Barrel-aged Winter Wonderland
Whitewall Brewing, Marysville
Style: Barrel-aged winter warmer
Stats: 7.6 percent ABV, 30 IBU
Available: On tap at the brewery for its anniversary celebration.
My thoughts: Don’t blink, or these two barrel-aged versions of Whitewall’s Winter Wonderland will be gone.
To celebrate its fourth anniversary, the duo behind the Marysville brewery, Aaron Wight and Sean Wallner, teamed up with Dave and Shelly McGlothern of Bad Dog Distillery to age two separate kegs of its new winter beer in a pair of Bad Dog whiskey barrels. Wight and Wallner have been experimenting with a number of different ingredients in the barrels, including cherry, coffee and coconut.
The inspiration behind the first barrel-aged beer they wanted to create for the anniversary was an old fashioned, a bourbon cocktail with notes of citrus and bitters. To get the flavors, Wight and Wallner added orange zest, ginger and cinnamon to the white wheat whiskey barrel. The beer has a nice citrus flavor up front and little heat from the ginger and cinnamon.
The other barrel-aged version of Winter Wonderland is one aged in rye whiskey barrels for three months. Whitewall aged its Jaywalking Grandma in rye whiskey barrels for three months as well. I recommend getting a taster of the barrel-aged beers and the Winter Wonderland base beer.
Because McGlothern also uses oak cubes to age his whiskey, it allows Whitewall to age the beers quicker than usual. That, coupled with the fact that the barrels hold only 15 gallons, gives Wight and Wallner an opportunity to create a number of barrel-aged pilot projects.
“We’re seeing what works and what doesn’t and what turns out to be popular,” Wallner said. “We’re establishing that demand.”
After four years of operation, the guys at Whitewall admit they’ve made some mistakes. At first, working with their distributor, Whitewall was sending its beer out to locations around the state. Now, they’ve dumped the distributor and brought on Mike Mcgourty to head up their sales strategy. Mcgourty is focusing much more on Snohomish and King counties, and especially Marysville.
“We were all over the place but not making an impact, so we just said, ‘Let’s reset,’ ” Wallner said. “We want to own Marysville. We want people to try one of our beers at Hop Jack’s, find out about the brewery and then come in to try our other beers.”
Whitewall Brewing is hosting its fourth anniversary celebration from 1 to 9 p.m. March 3 at the brewery, 14524 Smokey Point Blvd., Suite 1, Marysville. There will be small batches of barrel-aged beers on tap, and the Moonshine BBQ food truck and San Juan Cigars on hand.
From the brewery: Winter Wonderland is a winter warmer with notes of raisins and chocolate with a slight bitter finish. We’ve aged it in two different whiskey barrels from Arlington’s Bad Dog Distillery, including one with orange zest, ginger and cinnamon. These beers will keep you warm on those cold winter nights.
More new releases
North Everett IPA, At Large Brewing: A hazy IPA made with four hops, including Simcoe and Falconer’s Flight 7Cs, giving the beer an abundant hop aroma and soft mouthfeel. Available on tap at the brewery.
The Manuscript, Skookum Brewery: An oat IPA hopped with two North American hops (Citra and Mosaic) and two Australian hops (Summer and Vic Secret), giving the beer notes of tangerine, guava, mango and melon. Available on tap at the brewery.
French Tickler, Lake Stevens Brewing: Refreshing and tasty, this wheat-based saison has a light creaminess and subtle spiciness with a tart, dry finish. Available on tap at the brewery.