Co-owners and brothers, Luke and Walt Dickinson, knew since the day they opened the doors of their brewery that they were going to brew the North Carolina alcohol by volume cap beer. As the Wicked Weed Brewing brand took shape, they decided this beer had to have a twist in line with the style of brewing Wicked Weed was becoming known for; creative and quality ales.
“Since before Wicked Weed even opened, we have wanted to brew the cap beer,” said Luke Dickinson, Head Brewer. “We wanted to do something different from just a huge barrel aged stout, and with our barrel program we had the opportunity to make a sour version. We thought, ‘If we were making a beer this high in alcohol, why not make something really interesting and add some brett[anomyces] to it?’”
However, crafting a unique beer was not the only reason they decided to brew a sour version of an imperial stout.
“When you think about really good spirits, they are innately dry (not sweet) and without residual sugar,” adds Walt, Head of Brewing Operations. “Barrel aged stouts can be cloyingly sweet, but because we use brett, Dark Arts is a dry beer. Any residual sugar not usually consumed by traditional brewers yeast will be consumed by the brett and you won’t have to fight through too much sweetness.”
Dark Arts was brewed last October and spent the year resting in six barrels where it absorbed flavors from the bourbon that previously occupied the vessels. Periodic tasting of each barrel was conducted by the brothers, throughout the year, to ensure quality and monitor the range of flavors from each barrel in order to blend them into a rounded, full-flavored ale.
“The unique thing about blending beer from all the barrels,” said Walt, “is if you get cherry in one and raisin in another, you will get a mix of both when you blend them together. Blending one rich raisin-y barrel, with a barrel with a touch of sourness, will turn it away from burnt raisin into tart, chocolate cherry.”
Luke agreed with Walt that blending was an essential practice to ensure that no one flavor dominates the beer and that all flavors work together in harmony.
“Some barrels have more tartness than others,” Luke added. “Its a unique blend of flavors. When I sample Dark Arts I taste the traditional flavors of caramel, licorice, raisin, vanilla that come from bourbon barrels but then there is a tart element that comes from the brett. The tartness rounds out the beer.”
Dark Arts Wild Imperial Stout will be available in 16 ounce bottles online for pre-sale on October 13th. Purchasing a pre-sale ticket will purchase six bottles (maximum) and entry into a barrel aged tap takeover hosted on October 31st at Wicked Weed Brewing’s new Funkatorium located at 147 Coxe Ave. Individuals who purchase pre-sale tickets will receive first entry into the tap takeover at 6pm. The doors will open at 9pm to the general public, capacity allowing. Bottles will not be for sale that evening, however, Dark Arts will be on draught. The regular bottle sales will occur the following day, Saturday, November 1st at noon at the Funkatorium.
Dark Arts Wild Imperial Stout is intended as a yearly release for Wicked Weed Brewing. Next year’s batch will be brewed on the day of the release, October 31st, at Wicked Weed’s brewpub at 91 Biltmore Avenue.
“Dark Arts is a 15% ABV beer in 16 ounce bottles,” laughs Luke. “Share with a friend.”
Check Facebook for updates about the beer release as information becomes available.
ABOUT WICKED WEED BREWING
Wicked Weed Brewing is an Asheville, North Carolina based brewpub that consistently hosts 20+ beers on tap including hop forward, West Coast style ales, open fermented Belgians, and barrel aged sour beers. Opened in December 2012, Wicked Weed is striving towards becoming the largest producer of barrel aged beers in the Southeastern US. Wicked Weed Brewing was awarded a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for 100% Brettanomyces Serenity Farmhouse Ale in 2013. In addition to Serenity, Wicked Weed is known for producing Freak of Nature Double IPA, Coolcumber Ale, Tyrant Double Red Ale, Hopburglar Blood Orange IPA, Dark Age Bourbon Stout and Black Angel Cherry Sour. Most recently, Wicked Weed began small scale statewide distribution of kegs as well as bottles of barrel aged sour beers to major metropolitans in North Carolina. Learn more at www.wickedweedbrewing.com and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WickedWeedBrewing.