Wednesday, February 8, 2023

You can pour yourself a beer, or sample dozens more, at Pour Taproom downtown

Located in the Murchinson Building in downtown Wilmington, Pour Taproom takes a different approach to customer service, allowing guests to pour themselves samples of over 50 beers and eight wines.
Located in the Murchinson Building in downtown Wilmington, Pour Taproom takes a different approach to customer service, allowing guests to pour themselves over 50 beers and eight wines by the ounce. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

WILMINGTON — The Pour Taproom in downtown Wilmington lets customers pour themselves a sample – or a full glass – of over 50 beers (and eight wines).

Pour also features a full kitchen, serving a variety of sandwiches, hot dogs, flatbreads and small bites. But the first thing customers are likely to notice is the expansive wall of beer taps.

Pour features dozens of taps, arranged from ciders to Belgian-style to dark stouts.
Pour features dozens of taps, arranged from ciders to Belgian-style to dark stouts. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

How it works

Owner Brian Ballard explained how it works.

“You check in at it the front, we run your credit card and you get an RFID (radio frequency identification) bracelet. Then we’ll have someone walk you over to the taps and get you started,” Ballard said.

On the ground floor, 42 taps are arranged from light ciders to dark stouts, with sours, Belgians and IPAs in between. A screen above the tap includes information about the beer, including International Bitterness Units (IBU), alcohol by volume (ABV), and the cost per ounce.

“We’ve got a wide variety and we’ll be changing out 85 percent of our taps down here,” Ballard said. “So we’ll always have something interesting to try. We’ll also have some special collaboration. Hi-Wire Brewing and Unknown Brewing have done beers that you can only try here.”

Pour feature several limited-run collaborations, like this cucumber Kolsh by Unknown Brewing out of Charlotte. Screens above the taps provide additional information about the beers.
Pour feature several limited-run collaborations, like this cucumber Kolsh by Unknown Brewing out of Charlotte. Screens above the taps provide additional information about the beers. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)
Pour feature several limited-run collaborations, like this cucumber Kolsh by Unknown Brewing out of Charlotte. Screens above the taps provide additional information about the beers. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

There are also eight wines – four whites and four reds – on tap in a special area Ballard built inside the 1920s-era bank vault. The 3-inch-thick reinforced steel walls initially caused the wine “cellar” to heat up, and easily defeated Ballard’s attempts to drill through them to run air-conditioning ducting. Eventually, he was able to disassemble the vault’s original “talk box,” and mount an A/C unit. Ballard also kept the original vault door.

The original 1920s bank vault from Murchinson Building has been turned into a wine room, featuring four whites and four reds on tap.
The original 1920s bank vault from Murchinson Building has been turned into a wine room, featuring four whites and four reds on tap. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

Upstairs, another 10 taps are reserved for local beers from North Carolina. Ballard said he hopes to specifically Wilmington beers.

“Anyone brewing in town, they can have a tap here. I’ll happily buy it and have it on tap,” Ballard said. “I don’t want to compete with those breweries, I want to highlight them and celebrate them. I’m going to have the Wilmington Ale Trail pamphlets mounted so that people can try the beer and then go out and visit the breweries,” Ballard said.

Ballard said he will have a tap available for any local brewery that wants to serve their beer at Pour. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

An important note

One important thing to know: customers can pour their own beer, but it’s not unlimited. Some high-ABV beers are limited to 6-ounce pours, and all customers are capped at 32-ounces (or two pints).

“It’s simple, but we wanted to be clear about it, after 32 ounces the RFID will stop working, we’ll just come over and check in with you. We’ll have a conversation and make sure you’re okay, then we can turn the bracelet back on,” Ballard said.

The red RFID bracelet will let customers pour up to 32 ounces. After that, a quick conversation with management to make sure they are okay to keep drinking. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

A labor of love

Ballard had initially hoped to open early in the year, but had trouble with his contractor. So, he took over the project himself, “with a lot of help from friends and family.”

Ballard said, “the place needed work, don’t get me wrong. I came in here for the first time and there was dust everywhere, there were pigeons flying around,” Ballard said. “But the ceiling’s molding, the vault, the feel of the place, it felt really special to me.”

Ballard credited the help of family, friends – including neighbors who helped paint logos and a partner who helped with the design and construction of the space – with getting the project to the finish line.

Down the line, Ballard has additional plans for Pour, including expanding the second floor to include a pool hall and, ultimately, connecting to a rooftop area where he hopes to open a brick-oven pizzeria.

“That’s down the line, though,” Ballard said. “Right now, I’m very happy to be open, to see people come in and enjoy themselves.”

Pour Taproom’s hours are currently 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Thursday, and 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Pour is located at 201 N. Front St. on the first two floors of the historic Murchinson Building. More information, including automatically an automatically updated list of beers on tap (coming soon), is available here,


Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at ben@localvoicemedia.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.

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