The legend of the Second Street Barleywine once known as Skookum

These limited edition packages will be available today only at Second Street Rufina. (Picture courtesy of Second Street Brewery)

Tonight, Second Street Brewery is releasing not one, but two special barleywines for 2021. That’s right, the Rufina Street location will have both an English- and an American-style barleywine available for purchase that will surely keep you in the holiday spirit all winter long.

As you may have already heard, these beers can be collected in special limited edition packaging, designed and hand-printed by Second Street’s director of art and branding, Mariah Cameron Scee.

What makes them so special, you ask? To create this unique packaging, Mariah came up with the design, carved a relief block, and printed each one by hand-rolling the cardboard tube across the inked block. And so far, the packaging has proven to be an award-winning idea.

The process from start to finish. Previous version shown here. (Photo courtesy of Second Street Brewery)

Previous wins for the barleywine and Skookum designs:

Gold Medal 2020 — Craft Beer Marketing Awards, Skookum Barleywine Block Printed Packaging Design & Labels, limited numbered edition.

Onyx Crushie 2020 (People’s Choice) — Craft Beer Marketing Awards, 2018 Skookum Barleywine Block Printed Packaging Design & Labels, limited numbered edition.

Gold Crushie 2021 — Craft Beer Marketing Awards, 2019 Barleywine Block Printed Packaging Design & Labels, limited numbered edition.

Global Crushie winner (Best Packaging Design) 2021 — Craft Beer Marketing Awards, 2019 Barleywine Block Printed Packaging Design & Labels, limited numbered edition.

Mariah Cameron Scee holds up the finished product.

The Barleywine formerly known as Skookum

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mariah for her Women in Craft Brewing article, and among many things, the topic of her barleywine design came up, how it used to be called Skookum, the controversy surrounding it, and why it no longer goes by that moniker.

“So originally, the beer was called Skookum,” Mariah explained. “And, while it wasn’t intended, we were called out for cultural appropriation for using that name. And, I think being both people that are from the Northwest, to some extent, our understanding, in our knowledge of the word, we did not think that that’s what we were doing. But, regardless of that, it did offend some people, and it was personally really hard for me, because I feel like it wasn’t the intention, and I understood right away what the problem was. The only thing you can do in that case is to purposely make the change. And, the right thing to do in this case was to change the name of the beer, and that’s hard to do with something that’s won some recognition and has some visibility already. So we made that choice last year. The early awards are still under the name Skookum, which the conversation still comes up, but the beer is now just called Barley Wine; Skookum has been removed from it.

“I’ve had a lot of conversations online with people about why we did that, trying to try to answer for that. And, I think it’s really important to be open and honest about it, because part of what part of the discussions that I’ve had with people is that the acknowledging of it is very important. So, as opposed to just changing the name and trying to pretend it was never called Skookum, and that we ever did something that might be offensive to somebody, I think it’s better to actually talk about it. And, it doesn’t matter what the intention of the name was, which was not meant to do what it did, what matters is that we are trying to do the right thing right now. And so, when we went to go find another name, for me, I think, because I deal with social media, and because I’m the artist of it, I’m the person who had the most interaction on that.

“And so, maybe not everybody in our brewery quite understood why we really had to change the name. But I would say myself, and also Tom (Ludzia, head brewer), were pretty adamant about it. And, instead of coming up with a new name for it, and re-labeling it, the art has consistently changed over the years, and now it’s just called Barley Wine. And, I think we’ve moved to a place where the character changes every single year, and I’m very careful and thoughtful about how and where the impulses come from for the art, right? And, making sure that we’re not repeating a past mistake, and I really like this year’s creature. They have floppy ears and big horns and a cane and glass of barleywine, and it’s a really fun project for me. So I’m actually really proud of the way that we’ve been able to try to address any concerns, but also keep the project going.”

This year’s packaging design of Barleywine from Second Street Brewery.

Now remember, there are only 100 (labeled and numbered) hand-printed limited edition packages in existence, so snap them up while you can. The artist herself will be on hand to autograph these great gift ideas for that 21-plus collector in your family. But, if you’re just in it for the “life” itself, mixed four packs of the English- and American-style barleywines will also be available for purchase at the taproom while supplies last. 4 PM

To more fantastic designs from this prolific artist, and more excellent beer from this great brewery, cheers to artwork in all its wonderful forms!

— Luke

For more @nmdarksidebc updates and #CraftBeer news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro

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