He still gets recognized. At the bar or at festivals, fans of a certain age will walk up to Pete Slosberg, almost in awe. They remember his face on advertisements for Wicked Ale, the beer from his discontinued brewery that bore his name for so many years. They have stories of drinking his beer, good times with friends, first dates, or how it was the brand that helped them onto the path of better beer. They shake his hand and ask for a picture.
Inevitably, the people will ask what happened to Pete’s Wicked Ale, and if it’ll ever return. The answer to that first part is complicated. The second part now has a bit of good news attached to it.
This morning, Slosberg mashed in at the Hoppin’ Frog Brewery in Akron, Ohio, with brewmaster Fred Karm to create Wicked Re-Pete 2X.
“I discovered muscles that haven’t been used in a couple of years,” Slosberg said in a telephone conversation from the brewery. The beer is an imperial American nut brown ale, double in nearly every way from Pete’s Wicked Ale, the original American brown ale.
To be clear, this isn’t a return of the Wicked brand or Pete’s Brewing Co. The brewery was sold to The Gambrinus Company in 1998 and has since left shelves. This is a collaboration beer between two brewing friends, and an homage to a beer that influenced so many and would have celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.
Karm first met Slosberg in 2003. He was a brewer at Ohio’s Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. and Slosberg was visiting a nearby chocolate company, working on recipes for his company Cocoa Pete’s Chocolate Adventures.
“He cold called the brewery and asked to come by,” remembers Karm. “I thought it was cool as hell and I decided to clear my schedule for the day, and pull out all our best beers from the cellar, give him the full experience and not stop until he left. We’ve been friends ever since.”
The road to this collaboration began with a charity event. Karm was working with the local chapter of the American Cancer Society and raffled off a brew day at the brewery to the highest bidder. The winning group was all over the spectrum with the style they wanted to create, and they eventually settled on a strong nut brown. For inspiration, Karm called Slosberg to inquire about the original Pete’s and the two got to talking about recipe development and ingredients.
As they talked, Slosberg mentioned that he always wanted to make a stronger version on Wicked Ale, and by the time the call ended, the two had decided to brew a new recipe together.
Wicked Re-Pete 2X will be 10.4%, and uses Brewer’s Gold and Cascade hops. They made about 20 barrels of the beer and it will be packaged in 22-ounce bottles (the label will feature Millie, Slosberg’s dog that adorned the original packaging) and on draft. It should be available by mid-May in select markets served by Hoppin’ Frog.
John Holl is the editor of All About Beer Magazine.