After leaving his home in Germany to study large-scale farming in England, Uli Bennewitz moved to the U.S. to work in agribusiness. His beer-brewing hobby soon became an obsession, and 25 years ago he started Weeping Radish, now North Carolina's oldest microbrewery. The craft beer project has since grown into a fully-developed brewery and nitrate-free farm, serving up award-winning charcuterie (handcrafted by their master German butcher, Frank), alongside an assortment of German-style beers.
Weeping Radish brews their beer according to the Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516, a regulation made by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria stating beer could only be made using malt, hops and water to maintain quality. Later amended to include yeast, Bennewitz and his team include the fourth ingredient in their recipe.
Bennewitz, passionate about utilizing local North Carolina ingredients, is a working example of value-added agriculture. Not only does the brewery's pub menu follow a "Farmer to Fork" ethos, they also add the beer to 'brats and use watered-down distilled beer to fertilize crops. They also work with the small farms that supply them beef to create sausages and charcuterie products at Weeping Radish that are then sent back to the farms to be sold.
For their 25th anniversary this year, the "hobby out of control" incorporated cascade hops grown on a farm in the mountainous region of Ashville, NC into their India Pale Ale. Bennewitz says eventually they will, "go to the next level, grow our own barley, have it malted and bring it back." While we found the that the IPA could have been hoppier, the mild flavor was still palate-pleasing. Their current lineup of regionally-inspired flavors includes OBX Kölsch, Radler, Corolla Gold, Fest and Black Radish. The creative chefs behind nearby Boot Local Kitchen & Wine Bar told us they made regular trips to Weeping Radish for their Altbier brew, a "top notch" top-fermented beer with a slightly crisper taste.
Weeping Radish brews sell from their online beer store for $39 per case of 12 swing-top bottles.
Images courtesy of Boot