Wicked Weed Brewing had only been in business a few months when its team made the trip to Charlotte in March 2013 for Black and Blue, an annual festival presented by Brawley’s Beverage. It was one of the brewery’s first events outside of its Asheville brewpub.

As Wicked Weed grew and started distributing in Charlotte, Brawley’s Beverage was one of the first places to find beers like Freak of Nature double IPA or Genesis, a sour ale aged in white wine barrels. And customers kept asking for the beer at Brawley’s Beverage, to the point that owner Michael Brawley now estimates spending upwards of $60,000 a year on the brewery’s beers.

But after Anheuser-Busch announced plans on Wednesday to purchase the brewery, Brawley will no longer be stocking its beers.

“It’s not an insignificant loss in revenue,” said Brawley, who has owned the store since 2003. “But at the same time, you know how you know you’re doing right? Because sometimes it really hurts.”

Brawley has been through this several times over the years. Wicked Weed will be the 10th craft brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev has purchased, following brands like Goose Island Beer Co., 10 Barrel Brewing, Elysian Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Virtue Cider, Four Peaks Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. and Karbach Brewing Co.

You’ll find none of those on the shelves at Brawley’s Beverage, and now Wicked Weed Brewing is on its way out. Yesterday on Facebook the shop posted that it would be donating all of the profits from its last Wicked Weed kegs to Doctors Without Borders.

Bottled and Tapped in Cornelius posted on Facebook that the store would no longer carry Wicked Weed’s beers.

Rob Jacik, the founder of Carolina Beer Temple, has also pulled breweries after acquisitions such as this. While his shelves abound with beers from North Carolina breweries, Wicked Weed could be on its way out there as well.

“We haven’t made a decision on this one yet as the news is just sinking in, but I can’t see us continuing to carry Wicked Weed in the future with our commitment to the craft beer community,” he said in a text message.

The same is true at Salud Beer Shop in NoDa.

“I maybe took an hour to think about it,” said founder Jason Glunt. “It was definitely harder. I’ve been friends with those guys since they started.”

Dairelyn and Jason Glunt, owners of Salud Beer Shop in NoDa.

As a business owner himself, Glunt said he’s not in a position to judge anyone for selling the businesses they’ve worked so hard to build. But he, like Brawley, thinks that Anheuser-Busch engages in practices that could harm small breweries.

Salud Beer Shop has become known for its extensive selection of sour beers, and they do move through a lot of beer from Wicked Weed. He acknowledges that he could stand to lose money by not selling the brand.

“I am taking a step out there,” he said. “It could affect our business. At the end of the day, if I say I’m going to do something I’ve got to stand up for it.”

That also means the brewery will no longer be invited to pour at Salud’s annual Release the Funk sour beer festival. Wicked Weed Brewery will throw its own celebration of sour beer at its Funkatorium Invitational, though it remains to be seen which of the invited breweries will pull out. Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales stated they will not attend, and Jester King Brewery also announced it will no longer sell the brewery’s beer or collaborate with them going forward. Several North Carolina breweries are currently on the festival’s brewery list, including Charlotte’s Free Range Brewing and Wooden Robot Brewery.

The North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild also issued a statement Wednesday saying that Wicked Weed was no longer a voting member of the guild.

Which bottle shops around Charlotte will continue to carry Wicked Weed remains to be seen, but you’ll still be able to find their beers at Trackside Crafts in Pineville. While he’s disappointed, founder Kit Burkholder said that he will continue to sell their beer due to customer demand and to support the people behind the brewery, like its local sales representative.

Good Bottle Co. founder Chris Hunt said his store will continue to carry beers from the brewery.

Photos: Daniel Hartis, Justin Driscoll

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9 COMMENTS

  1. It’s about supporting small, craft breweries not major major brewers like AB In-Bev. No different in how some people choose to support small local businesses.

  2. It’s funny how a month ago, these stores talk about Wicked Weed’s products as being world class and now will stop selling them. I guess i will continue to buy products (read, Wicked Weed) that I think are well made and will spend money with those places that sell those products. On another note, I read that WW employs over 200 people in the Asheville area and I am sure that many others work for them/sell their beers in Charlotte. But that’s not local anymore, right? Hypocrites just regurgitating what everyone else tells them to say…

  3. My issue is not the business decision. My issue is who they sold it to. ABinBev has predatory and unethical business practices that are designed, intentional, and strategic in trying to “stomp out” the small independent craft brewer.

  4. Whenever someone makes a decision based on political issues, you’ll always see butthurt comments like the ones above… That’s you who need to grow up, guys (I am speaking to the butthurt commenters).
    Politics are everywhere, in every part of our society, in every decision we make. The ones who have the courage to stand for their principles are to be applauded, not shun.
    We put our principles aside too often, and we are not always coherent in our decisions, but it is good that some try to adhere – with actual actions – to the beliefs they claim to uphold. Especially when it’s about independance and resisting to predatory practices. Especially when it’s hard and people might not understand your decision. Especially when there are wide and long-term effects at stake.

    So, all of you brewers and bars and others who say no to ABInBev, Heinekein, and such predatory companies, I applaud you for your courage. What you are actively resisting to is NOT what economy should be. Big beer companies (and other products too, but this is another story) practices are NOT “the real world economics” – like some commenters like to believe – , they are to be fought because they distrupt, bend, and destroy what economy really is, for their own purpose and without thought for consequences beyond themselves. No anti-capitalist ideology here, but a fight to restore an actually functional economy that has been parasited.

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