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Getting a Taste of the Outer Banks: Craft Beers and Local Distilleries

The Outer Banks, fondly known as OBX, is a breathtaking chain of barrier islands that span a majestic 200-mile length off the coastline of North Carolina. Marked by its picturesque seascapes, undulating dunes, and shimmering coastline, OBX is a haven that calls forth explorers, nature enthusiasts, and solitude-seekers alike.

One needs a moment or two to pinch themselves while standing on the beaches of OBX, with their pristine, powdery sands washed over by azure waves under the endless blue sky. The call of seagulls and the whisper of the Atlantic on the shoreline create a symphony that resides long in the memory of every visitor.

But the tranquil beauty of its beaches is not all the Outer Banks have to offer. These islands, with their maritime forests and coastal villages, are steeped in history, from the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island to the birthplace of aviation in Kill Devil Hills. The iconic lighthouses, historical sites, and national parks dotting these islands tell tales that date back to the first days of American history.

In addition to its enchanting natural beauty and rich history, the islands today are humming with a pulsating culture that is as divergent as it is enchanting— a combination of cherished past and a promising, vibrant future. Not surprisingly, this captivating locale is increasingly becoming a mecca for foodies, craft beer enthusiasts, and spirit aficionados.

Small towns peppered along the Outer Banks, like Duck, Nags Head, and Kitty Hawk, have maintained a quaint, charming vibe while simultaneously stepping into the exciting world of craft beverages. The area has seen a surge in local breweries, wineries, and distilleries where connoisseurs are crafting, concocting, and refining innovative beverages, making the Outer Banks a sought-after destination for culinary experiences.

A visit to the Outer Banks is indeed incomplete without visiting the local beer and spirit scene. With an emerging community of craft beer brewers who are not afraid of pushing boundaries, local distilleries producing exquisite spirits that honor the region’s deep-rooted traditions, and unique wineries offering wines that reflect the terroir, the OBX is a paradise for those seeking to pair cultural exploration with their beverage of choice. Here are some of the top breweries, wineries, and distilleries that you’ll want to integrate into your OBX trip itinerary.

Breweries on the OBX

The thriving craft beer scene in the Outer Banks is a testament to the creativity and passion of its local brewers. Nestled in the heart of the charming towns and picturesque settings, these breweries range from large, bustling establishments to intimate, boutique brew houses. Each carries its unique personality, whether it’s in the invigorating hop-forward brews, barrel-aged wonderments, or even concoctions infused with local ingredients like honey or coffee.

Venturing into these breweries isn’t just a delight for the taste buds. Many establishments also invite guests to come and witness first-hand the craftsmanship, effort, and pride that goes into producing every single batch. Visitors can explore state-of-the-art brewing facilities, enjoy guided tours explaining the intricacies of the brewing process, and even have a chat with the brewmasters themselves.

So, let’s lift our glasses and toast to some of the finest breweries in the Outer Banks, where the hops are fresh, the barrels are aged, and the beer is nothing short of extraordinary.

Outer Banks Brewing Station

Outer-Banks-Brewing

When it comes to brewing craftsmanship in the Outer Banks, few establishments hold a candle to the Outer Banks Brewing Station. Proudly making their mark on the OBX craft beer scene since 2001, this unique brewery has not only become a cornerstone of the local brewing industry but is also a trailblazer in sustainable brewing practices. Notably, the Outer Banks Brewing Station stands as America’s first wind-powered brewery, harnessing the abundant coastal winds commonplace to this barrier island setting.

Located on 600 South Croatan Highway, this progressive brewery conscientiously combines environmental mindfulness, brewing ingenuity, and a magnetic community spirit. The brewery’s extensive beer list speaks volumes about its dedication to craft – from crisp, refreshing lagers to rich, hearty stouts, and never forgetting the experimental brews thrown into the mix.

However, what sets Outer Banks Brewing Station apart, even more, is its family-friendly ethos. Recognizing that an inviting community space isn’t solely about the beer, this brewery presents a menu that caters to all ages. From scrumptious main dishes crafted with local ingredients for the adults to tasty and healthy selections for kids, there’s something to ensure every family member leaves with a satisfied smile.

The brewery’s atmosphere strikes the perfect balance between adult enjoyment and family fun. Inside, you’re greeted by a laid-back ambiance perfect for savoring your chosen brew, while the outdoors awakens your youthful spirit with a climbing playset. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Outer Banks Brewing Station extends its inclusivity to your furry pals! Pets are more than welcome in the outdoor seating area, making this a gathering place for the entire family—four-legged members included.

Lost Colony Brewery

Lost Colony Brewery

The Lost Colony Brewery is a revered spot for craft beer enthusiasts. Located in Stumpy Point, this expansive 10,000 sq ft brewing facility stands as a testament to the industrious spirit of Paul Charron, who, after years of brewing on a two-barrel system in a modest 300 sq ft pub in Manteo, opened this bustling brewery in 2016. The sizeable brewhouse now churns out English-style ales that are served across more than 100 eateries throughout OBX, making it a recognizable name on the coastal craft beer map.

The Lost Colony Brewery is known for its high-quality brews crafted with meticulousness and a deep understanding of English-style ales. Their lineup includes a variety of favorably reviewed products including their Kitty Hawk Blonde Ale, Lost Colony Nut Brown Ale, and the intriguingly named Holy Hand Grenade Imperial Stout. It’s safe to say that the brewery takes its brewing seriously, ensuring a delightful tasting experience for everyone who steps through their doors.

However, the Lost Colony Brewery isn’t just a hub for beer aficionados. Their waterfront location is a huge draw too. The brewery is perfectly situated to allow visitors to enjoy the magnificent coastal views while indulging in their frosty brews. This stunning venue, paired with their commitment to quality and variety in their brewing, keeps patrons coming back for more, validating the area’s reputation as a burgeoning hotspot in the craft beer landscape. Step into the Lost Colony Brewery to enjoy an unforgettable OBX brewing experience.

Swells’a Brewing 

Swells'a

Swells’a Brewing Co, perched on the edge of the powerful Atlantic ocean in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, was conceived amidst the “doldrums” of the sea – a figurative space where ideas burgeon, dreams flourish, and a passionately-built, craft beer enterprise takes form. Strengthened by salty sea breezes and whispers of the Atlantic waves, the brewmasters delved into nursing a brewing dream – one cold beer at a time – leading to their establishment cutting a niche in the flourishing OBX brewing scene.

In its ethos, Swells’a Brewing Co merges the love for well-crafted beers with the respect for the very environment that fuels their creativity. In a commendable move, the brewery has pledged its allegiance to sustainable practices by joining ‘One Percent for the Planet.’ As part of this commitment, they donate one percent of their total gross sales annually to support local Outer Banks National Parks via the Outer Banks Forever foundation. By doing so, they actively ensure the preservation of the beautiful surroundings they derive their inspiration from, including the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and Wright Brothers National Memorial.

Continuing to let the magic of the OBX seascape stir their brewing journey, Swells’a Brewing Co. represents a unique coupling of craft brewing wizardry stirred in a pot of oceanic nostalgia, bound by their commitment towards a sustainable future. Whether it’s the “slight beachy buzz” of their brews, the tranquility of their coastal backdrop, or the warmth of their community-driven ethos, one thing is for sure: a visit to Swells’a Brewing Co is an experience soaked in OBX tradition – where every brew pays tribute to the tireless spirit of the surfer awaiting the next “swell”.

Distilleries on the OBX

In the vibrant, scenic expanses of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, a rapidly growing distillery scene has been gradually making its mark, bringing a fresh wave of innovation to this traditionally beer-dominated landscape. These distilleries, carrying the charm and character of OBX, offer an enticing range of handcrafted spirits that encapsulate the essence of coastal Carolina. Just as quaint lighthouses dot the shores, the Outer Banks is unfolding a roadmap of distilleries, each one unveiling its unique spirit blends, from robust, barrel-aged bourbons to smooth, carefully distilled vodkas, and uniquely crafted rums inspired by the notorious pirate history of the region. Visitors can not only enjoy tastings of these distinct spirits but also learn about the distillation process, meet the master distillers, and take peek into the fusion of tradition and innovation that characterizes the OBX distilleries. As growing gems in the landscape of Outer Banks, these distilleries continue to fortify the locale’s reputation as a premier destination for the spirits connoisseur.

Outer Banks Distilling 

Founded in the heart of the Outer Banks in Manteo, North Carolina, Outer Banks Distilling is the region’s first legal distillery and a distinguished member of the local alcoholic beverage scene. Over time, it has made its mark by meticulously transforming molasses into delicious, small-batch rum varieties. Its name is synonymous with the Kill Devil Rum, an award-winning spirit inspired by the adventurous spirit and rich maritime heritage of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

 

Unlike classic distilleries that stick to conventional flavors, Outer Banks Distilling consistently pushes the envelope with their inventive series of premium rums. Included in their mainstay lineup are a Silver Rum, Gold Rum, and a unique Pecan Honey Rum. Alongside these, their specialty series showcase their commitment to blending the old and the new, innovatively. Notably, their limited-edition Kill Devil Shipwreck series features batches of rum aged in unique barrels and crafted from various ingredients, underscoring the versatility of rum styles stemming from different types of molasses, sugars, and barrels.

 

In an impressive testament to their belief in giving back to their community, they have also introduced the Kill Devil Angel’s Share Series. These limited-edition rums directly contribute to local organizations or charities through their sales – once again highlighting Outer Banks Distilling’s commitment to more than just their craft.

 

Guided by the rich, seafaring lore of the location, and driven by a passion for producing quality spirits, Outer Banks Distilling brews not just exceptional rums, but also a vibrant part of the Outer Banks’ culture. Whether you’re a rum aficionado or a newbie to this flavorful spirit, a visit to Outer Banks Distilling offers a potent taste of the past, artfully blended with contemporary craft distilling.

Buffalo City Distillery

Buffalo City Disitllery

Buffalo City Distillery is an artisanal spirits producer located in Point Harbor, North Carolina. An integral part of the thriving craft spirits scene of Outer Banks, the distillery takes utmost pride in their unique farm-to-bottle philosophy. Buffalo City Distillery sources ingredients from their own local farm, where the rich, organic black soils produce exceptional grains that ultimately contribute to their premium quality spirits.

The distillery’s offerings display meticulous craftsmanship and innovation. They have distinguished themselves in the realm of flavored vodka with handcrafted selections like Toasted Coconut Vodka, Peach Vodka, and Blood Orange Vodka. On the other hand, their whiskey palette is equally impressive with products like East Lake Bourbon Whiskey, East Lake Whiskey, and distinctly flavored spirits such as Honey Roasted Almond Whiskey, and Crisp Apple Whiskey.

The Buffalo City Distillery is also celebrated for its engaging visitor experiences. With distillery tours revealing the art of their craft, hands-on events, and an impressive Distillery Bar Experience, they provide a thorough, immersive journey into the world of spirited beverages. Their dedication to crafting high-quality spirits using homegrown ingredients, paired with their commitment to provide a memorable visit, makes Buffalo City Distillery a must-visit destination for any spirits enthusiast exploring the Outer Banks region.

Wineries on the OBX

Wineries, spread throughout the idyllic coastal landscape, offer beautifully crafted wines that reflect their unique terroir and embody the exquisite essence of the OBX. Ranging from boutique-crafted wines in small vineyards to more expansive wine estates, these wineries cater to a diverse audience of wine enthusiasts. Many of these establishments offer tastings and tours, allowing visitors to savor the wide selection of varietals and blends, all while enjoying the breathtaking vistas of the Outer Banks. The sense of warmth and hospitality found in the OBX wineries only adds to the experience, making any visit an unforgettable celebration of the region’s wines and coastal charm.

Sanctuary Vineyards

Sanctuary-Vineyards

Sanctuary Vineyards offers a remarkable vineyard experience that captures the essence of North Carolina’s wine-making industry. Family-owned and dedicated to celebrating exceptional Outer Banks wines, Sanctuary Vineyards has established itself as a prime destination for wine enthusiasts. Ensuring an exquisite range of wines and a memorable experience, visitors are invited to explore, indulge, and find their sanctuary in this idyllic location.

From savoring award-winning wines to participating in seasonal events, Sanctuary Vineyards promises a variety of opportunities to embrace the beauty of life in the Outer Banks. The vineyard’s portfolio comprises an extensive selection of red, white, and dessert wines that cater to diverse taste preferences. Additionally, visitors can explore further with a broad range of tasting experiences offered at the winery, where the vineyard’s finest products are showcased. For an enhanced experience and benefits, wine lovers can join the Sanctuary Vineyards’ no-fee wine club, The Bunch, which guarantees perks such as VIP tastings, discounts on case purchases, and access to special events including Wine Pick-up Parties.

In a tribute to local history and a celebration of regional flavors, Sanctuary Vineyards effortlessly combines its commitment to producing quality wines with an ethos of warmth and hospitality. With a visit to this enchanting vineyard, guests are welcomed into a world merging viticulture and quintessential Outer Banks charm – creating lasting memories that will surely beckon them to return.

Vineyards on the Scuppernong

Vineyards-on-the-Scuppernong

Vineyards on the Scuppernong offers a unique experience that transports visitors to a bygone era. Celebrating the rich history of North Carolina as the home of the first cultivated grape, this winery showcases the six distinct grape varieties that make it stand out in the world of viticulture. With a strong emphasis on the celebrated Scuppernong grape, Vineyards on the Scuppernong’s wine selection perfectly captures the essence of the local terroir.

Their delightful sweet white wines evoke the nostalgic experience of picking grapes in a vineyard as a child, delicately balancing sweetness and flavor. These wines pair well with a range of spicy and ethnic foods, making them excellent accompaniments to different cuisines or just pleasant sipping wines. As you explore their charming tasting room, you will find more than just wines; a diverse selection of wine accessories, specialty foods, local art, and jewelry is also available to enhance your visit. Whether you’re enjoying a glass on their porch, strolling around the town, or wandering along the waterfront, these enchanting wines are perfect for savoring the essence of Manteo and the Outer Banks.

In January 2020, Vineyards on the Scuppernong moved its main tasting room to Manteo, North Carolina. Manteo, known as the gateway to the Outer Banks and one of the oldest towns in North Carolina, offers a tranquil, picturesque setting for this delightful winery. So grab a glass, join the Vineyards on the Scuppernong community, and sail into a stunning Outer Banks sunset.

In conclusion, choosing to explore the captivating selection of breweries, wineries, and distilleries in the Outer Banks is an exquisite experience that should not be missed. Discovering the unique flavors and artistry found in these local establishments will immerse you in the region’s rich culture and history. To complement this unforgettable journey, make Village Realty your go-to place for exceptional vacation rentals. From oceanfront properties to cozy homes, Village Realty offers a diverse range of accommodations, ensuring a comfortable stay tailored to your preferences. Indulge in the ultimate Outer Banks experience by staying at one of Village Realty’s vacation rentals, while immersing yourself in the vibrant world of craft beverages that awaits you in this enchanting coastal destination.