Wicked Weed beer sale marks flashpoint in brewery turf wars

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Michael Brawley carries his remaining bottles of Wicked Weed beer for sale at the bar at Brawley’s Beverage in Charlotte, North Carolina, Thursday. Brawley is among at least a handful of stores or restaurants that announced they don’t intend to stock Wicked Weed in the future. —Chuck Burton / AP

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Within hours of announcing its sale to the maker of Budweiser, North Carolina’s beloved Wicked Weed beer lost its voting rights in a craft beer guild, was booted from collaborations with two independent breweries and exiled from at least a handful of stores and restaurants.

The deal announced Wednesday represents the latest front in the battle between macro- and micro-brewers as behemoths such as Anheuser-Busch Inbev acquire independent brewers to harness the craft segment’s fast growth. Wicked Weed will be one of a dozen brands in Anheuser Busch’s unit called The High End, which includes Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado and Goose Island Brewery in Illinois.
“Our consumers are very, very passionate consumers,” said Walt Dickinson, who co-founded Wicked Weed in 2012. “They feel passionate about the brand. I’m respectful of their feelings. It’s going to be our job going forward to win them back and show them that we’re the exact same people.”