The Outer Banks is well-known for a lot of reasons and many of them revolve around the wind, such as the famous first flight and the wind turbines found throughout the area. The first wind turbine on the OBX was installed at Outer Banks Brewing Station after a tedious five-year process to gain approval for the structure. In 2008, the Outer Banks Brewing Station became the first wind-powered establishment on the OBX, as well as the first wind-powered pub in the United States. Originally intended to be a conversation piece about renewable energy, the wind turbine has received national recognition and turned out to be a positive influence on the greater Outer Banks area. Several more wind turbines were installed on the Outer Banks, most notably one at Jockey’s Ridge State Park and three on Jennette’s Pier.
How it Started
The wind turbine is a big part of Outer Banks Brewing Station’s story, but let’s start at the beginning. In 1992, owners Eric Reece and Aubrey Davis came up with the idea for the restaurant and brewery when they were in the Peace Corps together in Thailand.
Eric began brewing beer in California in the early to mid-’90s. He moved to the Outer Banks in 1997 with his wife, Tina Mackenzie, who is the restaurant’s baker. Aubrey grew up in mainland North Carolina and had the idea to start the brewery on the Outer Banks. Both Eric and Aubrey feel that they continue to try new things and embrace change at the brewery and restaurant. The food, beer, and music at Outer Banks Brewing Station have all evolved throughout the years. However, if you’ve visited the establishment over the years, you may recognize the same faces working there year after year, as several members of their staff have worked there for many years.
Eric and Aubrey had the goal of creating an independent restaurant that was also heavily involved in the community Now, Outer Banks Brewing Station is not only known for their beer, food, and music venue, but also for their involvement in the local OBX community. The restaurant and its backyard have hosted numerous benefits for people in the Outer Banks community. Around 25 community events are held each year at the Outer Banks Brewing Station, and they are very involved with the Surfrider Foundation and beach clean-ups.
“Being part of the community is always what we have tried to become, and I feel that we have achieved that.”
Outer Banks Brewing Station’s beer selection is constantly changing. Eric works closely with the brewer in keeping it fresh by continually changing the beer offerings. They offer just one of their house-made brews year-round: Olsch, which is a Kolsch style beer. At any given time, their house-made beer menu can include wheat beer, brown ale, Saison, stout, and/or seasonal beers, such as Oktoberfest. During the summer this year, they brewed their very first Perry, a gluten-free hard cider made with muscadine grapes, which grow on their backyard fence, and peaches.
Not a beer drinker? Outer Banks Brewing Station also makes their own soda. Choose from root beer, ginger beer, or orange creamsicle.
”I think at this point the Beer Church here, is integrated into Outer Banks lore.”
From Pasture to Plate
The chef and the brewer at Outer Banks Brewing Station work closely together to use their beer in the food and vice versa. The chef may use smoke malt in certain foods and prepare foods that pair well with the beers that are currently on tap.
When beer is made, there is a grain by-product is created in the process. Outer Banks Brewing Station gives the grain by-product to a fifth-generation farmer in Elizabeth City, NC, who feeds it to his cattle. The Outer Banks Brewing Station then purchases the beef, by the entire cow, to serve at the restaurant. The menu includes creative and traditional dishes, and there are a variety of options for vegetarians and children.
“We try to have that connection to food that many people have lost.”
Live Music Scene
The music scene at Outer Banks Brewing Station evolved organically – they did not start the brewery and restaurant with intentions of being a nightclub. They carefully selected the genres of music, for example, back in 2002, they hosted a jazz fusion group with a live DJ when nearby venues were offering party rock and covers. Bands with different styles of music have graced the stage at the Outer Banks Brewing Station. The Backyard has also hosted its share of bands or solo acoustic gigs.
What began as a space for the first wind turbine on the OBX has evolved into a family-friendly area, perfect for playing and relaxing with friends while enjoying live music. The backyard is completely fenced, with a gate to the parking lot and a door to the restaurant. Parents can enjoy their beverage at the picnic tables while keeping an eye on the kids playing in the yard or on the giant pirate ship playset nearby.
Outer Banks Brewing Station’s COVID Response
Outer Banks Brewing Station is operating at 50% capacity, as well as checking in all patrons at the door before allowing entry into the restaurant. The restaurant is spacious, so they were able to easily space tables out. Stools at the bar have been reduced and glass barriers have been installed to separate the booth tables.
Takeout and curbside pickup are currently available as well.
The backyard is more popular than ever, as more events are being hosted outdoors. Outdoor seating in the backyard was already socially distanced.
Read more on the Innovation Pioneers on the OBX.