Inaugural North Carolina beer month comes to Wilmington

Patrick Wagner | Photography Editor


North Carolina kicked off its first North Carolina Beer Month Monday, April 1. The North Carolina Division of Tourism and the North Carolina Brewer’s Guild chose April to celebrate over 75 North Carolina craft breweries across the state. Throughout the month, tourists can find special tours of breweries and beer specials at participating breweries and restaurants.

According to the North Carolina Beer Month website, North Carolina has the most breweries of any state south of Pennsylvania and east of Texas. The website highlights many beer trip ideas which include Asheville, Charlotte and the Outer Banks. 

Front Street Brewery, located in downtown Wilmington, contributed to the festivities by hosting a 100-person dinner, which included a five-course beer pairing menu and live music by local band Mac and Juice. Each course featured North Carolina grown meats, fish and produce. And of course, beer.

“We got on board to spread the word,” said Kevin Kozak, brewmaster at Front Street Brewery. “It’s great for North Carolina.”

Kozak has been brewmaster at Front Street Brewery for seven years. He attended the preliminary Beer Month meetings in Raleigh, at the North Carolina Division of Tourism, to help bring North Carolina Beer Month to Wilmington. He also initiated talks between Front Street Brewery and Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing to create an oyster stout that was on tap at Front Street’s April 11 dinner. 

“It was natural to do an oyster stout with Front Street,” said head brewer at NoDa Brewing, Chad Henderson. “The ball has really started rolling.”

“It’s beer totally from North Carolina,” said Chris Levesque, general manager of Front Street Brewery.

A local restaurant from Eagle Island donated the oysters for the stout. NoDa Brewing boiled the meat from a bushel of oysters in the mash.

“You have this warmy-rounded flavor that gets cut by the grinny, sharp character of the oyster,” said Henderson.

The NoDa head brewer brought ten kegs of the oyster stout from Charlotte to Wilmington for the dinner, and to be served on tap at Front Street Brewery for the remainder of the month. 

“We want the consumer to know that there is something for everyone when it comes to craft beer,” said Levesque. “North Carolina is growing quickly to be a premier beer state and we want people to know that.”

Front Street Brewery is also offering five, 5oz. samples of their Flagship Flights for $5 all month long, as part of North Carolina Beer Month.