Location: Bicaz, Neamț county
Gypsy brewing since: February 2017
Brewer: Radu Andrieş
Something wicked was a-brewin’ in the sleepy town of Bicaz, at the foothill of the mountains. Dark, roasted malts, pungent hops and bubbling yeast, all mixed in to create a potion that would take the world by surprise when it was finally unleashed in 2017.
The story of Wicked Barrel saw its beginnings in 2012, back when a young lad by the name of Radu bought his dad a homebrewing kit. To his luck, the head of the family found concepts such as Russian Imperial Stouts a bit of a mouthful, so the lad was left to take over the brewing kettle.
Dozens of batches later, he took home the 2nd prize for the Romanian Homebrew Competition in 2016, and then decided to take things more seriously. So, after a word with the lads from Bereta, who were back then introducing the novel concept of gypsy brewing to the Romanian crowd, they hopped on a broom and knocked on the gates of Ground Zero Brewery, with a scroll bearing a recipe for success (you can read the pure, unadulterated, broom-free story here – in Romanian though). And what a success it was! All metaphors aside, you have to hand it to the guys: The Black Pot won not only the award for The Best Beer In Romania according to RateBeer, but it also propelled Wicked Barrel to the 2nd place among the Best New Brewers In The World for 2017, according to the same website. That’s a pretty impressive debut for a gypsy brewer!
After their first Imperial Stout, they took a turn through the realms of IPAs with Jaw Drop, before returning with a sack full of oats to their stout recipes, and releasing Blizzard at the end of 2017. In February 2018, they also did a relaunch of The Black Pot, with a limited edition of only 500 bottles.
In November of 2018, word got out that they have started working on opening their own brewery close to the town of Bicaz, and it looks like 2020 will be the year when we’ll be able to pay them a home visit, and hopefully sample their beers in their very own taproom. But even without their own setup, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on them, as they are currently one of the most promising gypsy breweries in the country. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Radu grows his own hops, and while the current yield of Centennial and Chinook is so small it only made an appearance in their Saison, we’re hoping that homegrown hops become a staple of their future beers.
Their beers are usually available by 330ml bottles in specialized shops and bars around the country. However, given the circumstances of gypsy brewing, there is no core range available just yet, and supplies are limited, as their beers are brewed in 1000 liter batches at a time. Make sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page for the newest releases, and their map for the closest shops and bars stocking them!
Brewed at Ground Zero brewery:
- The Black Pot – Imperial Stout (collaboration with Bereta) – 10.5% ABV
– 500 bottles batch relaunched in February 2018
– Bourbon chips and Vanilla version launched in March 2018
- Jaw Drop – IPA – 6.3% ABV
- Blizzard – Imperial Oatmeal Stout – 10.3% ABV
– Aged on bourbon barrel chips version
- Piece of Cake – Imperial Porter (anniversary beer released yearly) – 11.5% ABV
- Killer Bunny – Imperial Stout – 9.5% ABV
- Razzle Dazzle – Pale Ale – 5.1% ABV
- Hillbilly – Saison – 5.2% ABV
- Monday Fuel – Coffee Stout with Ethiopia Jigesa Weysi coffee from Origo – 7.8% ABV
Brewed at Bere Noah brewery:
- NSFW – DIPA – 8% ABV
Collaborations at Hop Hooligans brewery:
- New Lands – Norwegian Farmhouse IPA (with Hop Hooligans) – 7.5% ABV
- Birthday Bash – Strawberry Milkshake IPA (with Bereta and Hop Hooligans, brewed for Berero Store 3rd anniversary) – 6% ABV
Collaborations at Bereta Brewery:
- Speish Odyssey – IPA – 6.6% ABV
- Morning Shot – Breakfast Stout – 8% ABV
- The Black Pot – Imperial Stout (2019 relaunch) – 10.5% ABV
– Coffee, Cacao Nibs, and Chili version
– Vanilla & Pistachio version
- Tetraphobia – Blackberries, elderberries & lactose DIPA (with Bereta and Hop Hooligans, brewed for Berero Store 4th anniversary) – 8% ABV
- The Black Pot – Imperial Stout (with Bereta, 2020 relaunch) – 10.6% ABV
– Maple Syrup and Hazelnuts version
– Coffee, Marshmallows and Vanilla version
Collaborations at Oriel Beer brewery:
- See The Light? – Belgian Imperial Stout (with Oriel Beer) – 10% ABV
Collaborations at Bere Noah brewery:
- Nymphetamine – Russian Imperial Stout aged on bourbon barrel cubes (with Bere Noah) – 11% ABV
Collaborations at Ground Zero brewery:
- Wearing Purple – Imperial Stout with dried plums (with Berero Store and Blackout Brewing) – 11.5% ABV