The foursome who owns Snohomish’s Lost Canoe Brewing loves a big challenge. They recently made that clear by doubling down on their investment in the Snohomish beer scene.
This past week, Lost Canoe owners Will Hezlep, John Carruthers, Emily Longkow and Adam Hayes made a shocking acquisition in the local craft beer community: They bought neighboring Snohomish brewery Sound to Summit Brewing from original owners John and Stacey Sype.
The deal came together quickly. One of the Lost Canoe owners spied an innocuous anonymous listing for a brewery for sale in Snohomish County. Process of elimination helped the Lost Canoe folks realize it was Sound to Summit, the first brewery in Snohomish, that was up for sale.
“For an hour we joked about it,” Hezlep said of Lost Canoe purchasing Sound to Summit. “Then we were like, ‘How can we buy it?’ Then it was, ‘We should do this!’ ”
Carruthers called Sound to Summit owner John Sype and expressed interest in purchasing the brewery. They went to dinner that night to chat about the possibility, and both parties came away optimistic.
“When the brewery was first listed, we had several other suitors from breweries and groups in-state and out-of-state,” John Sype said. “The owners of Lost Canoe approached us and were very interested in carrying on the tradition of Sound to Summit, keeping the name and promoting the brand. This was important to us as owners, and their plans for the future meshed well with what we thinking.”
For the Sypes, their brewery simply outgrew their dreams. When they started the brewery in 2013 it was a smallish venture, but then a kitchen was added and distribution was widened.
Soon the couple had a business with more than 20 employees on their hands. Stacey was busy with a new dental practice and John was looking to return to his field as an interventional cardiologist. Owning a successful brewery was becoming too much.
“We realized that it was time to pass the baton to a new ownership group that has the better ability to run all facets of the business and further promote the brand Sound to Summit,” John said.
Lost Canoe’s owners see a dual benefit from the purchase. They hope to expand Sound to Summit’s footprint throughout King and Snohomish counties, while at the same time brewing more Lost Canoe beer and increasing its distribution.
“This was an opportunity to increase our production in a unique way,” Hezlep said. “Instead of buying a larger system, we purchased a brewery with a large brewing system and an established distribution network.”
Hezlep said they plan to brew more of the popular Lost Canoe beers, like its Peanut Butter Porter, on Sound to Summit’s larger system and use the brewery’s substantial distribution network to get more Lost Canoe beer on shelves in King and Snohomish counties.
As for the brewers’ relationship, Hezlep, who writes many of the recipes for Lost Canoe, will oversee much of the brewing operation between Lost Canoe and Sound to Summit. Hezlep said he plans to have Sound to Summit head brewer Grady Warnock move to a more supervisory role as well so he can concentrate more on the creative process.
“I’m excited for the future and to see the brand continue to expand to more audiences with the new management,” Warnock said. “I am very appreciative to both John and Stacey for the opportunity to work with them in my first experience with brewery development, but it’s time to take the next step for Sound to Summit and my recipes.”
The Sypes said they’re excited that someone local is going to take their baby and help it grow. Hezlep said that the Lost Canoe owners feel a responsibility to see Sound to Summit continue its upward trajectory while taking both breweries to the next level.
“Two months ago for us it was, ‘how do we grow,’ ” Hezlep said. “Now it’s, ‘where do we stop?’ ”
Lost Canoe Brewing/Sound to Summit Brewing, Snohomish
Available: On tap at both breweries
From the brewery: A traditional German kolsch infused with fresh English cucumbers in a 3-barrel batch.
Other brews on this week’s taster tray:
Timber Monster IPA, Timber Monster Brewing: A Northwest-style IPA, hopped with Magnum, Centennial, Simcoe and Citra, from a new brewery in Sultan. The brewery will also have a coffee oatmeal stout, an amber and blood orange blonde on tap for its grand opening, which is Friday through Sunday. Available on tap at the brewery.
French Creek Saison, Spada Farmhouse Brewing: A special edition of John Spada’s saison made with white wheat malt from Skagit Valley Malting for Saturday’s SVM Showcase at Farmstrong Brewing. Available on tap at the brewery and April 7 at Farmstrong Brewing.
The Green Bastard, Middleton Brewing: Brewed with catnip and Green Bastard hops, this New England-style IPA will debut at Middleton’s spring beer release event at noon April 7. Available on tap at the brewery.
Astronut, Lake Stevens Brewing: Brewed with 6 pounds of dehydrated peanut butter per barrel, this porter is surprisingly creamy and doesn’t overwhelm. Available on tap at the brewery.
Ya Know What I Mean, Crucible Brewing: A peaches-and-cream milkshake IPA. Available on tap at the brewery.
— Aaron Swaney, special to The Herald