wicked weed brewing

4

Nowt but a couple o’weeks back a somewhat eye widening sight greeted UK fans of sour beer, for on that day of days North Carolina’s storied Wicked Weed Brewing had arrived! No less than ten different beers, all sours, had snuck upon us and in the clamour to grab what few of each there were… Nah, ‘course there wasn’t a clamour. Not even a gentle hurry. Most people ignored these just like they always have the more established sours. S’pose that meant more for me, right? Err, no. Y’see these things carried stunningly, hilariously huge price tags (okay, I’ll admit that may have also played a part in the lack of online excitement). I actually coulda bought a 12 bottle case of locally brewed ale for each of the three 500ml Wicked Weeds I ended up buying. Buuuut whadda trio! All are beers I’ve lusted after since reading the first gushing reports from Stateside fans of a good face puckerer.

I started with Amorous (7% abv), a pale sour aged in red wine barrels before vigorous dry hopping. It’s floral and zesty up front, with lemon juice, some pineapple, red and white wine vinegar, funky yeast notes, and a good dose of oak. Dry, medium bodied, spot on carbonation, hella complex, and absolutely delicious. This really did exceed all expectations and made a fantastic first impression for this brewery. For me, an Iris toppler.

Next up was Black Angel (6.6% abv) a sour black ale aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels over cherries and plums. And it’s chuffing gorgeous. Roasty coffee notes make a strong first impression, the subtle sourness soon coming through, there’s chocolate, vanilla, black cherries and other bold dark fruits, red wine vinegar, yeasty funk, and a fine oakiness. Without doubt the most deeply complex dark sour I’ve had yet, and another stunner from NC.

The last of my trio, *sob* Oblivion (8.5% abv) is a sour red ale aged in red wine barrels with blackberries and dates. A rich, med-sweet into sour beer with a deep, dark fruitiness. There’s blackberry and plum jam, hints of stewed raisins and figs, red wine vinegar, a roguish funk weasel, old leather shoes, and a lurking oakiness. As much as I loved the others, this was my favourite. A wondrous, absurdly complex treat for the taste buds.

And I’m done. My short time with Wicked Weed Brewing has been a joy, all three of the beers I tried were of exceptional quality and flavour. If I had regular access to the brewery and they weren’t so prohibitively expensive they’d become a go-to for a good face scruncher, no question. And yeah, even at the expense of the more established Old World sours. As it is I’m just glad I got to sample a few. Cheers, all!

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Serenity (Wicked Weed Brewing Company)

Style: American Brett/ Barrel-Aged Farmhouse Brett

5.5% ABV

OG: 1.044

Gold Medal: American-Style Brett Beer, 2013 Great American Beer Festival

From: Asheville, NC

Bottled On: 5/29/15

Brewery Note: “Serenity is our aptly named 100% Brettanomyces fermented beer. We are one of only a handful of breweries in the US doing 100% Bretta fermentation. That said for our first one we wanted to do it in the farmhouse style that bretta entered the Belgian brewing world. Serenity is light in color with a subtle golden haze, the nose bursts of white grape, mango, pineapple and old leather. The flavors are similar to those found in New Zealand white wines and notes of guava and grape skin stand out leading to a well-rounded finish. Serenity is Brettanomyces in its purest form. This tart farmhouse ale is aged in wine barrels 3-5 months.”

The Story: “Namuria was once a land of great wonders, but in the Age of Insidia, the Malevolent Lord Sccrocilia forced the people of Namuria into subjugation. The nation was bled of its beauty, and the skies blackened with ash. Deep sorrow engulfed the desolate lands, but just as all hope was lost, the ethereal child Brettanomous was born of the dust. From his birth a brilliant light emerged from the noxious cloud, and out of the wild soil the luminous Castle of Serenity grew. The sterile land was rendered golden once more, young King Brettanomous was greatly loved, and his people thrived in abundance and bright hope.”

A 2013 GABF winner to celebrate the recent naming of the 2015 GABF winners… This beer pours a pale and frothy yellow lined with racing carb bubbles that make the whole thing reminiscent of champagne, yet with chalky green tints. The beer’s body is clean, yet slightly hazy and unclear. The beer is translucent but blurred, and the body is peppered with miniscule froths of bubbles. The head upon the beer is pearly and pristinely white, with miniscule bubbles that form a smooth cap and leave fat tendrils and spatter art as clinging lace on the sides of the glass. This is a gorgeous glass a beer, straight out of a gussied up Budweiser commercial. It’s nice to look at. On the nose, the beer smells of musty bretta, yet crackles with an underlying spice. It’s an aged bed of grain sprinkled with fresh hay in an abandoned barn yard. There is citrus brightness trying to pepper through the funk, but it is charmingly nipped by a cheese rind turn that gives a fungal earth take. It smells yeasty, but with a slight pluck of sweetness reminiscent of a sauvignon blanc. I come across subtle grape flesh, gooseberries, and an overarching sense of a long open bottle of champagne. Strange enough, the champagne smell oozes beautifully into the funky beer scents and just adds another layer of love to this funky nose. It is at times too musty/cheesy/salty? On the finish, but this is tempered by bright wine and citrus notes along with lovely turns of barnyard scents. On the tongue, the beer tastes softly of tart citrus, which takes a slight fruity sweetness before burrowing into a mushroom patch of fungal earthiness and then quickly breaking upon a field of aging hay below balancingly bitter fresh cut grass sprinkled with white wine acidity and fruitiness that remains dry on the palate. The earthy cheesiness closes the sip in odd fungal earthiness that is thankfully cut with slight chalky acidity, biscuit sweetness, and gentle herbal bitterness along with a slight tannic snap. In the mouth the beer feels crisp and spritzy with a crackling carbonation that tingles and dries the tongue with froth. The finish dries out and sticks to the tongue with a lip-smacking goodness and a soft tannic astringency. There is an oaky smoothness in the very close, leaving the tongue slightly scratchy. The beer also leaves the tongue with a very slight slick of spittle, and a dry smack. This is a beautiful little Brett, overall. It’s tannic, yet smooth and earthy with a bright winey note to it. My only grudge is that the earthy close gets a little sickly on some sips. From the Wicked Weed repertoire, I liked Black Angel more, and the Bonté with pears that I sipped last night has both of those beat, but this is a superb expression of barrel aged farmhouse bretts and really shows the breweries skill. There is the ghost of Dupont in this, a touch of Surette, and good deal of stale white wine. In the end, this is a great beer.