Visit the website of any craft beer enthusiast and you’ll find Asheville’s award-winning Wicked Weed Brewing among their top choices. The brewery burst onto the microbrewery scene in 2012 with a line of creative Belgian ales and West Coast-style IPAs heavy on the hops. Housed in a former hardware store, Wicked Weed features indoor and pet-friendly outdoor dining with innovative, locally-sourced food; a tap room for tasting (they call it the beer bar), and a bottle shop.
First off, the weed in their name is not the first weed you think of. The founders drew from a quote by Henry VIII calling hops a “a wicked and pernicious weed” and destined to ruin beer. Though history has proven him wrong—beer was perfected by hops—you’ll see the King’s failed pronouncement branded on company merchandise as well as in the brewery décor.
Wicked Weed isn’t a small operation, despite its relatively recent appearance in a town full of craft breweries. Originating with 15 brewing barrels at the Biltmore Avenue facility, it later expanded to the current 50 barrels on site. A few blocks away from Wicked Weed’s flagship is their Funkatorium, a taproom and rustic pub where the sour brewing happens. Wicked Weed currently produces beer out of four breweries, the newest facility set on 17 acres with a footprint the size of a football field.
The meteoric rise of Wicked Weed Brewing, earned primarily from its highly coveted awards and zealous community support, caught the attention of Anheuser-Busch who bought the company in the spring of 2017. Despite dismay from craft-brew insiders and diehards, according to Asheville regulars and visitors, the buyout hasn’t affected the quality, service or philosophy established by the founders.
Just inside the street entry is the gastropub where the atmosphere is rustic with plank-style tables and chairs complementing the renovated brick of the historic building. The pub offers a fair-sized menu of appetizers, sandwiches, burgers and entrees, and a full-service bar with craft cocktails and wine. Asheville is a foodie town, and Wicked Weed’s menu doesn’t disappoint. You can get steak tartare over toast, a Carolina bison burger served with blue cheese coleslaw, seared barramundi with grits, and several other enticing dishes. Guests routinely rave about the fried chicken sandwich and the black bean burger topped with pimento cheese.
If you need to wait for a table in the gastropub, walk downstairs to the beer bar and sample a few brews and nosh on some salty pretzels while you’re waiting. If you don’t want to wait for a table in the gastropub, the beer bar offers a scaled-down version of food service. If it’s too crowded in the beer bar, try the adjacent outdoor patio. Play a game of cornhole or catch a sports event on one of the big screen TVs. It’s in the beer bar downstairs where you get the largest choice of brews—25 options.
Let’s go over some of the brews, since this is a huge reason for visiting a brewery. Wicked Weed prides itself on its extensive line-up of beers. Whether you’re a lager lover, an IPA aficionado, or an ale ace, you’re sure to find something to like.
Wicked Weed built its first reputation on what are now its standards: Pernicious Pale Ale, a light golden IPA in the West Coast-style, and Freak of Nature, a double IPA, golden and extra hoppy. Around these are nearly two dozen brews that read like a fairytale of reds, goldens, ambers and blondes in a chamber of choices.
Wicked Weed makes it easy for those who get lost in the chamber of choices to find a brew to satisfy. Guests are served samples before selection, or they can order a flight of six brews. Full size orders are served in appropriate glassware to enhance the tasting experience.
Wicked Weed has become renowned for crafty, innovative beers. Imagine such creations as Skal Wine Saison, a traditional Belgian saison fermented on 100 pounds of pinot noir grape must. They have a hefeweizen called Holloback Hefe with tropical aromas and citrus. Try the bold Silencio, as bourbon barrel-aged black sour ale with hints of coffee and vanilla.
The brew menu changes seasonally, too. Those who crave pumpkin infusions during the fall won’t go unsatisfied with one of Wicked Weed’s four pumpkin brews: Pumpkin Up the Volume, a traditional pumpkin beer with pumpkin spices and vanilla; Smokin Pumpkin Porter, a smooth porter with pumpkin spices and a hint of smoke; Chai Pumpkin Stout blended with chai tea spices, and whole roasted pumpkins; and zestiest of all, Xiabalba is an imperial pumpkin beer with ancho chili peppers and cocoa nibs.
There’s no stigma to dining alone at Wicked Weed, either. Solo guests can join any of the community tables where conversation is friendly and laid-back. The atmosphere at Wicked Weed is fun, funky and full of what makes a fabulous food and beverage experience, whether you’re a local who knows or a visitor looking to be in the know.
At street level, Wicked Weed offers spacious outdoor seating where pets are welcome. Bring your pup and the server will bring them a bowl of water.