The name of the new mystery brewery will be Wicked Weed Brewing. But it’s not what you think. Supposedly, Henry VIII banned the use of hops, and referred to them as “a wicked and pernicious weed.”
Brothers Walt and Luke Dickinson and partner Ryan Guthy want to use a whole lot of this wicked weed to brew their beers. At Wedge Brewing tonight, the business partners revealed the name of their heretofore “mystery” brewery. I was lucky enough to talk to them beforehand and tour the amazing old building at 91 Biltmore Ave (former site of Asheville Hardware). Wicked Weed Brewing will open for business late in 2012, most likely. With support from local entrepreneurs Denise and Rick Guthy (Ryan’s parents), the Dickinsons and Guthy will splash out a 15-barrel brewhouse with a bar in the basement of the building and another bar and restaurant upstairs. There will be patio seating in part of what’s now the front parking lot.
WWB will be a pretty big brewhouse in the scheme of Asheville beer, with a 15-barrel system, five 15-barrel fermenters, a 30-barrel fermenter, 3 brites and 10 serving tanks (at least that’s big compared to most of our current local breweries — not when compared to the big boys and girls from Colorado and California who are opening facilities in the region). Equipment is on the way. The brothers also have purchased an open fermenter to make some big Belgian beers (I know of several brewers who are having tank envy as they read that).
“We want to focus on hoppy West Coast-style beers and big Belgians, with some traditional English-style ales and lagers as well,” says Walt Dickinson, 30, currently CEO of Higher Grounds Rainwater Solutions of Asheville.
Both Dickinsons are home brewers, but Luke, 27, will spend most of his time in the brewery, while Guthy will oversee restaurant operations, and Walt will serve as general management. In the most “awwww” moment of the interview, Walt told me he gave his brother a home-brewing kit for his 21st birthday. And Luks’s been brewing like crazy ever since.
Luke currently tends bar in Delaware and works part-time at Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Dela. He plans to move back to Asheville in September (the brothers both moved to Asheville with their family in the early ’90s and attended T.C. Roberson High).
While Luke says he’s obsessed with brewing, he only has a little commercial brewing experience (though he brewed his first commercial beer with brewer icon Sam Calgione). So the brothers will hire a lead brewer to help them.
Initially, they’ll only sell their beers in house, and though the brewhouse will have a 5,000 barrel capacity, Walt says they certainly won’t be putting out that much beer in year one.
“First, we want to make sure we’re making the best beer we can, then we’ll see if we want to sell our beer around town or elsewhere,” he says.
I’ve have more on WWB in the next Brews News, and as their sudsy journey continues.