The Brewery that Launched the NC Beer Revolution: The Weeping Radish

My Weeping Radish story starts in the summer of 1992. I was ten, and my family was on a short vacation down to NC’s Outer Banks. We make a stop at a place called the Weeping Radish. My parents don’t particularly remember why. All I really remember is that night I bought something -this:

I vaguely remember there being a newstand there; I could have just as easily picked it up some where nearby. To ten-year-old me, The Infinity War was everything: Adam Warlock versus his evil doppleganger, the Magus. The X-men, Avengers, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four teaming up to save the universe. It had all the great bad guys: Thanos, Doctor, Doom, Galactus.

Fast Forward 26 (!!!) years.

The biggest movie of the year is a little film called Avengers: Infinity War (sure, it’s based on the earlier Infinity Gauntlet storyline, but hush nerds) and I’m back in the Outer Banks. And I write about beer. There’s only one place to go.

The Weeping Radish: The Essentials

The Weeping Radish is North Carolina’s oldest microbrewery. Here’s how they describe their own superhero origin story:

Uli Bennewitz came to North Carolina in the early-1980s and decided to open a microbrewery similar to the ones he’d left behind in Bavaria. The only problem was that it was illegal in North Carolina for a brewery to sell beer directly to the consumer. Working with State politicians Uli changed the law in North Carolina allowing microbreweries to sell their beer on site. A movement was created.  North Carolina is now one of the leading microbrewery States with over 120 open and many more under construction.  In 1986 The Weeping Radish Restaurant and Brewery opened its doors. At that time there were less than 100 breweries remaining in the United States, now there are thousands again.

The brewery moved from their original location in Manteo to just off the island in nearby Grandy in 2005. There’s a fun balcony/viewing area where you can observe the brewing operations that also tracks all the NC breweries that have opened since the Weeping Radish paved the way.

The Radish is more than just  brewery though – it’s a farm and butchery. Don’t just come there to drink – bring an appetite. In true German style, they specialize in encased meats. And just as you can sample beers, you can also sample sausages. Isn’t this place great?! The other thing that really stood out about the Radish in 2018 is the staff. I’ve been to a lot of breweries with a lot of knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff, but none quite like this. Our server was someone who just really, really loved her job, and knew her stuff. She took a good experience and made it great.

Brew to Choose

The Weeping Radish keeps it old school:

Since the beginning the Weeping Radish has brewed beer according to the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516 which states that beer must be brewed using only four ingredients: Hops, Malt, Yeast and Water. No additives, chemicals or preservatives may be used.
That means their offerings are pretty traditional. In some ways, it’s almost refreshing, considering everyone else is experimenting like crazy (I’m looking at you, Peanut Butter and Jalapeno beer folks).
  • The flight are set and let you try basically everything that one draft. They have six beers on year round and then a couple rotating.
  • I think their best beer by far is their Schwartzbier, the Black Radish.
  • Others I enjoyed included the OBX Kolsch, their IPA, and their Hefewiezen.
  • I’ve heard they also have a Coffee Kolsch, which interests me (especially after the tasty one down the road at 1718) but I didn’t get to try it. If you get a chance, let me know how it was!

Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another 26 years to get back there!

Best Brews!

–Dwain

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