Coming from the Portland craft beer scene, Greg Krsak knew the first beer he’d be brewing for his new brewery. Modeled after Widmer Hefeweizen, an iconic craft beer, Krsak brewed a hefeweizen as his first beer for Scrappy Punk Brewing.
It was a total flop.
“Nobody ordered it,” said Krsak, with a laugh.
Fortunately for Krsak that hefeweizen wasn’t a harbinger of things to come. Over the past four years, Scrappy Punk has become, well, one of the scrappiest breweries in Snohomish County, making experimental beers and becoming known as a quirky and fun place to hang out.
This weekend, he will be celebrating the brewery’s anniversary one last time. The brewery will be shutting its doors Dec. 20.
“We always wanted to be a brewery that made a positive impact on the community, and I think we did that,” said Krsak, owner and head brewer at Scrappy Punk Brewing. “We’ve met fabulous people and made lifelong friends.”
About two years ago, Krsak suffered a health scare that made him think of closing the brewery to spend more time with his wife, Christell, and daughter, Ada, 5. But then Elise Mattson came on board as an assistant brewer, injecting new life into the brewery, and Krsak’s health improved. He agreed to keep the brewery going for one more year.
Then, in 2019, Scrappy Punk won the top token count at that summer’s Washington Brewers Festival — a feat typically achieved by larger breweries like Fremont Brewing and Skookum Brewery — and had successful showings at beer festivals. The brewery was in a good place, so he relented again and agreed to keep the brewery going again.
“Elise’s motivation really led to the first-place token count and we had such a good party for our third anniversary that I was like, ‘All right, we can go another year,’ ” he said. “I thought, ‘Let’s end on a high note.’ ”
Then COVID-19 hit, and Mattson, who has a full-time job, a husband, Dave, and two children, Oliver, 11, and Ruby, 8, became more empathetic. It was time to call it. Scrappy Punk will host a two-day fourth anniversary party at the brewery Dec. 19 and 20.
“I was burning the wick at both ends,” said Mattson, who also acts as marketing coordinator for Scrappy Punk. “I need to spend more time with my family, too, and it became clear that now was the right time for both myself and Greg.”
Ironically, Scrappy Punk actually saw an uptick in business due to COVID. Krsak relaxed his growler-filling rules and the small outdoor space at the brewery was packed with customers this summer.
“We were flying through beers, probably four times normal,” Krsak said. “Unlike a lot of breweries, we were able to be nimble and we had inexpensive rent.”
In a cozy garage off 92nd Street in Snohomish, Krsak built a brewery known for well-crafted experimental beers that pushed the envelope and tasted great. His Coconut Blonde and Mango Champagne IPA became iconic beers in the local beer community and huge fan favorites, helping lead to the top token count at the Washington Brewers Festival.
Krsak credits a serendipitous meeting with Cascade Beer Candi owner Jim Ladd for the creation of the Coconut Blonde. Ladd gave Krsak a little coconut flavoring and told him to drop it in some blonde ale he’d just brewed. He made a small batch and put it on tap at the brewery.
“It just evaporated in a day and a half,” Krsak said of that first batch. “I realized I had to come in the next day and brew 100 gallons and spend the night in the brewery.
“We became known as a brewery that experimented with different flavors. That’s not what I set out to do, but fortunately I wasn’t stuck in my ways.”
The garage that Scrappy Punk has occupied for the past four years won’t be empty for long. Cider maker John Fleming is planning to open Hammered Dwarf Cider in the space in 2021. Recently, Fleming helped Robert Fontaine open Soundbite Cider in Everett.
For Krsak, he said he plans to “reroll his character and start over at level zero” when it comes to brewing. Mattson hopes to purchase some of the stainless steel brewing equipment Scrappy Punk will be leaving behind and keep homebrewing.
“I’d be humbled if she invited me over to brew with her,” Krsak said.
“I’d be the boss, though,” Elise said, with a laugh.
If you go
Scrappy Punk Brewing will host a two-day party for its fourth anniversary — Scrappy Punk and the Last Crusade — from noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 19 and 20 at the brewery, 9029A 112th Dr. SE, Snohomish. Growler fills and outdoor seating will be available, with all COVID rules in place. Los Tamaahles food truck will be on site from 2 to 8 p.m. Specialty beers include lemon peel kettle sour, rosemary ginger saison, chocolate banana porter and pumpkin spice ale.