Wicked Weed Brewing $5 Million Expansion: EOT Beer News

The following is an official press release from Wicked Weed Brewing:

(Asheville, NC) – In conjunction with the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC), Wicked Weed Brewing announced today expansion plans for a new brewing facility to be located in western Buncombe County. The company’s expansion will add 82 new jobs and will invest $5 million in facilities and equipment over the next three years.

The brewery plans to purchase a county-owned building which will become a state-of the-art 40,000-square-foot production facility. This new brewhouse will position Wicked Weed to grow their capacity up to 50,000 barrels a year. Wicked Weed joins a growing number of Buncombe County Manufacturers located in Enka Commerce Park, off Sand Hill Road, and brewing is expected to be underway by fall 2015.
This announcement comes as Wicked Weed Brewing opens its second downtown location, a barrel house and tasting room, called The Funkatorium, located at 147 Coxe Avenue. This dedicated sour barrel house will store up to 1,000 barrels used in the process of making Wicked Weed’s signature sour, barrel-aged beers. It is the only facility of its type in the Southeast, with only a handful of craft brewers nationally having a dedicated sour house.

Since opening just over 18 months ago, Wicked Weed has produced more than 155 unique beer recipes, won a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2013 and garnered national attention in the craft brewing industry for their creative, high-quality brews like the Freak of Nature Double IPA.

These expansion plans allow Wicked Weed Brewing to gradually grow their market in North Carolina and eventually other states while staying focused on their passion for producing creative, world-class craft beers and maintaining strict quality standards through self-distribution.

“When opening Wicked Weed, we could have never predicted that after a year and a half we would be opening not only a second location but also a third. While this is very exciting, growth is not the goal for our business; our driving priority is to simply make great and innovative beer in a region of the country we all call home. Brewing world-class beer in Western North Carolina really is a dream come true. We wouldn’t be moving forward in our company without the support of Buncombe County and all the craft beer enthusiasts who love what we do and we have to express our deepest gratitude for the opportunity to take our passion to the next level.” said Walt Dickinson, Keeper of the Funk and an ownership partner with the brewery.

The success of the company underscores the growing economic value of the craft beverage industry in Western North Carolina. Buncombe County is home to an ever growing number of craft brewers, diverse support services as well as the Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast at AB-Tech Community College.

Chairman of the Buncombe County Commissioners, David Gantt commented, “Wicked Weed is an outstanding example of the entrepreneurial spirit in Buncombe County. Two local families have combined talents and created jobs and lasting economic value for our community. I am so proud of this company and this announcement.”

“Wicked Weed’s rapid expansion in high-quality, innovative craft brewing shows its tremendous entrepreneurial talent and energy. It also highlights the dynamic economic contributions of this industry in our community. I expect other entrepreneurial sectors to follow the high-growth example of the craft brewing industry as our great quality of life and creative attributes continue to attract innovators and highly-skilled individuals,” remarked EDC Chairman Paul Szurek.



A Slow Growth Manifesto

After a year and a half of operations Wicked Weed Brewing had some choices to make: where did we want to go as a company and what did that ultimately mean for our growth, our production and, most importantly, our beer? Did we want to strike while the proverbial iron was hot and grow rapidly to expand our reach or did we want to keep our growth slow and methodical with mindful intention? Did we want to be a big brewery or just be a little bigger?

In order to answer these daunting questions we began to ask ourselves: who were we when we started, who are we now, and who do we want to become? As we began to explore this very basic, but central question two motivations continued to resurface: creativity and quality.

We realized that we didn’t care as much about the size of our foot print in the craft beer world as we did for satisfying our own hunger for creating beers that allowed for our wildest dreams to be liquid realities. We wanted to answer to our consciences that constantly call us to experiment and push the boundaries of whats possible. We realized also that quality must always guide creativity; that to be true craftsmen quality could never suffer for the sake of experimentation.

It was often recommend to us that when growth was concerned, it was best to go as big as possible, to expand to a 60 or 100 barrel system. We decided, instead, that a 30 barrel system would suit our goal of producing more beer while simultaneously allowing us to brew distinctly Wicked Weed beers. We realized that well planned, intentional growth would not only relieve pressure at the pub, but would push us towards unbridled creativity in the endeavor to get our beers into new bottles, new hands, new markets, and new states while still maintaining our identity and passion for quality.

It became clear to us early on that we would never wanted to be a brewery that brewed and distributed only a handful of beers. With an opening lineup of seventeen beers on tap, a saison series now numbering thirty­six, a separate sour brewing operation, a barrel aging program, and over one hundred and fifty­five unique beer recipes to date, sending out a standard lineup of beers for mass distribution would never be our strong suit. Pipelining our beers into only a few mainstream brews would be a significant departure from who we have always been. Instead, our goal is to reach deeper into North Carolina and eventually states outside our own to send out multitudes of tried and true brewpub beers into regular distribution rotation so that we can get the beer we love so deeply into the hands of those who enjoy it.

It has been a freeing epiphany that in this new expansion we could actually find a fuller expression of who we are and share that with a wider audience of craft beer drinkers. And we have found them to be the best kind of company: a like­minded community of craft enthusiasts who share our love for exploration and our dedication to quality. Our success has only come and will only continue because of like minded lovers of great beer.

Out of this love for our community and our craft we may, one day, find ourselves asking and answering these core and daunting questions again. For now, however, we choose expansion that will allow us to protect our creativity and quality, we choose to cultivate our own craft not the entire craft, and we choose to expand our physical boundaries so that in our own imaginations we may have none.

Production Facility Fact Sheet

● Wicked Weed is opening a production facility that will be centered on the expansion of our leading clean beers including our Freak of Nature DIPA and our Hopburgular blood orange IPA.
● We will also showcase a seasonally rotating selection of tried and true brewpub favorites including, but not limited to, French Toast stout, Watermelon Saison and Coolcumber.
● We will also house a robust clean barrel aged program in this new facility. These beers will include but are not limited Old Fashioned Ale, Dark Age Bourbon Stout, Imperial Coolcumber, and others. This facility will allow for the growth of this program.
● There is potential for distribution outside of the state later down the road but no formal distribution plans have been discussed at this time.
● Our production facility is going to be a new 40,000 square foot building located off Highway 19/23 in Enka-Candler, NC. This is an 6.8 acre property with river access on Jacob Holms Way in the Enka Center about 9 miles from the downtown brewpub.
● The facility will allow for future growth and an eventual tasting room with potential for an outdoor venue.
● Our projected opening date is Fall 2015.
● Within five years of being open, Wicked Weed will add an additional 82 jobs to our staff. Between the brewpub, the Funkatorium and our production facility, we will employ 200+ employees.
● The brew system is a semi-automated four vessel 30 barrel brewhouse from Newlands. It is a state of the art North American system.
● This system will allow for growth up to 50k barrels.
● This is a $5 milion dollar investment in facilities and equipment.
● We will be self distributing our beer throughout the state of NC investing in high quality refrigerated trucks to transport our beer from brewhouse to tap. We want to always control and assure the freshness of our product.

About Wicked Weed Brewing
Wicked Weed Brewing is an Asheville, North Carolina based brewpub that consistently hosts 20-plus house beers on tap, including hop forward, West Coast style ales, open fermented Belgians, and barrel-aged sour beers. Opened in December 2012, Wicked Weed is destined to become the largest producer of barrel-aged beers in the Southeastern U.S. The brewery is best known for its Freak of Nature Double IPA, Coolcumber Ale, Tyrant Double Red Ale, Hopburglar Blood Orange IPA, Dark Age Bourbon Stout and Black Angel Cherry Sour. Wicked Weed Brewing won a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for its Serenity Farmhouse Ale in 2013. Wicked Weed recently began small scale statewide distribution of kegs and bottles of barrel-aged sour beers to major metro areas in North Carolina. Visit them online at www.wickedweedbrewing.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/WickedWeedBrewing.

The Economic Development Coalition (EDC) for Asheville-Buncombe County is a public-private partnership committed to: creating and retaining high quality jobs, community leadership, and being a resource for better business decisions. The EDC accomplishes this mission through its four core services: business retention and expansion, small business and entrepreneurship, research, and marketing and recruitment. The EDC is funded by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Town of Weaverville, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the AVL 5×5 Campaign. Visit www.ashevillechamber.org/economic-development.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce is a member organization with over 1,800 member businesses and organizations. Chamber members collaborate with community organizations and coalitions to support the community and each other with the mission of building community through business. The Chamber is home to a 4,000 square foot Visitor Center which welcomes over 195,000 visitors per year. Visit www.ashevillechamber.org.

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