THE KEG! Reviews and rambles on brew
A Ship By Any Other Name: Edward Teach Brewing will help evolve imbibing in Brooklyn Arts District BY Bethany Turner ● Devour contributor As a modern-day business owner, there are quite a few draws to opening shop in downtown Wilmington. For one, it’s unrelentingly scenic: rain, shine and especially sunset, the river provides the perfect backdrop for time spent supporting local stores and restaurants. As well, the central business district is teeming with foot traffic. Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects is the opportunity to secure a space with such rich history within our three-century city.
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Many storefronts share a varied account of what once was: auto shop, boutique hotel, seed and feed. As for the gray and red Queen Anne-style building on the corner of Fourth and Campbell streets, outside of downtown’s CBD, it is about to witness its next identification. Constructed in 1907 by contractor R. H. Brady and architect Henry E. Bonitz, the structure housed both the North Fourth Street Farmers’ Market and a fire house. When the fire department moved to Princess Place Drive in 1977, the space was filled by Wilmington Boxing Center until 1999. Now, 18 years later and in the heat of summer, the edifice is seeing big changes behind its large wooden doors. Outfitted with a 20-barrel, three-vessel brewhouse, and renovated to include a large bar and a loft, the next chapter for 604 N. Fourth Street will begin in Edward Teach Brewing. “It’s actually eligible for a black plaque from the Historic Wilmington Foundation because it’s over 100 years old now,” brewery owner Gary Sholar tells. As we stand amidst sawdust, his vision for the future becomes clear: “wide open doors, dog-friendly, laid-back.” Sholar’s industrial background connects him to the large brewhouse, while his six-year homebrewing hobby fuels the passion. His career is manufacturing food-processing equipment out of a company he owns in Wallace. “We do equipment for Butterball, Tyson, Perdue, Smithfield, Mt. Olive Pickle, and so on,” he explains. “In my line of work, we do this everyday: install industrial equipment by ourselves. With that, I thought, If I brew at home, might as well make it big. This is going to be a fun project for me.” A lease was executed on the roughly 10,000-square-foot building two years ago, and Sholar says they should close on the building in early August. While other local breweries moved swiftly in construction after getting the keys, Edward Teach Brewing saw the bulk of its progression in recent months as Sholar was able to dedicate time alongside his career. “I wanted to secure a property,” he tells, “but this is a hobby more than a money-maker for me.” For the name, Sholar relied on Edward Teach’s connection to the area. Better known as “Blackbeard,” the pirate embodies the spirit of coastal North Carolina, having shipwrecked Queen Anne’s Revenge in Beaufort, just two hours north, before settling in Bath, NC. In 1718 Stede Bonnet and his pirates took on the Royal Navy in the Battle of Cape Fear River; Bonnet’s ship, Royal James, was a former Blackbeard flagship. “I wanted to have something that was close to Wilmington and the coastal theme,” Sholar declares. “We actually ran a contest for naming the brewery through Penguin 98.3 FM, and we offered $1,000 to the person who came up with our name. I actually had thought of Edward Teach, and we had several people suggest that name for the contest, so it was kismet.” As well the pirate name lent itself to the design of the namesake. In the middle of the building now stands a bar that resembles the side of a ship. A curved bartop culminates in a pointy bow while the mezzanine level overlooks both the downstairs bar and the brewhouse.