Who’s got the best brew? Wrestling style championship rings in Cape Fear Craft Beer Week

“We’re using the word championship very loosely. I mean someone is making a beer made with seaweed and chocolate.” --- Jeremy Tomlinson, organizer of Cape Fear Craft Beer Week

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WILMINGTON – What better way to kick off the spring Cape Fear Craft Beer Week than to have a no-holds barred, head-to-head royal rumble featuring the area’s brew masters?

Hosted by The Fieldhouse at TOPS Athletics, the official start to beer week begins Friday, March 24, when fermentation comes together with a WWE style event for the first ever Ultimate Brewing Championship.

How would you feel about a nip made with blueberries and basil? How about sea salt and cucumbers? What about Texas Pete hot sauce and oysters?

In mid-January, 12 local breweries gathered in downtown Wilmington to select ingredients out of hat they they will use to create a unique brew for the battle.

The first ever Ultimate Brewing Championship will kick off Cape Fear Craft Beer Week.
The first ever Ultimate Brewing Championship will kick off Cape Fear Craft Beer Week.

“It’s going to be a really fun night,” said Jeremy Tomlinson, organizer of Cape Fear Craft Beer Week. “We’re using the word championship very loosely. I mean someone is making a beer made with seaweed and chocolate. It’s more about the brewers versus their ingredients.”

Each brewery drew one of 12 North Carolina ingredient combinations. Who drew what components have been kept secret, all leading to a blind tasting to crown this year’s champion.

The Fieldhouse at TOPS Athletics on North Green Meadows Road is home to many of the adult sports leagues in town and is specifically geared toward activities associated with health and fitness, not necessarily things involved with sipping old grandpa’s cough medicine. But, for one night only, The Fieldhouse will open its doors to beer enthusiasts to help crown Wilmington’s ultimate brewer.

“The brewers will be there and we’re really trying to play up the wrestling theme,” Tomlinson said. “We have a wrestling belt for the champion. We want this to be fun. We have a fog machine, entrance music for each brewer and a ring announcer.”

Wilmington Brewing Company will be one of the participants at Ultimate Brewing Championship. Photo courtesy- Cape Fear Craft Beer Week.
Wilmington Brewing Company will be one of the participants at Ultimate Brewing Championship. Photo courtesy- Cape Fear Craft Beer Week.

While none of the brewers would spill the beans when it came to which ingredients they’ve been tasked to work with, Donnie Stone of Bill’s Front Porch, 4238 Market St., was excited about the chance to put his brew master’s skills to test.

“We really get along with all the brewers and breweries in the area,” Stone said. “It’s a great lineup for craft beer week and to kick off the event in a fun way is a great idea. Jim, our head brewer, has been doing his research and we’re looking forward to it. I don’t know if we’re more excited about brewing the beer or coming up with costumes to wear to it.”

Sponsored by The Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance, Cape Fear Craft Beer Week 2017 is scheduled for March 24 through April 2. The event looks to build a tradition of celebrating the regions thriving craft beer culture.

The 10-day festival will feature events across the Port City showcasing beer brewed in the Cape Fear Region. It also invites participants to explore the different venues and craft cuisine offered around Wilmington.

For amateur brew masters, Port City Plunder might be the chance to have your crown jewel of suds assessed. The homebrew competition is set for Saturday, March 25 at Front Street Brewery.

Airlie Gardens will be hosting its Cape Fear Craft & Cuisine event on Saturday, April 1, where chefs’ will pair their finest cuisine with both local and North Carolina craft beer.

Breweries across Wilmington have been designated a time to host events throughout the week. Bills Front Porch will host a pig pickin’, with live music, a farmer’s market and possibly a bottle release from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, March 26.

Bills Front Porch has one of 12 local breweries involved in Cape Fear Craft Beer Week. Photo courtesy- Bills Front Porch.
Bills Front Porch has one of 12 local breweries involved in Cape Fear Craft Beer Week. (Photo courtesy of Bills Front Porch)

“We have a beer week in the fall and we thought, why not host a beer week in spring?” Tomlinson added. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase local craft beer and craft beer locally, whether it’s local bottle shops, the breweries all leading into North Carolina Beer Month in April.

“It’s a perfect chance to highlight Wilmington’s growth,” he said.

For tickets or information on Cape Fear Craft Beer Week, visit the event’s website.

Breweries participating in the Ultimate Brewing Championship include:

  • Flytrap Brewing (319 Walnut Street)
  • New Anthem Beer Project (116 Dock Street)
  • Wilmington Brewing Company (824 South Kerr Avenue)
  • Waterline Brewing Company (721 Surry Street)
  • Front Street Brewery (9 North Front Street)
  • Bills Front Porch (4238 Market Street)
  • Broomtail Craft Brewery (6404 Amsterdam Way)
  • Wrightsville Beach Brewery (6201 Oleander Drive)
  • Ironclad Brewery (115 North Second Street)
  • Check Six Brewing Company (5130 Southport-Supply Road)
  • Prestige Brewing (509 Castle Street)
  • Watermans Brewing Company (1610 Pavilion Place)

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