Thursday, February 9, 2023

Beer Tracker: Seven holiday brews in Wilmington and the Cape Fear area

Surf City’s Salty Turtle Beer Company is coming out with the Turtle Tinsel, a Winter Warmer Ale brewed at 7% ABV. (Image of label courtesy Salty Turtle Beer Company)

WILMINGTON — Whether you need that perfect porter to pair with your Thanksgiving feast or a strong winter stout to take the edge off day-number-four of your grandparents in the guest room, we’ve come up with a list of seven breweries already gearing up for the holidays.

At Broomtail Craft Brewery, owner Barry Owings said the idea of the Jolly Elf, a holiday warmer ale, originally came from the “requests from the Beer Den managers of Lowes Foods.” Dan Callender of Salty Turtle Beer Company in Surf City said that their production manager, originally from Ohio, was tasked with brewing his own version of the Midwest’s popular Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company.

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And Brookes Musser, co-owner of Bill’s Brewing Company, said the name of their seasonal brew, Christmas Pants, came from a first cousin who always wore his favorite pants at their family get-togethers every Christmas.

Wherever and however the ideas came, here’s seven holiday brews in the greater Wilmington area:

Tiny Tim’s Christmas Ale

  • Brewery: Front Street Brewery
  • Style: Imperial vanilla java porter (8.5 % ABV)
  • Description: Front Street’s holiday brew, a high-alcohol porter blended with 25 gallons of cold steeped French vanilla coffee. “This is the most highly-anticipated beer of the year at FSB,” Ellie Craig, head of sales, said of the beer.
  • Release: November 29 (Black Friday), on tap at the brewery and at some local bottle shops (a rarity for FSB)

Cranberry Headed Ninny Muggins

  • Brewery: Wrightsville Beach Brewery
  • Style: Belgian Witbier (5.5% ABV)
  • Description: Their holiday seasonal release, brewed with fresh cranberries, coriander, cardamom, grains of paradise, and citrus peel. Also keep your eyes peeled for the Allyson’s Apple Pie Amber Ale, made with house-made apple pie (without the crust).
  • Release: Nov. 5

Turtle Tinsel

  • Brewery: Salty Turtle Beer Company
  • Style: Christmas Ale (7% ABV)
  • Description: Brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and local honey from Shaken Creek Farms in Burgaw. “Our take of the midwestern favorite Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co,” co-owner Dan Callender said. “Our production manager Dean Kelley, being from Massillon, Ohio, has to come up with his own version of the midwest favorite.”
  • Release: mid-December (cans and on tap)

Christmas Pants

  • Brewery: Bill’s Brewing Company
  • Style: Winter Warmer Ale (8.4% ABV)
  • Description: A full-bodied winter ale made with local sorghum, mace spice, allspice (also known as the Jamaican pepper), cinnamon, and orange peel.
  • Release: Thursday, December 5

Jolly Elf

  • Brewery: Broomtail Craft Brewery
  • Style: Holiday Warmer Ale (8.9% ABV)
  • Description: A malt-forward holiday seasonal brewed at 8.9% ABV with holiday spices and tart cherry. “Brewed originally with input/requests from the Beer Den managers of Lowes Foods,” owner Barry Owings said.
  • Release: Will be released in 22-ounce bottles, on draft in the tasting room and at Sour Barn, and other restaurants and bottle shops around town. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for a release date.

Belgian Chocolate Stout

  • Brewery: Flytrap Brewing
  • Style: Belgian Stout (7.7% ABV)
  • Description: Fermented with their house Belgian yeast, this stout is brewed with their house-made candy sugar and aged on Dominican cacao. “This year, for the first time, we are bottle conditioning a portion to provide customers with the ability to age this brew and experience how it evolves over time,” founder Mike Barlas said.
  • Release: Bottles and on draft, Friday, December 13

Howlet’s Wing

  • Brewery: Flying Machine Brewing Co.
  • Style: Imperial Brown Ale (9% ABV)
  • Description: Fermented with a Norwegian Farmhouse yeast to give it a citrus backbone, then aged on brûléed orange peel, maple syrup, vanilla bean, cinnamon bark, and milk sugar. “This beer is thick and delicious,” head brewer Carl Cross said. “It smells like Christmas morning.”
  • Release: Draft only, Friday, December 13

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