April is North Carolina Craft Beer Month. An entire month devoted to a 2 billion dollar industry that all started right here on the Outer Banks. I’m sure that if you asked Uli 30 years ago if he thought his fledgling microbrewery in a small coastal town would change the economic landscape of the entire state, he would laugh and say he was just hoping to make it through the next season. For a while it was no laughing matter, so many obstacles were thrown his way that they made changing the state law look easy. Local and federal agencies flung hurdles at us that we had to scramble over or sometimes charge straight through like a rhinoceros. North Carolina was a different place in 1986. As I like to remind our younger patrons, Uli opened the Weeping Radish closer in time to the moon landing than the launch of Facebook. The phenomenal cultural shift that’s taken place to allow the rapid exponential growth of microbrewing is nothing short of amazing.  And what is Uli’s take on it?

“A lot has changed in the beer world in the last 32 years. I had to fight the mayor and town manager for years to open at all, now every town and developer is going out of their way to attract a brewpub to their community. Ever since the economic crash of 2008 the country has changed. The allure of ‘everything franchised and global’ has been challenged. There is a huge part of our community turning back to ‘local.’ This is not just true for brewpubs, but also for coffee roasters, farmers markets, wineries, and even distilleries.

We should truly celebrate beer month, not because alcohol consumption needs to increase, but because we need to rebuild our local communities again and brewpubs can play a major role in bringing people together. I visited a pub in England where the owner has covered the roof with aluminum foil to kill any cellphone reception. His point is that if you want to spend time with people then you should communicate with them and not your device. A wonderful thought but probably a disastrous business decision!

The other aspect of NC Craft Beer Month that deserves to be celebrated is just beginning to gain traction: local ingredients. North Carolina farmers are beginning to get interested in hops and barley production. Value-Added facilities, like malting or hop packaging, are also developing, providing our depressed rural areas with opportunities for their young people to remain in agriculture.

And let’s celebrate the younger generation. Go to a microbrewing convention or an organic farming meeting and you will see a generation of people under 30 who are very knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and worlds apart from the old folks who complain too much about the future and lazy kids.”

Enthusiasm is the perfect word to describe microbrewing. From passionate home brewers to bushy bearded professionals running tap houses, there is no shortage of enthusiasm in this close-knit industry. Here at the Weeping Radish we are doing our part to honor this diverse and thriving community in special month. We’ve arranged a keg exchange with NODA Brewing Company in Charlotte and will be featuring their Hop Drop ‘n Roll, winner of the 2014 World Beer Cup® Gold Award Winner, American-Style IPA, on draft.

Last year the North Carolina Brewers Guild, in conjunction with Sierra Nevada Brewing, honored Uli by recreating the first beer ever brewed at the Weeping Radish, a German style wheat, and christening it Yours Truli. They gave us the recipe and using local malts, including Triticale grain from Durham’s Epiphany Malt House, we gave it a little extra flair. And there was not better time to launch our Yours Truli, a true statewide collaboration, than North Carolina Craft Beer Month. Cheers to NC Beers!