Say Cheers To North Carolina’s Coastal Beers
There’s just something about the coast and a cold one. And we’re not talking some cerveza brewed in some far off country. We’re talking fresh beers brewed on the North Carolina coast.
North Carolina’s major microbrewery boom actually started right on the coast of the Outer Banks. Back in 1986, Germany native Uli Bennewitz opened Weeping Radish Brewery in Manteo on Roanoke Island. Dare County was dry and brew pubs were illegal in the state, but Bennewitz preached the North Carolina beer gospel and successfully lobbied to change the laws – opening the original Weeping Radish location to rave reviews.
That Manteo brew pub and, later, other Weeping Radish outposts became the places to enjoy North Carolina-brewed beer and a menu that was German-leaning with Tar Heel touches (like lots of pork). Weeping Radish’s handcrafted German-style lagers were, and still are, brewed in the tradition of Bavaria’s "Reinheitsgebot," the Purity Law of 1516 that stated beer could only be made with water, hops, malt and yeast.
Today, Bennewitz is still a pioneering force in North Carolina brewing – and eating. In 2009, he opened Weeping Radish Farm Brewery on 24 acres in Jarvisburg, right at the northern entrance to the Outer Banks. Here, they continue to brew old and new favorites like Corolla Gold, Kölsch-style OBX Beer, Black Radish, Weizen, and famed seasonal offerings (including Doppelbock Christmas Bier and more). There’s also the tasty Weeping Radish Pub & Bar for fresh beer and food and Butcher’s Market selling chemical-free meats and produce.
Just south, Outer Banks Brewing Station is another groundbreaking brew pub making coastal beer history, killer brews, and creative pub grub. Now billed as “America’s First Wind Powered Brewery,” this Kill Devil Hills hotspot since the early 1990s is located in a recreation of a classic North Carolina lifesaving station, including a bar that represents a lifesaving boat ready to head out to sea on “tracks” made from beach bricks the owners salvaged.
The OBBS beer list typically includes their Black-Eye ‘P-A’ (an India Pale Ale, or IPA); Monkfest (brewed in honor of North Carolina-born Thelonious Monk); Lemongrass Wheat Ale; Moondog Extra Special Bitter (ESB); Mack Daddy Chocolate Stout; and Kölsch-like Olsch. OBBS veterans know to ask about seasonals (like Santa’s Little Sledgehammer), bottle-conditioned ales and to-go two-liter growlers.
In Wilmington, downtown’s Front Street Brewery remains a great Port City place for coastal beers and food. Their four year-round flagship beers typically include: Port City IPA; Coastal Kölsch; River City Raspberry Wheat; and Dram Tree Scottish Ale. Seasonal options might feature: Tiny Tim’s Christmas Ale; Beire de Garde (a French farmhouse ale); St. Stan’s Baltic Porter; Keller Pilsner; or The James Brown. The beers pair quite well with Front Street’s food, and several menu items featuring beer as a tasty ingredient, such as the Cheddar Ale Soup.
Heading inland a bit, Farmville-based Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery is one of the state’s – and nation’s – most unique microbreweries. With a logo that can be viewed as a duck or a rabbit head, Duck-Rabbit specializes in dark beer. Founder and former college philosophy professor Paul Philippon came up with the logo after seeing it in a philosophy book, and his double-meaning dark beers can be refreshing and balanced.
The craft brewery’s current dark beer line-up features The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout; The Duck-Rabbit Porter; The Duck Rabbit Brown Ale; and The Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale. They were the first brewery to be involved with North Carolina’s Goodness Grows program.
Finally, Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston brews up concoctions that might include Sisters of the Moon (an IPA), Dark Cloud (a Munich-style dunkel lager), and seasonals like Silent Night, a bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout.
From balanced dark beers to light thirst-quenching lagers, the growth of good beers along the coast has mirrored the rest of the state.
By Lynn Seldon
added: December 16, 2010
updated: December 15, 2011
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