Waterline Brewing hosts ribbon cutting ceremony, Mardi Gras celebration

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Ed Wolverton, far right, of Wilmington Downtown Inc. stands with Wilmington mayor Bill Saffo Friday to help celebrate the opening of Waterline Brewing. Photo by Hilary Snow.
Ed Wolverton, far right, of Wilmington Downtown Inc. stands with Wilmington mayor Bill Saffo Friday to help celebrate the opening of Waterline Brewing. Photo by Hilary Snow.

Wilmington has a new unofficial welcome sign to visitors crossing the Cape Fear River into downtown.

Waterline Brewing’s brightly colored red, white and blue logo has adorned an assuming warehouse nestled under the bridge for two months.

Friday, the brewery, at 721 Surry St., celebrated its entry into the area’s emerging craft beer scene with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“I love your sign; you can see it from the bridge,” Mayor Bill Saffo told Waterline’s owners. “You guys are going to be the first brewery people see when they’re coming to town.”

Joining the growing number of alehouses popping up around the Port City, Waterline, located in a rehabilitated section of the old Jacobi Hardware warehouse, opened the doors to its brewery, tap room and outdoor beer garden on Dec. 5. Waterline is in the same building as The Art Factory, a collaborative work space, gallery and performance venue for local craftsmen and musicians.

“We spent about a year and a half renovating the building,” Waterline co-owner Rob Robinson noted.

The hard work appears to have paid off. Since opening late last year, Rob’s wife and business partner, Eve, said the brewery has seen steady crowds seeking a watering hole off the beaten path. And the couple expects those crowds to grow once warmer spring weather hits.

“We’re not doing too bad at all,” Rob said.

The Robinsons and a third co-owner, Brian Bell, have begun adding regular live music, with a focus on local performers with original tunes. They’ve recently gotten on the food truck circuit, too.

And the in-house creations have been a hit, as well.

For now, Waterline is focusing on six brews–Waterline Kolsch, Pale, Red, classic IPA, Oatmeal Stout and Tripel–using a state-of-the-art, steam-fired five barrel system from Deutsche Beverage Technology in Charlotte.

With an intentionally careful and calculated slow approach, Waterline’s beers have been added to bottle shops and bars across town, distributor and sales director Mark Anthony Mueller said. They’re on rotation at Bombers Bev Co., Fermental and Beer Barrio, among others, and will be featured brewery of the month at Fox and Hound and Ogden Tap Room in the spring and summer.

And Mueller said Waterline growlers will soon be available for purchase at local Lowe’s Foods grocery stores.

The brewery plans to eventually add a Rye Pale Ale, dark German wheat, English-style IPA, according to its website.

The ribbon cutting Friday – attended by Saffo, Wilmington Downtown Inc. executive director Ed Wolverton and a crowd of craft beer enthusiasts – was followed by the kickoff of Waterline’s days-long Mardi Gras celebration. Click here to see a full schedule of events.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.

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