Cross the drawbridge heading from Wilmington into Wrightsville Beach and you’ll spot a multitude of shops peddling beach-related wares. Hidden on the right in a small, blue building is a stunning craft beer selection lining the walls of Lighthouse Beer and Wine, the premiere spot for hard-to-find bottles in New Hanover.
Nothing about the exterior would lead you to think the Lighthouse is stocked. It’s largely innocuous and shack-like (COZY!) from the outside where stacked surfboards line the walls.
The weather in Wrightsville’s so hot you hardly think of people drinking much more than the cheap staples of Americana pilsners.
Inside is a robust, panorama worthy selection from across the state. This particular vacation resulted in missing Westbrook’s Mexican Cake stout by about four hours (they said their allotment disappeared within the hour), but finding a six pack of Grapefruit Sculpin cans was more than reason to celebrate.
A slew of Avery sour bottles remained, along with Triple C’s Kind of a Big Deal and plenty of Stone’s latest, independence-fueled version of Enjoy By (7/4).
Lighthouse — which is also one of the most mature destinations in the eastern part of the state, having sold craft beer out of the location for 17 years — had a nice diversity in how you can acquire the booze too.
Two huge rows of bombers are available, an entire wall is lined with cold six packs and there’s a mix-a-six cooler as well. It’s not for the faint of walleted: every individual beer is going to cost you $4 or more (yikes). Such is the price of mixing individual cans on the beach, especially when they’re higher end (Westbrook Gose, Sculpin, etc).
10-plus beers on tap are available too, in case you want to slow down and shop a while. The selection was strong: Wicked Weed/Stone’s Points Unknown collaboration was on tap (we took a growler for the house), as well as Birdsong’s Higher Ground (Free Will had just come off earlier).
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the outstanding wine selection too. A 2010 bottle of Silver Oak is among the high end bottles up front. The presence of Ciello (Mrs. Brinson and her mom’s preferred Pinot Grigio) is a huge bonus for continuing to make trips back because of course you need more wine. Dear.
One of those trips back is already set for Friday (June 19) at 5:30, when Wicked Weed rolls into town for a tap takeover and bottle blowout.
The bottle shop is expecting more than a hundred people for the event and yes we’re willing to sweat it out under the shade of the back porch garden area while sampling some high-end beer driven down from Asheville (Coolcumber, Genesis and a surprise IPA are all expected just for starters).
It’s hardly the cheapest spot on the beach for buying beer (although it’s not like your average Wrightsville 12 pack is easy on the billfold anyway) but it’s worth budgeting in time and effort (and money) for some vacation stops at Lighthouse.
The result of sitting at the eastern-most point of I-40 and the tail end of a shipping pipeline — plus nearly two decades of cultivating relationships with Carolina’s craft breweries — means an excellent selection of craft beer that’s born big results for the little building.