Beer Tour of Wilmington: Fermental

I had heard about Fermental since I moved to Wilmington but I rarely venture past the downtown or midtown area here. With Hey Beer and Bombers within a few minutes of my house, I didn’t feel much reason to venture out down Market that far.

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That seems to have most definitely been a mistake. Now that I’ve visited the adorable house-turned-store once I’ll have to go back. Inside the walls are lined with racks of wine and shelves of beer. There is no wall space being underutilized, no room not filled to its capacity. You walk from room to room, each leading into the other, in constant surprise at how many delicious treasures a small room can hold.

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We visited this weekend during Fermental’s third anniversary. It was an incredible celebration with what seemed to be at least twelve rotating taps at any one time. We had the opportunity to try several beers between the three of us.

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Now I’m going to have to go back because between the Catch foodtruck, trying beers and the live music I didn’t have a chance to purchase wine ice cream or hop chocolate. What??

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48 Hours in Todd, NC

You don’t know Todd is? That is really shocking. It’s only a bustling community of approximately 2,000 people. To be honest, I really question Wikipedia for saying there’s 2000 people there. Even the general store is closed up and for sale.

I’m not painting a very good picture here. Todd is just off 421 right outside of Boone in western North Carolina. You don’t visit Todd to go somewhere, you go to Todd to just be. For my Christmas present and our Valentine’s weekend Tyler booked us a little cabin just past Todd. I have to admit, as excited as I was to spend the weekend in the mountains I was pretty hesitant about this trip. February is not my ideal time to go to a snowy, hard to traverse area. I’m not equipped to hike in snow.

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Luckily snowy roads are a lot easier to travel when you’re driving a full size truck instead of a Honda hatchback. Also, fresh snow + cozy cabin + puppy dog + books – cell service is exactly what the doctor ordered. Even when we were in Belize, we had wifi. I don’t know the last time I couldn’t use my phone, the internet or watch TV. The only radio station we could get was a public radio station from Bristol, TN that played awesome bluegrass music.

So apparently there’s one store in Todd but it’s closed on Sundays so don’t try to go then (whoops). I highly recommend going to Boone but we were too busy drinking fancy beer and walking in the snow.

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Take a mini-vacation y’all. You deserve it.

Beer Tour of Wilmington: Goat and Compass

This stop was badly needed. It was after a shockingly bad day at work that we set out for a beer. We went to the nearest place we could.

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From the outside Goat and Compass looks like an English pub. Once inside it seems more like a neighborhood dive bar. I don’t say that in a bad way. It was small, a little dark and very casual. The beer selection told a different story. The draft and canned selection had plenty of local, craft beers. It was more than enough to please all of tastes (some like it light, some like it floral and some like it hoppy!).

Music started about an hour into our visit and was pretty pleasant. It wasn’t loud enough to drown out our conversation but added nicely to the atmosphere. We were too caught up in our work drama to think to check out the outside beer garden but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to do so next time! Plus Goat and Compass offers open mic nights and a corn hole league in addition to its live music nights so it’s pretty much got something for everyone.

Beer Tour of Wilmington: Palate

Despite a large covered porch, Palate isn’t a destination for rainy days. Nonetheless on a rainy, stormy evening we sat in Palate’s beautiful covered seating area. If you make the same choice, sit away from the windows. That rain is coming in.

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Palate is a gorgeous bottle shop and bar that features a lot of… you guessed it… pallet wood. The outdoor area is nice in the colder days as they crank up the gas fire pits in each seating area. The service is great with patient bartenders who are glad to help you figure out your choice. It’s beer and wine only with a grab-your-own area for bottles and cans. Draft beer and wine are behind the bar. Draft beer is primarily served in goblets rather than pint glasses which makes Palate lose points with me. I realize they’re supposed to be served that way.  I realize they’re typically high in alcohol but I think it’s important to have a few beers intended for the pint glass on tap as well. It takes away from the beer snob feeling and gives the atmosphere more of a “for every palate” feeling (see what I did there?!).

The selection for purchase to take home is also great. It offers a great many choices and it’s convenient location to my work makes it very tempting for the way home.

This may not be my favorite bar in Wilmington but it does make me feel fancy and relaxed which I greatly appreciate. I’ll be sure to be back soon!

Beer Tour of Wilmington: Flytrap Brewing

I love playing tour guide. I’m not saying I’m great at it, but I really enjoy it. Five weeks ago, my department got a Masters level fellow who is working with us for the summer. Being the kind, welcoming souls that we are another coworker and I started taking her to the finest spots in Wilmington…of the drinking variety. Wilmington may be small but it does not lack for watering holes.

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The first stop on the list happened on a sunny day with relatively low humidity so I took us to a place we could sit outside. Flytrap Brewing uses its parking lot for picnic tables rather than parking as well as for food trucks a few nights a week.  We sipped on the Hoppy Tripel (delicious but if your last meal was a few hours ago… one is enough), Gose (tasty with a tiny tinge of sour) and the Saison (new to me and I’ll be back for more!).

Flytrap is hard to beat. The service is always excellent with patient, well-versed bartenders and the atmosphere is simple and welcoming. The artwork is always fresh and different and the beer is too.

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If you’re new to Flytrap try a $5 beer flight on Tuesdays.

Thanks Flytrap!

Southern Coastal Living at Its Finest: Crab Cake Hush Puppies

Oh yeah, it’s a real thing. Crab cakes and hush puppies have combined to make your life complete.

Where do you find such an incredible concept? Duh, Southern Living magazine. Y’all aren’t from aroun’ here, are ya?

Here’s how to make this happen:

First, start your day on the ocean completely seasick while your husband (or boating companion) fishes for crab bait. Thank the heavens that he caught one immediately, took a look at your face and agreed to turn towards calmer waters. That could have made for a very long day.

Then, take one million pictures when he pulls up his very first crab pots of the season. Fourteen keeper crabs!

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Before you steam your crabs (for about ten minutes) on your porch (because there is no way that mess is coming in the house) cover them in an insane amount of Old Bay Seasoning.

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There is no such thing as too much. Top it off with a beer (we were drinking New Belgium Slow Ride IPA so that’s what went in). If your pots had more crabs than ours, think one beer per dozen crabs.

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Now for the picking. Be sure to have an beer nearby for yourself during this process as it is a slow one. Be patient and try not to eat too much. You’re supposed to be saving it. If it’s evening time and the music’s on and you can smell the fresh cut grass of your neighbor’s yard, it might just feel perfect.

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Time to get serious. Take a cup of your fresh picked crab and put it to the side for your hushpuppies. We took the other cup of crabmeat and used part of it for an omelet this morning with goat cheese and green peppers. The rest we’ll eat on crackers tonight. Life is hard…

Making hushpuppies is easy. The hardest part after picking the crabs is finely chopping your green onions and peppers. Southern Living calls for red peppers but all I had were green. Who cares.

You stir those up with your cornmeal mix, flour, sugar and salt.

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I didn’t have cornmeal mix on hand so I made my own as a substitute:

Stir up 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoon yellow or white cornmeal. This will produce 1 cup of cornmeal mix.

Then drop in your egg, crabmeat and beer and stir until moistened.

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Let stand for ten minutes.

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Fry in two inches of hot oil in a skillet in batches until golden. It won’t take long so keep your eyes on them! You’ll have to turn them halfway through.

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Try not to eat them all. Fail. Eat them all. Southern Living says to serve with cocktail sauce but I doubt you’ll be able to take the time to dip them. Skip the extra step and deliver them directly to your drooling mouth.

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Recipe from Southern Living: Crab Cake Hushpuppies 

Ingredients:
1 cup self-rising white cornmeal mix
1/2 cup self-rising flour
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (or green- be flexible!)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces fresh lump crabmeat, picked
1 large egg
3/4 cup beer (Whoops, ran out of Slow Ride. Had to put in a Rogue)
Vegetable oil
Steps:
Stir together cornmeal mix, flour, green onions, bell pepper, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in crabmeat, egg, and beer until just moistened. Let stand 10 minutes. Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 360°. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into hot oil, and fry, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Serve with your favorite rémoulade or cocktail sauce.

Austin Beer

I am an enormous fan of Austin beer. My standard favorite is Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle. Delish. I have lots of favorites but today I am trying a new brewery in Austin: Adelbert’s.

This one is Scratchin’ Hippo which I have to say, I’m a fan. I don’t normally choose Belgian beers when I go to the store but this would be the first one I’d pick. Highly recommend! Also, I really enjoyed the Naked Nun, another great choice from Adelbert’s.