The announcement a few days ago that Wicked Weed was purchased by Anheuser-Busch has brought a dark cloud over what should have been a glorious payout for hard work and investment. Wicked Weed started brewing five years ago at the brewpub in Asheville and has expanded to have four locations and almost 200 employees. Their sour beers have gained notoriety and they had several collaborations in the works which have now been cancelled, drain poured, distanced, or remixed to create new beers. The NC Brewers Guild has revoked their voting privileges and the craft brewing community has begun to distance themselves from the brewery. Wicked Weed had a festival planned for July and tickets were to go on sale this week, but the sale has been pushed back to May 20 and thus far over 20 breweries have backed out of the festival with more to follow.
With every buyout there is backlash, but sooner or later the public forgets or the beer does an end run around the beer geeks and ends up with the general public. I’m not sure in this case if the sour portfolio developed by Wicked Weed will survive the current negativity. Joe Beer Drinker is not going to try, nor buy, a $10 bottle of funky beer. Even if they dumb it down it won’t fly off the shelves. So what will AB ultimately do? I’m not sure, but if the Wicked Weed beers don’t sell I would assume they will ask them to focus on the beers which do sell.
Readers of the blog already know I had given up on the Wicked Weed bottles as I found them all underwhelming. I was a fan of The Funkatorium in Asheville, but have always found the brew pub to be a place to far too many unwritten rules. Not going back to the brew pub will not break my heart and my wallet will thank me for skipping The Funkatorium. Will I never drink another Wicked Weed beer again? I’m sure somewhere along the way the best beer on tap will be a WW and I’ll have a glass, but until that happens I don’t plan to put any of my money into the AB machine.