Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Mortician's Warning

There's something to be said for beer and brats after breakfast.

For the guests' last day here, we decided to start with a tour of the brewery and butchery at the Weeping Radish.

Bavarian-born owner Ollie led us on an hour plus tour of the enormous building, impressing everyone with his passion for local sourcing, artisan food and drink and the endless headaches of running a business that is actually multiple enterprises (brewing, farming, butchery, retail, restaurant).

His dry wit and extensive knowledge added much to our enjoyment of the tour.

Their emphasis on side-streaming (using all parts of every process or animal) means there is absolutely no waste to anything they do.

The runoff water from beer-making is used to water vegetable gardens. Steam from the brewery is piped into the smoker for heat in the cured meat production.

By the time we got to the room where all the sausages hung, we were pretty hungry from the aroma of meat that hung in the air.

Moving over to the brewpub, we began with flights of beer. True, I'm no beer drinker, but I was intrigued enough by Ollie's emphasis on local and preservative-free to give a flight a chance.

The Radler mixed their OBX Kolsch with homemade German-style lemonade for a German version of a British shandy. Not bad, if a tad sweet.

I most wanted to try the IPA 25 because they are the first North Carolina brewery to use North Carolina hops. But because hop-growing is traditionally a West Coast endeavor, these hops grown near Asheville are young.

And here's where I actually learned something. Young hops lean more toward floral where older hops are more bitter. I'm a young hop type, I discovered.

This IPA 25 had the most beautiful nose and the taste was without that characteristic bitterness which has kept me from finding  a beer I can drink. This one I could.

The others in the flight made the beer drinkers happy, but weren't for me, although I'm crazy about their housemade root beer.

And the house-made sausages I knew I loved. I had the beer brat on a pretzel roll which amounted to  a doubly good sandwich. Spread with their house hot grainy mustard and sauerkraut, it was easily the best $7 lunch ever.

Worth mentioning was the sauerkraut, fermented in-house in French oak barrels used for twenty years for winemaking. This was sauerkraut that could win over even diehard sauerkraut haters with its tantalizing sourness.

One guest had the andouille garlic sausage I had so enjoyed last year and the other a BLT using their own bacon (so impressive that she bought a pound to take home).

Savoring our nitrate-free, preservative-free, locally grown meats and beer, we were reminded of the last story Ollie had told us on the tour.

Talking to a mortician in Manteo recently, the guy, a third generation mortician, had told Ollie that back in his father and grandfather's days, "They used to have to bury bodies in less than two days in the South. These days we can wait much longer because the bodies are so full of preservatives."

I aspire to be as perishable as my beer brat and IPA were at lunch today...not that I intend to be buried.

Or dead any time soon.

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