I swore I was going to write about food on here, but I just haven’t found anything that piqued my interest. Sure, I love great food and eat it as much as a college student working an unpaid internship can afford, but, admittedly, I’m not a food critic. Finally I found something that was interesting because, although they are growing increasingly more popular with homebrewing laws loosening across the country, micro breweries and brew pubs are unique. Each one has a character that fits with the geographic area, the local ingredients, and the culture.
Some may shudder at the idea of writing about micro breweries because alcohol does not give off a whiff of professionalism. The point of this was not to get drunk (which I did not). I subscribe to the idea of keeping partying and the like as far away from your professional life as possible; however, this is not partying. This is about an art and a craft that deserves attention, the art of craft beer brewing.
First stop on the Brew Tour: Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
I have gone to the Outer Banks nearly every year since I was five, but this year was the first that I was 21. After going down there for over 15 years, many of the attractions aren’t so attractive anymore. After delving into homebrewing myself, I was very interested in the craft beer scene in such a tourist-y area. OB Brewing Station was a no-brainer.
The first wind-powered brew pub in America, OB Brewing Station blends a farmhouse exterior look with their hand-crafted beers and delicious, fresh dining menu from Chef Pok. With six of their own beers on tap and one “guest brew” from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville, N.C., there was a variety of suds for anybody even without the usual mass-produced beer fare.
Upon entering, I was surprised by the number of families with small kids and no drinks on the table. I knew that the food had to be good after the restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri on the Food Network, but people usually shy away from 45 minute to hour waits just for lunch. People stayed and for good reason.
Instead of waiting in the corner between the entrance and the lady’s room door, we pulled up a seat at the bar. With plenty of seats for customers, the two bartenders are constantly running to the nice wooden tap-handles specially made for each one of their brews and back. Even with a full bar, the bartender offered up that classic Southern hospitality to each customer that he spoke with.
The brew pub’s interior decor is a little odd with Persian patterned rugs hanging from the ceiling alongside speakers and strobe lights. You could tell that they have some night-time events with the elaborate DJ equipment set-up on the second level, but in the daylight, everything looks off. However, with the high ceilings and open floor plan, the decor never gets too suffocating.
Between the two of us, we tried three different beers that they had on tap: the B.I.G Hoppa Red Ale, Lemongrass Wheat Ale, and Stormy Rose Stout.
The red ale had a deep amber red color to it and the name is not misleading when it comes to the hops. Even with the glass set on the table, the hops make their way to your nose. While we typically associate a heavy hop taste and nose to IPAs, this red ale has a heavy body and a strong hop taste without feeling too overbearing.
The lemongrass wheat ale was unlike anything that I have previously had. A hefeweizen infused with the zesty lemony flavor of the lemongrass combined to make quite a refreshing summer brew. With its lemon-yellow color, it is easy to see why this is their award-winning recipe.
The stout was a delicious dark brew and certainly not for the weak. Its dark body gave off more of a smokey flavor than coffee or chocolate hints that can sometimes be tasted in a stout. OB Brewing Station served their stout on regular tap and it still had a great creamy texture, but I would have loved to try it on nitro!
Yea, yea, yea, there was food involved too, calm down. We both tried fried okra for the first time which, paired with a side of buttermilk ranch dipping sauce, offered a sort of life revelation. Where has okra been my whole life? Why doesn’t the North fry their vegetables like the South? How could we have been doing life wrong for so long?
I had their signature sandwich, the Yard Bird, which is a fried chicken sandwich with a cilantro-lime aioli. It was off the charts delicious! Normally, I’m not a huge fan of thick cut chicken because it can get tough and dry and unpleasant, but this piece was incredibly juicy and easy to eat. It’s easy to see why the Yard Bird is their best seller.
Overall, OB Brewing Station was a terrific first stop on the tour. Offering a great mix of food and unique craft beer with a location settled nicely next to the Wright Brothers Memorial, OB Brewing Station is looking more and more like a destination restaurant on an Outer Banks clogged with average seafood joints.
Stay tuned for more from the Brew Tour coming soon!