Outer Banks Day trips-A Day of Microbrewery Beer Tasting
In the world of day trips, there are family outings, romantic getaways, back-to-nature journeys, and beer tasting. This is the latter.
There are four microbreweries on the Outer Banks…ok, five, but 1718 Brewery on Ocracoke is part of a day trip all its own. There may be a 6th local brewery soon, but Swell Brewery on the Beach Road in Kill Devil Hills looks like it’s still months from opening as we write this.
Four tasting stations in one day, though, maybe enough to qualify for a designated driver—depending, of course, on how much tasting is being done.
We’re going to start our tour at the Weeping Radish in Jarvisburg, just north of the Cotton Gin. Because it’s on the mainland, it seems like a good place to start. After that, we recommend looking at a map and ending your tour at the microbrewery closest to home.
After leaving Weeping Radish, we’ve arranged our tour from south to north.
6810 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy
Before the word microbrewery was really even a word, Uli Bennewitz was brewing small batches of beer in the Bavarian-style at his original location in Manteo. Actually, Weeping Radish was the first microbrewery in North Carolina.
The Manteo location was limited in size and as demand grew for Weeping Radish beers, a larger facility was needed. In 2003 the Grandy location opened.
The larger facility includes a pub, a 14-acre organic farm, and a butchery where the Weeping Radish makes their own sausage. Bring a cooler to the tasting; the sausage is excellent.
The beers tend toward a German-style, although there is an IPA in the regular lineup. There are also seasonal beers that are offered, well, seasonally.
The Weeping Radish offers a Beer and Brats tour. Reservations are recommended for it. It’s a great way to sample the beer and sausage made on the premises.
Lost Colony Brewery and Cafe
208 Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo
Located on the corner of Queen Elizabeth Street and Sir Walter Street, the Lost Colony Brewery features a wonderful outdoor seating area and great food. Before it was the Lost Colony Brewery it was the Full Moon Cafe, and the same folks still own it. Service can be a bit slow at times—the kitchen is small, but be patient. It’s worth the wait.
The beers are an English and Irish style—a little heavy on the hops, but very well made with a nice balance. Some of what owner and brewmaster Paul Charron creates— Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch Imperial Stout (10%) and Kill Devil Hills Scotch Ale (11%)— are a little high on the alcohol.
Good brews, but there are two more places to visit.
Outer Banks Brewing Station
600 S Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills
Probably the best known of the Outer Banks microbreweries, the Brewing Station is located in the heart of Kill Devil Hills on the Bypass. Easy to find, just look for the wind turbine in the backyard.
Like Lost Colony Brewery, their food is great. The backyard has been set up as a beer garden, and it works very well.
Live music is a regular feature of the Brewing Station. Late night it’s indoors, but earlier in the evening, the music is outside and it is quite a nice venue for a live performance.
The Brewing Station beers run the full gamut of styles from easy drinking lagers to aged ales. The one beer that always seems to be available is their LemonGrass Wheat Ale. It’s a wonderfully refreshing summer sipper with a nicely balanced touch of the zest of lemongrass.
Brewing station brews their own root beer, ginger beer, and orange vanilla creamsicle sodas. We haven’t tried the orange vanilla creamsicle concoction, but the root beer and ginger beer are amazing.
Northern Outer Banks Brewing Company
520 Old Stoney Rd, Corolla
The most recent addition to the Outer Banks microbrewery scene—at least until Swell Brewery opens—Northern Outer Banks Brewing is the smallest of the local breweries. There’s no kitchen here, just a small tasting room and tables and chairs on the sidewalk.
However, Low Tide Bar and Grill or Bacchus Wine and Market are in the same shopping plaza, so there’s plenty to eat.
Because Northern Outer Banks Brewing is so small, beer tasting at the brewery tends to be a more intimate and personal experience than the other microbreweries. A lot of the time the tasting is with the owner and brewmaster Michael Cherry or his wife and co-owner Kathleen McCubbins. If Michael is there and information about Corolla is needed, pump him for knowledge—he’s about as local as it gets.
Northern Outer Banks Brewing is a very approachable style of beer. Even the IPA is a full flavored IPA but doesn’t have the dry, hoppy finish that many IPAs have.
A quick note on designated drivers and such. A flight of beer is one of the best ways to try the various beers the breweries have to offer. Most flights are four five ounce glasses of beer. Over the course of a day, that’s a little more than a six pack of beer. And microbrewery beers tend toward more alcohol than commercial beers.
Local law enforcement has taken a hard line against alcohol and driving. A designated driver is a good idea in this case.