*UPDATED FRIDAY, MARCH 20 AT 1:00 P.M.*
Jeremy Tomlinson makes sure Wilmington Ale Trail (WAT) continues to be a local resource on what’s happening in southeastern NC’s local beer scene. He publishes a WAT print edition twice a year: once before the Azalea Fest in March and then after Labor Day in September. However, the spring 2020 edition, slated for delivery right now, is being postponed. Tomlinson maintains a newsletter and calendar, updated with events and happenings, and also launched WAT Passport last fall. The mobile experience encourages people to visit local breweries and bottle shops, complete with maps, money-saving vouchers and prizes.
In light of Gov. Cooper’s executive order to shut down bars and restaurants for dine-in service, Tomlinson is still trying to keep WAT advertisers (many of which also support encore) top-of-mind as locals look to support local business while they can. “Everything is changing so fast, but we are going to try to keep [local brewery and bottle shop offers] updated on our blog post,” Tomlinson says. He has compiled a list of his supporters’ take-out and delivery options, and will be updating it constantly.
“Right now, we are just trying to take care of our industry folks that have been laid off due to closures and doing what we can to make sure we have an industry after the epidemic,” Tomlinson says. “I would ask that if you are going to purchase beer to do so at one of one of our breweries, bottle shops or bars. These are all locally owned small businesses that employ over 500 people in our area. The grocery store chains will survive this; some of our smaller businesses may not.”
Tomlinson knows firsthand how the governor’s executive order and CDC recommendations of social distancing have impacted Wilmington. He heads the nonprofit Cape Fear Craft Beer Week, which was cancelled this month due to COVID-19 precautions.
“It was a pretty big blow to our local craft beer community and those of us that have been working on it for almost a year,” Tolmlinson says. “The menu for Cape Fear Craft & Cuisine [the finalé event] was unbelievably amazing, and with the help of the Wilmington CVB, we had national and regional media coming to town. The city was scheduled to pass a resolution for Cape Fear Craft Beer Week and Mayor Saffo was going to kick off the festivities at our Ultimate Brewing Championship launch party. The sponsorships from that week make up 90% of our operating budget for the year. We are a nonprofit and do not have any paid staff—all volunteers.”
Already, Tomlinson is pivoting to bring back CFCBW in 2021. For now his focus remains on the health of local beer.
Below are listings of all WAT-supported bottle shops and breweries. To join the group and be added, please, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.