With the acquisition of Wicked Weed Brewing by Anheuser-Busch (aka AB-InBev) we will no longer be carrying Wicked Weed products at any of the Carolina Beer Temple Family of Businesses!
Wicked Weed Brewing has been an anomaly since its inception. Most of the breweries in North Carolina claim humble beginnings. Most of their tales are similar. Sometimes its a husband and wife team, other times a group of friends – but usually the tale involves a couple of people escaping the shackles of their corporate world and investing all of their savings and retirement to pursue their dream of brewing great beer and owning a brewery. They start small and with a little skill they begin to grow faster than they can keep up. Many brewery tales in NC are inspiring!
That was never the case with Wicked Weed. Wicked Weed’s humble beginnings started with millions of dollars of investment. They renovated a building in downtown Asheville and through great beers and a phenomenal marketing campaign they were instantly one of the best places in Asheville to visit and they were cranking out some of the best beers in the state. They went from producing zero to over 40,000 bbls of beer per year in less than 5 years. For comparison, our local Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is the most successful brewery in Charlotte, it opened about 8 years ago and has yet to hit 25,000 bbls per year.
When you have millions of dollars, its easy to focus on marketing and not on the beer. With their financial backing Wicked Weed was poised for success with or without great beer. However, I always respected Wicked Weed. They were a brewery with big money and they did it right – they made great beers and often. And their beers were recognized at national beer competitions!
This week Wicked Weed was acquired by Anheuser-Busch. This is a sad day for North Carolina Craft Beer as it loses one of its most recognized and sought after breweries. After the acquisition, Wicked Weed is no more a North Carolina Brewery than AB-InBev is an American Company (they are headquartered in Belgium). A portion of every dollar made by Wicked Weed will go back home to Europe and toward AB-InBev’s campaign against small business and craft beer.
It has been our philosophy at Carolina Beer Temple since the day we opened that we would support craft beers only – no corporate brands. We made this decision because we are true to craft and the craft beer community. The craft beer community operates from a stand point of abundance. By and large craft brewers understand there is enough market share for everyone, so long you make a respectable product. Today craft beer makes up less than 13% of total beer market share in the country (a number that grows about 1% every year, but relatively small comparatively). There is nothing but room for growth for craft beer. Craft brewers recognize this by celebrating each others successes and collaborating with each other on special brews. Their generous nature also lends itself to breweries becoming a large contributor to the surrounding community.
Just before we opened Carolina Beer Temple in Matthews in 2013, Triple C Brewing opened in Charlotte. The owners of Olde Mecklenburg Brewing, NoDa Brewing and others were right there celebrating the arrival of this new brewery. In 2014 when Noda Brewing’s Hop, Drop & Roll won Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), they celebrated by tapping Olde Mecklenburg’s Mecktoberfest which won silver at GABF a couple of years earlier, while OMB returned the favor by tapping Hop, Drop & Roll in their taproom. Today there are many similar tales and frequent collaborations between local and regional breweries, making the beer scene in the area fun and cooperative!
AB-InBev on the other hand operates from a standpoint of scarcity. To them there is not enough room for everyone and they must do everything in their power to gobble up more and more market share. In the spirit of gaining more and more market share, AB-InBev has proven to be nothing but hostile toward the efforts of craft breweries. They have lobbied strongly and with great financial backing against legislative moves that would improve the marketplace for small businesses. They have muddied the marketplace with faux craft beer brands. They have wielded their power to influence distributors to favor their brands over local craft brands. There is no question, AB-InBev is hostile and uncooperative toward craft beer. And with my love for craft beer I could not sleep at night knowing that this major corporation is striving to put my friends out of business and by proxy would put me out of business.
When news of the Wicked Weed acquisition reached me I tried not to react too quickly. Most articles I read declared it was a “partnership!” Perhaps that was AB-InBev using its marketing power with journalists, because after further review this is clearly an acquisition. Wicked Weed as its own independent entity is dead.
We at Carolina Beer Temple (Matthews), Carolina Beer Temple (Ayrsley), Temple Mojo Growler Shop and Seaboard Taproom & Wine Bar are going to let Wicked Weed fade into the sunset. We will sell what we have left and will not restock Wicked Weed brands at any of our locations. We’ll miss them for sure, but thank goodness there are almost an additional 200 breweries in North Carolina (and growing) to choose from!
Best wishes to our friends at Wicked Weed! We do appreciate all the support over the years and all the great beers!
Owner Carolina Beer Temple (Matthews), Carolina Beer Temple (Ayrsley), Temple Mojo Growler Shop, Seaboard Taproom & Wine Bar
CHALLENGE BONUS TO LOCAL BREWERIES: Wicked Weed currently owns our most successful tap takeover at our new Ayrsley location to date! Who is up to the challenge of dethroning them?