Sunday, February 5, 2023

Wilmington’s oldest brewery to celebrate 25th anniversary Oyster Roast at new craft beer bar

Brewmaster Christopher McGarvey wheels a keg out of the Front Street Brewery last fall. The brewery, Wilmington’s oldest, is hosting its 25th anniversary Oyster Roast at a new bar located in the Cargo District. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — The city’s oldest brewery will host its 25th anniversary Oyster Roast and Tap Takeover at a new craft beer bar that has opened in the Cargo District.

Front Street Brewery will release its annual Mother Shucker Oyster Stout at the Alcove Beer Garden, the newest addition to contractor Leslie ‘Shawn’ Smith’s Cargo District project. The event will be held on Leap Day, Saturday, February 29, from 1 to 5 p.m.

RELATED: Alcove Beer Garden newest addition to Cargo District’s incubator hub the ‘Outpost’

For nearly a decade the stout has been released annually as part of Front Street’s collaboration with Eagle Island Seafood off Highway 421 and NoDa Brewing Company in Charlotte. Eagle Island supplies locally harvested Stump Sound oysters, where they’re trucked to the Charlotte brewery and added to the specialty batch of oyster stout.

Cans of the beer will be available at the party, along with drafts of Front Street’s Coastal Kölsch, Port City IPA, and Riptide Raspberry Wheat Ale.

Front Street marketing manager Ellie Craig, who recently took over as the president of the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance, said the decision to host the anniversary party at Alcove Beer Garden came from a collaborative spirit that exists within Wilmington’s craft beer industry. She also said it was a great way to help expose people to an up-and-coming Cargo District.

“Our area is developing, our population is growing,” Craig said. “Most people drink five minutes from their home. So the fact that there is another location where people can enjoy local craft beer in a cool environment — where people in the Carolina Place and Ardmore neighborhood can just walk to this new hub that is developing in an area of town that may not have been so desirable a couple years ago — that’s really cool to see. We want to be a part of that.”

The city’s oldest brewery will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the city’s newest craft beer bar, the Alcove Beer Garden in the Cargo District. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

In addition to the new bar — which shares space inside an old Quonset hut with Bespoke Coffee Outpost — the Cargo District is also home to a community of renovated shipping container homes, the recently opened End of Days Distillery, Queen Street Barbershop, Coworx, and several design and clothing companies.

The event also provides people the rare opportunity to drink Front Street beer outside of the brewery’s downtown location.

“We don’t distribute a lot of our product. We’re very specific where we want to get our beers out, and when we want to do that,” Craig said. “So seeing a Front Street Beer out in the wild is a novelty for sure.”

Eagle Island’s Sammy Flowers said the partnership began nearly 10 years ago when an employee noticed he was wearing an Eagle Island t-shirt and told him Front Street was looking for an oyster supplier for their collaboration beer.

For the specialty batch, Eagle Island is supplied by commercial fishermen who gather oysters from private leases and public waters in Stump Sound and Topsail Sound, and according to Flowers, they help create a well-balanced beer.

“It’s got a bit of the brine on the front end and kind of sweetens up with some chocolate. It’s a good smooth craft beer,” Flowers said.

Event details

  • What: Front Street Brewery’s 25th anniversary Oyster Roast
  • When: Saturday, February 29 from 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Where: Alcove Beer Garden (348 Hutchison Lane)
  • Tickets: $25 for all-you-can-eat oysters and pulled chicken nachos
    • Purchase here
    • First 200 ticket holders will get a ’25th Anniversary’ oyster shucker

Send comments and tips regarding Wilmington’s craft beer scene to or (970) 413-3815

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