Outer Banks Brewing Station
600 South Croatan Hwy • Kill Devil Hills, NC • 252-449-BREW
I can’t stand beer. Though my father gave me my first swigs of the stuff when I was barely in my teens, I was always more a fan of liquor and mixed drinks. So the fact that I enjoyed my dinner at the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, says a lot about the restaurant’s food… not to mention its eco-friendly initiatives.
The Outer Banks Brewing Station opened in 2001, but owners Aubrey Davis and Eric Reece ran into obstruction from the town’s Board of Commissioners when they tried to build a 93-foot-tall wind turbine to power the restaurant. Finally, on Earth Day 2008, the OBBS became America’s first wind-powered brew pub, using the constant breeze the Outer Banks is famous for to offset 250 tons of greenhouse gases over the turbine’s lifetime.
The massive turbine is a distinctive landmark, but it’s hardly the restaurant’s only distinguishing feature. The building itself looks like an old Southern church on the outside, but in fact was designed to resemble the Outer Banks‘ turn-of-the-century life-saving stations. The inside is unabashedly quirky, with cathedral-style ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and Persian floor rugs hanging pretty much everywhere you look.
Reece admitted that the hippie-fied carpets are a poor man’s approach to sound baffling– their attempt to control the cacophonous din that can occur when live bands perform (which they do every weekend during tourist season). The Outer Banks Brewing Station is one of the few places in coastal North Carolina with live music, and occasionally books big-name bands like Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. As a result, the place is extremely popular with locals looking to cut loose.
Speaking of cutting loose… BEER. Brewmaster Scott Meyer, described as a “mad scientist” in his beer kitchen, approaches his craft with a jazz musician’s love of experimentation. So, despite my own prejudices, we started our meal with a Beer Flight of four different OBBS handcrafted brews served in 5 oz glasses.
I’ll admit I didn’t hate the Ölsch, Standard Issue Pale Ale, or chocolaty Pokerface Porter. But their LemonGrass Wheat Ale, a crisply tart hefeweizen, was easily among the best beers I’ve ever tasted (and also a World Beer Cup Silver Medal winner). Since Meyer is always tinkering with new recipes, the Brewing Station’s roster of beers is always changing.
As far as the food, the Outer Banks Brewing Station Menu falls halfway between typical bar food and a gourmet gastropub. “Pubwiches” and starters are available all day, with the latter focused on fried foods (seriously, try the Fried Okra). But after 4:30PM you can also get upscale appetizers such as the Mussel Bowl, which is sautéed in Chardonnay with parsley, garlic and tomato and served with grilled bread (dip it!); and the Tuna Stack, pepper-seared sushi grade tuna served with Asian cucumbers, wasabi aioli and sweet soy reduction. Both were robust with flavor.
For entrees, my daughter went with North Cackalackee Fried Shrimp, which were massive, battered in Ölsch beer, and cooked to crispy perfection. But Mary and I truly savored our Shrimp ‘N’ Grits (which was cooked low country style with NC stone-ground grits and red-eye gravy) and Pan Seared Scallops served over a mushroom, corn, pea, and country ham risotto. The Sweet Potato Chips served alongside the latter dish should be packaged and
If you’re looking for fine dining, the Outer Banks Brewing Station isn’t for you. But with its laid-back atmosphere, outdoor play area for kids, and live music, it’s an awesome hangout for families seeking an eco-friendly option in Kill Devil Hills. And, of course, if you dig beer, you’ll definitely dig Meyer’s brews. When we visit the area again on assignment next month, we’ll definitely make a return visit. –Bret Love; photos provided by Outer Banks Brewing Station
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