Tuesday, June 28, 2022

One year on: Wrightsville Beach Brewery still building on its niche with gratitude to locals

Wrightsvilee Beach Brewery is celebrating a year in businesses Saturday with a 'beerthday' celebration. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY JUD WATKINS)
Wrightsvilee Beach Brewery is celebrating a year in businesses Saturday with a ‘beerthday’ celebration. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY JUD WATKINS)

WILMINGTON — Weekly farmer’s markets, monthly five-course beer and wine dinners, and live music at least twice a week are just a few of the staple events that Wrightsville Beach Brewery has coined over the past year.

Owner and co-owner Jud and Amber Watkins opened the doors of their business on Jan. 20, 2017. This Saturday, they will be commemorating a year of business with a “beerthday” celebration.

“Four new beer releases, three days of specials, two bands, for our first anniversary,” Jud said, noting the numerical theme.

Kicking off the celebration on Friday will be the unveiling of a beer dubbed “Mindboggler.” However, most of the fun extends into Saturday with the brewery’s first ever small batch bottle release, which is first come, first serve.

Saturday will also encompass a performance by Daniel Shearin of River Whyless, followed with a later show by the Folkstone Stringband.

Jud credits his general manager Rick Grant for championing the push for live music. Grant was even the one to come up with the venue’s reggae Sundays that ensue during the warmer months and have grown to attract a crowd.

Wrightsvilee Beach Brewery is celebrating a year in businesses Saturday with a ‘beerthday’ celebration. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY JUD WATKINS)

Nearly every performer that the brewery books lives in the area, and if not local to the immediate community, they’re native to North Carolina.

Continuing the ode to our community, the Watkins implemented the 11 percent program in which one beer per month is dedicated to one nonprofit in Wilmington.

“For 11 months of the year, we pick a beer and we give 11 percent of the proceeds of that beer to a local nonprofit,” Jud explained. “Then in December, we did all 11– we gave back to all 11 of them.”

Jud praised the hard work of his now 40 plus employees for jumping on board with the 11 percent program. He said the staff works hard to pipe up the beer of the month to make sure a significant contribution can be made to each nonprofit.

The 11 percent program led more nonprofits to reach out to inquire about holding fundraisers. This lead to a second means of giving back to the community by providing event space for fundraisers.

A number of the fundraisers were oyster roasts, which Jud Watkins admitted is a little unconventional, but it’s also what this home-grown hangout takes pride in, other than their beer.

“The idea is if we do the ample amount of planning, we can be charitable from day one instead of 20 or 30 years from now. I love this community, so I wanted to find a way to give back to it,” Jud said, who grew up fishing and oystering along our coast.

Since he has such close ties with the nearby fisheries, Jud is able to get some of the freshest seafood in town. He said most of his days start off by deciding where to get the menu’s fresh catch or where the oysters will come from for that week, which often times, is only a few miles away.

For the year ahead, Jud plans on making the food menu even more fresh and expanding their barrel aged beer program and canning options. He also wants to start distributing brews to bars around town.

Jud joked, “Our hope is in the next 10 years to buy out Budweiser and take it back to its local roots.”

Wrightsville Beach Brewery will be having oyster specials all weekend, with the celebration kicking off on Friday. Visit the Facebook event page for more details.

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