,” said Scuttlebutt associated brewer Adam Chittick. “It’s much cleaner and more hop-forward, and doesn’t have the residual yeast esters that the previous version had.”

Along with Cashmere Dreams, the brewery recently released Bali Ha’i, a pomegranate and hibiscus fruit beer. Nord said the beer was a real challenge and went through multiple iterations before dialing in the final version.

The beer is made with pomegranate puree and hibiscus tea, giving it subtle fruity notes and a gentle tartness. Don’t think mouth-puckering sour, but rather a drinkable, slightly sweet fruit-forward beer.

“It may not seem like it right now, but I did enjoy the challenge,” said Nord, laughing. “We see this as a competitor to a seltzer or cider, something someone could order that is light and fun.”

Bali Ha’i is Scuttlebutt’s newest seasonal release and is on shelves now until spring.

Included in your weekend six-pack:

Vanilla Port Bourbon Barren Wood, Skookum Brewery: Skookum head brewer Hollis Wood aged a batch of the brewery’s barleywine in port barrels that held bourbon for nine months. Aged for nearly a year and then finished on whole vanilla beans, this beer has notes of caramel, dark fruits, raisin and vanilla. The brewery is releasing bottles of VPB Barren Wood on Jan. 24 with two other big releases: bottles of 2020 Solitary Confinement, a blend of imperial stout aged in Woodford Reserve barrels, and bottles of Sovereign of Nockmaar, a barrel-aged barleywine aged in bourbon and rye whiskey barrels that Skookum brewed in collaboration with Yakima’s Varietal Beer Co.

Clyde PNW IPA, At Large Brewing: This Pacific Northwest-style IPA is made with Centennial, Chinook and Loral hops and is part of the Everett brewery’s National Beer Can Day launch. At Large will be selling four packs of cans of Clyde, Coattails Hazy, Cheap Suit Hazy and At Large West Coast IPA at its taproom on Jan. 24.

Big Butch, Foggy Noggin Brewing: The Bothell brewery doubles the roasted hazelnuts, malt and hops to make this big brother of its award-winning Butch’s Brew. Big Butch is an imperial hazelnut brown ale that is rich, smooth and full of flavor. Big Butch goes on tap at the brewery Jan. 25.

Mount Elbrus Double Brut IPA, Sound to Summit Brewing: Named after the highest peak in Russia, Mount Elbrus is a dry and effervescent double brut IPA. Pilsner malt and rice give it a light body and allow the Ekuanot and Centennial hops to express. A special enzyme makes 99% of grain extracted sugars fully fermentable, making the beer exceptionally dry. Mount Elbrus is the fifth summit in S2S’s Seven Summit IPA series and is on tap at the brewery.

Tropical Snowglobe, 5 Rights Brewing: Made with Citra, Mosaic and Idaho 7 hops, this hazy IPA has tons of tropical flavors and aromas to remind anyone of sunnier times. The beer has notes of mango, pineapple and nectarine and is on tap at the brewery for a limited time.

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