Cape Fear Wine & Beer

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BA SCORE
99
world-class

61 Ratings
Ratings: 61
Reviews: 50
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: n/a
Taps: 20
Bottles: 300
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Store ]

139 N Front St
Wilmington, North Carolina, 28401-3944
United States
phone: (910) 763-3377

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

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Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Ratings: 61 | Reviews: 50
Reviews by VaterRoss:
Photo of VaterRoss
4.7/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

This is quite simply my favorite place to drink in Wilmington.

The atmosphere is great: punk music from the jukebox, wood everywhere (cedar bar!), variety of beer related signage. Brings in a nice mixed crowd that tends to be in late 20s range. Appropriate amount of lighting dim, but not seedy. There is a nice, but somewhat limited section of seating that includes bar-style outdoor seating on the entrance patio and booth-like table for larger groups. Only during peak hours in the summer will you find yourself standing.

Bartenders know what is on tap and in bottles and can make recommendations based on first hand knowledge. They are also friendly, never have I gotten the vibe of beer snobbery. In the summer it can get a bit busy but I've never had problems getting to bar or waiting longer than a few minutes to be served.

There are usually 19 beers on tap and hundreds of bottles in the coolers, did I mention that you can also buy beer to take-away? Selection of draft beer is highly seasonal and always rotating, often daily. Rarely will you see the same beer on draft twice, and I have yet to encounter a stinker. This is not a mega-bar with hundreds on tap and thousands of bottles: the difference is that Cape Fear only has good stuff.

Only negatives I can think of is that the price is a bit more (dollar or two) than other bars in town. I find that the selection, quality bartenders, and awesome atmosphere more than make up for the extra dollar or two you pay per pint. There are no other bars of this caliber in SE NC.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Brewstradamus
4.86/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Great bar with amazing tap/bottle list. I made it on their "beer class" night where you get a draft of their featured beer style and you get to keep the glass. Had some cool bar games- darts, arcade, pool. Despite what it says here you can get beer to-go. I stocked up on some local beers to take home while I was in. The bartender was helpful and nice.

Photo of EverettHervey
5/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

A Wilmington staple, don't come for a visit without stopping by. It's not by accident that they get such high ratings.

Photo of GJ40
4.22/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

A truly authentic and impressive beer bar. They offer quite a few on tap and lots more in the bottle. They had a sour promo going on and we got to sample several from Cascade. I also putchased a couple of bottles to take home. Technically it's a bottle shop too but everything's behind the bar so it's not really set up for that. This is a fantastic place and a must stop in historic Wilmington!

Photo of Mantooth
4.44/5  rDev -2.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

Hands down - the best place to grab a beer in Wilmington. It's got that great dive bar vibe that I love, especially when you get to the back and see a stellar lineup of drafts. The bartender was a blast to talk to - every bit the beer geek I am. Killer beer. Killer service. Killer vibe.

Photo of Ainjyll
4.69/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

This was the place where I really cut my teeth on craft beer. Originally located on Water St. (1 block behind their current location) in a place that could best be described as a walk-in closet full of awesome beer and awesome people, since their move to Front St. they've only grown by leaps and bounds. More awesome beers, more awesome people (Yeah, Low Lifes!), more awesome music... if you're anywhere near Wilmington you should definitely stop by and have a few beers.

Photo of northbayrugger
4.31/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Brilliant visited over the Fourth of July holiday ... Everything I wanted that week! Great beer selection, top notch stuff there. Got to finally pull the trigger on some stuff I'd been looking to have. Loads of local stuff and loads of international choosings. Overall brilliant

Photo of hellhammermario
5/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

What can I say about CFW&B that hasn't already been said? If it were possible, I would just move my things into the bar and live out of there, haha. They ALWAYS have multiple taps worth trying. I have literally never walked into the bar and said "Eh, nothing that cool today." However, when I am not feeling a tap offering, I can choose another new classic from their bottle selection.

I could go on about the righteous tunes they play, or that Godzilla or Cool Hand Luke might be on when I go in, but the bartenders... They're just top damn notch. Megan has been recognized multiple times as THE best bartender in Wilmington, and there's certainly a reason for it! Not to knock Kris, Kelsie, or anyone else working the bar, because they are equally as great at their jobs. When they're not geeking out on beers, they'll make you laugh and just feel among friends.

I will always give my money to Cape Fear whenever I can, and so should you.

Photo of obiwantedj
4.9/5  rDev +7.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75

I wandered into CFW&B in late 2009 looking for a German beer I had while traveling in Baveria. It was a life changer. Their 19 rotating taps are constantly changing and always interesting.
It's the people that work there that makes the place so enjoyable. They laid-back, friendly and often hilariously funny. But they are all walking encyclopedias of beer knowledge as the cicerone certs on the wall attests. They are not only smart but they love to talk about beer. Most are home brewers. I guess you could say they are passionate about and enjoy sharing that with others. If you add some of my favorite quirky movies and a range of punk music, it's just a cool place to be. In fact I feel beer-thirty time coming on. I'm headed down there now!

Photo of BeahDrinkah
4.04/5  rDev -11.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

An afternoon visit, a couple of pours while perusing the beer availability list and tourist info rags. We're listening to punk tunes and hanging out in front of the entrance - a great perch to people-watch from. It's a bit dark inside, but take your time, let your eyes adjust and zero in on your brew of choice - they likely have it!

Photo of KitesBeer
4/5  rDev -12.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Good spot to drink good beer. beers are however pricey as they are in most well established places. the offer mostly draft beer, but do have a small to medium size selection of bottles to take home with ya. overall a good place to drink at! Make sure to sit outside on the back porch overlooking the wilmington harbor!

Photo of youradhere
4.78/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Ambiance is dark wood basement, but in a nice way, punk rock decorates the walls, cold refers with beer to go face you as you sit at the bar. I got to pick out TSOL, Misfits, and DK on the jukebox, with plenty more of the same caliber available. The Young Ones was on TV. Fuck, this is the type of bar I would like to have if I were to do it. Choice of beer was the only thing I dinged the place for, and that goes hand in hand with quality, as to be outstanding in that area you have to seriously blow me away. This place is a must visit, and I didn't feel the least bit bad for dropping 50 bones. Service was top notch, dude behind the counter was knowledgable without it turning into a dick measuring contest to prove your worthiness of being there. I will definitely revisit before I leave, and hope to return again some day!

Photo of writteninwax
4.89/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5

This place is essentially my "third place" as in , its not home where I sleep, or the office where I work, but its someplace I go to every week and usually 2 or 3 times. The atmostphere is good and always slowly evolving as it should, This location didnt open up all deocrated perfectly, its probably its imperfections and that it sort of grows and changes as the owners add or tinker. When I usually go its not crowded, but it can get really busy later at night and on the weekends for sure. The jukebox is punk and ska and the regulars range from heavily pierced and tatted, to the business man in khakis and ties and regardless of the rest of the atmosphere, its really about three things, the beer, the people and the beer.

The beer is really of good quality, variety and selection is fantastic. Hundreds of bottles and about 20 rotating taps. Unless you are looking for a bud light (which you can only get on April 1st) they probably can find you something to drink you will love. You really just have to go and see...

The people are awesome too, one of the barkeeps was voted best in wilmington and they all really know their stuff about beer and really wine too. They dont have food, but its cool to get pizza or a sub from nearby and eat it there!.

I would just score it a 5 across teh board but im guessing they will just get better as time goes on and I may want to review them again.

Photo of Onenote81
4.3/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Was in town this last weekend and this place was on my "must-stop" list. Went down on Friday afternoon and most of the bar area was full already. Maybe it was the sunny day outside, but this place seemed really dark. The large cooler section behind the bar was a little difficult to see. A huge chalkboard greeted us with all of the taps listed though, so that was nice. Service was friendly and helpful. They carried a great number of bottles in addition to their taps, and from what I hear, you can purchase for carry-out. Very cool. We didn't get anything to go this time, but nice to know we can do that. A great bar for sure, one of the best I have been to in NC.

Photo of Burnsy22
4.8/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I've been to Cape Fear Wine and Beer around a half-dozen times since moving to NC. I wish I lived a lot closer to Wilmington so that I could go a lot more.

The first few times my wife and I went to Wilmington, we walked right by the place. The crowd looked a little younger than us, and generally resembled a punk rock rabble. I'm so glad we actually decided to go in. We have been in love with the place ever since.

The bar is beautiful and the beer selection is enough to simultaneously bring on anxiety and joy to most beer lovers and dabblers alike. The selection rotates often, but generally a sampling of most beer types is available even if it isn't your current favorite. On most occasions I walk in looking for my “old standby” and leave with several new favorites.

The vintage looking posters on the walls and dim (yet not too dim) lighting also bring some wonderful atmosphere to the interior. I especially like the poster referencing prohibition in NC as tyranny. This place oozes character with the décor, the staff, and the local crowd.

The best part of the bar is the staff. The bartenders know their beer. Every one of them takes their job seriously and knows the products they sell. At the same time, they are very fun and friendly people. Even though they are extremely knowledgeable, they never come off as beer elitists or talk down to the less knowledgeable. I always feel like I am learning when I go there and am introduced to a new beer. But, it is far more like a good friend suggesting a great beer than a math professor force feeding you advanced calculus while staring down at you over his spectacles.

Even if Wilmington was a backwater ghost town, I would still paddle on down the Cape Fear just to come drink a few rounds at Cape Fear Beer and Wine. I give it my highest recommendation and suggest you stop in for a pint if your in the Wilmington, NC area.

Photo of Piersendcraftbee
5/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

My girlfriend and I are very frequent customers of Cape Fear Wine & Beer. We really enjoy the selection of beers and the knowledge of the staff is incredible. The staff members are always friendly and willing to offer suggestions when we aren't sure what we want to drink. The various events that take place throughout the week keep us coming back. On Tuesday nights there is trivia where you can win beer. Thursday nights are Randall Infusion night, Lector always has a tasty concoction to try. Sundays are Beer Church, we really love this one. You get to keep the glassware of the featured beer. We have quite a nice collection at home.

Overall Cape Fear is in our opinion the best craft beer bar in Wilmington. Thanks to Maaike, Lector, Chris, Megan, Josh and TC. Keep up the good work guys.

Photo of SactownChad
4.7/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

My wife and I made it a point to stay near Cape Fear Wine and Beer on our recent summer Vacation to North Carolina. Being within stumbling distance we were free to sample the beers and the atmosphere at this wonderful establishment.

The first thing I noticed about CFW&B when compared to our local (Sacramento, CA) tap houses is how dark it is. This I like! I don't want to drink beer in a coffee house or a cafe, I want to drink beer in a bar with punk rock and ska on the jukebox! This is just what you get at CFW&B!

The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and are generous with the tastings. The beer selection is fantastic and always changing. I was introduced to a few beers here that I can't get back in California. They even had more Stone brews than we can get back home, and they are a California brewery!

Favorite beers we tried: Duck Rabbit Milk Stout, Flying Dog "Horn Dog" and Bell's "Two Hearted" which we can't get at all back home.

I can't recommend this place enough. I only wish there were something similar near me!

Photo of Culturalremedy
4.7/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Outstanding place. Went on vacation to Wilmington this past weekend and stumbled upon this gem. I'd say close to 20 taps (including mead) and a cask selection as well.

The bottled selection filled two large coolers and they offer a "make your own six pack" carry out. The don't offer everything under the sun, but the selection is wide and varied and you'll always find something new and interesting to try.

The atmosphere is great with plenty of room and great conversation going on. The staff was amazing and knowledgeable. Even remembered our names and favorite beers when we returned the second night.

If you're in Wilmington and you're looking for a place to get your beer fix, this is the best choice.

Photo of beerslushy
4.74/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

A very straight forward craft beer bar. Huge selection of top shelf brews. A few local beers on tap. Old Rasputin on a cask. Lot's of taps and a large bottle selection. Very knowledgeable bar staff. Quite reasonably priced. Three pints and a bottle of water were $14. It make no pretentions about what it is. The atmosphere is strictly beer and wine. I don't believe they even sell BMC. Beer conversations were both interesting and infomative. There's no food and no fancy decorations. Fantastic jukebox if you like old punk and ska. This is a "must try" place if you are in the area.

Photo of Gootch78
4.88/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

My wife and I were in Wilmington for the weekend. As we usually do, we surfed Beer Advocate before heading out on the town. When we saw a place with an A+ rating with over 30 reviews, it was a no brainer.

The bar tender, Megan, lit up when she realized were were real beer lovers. She even allowed for a 9 flute sampling (typically a Thursday night thing) and then wrote down all the names of each beer while tending a full bar.

I even found a new favorite summer beer, the Weeping Radish, by Black Radish. Don't forget to buy a mixed sixer of your favorite selections before leaving, their carry out selection of bottles is impressive. Oh, and if you're looking for mead on tap, they even have that too!

Cheers

Photo of Pitmonkey
4.94/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I was in Wilmington for work and found this place online before arriving. It was the biggest hit in Wilmington for our group and we had an absolute blast here.

Taps - I didn't count them but trying to remember I'd guess they have 20 taps and there isn't a lame duck. They also had mead on tap which was delicious. They do a really nice job hitting up the prime regional selections from all over the place, they had Bruery, Bells, Weeping Radish, Victory, and DFH to name a few. It was really great seeing our group of a dozen or so try just about every tap as well as hitting up on the bottle selection.

Bottles - they sell bottles in store or you can make a six pack to go. Here again the (two?) refrigerator cases were packed with premo stuff, they don't offer everything from any one brewery, but they cover just about any style you are looking for with solid selections from the best places.

They have a couple of video games, a pool table, an nice outside spot for smoking (or catching the scene on Front Street), they had something going on every night of the week and this place makes me want to visit Wilmington again.

The servers were awesome, friendly and knowledgeable.

Great place!

Photo of mayorQuimby
4.94/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I visited Cape Fear Wine and Beer on July 24th, 2010. Make a yearly trip to Myrtle Beach, SC, and flew in and out of Wilmington. Since I was catching the red eye on Sunday morning stayed in Wilmington on a Saturday evening, checked out BA upon arrival and found Cape Fear on the site and was there within a few minutes. This was an AWESOME place.

First of all, we arrived there mid afternoon so it wasn't too busy and struck up conversation with one of the owners, Lector. He was an awesome dude, really knew is stuff, was willing to discuss everything and as I was there with my dad who doesn't drink craft at all, he took a lot of time to help my dad find things he liked and offered him samples of different things that were on tap.

To begin, I had some stuff from Duck Rabbit, which we don't get in the midwest, which was awesome, and my dad had a Bell's Poolside on draft, which was really cool considering the only time I'd seen it was at a beerfest in Indy. We tried several beers over the course of our visit including a Mead they had on draft, some Saison Dupont, Duck Rabbit RIS, etc. My recollection is a bit fuzzy as we were there for hours and had several different beers. My non-craft drinking father was thrilled about this place and a month later still raves about how awesome it was, and honestly I cannot disagree. It was a great time, cool atmosphere, awesome hospitality, exceptional beers.

This place is really more of a bar with a carry out option on all their bottles, thus the possible slightly higher prices. That said, it was substantially cheaper than a bar and maybe only a little more expensive than a store. We were thrilled with the cost, thought it was very fair, and I bought some local stuff to bring back to Indiana with me before we left.

Lector, if you remember the golfers that came in one night about a month ago, the father and son, we really appreciate the great experience, wish your business well, and are 100% certain to visit again next summer when we come back. Thanks a lot!

Photo of dnolan36
4/5  rDev -12.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Just visited the Wilmington area on vacation at the beach. Had read about this place before I left and did make an effort to check it out. I was a little disappointed that all the beer is behind the bar and not against the other wall as shown online. They did have a beer list but for me I enjoy looking at the beer in a case. That being said, they do have a good selection of beer. The prices tend to be a lot higher than other stores I have been to with the same selection. For better prices checkout Lighthouse Beer & Wine on Wrightsville Beach.

The major plus about this place is the employees are very nice and knowledgeable about the beers they offer. They also have a bar that you can sit at while reviewing the menu of beer for things you may want to take with you. So as I reviewed the menu I got to enjoy a pint of Avery's Maharaja that they had on tap. I ended up not picking up anything to take with me because of the prices.

Photo of kneeland
4.08/5  rDev -10.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5

I don't have a whole lot to say, except that this place does have the best beer selection in town. So I'll attempt 500 characters here. They changed locations last year, which is a very good thing because now it's on Front St along with all of the other bars and clubs. It's also larger, and that's always a plus. Other than that, there's really not much to the place.

It seems that they set out to have the best and largest beer selection, and they succeeded. I always get to choose several different types of beer when I'm in there, and I really like that.

Photo of troywhittaker
4.55/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Made a trip into Wilmington specifically to shop at this place. I was up in NC on vacation and had been looking for a place to acquire some beers out of my home market.

Wow was I surprised.

Bruery, Duck-Rabbit, Highland, Stone and others available. I was excited to find some Rogue and Thomas Creek beers not available in my area.

This is basically a bar with coolers behind the counter. The beers are well-organized and it's more like a personal shopping appointment with the owner/bartender helping you out with selections and making recommendations.

This turned out to be a fruitful trip as I snagged a 4pk of KBS, which was my primary target.

Be warned that Front Street is all torn up so you'll need to plan transport/pickup of your purchases accordingly. There's a free parking garage 1 block south and east.

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Cape Fear Wine & Beer in Wilmington, NC
99 out of 100 based on 61 ratings.