Ranked as one of the best cities for beer drinkers by SmartAsset, Wilmington is home to 17 breweries and counting, each offering a unique selection of local and seasonal beers from IPAs and porters to sours and more. We invite beer aficionados to raise a glass and discover some of the area’s most noteworthy brews – as unique as the locales of the breweries themselves – on the best of a beercation to the North Carolina coast.
Wilmington’s Oldest Brewery
Enjoy award-winning craft brews and delicious pub fare at Front Street Brewery, Wilmington’s original restaurant and brewery. Offering 10 beers on draft and a variety of seasonal selections, you’ll find whatever kind of brew you’re craving. Try the brewery’s flagship Port City IPA, a refreshing blend of dry and fruity hop notes that dates back to the opening of Front Street in Historic Downtown Wilmington. If you’re looking for the ultimate sour, look no further than the magical Robot Unicorn Attack, delivering a sweet but tart flavor from black currant juice.
For something a little darker, opt for the Dram Tree Scottish Ale, offering flavors of dried fruit, chocolate and mocha. Or try Beam Me Up, Scotty, a rich and malty coffee porter made with local Port City Java Sumatran coffee.
Sip on a seasonal brew on the dog-friendly front patio this spring, like the Mother Shucker Oyster Stout, a one-of-a-kind beer made with fresh Stump Sound oysters. For a more traditional beverage, enjoy the Spring Brew, a French-style wheat lager with a slightly tangy flavor.
Steam Punk Sips
With carefully crafted beer recipes and a variety of choices for all palates, Flying Machine Brewing Company delivers innovative spins on brewery classics. For a hop-forward brew that isn’t overwhelming, sip on Ink Jet, a double IPA dealing out notes of passionfruit, tangerine and lime, while taking in the brewery’s intriguing Steam Punk interior. Sea of Tranquility, another unique option, blends together five different beers resulting in flavors of green apple and peach with a smooth finish.
One of the brewery’s most popular beers, Luscious, also comes in a delicious slushie, perfect for warm weather imbibing. The raspberry sour ale packs a tangy punch and is even more fun in frozen form. Enjoy it on the two-story outside patio bar overlooking a lake along the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail.
Hops and History
Located in a 1940s preserved warehouse, Waterline Brewing Co. focuses on six flagship ales. Sample one or all of the brews on a tour of the taproom, where the staff will take you through the renovation and updates of the historic building. Savor the rich, creamy finish of the Oatmeal Stout, with sweet flavors like dark chocolate and toffee that aren’t usually found in such a dark beer. Experience the essence of Germany with the signature Kölsch. Smooth and crisp, the blend of hops and citrus makes it the perfect beer to enjoy with an afternoon lunch or evening meal. Have a drink in the beer garden to enjoy beautiful views of the iconic Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.
Carrying the name of the infamous pirate Blackbeard, Edward Teach Brewing is set in a 100-year-old historic firehouse and features a two-story ship-shaped bar. Staples include IPAs like Scallywag Session, a light American wheat beer with aromas of pine and citrus, and Devil’s Son, a tropical but bready brew. Or, try the Teaches Peaches Peach Wheat, a light-bodied ale made with 80 pounds of peach and apricot puree.
Originated as a small homebrew shop, Wilmington Brewing Company now serves some of the locals’ favorite brews including IPAs, porters, stouts and more in a laid-back taproom that also includes a tasting room and homebrew supply store. Tropical Lightning, the brewery’s flagship West Coast IPA, is refreshing with a hint of bitterness, offering notes of citrus, mango and pineapple. The classic American Amber Ale is easy to drink, perfect for a variety of occasions, featuring notes of toffee and caramel.
Small Batch Brews
Specializing in American and Belgian-style ales, Flytrap Brewing Company serves beers at the peak of freshness. Located in the Brooklyn Arts District, this dog-friendly brewery also hosts live music and community events like art fairs and craft classes. Enjoy brews like The Belgian Blonde, a wheat ale with a honey and caramel-like sweetness, or the classic Saison, a Belgian farmhouse ale with notes of citrus and a peppery finish.
The brewery also offers a variety of seasonal selections and special releases. Sample the decadent Belgian Chocolate Stout, aged with Dominican cacao, or experiment with the Tart Blackberry Saison with Mint, a unique variation of the core Saison.
Wilmington’s first and only solar-powered brewery, Mad Mole Brewing, allows you to enjoy signature beverages while helping the environment. The seven-barrel system produces several taps including IPAs, stouts and ales. The brewery also offers 10 wine selections and a Black Currant Seltzer. Sip on the Marilyn MonMole in the outdoor beer garden, noting flavors of banana, citrus and florals. Or, try Ledermolsen, a light and crisp Pilsner perfect for a warm day.
Enjoy the brewery’s original IPA, Boston Mole Party, for something that’s ultra-refreshing with delicious fruity notes like grapefruit and blueberries. If you’re looking to turn to the dark side, try Darth Mole, an American Stout offering rich aromas of caramel, chocolate and coffee alongside prune, plum and raisin.
For a deeper dive into Wilmington’s standout breweries, discover Wilmington’s craft breweries and local brews for yourself by embarking on a self-guided brewery sampling tour along the Wilmington Ale Trail, offering neighborhood maps and information to help you taste your way across town.
Find the perfect place to stay and cheers to a beery getaway at the coast!
* Please note that some craft beers referenced are seasonal and may not be available.