Wicked Weed Brewing announced expansion plans for a new brewing facility to be located in western Buncombe County. The company’s expansion will add 82 new jobs and will invest $5 million in facilities and equipment over the next three years. The projected opening date is Fall 2015.
The brewery plans to purchase a county-owned building that will become a state-of the-art 40,000-square-foot production facility. This new brewhouse will position Wicked Weed to grow their capacity up to 50,000 barrels a year.
This announcement comes as Wicked Weed Brewing opens its second downtown location, a barrel house and tasting room, called The Funkatorium. This dedicated sour barrel house will store up to 1,000 barrels used in the process of making Wicked Weed’s signature sour, barrel-aged beers. It is the only facility of its type in the Southeast, with only a handful of craft brewers in the nation having a dedicated sour house.
Since opening just over 18 months ago, Wicked Weed has produced more than 155 unique beer recipes, won a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2013 and garnered national attention in the craft brewing industry for their creative, high-quality brews like the Freak of Nature Double IPA.
These expansion plans allow Wicked Weed Brewing to gradually grow their market in North Carolina and eventually other states while staying focused on their passion for producing creative, world-class craft beers and maintaining strict quality standards through self-distribution.
“When opening Wicked Weed, we could have never predicted that after a year and a half we would be opening not only a second location but also a third. While this is very exciting, growth is not the goal for our business; our driving priority is to simply make great and innovative beer in a region of the country we all call home. Brewing world-class beer in Western North Carolina really is a dream come true. We wouldn’t be moving forward in our company without the support of Buncombe County and all the craft beer enthusiasts who love what we do, and we have to express our deepest gratitude for the opportunity to take our passion to the next level.” said Walt Dickinson, an ownership partner with the brewery.
And now, A Slow Growth Manifesto from the Wicked Weed team
After a year and a half of operations Wicked Weed Brewing had some choices to make: where did we want to go as a company and what did that ultimately mean for our growth, our production and, most importantly, our beer? Did we want to strike while the proverbial iron was hot and grow rapidly to expand our reach or did we want to keep our growth slow and methodical with mindful intention? Did we want to be a big brewery or just be a little bigger?
In order to answer these daunting questions we began to ask ourselves: who were we when we started, who are we now, and who do we want to become? As we began to explore this very basic, but central question two motivations continued to resurface: creativity and quality.
We realized that we didn’t care as much about the size of our foot print in the craft beer world as we did for satisfying our own hunger for creating beers that allowed for our wildest dreams to be liquid realities. We wanted to answer to our consciences that constantly call us to experiment and push the boundaries of what’s possible. We realized also that quality must always guide creativity; that to be true craftsmen quality could never suffer for the sake of experimentation.
It was often recommend to us that when growth was concerned, it was best to go as big as possible, to expand to a 60 or 100 barrel system. We decided, instead, that a 30 barrel system would suit our goal of producing more beer while simultaneously allowing us to brew distinctly Wicked Weed beers. We realized that well planned, intentional growth would not only relieve pressure at the pub, but would push us toward unbridled creativity in the endeavor to get our beers into new bottles, new hands, new markets, and new states while still maintaining our identity and passion for quality.
It became clear to us early on that we would never wanted to be a brewery that brewed and distributed only a handful of beers. With an opening lineup of seventeen beers on tap, a saison series now numbering thirtysix, a separate sour brewing operation, a barrel aging program, and over one hundred and fiftyfive unique beer recipes to date, sending out a standard lineup of beers for mass distribution would never be our strong suit. Pipelining our beers into only a few mainstream brews would be a significant departure from who we have always been. Instead, our goal is to reach deeper into North Carolina and eventually states outside our own to send out multitudes of tried and true brewpub beers into regular distribution rotation so that we can get the beer we love so deeply into the hands of those who enjoy it.
It has been a freeing epiphany that in this new expansion we could actually find a fuller expression of who we are and share that with a wider audience of craft beer drinkers. And we have found them to be the best kind of company: a likeminded community of craft enthusiasts who share our love for exploration and our dedication to quality. Our success has only come and will only continue because of like minded lovers of great beer.
Out of this love for our community and our craft we may, one day, find ourselves asking and answering these core and daunting questions again. For now, however, we choose expansion that will allow us to protect our creativity and quality; we choose to cultivate our own craft not the entire craft; and we choose to expand our physical boundaries so that in our own imaginations we may have none.