Brewery of the Month:
Baxter Brewing Company
This month, our featured brewery is Wicked Weed Company! We would like to thank National Sales Manager Evan Crutchfield for taking the time to talk to us about Wicked Weed and their award winning beers!
When did you open: December 2012
Where are you located: Asheville, NC
Where do you distribute: We are currently in 14 States- mostly in the East Coast
What is the history of the brewery?: Walt and Luke Dickinson, two brothers, were very much into homebrewing. Luke moved to Delaware to work at Dogfish Head where he was a tour guide and helped with other things at the Brewery, while Walt was living in Asheville. At some point, they both decided they wanted to open a brewery together. They found a spot next to a famous music venue in downtown Asheville called The Orange Peel and worked on figuring out a way to open it. They were having trouble coming up with a name and were originally thinking of calling it “Sky City Brewing Company”, but nobody liked the name that much. Then after doing some research and reading some books, they discovered some interesting beer history that struck a chord. It turns out that King Henry VIII didn’t like hops and thought they had no place in beer. He called it a “Pernicious and wicked weed” which is where the name “Wicked Weed” came from. We liked the idea that “Wicked Weed” gave us a sort of rebellious aura.
Talk About the Growth of Wicked Weed: We opened the brewpub in December 2012 with 30 beers on tap including a sour beer! That said, we fermented the sour beers at a different brewery facility because Luke didn’t want the sour beers brewed near his clean beers. Since opening up, the brewpub has been one of the biggest tourist destinations in the city. In 2008 there were maybe 8 breweries in the city. Then around 2012, we opened, Sierra Nevada set up shop as well as Oskar Blues, and the beer renaissance in Asheville really kicked off. A lot of breweries started opening after that. Around 2014, we opened the Funkatorium where we were able to both ferment and age our sour beers. We opened it in an area called “The South Slope” which is currently home to 7 breweries. The Funkatorium is now a thriving taproom with 22 taps, at least 16 of which are sours. We became one of the first and only breweries in the country at the time to have a dedicated sour beer tasting room. Long story made short: In 4 years, we managed to open up 4 facilities. We grew extremely fast!
Do you have a philosophy behind the beers you brew?: We like to be experimental. In 6 years, we have brewed over 600 different beers (that’s 100 beers a year, or 2-3 new beers a week). We like to experiment with every beer style under the sun to see what people like. We like to think our biggest claim to fame was our 2014 Great American Beer Festival gold medal for our beer “Serenity”. It’s a Brett Farmhouse beer. We use our house Brettanomyces strain and aged it on wood for 4-6 months. That year we beat out Russian River and Crooked Stave which earned us a lot of attention. Then in 2015, we won a Silver Medal in the IPA category with “Pernicious IPA”. Our medals have given us the reputation for being both an IPA and sour brewery, but again, we like to experiment with all styles!
What are your core beers?: Pernicious IPA is our staple- it’s 30-40% of what we brew. But we change our “core lineup” regularly- which is how you stay relevant in the brewing world today. We are always trying to keep innovating. Burst is our new #2 beer- a session kettle sour which has a revolving door of featured fruits- the current one is Passion fruit and Lychee. Lieutenant Dank session East Coast IPA is our #3. The rest sort of varies.
What can we expect from Wicked Weed in the future? (expansions, new beer styles, events, etc.): Since our partnership with AB InBev in 2017, we have been allowed to expand into more markets and we even opened up a brand new restaurant, Cultura- a sort of casual fine dining restaurant that focuses on farm to table, good wine and cocktails, and Wicked Weed beers. We are also planning a new facility, called “Wicked Weed West,” in Asheville, so we can continue to connect with our local community in Asheville.