On March 18, Wicked Weed brews flowed from taps set up in a Candler parking lot — the future home to the local brewery’s new, 40,000-square-foot production facility. The groundbreaking celebration began at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, with an afterparty at the Funkatorium, home to Wicked Weed’s barrel-aged sour beer.
Wicked Weed co-owner Walt Dickinson said construction on the site began two months ago, and he hopes the facility will be up and flowing brews by mid-May of this year, with bottles rolling out across the state later this fall and a tasting facility opening up down the road.
Dickinson said later in a speech to the small crowd, that the facility, located at 145 Jacob Holm Way, hopes to host summer festivals or events in the field behind the brewery in addition to producing 50,000 barrels per year.
Inside the facility, co-owner Rick Guthy told Xpress that the team, both the Dickinson and Guthy families, knew from the start that they wanted the new expansion to be located in Buncombe County. “We were showed facilities [elsewhere],” he says, but the owners knew they wanted to stay close to home.
“It was perfect,” he continued. “The floor had not been poured yet,” which is important for draining purposes, he explained, as the concrete needs to be poured at a slope. It was “close to the freeways, the outlet mall is coming. … It was like somebody had exactly in mind what we want to do, and here it is.”
As he showed Xpress around the facility — which, at the moment, is filled with dirt mounds, backhoes and pick-up trucks — he explained the vision for the new tasting room, production line, offices and future site of the fermentation vessels and brew tanks. The space nearest the front door, he says, will be filled with offices and a tasting room — while the back will be used for the production line and the company’s finished and bottled products. The side of the building first visible from the road, the southwestern wall, will be where the brew tanks line up — and Guthy says the team hopes to install floor-to-ceiling glass panes to show visitors that “this must be Wicked Weed,” he explains.
In front of the gathering, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair David Gantt asked, “How about this place? This is another happy time for Wicked Weed.”
Having only opened up two years ago, he says, the brewery has already made a name for itself in the craft beer community, winning national awards (first place in the Great American Beer Festival for its Mampara honey beer) and making “a hell of a product,” Gantt continued. “It’s all coming together, and we’re behind you.”
Following Gantt’s speech, Guthy took the makeshift stage, thanking Buncombe County, Asheville and the craft beer community for supporting Wicked Weed. “I want to give a shout out to Oscar Wong, who 21 years ago, brought craft beer to Asheville,” he said, speaking of Highland Brewing Company’s founder.
“We hope to continue growing,” he continued. “[Asheville is] to craft beer what Napa Valley is to wine!”
Check out photos of the new facility here (for mobile, click here):