Hop To It
Hop To It
Enjoy the good things in life at Hops Supply Co. in Wilmington.
Hard-core craft beer drinkers have a saying: “Life is too short to drink bad beer.”
Hard-core foodies probably have a similar code: “Life is too short to eat bad food.”
Those dedicated craft beer drinkers would probably be happy to share a list of those beers they consider “bad,” but the reality is that ALL beer is good. It’s just that some beer is better. Finding that “better beer” is part of The PubScout’s mission.
No one should presume to tell you that the beer you enjoy most often is not good or somehow substandard, regardless of who brews it. And similarly, if you love and enjoy less-than-gourmet eateries, then you should continue to patronize them.
Just be aware that there are some awesome alternatives. And one of them is a place in Wilmington called Hops Supply Co., a gastropub with great food, great beers and great cocktails to complement that fare.
Part of the impressive collective of restaurants owned by Raleigh-based LM Restaurants (a family-owned business), Hops Supply Co.’s food is overseen by an executive chef named Brett Chamberlain, and unsurprisingly, some of his creations are made with beer.
Marketing Manager Chelsea Santos says, “We have a ‘melting pot’ of food offerings in our beer-centric gastropub — including vegetarian offerings — and our cocktail offerings are really strong.”
Santos also says that the business tries to pull in as many local beers as possible. One of them is the delightfully ubiquitous Tropical Lightning from Wilmington Brewing Company. Chamberlain says it’s one of the best beers to use in his cooking, as “it pairs very well with seafood.” Hefeweizens are also regular adjuncts, and Guinness stout is used in the making of his Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie dessert.
Chamberlain made his bones in the business by starting as a dishwasher, then eventually graduated to the kitchen of another outstanding LM restaurant — The Oceanic — where he was mentored by Executive Chef Matt Wibell, whom he credits for his rapid learning curve and his own eventual success.
About Hops Supply Co.’s diversity of offerings, Chamberlain says, “The place is centered around craft cocktails too. We carry some damn good top-shelf stuff behind the bar, and we serve elevated and on-trend gastropub fare.”
Chamberlain’s menu favorites are the Rib Nachos Tostada, the Smash Burger and the Wrightsville Beach Hot Chicken Sandwich. His upcoming Oktoberfest menu looks solid as well, with a Beer-Infused Mac n Cheese, a Beer-Braised Bratwurst with Bacon and the HopsCo Burger, all pending.
There are 48 employees at Hops Supply Co., and their servers go through a training process that requires them to taste everything that comes out of Chamberlain’s kitchen, allowing them to suggest beers and other drinks they’d recommend for that dish.
And HopsCo, as the business refers to itself, has a plethora of special events every week, including one that caters to those in the service industry every Monday night. That means $5 food specials and $2 PBRs and even music dedicated to the “heroes of hospitality.”
Their other special events should not be overlooked. For example, two days — Saturdays and Sundays — are set aside for brunches. Eggs Benedict, French Toast and $2 Mimosas begin at 10 am, and there are even acoustic musical acts to enhance your meal. And if Champagne is not your brunch go-to beverage, they’ll offer you a mouth-watering array of other drinks to accompany your food.
If you’re a trivia whiz, you can test your mettle every Wednesday evening beginning at 6:30 pm. Enjoy some of Chamberlain’s fine upscale gastropub offerings and great beers or cocktails while you astound the crowd with your knowledge of everything worth knowing.
Beer-wise, HopsCo has 20 beers on tap, and 10 of those taps rotate regularly. They also have 15 more beer offerings in bottles and cans.
All of this is offered to the customer in an eye-dazzling space with a very comfortable yet classy ambiance. There’s a Pub Room, which will see future craft beer tastings and possibly the chef’s special Beer Dinners. Or you could simply join The Hophead Guild (free) to get the inside track on what’s coming down the HopsCo pike.
If you prefer drinking outside, especially in the nice Wilmington fall weather, then grab a seat in the Beer Garden, either during the day or under the twinkling lights of evening. Either way, the food, beer, cocktails and outstanding service will be there to greet you.
Parties and other private events can also be comfortably accommodated.
The Hops Supply Co. website shares some of its House Rules, most of which are tongue-in-cheek. But this one rings so, so true: “Put down the phone; pick up the fork.”
That’s a good rule to have, though using your phone is allowed when taking pictures of Chamberlain’s food and of everyone hoisting their pints in a place that celebrates food, beer, cocktails, music — and life.
Hops Supply Co.
5400 Oleander Drive, Wilmington