SnoTown Brewing’s Frank Sandoval (left) and Shackelford Vintners’ Ron Shackelford pose next to the red wine barrel Shackelford gave to Sandoval for aging one of his beers. (Photo by Aaron Swaney)

SnoTown Brewing’s Frank Sandoval (left) and Shackelford Vintners’ Ron Shackelford pose next to the red wine barrel Shackelford gave to Sandoval for aging one of his beers. (Photo by Aaron Swaney)

Snohomish brewer ages ales in whiskey and oak wine barrels

All four beers for this weekend’s SnoTown Barrel Program Release Weekend celebration.

SnoTown Brewery’s Frank Sandoval is admittedly still getting used to this whole barrel-aging thing.

But when a local vintner offered the Snohomish beer brewer a red wine barrel to age something in, he knew it was a great opportunity.

Along with aging his smoked rye ale in the red wine barrel, Sandoval aged his Grizzly Brown in a collection of three different whiskey barrels for nine months. Sandoval will release all four beers for this weekend’s SnoTown Barrel Program Release Weekend celebration. The four beers will be pouring until they’re gone.

The red wine barrel came courtesy Snohomish’s Shackelford Vintners and owner Ron Shackelford, a long-time SnoTown customer. Shackelford had a twice-used French oak barrel that had been used to age a cabernet sauvignon and petit bordeaux. He decided to ask Sandoval if he would have any use for it.

“We did a barrel-aged beer in Skip Rock barrels last year, so when Ron offered it, I thought, why not give it a shot,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval first thought about resting an Irish red in the barrel (red in a red barrel), but then decided his smoked rye ale would be a better complement.

The beer is interesting. There’s still some of the rye flavor and a the red wine characteristics can be tasted on the finish. There’s a small amount of sour characteristics, but more on that later.

The base beer for the other barrel-aged beers Sandoval will release on Friday is SnoTown’s Grizzly Brown Ale. Two are aged in Bad Dog Distillery whiskey barrels, including one with extra whiskey-soaked oak cubes. The final barrel-aged beer is aged in Skip Rock whiskey barrels with several pounds of shells of walnuts used to make nocino, giving the beer a big nose of the Italian dark-brown liqueur.

All four beers have a slight sourness to them. Sandoval said he’s still learning how to age beers in oak barrels and some wild yeast in the barrels likely fermented the small amount of remaining sugars that hadn’t finished fermenting in the stainless steel tanks. The sourness in no way ruins the beer. Rather it adds a little complexity and depth. Just be warned.

As for Shackelford Vintners, Ron opened the winery in 2016 with his wife, Anne. They own about 4½ acres, 1½ of which are planted, north of Red Mountain outside of Tri-Cities. Right now, there’s no tasting room, but curious customers can order from or give them a call at 425-350-2719 to set up a tasting.

In other news for SnoTown, Sandoval said he’s put down a deposit on a new four-barrel brew system. Having been brewing on a two-barrel system for four years, Sandoval said the new Stout four-barrel system will allow him to make more beer and keep up with customer demand.

Changes at Sound to Summit, Lost Canoe: The owners of Snohomish’s Sound to Summit Brewing and Lost Canoe Brewing recently announced some changes to their brewing staff. Sound to Summit head brewer Adam Frantz was promoted to director of brewing and Mike Anderson was named the new head brewer at Lost Canoe.

As director of brewing, Frantz will oversee the brewing operations for both breweries. The breweries will remain separate brands.

Anderson has five years of commercial brewing experience, including stints at Redmond’s Postdoc Brewing and Seattle’s Belltown Brewing.

“It’s a big upgrade for us in trying to build Lost Canoe into a true commercial brewery instead of the ‘homebrew start-up’ it has been,” Lost Canoe and Sound to Summit co-owner Will Hezlep said.

Chop wood for a good cause: Norm’s Market owner Shane McDaniel recently asked fans on Facebook to help chop wood in order to give it to local families to heat their homes. McDaniel is asking anyone willing to help chop wood to meet at Norm’s Market at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.

McDaniel’s Norm’s Market, located in Lake Stevens, has one of the largest craft beer selections in the state. In November, McDaniel and his twin sons, Henry and Harrison, cut up nearly 40 cords of wood and promptly gave it away to needy families to burn in their fireplaces. With recent storms bringing down a number of trees, McDaniel is up to it again and is asking for help.

Taster tray

Kosciuszko Double Black IPA, Sound to Summit Brewing: Named after the tallest peak in Australia, Kosciuszko, the latest in Sound to Summit’s 7 Summits IPA Series, pours pitch black but has a decisive hop presence of pine and stone fruit. Available on tap at the brewery.

Drink this

Wine Barrel-aged Smokey Rye

SnoTown Brewing, Snohomish

Style: Smoked rye ale aged in red wine barrels

Available: On tap at the brewery

From the brewery: A smokey rye ale aged in a twice-used red wine barrel from Snohomish’s Shackelford Vintners.

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