Letter: Thanks to Wicked Weed for positive community impact

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Why is it we celebrate tech startups that get acquired, yet shame a craft beer startup that gets acquired? [See online post, “Anheuser-Busch Buys Wicked Weed Brewing,” May 3, mountainx.com.]

Wicked Weed has been a tremendous steward to our community — as being a great place to work, as a supporter of many community causes, as a purchaser of local goods.

While I’m extremely wary of excessive corporate influence of our community, this deal will do little to change anything in terms of the positive impact Wicked Weed makes on our community.

To that end, I wanted to take a moment and thank [Wicked Weed’s owners] the Guthys and Dickensons from the bottom of my heart for [all] they do for the people and organizations in the area.


— Timothy S. Sadler


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19 thoughts on “Letter: Thanks to Wicked Weed for positive community impact

  1. The Real World

    Yup, they built a successful business. Now another company sees a way to enhance their value further and is willing to pay WW for the opportunity to do so. Good. For. Them.

    Too many people floating around this ‘ville that don’t have a clue about business. But that doesn’t stop them from spouting off about it. Bottomline: envy, it’s all about envy for those types, though they won’t admitted it.

    • bsummers

      That’s a harsh and unfair judgment, in my view. As the commenter below points out, there are principles and real world issues at stake. From just last week:

      Hundreds of U.S. craft brewers that had been experimenting with a selection of South African-grown hops will no longer have access to the proprietary supply after Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns the farm, said it would reserve nearly 100 percent of the latest yield for its own brands.
      U.S. Craft Brewers Cut Out of South African Hop Supply

      • The Real World

        Real world issues at stake for little brewtown USA? LOL.

        You proved my point about lack of business awareness. From your link: “South Africa is not a traditional hop growing region,” ABI global hops procurement director Willy Buholzer said via a statement. “SAB’s R&D efforts made it possible to grow hops in South Africa but it is still less than 1% of the world hop acreage and production. This year, South Africa suffered from low yields.”

        In other words, S. Africa is currently a NON-factor when come to hops.

        Here are my valid questions to all of those who simply MUST be continually outraged about something:

        1) New Belgium quite publicly stated that they would not have a tasting room b/c they didn’t want to muscle-in on all the hometown brewery taprooms. Clearly, they we’re b*llsh*tting because they jolly-well had a nice one built and it was available to the public shortly after opening. Where was the local outcry about their obvious deception? There should have been one about that IMO. I’ve mentioned it to a few locals and they all shrugged. Didn’t care.

        2) Word about 1 1/2 years ago was that the whole of New Belgium was up for sale. Surprise, Asheville, who thought they were getting a privately-owned craft brewer. (All part of the long range plan, kids, just like the public tasting room was.) Now NB claims they’re not for sale but, do you buy that? I don’t. Where was the outrage when the For Sale sign went up awhile back? I didn’t hear much, did you?

        3) Then we have a city council who decides it makes sense to invest a bucket of taxpayer money (what 1.5 million or so?) to buy land *in the hopes* of woo-ing another western brewery. What? That’s how taxpayer money should be spent? No. But, I’m sure Deschutes parlayed that (naive) commitment on AVL’s part VERY nicely into their negotiations with Roanoke, where they landed. Where were the loud objections to that?

        You want to talk about principles, by all means, let’s talk about them. Because the protester types here don’t seem to have them. They just pile-on to whatever the latest and loudest groupthink is. They’ve made that clear countless times.

        Please explain the dichotomy of the upset about WW/InBev versus my questions above.

        • bsummers

          Here are my valid questions to all of those who simply MUST be continually outraged about something

          I for one prefer not to respond to questions which are framed as an insult.

          • The Real World

            Rather — you prefer to not have to engage in reality-based dialogue because many dichotomies cannot be reasonably defended. So running away is your answer. Par for the course. Sad!

  2. The concern is the behavior of the company acquiring them. Most craft brewers are both competitors and collaborators. They help each other if having a supply problem, for example.

    The new parent of Wicked Weed, AB inBev attempts to slow craft industry growth by creating obstacles, like restricting access to hops, etc.

    Wicked Weed’s PR on this has been embarrassing. They sold the company. All the company. Quit using the word partnership in every paragraph they write. It aint a partnership

    • Beer Lover

      AB InBev is buying craft breweries because craft beer is making significant impact their market share and thus their bottom line. The solution is to buy up craft breweries to stop the bleeding.

      This is only one part of a multi-front attack on craft breweries by AB-InBev to regain market share, by controlling distribution, retail shelf space, and competition for tap lines in bars, restaurants and tap rooms, combined with using their immense buying power to limit the grains and hops that smaller breweries will no longer be able to obtain, as recently demonstrated by the South African hops.

      The WW folks talk the talk about being a community and willing to help other breweries in the area, but will their AB InBev overlords actually permit such actions? How much of what WW is saying today is the passion that created WW, or is more along the lines of reading from the script of “corporate speak”?

      In every large corporation, each division or sector is given financial goals, and if they do not meet those goals changes will be mandated.
      WW will succeed, and I’m sure the owners can’t get the grin off their face when their financial statements come in the mail, but at what cost to the craft industry as a whole, and the next start-up brewery?

  3. Don

    Wicked Week is now part and parcel of Anheuser Busch inBev… a HUGE multi-national corporation whose reach was felt most recently through the recent defeat of the Craft Brewing distribution cap legislation here in NC (to raise the 25,000 barrel cap to 200,000 barrels for self-distribution… that was 100% supported by the NC Craft Brewers Guild… the same folks who recently gave Wicked Weed the boot upon learning of their acquisition by Anheuser Busch). The campaign to defeat this antiquated legislation was orchestrated and funded by AB inBev, and successfully implemented by the NC Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and their lobbyists…. folks like Tryon Distributing based out of Charlotte that stock the shelves at Ingles et al here in WNC…. and why you now are VERY hard pressed to find any small independent craft brewery beers at Ingles or any other grocer who is dependent on Tryon Distributing and the other large wholesalers to keep their beer shelves stocked.

    • The Real World

      What? The two Ingles that I frequent the most have very nice selections of locally-made beers.

      You should speak with the managers of the ones you go to. Perhaps their demographics don’t support the craft styles or price tags.

  4. luther blissett

    “Why is it we celebrate tech startups that get acquired?”

    Who is this “we”? Anyways, the classic tech startup model is to raise millions in venture capital, run unprofitably while gaining market share, then either sell out or have an IPO. Wicked Weed started off with millions in pimple cream money and a huge PR budget to gain national attention. It was a slick corporate operation built to flip from day one. Mission accomplished.

  5. Deplorable Infidel

    WW took unneeded taxpayer money from the taxpayers through their county commissioner cronies….they should be embarrassed daily for their taxpayer THEFT.

  6. Don

    hummmm….. that would be SMALL independent craft brewery beers that are now non-existent/nowhere to be found on the Ingles shelves…. that category doesn’t include Highland or Hi-Wire. It’s all relative…. and therefore probably a bit too much of a differentiation to understand my point here. Try this though: Devil’s Backbone, Goose Island, Blue Point… and now Wicked Weed….. though positioned as artisan crafted and independently owned breweries on the retail grocery shelf ….. they aren’t…. they’re masquerading as such. Same goes for Oskar Blues (hedge fund owned), Lagunitas (now owned by Heineken) ….and the list goes on. That’s just the deal. Could be worse I suppose.

    • bsummers

      Yeah, I grew up in St. Louis. When we went to the store for beer, at a convenience store for example, it wasn’t unusual for there to be two brands: Busch and Budweiser. Maybe if you were someplace slightly funky there would be Pabst and Little Kings Cream Ale, but not much else.

      Please let’s not drift back towards those days…

  7. bsummers

    Fear not, craft beer drinkers. AB InBev’s cornering the market on South African hops won’t leave all local breweries high & dry…

    “The only breweries that will have access to this hot crop of hops are AB InBev breweries such as Elysian, 10 Barrel, Wicked Weed Brewing and AB InBev’s seven other craft brewery acquisitions.”

    Selling out is already paying off, it seems.

      • bsummers

        Yeah, that’s not what you wanna see…

        “In a Boston Tea Party-like action, some customers in Bern bought Wicked Weed bottles from a pub, took them outside and promptly dumped the brews in protest.”

        “We will take a loss, but we can absolutely no longer stand behind their products, and we will be happy when we have rid our coolers of their negative spirit,“

        “It’s a shame — and our customers share that reaction. We will not be buying or selling their products in the future.”

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