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Craft Breweries on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Craft Breweries on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

alt="A white picket fence sits in the foreground of one of the craft breweries on the Outer Banks of North Carolina."
Photo: Weeping Radish Farm Brewery

Weeping Radish Farm Brewery – Grandy

According to the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, the Tarheel State is home to more than 230 craft breweries—more than any other state in the country—however, only one can claim the title of being the oldest microbrewery in the state: the Weeping Radish Brewery. The brewery was founded in 1986 by Bavarian native Uli Bennewitz, who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s and quickly set out to open a brand-new microbrewery in North Carolina that was similar to the ones that were found throughout his Bavarian homeland.

Photo: Our State Magazine

Despite the popularity that breweries had enjoyed in his home country, at the time that Bennewitz attempted to establish one in North Carolina, only 100 microbreweries existed in the entire United States. To further complicate his plans of opening a business, North Carolina law prohibited breweries from selling their beer directly to consumers. Bennewitz, however, was determined to turn his dream of opening a Bavarian-style brewery in the United States into a reality, so he went to work attempting to convince state politicians to repeal the restrictions that craft breweries faced. His efforts eventually paid off, and Bennewitz soon opened the doors to what would become the first microbrewery in North Carolina.

Photo: Stephanie Banfield

Drawing on his Bavarian heritage, Bennewitz began to brew his beers in strict adherence to the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516. Commonly referred to as simply the “German Beer Purity Law,” Reinheitsgebot was introduced by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria and states that only four ingredients can be used in the beer-brewing process—hops, barley, yeast and water—and that the product can contain no chemicals, additives or preservatives. Due to his strong belief in Reinheitsgebot, Bennewitz concocted all of his beers in accordance to the Bavarian law, and brews made by the Weeping Radish Farm Brewery gained immense popularity among both locals and visitors to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Photo: Weeping Radish Farm Brewery

As the demand for Bavarian-style brews on the barrier islands increased, it quickly became evident that the Weeping Radish Brewery needed a bigger facility than its location on Roanoke Island in order to keep up its supply. In 2001, groundbreaking began at the brewery’s new location in the nearby town of Grandy, about 35 miles away from its original location in the waterfront town of Manteo. In 2005, the newly named “Weeping Radish Farm Brewery”—which featured a larger brewing operation, a farm, a restaurant and a butcher’s facility—brewed its first batch of beer and officially opened its doors to the public. For more on the Weeping Radish Farm Brewery, click here.

Photo: Outer Banks This Week

The Outer Banks Brewing Station – Kill Devil Hills

Situated in the heart of Kill Devil Hills, the Outer Banks Brewing Station is perhaps the best-known craft brewery on the barrier islands of North Carolina—and it’s anything but your ordinary brew pub. The Outer Banks Brewing Station has a unique claim to fame that sets it apart from other breweries across the country: it was the first-ever wind-powered brewery in the United States as well as the first wind-powered business to open up shop on the Outer Banks.

alt="The wind turbine on the Outer Banks Brewing Station spins outside the building designed to look like a lifesaving station."
Photo: Our State Magazine

The concept for this environmentally friendly business dates back to 1992, when its founders, Eric Reece and Aubrey Davis, were working as Peace Corps volunteers in Thailand. The pair had developed an interested in home brewing, and Eric had gained a wealth of experience in the brew pub industry while working at a brewery with master brewer Scott Meyer in Berkeley, California. Having grown up spending his summers on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Aubrey envisioned the beach as the perfect place to start a business that honored the unique history of the region.

alt="The bar at this craft brewery on the Outer Banks was designed to resemble a lifesaving boat pointed toward the sea."
Photo: OBX Guides

The building—which was designed by architect Ben Cahoon and constructed by Carolina Beach Builders—was modeled after the many lifesaving stations that sprang up along the Outer Banks at the turn of the 21st century. According to the brewery’s founders, the bar itself is a modern-day interpretation of a lifesaving boat that is pointed east toward the ocean, ready to be deployed down tracks made of beach bricks to save the crew of a ship that has fallen victim to the infamous Graveyard of the Atlantic. Behind the Outer Banks Brewing Station stands the landmark 92-foot-tall wind turbine that is responsible for powering the innovative restaurant and brewery whose focus is not only on crafting exceptional beers but also on sustainability and environmental consciousness in the community.

alt="The stage at the Outer Banks Brewing Station is pictured from above and tables fill the spot that is transformed into a dance floor at night."
Photo: Outer Banks Brewing Station

The Outer Banks Brewing Station may be best known for its extensive menu of handcrafted brews, tasty tapas and delicious entrees that range from burgers and fish bites to North Carolina barbecue and pan-seared scallops; however, the establishment has also become a hot spot for live music performed by local and regional bands. Those looking for a one-of-a-kind spot to enjoy nightlife on the Outer Banks will find a large stage that fronts an even larger dance floor, making the brew pub a prime place for people who want to dine on delicious fare before kicking back with a cold brew and soaking up the music scene.

1718 Brewing Ocracoke – Ocracoke Island

alt="1718 Brewing Ocracoke is one of the newest craft breweries on the Outer Banks."
Photo: Facebook

One of the newest craft breweries on the Outer Banks of North Carolina is 1718 Brewing Ocracoke, which opened its doors for the first time in October 2017. Located on the main road as you enter Ocracoke Village, 1718 Brewing Ocracoke was established by owner Garick Kalna and his wife, Jacqui, in the building that formerly housed Café Atlantic. The couple made a conscious effort to maintain a significant amount of the previous restaurant’s ambiance, incorporating some of the exterior shingles into the interior design and keeping the rich wood paneling on the walls intact. 

alt="Four handcrafted beers in glasses are sit in front of a chalkboard menu at 1718 Brewing Ocracoke, one of the newest craft breweries on the Outer Banks"
Photo: Visit North Carolina

The two-story structure offers patrons plenty of indoor and outdoor seating where they can enjoy one of the many handcrafted beers that are brewed on-site in 12-barrel batches. Named for the year that the legendary pirate Blackbeard was killed just offshore in the waters of the Pamlico Sound after a brief battle with British soldiers who sought to put an end to piracy in the shipping routes that ran along the Eastern Seaboard, 1718 Brewing Ocracoke offers an extensive menu of unique beers to please every palate. From IPAs, kolches and stouts to ales, saison-style brews and wheat beers, visitors will find no shortage of exceptional options to choose from at 1718 Brewing Ocracoke.





The Weeping Radish: North Carolina’s Oldest Microbrewery

Over the course of the past decade, the popularity of craft beers concocted by small, local breweries has grown exponentially. Small, local breweries have begun to spring up in towns across America, with the latest figures estimating the number of craft breweries operating in the United States at 5,234 as of the end of 2017.

According to the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, when it comes to the number of craft breweries, the Tarheel State—which boasts 230 craft breweries within its borders—is home to more craft breweries than any other state in the country. Although dozens of craft breweries have opened their doors and begun developing unique brews over the course of the past few decades—Raleigh and its surrounding suburbs alone are home to 25 craft breweries—only one can stake its claim as being the oldest microbrewery in the state: the Weeping Radish Brewery.

Originally founded by Bavarian native Uli Bennewitz in the small waterside town of Manteo on Roanoke Island, the Weeping Radish Restaurant and Brewery first opened in 1986 in an annex adjacent to The Christmas Shop on Highway 64. Bennewitz, who had emigrated from Bavaria to the United States in the 1980s, wanted to open a microbrewery similar to the ones he’d left behind in his homeland. At the time, however, only 100 microbreweries existed in the entire United States, and North Carolina law had declared it illegal for a brewery to sell beer directly to consumers.

Photo: Weeping Radish

Determined to succeed in opening his microbrewery and undeterred by the challenges presented by local laws, Bennewitz worked diligently with state politicians to have the law changed—eventually winning the opportunity to open his brewery on the Outer Banks and ultimately paving the way for hundreds of other craft breweries in North Carolina to do the same decades later.

Photo: Stephanie Banfield

From the beginning, the beers brewed by the Weeping Radish have been concocted according to the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516. In addition to stating that no chemicals, preservatives or additives may be used in the beer-brewing process, this law also requires the brewmaster to use only four ingredients in the process: hops, malt, yeast and water. The beers brewed by the Weeping Radish grew in popularity among both locals and visitors to the Outer Banks, and Bennewitz eventually decided he needed a larger facility to keep up with the increasing demand for his products. In 2007 the Manteo location closed its doors and the operation was moved 35 miles away to Grandy in nearby Currituck County.

Photo: Weeping Radish

Four years later, groundbreaking began in Grandy, and in 2005 the new location—which featured a larger brewery, as well as a restaurant, farm and butcher’s facility—brewed its first batch of beer and opened to the public once again, this time as the “Weeping Radish Farm Brewery.” With the larger facility up and running and ready to offer craft brews to those in search of local breweries on the Outer Banks, Bennewitz took on yet another challenge: applying the Reinheitsgebot principles he had applied to his beers for nearly two decades—refraining from the use of chemicals and additives and working hard to ensure the finish product received minimal processing—to the food he served in his restaurant.  

Photo: The Redhead Riter

With the goal of reducing the current average distance food travels before it gets to the consumer from 2,000 miles to 200 miles, Bennewitz brought on Gunther Kuhle, a German master butcher, and set out to produce “Reinheitsgebot food” for locals and visitors to the area taking an Outer Banks vacation. The Weeping Radish Farm Brewery operates a 14-acre farm where organic vegetables are grown, and also works with area farms to source only free-range pork and beef for the charcuterie and sausages it serves in its popular restaurant located just 20 minutes from Kitty Hawk on the northern Outer Banks. From sauerbraten, beer brats, sausage samplers and pork schnitzel to burgers, soups, salads and sandwiches, the farm-to-table food served at the German-inspired Weeping Radish Farm Brewery has received such positive reviews it was featured on The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri in 2013. 

In addition to offering a spot for Outer Banks locals and tourists to sit down for a delicious lunch, dinner or just a tasty craft brew, the Weeping Radish Farm Brewery also features a retail counter where a variety of products ranging from sausages and pastrami to bacon and beer can be purchased. Guided tours of the on-site brewery are also offered to the public, so those interested in the brewing process behind the popular Outer Banks beers Bennewitz worked so hard to bring to the area can witness the inner-workings of the facility that put microbrewing on the map of the state of North Carolina more than 30 years ago.

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