Monday, March 4, 2024

Thanksgiving palate quenchers: Local breweries release seasonal flavors

Bill’s Brewing Company is serving three flavors perfect for upcoming holiday affairs, including Christmas Pants Winter Warmer Ale, Jim’s Breakfast Stout and a soon-to-be released Samoa Cookie Porter. (Port City Daily/File)

WILMINGTON, NC—Some say the success of a great meal comes in its company. Depending on who all gathers ‘round the Thanksgiving table this year, who else is inclined to point to its alcoholic pairings as the true winners on Nov. 26?

(I mean, if Uncle Joe shows, he’s definitely lighting up his snark star over the 2020 election results, so drinks aplenty will be in order. Amiright?)

Every nibble of turkey and dressing will be elevated by the seasonal elixirs Wilmington’s breweries are pumping out, currently. A few below have new flavors to placate most palates (and points of view) for Turkey Day 2020.

6404 Amsterdam Way
Haven’t had enough pumpkin spice in your life, yet? Broomtail’s Kacey’s Curcurbita, a pumpkin spice saison, may help curb the cravings (or intensify them). 

“It’s a very easy drinking saison, with mellow pumpkin base and just enough clove and cinnamon to complement the flavor as a special part of a holiday meal,” Broomtail owner Barry Owings explains.

The beer comes on draft for $6 per 16 ounces, as well as in 16-ounce cans (which are filled to order for extra freshness), and growlers are $11 per 32 ounces or $20 per 64.

As soon as the last slice of pumpkin pie is finished off — both in solid and liquid forms — Broomtail will be rolling out its Jolly Elf in December. Owings calls it Broomtail’s “holiday warmer,” thanks to its 8.9% ABV.

”This big ale has bold flavors of vanilla, cherry and winter spices,” he described.

It retails for $6 per 12-ounce draft, $8 per 16-ounce can, and growlers are $15 for 32 ounces and $28 for 64.

4712 New Centre Dr. #100
Currently, coming out of Skytown’s brewhouse is a bright, yet earthy, light brew. Pretty Witty is a Belgian witbier that owner Hayley Jensen praises for its easy drinkability.

“Pretty Witty is citrusy and clean, and really washes down the heavy meal,” she said. “It’s definitely an approachable people-pleaser.” 

Notes of lemon and rosemary complement Thanksgiving flavors, like sage and cranberry.

“It also leaves lots of room for good food,” Jensen added.

Pretty Witty is available in kegs or crowlers ($10).

4107 Oleander Dr., Ste. H
Panacea knows its booch, and can provide hard and light sips to accompany the big meal.

The restaurant’s cranberry-ginger kombucha beer will sweeten the palate for those earthy, garlic-roasted root veggies. The beer retails for $9 in a 16-ounce pint (refills are $6), $11.50 for a 32-ounce liter ($7.50 a refill), and $19 for a 64-ounce growler ($14 a refill).

Panacea is also giving non-alcoholic drinkers a place at the table with plenty of regular kombucha up for grabs and in multiple flavors: plum chai, sweet potato pie, caramel apple dream, mulled apple cider and pumpkin spice. 

“They have been incredibly popular every year we offer them,” marketing director Bethany Carpenter said, “as they are exactly the types of flavoring/tastes customers are craving this time of year.”

Panacea sells its kombucha in three growler sizes: 16 ounce is $7 ($4 refill); 32 ounce is $11.50 ($7.50 refill); and 64 ounce is $29 ($24 refill).

New seasonal flavors of kombuchas are available now at Panacea Brewing Company, including a cranberry-ginger kombucha beer and nonalcoholic varieties, like caramel apple dream and mulled apple cider. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Panacea)

604 N 4th St.
Located in the Brooklyn Arts District, Edward Teach Brewery began releasing its holiday flavors on Halloween and will continue to do so through Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 25. 

They have been serving their 7.5% ABV Pontus DIPA, a double dry-hopped beer with El Dorado, Amarillo and Mosaic. It has a tropical tangerine and grapefruit flavor, light enough to still indulge all those starchy foods at the table.

Edward Teach’s Graveyard Tan Blonde Stout (6% ABV) came out on Nov. 13 and includes roasted malts that mimic a stout. Yep, it’s blonde—but its mouthfeel will trick drinkers with full profiles of cacao, coffee, vanilla and cinnamon — a perfect complement to dessert. 

On Nov. 25 Edward Teach will offer its Breakfast at Teach’s Imperial Brown (8.5% ABV), a perfect wake-me-up for that Macy’s Day Parade on Nov. 26. It’s deep and rich with coffee and malty chocolate notes, full-bodied with Vermont maple, vanilla and cinnamon. 

All prices are $5 a pint or individual can, $8 for a flight (four 5 ounce pours), $14 for four- or six-packs and 32 ounce growlers ($9 refills), or $22 for 64-ounce growlers. 

9 N Front St.
Front Street Brewery churns out many flavors a year, but the holidays are their shining hour, according to Ellie Craig, manager of sales and public relations.

“Tiny Tim’s Christmas Ale is our most highly anticipated beer release of the year,” she said.

The imperial porter is filled with vanilla and java, plus roasted chocolate malts, Madagascar vanilla bean and coffee.

“It pairs best with roasted beef, like prime rib or steaks, and also works well with chocolate sweets and desserts,” Craig explained.

The beer retails for $10.99 for 32-ounce growlers (get a two-pack for $20) or $5.99 on draft in-house.

6201 Oleander Dr.
Love oyster dressing? How about honey-spiraled ham? Wrightsville Beach Brewery’s Coastal Honey Lager will make a perfect pairing for either. Owner Jud Watkins calls the lager, which is made with local honey, “light and easy.”

If Thanksgiving’s sweet finishes tickle your fancy more, then go ahead and load up: Grab a slice of pecan and apple pies, and top it off with Wrightsville Beach Brewery’s Sweet Potato Pie Ale.

“It’s as sweet as your favorite Turkey Day dessert,” Watkins promises. “We also have our stout back out and it is available in cans.”

All brews are available by the pint and as growlers from the brewery’s taproom; each varies in price.

4238 Market St.
Two new winter and holiday seasonals are pouring at Bill’s, each full-bodied, with high ABV to warm your gullet as temps cool down.

Appropriately called “Christmas Pants Winter Warmer Ale,” it taps in at 8.2% ABV. The brown ale’s notes of sweet malts and pie spices are made with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and sorghum, sure to heighten every scoop — and additional scoop — of sweet potato casserole.

“Notes of holiday cheer and seasonal celebration are in every sip,” sales director Nicholas Alexander said.

Bill’s also is serving up Jim’s Breakfast Stout (9.1% ABV). Made with Lucky Joe’s cold-pressed Sumatran coffee, the imperial stout includes grade-A maple syrup, 100% cacao nibs, roasted malts and oats. Alexander praises its “smooth thick finish.”

And that’s not all Bill’s has brewing.

‘Tis the season for milk and cookies! Bill’s is coming through with its Somoa Cookie Porter (6.7% ABV), created to mimic the famed Girl Scout cookie. The American porter is made with toasted coconut flakes, rich caramel syrup and 100% cacao nibs.

“[It] will become available in the next seven to 10 days, as soon as the conditioning process finishes,” Alexander said.

All of Bill’s brews are available in the taproom for $6 a pint or to-go in a 32 oz crowler for only $12 to share with the family.

Have ideas, tips or comments about southeastern NC’s dining scene? Email Shea Carver at

Shea Carver
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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