Something weird this way comes may be the best introduction to Wicked Weed’s Oblivion Sour Red Ale. Witness the label’s graphic: a spelunker standing on the top of a tower inside some deep cavern, his headlamp illuminating silhouettes of jelly fish that float among the stalactites. And the story reinforces the embrace of this other worldliness—I won’t recite the entire paragraph, but it includes such gems as enveloping dust, fiery dirt, luminous glows, the earth falling into darkness, and furies that shift into overwhelming beauty.
Read the other side of the label, and the weirdness matures into wild—evocative of both the beer’s style and the overall approach to the brewing process. They use 88 pounds of blackberries and 20 pounds of dried dates, and then age it for 12 long months in Cab wine barrels, where the lacto and pedio play their bacterial games to introduce some serious, deliberate sourness, before a bit of artful blending leads to the final product.
The end result pours a cloudy amber, boasting a small khaki-colored head that quickly dissipates and an aroma that’s unsurprisingly alive with funk, oak, and the pronounced character of dark fruit. And the first taste is indeed a blast of sourness. But it’s hardly one-note. The first burst of tartness leads to a crisp, complex, medium-bodied experience full of wood, earth, fruit, raisins, and nuts. The finish—dry, with more of the tart berries—delivers a slight pucker that reintroduces you to that age-old craft beer quandary: linger to appreciate what you’ve just drank, or go in for another sip?
Brewery: Wicked Weed
City: Asheville, NC
Style: Sour Red Ale