The third stop on the Atlantic beach brewery tour was in Wilmington, NC. Wilmington is a very vibrant beach town on the southern coast of North Carolina, and and is also notable for being the home to one of UNC's campuses.
Off the coast of part of Wilmington is a strip of island called Wrightsville Beach, presumably named after the Wright brothers, who historically made a successful flying machine work a ways up the coast in Kitty Hawk. Wrightsville is only about ¼ wide, comprised of the Atlantic beach, ocean front property (houses, shops, and night spots, etc.) a beach road, and then another row of properties, and the the bay. The western coast is all marinas and private docks, so if you like sailboats (like I do), there is no shortage of eye candy between the beach and the marinas. I should also note it is one of the better surfing locations on the East Coast, and the beach was loaded with surfers during my brief afternoon hang on the beach.
Waterman's Brewing Company - Wilmington, NC
Beers are available at the taproom, and on tap at other drinking establishments throughout the region.
Waterman's Brewing Company is located just on the Wilmington side of the drawbridge that spans the two, in a little development filled with lots of places to eat (mom and pop), some shopping, etc. Having opened in 2017, taproom is very spacious, with a big bar down one side, a large floor filled up with tables, and then smally cozy nooks for other smaller parties. Outside there is a nice sized lit with overhead “christmas” type lighting. The brewery also has kitchen that was serving up all kinds of delicious treats, but as usual I didn't eat before my gig.
My first set got off to a rather low key start, as I had an early start time and it was a little slow as people trickled it. By the end of the set, two hours later, it was a different ballgame, as I played to a rather rowdy crowd of mostly young women, who danced and sang along. As the crowd built up to that point it was a good mix of younger and older folks, and they were all appreciative of the music. During my setbreak I was told by a lovely lady at the bar that she really dug my own songs, and the covers were the soundtrack to her life... so you can't do much better than that! I also had a somewhat tipsy younger lady repeatedly refer to me as “guitar guy” and barked at me to cut my break short and get playing. People..... I also had another young lady join me onstage (uninvited, but whatever...) to tell me she loved me. So this was the temperature this evening was cooking at....
I started the night sipping on Waterman's flagship, the Abundant Sunshine (6.6%) American IPA. Loaded with citrusy hoppy goodness, it was wildly refreshing ale, and perfect for sipping between songs on a warm evening. There are a million IPAs out there, but this one was so juicy and thirst quenching that had I just been here for leisure I probably would have stuck with it all night, it was that good. But alas, I had work to do... so I moved on to other beers on the menu.
My next beer was the Sandblaster (5%) Blonde Ale, which wasn't a bad beer, but it fell a little short after the superior Abundant Sunshine. There was nothing bad about the beer... it was just a lighter bodied brew than the IPA, more on the dry side, and the floral and citrusy notes weren't as much there, so it just seemed a bit thin compared to the other. If I had started with this one I'm sure I would have said it was a nice lighter drink, which it was, but I just wouldn't move to this one after first drinking the IPA.
For my second set I sipped on the Arribada (6.2%) session IPA. True to the genre, it was definitely a crushable session beer, with a little more body and flavor than the blonde, yet still a little more toned down than the IPA (as we'd expect). The pour was unexpectely light in color... a very light straw color, almost more like a light wine. Azacca and Ekuanot hops created a well balanced blend of tropical, pine, slightly bready notes. Crisp and refreshing, this I another one you could drink all day, which of course is the intent of a session... so mission accomplished!
My second set started off where the first one began, rather rowdy and upbeat with a lot of audience participation. As we neared the end of the night things mellowed out in a nice natural way, allowing me to play some quieter, more delicate songs as we landed softly and called it a night. Overall it was a very enjoyable night, and I'd look forward to coming back. As often happens, I forgot to take photos until the end, so you can see below what the place looks like, but this was after closing time.
Another beach brewery in the books, and I'm off to the next one.... Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston, NC...