115 N 2nd St
Wilmington, North Carolina
Visited on August 29, 2015; June 24, 2017
Nearly two years later I made my way back to Ironclad after a day on the beach, and I must have been drunk the first time I came. While the location is still beautiful, the beer is not good. I tried six or seven samples while I was in, and couldn’t find anything that I would consider good.
Or maybe it’s just that I couldn’t get a good enough taste to find out? Their sample glasses are only two ounces, which is not enough to get a really good feel for a beer. And to make matters worse, each sample is two dollars. That’s right, you’re paying a dollar an ounce. That’s like 16 dollars per pint. And with their actual pints coming in around five for six bucks, this is just ridiculous.
With some new management and a new brewer this place could be special.
Total: 63 (of 80)
This stop was a momentous occasion – my 300th brewery. I even stopped counting the small airport outposts of breweries (surely they don’t count) so that it’d take longer for me to get here. I’d sort of envisioned some destination brewery for my 300th, like Sierra Nevada or Oskar Blues, but Ironclad was a great choice.
The location is absolutely gorgeous. They’ve renovated two floors of an historic brick building in the heart of downtown Wilmington, and they’ve done a marvelous job. The lighting, exposed brick, floors, stage, and giant projection screen all balances nicely in the giant space. It seems like an awesome place for live music or live television events. And you can see right up through to the second floor, where the wooden rafters are exposed, sort of giving the feel of an old naval warship.
My only criticism is that the bar – beautiful as it is – is rather high compared to the bar stools. It makes me feel like I’m sitting at the kids table again. But when compared to the rest of the finishes, the small detail is easily overlooked.
The beers mostly lived up to the locale. Tasting glasses are a tad on the expensive side at $1.75 per drink, but I’ve seen worse. Their options ran the gamut from ordinary pale ale (surprisingly the best of the bunch) and brown ale (solid but not memorable) to trendy session IPA (skipped) and coffee porter (much too bitter from the coffee – need to find out how others incorporate coffee). Besides the Fishtail Pale Ale, my favorite was the Old Baldy Golden Ale. It drank sort of like a higher ABV cream ale, and was perfect after a day on the beach.
The service was pretty outstanding as well. We had a nice chat with the bartenders, learning about their opening and their beers. While neither seemed like the greatest expert on brewing and beer in the world, they knew enough to get the job done.
Total: 75 (of 80)