Asheville Beer Pushes Legal Limit

Asheville Beer Pushes Legal Limit
Craft brewing brothers create 15% ABV stout

Walt and Luke Dickinson carefully blend the new Dark Arts,a

barrel-aged wild imperial stout. Photo courtesy of Wicked Weed Brewing.
Since Wicked Weed Brewing opened its doors less than two years ago, brewer brothers Luke and Walt Dickinson have been pushing the limits of craft beer with funky flavors, wild styles and a constantly rotating tap of 20+ house brews.

With the duo's newest brew, named Dark Arts, the Dickinsons are pushing the limits of the law. When it comes to beer, North Carolina law caps the permitted level of alcohol by volume at 15%, and that's just what beer enthusiasts can expect from this wild imperial stout.

But the team at Wicked Weed didn't just want to make headlines with a heady brew, they also wanted to make a beer interesting enough to fit with the brewery's signature style.

“When you think about really good spirits, they are innately dry (not sweet) and without residual sugar,” said Walt, Head of Brewing Operations. “Barrel aged stouts can be cloyingly sweet, but because we use brett [a type of yeast], Dark Arts is a dry beer.”

Dark Arts was brewed last October and has spent a whole year resting in six bourbon barrels. The brothers conducted periodic tasting of each barrel 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.”

Get Your Hands on Dark Arts

Pre-sale tickets for Dark Arts Wild Imperial Stout will be available starting October 13th. The pre-sale ticket includes up to six 16-ounce bottles and VIP entry into a barrel-aged tap takeover event hosted on October 31st at Wicked Weed Brewing’s new Funkatorium located at 147 Coxe Ave. Although bottles will not be for sale at the October 31st event, Dark Arts will be available on tap. Bottle sales will open to the public on November 1.

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.

Check out Wicked Weed's Facebook page to watch a video interview with the Dickinsons and for more details.

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