We were fortunate enough to have Kendall Rogers from UNCW’s Professional Writing Program intern with us this last semester. She wrote the Meet the Brewers series, worked on social media projects,did some blog posts, and found a lot of local beer she liked. This is her last blog post. Thanks Kendall! Good luck as you move forward in your career.
Finding vegan food in a city that is known for its seafood can be tough sometimes. There have been many times where my meals out have consisted of a sad side salad and french fries. When I find out that there is a place with vegan options and good beer I am the first in line to go. (Most beer is vegan. Occasionally beer will have lactose or honey in it so if you are unsure just ask. ) Fortunately veganism is becoming more and more widespread and with it comes delicious vegan food.
Personally, I am vegan because of the animals and the environmental impact of factory farming. I obviously care about my health as well but there is a misconception that all vegan food is healthy. This is a straight up lie. This week I went to three different breweries and tried out some of the vegan options on the menu. I tried to stay away from classic vegan fare like salad but one time I couldn’t help myself. Sorry to be a stereotype.
Waterman’s Brewing Company
The first place I went to was Waterman’s Brewing Company. I quickly ordered the Winterberry Wit. It’s a Belgian Wit with
mandarin orange peels, orange zest, coriander, ginger, pink telicherry peppercorns, green telicherry peppercorns, cranberry, & boysenberry. I have never been to Waterman’s before but this beer made me want to come back every week. It had a great depth to its flavor while also still being light and refreshing. I had two.
My friend and I split the hummus which is homemade and comes with toasted pita points. We each had our pita fully coated in hummus so every bite was tasty. There was chili oil brushed on the pita and occasionally I would get a bit of spice which was very nice.
For my entree I got the Harvest Mixed Green Salad. It comes with beets, green onion, quinoa and blue cheese. I just asked for mine with no cheese and a side of tahini dressing. The beets were definitely my favorite part of the salad and the main reason I ordered the dish. They were tender and delicious. The tahini dressing tasted more like a sweet sesame dressing which the server warned me of before I ordered it. Overall the meal was good and I was the perfect amount of full afterwards.
Bill’s Front Porch Pub & Brewery
A few days later I went to Bill’s Front Porch. After much deliberation, I ordered a half-pint of the Citra Pale Ale. It is a hop-foward pale ale with notes of passionfruit and gooseberry. Hop-foward is definitely an accurate statement but it definitely had a fruity aftertaste. Personally, I was a bit bitter for my taste but I felt like I was discovering something new about it with every sip.
I decided not to get an appetizer because I didn’t feel like chips and salsa but my friend got that for her meal and said they were pretty darn close to K-38 greatness, which in my book is a 12/10.
I ordered the Pub Pesto Burger as my entree. It comes with your choice of grilled chicken, tofu or portobello, house pecan pesto, artichoke, yellow onion, roasted red peppers, spinach, tomato and smoked provolone on a ciabatta roll. I got mine with tofu and asked for no cheese and replaced the pesto with balsamic vinegar. The flavor was amazing! The tofu was perfectly seasoned and the veggies on top gave the sandwich a lovely depth of flavor. The artichokes were my favorite part of the sandwich because of their mild flavor and delicate texture. The sandwich came with seasoned steak fries which were delicious and crunchy. All in all a satisfying meal though I do wish the tofu was pressed longer to give it less of a soft texture.
Pub Pesto Burger
Citra Pale Ale
Bill’s Chips & Salsa
Wrightsville Beach Brewery
Last stop was Wrightsville Beach Brewery. I had heard rumors of there being an Impossible burger on their new menu and I wanted to check it out. The Impossible burger is a plant-based burger that imitates a cow-based hamburger. It apparently smells, sizzles, and even bleeds like a cow-based burger. According to their website, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. Needless to say I was pretty excited to try it but also apprehensive. I am not the biggest fan of plant-based meat alternatives but I had to try, for science.
I took my friend out to dinner who has never been to a brewery before and also was not entirely sure he liked beer. Since he was not sure which beers he would like, he decided to get a flight.
I got the Shandy Warhol; a light, summery drink that tasted like lemons.
For an appetizer we split the tempura cauliflower. Usually tempura has egg in the batter but WBB’s does not! We chose the sweet chili sauce since the buffalo sauce has butter in it. It was great! The texture of the cauliflower was perfect and the batter was not too heavy.
I ordered the Impossible burger with a side of veggies. It comes with lettuce, tomato, onion and a chipotle ranch sauce.
I just asked for it without the ranch and got Sriracha ketchup instead. It has been over three years since I have had a hamburger but holy cow the Impossible burger is insane. It tasted like a well-done hamburger. It even had the burnt crumbly bits that I remember burgers having. My friend, who had gotten beef sliders, tried a bite of mine and was amazed at how similar they were. With the shandy and the burger together I felt like I was at a summer barbecue.
Being vegan in the South can be difficult but being a vegan in Wilmington is getting easier every day. We are so lucky to have such great options and restaurants that are willing to accommodate different lifestyles. Be sure to check out all the options Wilmington’s breweries have to offer.
Photos Courtesy Wrightsville Beach Brewery
Wrightsville Beach Brewery, freshly opened to the public on January 21, will rank high on your lists of favorite hangouts. This beautiful, homegrown brewery features some of the most interesting people in the Port City.
Owner Jud Watkins, once a commercial fisherman, grew up in Wrightsville Beach and often gathered with friends and family to enjoy local seafood. Yet at each get-together, he and his father wondered why they never had any local beach beers to go along with it. At the time, only Front Street Brewery was open across town.
That was the beginning of the dream that has just become a reality. In honor of his late father, with whom Watkins dove into the world of home brewing, he is now venturing into the life of brewpub owner and production brewing. The story seems more like a feel-good American movie than your typical restaurant opening.
Chef David Owens says, “Of all the restaurants I’ve opened, this is the scariest.” And he has opened a lot. Born in Ireland, he has been a chef in 23 different countries, has earned three Michelin stars, and has even cooked a meal for Vladimir Putin. So why is this local brewery venture scarier than Putin? Because it’s the lifelong dream of a father and his son, and Owens feels that pressure daily.
“Please tell people to come,” were Owens’ last words to me, and although I simply chuckled, I should have assured him that they will.
First of all, Owens cooks with integrity. He doesn’t use fish that he can’t drive to pick up, which means he’s buying his seafood from local fisherman. You won’t see farmed salmon, flounder or grouper on his menu, but he may serve you some African pompano or sheepshead fresh from the ocean. He is the kind of person who inspires you to be better, eat cleaner, and think about the environment: No GMOs are allowed in his kitchen, and he uses the leftover grains from the brews in his pizza crust to reduce waste.
Brewer Kevin Zelnio started his professional brewing career in a barn in Sweden. Trying to forget about the brutally cold weather and high European taxes,
Photos courtesy Wrightsville Beach brewery
Zelnio brewed beers for the people in the small village in which he resided. They convinced him it was good enough to sell, and soon he had his own microbrewery, Bryggeri Fängelset, which you can still visit if ever traveling through northern Europe. Lucky for Wilmington, that weather eventually brought him back to the States. Although he did admit to being a regular consumer of Icehouse in college, he now loves creating his own beers using ingredients like parsley, sage, rosemary, ginger, orange peels, and honey. A stout, an amber ale, and their Puppy Drum Pale Ale will be the first beers on tap, but Zelnio has plans for many more brews in the near future. His specialty is session beers—beers that are only three to five percent alcohol. Such beers can be consumed on a lunch break or at times when someone may want to enjoy a few but not get excessively intoxicated.
Wrightsville Beach Brewery is committed to keeping the environment in mind as well as giving back to the community. Eighty percent of spent grain will be donated to a local cattle farmer, and the bar and tables were made with wood from the trees that used to be on the property. Before the first pour has even been served, Watkins and his crew have agreed to donate 11 percent of profits from the “beer of the month” to local charities. In a world plagued with greed and waste, these are the kind of business owners one can be proud to support.
When you step through the over-sized bay door into Poe’s Tavern your eyes are immediately drawn to the dark wooded décor and the paintings of Edgar Allan Poe that adorn nearly all wall space. A giant mural of the author himself is painted on an exposed brick wall and seems to stare at you no matter where you are in the restaurant.
To no one’s surprise, after adjusting to the lighting and taking a full five seconds to check out the interior, I headed to the bar. Greeted by two friendly and knowledgeable Wilmington natives, I looked over the tap list. The bar itself is large and two-sided with one side opening to the expansive deck. There are three large TV’s over the bar allowing you to grab some food, a couple beers, and watch an afternoon college football game. Looking over the tap handles to the deck you notice a mural on the side of the old MOI building depicting Wrightsville Beach glory days of surfing and the Lumina Pavilion. Charleston artist, Jaycie Rappold, painted that one summer in 100+ degree heat. She came back to Wrightsville Beach to paint the Poe mural on the back wall.
A few recommendations were made and I started with a Ballast Point Sculpin. 17 of 20 taps devoted to craft brews. Notable North Carolina favorites on tap include Lonerider Sweet Josie, Foothills Hoppyum, Red Oak (Reinheitsgebot!) , Carolina Brewing Sky Blue, Natty Green’s Southern Pale, and Highland Gaelic Ale. There was also a Westbrook White Thai to round out the Carolina tap showcase. Eastern NC favorites Duck-Rabbit and Mother Earth are also available in bottles.
Poe’s menu has several really good items but what you want are the burgers. A half-pound of medium-rare (or however you like them) delicious cow meat on a brioche bun. They can be made to order but I urge you to try one of the ten different Poe’s tavern styles. I was able to sample 4 different ones and they all were extremely tasty.
It has cheddar cheese, Applewood bacon, and a fried egg. Yep. A fried egg. I ate half of that one. I would apologize to the others tasting but I didn’t care. (Highland Gaelic)
No big deal. Just a crab cake on top of my burger with a house-made vegetable remoulade. It’s pretty much what you hoped it would be. The others got to this before I did. (Westbrook One Claw)
Garlic blue cheese and buffalo shrimp on my burger. The burgers are good but the buffalo shrimp were almost perfect. This is the first time that buffalo shrimp had been added to my burger. From this day forward all of my burgers should have buffalo shrimp. (Red Oak amber Lager)
I’m going to walk you through this. Take your typical half pound burger. Get rid of the bun. Put some delicious spicy fries under your burger. Dump a cup of chili over this. Add a fried egg on top of the chili. Cover in queso. Dig in. Die happy. (Carolina Brewery Sky Blue Golden Ale)
Bonus: Spiced Yellow Fin tacos with pineapple relish and chipotle sour cream.
A true surprise was the yellowfin tacos that were cooked perfectly rare and had a spicy, citrusy flavor that paired very well with my Foothills Hoppyum.
General Manager Travis Wilson promised that having a local Wilmington brewery on tap is in the works and drafts would be rotated often. I definitely think a Front Street ESB, Broomtail Moe Brown, Check 6 Pope Imperial Porter, or Good Hops Topless Amber would be a perfect addition. Go by Poe’s and grab a delicious burger and a couple of tasty brews and then stop by Lighthouse on your way out to pick up something a little more adventurous.
Poe’s Tavern opens this weekend and is a great addition to the Wrightsville Beach area.