King Henry VIII once declared that hops were “a wicked and pernicious weed” destined to ruin beer. This quote is the inspiration behind the name Wicked Weed Brewing, started by brothers Walt and Luke Dickinson. Focused on bold and hoppy West Coast ales and authentic Belgian sours and wild beers, Wicked Weed Brewing has developed a reputation for creative and inspired brews.Wicked Weed has grown tremendously since we visited them last February. This past fall, they opened the doors to their second location, the Funkatorium. Located three blocks away from their first brewpub in Asheville, North Carolina, the Funkatorium houses and showcases Wicked Weed’s sour, wild and barrel-aged beers. Wicked Weed pulls inspiration from Belgian Lambic styles; they age their sours using a combination of wine barrels from all over the country and a house strain of Brettanomyces yeast. Brettanomyces (or ‘Brett’) is a wild yeast that is normally avoided, but adventurous brewers have harnessed it to brew complex, funky beers. To celebrate Wicked Weed’s growth and the recent opening of Funkatorium, we sampled four of Wicked Weed's wild brews that range from a spectrum of traditional farmhouse saisons to not-so-traditional sour IPAs. Read on for our tasting notes, and leave a comment if you have tried any of these barrel-aged brews!
A traditional open-fermented saison, Bretticent is finished with Brett. Bretticent pours the color of sunshine - it had the appearance of fresh cut hay and bright lemon zest, with fine pearly bubbles. Herbaceous with a minerality that was reminiscent of a sidewalk after a fresh spring rain, its aroma carried a clean, grassy funk laced with hints of lavender and meyer lemon. The saison had a clean citrus flavor with a lingering peppery bitterness that brought to mind arugula, black pepper and spicy greens.
Serenity won the 2013 Great America Beer Festival Gold Medal in the American-Style Brett Beers Category. With a bright, pale champagne color, Serenity had notes of white wine, lemon and cider on the nose. Mildly tart with a clean smooth finish and pleasant bitterness, Serenity rolled off the tongue with a sparkle.
Amorous is a dry hopped sour IPA. A light maple color with fine bubbles, this IPA had a juicy, hoppy nose with a complex bouquet of mango, pineapple and guava aromas. Full of fruity, syrupy mango hops, it mixed seamlessly with the tart complexity of the sour style.
A sour black ale aged in bourbon barrels with tart cherries, Black Angel was a ruby-hued black reminiscent of Cherry Coke or Mister Pib. A warm vanilla and oak aroma from the bourbon-barrel aging wafted in and out of the chocolate and cherry bouquet. Black Angel had the fruity complexity of dark chocolate, with a tart cherry brightness that shone through the coffee and vanilla backdrop.
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