Craft beer fans were stunned Wednesday when Asheville’s Wicked Weed, famous for its innovative approach to craft beer and particularly to the niche called sour beer, announced that it has formed a partnership with the brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev.
The company announced the news with a statement released on its Instagram account: “In order to innovate, push the boundaries, and grow, we've decided to take on the High End branch of Anheuser-Busch as a strategic partner.” According to a report in the Asheville Citizen-Times, the company will be a part of The High End, an arm of Anheuser that focuses on craft brands such as Goose Island, Four Peaks and SpikedSeltzer. Wicked Weed is believed to be the first N.C. brewery to join the group.
By Wednesday afternoon, the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild had issued a statement saying that Wicked Weed is no longer a voting member of the guild, which represents craft breweries statewide:
“While we are disheartened to hear of the sale of Wicked Weed Brewing Co. to Anheuser-Busch, we wish our friends at Wicked Weed all the best. They have made a profound impact on the Asheville beer scene and they’ve helped to raise the profile of North Carolina as a craft beer state.”
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Wicked Weed – founded by two families, Rick and Denise Guthy and their son Ryan, and their longtime friends, brothers Walt and Luke Dickinson – had gotten national attention for its innovation. In addition to hops-focused craft beers (Wicked Weed is a reference to Henry VIII’s disdain for the arrival of hops in England centuries ago) and a local-food-focused restaurant, it also had opened a separate facility, the Funkatorium, to brew and barrel sour beers, made with wild yeasts in the Belgian brewing style.
In the statement on Instagram, Wicked Weed said that the partnership is a strategic one, designed to allow continued growth.