Some people view their love for beer as strongly as religion or politics. Debates can be endless between craft brews over mainstream, homebrew over industry brewed, locally grown hops over out-of-state grain; the options are endless to which beer lovers devoutly follow.
Jason Adams—owner of Lighthouse Beer and Wine and founder of the annual Lighthouse Beer and Wine Festival taking place October 19th—is among the ilk who celebrate beer in its glory. His 12th year of the beer festival actually begins a littler early, as Wilmington Beer Week gets underway October 13th through the 18th. Leading up to the annual charitable festival, which also includes wine for 2013, numerous pairing events will be tapped at local restaurants. It will culminate at the annual festival, which features over 80 brewers and helps a worthy cause, The Carousel Center, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping abused and neglected children.
“Wilmington’s craft beer community has grown exponentially over the past few years,” Adams says. “Many cities around the country have their own week to celebrate craft beer, so why not Wilmington? Wilmington Beer Week is all about building a relationship with craft beers and local businesses. We feel that is our responsibility to help promote and celebrate the local spots around town that carry craft beers.”
Folks will have the opportunity to partake in educational events, such as a homebrew demonstration from Wilmington Homebrew Supply at Satellite on October 17th. Also slated are beer dinners, as hosted by Rx Restaurant on October 16th, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Chef James Doss will create a special menu to coincide with beers from Mother Earth Brewing.
“Both places are constantly inspired by North Carolina ingredients,” Adams notes. “James is from Kinston, NC, where Mother Earth is located, and they have wanted to do a pairing together for a while. We merely helped them orchestrate it.”
A chance for beer and fine-dining to coincide will take place at Manna with the folks from Stone Brewing Company. Owner Billy Mellon says he’s thrilled to be a part of the new celebration, which he believes Adams has worked toward building for quite some time now.
“Jason and I have been friends and colleagues since 1995 at Harvest Moon,” Mellon says. “I knew him when he took the leap of faith to start the Lighthouse endeavor. I’ve watched him grow into an amazing businessman, offering our community a great service and spearheading the movement of craft beer in our market. He opened the door for Cape Fear Wine and Beer, Satellite, Mellow Mushroom, and all of the craft beer-focused venues to thrive. Now, they all work together very nicely; they enhance each other. The beer festival is well-organized and contributes proceeds to a worthy cause. It’s a win-win.”
Mellon and his chef, Jameson Chavez, originally from New Mexico, will host “San Diego Las Cruces” on October 15th, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $60, and as of press half sold.
“It’ll be a Southwestern-y menu, focusing on Jameson’s roots. It was obvious with Stone’s locale [in California] and Jameson’s hometown that we could accentuate the highway [I-8 to I-10] that connects the two cities and shares cultural boundaries with our neighbor country—and really focus on the imaginary border that will play a role in the cuisine.”
Mellon anticipates masa, tamales, chiles, cocoa and some mole on the menu. “Of course, Rebeca Alvarado Paredes gets to bat cleanup with the dessert, to be paired with a smoked porter,” he explains.
Though Manna’s beer program primarily focuses on NC-made brews, Mellon’s familiarity with Stone runs deep. Having worked as a wine rep for Tryon before owning Manna, Mellon says they courted Stone for some time. “They were certainly a major piece of the puzzle that helped open the door for other West Coast breweries to venture into NC,” Mellon explains. “Their beers are very well made and score extremely well with the two major beer magazines (“Beer Advocate,” “Rate Beer”). They have a great reputation with other top-tier breweries and often do collaboration projects with some of the best in the beer world.”
Scott Sheridan will be hosting the event, something Mellon promises to be entertaining, as Sheridan’s humor and knowledge will keep the learning far from boring. “He’s like an ESPN announcer of the beer world,” Mellon says. “He makes understanding his brand entertaining, not monotonous. I’m sure he’ll delve into why the pairings work, how the beers are made, and likely make fun of USC (he’s a Clemson fan) whenever possible.”
All Wilmington Beer Week happenings have various costs, so folks must call the host venue to arrange for reservations and inquire on specifics. Other restaurants partaking in the week include: Coastal Cupcakes, with a beer and cupcake pairing on October 13th, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Melting Pot in Mayfaire will feature a Belgium beer dinner on October 14th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on the same night, across the way in The Forum, The Olive Café will host a cheese and beer pairing.
Blue Point Brewing will take over Copper Penny on October 15th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (portion of proceeds to benefit The Carousel Center), and prizes and giveaways are slated. Ballast Point will supply San Diego’s most delicious brews at Wrightsville Beach’s Mellow Mushroom on October 16th at 7 p.m. On October 17th Cape Fear Wine and Beer will host Coronado Brewing, as Brixx Pizza celebrates “Hoist a Stein with Octoberfest and Pumpkin Beers”—a tasting and contest, complete with prizes!
The mack daddy of tastings ends Friday night before the Saturday festival, with the Voracious Craft Beer Tasting. “This is definitely one I wouldn’t miss for all the beer in the world,” Adams quips. “Mostly because every beer that will be poured at that event is probably one that I’ve never had before, and might never have again.” Tickets ($75) are very limited to this Shell Island Resort event, which will showcase 20 specially selected breweries, hor d’ouevres and live entertainment. All attendees must be 21 or older.
“We’re most excited about the craft beer community embracing this week of events,” Adams tells. “Each is going to be unique and delicious.”
Wilmington Beer Week
Various venues across town.
Tickets vary per event.
October 13th – 18th