The Outer Banks Brewing Station – A Perfect Ten On The Beach, Beer Style.

A couple weeks ago, some much needed vacation time and my own beer road led me on my annual summer trip to the Outer Banks, North Carolina.  Personally, I love being at the ocean.  It revitalizes me and puts me at ease like little else can.  I owe it to the near perfect weather, beautiful sunrises, and mesmerizing waves that, as usual, I hardly removed myself from beside the ocean the entire week.  As far as I’m concerned, planting yourself firmly in the sand for just about the entire week is the perfect way to spend time at the beach.  Finding the right beer to compliment those relaxing days on the beach, however, is an interesting and fun topic of conversation among craft beer fans.  Some will tell you there is no need for a different beer choice than what you might otherwise drink.  You’ll also hear that it’s somewhat unfair to label a particular style of beer a “summer beer”, but let’s face it, when sizzling under the sun in your beach chair, some beers just seem more adept at hitting the spot than others.  After all, we all have our favorite company for our beach trips which we hope are available when we make our vacation plans. Ones that simply compliment your time in the heat – they enjoy playing frisbee, you enjoy frisbee, they enjoy long walks on the beach at night, and you do as well..but wait..we’re talking about beer, right?   So anyhow, I packed the cooler with some brews that find themselves commonly under the debatable umbrella of “summer” beers – IPAs, wheat beers, and the like, and headed off for a week by the sea.

Down on the beach, things started out well enough.  The weather was perfect, and the sun rarely missed a minute behind the clouds.  There, on the hot sand in the early summer heat, my choices kept good company, not making much sound except for the occasional “pffssst”.  As the days grew hotter, sweat regularly beaded up on both my and the long necks of my (glassy) companions.  As I warmed under the sun and dug my feet into the sand, the ones with spicier, uh, hoppier personalities kept things interesting, taking my mind off of the heat, while the more subtle ones, quietly in their golden toned beauty, tried to take the edge off of it.  I was enjoying my time with them, true, but honestly, I had met beers like these before.  Though I’m no stranger to the Outer Banks, perhaps deep down I knew I wouldn’t mind meeting one who knew the area better than I.  And that’s when that perfect ten showed up on the beach.

Truth be told, I had picked up this blonde beach beauty at a brewery and restaurant the day before.  Yes, it sounds a bit out of character for me, even scandalous.  After all, I’ve never been lucky enough to have any centerfold types sit with me under the shade of a beach umbrella.  Yet there I was, being refreshed by the new company I had found.  It turned out to be one of the most pleasurable days I had ever spent on a beach to date.

My centerfold luck, in terms of let’s say, Sports Illustrated type models, may always remain the same, which just fine by me, honestly.  But in terms of the right beer, things couldn’t worked out much better – my new “companion” was a growler of fresh beer from the Outer Banks Brewing Station, and it hit the spot.  Last year, I waited until late into my vacation week to make it to the well established brewery, now celebrating its tenth year of operation, and had promised myself that would not be the case this year.  Now anyone familiar with the OBBS will likely mention the eighty foot tower and the wind turbine that it supports located outside on the brewery’s grounds.  So many craft breweries in the United States use alternative energy to supplement their operation.  It’s a trend that might seem unlikely at first, but begins to makes sense the more you think about it – ingredients from the earth go into the beer, using energy sources which are overall better for the environment from which the grain, hops, and water originally came from.  As “Americas First Wind Powered Brewery”, the OBBS is no different – a proud, working example of renewable energy.

But we came for the beer, so on the second day in this year’s trip, we made it down to sample what was currently on tap and have the growler filled with fresh beer.  Last year, their delicious Lemongrass Wheat was a perfect choice.  This year the restaurant and brewpub had recently brewed a very good pilsner and also a beer-style-busting mix of a hefeweizen and brown ale called “Cocoa Brown” that peaked our curiosity.  But their “Olsch’ – as the Brewing Station calls their Kolsch style beer – won out, and made it into the growler.  Kolsch beers are a lighter style of beer, with delicate, biscuity malt and subtle hop flavors, typically medium hop bitterness, and sometimes what seems like a tinge of lemony citrus flavor.  As for the Brewing Station’s claim that their version is “THE thirst quencher”, I can’t disagree.  For the next couple days, much of it made its way down to the beach to help hold off the heat.

Still other tasty choices continually brew underneath the towering wind turbine.  During the Brew Station’s ten years, Brew Master Scott Meyer has not stopped experimenting with various styles of beer.  As he writes on the website, “I like to think of our pub brewery as a kitchen rather than a factory. I never stop experimenting. Every brew is the result of the culmination of everything I’ve learned about brewing to date.”  When available, the Lemongrass Wheat is not to be missed and another perfect warm weather quencher.  The seasonal Santa’s Little Sledgehammer, is an extremely tasty, strong Belgian ale.  It’s a fuller bodied, complex mix of malty, dark fruit flavors and with hints of holiday like spices.  While we were there, a Dry Irish Stout called Stormy Roses was on tap and was both easy to drink but featured a nicely roasted, rich flavor.  Their Hip Hop India Pale Ale is a bold, piney, somewhat aggressive American IPA for any curious hophead.  That Cocoa Brown Hefeweizen/Brown Ale blend I mentioned before?  That was the second growler fill during the latter half of the week, just delicious.  Honestly, I have not had a beer yet from the OBBS that has not become a personal favorite or at the very least impressed me with their character and flavor.

But as with all summer romances though, the week would soon come to an end.  My time on the beach went all too quickly; my growler was finally empty.  Between you and me, I’ll never forget the time I spent on the sand, sweltering under the sun with my deliciously brewed Brewing Station beer.  These were memorable and needless to say, very tasty days (I even took pictures!).

Ok, maybe the relationship clichés are becoming too much to handle.  But there’s no denying that the Outer Banks Brewing Station IS a perfect ten, at least in brewery terms, on the beach.  If you’re down in the area, love craft brewed, well made beer, a comfortable, fun place to enjoy it, plus some excellent food as well, it’s a must stop.  Next year, I’ll have to rekindle my love affair…er…refill my growler at the Brewing Station, and head back to the beach.

Outer Banks Brewing Station Website

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~ by thebeerroad on July 8, 2011.

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