Five of the county’s breweries came together Wednesday night in friendly competition to participate in the Carteret Craft Brewers Battle at the Cut.
Representatives participating in the contest are Crystal Coast Brewing Co. of Atlantic Beach, Fishtowne Brew House and Mill Whistle Brewing, both of Beaufort, Shortway Brewing of Newport and Tight Lines Pub & Brewing of Morehead City.
According to Beaufort Hotel General Manager Peter Grills, the idea of the competition was similar to a popular TV show.
“It’s an ‘Iron Chef’ sort of event based on a secret ingredient,” he said.
The idea came from the brewers, who wanted to showcase their talents in a friendly competition. A portion of the proceeds raised from the competition will be donated to Loaves and Fishes.
To start the battle, a craft beer from each of the breweries was on tap at 34º North Restaurant in Beaufort for two weeks. The brewer of the most popular beer was able to choose first from a list of secret ingredients.
On tap for the restaurant were Tight Lines’ Boat Day kölsch, while Mill Whistle went with its popular Gas Can red ale.
Crystal Coast Brewing Co. chose IPA Modern American Style. Fishtowne Brew House tapped its Wadeshore Wheat and Shortway brought along the Merry Cranberry wheat ale.
Tight Lines Pub & Brewing was deemed the champion and was able to choose the secret ingredient first.
The competition task is simple: to create a beer that best brings out the flavor of the secret ingredient.
On Wednesday, five secret ingredients were placed under a dish on a table, and brewers had the opportunity to “steal” ingredients from other teams.
The first ingredient unveiled was bananas Foster. Other ingredients were Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Elote, or Mexican corn, Oysters Rockefeller and Bloody Mary.
The secret ingredients were chosen by the restaurant’s head culinary chef, Steve Jordan, and his team.
“We really just (picked) a combination of what sounded good and what was stretchable,” Chef Jordan said when asked how the team chose the ingredients. “We tried to have fun with it and see dishes that were somewhat composed with what we thought would work well. We wanted something drinkable.”
Once the ingredients were chosen, the competition heated up.
After weeks of brewing, the teams will unveil their creations during a beer festival from 2-6 p.m. Saturday, March 7.
The unconventional secret ingredients give the brewers a chance to get creative with their future beer.
Russell Lewis, with Tight Lines, said he was thrilled to work with the bananas Foster.
During the “dirty Santa” event, another brewer tried to steal the ingredient, but Mr. Lewis and his team quickly stole it back.
“We took it back because it’s a great choice,” said Tight Lines brewer Christian Dixon. “We’ve been talking about making something along these lines anyway.”
Tom Backman with Mill Whistle selected Bloody Mary, and he was excited about the choice.
“I am ecstatic. I can do this,” he said. “I love that (Mr. Jordan) didn’t pick bare ingredients. He picked recipes. That’s awesome.”
Matt Shortway with Shortway Brewing picked Oysters Rockefeller.
“I think it’s very interesting,” he said. “It’s great to be able to challenge the artistic side of brewing. It will open the brewing box and put us to the test.”
Fishtowne Brew House selected the popular peanut butter and chocolate treat.
“It’s a good one,” head brewer Schuyler Munden said. “Chocolate and peanut butter, what’s not to like? People love that flavor.”
Billy Smith with Crystal Coast Brewing Co. chose the Mexican corn.
“It works really well,” he said. “I was already planning on doing a beer similar to this in the next couple of months.”
The public is invited to the beer festival in March, when each of the brewers will showcase their creations, plus another beer from their brewery.
During the festival, there will be free beer samples, live music and food trucks.
For more information, follow the Beaufort Hotel on Facebook and Instagram.