WILMINGTON — With more than a dozen craft breweries around town, the Port City is rapidly becoming one of the beer capitals of the southeast. In a few short weeks, downtown’s Brooklyn Art District will welcome the latest addition to the craft beer scene: Edward Teach Brewing and Taproom is preparing to open for business.
The brewery has been a long time coming. Almost four years ago, owner Gary Sholar began laying the groundwork for Edward Teach to become reality by signing a long-term lease on the old 4th Street Firehouse, located at 604 N. 4th St.
Since then, Sholar has secured ownership of the building, spending his time assembling an expert team to bring the brewery to life.
Sholar, who also owns a food processing fabrication company, always had a passion for the trade. But, he lacked the knowledge to operate a brewery on a commercial scale. However, that all changed after he met Jim Holden, a veteran brewer who’s been in the business since 1973.
“I retired four years ago,” Holden said with a laugh. “But, I got bored, and the industry continues to surprise me. We have an opportunity to make really good beer here.”
Using Holden’s wealth of knowledge, Edward Teach Brewing was born.
“We wanted something that was indigenous, and lent its self well to the region,” Sholar said. “Being that Blackbeard’s ship was located close here off the coast, and him having some presence here, it was a good fit.”
Edward Teach Brewing
The 10,000-sq. ft. facility will feature a brew house, a canning and bottling facility, as well as a two-story tap room. The tap room will offer guests a view of the brewery, in addition to the scenery of downtown Wilmington.
According to Sholar, the building was a perfect homage to the infamous pirate Blackbeard, being constructed in the historic “Queen Anne” style. The bar itself is built to look like the prow of a pirate ship, just like the “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” with curved lines, large windows and hanging lights giving patrons the impression of being at sea.
To one side, tap room doors open to what will soon be a large wooden deck that will offer outdoor seating, as well as views of the city facing down toward the Cape Fear River. On the second floor, a wrap around bar overlooks the activity below, not only of the bar area itself, but one of the largest brewing operations in the Port City.
“It’s probably the largest capacity in town, as far as I know,” Sholar said.
The brewery will operate a 20-barrel, three-vessel system, giving them plenty of space to brew “a lot of beer.” And that’s something Holden said he plans to take advantage of.
“The brew house is configured differently than most of the brew houses around here,” Holden said. “It’s a three-vessel operation, which allows us to make proper lagers. When it’s a two-vessel brew house, they’re more ale brewers, which is mostly what you have around here.”
Looking to expand their horizons, the team recruited Head Brewer Erik Peterson, formerly of Bull Durham Brewery out of Durham, N.C., to lead the day-to-day operations.
According to Peterson, Edward Teach will be brewing within the month, and aim to have a lineup of at least seven different brews on opening day.
“One of the styles we’re going with off the bat will be a black lager, it’s a ‘Schwartz’ beer style,” Peterson said. “It’s interesting, and it will break the perception that some people have of dark beers, where they’re kind of heavy and sweet. This will be a light refreshing beer style, but it still has that kind of black opaque color.”
“And, the ‘black’ works well with ‘Blackbeard,'” Holden added with a laugh.
Peterson said that the brewery also plans to offer a German lager, red IPA, session IPA, pale ale, Baltic porter, and a Kolsch, in addition to others.
“One of the things I see for creating a little more unique presence to our beers and tap room, is being able to have ‘one-offs’ of certain kegs,” Peterson said. “So, whenever we’re packaging our robust porter, take a few kegs, and add some local coffee grounds to it, local cold-press coffee, or local cocoa nib extract, so that it’s only served in the taproom. It gives you more of a reason to come experience the brewery, rather than just seeing what’s on the market.”
So, when will you be able to check it out yourself? According to Sholar, “soon.”
“We’ll be up and brewing within the next month,” he said. “The facility itself is 85 to 90 percent complete, really, we’re just waiting on electricity, and a few aesthetics, then we’ll be ready to go.”
Sholar said that for a grand opening celebration, the business is planning to team up with the Brooklyn Arts Center to throw a “block party,” to welcome the brewery to the area.
“We’re going to try to get the whole street closed down,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.
For the latest information, follow Edward Teach Brewing on Facebook.
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