In the ever-evolving roster of U.S. microbrewers, North Carolina’s Wicked Weed could’ve gotten lost the crowd—save for two glorious attributes: They’re based in Asheville, which is fast becoming one of the country’s micro-brew epicenters. And their Serenity (a 100% brett farmhouse ale) snagged the gold at the Great American Been Festival last year, beating out the HopSavant from Crooked Stave and the Sanctification (from a little brewery you might’ve heard of named Russian River). Hone in on their stated ambitions (as written on their blog), and this victory ain’t a fluke: they hope to become the largest producer of barrel-aged beers in the Southeastern United States. And they’re well on their way, considering that they opened up a 12,000-square-foot sour tasting room and barrel-aging facility this summer.
With so much going at one brewery, knowing where to start can become quite daunting. So we suggest you start at the beginning by finding a bottle of the aptly named Genesis.
This blonde sour ale was Wicked Weed’s first venture into barrel-aged American wilds. It started with a traditional blonde saison, fermented with a proprietary yeast strain. Then mango, papaya, and guava were added before moving the beer into petite verdot barrels, where it rested and aged for six months.
Its color speaks to its saison origins, a rich golden color that Budweiser only wishes it could match, with carbonation that fades. The fruits come out on the nose—sour elements of green apples, straw, pears. The presence of the barrel in the odor is so subtle you feel like you’re imaging it. But it’s there in the taste, anchoring the relatively light overall body of the beer. Pineapple and guava announce itself with a nice lactic tang that feels crisp and refreshing, but not puckering, and elements of white wine start to come to the fore as the glass warms, with elements of sweetness that are preceded by a much drier finish.
Biggest barrel-aging house in the Southeast? We’re hoping their ambitions stretch across the entirety of the Atlantic coast.
Brewery: Wicked Weed
City: Asheville, NC
Style: Wild Ale