Weeping Radish (6810 Caratoke Highway, Grandy; weepingradish.com), which opened in 1986 originally in Manteo, is North Carolina’s oldest craft brewery. They brew Bavarian styles according to the Reinheitsgebot purity law, and the adjoining brewpub is a tribute to sustainable farming and ranching. Just across Dowdy Bay from the town of Duck, Weeping Radish is a great place to pick up fresh beer, produce, and house-smoked meats for a beach picnic. Meyer says their butcher is so authentically Bavarian that he doesn’t even speak English.
Weeping Radish founder Uli Bennewitz has been such a trailblazer that Paul Sharron credits Bennewitz with inspiring his new venture: a nanobrewery. Sharron, along with his wife, runs Full Moon Café (208 Queen Elizabeth Street, Manteo; thefullmooncafe.com), which serves draft-only beer in downtown Manteo, with nine of the 11 taps pouring North Carolina beer. This spring, look for a house-brewed dry Irish stout and an English brown ale―both in the sub-five percent ABV session range―to round out the in-state taps.
Surfing, sea-kayaking, and ATV-riding are the area’s main draws and certainly work up a thirst that can only be slaked by draft beer. One of Wayland’s favorite places is the Red Drum Taphouse (2412 Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head) with “nothing but craft on tap,” or at least you’re not likely to find domestic macros. Among the 18 taps, look for rarities from across the state. Wayland also suggests Barefoot Bernie’s (3730 N. Croatan Highway,Kitty Hawk; barefootbernies.com), because they also rotate through new craft beers, which is impressive for a sports bar that otherwise makes its money on nothing but mainstream beers and frozen drinks. The menu sports yellowfin tuna tacos and fresh caught mahi mahi (in case you went out fishing and somehow came back empty-handed).
For high-end dining, Wayland loves Adrianna’s(207 Queen Elizabeth Ave., Suite 5, Manteo; adriannasrestaurant.com). This waterfront restaurant opens for the season in March. Naturally, it sports an amazing wine list, but he assured us they stock “a huge selection of craft beers as well.” Of the 10 taps, they’re almost all craft and well-chosen imports. North Carolina gets plenty of love in the form of Duck Rabbit Milk Stout or Strawberry Ale from Carolina Beer in Mooresville. “Order the blue crab along with the shrimp,” advises Wayland. “They get tons of good stuff out of the Gulf Stream.”
As for getting your day started before all the relaxing and beer sampling, hearty fare is the order of the day at Stack ’Em High (1225 N. Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills and less than three miles down the road at 3801 N. Croatan Highway, Kitty Hawk; stackemhigh.com). “They’re locally owned and serve just outstanding pancakes,” says Wayland, not to mention local “OBX specials” that typically incorporate crab like the lump crabmeat omelet and a few “redneck specials.”
Finding accommodations in the OBX, as is the case everywhere, is a matter of taste and budget. If you choose to stay in the more populated areas, there’s Colony IV by the Sea (405 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills; motelbythesea.com), which is the No. 1 rated hotel on tripadvisor.com. A more romantic option, further south along the coast, is the White Doe Inn (319 Sir Walter Raleigh St., Manteo; whitedoeinn.com). Wayland points out that the further south you go, the more the restaurants and accommodations become upscale. Perhaps this is why the wild horses of the Outer Banks choose to romp and graze on the islands.