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Outer Banks Brew Pubs

It is a hot, muggy day here on the Outer Banks. The perfect day for a tall cold glass of beer . . . and luckily there are a few local places brewing up their own beer, and the beer is really good.

The father, or maybe grandfather, of the local brew scene has got to be Ule Beniwitz at Weeping Radish in Jarvisburg. The brewery started in Manteo almost 30 years ago and was the first microbrewery in North Carolina., 

Production outgrew the original space and Uli moved everything to his present location—a 14 acre organic farm and restaurant—a little bit north of the Cotton Gin.

There’s a reason why the Weeping Radish is still going strong. All beer is brewed to the Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516—which probably doesn’t mean much to most Americans. But what it means for taste is the beers are crisp, refreshing and very well balanced.

Although the Weeping Radish has been around the longest, the Outer Banks Brewing Station is probably the best know local brew pub. Easy to find—just look for the wind turbine along the bypass in Kill Devil Hills—Eric and Aubrey tend to be more adventurous with their beers than the Weeping Radish. 

Excellent beer across the spectrum, with a very good restaurant. Definitely worth checking out. They also brew their own birch beer for kids. Tasters we have spoken to about it have consistently ranked it five out of five stars.

Even though Weeping Radish moved out a number of years ago, Manteo still has a brewpub. Paul Charron at Full Moon Cafe brews just enough beer to take care of his restaurant’s needs. Very good beer, done in a British Isles style. Order a beer and a meal, get a seat at the sidewalk cafe and watch the world go by. 

It’s not a bad way to spend an hour.

Wicked Tuna: North vs South Filmed on the Outer Banks

Going into its third season,  the reality show Wicked Tuna needed something a little different so why not Wicked Tuna: North vs South.
Pitting the boats and captains from Gloucester, MA where the show originated, against the finest captains calling Wanchese home, the 2014 version of the popular National Geographic show kicks off tonight (Sunday) at 10 p.m.
The Atlantic bluefin tuna is huge—up to 1200 pounds and over 8’ long—powerful and one of the most valuable commercial catches around. Sold mostly on the Japanese sushi market they regularly bring $15,000-$20,000, and occasionally more . . . much more.
The competition took place in January of this year—one of the harshest winter months anyone on the Outer Banks can remember, and as the Gloucester fleet soon discovered, just getting through Oregon Inlet to the fishing grounds was its own challenge. Gloucester captains talked about how difficult it was navigating the Inlet, with local captain Greg Mayer of Fishin’ Frenzy remarking, “With their smaller boats, they had a real disadvantage getting through Oregon Inlet.”
But the northern crews did get to the fishing grounds, and even though North Carolina regulations make catching this king of the predator fish more difficult according to reports the competition was fierce and close.

Outer Banks Parasailing Adventure

Visitors to the Outer Banks aren’t the only ones who get to do some of the fun things to do locally. I took my daughter and her BFF (that’s Best Friend Forever) parasailing today and it was a great reminder how much fun all those activities we keep recommending are.

It was a Kitty Hawk Kites adventure, since my daughter has a summer job with them, but all the outfits on the Outer Banks that offer parasailing get great reviews for safety and service, so no matter who you choose you’ll probably have a great experience.

Tow lines typically run 800’ or 1200’ and the consensus between daughter and BFF is they should have have opted for the 1200’ ride. 

The details . . . 

Amazingly smooth ride. The view was sublime. We went out with three other groups and one of the pairs had a young boy who was frankly terrified at first—and that probably lasted all of 10 seconds into the flight and when he and his dad came back down to the back of the boat he was high-fiving every one he could reach.

It was a great time; a little bit expensive, but a fantastic way to create an amazing memory.

The Outer Banks-A Family Playground

There’s a reason why the Outer Banks bills itself as a family vacation destination—more than one reason actually.

Some of that is just in the way the Outer Banks has developed—and, frankly, chosen to develop. With no urban centers and no boardwalks, the whole area, from Corolla to Ocracoke Island has an open feel that invites kids to run, play and just be kids. What is particularly nice is they can just be kids and parents know they’re in a safe environment.

There are other reasons as well for the family feel to the area. There are a lot of activities geared specifically to kids—especially kids ten and under.

Kitty Hawk Kites has held their Kid's Day since as long as anyone can remember. It used to be Wednesdays at their Nags Head location only, but they’ve expanded that now and there is a store that features the event within easy driving distance of just about every location on the Outer Banks. 

It’s a great day of face painting, games kite making and  . . . fun. Some locations are Tuesday, others Wednesday so check for day.

A newer edition to the Outer Banks kids entertainment scene, the Outer Banks Children at Play Children’s Museum is located in Bucaneer’s Walk in Kitty Hawk. Geared much more for the six and under crowd, this is a great place for the younger members of the family.

Every Thursday at the Whalehead Club the North Carolina Marionette Theatre performs “Tom Benn and Blackbeard the Pirate” and wraps up with a meet and greet with the puppets.

In Duck, Tuesday through Thursday all summer long, events are scheduled for children in the morning on the town green.

There is more than that for kids, of course, but that should give families an idea of what the Outer Banks is all about.

Fate of Bonner Bridge Still Unknown

Sometimes there are winners and sometimes there are losers and sometimes it’s impossible to tell who won and who lost. That last scenario may be the case with ruling that was just handed down by the Fourth US Appellate Court in the Bonner Bridge appeal pitting NCDOT against the Southern Environmental Law Center.

In a rather confusing ruling, the Court said “ . . . we affirm the district court’s determination that Defendants complied with NEPA, reverse the district court’s determination that a special exception frees Defendants from complying with Section 4(f), and remand for further proceedings.”

What that means is the big question that hung over everything is answered—yes, NCDOT and the Federal Highway Administration did comply with the law in creating the environmental impact statements that will allow the project to go forward.

The fly in the ointment—and in this case it could be a whole family of flies—is the section 4(f) stipulation. NEPA 4(f) covers the use of how highway projects will impact historic landmarks, buildings and parks.

Established in 1937, the Appellate Court is holding that Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge falls into this category and it is their finding that NCDOT and FHWA must determine that the original plans for the park included a right-of-way for a road. “The only evidence relevant to this inquiry is that which pertains to the status of NC 12 when the Refuge was established,” they wrote in their finding.

Well, to clarify, it was remanded to District Judge Louise Flanagan to determine that.

That would seem to set the bar very high to satisfy those requirements, so at this point it’s difficult to know where the project stands.

What is known, is the Bonner Bridge, connecting Hatteras Island with the northern Outer Banks is now 20+ years past it’s projected lifespan. NCDOT has done a remarkable job of maintaining it, but that maintenance is becoming more difficult and expensive.


Outer Banks Visitation Remains Strong

About a month ago, here at Brindley Beach we wrote about how strong the spring had been on the Outer Banks. We pointed out that an abysmal winter largely caused by one of the harshest winters in years in the Northeast, had been overcome by excellent April and May visitation number.

At the time, we cautioned, though, that June could be a difficult month for our property owners because schools in the Northeast were getting out so late—a direct result of snow days.

Well—it appears as though we were wrong . . . if not completely wrong at least mostly wrong . . . which in this case is fine with us.

Dare County showed am increase in visitation revenue although two areas of concern were Duck and Southern Shores, towns that are geared almost exclusively to family vacations. It is possible that the “snow day” effect was in play in those places.

Currituck County is much slower than Dare County in reporting their visitation numbers. However, collection on retail sales in Currituck were very strong for the month of June, up 7.6% and generally retail sales parallel visitation revenue.

Take that number with a grain of salt though. Currituck County extends to the Virginia state line with a large part of it on the mainland. Although most of the revenue generated in the county comes from tourism, there are no reports that indicate what portion of the 7.6% comes from the Corolla area and what is from the mainland.

TS Bertha-Great Waves and a Quirky Personality

As predicted, Tropical Storm Bertha brought some of the best surf conditions of the summer to the Outer Banks as she passed by about 200 or 300 miles offshore.

The morning conditions were certainly better than later in the day. Afternoon into evening the wind shifted to NNE and the long swells started to get some chop. Nonetheless, there were a lot of surfers on the line even in the afternoon. They had to work a little more to get a good ride, but the conditions and the waves were certainly there.

We had mentioned in an earlier blog that Bertha seems remarkably well behaved for a tropical system—nonetheless, she has her quirks. The current forecast takes her over the British Isles—with London in the bullseye—by day five and a number of forecasts for London are calling for wind and rain on Sunday.

A lot changes in tropical forecasts over the course of five days and under any circumstances Bertha will be Bertha no more, just a tropical depression by that time. Nonetheless, it’s something we don’t recall seeing before, so it seems worth noting.


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