Calling all North Wilmington beer lovers: A fresh ale might be even closer than you think. Heading south on Concord Pike, hang a left on N. Broom Street until you come to a large Spanish-style building on your left.
Wilmington Brew Works, the city’s first production brewery since 1955, is run by Craig Wensell and a team of four other guys: Derek Berkeley, Keith Hughes, John Fusco and Dan Yopp.
The brewery has been in the works since October, and while it does not officially open until August, it is currently open for ticketed tours. “We are offering our Flights of Discovery series as a way to engage people on a more personal level,” Wensell says. “We want to entertain smaller groups of people and keep the pace a little bit cooler.”
Wensell says he was drawn to the 11,000-square-foot building in North Wilmington from the beginning. “The city worked with me real closely to take this picturesque place, reimagine it and bring my vision to [it],” he says.
The building has undergone a massive transformation. The half-rounded windows, once boarded up, now let in lots of light. And the wooden picnic-style tables—made by Wilmington’s Challenge Program—encourage communal seating. There is a large front patio facing Haynes Park, and parking for over 100 cars in the rear.
As passionate as Wensell is about beer, he didn’t always work with hops and yeast. The former high school orchestra director from Oklahoma is also a double bassist, and has played across the country with The Columbus Symphony, Tulsa Philharmonic and Delaware Symphony Orchestra. He also served in Afghanistan.
After spending a lot of time home-brewing and sampling his fair share of beer, though, Wensell had an epiphany: “I realized that I made better beer than a lot of breweries,” he laughs.
And so far, patrons seem to agree. The brewery has been pouring everything from its fragrant Belgian Wit to its refreshing pale ale at a number of local events. “It’s been very positive,” Wensell says. “It’s great to see people at concerts enjoying your beer.”
Still, Wilmington Brew Works isn’t just for beer geeks. The brewery has a winery license, and also plans to serve house sodas, cold-pressed coffees and a few ciders on tap.
When Wilmington Brew Works fully opens in August, it will also team up with local food trucks.
3129 Miller Road, Wilmington
722-4828 • wilmingtonbrewworks.com
Flights of Discovery series: Each entry is $20 and comes with a flight of beer (five 5-ounce pours), a tour of the brewery and a presentation from the brewers. Ticketed patrons receive exclusive access to the taproom for a full 90 minutes after the presentation. Each event is limited to 30 people. Attendees must be 21 or older. Designated drivers pay full price but get a 32-ounce Crowler and Crowler koozie to enjoy at home.