IRONCLAD BREWERY

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WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

A few blocks from Wilmington’s waterfront lies the Medieval-inspired IRONCLAD BREWERY. Open February ’15 and visited pre-dinner June ’16, Ironclad’s a jumbo-sized public house with a spacious ground level and barn-topped loft area (with elegantly elongated wood-stained L-shaped bars and multiple tap handles).

Preserving the original structure of the brick-walled pub, previously an auto body repair shop, was essential to maintaining its historic integrity.

Upon entering the stone castle-designed edifice (with oversized Chamber-styled wooden front door), customers are welcome to the rustic Old World ambiance of the low-ceilinged, cement-floored, Industrial-styled ground floor. Upstairs, a balcony lounge area with vast seating (sometimes used for banquets and weddings) surround the classic 25-seat bar.

My wife and I grab seats at the bar and get the hummus with crackers (also available were chicken wraps, sandwiches, pretzels and popcorn). New brewer Laren Avery will bring his own recipes to the expansive beer menu that included ten well-rounded house brews and a few excellent local microbrews upon my springtime perusal.

Sweet honeyed Lydia’s Lager brought Helles-like pilsner malting to Noble hop spicing and a snickering lemon lick. Nearly as light-bodied, honey-spiced Old Baldy Golden Ale retained a laid-back lemony orange tang.

Fine English-styled moderation, Fish Tale Pale Ale, coalesced sweet orange peel, dried cherry and caramel apple over light dry hop bittering. Earthen amber grains picked up cherry, fig and apricot tones for Nash’s Irish Red Ale.

Easygoing Cape Fear Defender IPA let lemon-dried grapefruit peel tartness contrast sweet crystal-malted melon and honeydew snips above soft piney hop astringency. Spicier and pinier than the aforementioned Defender, Teddy Hopper Double IPA placed lemony orange-peeled grapefruit rind bittering above syrupy peach sweetness and white-sugared barley malts.

Girardelli white chocolate infused White Squall White Chocolate Brown Ale, a sweet, soft-toned, sessionable dessert treat with subtle fig-dried spicing.

Nutty mocha-fronted India Brown Ale contrasted glazed pecan and hazelnut sweetness against seared walnut astringency as mild mocha malting reached the surface and subtle perfumed hops wafted beneath. Cask-conditioned India Brown Ale, regaled with peach, plum and date adjuncts, retained the original version’s perfumed nuttiness and a more definitive fruited flavor profile.

Brewer Avery’s newest elixir, Laren’s Black IPA, lifted dried cocoa, black chocolate and coffee tones above charcoal-hopped black grape and blackberry rasps.      

www.ironcladbrewery.com

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FLYTRAP BREWING

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WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

Everyone should have a true blue neighborhood brewery as friendly, convenient and cozy as Wilmington’s inconspicuous FLYTRAP BREWING. About a half-mile up the hill from the waterfront at the Brooklyn Arts District and “specializing in small-batch Belgian and American ales,” Flytrap’s entrepreneurial brewer, Mike Barlas, opened this kind boutique pub in October 2014.

Tucked into a residential community, its white stucco brick exterior and white brick interior provide a clean sheen. The raw space features an aluminum ceiling with heavy metal girds.  The brewtanks behind the centralized 16-seat wooden bar serves eight tables with twelve tapped selections (four home brews were available for my June ’16 late-afternoon sojourn). Eight outside picnic tables provide plenty of room on this clear blue-skied Saturday.

Flytrap’s best selling flagship, an approachable moderation called Rehders Red, brought lightly spiced orange and apple fruiting to caramel-roasted sweetness, providing dry yellow-wooded hop astringency for contrast.

Dry-bodied Saison draped lemon meringue, orange marmalade, white grape esters and sour lemon onto its buttery Chardonnay finish, picking up mild banana daiquiri tones as well.

Atypical Rye Pale Ale weaved dry rye and spiced fig into unexpected pine lacquering and wispy herbal gestures.

Bittersweet dark-fruited mocha malting inundated lightly embittered Stout, a medium-bodied dark ale with blackberry, black cherry and black grape snips as well as dry plank wood reminders.

www.flytrapbrewing.com

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THE COPPER PENNY

WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

A uniquely casual Philadelphia sportsbar in the heart of Wilmington, THE COPPER PENNY is arguably the finest beer pub in the city. Up the road from the waterfront on Chestnut Street, The Copper Penny boasts multiple draught taps, sundry Philly sports paraphernalia and wooden furnishings in a cozily clustered saloon setting.

Packed to the hilt on a Saturday in June ’16, my wife and I congregate at the 30-seat L-shaped right side bar. A backside open kitchen serves sandwiches, burgers and other pub fare to go alongside a cornucopia of local and national tapped beers and assorted liquors. TV’s are scattered across the walls with framed photos, banners and historic nostalgia. Besides the Phillies, Flyers, Eagles and 76ers memorabilia, there are Sylvester Stallone’s stalwart Rocky pix and several craft beer signposts crowded together.

On my one-hour visit, I quaffed Coronado Berry the Hatchet Fruit-Infused Wheat Ale and Natty Greene’s Smoked Peach IPA, a few previously untried hybrids reviewed in full in Beer Index.

All Wilmington-bound beer enthusiasts are encouraged to give the The Copper Penny a spin.

copperpennync.com

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PERSIMMONS WATERFRONT RESTAURANT

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NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA

Along the pristine Neuse River in an exquisite seaside setting at historic Colonial town, New Bern, PERSIMMONS WATERFRONT RESTAURANT offers some of Carolina’s finest draught beer. Its 12-seat central bar services a luxurious indoor dining space, large outdoor deck and upstairs banquet room.

At the tiger wood-topped bar, my wife and I enjoy a few new Carolina brews during our one-hour stopover on the way to Wilmington during June ’16. I’d been dying to try the excellent Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout for years and finally got the chance on this sunny weekday afternoon. Nearly as worthy was Double Barley Thrilla In Manila Porter (both are reviewed in Beer Index).

Persimmons’ local tapped ales, fine wines, liquors and creatively upscale food will suit seasoned connoisseurs, gastropub enthusiasts, casual seafaring folks and young families alike.

www.persimmonsrestaurant.net

 

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FOOTHILLS SEXUAL CHOCOLATE (2016)

On tap at Persimmons, mighty fine chocolate-malted full body set the world afire upon initial 2006 release. Rich brown chocolate entry picks up immediate vanilla bean, fudged brownie, milked espresso and Black Forest cake influence over dark-roasted hop char. Serene bourbon warmth, sugared Blackstrap molasses syruping and pureed black cherry tartness add further luster to luxuriously velveteen creamy chocolate essence.

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DOUBLE BARLEY STEAKCAKE STOUT

Smoothly creamed dark ale offers fudgy black chocolate syruping to toffee, coffee and vanilla interludes. Dark-roasted hop bittering contrasts sugary mocha molasses surface.

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DOUBLE BARLEY THRILLA IN VANILLA

On tap at Persimmons, luxurious vanilla-doused ‘spiced herb’ porter retains rich mocha influence and bourbon molasses glaze above dark-roasted hop bittering. Beaming vanilla bean theme abruptly guarded by sugary brown chocolate and rum-soaked cacao nibs. Seriously sweet dessert treat.

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NATTY GREENE’S LEXINGTON SMOKED PEACH SPRING IPA

Curious springtime IPA more reliant on smoky beechwood-malted Band-aid astringency than overwhelmed peach adjunct and stylish citric zest. Peachy apricot and fig tones and mild floral nuances fail to gain efficient strength against dry smokiness.

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DESTIHL WEISSENHEIMER HEFEWEIZEN

On tap at Flytrap, adequate moderate-bodied hefe brings zesty lemon spritz to stylish banana-clove-bubblegum triumvirate as well as cotton-candied vanilla sweetness. For contrast, dry plantain starching seeps into sourdoughed banana-clove continuance.

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CORONADO BERRY THE HATCHET

Summery fruit-infused wheat ale utilizes tart blackberry, red raspberry and boysenberry adjuncts to contrast light lemony blueberry-cranberry souring to wafer-sugared honey wheat spine.

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AMBULANCE 2nd ANNIVERSARY PARTY ROCKS NANUET!

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On Saturday, June 11, increasingly popular Nanuet beer joint, Ambulance Brew House, celebrated its 2nd Anniversary in glorious fashion. A sensational amalgamation of limited editions, one-offs, small batches and redesigned beers (Barrier/ Ambulance collaboration Siren 2.0) took over the 20-plus draught lines while barbecued ribs and other fine food was served to the huddled masses.

I got to try six beers from 1 PM to 3 PM – reviewed separately below. Concentrating on springtime fare such as saisons, fruited sour ales and sessionable India Pale Ales, Ambulance introduced its dedicated minions to some fare I couldn’t get my hands on during an abbreviated stay. Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll get to enjoy Singlecut Fuzzbox Imperial IPA, Grimm Dream Weapon IPA and Finback/J. Wakefield Smooth Beats Miami IPA alongside Allagash Astrid Saison, Oxbow Freestyle Pils and Kent Falls Blueberry Vs. Blackberry Sour.

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PEEKSKILL DEAD TO ME BARLEYWINE

On tap at Ambulance, astounding collaboration with Poughkeepsie’s nearby Plan Bee Farm Brewery brings forth elegant port-wined bourbon warmth and maple molasses sugaring to guard dried-fruited prune, raisin, red grape and cherry overtones. Sharp hop spicing penetrates the sweet surface at rummy fruitcake finish.

Peekskill Dead to Me Beer

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