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: The Blind Elephant

It’s not often I stray from beer or wine. Cocktails, while delicious, are expensive outside the home. And in the home I am lazy. I want the instant gratification I can receive of pouring a glass of wine or opening a beer. No glass needed there.

But sometimes you feel fancy. Sometimes you are on a lady date with a friend who had free passes to a film festival (Cucalorus). Sometimes you are extremely pleased with the movie you chose (It Had to be You– not yet sold for distribution) and would recommend it to anyone. So then you need a cocktail. Right? To celebrate?

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Finding The Blind Elephant is simple but requires more effort than most. You’ll need to peek down the alley way beside Front St. Brewery to catch a glimpse of the simple sign hanging under a single spotlight. It’s members only but you can join at the door (no fee) or come as someone’s guest.

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It was a packed house Saturday night and it was a struggle to get a drink. We both selected Farenheit 451 which sounded sweet, sour and firey.  A Farenheit 451 is made with Lunazul Blanco Tequila, homemade ginger beer, cayenne pepper simple syrup, fresh grapefruit, lemon and orange juice. It did not disappoint. To keep it cold and refreshing a perfect sphere of ice floats and spins as you sip away.

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There were old movies playing on two different screens (no sound) and an awesome upstairs loft area. Big comfy leather couches let you sink in and encourage you to stay a while.

The down side is the prices will not. Shelling out $9 for a cocktail that’s mainly ice will remain a treat not a regular choice. On the bright side they had a few beers on tap and a good wine selection to help you once you’ve spent all your cocktail dollars. I’d probably come on a night when it wasn’t so busy but I’d definitely come back.

 

Beer Tour of Wilmington: Le Catalan

Sometimes on rare occasions I make wild and crazy suggestions like, “Instead of drinking tonight, let’s take a walk.” This is always met with enthusiasm for making our lifestyles more healthy but when five o’clock rolls around…we have a problem. We want to be healthier, exercise more and still have a glass of wine.

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In this situation, just walk to the wine. Wilmington’s downtown river walk is perfect for this. From my work’s parking lot, it’s not quite a mile along the water to Le Catalan. In the evening if the humidity is kind and the breeze generous, it’s a really pleasant scenic trip. I try to spend as much time as I can near downtown’s best feature.

I wasn’t sure what to expect at Le Catalan. I’m always skeptical of restaurants on the river as it is a prime spot for tourists. Will it be overpriced and less than tasty? Le Catalan was exactly what the doctor ordered. With the sun setting and the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge in view, the outdoor patio was perfect. A little warm at times before the sun finally dropped below the tree line but the dining area is covered so it’s not intolerable, but there’s an indoor area for those who prefer not to sweat a little.

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The wine wasn’t cheap but the prices were comparable to anywhere else in town. More importantly the server was knowledgable but didn’t scoff when we couldn’t pronounce anything correctly. Lots of pointing.

The only downside of the evening is we had worn our workout clothes to what turned out to be a very cute cafe. In addition as we were finishing up our glasses, a 5k was going on and the participants passed us. They and we were all in our company’s workout gear which made us look like enormous slackers. On the other hand wine enabled us to cheer very enthusiastically.

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.