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Just off Kill Devil Hills beach a block away from the Wright Brothers Museum lies SWELLS’A BREWING COMPANY, an interestingly setup cedar planked pub with dapper Mod styling. Burnt sienna-hued Spanish mission tiles and a cozy fireplace welcome patrons to the 10-seat bar where snacks and refrigerated cans to-go get sold alongside a dozen or so straightforward homemade draught beers listed on skateboards and emulating from the left side brew tanks.

There are wide stairs leading to the slanted-roofed sunset mezzanine and wood-benched rooftop deck – both with beautiful ocean views. A covered outdoor picnic area with three community tables, central firepit and twin bathroom kiosks are stationed at the right exterior. to the bohemian Outer Banx vibe. Open summertime 2021, Swells’a is a virtual surfer dude’s boss beach shack positively reinforcing the bohemian Outer Banx vibe.

The stylistically apropos and affably approachable suds ranged from light-bodied pilsner and moderate cream ale to lactic stout (and a rum barreled fruited sour – Kahuna Matata – bought in a bottle and listed in Beer Index) on my two sunny August 2022 perusals.

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Sweet cereal graining contrasted the hay-dried barnyard parch of crisply clean Pea Island Pilsner, leaving a lemony orange spritz upon its lightly herbal hops.

Easygoing helles lager, Sand Pounder, placed orange-oiled lemondrop tartness atop sourdough breading.

Dry cream ale, Day For It, muddled lightly spiced orange tartness and soapy lager yeast with grassy hop astringency.

Just a tad less bitter than an IPA, Bay Dreams Pale Ale offered delicately perfume-spiced orange and grapefruit rind dryness and herbal snips to sugary pale malts.

Perhaps a bit offbeat for a saison, Sea Donkey let its stylishly dry farmhouse rusticity and candied citrus tartness get swayed by lacquered lavender and chrysanthemum florality and/or sage-like herbage.

Sweet-Tart candied strawberry salting fronted puckering fruited sour, Under The Strawberry Moon, picking up lemony watermelon wisps in a lactose setting.

Dry briny lemon souring and light woodruff syruping swayed reliable Berliner Weisse, Carpet Shark, reaching its lactic white wheated pilsner malt base.

Dry fruited wheat ale, You’re A Melon, pitched earthen melon rind mustiness and lemony orange rind snips to its saltine cracker base.

For a neat cocktail turnabout, Pina Ola Wheat, initially resembled a lightly salted Pina Colada with its rummy pineapple-juiced coconut creaming but succumbed to oaken lemon-limed tequila tenacity.

Milk-sugared coffee creaming contrasted dry cocoa powdering and soy-sauced mossy soiling of Choco Sea Dream Stout - today’s only dark ale available.


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Inside a small Croatan Highway mini-mall at Kill Devil Hills, BUFFALO CITY JUG SHOP had the most interesting beer selection on the Outer Banks. Since 2017, this clean one-room open space features a six-seat laminated wood bar (with inlet beer coasters) serving fabulous flagships, seasonals, one-offs and specials from its 20-plus tap handles.

Along the right side, there’s a refrigerated section of bottles-cans across warm shelved brews (with many sours amongst the fine local lot).

During my one-hour July 2018 stay, I quaffed six North Carolina brews: Smithfield’s Double Barley Sparkky’s Milk Stout and Asheville’s Wicked Weed Lieutenant Dank IPA plus four from Charlotte’s Wooden Robot – flagship Overachiever Pale Ale, What I’m Having Session IPA, Robotico Lager and Get Rich Or Chai Trying Milk Stout (reviewed in Beer Index).



North of Cape Hatteras, rode waves at Kill Devil Hills (where Wright Brothers flew first flights) and visited one of four unique Brew Thru drive-through beverage stores (though selection was limited), August ‘04. Revisited the Outer Banks another dozen times by 2023, bodysurfing and some boating.

At nearby OUTER BANKS BREWING STATION (open since 2001), originally quaffed sugar malt-spiced, green apple-soured Altimeter, tangy citric-sweet coriander-spiced wheat-chaffed Belgian-styled Wright Wit, soft curacoa orange-embittered ESB, dry chocolate-chalked Irish-styled Stormy Roses Stout, and dryer coffee bean-roasted, hickory-charred, maple-malted Smoke Daddy Porter.

Over the course of a decade, this modern interpretation of a life saving station grew in size and stature, becoming the first turbine-infused wind powered brewpub in the nation. Keeping its vintage unfinished barnstable appeal, the large pub then added a spacious umbrella-lined back deck (with kids pirate ship playground, picnic seating and trellis) while offering a wider array of beer styles.

A pleasurable experience for all ages, Outer Banks Brewing Station really packed ‘em in on my Sunday evening dinnertime stopover, August ’15. The creative pub fare may not be ‘revolutionary cuisine,’ but it’s damn fine.

A centralized bar with open kitchen serves homemade tapped beer and fine wines alongside surf, turf, ’pubwiches’ and appetizers. The airplane hangar-like tin ceiling provides protection for the rustic wood furnishings, diner-styled red booths, private loft, glass-encased brewtanks, exposed ducts and beach-bricked tracks. Earth-toned silk screen murals line the walls and a widescreen TV at the bar keeps sports-minded patrons entertained.

My wife and I grab a seat at the elevated front section (used for late-night band performances) to share a beer-marinated flank steak sandwich (with sauteed onions, peppers and melted cheese), crab bisque and fried flounder.

For soft-toned aperitifs, the increasingly popular Lemongrass Wheat Ale  (available in cans) brought tangy lemon zest, ginger-spiced cologne perfuming and floral accents to stylishly neutralized banana-clove sweetness while Weihenstephaner yeast gave Hugh Hefeweizen its distinct white-peppered banana, clove, coriander and bubblegum sugaring.

Briny lemon-perfumed mandarin orange tartness and light yellow grape esters regaled light-bodied Olsch Kolsch. French saison yeast and dry Saaz-hopped white peppering enlivened It’s My Birthday Saison, an herbaceous moderation with honeyed orange sweetness and spritzy lemon tingle.

‘Poundable’ Late Game ESB brought mild Fuggle-hopped astringency to tea-like earthen dewiness and subtle dried fruiting. Sessionable, despite its sharp hop influence, Dr. Rudi IPA provided woody-perfumed grapefruit and orange rind bittering to distant honeyed malting.

As a delightful digestif, malt-smoked Broke Tooth Stout layered barley-roasted black chocolate atop dry cocoa and spiced dried cherry.

During June ’16 trip, chomped on tilefish while discovering four previously untried brews.

First up, mild Bohemian-styled Love Pils, saddled easygoing wood-dried Saaz hop bittering with lightly spiced lemon-peeled seltzer spritz.

Sessionable ESB, Alliance Ale, placed sweet toffee and crystal malt spicing against dry peat malts, picking up a mild mint stint.

Commendable 15th anniversary celebrator, Belgian IPA, sprinkled salty white pepper spicing atop zesty lemon, mandarin orange, clementine and tangerine tang as well as buttery Chardonnay nuances and herbal notions.

After dinner, dark-roasted cocoa malts, peanut-shelled walnut char and dry spicing anchored Custom Brown Ale.

On July ’23 trip, sank a bold porter with dinner.

Bitter dark chocolate-draped Blackstrap molasses, tarry tobacco chaw and ashen nuttiness pervaded the raw-honeyed oatmeal stead of dark-roasted Honey Oatmeal Porter.             


Also worth exploring in the Outer Banks were Chip’s Wine & Beer Market (500-plus beers and elegant tasting room), Yellow Submarine (great sandwiches, pizza and tapped beer) and Lucky 12 sportsbar (20 tapped draughts, 50-plus bottled beers, nostalgic diner-styled seating and glass-encased beer can collection).