Wicked Weed is one of those relatively small breweries that’s best known for their big ass beers. They’ve hung GABF gold around the neck of Serenity, one of their sours, and they brewed a burly stout that hit 15% (the first in the state of N.C. to hit that ABV mark). Mazel tov!
So yeah, Wicked Weed has a reputation for big beers, and the reputation is only growing thanks to the brewery opening a dedicated sour tap room, and breaking ground on a new production facility.
But what people might not realize is that Wicked Weed can also do subtlety. At one point, in their brewpub, they were brewing one of the best sub 4% session beers I’d ever had. And their cucumber and basil-based Coolcumber is the ideal, mellow patio sipper. Then you have this, Pernicious, an IPA that feels downright understated when you compare it to Wicked Weed’s more popular Double IPA, Freak of Nature (which has been responsible for more than one hangover in my household).
Okay, to call Pernicious “understated” is a practice in relativity. At 7.3%, it’s approaching borderline DIPA territory, almost matching the aforementioned Freak, which comes in at 8%. But ABV ain’t everything. Pernicious has a subtle nose with just a hint of sweetness that’s not necessarily fruity at all, which is odd considering most modern IPAs jump out at you as being juicy fruit bombs as soon as you pour them into your glass.
And that restrained nose belies the character of the beer itself. Don’t expect your modern “juicy” IPA here. There’s some sweetness in Pernicious, and plenty of hop character, but it comes across as more floral and herbal (did I catch some lavender in there?) than fruity. The beer has a creamy, downright sumptuous mouthfeel and a head that lingers long after you’ve finished pouring it. There’s a dry, clean finish that delivers a little spice on the backend. Overall, it’s actually kind of old school in a way, which is surprising given Wicked Weed’s progressive reputation.
Pernicious is Wicked Weed’s flagship beer, but they just started bottling it earlier this month. They also started bottling Freak and Tyranny, their Red IPA. I picked up a four-pack of Pernicious for under $10 and a big bottle of Freak for just over $5. Not bad, considering a bottle of one of their sours goes for about $16. I’m hoping this signals a trend toward accessibility for one of the South’s most sought after breweries.
Brewery: Wicked Weed
City: Asheville, N.C.
Availability: Year round, 12 ounce bottles