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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Beer Tour of Wilmington: Waterline Brewing Company

Y’all, is there anything more exciting than a new brewery opening in town?

If you think there is, feel free to stop reading. You’re probably not going to be that interested in what I have to say.

There’s a new brewery in town! I have been waiting for this day for quite some time. A couple months ago my coworker informed me that her husband was doing some work (he’s a contractor) on a brewery set to open up before the end of the year. I immediately started driving around trying to find it. Okay, not immediately. I waited until work was over.

Walking into the building was a little confusing. We walked into the Art Factory entrance by accident and weaved through aisles of baskets and small handcrafted goods until we found ourselves among a furniture collection. It was there I realized the line between brewery and the Art Factory was very blurred. You might get your beer from the bar and take to a table you’ll consider purchasing. It seems like a great business plan. The more beers sold, the more gifts sold.

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The brewery area is fantastic. Exposed brick walls lead your eye to rough cut pine ceilings and beams. Their colorful, retroWaterline Brewing taps have a fun, upbeat feel anchored at the other end by their sleek, guest tap companions. The bar area is bright and cheerful, offering an atmosphere that lends itself to afternoon drinking rather than a late-night last call destination.

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There’s quite a few tables inside but there’s picnic tables outside for the drinker that prefers sunshine with their beer. With corn hole, kan jam, tables-a-plenty and hopefully more food trucks (loved that 2 Bros Coastal Cuisine!), it’s a pretty good spot to soak in the afternoon sun.

Okay, the most important part. My drinking companions and I were all concerned this would be Ironclad 2.0: beautiful location but lackluster beer. Breathe easy friends. The beer is good. It’s not change your life good, but it is refreshing and tasty. During our time there yesterday, they were offering their Red Ale, Oatmeal Stout, IPA, Pale Ale and Kolsch. The verdict:

The Red Ale is not too hoppy, like “running into an old friend”. (I asked my companion for this description. She may have been a little buzzed.)

Oatmeal Stout was rich without being heavy. It was not sweet and contained a deep roast flavor.

I’d describe the IPA as easy drinking. It was hoppy without being overwhelming and not particularly distinct in hops or notes. Very smooth.

The Pale Ale was also very easy to drink- perhaps a little too easy. It lacked much body or distinction.

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A beautiful, easy to drink IPA

Unfortunately no one at my table tried the Kolsch or the Tripel which was offered later in the day. We were running out of sobriety and needed to call it quits.

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The grand opening was packed and fun for everyone. Live music, food trucks, a beautiful day and cold beer! They could have used a couple extra bartenders but it was their grand opening- would you expect anything less? I look forward to coming back for more!

Beer Tour of Wilmington: Wilmington Brewing Company

This place is my favorite. Well, if not my favorite it’s in my top three. Really, like the only thing that works against is it doesn’t serve food.

Reasons why Wilmington Brewing Company is completely awesome:

  1. It sells brewing supplies. You may not care but I do. The store set up is pretty easy to navigate but if you’re a beginner or in need some guidance, the staff is very friendly. We haven’t been brewing much here lately but we’ve gotten a lot of help in the past there and made a lot of good beers.
  2. Their beers are delicious. This is not the place to take your friend who “kind of likes beer” and will order wine or a mixed drink at the first chance he/she gets. They serve beer. Beer they made themselves. Only beer they made themselves. Light ones, dark ones, hoppy ones, tasty ones. You can drink them there or get your beer to go. Try a crowler. It’s a 32 oz can of beer. Yes, you should share it.
  3. It may look like a tiny bar but go past the bathrooms and you’ll discover another world. A world of giant Jenga and cornhole in an open warehouse. If you don’t feel like being inside, head to the picnic tables. You can admire the hops growing on the vines while you sip your tasty beverage.
  4. The people that own it are UNC Asheville alums. Go Bulldogs! (It’s not very often I can say that, so I have to take advantage.)

Truly, I have nothing negative to say about Wilmington Brewing Supply. I will go there any day with you. Just ask me.

Beer Tour of Wilmington: Paddy’s Hollow

If you were to follow along on this beer tour and thought, “I need a week off. I’m going to skip one place.” Skip this one.

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I hesitate to say this but… not a very impressive place. Paddy’s Hollow is reasonably cool looking inside although heavy on the Irish cheesiness. The service was fantastic! I really cannot say enough good things about the service. The bartender was our server and in addition to being incredibly attentive (but not overly so) she also gave my friend a new beer when she simply didn’t like the one she had chosen. No one ever does that. That’s fantastic.

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We only ordered a couple appetizers- a sampler platter and a spin dip- but they were pretty bland and there wasn’t much to them. We finished them off pretty quickly.

Of course, the company was great so a good time was had by all and maybe we didn’t try the right thing but Paddy’s Hollow wouldn’t make my list of recommendations to a visitor to Wilmington currently.

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!