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By Connie Leinbach
As word got around the island on Saturday after 1718 Brewing, Ocracoke’s craft brewery, opened at noon for business, locals and visitors quickly found it and began sampling the wares.
“They’ve done a nice job with it,” said Carl O’Neal, an island building contractor, about the renovated building as he and friends Wade Austin and Farris O’Neal sampled a “flight” of five beers.
Owner Garick Kalna said the brewery will be open daily from noon to 9 p.m.
“We’ll see what the season does,” he said as he and bartenders Aaron Gallaher and Mike Keith poured drafts for a steady stream of patrons and filling crowlers and growlers for beer to-go. Wine and hand-crafted sodas also are on the menu.
Patrons relaxed in indoor and outdoor seating areas on both floors.
Several kolsch, IPA, saison-style and wheat beers are on the menu with names such as “Pretty Work,” “Good Bones,” “Sun Day,” “Brunch,” (a coffee kolsh) and “Happy Jacq,” (“a juicy slice of IPA”).
Rose Lyon of Creedmore, and her daughter Coley, a student at N.C. State, happened to spot the huge banner draped over the front of the building and stopped in to try a flight, which is a wooden rack that holds five small glasses.
Their favorite was the “East Most West Coast.”
“The Notorious Fig is really good, too,” Coley said.
“The outside is stunning,” Rose said about the renovation work on the former Café Atlantic.
Coley noted the great location along Irvin Garrish Highway and the indoor and outdoor seating. On a sunny and warm Saturday, the huge glass panels that face the fermenting tanks were open, delivering a breeze.
“On a one-to-10, we give it a 20,” Rose said.
In the evening, Kalna reflected on this longtime dream come true.
“It’s a bit surreal that it’s now open,” he said, happy with the turnout of visitors and locals. “I’m getting a lot of good feedback.”
“I love it,” said Marissa Gross, owner of Down Creek Gallery, about the building and who had sampled every one of the beers on the menu. “Everything he (Kalna) does is awesome.”
He wanted to maintain a lot of the feel of the former Café Atlantic, he said, noting that he retained the original inside paneling and some of the outside shingles in the interior design.
Other design details include re-purposed wood and metal: The steel frames around the grid wall upstairs were from the cases in which the fermenting tanks came in; and the grids are cattle fencing.
His team took reclaimed barn wood from Athens, Ohio, and built the outdoor picnic tables and indoor tables. The flight trays were constructed from wine barrel stays and the tap handles are pieces of rough wood.
Old electric insulators add to the soft pendant lighting. Island shells can be found inside the filled-in knot holes in the wood floor.
Sean Herman of Hickory and three friends, all self-described beer nerds, had arrived Saturday for their vacation and happened to find the brewery open on its first day. They purchased three flights with all the beers.
“It’s a serendipitous confluence,” Herman said.
The brewing operation has been crafting beer in 12-barrel batches and selling it in island restaurants for the last few months.
In the works since 2015, the Kalna and his wife, Jacqui, named the brewery for when Blackbeard was killed off Springer’s Point on Nov. 22, 1718. The brewery’s logo is a variation on Blackbeard’s signature flag.
“Food is in the works,” Kalna said.