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Cape Fear Wine & Beer

Your Rating: None
BA SCORE
4.56/5
World-Class
68 Ratings
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Beer-to-go

139 N Front St
Wilmington, North Carolina, 28401-3944
United States

(910) 763-3377 | map
capefearwineandbeer.net

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Added by BeerAdvocate

PLACE STATS
Reviews:
51
Ratings:
68
pDev:
12.06%
 
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Ratings: 68 |  Reviews: 51
Photo of astyndall
5/5  rDev +9.6%

I love this place. Seriously. Look for big things from this "little" Beer bar. They are moving the location less than a block up onto Front St. and it will truly be a Beer Hall. Lector and the rest of the gang have been working their arses off in renovating the new space. Pool table, 3X the bar space, Full-On Punk Rock jukebox, booths!, and fingers crossed a draft system in the near future.

Oh Yeah, did anyone mention that they have the single best (in quality) craft, import, and high gravity beer selection I've ever been privy to. They may not boast to have more than 200 beers at any given time... but any place that has that many means that they added macros and zima-clones as "filler" and they aren't turning over stock like they should.

Go have a Beer at
Cafe Fear Wine and Beer!!!

 797 characters

Photo of Umbra
4.8/5  rDev +5.3%

I have to travel to Wilmington for work about once or twice a year. Besides the fact that the Hilton is on the riverfront and a quick drive to where I need to go, it is also within stumbling distance of the best bar in town (and from what I've seen the general several county area). The area restaurants are tourist traps that might have a brew or two on tap. The bars in the area cater to the Miller Lite college crowd. Cape Fear is the beer geek spot that you'll need

The selection mentioned in previous posts says it all. Service? I've spent a couple of nights with just Lector and the bartender drinking, talking, listening to music. Mention "pop the cap" and thank the folks for their hard work.

Overall: This place is perfect. take some to go for the hotel room, pool or Wrightsville Beach. This is a must stop location.

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Photo of seagoat
4.8/5  rDev +5.3%

While on a recent trip through Wilmington, I saw an ad for this place in a small local paper. I couldn't remember the address but remembered the street. Asked around at some of the other businesses in the area and if they had heard of it they were not sure where it was even though it ended up only being a few blocks away.

We found the place and expected it to be just a beer/wine store and we were just curious as to what they carried even though we wouldn't be able to buy much since we were flying out the next day.

We were surprised upon walking in to see a tasting bar and table on the left side of the store. The wine and beer selection lined the right side of the store. There were probably about 8 bar stools along the bar and a small table at the end with 3 more stools. And some Dead Kennedy's playing on the stereo.

They had a great selection of beer and one of the guys there, that I think was one of the owners, was giving me a hard time for taking so long to browse the selection. There were so many beers that I don't remember what all they carried but they had a lot from the local breweries such as Duck Rabbit, I think some Azalea, as well as Flying Dog, Steelhead, Green Flash, Bells, Rogue, etc. They also had different beers from Norway, Belgium, Ireland, and Germany.

The three of us picked different things to try, handed them to the bartender who poured them into pint glasses for us and said to speak up if we had any questions. After a few minutes he came over to check on us and see what we thought of our picks. Him, the other owner, and the other customers that we talked to were very friendly.

My only drawback on the place was the smoking inside. Being from California where it is not allowed, I'm pretty used to everything being smoke free. We were there early afternoon so I could imagine it getting very smoky in there on any given night.

We grabbed 7-8 more bottles on our way out so we could go back and have a bit of a tasting before flying out the next day.

Cape Fear is a great little place with great beer and atmosphere. A must go for any trip to Wilmington.

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Photo of GJAFFE33
3.9/5  rDev -14.5%

More like a bar that happens to have a nice selection of bottles, there is very little room between the seats at the bar and the coolers to actually stand and look at the selection without always being in someones way. Good selection of imports from Europe, some new places for me (Norway) and some quality Northeast Breweries that don't send all of their stuff to Charlotte. I know the price of hops has gone up, so the prices are a little up there on most stuff. They do let you get singles, which is great. According to locals, this is the best beer store in Wilmington.

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Photo of buckobrock
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Stumbled upon a gem today during a business trip. I didn't exactly know what I was getting myself into, I had just seen this place listed on Beer Advocate. Walked in today around 3:00 P.M. to browse around. I was not expecting there to be a bar. Bad news, haha. I asked the bartender what was on draft today. His response: "Old Rasputin on cask". I'm sure I looked a little goofy when my reply came out as a stutter. So I sat down and enjoyed my Ol' Raspy. The bartender was very knowledgeable, and we discussed several different types of beer. The store had a very nice selection, and I picked up two Highland Imperial Kashmirs - which, by the way, you can't find here in Raleigh anymore.

To give a little more description: I've never really seen anything like this. Maybe I'm just a little deprived, but the place is essentially a small bar with several refrigerators with all sorts of beer. Anything from Bell's to Dogfish Head to Avery and some Weyerbacher. It was a great little place to sit down and have a good conversation about some good beer with some Wilmington locals.

It was a great experience, and I'll be certain to go back the next time I'm in Wilmington.

 1,175 characters

Photo of HolmesBrew
5/5  rDev +9.6%

I love this place. By far the best place to go and have some great beer with an awesome atmosphere. I live in Wilmington part of the year and this place is my first and last stop every time i visit. I only wish that Western NC had a place with this magnitude of beer selection, expert advise, and prime location. CFW&B has great music and good people to talk with. I love scouring the beer selection and finding a new great beer every time. I hope lector will reconsider letting me get a beercard now. Also, the hot nuts are amazing.

 533 characters

Photo of dcrooms
5/5  rDev +9.6%

I've been an astute patron of this place for several months now, but I do remember the first time wondering into this wee place. I thought to myself, "Wow, I'm home". Maybe it was the 220 some odd beers (now 252) and three shelves of wine that got my attention. Maybe it was Maaika and Lector coming out from behind the bar to shake hands with a new customer and help them along with their spirit-ual journey. Actually, it was all of the above. Never have I walked into an establishment and been so well received. And quite honestly, never have I decided to go anywhere else for a drink. This is a place one can go alone, and instantly have a meaningful and/or entertaining conversation with other bar patrons or those behind the counter. There are no televisions, the computer in the corner is strictly for business, and the music is on demand. Plus, Lector keeps some hot nuts back by the suit of armor for you. To conclude, but not define, CFW&B is a stellar place to purchase or just chase beer or wine. The environment and people therein are downright amiable, and thanks to the owners North Carolina has lifted the 6% APV cap on beer. This bar/store gives back.

 1,167 characters

Photo of kwakwhore
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Friendly atmosphere, extremely helpful staff. I went there looking for specific beers, Bells Two Hearted and Avery, the Kaiser, and I found both of them. Excellent selection, more of it chilled than at room temperature. Personally I wish more of it were chilled because I don't live in Wilmington and it's easier to transport when it's warm. If I weren't driving I would have enjoyed having a couple of beers at the bar and chatting with folks. The only down side for me is that their prices are a little higher than some of the other places I buy beer in NC.

 559 characters

Photo of ByTor2112
3.65/5  rDev -20%

Stopped by this past Saturday. Two of their coolers were broke down which limited their selection. Helpful people and I mentioned BA. Good pricing on singles and NC brews were well-represented. They had a good selection of micros and some imports. Found a nice Dunkel Weisse from Germany I had never seen before. Someone mentioned the music being played in a previous review and they had just put on Alice in Chains' Dirt so props to that. Very cool people who liked talking and respecting beer. Right down on the waterfront, easy to find. Cheers

 546 characters

Photo of doppelmeup
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

This is a great little beer and wine store down by the waterfront in Wilmington, that also has a bar.

The bartender, Nick, was very friendly and helpful. There was a very nice selection of craft brews, especially for a small store, and also given that this was a Sunday afternoon and he was sold out of a lot of different beers from the weekend.

He allowed me to mix and match a six-pack and also lended his advice when I asked him about several of the brews. He was quite knowledgeable about the beer as well.

I appreciated his help and friendliness and would recommend to anyone, especially all you BA'ers, to stop by his store when in Wilmington.

 658 characters

Photo of aleyeast
3.95/5  rDev -13.4%

Where to start? I was looking forwaqrd to this place after reading the reviews, I pictured a place similiar to Papago in Scottsdale, AZ. To be fair, I had already stopped at Wineseller for some package goods to bring home and had dinner at Front Street. So, I had a good and bad experience (in that order) in Wilmington prior. To break it down:

First, it is not close to being Papago, but then I think few will ever be. Very small with most of the store faced with cooler doors. Some comfortable seating up front and a few stools. I had my children with me so I opted for carryout. We were welcomed to look around and we did not get any scorned looks for having children. As for selection, I have to say I was disappointed after the reviews. There were a few beers I had not had prior so that is where my choices went. Bison Stout, LC 8 Ball Stout, SKA Decadence IPA, Mash house hoppy hour and one I forget. The bartender was extremely nice and told me to get two more after I had brought four to the register because I would get a discount. $15 for 6 beers and one was a 22 oz falls somewere between bar and package store. The selections were quite varied with no concentrations in one style or country. Gulden Draak was in the four packs so that was refreshing to see. A little too much space seems devoted to the bigs, but we all have to pay bills.

All in all, if you are in town, by all means stop by, but it is definitely not a destination

 1,450 characters

Photo of bunn4funn
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Lets just say Lector is the man. Everytime i need something its there or he can get it. Whats better than having a beer cooler behind you as you sit at the bar. You dont have to wait on a bartender you can simply turn around and grab what you want, show it to the barkeep and he writes it on your tab. If you dont have time to sit and chat you can almost always park right in front of the shop on the side of Water St and run in. If you mix-a-six or grab a bomber chances are they have it in the cooler. Voted best beer selection in town for 2005 its a cant miss.

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Photo of Sayson
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Is this the perfect bar? In my opinion, perfection, like inifinity, is nebulous, so it's hard to say. I would say that the ownership of this establishment does what it seeks to do perfectly and for that all 5s are warranted.

I had as much fun here as I had at Sunshine Grill in Boston. Paying liquor store prices for beer at a bar is also a treat. In the evening I spent there, I had several beers yet my bill was only $17. This place should not be missed by any BA who ventures within 250 miles of Wilmington.

I visited Cape Fear Wine and Beer on a Thursday night. The crowd was light, but extremely friendly. I entered as a stranger and exited as a Beer Knight with a strong desire to return. Unfortunately, I was only in town for one night.

Beer Knighthood comes from a beer trivia game that features tastings and beer-related questions. This is a lot of fun and is a great vehicle to introduce newbies to craft beer.

The selection wider at a handful (namely Brawley's & Sam's) of liquor stores in the state, but I am confident that CFW&B has the widest selection in the area within 150 miles. To me, a 300 bottle beer list is useless if the stock never turns over. Fresh beer is key. Lector moves a lot of bottles and is on top of getting the latest entries into our burgeoning beer market.

This place is a real gem. It's one of the best dives I've found. I hope to return soon.

 1,402 characters

Photo of weeare138
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

This place is lowly lit and reminds me a bit of a mix between a record shop, a punk rock club, and a transplanted smoke shop cafe from Amsterdam...but they have a decent selection of brews. The quality was very good. Everything was fresh and there was obviously a good turnaround on the brews within the coolers on the right hand side.
The service was actually exceptional as the gentleman behind the counter with the beard could see I was an out of towner and he was more than helpful in helping me put together a few mix and match 6 packs and recommending some decent ones that I had never had. He was even helpful in getting us to Myrtle Beach by pointing us in the right direction to shave some time off of our route.
The selection was good. There was stuff that I have never encountered before such as beers from The Mash, SKA, Duck Rabbit, Highland among several others.
Price wasn't too shabby. I got two big bottles thrown into my 2 mixed six packs and I think the total was $24. Not bad, considering the large bottles alone were labeled at $4.50 each before the discounted 6 pack.

 1,092 characters

Photo of CaptCleveland
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Lector is the man! In town for a wedding and found this gem via BA's beer travel directory. Everything previously written is true. Enjoyed the recommended Wolaver's certified organic IPA at the bar and some good news about the initiative to repeal the 6% alcohol ban (should be voted on within the month). Considering the previously mentioned ban on beer above 6%, the selection was incredible. There were a plethora of beers available and Lector and I discussed many of our favorite brews (and punk bands).

 507 characters

Photo of sabrills70
4.65/5  rDev +2%

Stopped in to see Lector today and meet some BA's in my new hometown. Great location right on the river, easy to get to. Small place but there are coolers along the one wall and a small counter with stools along the other. You can walk in, grab a beer out of the cooler, pop the top and sit at the counter, drink it and listen to good tunes and have good conversation. Glad to see he still had the Boycott Mutual sign in the window. Selection was good and seems to keep the inventory fresh - no dusty bottles. All in all a pretty cool place. I think I could hang out here alot.

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Photo of EvilDonald
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

This is a really cool place. They have about the best beer selectoin I've seen in the state, here's hoping the bass-ackwards laws get changed. If so, I expect to see a lot of new stuff pouring into this store. The 6% ABV limit in NC is really keeping the selection down.

The service here is very good, and the beers are kept cold and appear to move quickly, there are no dusty bottles. If you like, you can sit down and have a beer at the bar. They sell cigarettes and cigars, although it can get smoky at times so you can't smoke your cigars in the store at present.

They have a nice little wine selection as well, small but good.

Overall, very highly recommended.

 674 characters

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.05/5  rDev -11.2%

Cape Fear Wine & Beer is located next to the river on Water Street in Wilmington. It is a pretty nice location and not too difficult to find with the right address.

The store is basically more of a beer store than a wine store with no hot beers in the store, everything is in the cold case on the side wall. The quality appears high, I did not see any layers of dust and most everything is well cared for. You can do mix sixers if you want, and I believe if you had a favorite no in stock, that Lector would try to get it for you.

Lector keeps the place clean, but it was smoky as a BBQ pit in the place. Also it might be a bit of a speakeasy, shhh, don't tell. They also are ready to endorse Pop The Cap for NC to help get the laws changed.

The selection could be a bit better, and with a law change might actually be oustanding.

 839 characters

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Cape Fear Wine & Beer in Wilmington, NC
Place rating: 4.56 out of 5 with 68 ratings
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