Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sneads Ferry will get its first brewery by summer 2022

Preliminary plans have Topsail Brewery coming to 4 acres of land behind Rick’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in Sneads Ferry by summer 2022. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Located in Sneads Ferry, on the outskirts of North Topsail, a new craft brewery will launch in 2022, as the owners of Rick’s Restaurant are preparing to pull permits and clear land behind the sports bar. They’re making way for a 2,400-square foot brewery and taproom, according to Rebekah Pearson, with a goal to open Topsail Brewing Company by summer.

Pearson is the bar manager at Rick’s — an island favorite her family has owned and operated for almost two decades. She said preliminary plans will have Topsail Brewing constructed on 4 acres of land off Highway 210, near Northshore Country Club.

“Me, my grandfather and my dad decided about two years ago our community needs a brewery,” Pearson said.

The closest one is Salty Turtle, 12 miles south in Surf City.

Pearson said her dad, Rick Bumgardner — owner of contracting company Alliance Construction Corps that built about 100 houses on the island years ago — and her grandfather, Peter Matz, are Miller Lite drinkers. Pearson is into craft beers, like hefeweizens, sours, stouts and IPAs. Topsail Brewing will create a blend of all the above.

“But we want to have a really solid pilsner,” Pearson iterated. “You know, if you want to watch the NFL game, you’re not drinking a 6% IPA.”

Pearson said pilsners normally take longer to brew — “the lighter the beer, the longer it takes to ferment, which is opposite of what you would think” — something she learned in her research over the last few years. She has traveled to numerous breweries across the East Coast to understand the process. 

Locally, Rick’s team has collaborated with Edward Teach in Wilmington to create a specialty beer for one of the restaurant’s 16 taps (eight are local brews). Pearson also has visited Red Oak, Wicked Weed, Lonerider, and Accent Arrow Brewing, sitting in with brewers to “pick their brains.”

“We learned so much,” she said. “The craft beer community has been just awesome — so supportive. You think it’s gonna be a competitive market; instead, everyone is cheering you on. It’s refreshing to have that support.”

The brewery will be dog- and family-friendly, fenced in from the traffic of 210. Pearson said they plan to install an outdoor movie screen and fire pits. “Eventually, we want to do a miniature putt-putt course, like a couple holes for tournaments,” she added. 

The taproom will have a traditional seven-barrel system overseen by a brewmaster Pearson will be looking to hire as plans firm up in coming months. Aside from serving beer made on site — and possibly featuring a guest tap — Topsail Brewing will offer smaller kegs to distribute around the area, specifically to the burgeoning bottle shop scene exploding over the bridge, from North Topsail to Surf City.

“There’s, like, 10 different taprooms on the island now,” Pearson said.

The possibility to expand into canning is also in the long-term plan, as will getting into the seltzer game eventually.

Unlike most breweries, food trucks won’t populate the Topsail Brewing premises. Rather, a small Rick’s menu, only offered at the brewery’s taproom, will focus on pub grub and handhelds. The team will deliver food directly to patrons at the brewery, which will be backed up to Rick’s property.

“We’ve been here 19 years this year and we’ve been expanding every year,” Pearson said. “This naturally felt like our next step.”  


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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