Brewery showcase to highlight Wilmington’s growing craft beer scene

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The Wilmington Brewery Showcase, presented by Nest Realty, will feature samples of selections from each of the city's eight brew houses. Courtesy image.
The Wilmington Brewery Showcase, presented by Nest Realty, will feature samples of selections from each of the city’s eight brew houses. Courtesy image.

For nearly two decades, Lighthouse Beer and Wine has stocked its shelves with selections with regional and national craft brews.

These days, there are a lot more local bottles from which to choose.

To showcase and celebrate the rocket-fast rise of the Port City’s beer scene, Lighthouse is helping organize the Wilmington Brewery Showcase. Presented by Nest Realty – and co-sponsored by Lighthouse and 98.3 FM The Penguin – the event is set for Saturday, April 9 in the Audi Cape Fear showroom, 255 Old Eastwood Road.

Tickets for the premier sampling party, held during this year’s N.C. Azalea Festival, go on sale today (Tuesday) online through Port City Daily’s Concerts tab and Lighthouse Beer and Wine’s website. Just 400 will be sold.

Lighthouse co-owner Jason Adams, the driving force behind the business’ ever-popular annual Beer and Wine Festival, said the showcase came about as a direct response to the sudden spike in local brew houses.

“We’ve been here for 18 years,” Lighthouse co-owner Jason Adams said. “And for 18 years, we really only had Front Street Brewery until about two years ago. And then we had an influx of breweries popping up. We have always been pushing these other breweries from around the state and country…and we said, ‘Hey, we need to support these local guys. Why not push these great breweries in town?'”

As far as Adams is concerned, the Wilmington craft beer craze isn’t just a passing fad. Currently, the Cape Fear region has eight breweries: Wilmington Brewing Company, Flytrap Brewing, Broomtail Craft Brewery, Ironclad Brewery, Check Six Brewing Company, Good Hops Brewing, Front Street Brewery and Waterline Brewing Company. Each of those eight will be on hand during the showcase.

But that number will likely double in the next couple of years, according to Ted Coughlin, CEO of Ironclad. Capt’n Bill’s Backyard Grill is opening its onsite brewery, Bill’s Front Porch, this spring. Another three, Coughlin said, are planning to pop up this year in downtown Wilmington alone, with another four in the works across New Hanover and Brunswick counties.

Considering Wilmington is well on its way to being a draw for beer enthusiasts across the country, a la Asheville, Adams said now is the time to show residents and visitors alike what area brewmasters have to offer.

“It’s not going to slow down…Wilmington is going to become a destination brewery town. Asheville has the mountains and that’s a great appeal but here we have the beach,” he said.

The Wilmington Brewery Showcase will offer ticket-holders a chance to sip creations and chat with the brewers themselves in an intimate setting.

“We just want to show what we have here in town. It might be that someone says, ‘I always go to Wilmington Brewing but I’ve never tried out Broomtail,'” Adams noted.

The event will also feature live music from bluegrass trio Stray Local and food trucks will be onsite selling their fare.

Tickets are $25 now through March 31 and $30 beginning April 1 ($35 the day of the event) and include a souvenir glass. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Chords for a Cause, a Wilmington-based non-profit that aims to raise money for local and national charities while also growing and supporting area musicians.

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

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