Beer Review 0500: Wicked Weed Dark Age Rum Stout
“Hops are a wicked and pernicious weed.” — King Henry VIII, 1519
We’ve come a long way. This website has come a long way. Review #500!
Wicked Weed Brewing opened in December 2012 in downtown Asheville after much planning. In 2009, brothers Walt and Luke Dickinson had an idea to open a brewery with a focus on American West Coast-style hoppy beers and rustic, authentic Belgian ales. It took them two years to develop a business plan and brew hundreds of test batches of beer; in 2011, with their lifelong friend Ryan Guthy and his parents, Rick and Denise, they all sat down and tasted the beer and reviewed the plan. The Guthys were immediately on board, and over the next year, Wicked Weed was assembled.
King Henry VIII, who was a heavy investor in spices, banned hops from beer because they lowered his bottom line. But his son, Edward VI, passed special legislation in 1552 that permitted the use of hops again by British brewers. A giant canvas painting of King Henry VIII hangs on a wall at Wicked Weed, and their hoppy lineup effectively spits in his face.
Dark Age Rum Stout is part of Wicked Weed’s ‘Wicked Wood’ series, which is only available at their tasting room. I must thank Walt Dickinson, who allowed me to purchase a growler of this beer after I explained that I would love to review it for my 500th review. Brewed with honey and brown sugar, this beer is aged in rum barrels for four months, hitting a massive 12% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 60 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).
Pouring from the growler issued up a small, dark tan head that diminished quickly. This growler, opened two days after the pour, held up very well as the beer looked pretty much the same served directly out of the tap. Dark Age is pitch black in color, opaque, but it has just a hint of a lighter (but still dark) brown edge when held to light. The body appeared to be clear, free or particles and sediment, and lacing was very sparse to non-existent.
On the nose, we’ve got OH MY GOD deliciousness. Immediately, layered dark chocolate greets you, pairing nicely with a sweet caramel and black, fresh brewed coffee. The chocolate is all at once sweet candy bar, cake frosting, and melted dark fudge. Incredible stuff. But let us not forget the big rum barrel note that is ever present, and the alcohol; the 12% is here but I wouldn’t exactly call this boozy. As the brew warms, a stiff note of vanilla presents itself and some smokey dark fruits mingle with the alcohol. Bottle it as fragrance, Wicked Weed! Impressive!
Hope your palate is ready for a sucker punch, because this beer throws it unabashedly. We’ve got dark chocolate colliding with very purple, grape raisins, dashed with a hint of gooey caramel topped by a helping of black coffee. Initially, this beer is quite sweet and the brown sugar, burnt in flavor, really comes to the front, along with a ton of vanilla. But there’s a second half to this beer, which is ushered in by a stiff note of alcohol, and lingers until the end. The dark chocolate starts to turn more bitter, making the finish bittersweet and very warm, boozy, and with a cracking wallop of rum — traditionally, this is where you’d get your bourbon, but the rum is harsher and holds that bitter note for much longer than Pappy ever would. At the conclusion of the taste, your tongue feels like its been in a prize fight, but in such a good way. Full-bodied, Dark Age is a high medium-body, with a warm finish and soft carbonation.
I knew when I had my first pour of this beer that I loved it. And love it, I do, but here are some suggestions, Wicked Weed — perhaps this needs to go in the barrel for full year to soften that big alcohol note. Personally, I don’t mind that type of thing, but many are turned off by it. Additionally, the sweetness factor comes into play here a bit, and it does get a bit much after one glass. Then again, I reckon you are only supposed to have a glass of this. But what can I say? I’m a lush when it comes to Wicked Weed! This is an outstanding beer and I’m so glad Wicked Weed allowed me to do this. Thanks guys. Not the highest I’ve ever rated, but I feel this is a superb beer to review for #500.
Here’s to the next five hundred!
Wicked Weed Dark Age Rum Stout, 93 points. Price: $18.00 US for one 32 oz. growler pour.