Front Street Brewery
9 N Front St
Wilmington, NC 28401
Visited on June 7, 2014
I wasn’t expecting much when I went into the sole brewery in the beach town of Wilmington, North Carolina, partly because NC’s brewing scene is still developing and partly because, well, it’s a small beach town. And it’s a good thing I wasn’t expecting much, because that’s exactly what I got.
As it was, I was pretty content.
The location is pretty standard for what I’ve come to expect in a small-but-tourist-laden town. With a large number of historic brick buildings to choose from in Wilmington—after all, it is a port city in one of the original colonies—the site was sure to be charming. And it was. Lots of woodwork and unpretencious beer-inspired decorations made for a pleasant atmosphere.
It was crowded on the Saturday evening we stopped in. No surprise there—it’s a family restaurant in a tourist town. There were a few more children running about then I would prefer in a brewery, but then again, there were a few more children running around then I would prefer anywhere. Despite the bustle, the two of us were seated immediately and a beer flight came not long after.
The selection was pretty decent. There were more beers than spots on the flight, so we just started working our way down the list. Nothing jumped out at me, and none of the styles were surprising. The blonde was actually pretty tasty for the style, the IPA had a nice finish, and the amber was, as always, palatable.
By the end we had ordered our food and had a second flight delivered, with all new beers except one. There again weren’t many surprises, except for their recent award-winning spring ale, which definitely lived up to the billing. I don’t usually go in for spring ales, but this one was different somehow. It had depth and layers of flavor rather than just being crisp and refreshing.
The food that came out of the kitchen was pretty on par with the food. It was good, fine and decent, but it lacked a wow factor. I got a classic pulled pork sandwich with barbecue sauce and coleslaw on top with a side of mashed potatoes. The sandwich was on par and the mashers were phenomenal. I don’t even want to know how much butter, cream and salt went into those things. My wife ordered a fried green tomato BLT, with chipotle remoulade on grilled sourdough. By the sound of it, the sandwich should have been heavenly. For whatever reason, it was average.
Despite the large number of customers, I felt pretty well tended. I wish we weren’t stuck at a table amongst a ton of families with small children, but I guess that’s what you sign up for in a tourist town.
In any case, the next time I’m in Wilmington, I might stop in for a single beer, but I won’t be having dinner here.