Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Experience Sand, Surf and Craft Beer In North Carolina

Written by  Aimee West
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I am enjoying the summer sun and spring break with my family in lovely North Carolina. April is Craft Beer month in North Carolina and you can tell with new breweries opening up all the time.
Our first stop for a local craft brew was Good Hops. We had tried a pint at Jack Mackerel’s by the beach and our waiter directed us to the local brewery. He said that we couldn’t leave the island without checking out what else Good Hops brewed.

Good Hops is a great place to walk in kick your flip flops off and stay awhile. Bring your dog because, as owner Richard Jones told us, they have become known as the “dog park you can a get a beer at.” We saw a few dogs and their happy owners playing in the back while enjoying this great local brew. Currently he had seven beers on tap and we tried a flight of six; Scotch Ale, Flip Hop IPA, and Brown Ale were our top favorites.

Good Hops had only been opened a few months at this point, and was the first brewery on Kuna Island. Let me say if I was going to open a brewery you could not find a more beautiful location.

Next stop is Front Street Brewery!

Front Street Brewery is located in Downtown Wilmington in a building dating back to 1865. They were the very first microbrew and pub when they first opened in May of 1995. Since then, they have been creating award winning beers only sold at the brewery. While there, I took the free tour of the brewing area and talked to head brewer Kelsie Cole about women brewers, of which there are only two in North Carolina. We also discussed the craft beer industry explosion in their area. After my tour, I talked with other members of the staff, it was mentioned that Kelsie was the first female head brewer for the entire state of North Carolina. Way to go, Kelsie!

When you go, try the Brisket Sandwich. It is a slow roasted brisket topped with homemade whole grain mustard, BBQ Sauce and smoked Gouda on grilled sourdough bread. In a word it was delicious. I may have midnight cravings for this sandwich. I also had a pint of their Horizon Saison. With its fruity flavors of pineapple paired and white pepper, you get a fresh clean taste great for a hot summer day. If you like what you try they do fill growlers and when I was there for lunch, quite a few people stopped at the bar to have theirs filled.

Onward to Ironclad!

When you are in downtown Wilmington make sure you stop at Ironclad Brewery. When we stopped at Ironclad, they had only been open for four and a half weeks and were still in their soft open stage. This is a lovely open bar with a great use of space and an upstairs balcony creating a perfect space for smaller private parties or large gatherings. We were some of the only mid­afternoon patrons, but as 5 p.m. came around, all the young professionals started to fill up the space and create a lively, excited atmosphere.

They only had 2 in house beers on tap and I had the Ironclad Old Baldy; a lovely golden ale that had a wonderful flavor and a nice finish.

Finally we wanted to check out Fly Trap also located in the Downtown Wilmington area.

Fly Trap has been open since October 2014, their name comes from the Carnivorous Venus Fly Trap whose only native habitat in the world is within a 60 mile radius of Wilmington, NC. We ordered a flight of their house brews and settled in to try some beers. My favorite was the Rehder’s Red with their Saison a close second. It was a lot of fun learning about Venus fly traps and a little more about the craft beer industry in the area.

While in the area, we also lunched a couple of times at both the Riverboat Landing (downtown Wilmington), Jack Mackerel’s Island Grill. (Pleasure Island) and Dockside (Wilmington Beach). All three are an excellent choice for either lunch or dinner. We loved the fresh fish options at each restaurant. They also had other options for the non­fish lovers in the group. All three had local craft beers on tap and Dockside even had Michigan favorites Founders and Bell’s in bottles.

Whether you spend your day on Pleasure Island at Good Hops, or enjoy a bar hopping day in Downtown Wilmington at Front Street Brewery, Ironclad and Fly Trap, next time you are in North Carolina take some time to enjoy a local brew or four.

Aimee West

Aimee West

Is new to the craft beer scene but always willing and wanting to learn more.