In 2016 craft beer continues being all the rage in Wilmington, NC. Since 2014 alone, eight breweries have opened locally, while bottle shops have expanded from a mere three to 10. Such numbers inspired the upstart of the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance, which launched locally in August, to help promote and unite local businesses in the industry. To date they have over a dozen business members, and their introduction comes at a perfect time. Wilmington Beer Week kicks off Oct. 22 with more than a dozen events slated to take place through Oct. 29—one of which includes a bottle share at Fermental on Oct. 24, 6 p.m., hosted by the alliance.
The Massive Bottle Share welcomes everyone—beer collectors, traders, and lovers—to get a taste of rare, limited and seasonal brews, whether it’s a Belgian oddity or small-batch release. Basically, they’re asking homebrewers to “bring their best to enjoy the rest!”
As it turns out, Wilmington Beer Week is pouring out alternative events fast and furious in its third year, according to one of its organizers, Dmitri Brown, from Lighthouse Beer and Wine. Waterline Brewing (721 Surry St.), located under the foot of the Cape Fear Bridge, will host a scavenger hunt to benefit the nonprofit Switchin’ Gears. The organization recycles bikes and promotes biking for youth. Waterline’s “Bikin’2 Downtown Brewgaloo” will feature teams who bike to explore downtown while competing in a scavenger hunt on wheels. There will be themed missions and local businesses participating in the challenges. Waterline will also host brunch and offer free bike tuneups before the hunt, with an afterparty and awards ceremony following the event.
Pedaling along the river-to-sea bikeway, participants are welcome to meet up at Wilmington Brewing Company (824 S. Kerr Ave.) to bike to Lighthouse Beer and Wine (220 Causeway Dr.) in Wrighstville Beach on Sunday, Oct. 23 at noon. Folks will see a portion of Wilmington’s Cross City Trail, before ending up at Lighthouse where Wilmington Brewing will do a tap takeover.
Educational activities take place throughout the week, too, including a session on how to turn a freezer into a kegerator. Broomtail Craft Brewery’s Home Brew Club will host the event at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 6404 Amsterdam Way, and showcase how the process works using a few simple tools. For those who want to taste the differences and learn about Belgian beers, Wetten Importers will land at Palate (1007 N. 4th St.) on Tues., Oct. 25, 7 p.m., for a session.
Tastings galore will take place throughout the week, including a new release of the Sweet Potato Porter from Flytrap Brewing on Thurs., Oct. 27, 5 p.m. Broomtail’s Sour Barn (7211 Market St.) will host an informative sour beer tasting on Wed., Oct. 26, 5 p.m. As well, tap takeovers are slated, including one at Carolina Beach’s Island Beverage (1206 N Lake Park Blvd.), which will see Orange Blossom Brewing pouring pilsners on Wed., Oct. 26, 6 p.m.
“We can probably safely assume that between all events throughout the week, participation will reach upward of 10,000 people,” Brown says. “As for the different beers, it’s my hope people get out there and find something exciting, something comfortable, and something so tasty they wish for it again! The amount of different beers is pretty staggering—probably something like 500 at the two festivals alone, coupled with all the amazing beer lists throughout town.”
The two festivals Brown speaks of will be the finale to the week. The Voracious and Rare Beer Festival will take place on the Battleship NC from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 28. It’s an event for the true beer aficionado. “We will have 40 different beers that are rare, one-offs, aged in special barrels and otherwise not generally available to the public,” Brown says. Tickets are $75 (plus fees/sales tax) and proceeds benefit the Carousel Center, a nonprofit which helps abused and neglected children of southeastern NC. The Carousel Center is also the beneficiary for Saturday’s 16th annual Lighthouse Beer and Wine Festival held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Waterfront Park (11 Harnett St.) in downtown Wilmington ($40-$75, plus fees/tax). Over 100 craft breweries and wineries will be set up for sampling over 400 flavors.
A full list of events for Wilmington Beer Week can be found at wilmington.beer. Prices vary for each.