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Wicked Weed sold to Anhueser-Busch

Wicked-Weed-Brewing-LogoFans of Asheville, NC brewery Wicked Weed woke up to shocking news this morning: Anheuser-Busch has finalized a plan to acquire the beloved, funky brand.

“This is an exciting time for the entire brewing team,” said co-founder Walt Dickinson. “Our ability to create a wide range of really well executed beers that are focused on creativity, quality and drinkability is what makes Wicked Weed great.”

Wicked Weed will join breweries like Goose Island, Breckenridge and Devil’s Backbone in A-B’s The High End division dedicated to high end craft and import beers.

“We have chosen to partner with The High End to position ourselves to make Wicked Weed what we imagined it could be when we first sat at a craft beer bar and talked about opening a brewery,” Dickenson said. “As a brewer, giving our team more resources to continue innovating our portfolio and the ability to reach more craft drinkers, allows us to keep putting the beer and the people first.”

While financial details were not released, it is sure to be significant due to the brewery’s four-brewery foot print — the original brewery, Funkatorium (all oak-aged brews), a 40,000 square foot satellite 50-barrel brewery and their new 57,000 square foot brewery dedicated exclusively to the production of sour, farmhouse and wild-fermented beers.

“It’s clear to me Wicked Weed is redefining what sophistication in beer can mean,” said Felipe Szpigel, president of The High End. “With their amazing offerings being relevant in a wide variety of occasions. Their ability to brew the highest quality beers, in a variety of styles, along with their exciting barrel program, leads me to be optimistic about what our futures hold together.”

If the model to manage craft beer acquisitions by A-B holds true, production of core beers will be handed off to A-B while specialty beer innovation will be retained by the team at Wicked Weed. In addition to an influx in operating capital, A-B provides Wicked Weed with the ability to take advantage of economy of scale purchasing for raw materials that could significantly improve the small brewer’s bottom line.

The sale is subject to regulatory approval.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Beer, Brewery Acquisitions

 

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Sierra Nevada Mills River brewery a jewel of the North Carolina brewing scene

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Even though the large brown attraction sign on Highway 26 headed in to Asheville, North Carolina announce its existence, it is hard to form an accurate picture in one’s mind just how extraordinary the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company brewery in Mills River, North Carolina really is. Even after you drive along the side of the small regional airport and then take a non-descript road behind it the magnitude of the brewery does not sink it. It is only when you get your first glimpse of the intricate front gates of the complex as you enter the roundabout outside them that you start to get a feel for the splendor that lies ahead.

As you drive along the winding road that leads from the gate to the brewery it is obvious that this brewery was not built in an old warehouse or abandoned brick factory as so many craft breweries are. The care that was given to the look of the road, the safety rails and even the street lights are clues to what will greet you when you arrive at the front of the building.

As round the final bend in the road the first thing you notice are the solar panels placed evenly throughout the parking lot. Then, as you move further in to the parking area you notice the beautiful façade of the brewery building, the eye is drawn to the peaked roof trimmed in copper over a wall of windows looking in on the shiny copper brewing vessels. To one side of the brewing room are a cluster of towering fermenters on the other are arch-topped windows and signs announcing the location of the brewery offices and taproom. The building is a work of art that both impresses and provides a measure of coziness. It exudes class and taste while maintaining a warmth not dissimilar to what one might feel in a mountain chalet.

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Inside, the building is equally impressive. The windows let in streams of natural light that reflects off highly polished copper surfaces that seem to be everywhere. Above the entry for the offices and tour desk hangs a beautiful tiered chandelier that upon closer inspections reveals it is fabricated of hundreds of brown beer bottles. The wall behind the tour desk is a modern, yet rustic mixture of layered glass panels with roughly hewn wood planks sandwiched between them.

The guided tour takes visitors deep into the heart of the brewery and along a gleaming central corridor. Stops along the tour include a view at one of only a few wet grain mills in the United States, the hops room full of bins of herbaceous, brightly colored hops, in to the brewing room, the fermentation room and for a look at the yeast propagation tanks and the packaging rooms. It also includes stops in hallways festooned with dark wood display cases showcasing brewing memorabilia including some of the very first bottles of Sierra Nevada beer ever produced.

As is often the case on brewery tours, there is also an opportunity to sample the fruits of the brewers’ labors. On our visit we were treated to a number of special beers because it was the breweries 35th Anniversary of being founded in Chico, Calif.

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Photo by Marc Wisdom

But, after the tour is over there is plenty more to do at the brewery. Just a few short steps away is the brewery taproom and restaurant. Upon entering this space you will notice that there are several small beer kettles lining the windows to the right. These are used for smaller batch and experimental brews to be served at the taproom bar visible straight ahead.

If you are looking for a taproom with a kitchen slapped on as an after-thought, you are going to be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a restaurant that prepares delicious, thoughtfully created dishes that pair incredibly with beer, you will be in heaven. Dishes like wood roasted pork belly, duck fat fries and pretzels with pimento beer cheese are served on small plates meant for sharing and enjoying together. Special beers along with Sierra favorites are also available in the taproom and can be expertly paired with the menu items upon request.

After dinner, plan on strolling to the back of the building and enjoying a few brews on the patio or in the amphitheater. The space features a roaring fire pit and plenty of comfortable chairs and tables throughout. In addition, there is a bar serving cold brews right on the porch.

It is evident in the attention to detail that the North Carolina brewery was a labor of love for Sierra Nevada. Many have referred to it as the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of breweries. For beer-lovers that are looking for an extraordinary experience that encompasses an interesting look into one of America’s best breweries, lively tasting and delicious culinary experiences in a beautiful setting, the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Mills River, North Carolina is a must-visit.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Craft Beer Brewery

 

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Highland Brewing company releasing 2015 Cold Mountain Winter Ale

CMWA_litreWhen the trees are at their peak of autumn color and the air in North Carolina has taken on a distinctly cooler snap, Highland Brewing Company releases one of its most coveted brews, Cold Mountain Winter Ale. The seasonal release is a malty, spiced ale that is named for Cold Mountain in the Blue Ridge range. The release is accompanied by a festival bringing together lively music, food trucks and plenty of Cold Mountain on tap.

If the name Cold Mountain seems familiar aside from the brew carrying its name, it is because it shares its name with a best-selling novel by Charles Frazier and later a major motion picture. The novel, published in 1997, won the National Book award in its year of publication. The movie, starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renée Zellweger, won an Academy Award for Renée Zellweger’s performance as a supporting actress. Both the novel and the movie follow the story of a Civil War deserter’s journey home to his wife and home on Cold Mountain.

The beer is not named for the novel or the movie, rather it is named for the mountain itself as are many of Highland’s other beers. But, the historical contexts of both are, in a way fitting on a personal level for me. After going through a difficult divorce and enduring several years of depression I made a November journey to Asheville and the Cold Mountain release party with my girlfriend in 2013 and proposed to her in front of the entire event. And, this year, we will return to the event to celebrate one and half years of marriage and enjoy the pleasant company of our friends at Highland along with the wonderful beer they are releasing.

Highland Brewing Company was founded by Oscar Wong who, after retiring from a career as a successful civil/structural engineer, landed in Asheville in 1994. He started Highland Brewing “as a hobby” in the 3,500 square foot basement of Barley’s Taproom in downtown Asheville. Over time his brewing ambition grew and the brewery moved to its current location.

The Cold Mountain Release Party takes place on Thursday, November 12 with bottles of the brew going on sale at 4:00 p.m. Bottles of Cold Mountain will be sold in a variety of sizes ranging from a special one-liter, swing-top bottle, 22-ounce bombers and 12-ounce singles. Guests may purchase a limited number of each size bottle or choose to purchase a bundle that includes one, one-liter bottle, two bombers and one case of 12-ounce bottles for $50.

Guests at the release party will enjoy music from several bands and specialty kegs of Cold Mountain. They will also be treated to the opening of the brewery’s new event center. For full information about the release party and bottle pricing go to the event’s web page at: http://www.highlandbrewing.com/coldmountain.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Beer Releases

 

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Asheville’s Brewgrass Festival announces brewery lineup

In the 19 years since its inception, the Brewgrass beer festival in Asheville, N.C. has made quite a name for itself. The combination of exceptional craft beers, bluegrass music and clear, cool mountain air makes it a magical experience for all who attend. And, as is often the case with beer festivals, the proceeds benefit a very good cause.  Brewgrass Festival is the largest fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina. Proceeds from this event go directly to this great organization.

Billed as Asheville’s original beer festival, this year’s festivities will take place Saturday, September 19 at Memorial Stadium in Asheville. This year’s festival will feature over 50 brewers from local, regional, and national breweries including Catawba Brewing Co., Asheville Brewing Company, Rogue Ales, The Duck-Rabbit Brewery, Samuel Adams, and more. Organizers advise those interested in keeping up with the list of participating brewers to visit their website as the list changes often. But, at the time of this article the list included:

Asheville Brewing Co.

Aviator Brewing Co.

Big Boss Brewing Co.

Blind Squirrel Brewery

Bold Rock Hard Cider

Boojum Brewing Co.

Catawba Brewing Co.

Crazy Mountain Brewing Co.

Duck Rabbit Brewing Co.

Florida Brewing Co.

Granite Falls Brewing Co.

Hi-wire Brewing Co.

Howard Brewing

Lexington Avenue Brewery

Lost Province Brewing Co.

Mother Earth Brewing

Naked Apple Hard Cider

New Belgium Brewing Co.

One World Brewing

Oskar Blues Brewing Co.

Pigpounder.com Craft Brewery

Quest Brewing Co.

R.J. Rockers Brewing Co.

Rogue Brewing Co.

Samuel Adams Brewery

Terrapin Beer Co.

Thomas Creek Brewery

Sweetwater Brewing Co.

But, the beer lineup is not the only reason to attend the festival. Organizers have also announced an impressive lineup of musical talent for fest-goers to enjoy along with their brews. Jeff Austin Band, featuring mandolinist Jeff Austin formerly of Yonder Mountain String Band with band members Danny Barnes, Ross Martin and Eric Thorin, will headline the event. Attendees will enjoy additional performances from Truth and Salvage Co., Big Daddy Love, and Packway Handle Band. Music begins at 1 p.m.

Tickets for the festival are $55 and may be purchased at: http://www.brewgrassfestival.com/tickets-1/.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2015 in Beer Festival

 

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New Belgium set to break ground in Asheville, NC at long last

New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After several delays, the New Belgium brewery planned for Asheville, NC is finally back on track. The press release below provides all the details.

Fort Collins, Colo., October 22, 2013 – New Belgium Brewing will resume site work this November on its Asheville location along the French Broad River in preparation for ground-breaking next spring. Contractors will focus on flood plain mitigation, erosion control and concrete removal through the end of the year. Starting in January and running through spring, operations will shift to soil mitigation. Earth moving subcontractors will be hired in November and will begin trucking in dirt by early 2014 for flood plain mitigation. Current schedule projections show the site as “pad-ready” in late spring 2014 at which time building construction will commence. It is estimated that the Asheville brewery will be ready for production in late 2015.

“We are excited to enter this next phase of site preparation and building construction,” said New Belgium’s Asheville General Manager, Jay Richardson. “Adolphson + Peterson will begin site preparation in November, with groundbreaking scheduled for Spring 2014. Our current schedule has us producing beer in Asheville by the end of 2015 and a fine day that will be.”

New Belgium anticipates hiring 50 positions prior to opening the doors in 2015 and expects to create 140 jobs at full buildout between the brewery and distribution center. Many of these job openings will begin posting in mid 2015. New Belgium made its first Asheville hire this fall, bringing on board Asheville resident and engineer, Gabe Quisenberry, formerly with Mattern + Craig who will serve as Operations Support Manager.

The brewery will ultimately produce 500,000 barrels of beer per year and will feature production and packaging operations as well as a touring and tasting facility. Negotiations are moving forward to secure a second site for the distribution center as well. The distribution center will be built at the same time as the brewery. New Belgium is finalizing negotiations with the seller and will announce the site location upon completion. The distribution center will be the hub for distributing product to the east coast and will be located in an industrial area.

Updates to the community are provided at these channels: http://www.NewBelgium.com/AshevilleBrewery or 888-598-9552.

ABOUT NEW BELGIUM BREWING
New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews eight year-round beers; Ranger IPA, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Ale, Blue Paddle Pilsener, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Beer, Craft Beer Brewery

 

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Fat Tire and Lips of Faith coming to Florida in July

New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though they are distributed in 32 states including Alaska, New Belgium has proven elusive to its many fans in Florida. Soon, though, the long wait for Fat Tire, Ranger and Lips of Faith will be over in the Sunshine stat as New Belgium announced today that they will open in Florida next month. Currently the plan is to roll 22-oz packaging of core brands as well as seasonal and Lips of Faith in July. Draft and 12-oz packaging will follow in September.

 

“Florida will be our 32nd state of distribution and it’s probably the one we’ve heard from most often about, ‘when are you all going to get here?’” said New Belgium Florida Sales Director, Jeff Sipes. “A lot of us have friends and family in state so it’s a bit of a homecoming that way. We’re excited.”

 

The news comes just months after the company announced plans to build its second brewery in Asheville, NC. The current time line has the new facility opening sometime in 2015. An 18-acre site at the former stockyards on Craven Road in West Asheville was chosen for its beauty and the company’s desire to make a difference in the neighborhood. The company actively sought out “brownfield” location – or previously developed sites that could be repurposed to spark renewed vitality. They also wanted to avoid taking agricultural land or natural habitat in order to become good neighbors to the community.

 

On the company’s website, Kim Jordan, CEO, said of the site, “There were easier sites to develop, but we chose this one because it’s beautiful, we think we can do a lot to restore it, and we believe that breweries, classified as light manufacturing, can revitalize a neighborhood, while provide great live-walk-bike opportunities for employees who in large measure, will come from Asheville.”

 

Florida distribution will be handled by seven distribution partners with plans to start selling beer in the state July 29th, 2013. Gold Coast Distributing, JJ Taylor, Florida Distributing, Cone Distributing, Goldring Gulf, and Champion Brands are all Miller Coors houses while Daytona Beverage is in the AB network.

 

New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews eight year round beers; Ranger IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Ale, Blue Paddle Pilsener, Rampant Imperial IPA, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel.

 

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Beer

 

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Jax qualifies for BeerCity USA, but the battle is not over yet

beercityIt was an epic battle; one that, though there were no real opponents, it looked as though we were not going to survive. At one point it looked as though we had already lost, then a reinterpretation of the rules took place and we ended up with two extra hours that we did not know we had. In those two extra hours we staged one of the most remarkable rallies ever witnessed on this field. In the end, we came out the other side as victors.

I refer to, of course, the quest for getting Jacksonville on the ballot for BeerCity USA. At times it looked as though there was no way we would make it. Our goal was to obtain 400 nominations by the close of the poll. With an hour to go we were still short over 60 nominations. But, through persistence and the help of other Jacksonville beer-lovers, we managed to cross the magic number of 400 with 13 minutes of poll time to spare. In the end, Jacksonville received 411 nominations, second behind Richmond, Va. which received 517.

But, the quest for BeerCity USA does not end there. Next week, beginning on Monday, May 13, we will have to rally our forces again for the actual voting on which city will be bestowed with the prestigious title of BeerCity USA.  In the running with us is the perennial favorite Asheville, NC. This passionate beer city has managed to win – or tie – for first place all four of the years the poll has been in existence. Our sacred quest now is to unseat the reigning champions and claim the title for our own.

Are we up to it? You bet!

Rally your friends, have them friend Springfield Brew Crew on Facebook, SprBrewCrew on Twitter, or follow this blog for updates. Then get them to vote. The rules are the same as for the poll: one vote per IP address. The city with the most votes will be crowned BeerCIty USA at the close of the poll on Saturday. May 18.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Beer, Beer News

 

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