Bogrolls & Barley Wines
The Outer Banks, May 2010

In the late Spring of 2010, Lady Roberts and myself returned yet again to The Outer Banks in North Carolina.  I believe this was our sixth visit to The Outer
Banks; unusual as we rarely return to the same area twice -- this shows the pull this magical and historical area has on us.

The trip was also unusual in that it was the first time we had visited in the Spring rather than the Autumn, when we had taken all our other trips.  Springtime
gave us fresh, exciting new surprises -- the ocean was calm as we were visiting prior to hurricane season;  this meant the beaches were clean and not full of a
summer's worth of seaweed, or covered in rubbish from tourists.  It was a cigarette waiting to be lit, rather than the last few puffs of a worn out fag.

Indeed, it was our finest trip yet.  Weather was gorgeous; we looked out from our deck -- cups of French Press in our hands -- and saw a school of dolphins  
swim past;  we also finally saw the wild Corolla ponies (direct descendents of Spanish Mustangs who were shipwrecked in the 1500s) -- in fact, we saw lots of
ponies; we passed within 10 feet of an Osprey's nest (complete with Mrs.Osprey keeping an eye on us); and all the beers at the Outer Banks Brewing Station
were excellent!

As usual, we drove the first eight hours to Charlottesville, Virginia, spending the night there.  This is where our story begins....

1) The Omni Hotel bar:  Star Hill Amber Ale (4.8%).
After an eight hour drive, I was gasping for a pint and where better place to wait for the missus than the hotel bar!  The bar bloke told me that Star Hill was a
Charlottesville brewery -- fancy that, all the times we've stayed there and I didn't know there was a local brewery.  I thought Virginia was purely wine country.
Then I discovered there's also South Street Brewery in Charlottesville AND Monticello Brewery!

Anyway, Star Hill Amber Ale was bloody delicious, and very similar to Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale in that it's not very hoppy with a crisp, sweet maltiness
(three malts used:Caramel, Chocolate, and Munich) with a nice amber/red hue.

2) The Omni Hotel bar:  Star Hill Pale Ale (5%).
Continuing the local theme, another young ripper, with a greater hop presence and slightly more bitter thanks to the use of Perle Hops, with Cascade Hops
used for aroma.  Another delicious

3) Outer Banks Brewing Station:  Olsch (4.8%).
Brewed in the Kolsch style (from Cologne), this is a very light lager using hops from the Deutschland. Lady Roberts always starts with this beer.  I have to say,
it is very refreshing but the fact that the colour of it is paler than gnats pee does bother me.  I've given it a lower score on this trip mainly because it's wearing a
bit thin with me.

4) Outer Banks Brewing Station:  Viking's Liking Light (4.5%).
Here's an odd one -- Apparently, this style is called "Gottlandsdrika" originally from the island of Gottland in the Baltic sea between Sweden and Denmark.  It's
also lightly smoked and flavoured with juniper.  What, in actual fact,  you have here is a noticably orangy tasting Wheat beer, except the beer isn't cloudy.  I
liked this one, not enough to go for a second pint, but well worth trying and like Olsch, rather refreshing.

5) Outer Banks Brewing Station:  Mother of Fuggles ESB (6.1%).
Right, now we're starting to get serious.  At this point I should mention that due to technical difficulties at our beach house (i.e. I couldn't work out how to use  
the timer on the DVD player), I was watching the
European Champions League Final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich at OBBS.  Being a total sport,
Lady Roberts decided to do some shopping, leaving me to watch the game and drink more bevvies.  She graciously offered to pick me up after the game.

That caused quite a commotion at OBBS -- the barman announced
"someone needs to tell my wife that this customer's wife is leaving him here to watch
soccer, drink beer, AND she's picking him up!"
 Many nods of approval from other customers.

Mother of Fuggles is made purely with English Fuggles hops AND dry hopped with Fuggles hops as well.  The result: a bloody fantastic bitter, with a lovely
balance between hops and nutty malt, with a delicate slight fruitiness for good measure -- not too hoppy (unlike Three Floyds Alpha King), and not too malty
(unlike Fullers ESB). The most perfect ESB I have ever tasted.  Without doubt an easy
11/10.  This was the beer I returned to on further visits to OBBS on this

6) Outer Banks Brewing Station:  Sledgehammer (11.5%).
The problem here is I had a typical big-mouthed Mr. Magoo git from New Jersey sitting next to me -- a ghastly east-coast accent who worse yet, had decided he
was supporting Bayern Munich in the game we were watching.  And, he was wearing a bloody cowboy hat which needed serious trampling on.  This bloke, with
his total lack of knowledge of
The Beautiful Game was driving me to (more) drink.

Well, at 11.5%, Sledgehammer is a Barley Wine, served in a 9oz snifter.  I had a couple of Barley Wines at the recent Whole Foods Market beer tasting and I
rather liked them. The same went for Sledgehammer -- sweet, smooth, warming; an ale to be sipped and enjoyed.  An ale that can block out the maniacal
ramblings of a short-arsed tosser from New Jersey (well, almost block out).  

7) Outer Banks Brewing Station:  Iron Binnacle Baltic Porter (8.5%).
Do not adjust your sets, you are reading correctly: Porter.  The style of dark, thin, coffee-ish, bitter beer that I avoid like the plague.  The barman told me this
was a "smooth" porter, so throwing caution to the wind I gave it a try.

The OBBS description of Iron Binnacle is
"This strong Scandinavian style porter is rich, rotund & velvety smooth with flavours of chocolate, nuts and raisins".  
My first thoughts were
a) smooth, and b) chocolatey -- and it got better from there!  No ghastly bitterness, but a rich ale leaning towards a chocolate stout.
Very, very tasty with a kick to it.  However, unless the missus and myself book a trip to one of the Scandinavian countries in the near future, I'm afraid it'll be
the last porter I'll be ordering because Iron Binnacle aside,
Porter = Shite. 9/10

Having finished the porter and game over with the Italian side being crowned the new European Champions, I decided to wait outside for the Royal taxi.  As I
sat there, a car slowed down beside me and the window descended -- there was my mate from New Jersey. He shouted
"Viva Bayern Munich!", to which I
"Oh bollocks, you New Jersey bastard".  Mr.Magoo grinned hugely, put up the window, and drove away in the direction of Nags Head.

8) Awful Arthur's Raw Bar and Grill:  Yuengling Lager (probably 2.5%).
Awful Arthur's is THE place to get your fish tucker from in the Outer Banks.  I ordered seasoned Tuna and got two bloody great huge slabs which covered my
entire plate, plus garlic mashed spuds and another veg (which I forget).

Lady Roberts ordered the best Crab & Lobster Bisque I have ever tasted.  Creamier than Iron Binnacle porter!   We went back there at the end of our trip and
ordered the most incredible fried clams.  The batter was so light, you'd have thought Gordon Ramsay was in control of the kitchen.

Raw Bars are not known for beers of any note, but a rather strange colleague who works for a rival company to me is originally from Pennsylvania and he  
keeps telling me how great Yuengling beers are.  So, in the absence of any decent beers, here was a golden opportunity to try the aforementioned Yuengling

The verdict: File under Molson, Labatts, Budweiser, MGD, Michelob et al -- weak, virtually tasteless lagers with no character whatsoever.  Absolutely terrible in
every way.  
1/10 (and that's only because the food was out of this world).

And so ended another fabulous visit to North Carolina.