When fledgling Southport brewery Check Six ran out of grain a couple weeks ago, Good Hops down in Carolina Beach was there to lend them a hand – and some ingredients.
It’s that kind of collective can-do spirit that has led those two brewers to join with their peers in the Port City to create a guild that, among other initiatives, will help market Wilmington as a destination for beer drinkers across the globe.
The newly formed brewers guild is hosting its kickoff event, the August Festival, on Saturday, Aug. 29 at Ironclad Brewery, 115 N. Second St., to raise awareness of and funds for its efforts, while celebrating with some fresh local batches.
Ironclad owner Ted Coughlin said the idea for a local guild has been brewing for a while now, with its need becoming ever more evident as the area’s craft brewing industry continues to grow.
“There is already a lot of camaraderie and a lot of help between us, you know, borrowing items and things like that,” he said. “There is lot of that going on, and a lot of expertise being shared. Because of the number of breweries now, it just seems like it’s time.”
Good Hops co-owner Patricia Jones agreed.
“There is already a lot of tourism being generated, so it makes sense that we help each other out,” she noted.
While competition fuels most business ventures, guild members say brewers are an altogether different breed.
“We are all friends and beer enthusiasts, working toward very similar goals of not only supporting our families, but also helping each other bring very high quality craft beer to eastern North Carolina, especially Wilmington,” Barry Owings of Broomtail Craft Brewery said. “We each have unique talents and skills, as well as specific beer styles we are known for, and are willing to lend a hand or technical support to each other.”
That’s because, Jones said, fellow brewers “respect the craft completely and totally.”
“We’ve shared it all from ideas to recipes to ingredients. I hope the next step is that we will collaborate on beer-making,” she said.
For now, the guild has a laser-like focus on putting Wilmington on the map, almost quite literally, for hops enthusiasts. Like those in Oregon and Asheville before it, the local guild wants to create an “ale trail” of sorts, Jones said, that lists all the breweries—and the businesses that serve their creations—for visitors to use during their stay.
“When they come here, we’ve got to keep them here and the way we do that is to work together,” Jones said.
For people to make a special trip to Wilmington just for the beer, they need to know they can make a weekend out of it, Coughlin said. Showing, through ad campaigns and promotional materials, that this is a place with more than just a handful of standalone breweries will bring in more tourists for longer amounts of time, spending more money in more businesses, he added.
“We all see that as a positive,” Coughlin said.
The August Festival will run from 1 to 5 p.m. and will feature selections from some of the Brewers Guild members, including Broomtail, Cape Fear Brewing, Check Six, Good Hops Brewing, Front Street Brewery, Ironclad and Wilmington Brewing.
All proceeds from beer sales will benefit the guild.
Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772–6341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.