Last Updated on September 14, 2020
Last Updated on September 14, 2020
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Uli Bennewitz is the owner of Weeping Radish, North Carolina’s first and oldest microbrewery. He joined NC Travel Chat to share his journey from arriving in America on a Visa to NC Beer Pioneer and beyond.
Uli Bennewitz’s Interview Summary
You’ll hear the rest of this story and many others relating to his journey.
- The Outer Banks Christmas Shop in Manteo
- Fullsteam Brewing in Durham
- Highland Brewing in Asheville
- Sierra Nevada in Henderson County
- Dirtbag Ales in Hope Mills, Cumberland County
More breweries are included in our NC Bucket List Book, which we mention after the interview with Uli.
I mentioned this at one point in the interview and it’s something I can’t let go. People like Uli do things that they themselves may view as stupid or irresponsible. You’ll hear him say that a few times.
But for me, I think you need to take that risk. Sure, there are things to lose but I think the lack of action is a bigger risk to your future.
What do you think? Do you view Uli as crazy for what he did or an innovator? Or both?
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Uli Bennewitz Transcript
Uli Bennewitz: [00:36]
My name is Uli Bennewitz. I, obviously as you can tell by the accent, I’m not local. I came to America in 1980. I’m actually a farm manager and I currently manage 28,000 acres of farmland in four states.
This brewery venture was actually an accident and it really wasn’t intended to be anything like this. So, as I said, my main job is still farming and the brewery just came along in 1985.
My brother, who lives in Munich, called me one day while I was happily managing farms and said,
“Brother, I’ve got a wonderful idea. I’ll send you a little brewery and spit out money.”
I believed him and obviously, I’ve had a very strange relationship with my brother ever since because that’s obviously not what happened. The first thing that happened after I bought it was somebody suggested I’d better check with ABC.
Quite honestly, at that time, I didn’t know what ABC was. I thought it was some sort of school activity or learning center. It turned out to be Alcohol Beverage Control. I believe this is the only so-called civilized country that actually has such a thing. For a European, to have alcohol control seems like a strange thing.
Certainly in Bavaria, this is a strange thing.
But anyway, I met with ABC and they were very nice and said, “Wow, this is interesting. What you’re trying to do, we hate to point out to you. It is illegal to do that in North Carolina.”
Obviously that’s not a very good starter project.
But then they said, “Why don’t you go ahead and change the law? We liked the idea. Um, we’ll help you.”
And I was truly baffled. I’d been in this country for less than six years. I had never had any to do with agencies and they suggested I (a little German guy on a visitor’s visa) would pass his own law. But they meant it and they actually helped me draft it.
We went through the House and the Senate and in less than six months, we passed the Brewpub Bill allowing brewpubs to come to State of North Carolina, which was an unbelievable thing.
And I don’t think you’ll ever happen again, that a guy on a visitor’s visa can pass a law. In addition to that, it was probably the only law that was ever passed without a single attorney hour being billed by anybody.
So that was an amazing thing. And the medium was of course aided by, um, Then-Senator Mark Basnight happened to live in Manteo at the same time we were living there.
He pushed it through and I’ll never forget his speech on the Senate floor for the first reading. He said, “Oh, this is just another bill for a minute tourism thing that we’re trying to do in North Carolina.
I mean, in many of. It’ll never amount to anything. It’s, don’t call me back on revenue, nothing, just a little stories thing. And then as it turns out, now we have, I don’t know how many hundreds of breweries in North Carolina and over a billion dollar economic impact. So talk about unintended consequences and certainly worth it.
Carl Hedinger: [03:44]
So do you think he knew what was going to happen?
Uli Bennewitz: [03:46]
No. We talked about it and people forget at that time there were less than 100 breweries in the entire United States.
And none on the East coast group clubs, um, buff wild Buffalo bill had just started a brew, um, thing in California somewhere a couple of years ago.
He was the first one. You know, there was one in Pennsylvania that we’re trying to get going, but I don’t think anybody could have foreseen this. No, it wouldn’t be nice to in hindsight, say, Oh yeah, we anticipated this all the way along.
I think it was just, you know, it was, and quite honestly, it was only, it was just, you know, I’d say Colorado didn’t know what a brew pub was.
Nobody anticipated this.
Carl Hedinger: [04:30]
So ’86 was when you got started, is that right?
Uli Bennewitz: [04:35]
Correct. July 4, 1986, the dumbest day to open a business on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
I promise you, it really is. If you want to have a business on the Outer Banks, which as you know is highly seasonal, you want to open it in March or April, May at the latest to get all your kinks worked out before the season hits.
We were still under construction. It was a pure nightmare.
We did everything wrong, um, during building and during the startup. And then we made a few mistakes we didn’t think of before. One of the mistakes though is we opened a Bavarian-themed restaurant, which was amazing.
It was one of the most authentic Bavarian restaurants you could have imagined. Oompah music playing, the waitresses had dirndls on.
It was an insane thing to do. They aren’t any German or Bavarian restaurants in the South. I figured out 15 years later, there’s a good reason for it. Nobody wants it.
It worked mostly in July and August when most of the tourists down here are from Ohio and Pennsylvania. They’re used to that kind of thing.
So we’d worked like a champ, but the rest of the year, the locals made a bit of a circle around it and thought of it as a very strange thing to have.
Carl Hedinger: [06:01]
And, and you started out in Manteo, right?
Uli Bennewitz: [06:04]
I lived in Manteo at the time and we opened it next to the Christmas Shop, which at that time was one of the biggest retail attractions on the Outer Banks. It was a huge operation then.
And it was a perfect combination. They had the gift shop and part of the family was bored of shopping.
And to have a brewpub there was a perfect combination because the part of the family that didn’t want to go shopping could go and drink beer. And we had a biergarten in between. Then of course we did something which in the South, again, you shouldn’t do.
By the way, Manteo at that time was a dry town.
Not a very smart thing, not very clever.
It wasn’t well-received for that reason alone. Then we added to this concept of the Biergarten because the local mayor was very much against us.
And I asked him, “Why is it you like brewery in your midst?”
He said, “Well, you know, we are a family-friendly town. This just doesn’t fit the family-friendly image.”
So I built a huge playground in the middle of the Biergarten, and that really put the house on fire with the local mayor initially. But it was a huge success! It was wonderful. People loved it.
The kids were playing and the parents could drink beer. It’s a perfect combination, but it was not what the local community wanted.
So I must admit, I did rub their faces a little bit into this thing. Things have changed, obviously. Manteo is no longer dry and things are better now.
Carl Hedinger: [07:44]
Before you were in Manteo, how did you end up living in North Carolina?
Uli Bennewitz: [07:48]
I went to school in Bavaria nd then I was supposed to go to university and I did one semester in Munich.
I literally jumped on a plane and flew to England and said, “This is not for me.”
Then I went to an agricultural college in England, which I really loved. We had real cows and things as well as college classrooms and everything else.
After that finished my college education, I met a guy who was at that time selling farmland in America to European investors.
He had a client who wanted to buy 9,000 acres of swamp in Eastern North Carolina to convert to farmland. And he asked me if I would do that for him.
Of course, I was 29 and thought, “Wow! This is it. Life has arrived.”
My first stop in America was Engelhard, North Carolina, in the middle of nowhere. I cleared 9,000 acres of swamp land, which of course nowadays is not the thing to do anymore.
That’s how I got to Engelhard and then I lived in Manteo. My then-girlfriend from England joined me, so we settled in Manteo and have lived there ever since.
Carl Hedinger: [08:59]
Can you just take us through Weeping Radish as it is today and what a person can expect when they step in the door?
Uli Bennewitz: [09:08]
We changed the concept in about 2000. We asked ourselves, “Why is this beer that we are serving draft unfiltered right there in the pub so much better than these cans you buy in the grocery store?”
The answer is literally “food chain.” Beer is a perishable commodity, just like food. And the more you do to a perishable commodity to make it less perishable, the more chemicals, additives, and preservatives it takes.
We looked at the whole issue of food chain, which is an interesting history that goes back to 1943.
When the Americans came to Germany, they saw the Autobahns over there. That was at the beginning and that revolutionized our economy in this country. Because whatever you produce, the bigger the factory, the cheaper the unit cost.
The interstate system allowed this country to build massive factories for everything, including perishables, which was food and beer, which made the economy boom because cost came rocketing down.
The problem with perishables was that the longer the transportation distances, the more preservatives it takes. So, what we’ve done is now we have the most efficient food chain in the world.
But we have the most polluted food chain at the same time.
That’s how we got going.
In the next step of Weeping Radish, we looked at the food chain. The beer was already produced with no additives or chemicals. And then in 2000, as we began the idea of a farm-brewery-butchery, all rolled into one, where you can take the current food chain, which is 2,000 miles and reduce it down to 200 miles and kick all the chemicals out of the food system.
So that was the goal.
Again, we started that in 2000. In 2000, Chapel Hill didn’t know what farm to table.
By the way, I’m not saying that to sound smart. It’s pretty stupid to start something 15 years ahead of time. It’s not very smart. It really isn’t. Especially in a rural county. But anyhow, that’s the goal.
That was the starting point of the now Weeping Radish in Currituck. We bought 24 acres and built a huge building in the middle of it. We started an organic farm.
Then we literally imported a German master butcher, and we started literally local meats and our own smoked sausages and everything else.
So that’s how we changed the concept somewhat from a Bavarian sauerkraut mentality to a local food and beer environment. And this fall, this is the first year we’ve actually grown our own barley on the farm.
And it’s being molted in of all places, Durham, North Carolina, by a guy who was raised about 20 miles away in Bavaria from where I was raised.
So we’re both immigrants. He is doing the malting and then this fall, we’ll have the first beer in Currituck grown at the brewery on our own farm. So that’s really an accumulation of 20 years of this concept that we started in 2000.
Carl Hedinger: [12:19]
That’s so cool. I guess that gets me into my next question that I was going to ask about how you came to Currituck from Manteo. Was it just your desire to continue farming?
Uli Bennewitz: [12:30]
No. My farming business is completely separate. 2,400 acres is not a farm. It’s a toy. If you’ve managed 28,000 acres, that’s a different scale.
The move was because I want you to do this idea of local food, and kicking out the chemicals and making a healthier food system. That’s really where I started from.
And you couldn’t do that in many ways because we had less than two acres of land. Plus the environment was just not conducive to something I could have. We didn’t have any space.
In addition to that, we built probably the only brewery that was built on wooden stilts in a wooden building, which again, wasn’t very clever. Breweries are nothing but moisture and humidity.
And about that time, that brewery actually fell through the floor. So, wow. Small decisions that we made when we built the place. Becuase we really had no idea.
As my mother would say, when I was in school in Bavaria, I never did homework.
And it shows because I think if you will do your homework before you start constructing, something like we try to do in Manteo and in Currituck, you’d never do it.
You’d run a mile, but if you don’t do any homework and you just start, that’s how you get into these things and it takes years to sort it out afterward.
Carl Hedinger: [13:44]
In a way, that’s kind of the way a lot of people succeed, right? They keep trying until they succeed.
Uli Bennewitz: [13:49]
Yeah, no doubt, no doubt about it. That is the way to do it.
That’s the fun part of it. You just literally learn as you go along.
It requires a little bit of European vision brought into this process and that is the word “craft.” The Europeans, or the Germans in particular, have an alternative educational path other than screaming everybody needs to go to college.
They still have an apprenticeship and craft program where all these crafts have survived for thousands of years (a butcher, baker, car mechanic). They literally have craft training. And that’s the other component that I find very exciting.
Carl Hedinger: [14:38]
That’s one thing I didn’t think about. You coming from Germany was the whole emphasis on apprenticeships and crafts.
Did you do anything like that before you went to college? Or is that something that you do around college time?
Uli Bennewitz: [14:52]
I’ve always worked on a farm in Bavaria. That’s what my problem was at school, because I worked so much on a farm, then I didn’t have time to do homework.
I didn’t want to do homework. Let’s face it.
But that wasn’t an apprenticeship. That was just working on a farm.
The reason why I fled university, life was exactly that it was nothing but sitting in an auditorium with 800 other students. It was just not me. And then in England, it was a college, but it required apprenticeship programs.
We had to do nine months of apprenticeship before we were even allowed to come to college. And then during college life, we had six months of apprenticeships during college life.
So yes, it was an integration of apprenticeships and college work at the same time, I didn’t make college, probably a different experience, and it made it more relevant for me because it was a hands-on craft, by the way in German means “hand labor,” which is a word we despise in this country.
It really is, and it makes sense if you think it through because you work with your hands as part of an apprenticeship program.
Carl Hedinger: [15:59]
I guess that goes into the whole idea of craft brewing, right?
Uli Bennewitz: [16:03]
Absolutely. Craft brewing is one of it, but you know, think, think about baristas. Think about all of these others now, local bakeries coming back, we were all in a true Renaissance of craft.
And if you look at European buildings, they’ve survive 2000 years. They’re all built by craftsmen.
Think about it. Craft is not tough, recent, or anything else. It is a vital part of a sound community. We just have given up on it because our mentality is, “My child is bright and my child needs to go to college.”
So we assume that everybody who goes to college is bright. And everybody who is not going to college is stupid and that is such a detrimental mindset. I’m glad that the crafts are coming back to push back against this mindset.
Carl Hedinger: [16:58]
Yeah. I feel you on that.
I hate to talk about homework or preparation in a way, but regarding what’s going on in the world right now, how did you and everybody at weeping radish, how have you had this prepared to deal with the changes that have come with that?
Uli Bennewitz: [17:19]
We were lucky in a way because we have an outside Biergarten. We had to cut out seating in half and that worked.
We took it very seriously from the beginning and one of the main reasons we took it seriously to protect our own staff.
We have some wonderful ladies working for us on the restaurant side. One of these ladies, her husband has serious health issues. We looked at it from the very beginning about protecting our own staff, as you know, and at the beginning, when we reopened after we closed down, the closedown was not that detrimental because it was in the spring in a seasonal market.
And as you may know, the Outer Banks were literally closed off. We have the advantage of having two bridges and if you want to close the county, you just closed two bridges and that’s it. You’re done.
So during the lockdown, nothing was going on anyway. But after the lockdown stopped, we did mask immediately. And it was interesting at the beginning. We caught absolute hell from the public because it wasn’t mandated at the beginning.
Only when it then became mandated by the county, our lives became much easier because we weren’t abused by the public as much as we were at the beginning.
The sad thing was I wasn’t the one being abused. It was the staff—the hostesses, the waitresses. They were the ones getting the abuse, which is really upsetting to me because when I come here, everybody’s nice, smiles, and everything else.
But when the host gets screamed at, that really is not my kind of attitude. I despise that to be quite honest. So it has been difficult. It’s impacted revenue.
But again, we will get through it.
It’s just something, that the more we accept it, the quicker we get through it. And that’s the key because a lot of us don’t want to accept it.
You know, again, the Europeans have dealt with it very differently. They are much stricter in these things and they have bounced back.
I have many European clients in my farming business (Italians, Germans, Austrians, etc.) and they have a very different attitude toward this. And quite honestly, they can’t quite understand the American mentality towards it.
But, you know, it is what it is.
Carl Hedinger: [20:13]
On a side note, Christina and I lived in South Korea before we moved to North Carolina and we still have a lot of contacts over there. They were kind of the model for how to handle this.
So it is a bit disconcerting. And about people yelling at your staff, I’m just going to say to anybody listening, please WEAR YOUR MASK and don’t talk back when somebody asks you to wear it.
They’re doing their job and trying to keep everybody safe. That’s my soapbox.
Uli Bennewitz: [20:47]
I appreciate that. One day in particular, somebody yelled at the hostess,
Carl Hedinger: [20:54]
We had a bit of a connection problem right there, but he’s just explaining that somebody at the next table called the waitress over after she was yelled at. Let’s let him explain the rest.
Uli Bennewitz: [00:21:02]
The gentleman at the table asked the hostess to come over. And he was so kind.
He said, “Look, I am an emergency doctor in Roanoke, Virginia, and this is our first weekend out after months of work. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate what you’re doing because we see the other side of it.”
And that made everybody’s day. It really did make that day, that counterbalance, that these acts of kindness, on the one hand, completely counterbalance the other side of it.
Carl Hedinger: [21:34]
Hearing from people who own businesses, as you talk about your experiences, I think is something that people need to hear about, too.
Just knowing that you’ve gotta be nice to people no matter what.
We’ll talk about some happier things, too, though. So you have some really awesome beers at Weeping Radish. I really liked the IPA. I’m more of an IPA guy personally, but I’m curious for you.
Are you allowed to pick a favorite of all your beers there?
Uli Bennewitz: [22:07]
No, that’s a bit like a business person, favoring a political party. I always thought that was very stupid.
You make half your customers mad if you pick one. I feel the same way about beer.
Carl Hedinger: [22:25]
It’s like I was watching The Last Dance about Michael Jordan. He got in a lot of trouble because you wouldn’t favor a political guy because he said, “Republicans buy shoes, too.”
Uli Bennewitz: [22:39]
That’s exactly my point. If I look at Facebook, it blows my mind, not what they say, but that these are business people.
Why are you making half of your customers mad? It’s tough enough keeping everybody happy.
So anyway, it depends a little bit on the time of year, quite honestly. In the wintertime, I like the Black Radish, which is a very smooth dark lager. It goes very well with steaks and it’s more of a food beer or beer that goes with food
In the summertime, I love wheat beers. I like our Gold because it is just a classic German-style beer.
And of course, yet the IPA is wonderful, if you like a hoppier beer. The Germans don’t. You know, our IPA is not over the top hoppy.
But it is clearly hoppier than what we normally do.
The interesting thing about all this is that the first beer, when we started the brewery in 1986. By the way, the brewery came not just with brewery equipment, but it came with a German master brewer.
He was a genius. He really was fantastic. And then he set the brewery up and he brought the first beer. His Ph.D. beer was a wheat beer.
So we brewed in ’86, the first beer brewed in North Carolina was a wheat beer. And it was fantastic.
The only problem was people thought the beer had gone off because nobody knew what a wheat beer was in ’86. Nobody had a clue because it just wasn’t available at the time.
So the poor guy was truly crushed about his wonderful beer that nobody wanted. It really is amazing now, how sophisticated people are about the variety of beer.
I mean, if you would’ve told me in ’86 that we’re going to have sour beers one day, I would have laughed all day long. I mean, it is all part of a spectrum.
And to me, it’s amazing the direction, on a positive note, that America is going. If you think about it in 86, when I came to America, there was no coffee in America. All we had was Maxwell House.
I’m sorry but that doesn’t qualify as coffee. Boy, do we have coffee in America now! It is awesome.
Obviously we didn’t have much beer when I got to America. My first glass of wine in America was something red in a glass with an ice cube floating in it.
It was horrific.
So there’s the sophistication that’s come with the craft movement in this country that is truly breathtaking. It really is.
Food is next. I really feel this whole, farm-to-table movement is at its beginning. And the charcutterie certainly is at the beginning, but we will see.
And breadmaking? My God, it’s flourishing.
It really is amazing. We are really getting there.
Carl Hedinger: [25:42]
That’s a good point about coffee. Coffee here is just immaculate now.
Uli Bennewitz: [25:48]
As a European, literally, when I went in my first years in America, I went away every year.
The first thing I did is drank a weiss beer and a cup of coffee because I couldn’t get either in America. It really wasn’t available.
Now, to me, German coffee really all tastes the same. It’s a higher quality than Maxwell House, obviously. But it’s fairly, very much the same
Whereas in this country, wow! I certainly don’t have to go to Germany to find beer or coffee, quite the opposite.
You go to Munich.
And my god, they have microbrew beer at Munich airport.
You know, it’s funny. American microbrewing has literally gone over to Europe. So we are leading the way and literally brought microbrewing back to Europe.
Carl Hedinger: [26:35]
I was wondering about that because when I, so this was about, for me, I feel like American microbrewing probably took off early 2010s. It could have been before then.
When I came back around 2015, breweries were everywhere and especially in North Carolina. I once interviewed and I spoke with the owner of Fullsteam Brewery in Durham.
The reason I wanted to connect with him was I love his brewery. We actually had our wedding reception there and also, because of the whole Pop the Cap Movement.
Uli Bennewitz: [27:10]
Pop the Cap surely was a huge movement.
I watched Pop the Cap and the legalization of this legal process unfolding, or the legislative process more to the point. To me, it was frightening because it showed how naive we were in ’86 because the lobbyists on the other side and boy, the Pop the Cap guys battled and battled and battled.
Because by that time, the lobbyists had woken up and were fighting this every step of the way. And of course, I love these lobbyists because after it was passed, they all tapped to the Pop the Cap guys on the shoulder and said, “Well done, you.”
Carl Hedinger: [27:57]
That’s interesting. So when you’re not in that area of Grandy or Currituck County, is there somewhere in North Carolina elsewhere that you like to go?
Uli Bennewitz: [28:08]
You know, we love the mountains. We don’t get to travel much other than to Europe once or twice a year.
But we love Asheville. We love Boone and it’s of course fun for me to go to these spaces now because there are all these breweries there and it really has caught on as this microbrewing and this whole system of local food, local beer craft, um, is actually more rooted in the mountains than it is on the coast.
Look at Asheville. My God, they have taken craft to a completely different level. So yes.
What am I doing down here on the coast? I’m not quite sure. I don’t fish, I don’t boat, and I don’t play golf.
So I’m not quite sure what I’m doing that because the craft movement belongs is rooted in the mountains of North Carolina. That’s where it really together with the music. It all fits much better there than it does on the coast.
I have to say that. I love it up there.
Carl Hedinger: [29:19]
Can, can I put you on the spot and ask you for your favorite brewery in the mountains?
Uli Bennewitz: [29:24]
You would put me on the spot for that. Obviously, I’m great friends with Oscar from Highland Brewing because he is my compadre
He started a couple of years after us and we’ve been friends ever since, and we’ve done a couple of events together in Washington, DC. At the Smithsonian, there was a panel discussion about immigrant brewers. They only had four breweries in America there and two of them were from North Carolina.
He’s a great friend. At Highland, it’s interesting what they’re doing. They have shifted again more into the entertainment side of it, which is great because it fits the local theme.
You bring locals together and that’s the thing.
One last swipe at politics. The National Brewers Association tells you that you need to get involved in your community and have political events at your brewery.
I couldn’t disagree more because if I would have a political event to my brewery for one of the parties, everyone would assume I was a member of that party and the other people wouldn’t show up. And vice versa, even if I have them in the same week, it could only cause trouble in one way or the other.
Even if I have them in consequent days, it would cause friction and trouble and whatever. So again, you know, we need to leave our tribalism behind and talk more about communities and not tribes.
I hope that the brewing movement and the brewpub movement and the local food movement, all of these movements combined, I hope is an anti-tribal movement in a political sense.
And it brings people together.
Carl Hedinger [31:16]
It is tough today to not pick a side either way. And a note on Highland, we were there probably about three, four weeks ago. They also have a very large outdoor area kind of like you in a way.
Uli Bennewitz [31:30]
Yes, they do. You see that more and more, breweries are building event spaces, indoor and outdoor.
We did something really crazy in 2008 or something. You talk about stupid.
We put up a 5,000 square foot tent and built an ice skating rink, guaranteed to be the first brewery with an ice-skating rink. The concept was quite easy—the more you drink, the less it hurts when you fall down on the ice.
And it worked.
But again, the funny thing about that one was on ice, which we fenced in for the little kids so they wouldn’t get run over by the big kids. As you know, when little kids get on ice for the first time, they can’t really walk. So what we did is we gave them 50-liter kegs as walkers.
And it was a huge success. Every kid walked around with a beer keg on the ice.
The funny thing was not watching the kids. The funny thing was watching the grandparents absolutely in horror about their grandchild with a beer keg on ice.
They refused to take pictures of their grandchildren. So I thought that was a lovely cultural awakening.
Carl Hedinger: [32:38]
Another outdoor area that I want to give a shout out to. I mean, I love the one at Sierra Nevada out in Henderson County, but also, if you ever been out to the one in Cumberland County, Dirtbag.
Uli Bennewitz: [32:55]
Not yet. I’ve heard about them, but I have not been there yet.
Carl Hedinger: [32:59]
That is a wonderful space. And I hope you get to make it there at some point.
Uli Bennewitz: [33:03]
I want to, when I slow down in the brewery, whenever that’s going to be. I’m 68, I think now, and I’m trying to reduce my activity from two full-time jobs to one full-time job.
Once I have one full-time job, I hope I can be able to travel more in the mountains.
Carl Hedinger: [33:22]
I hope so. And so before I let you go, I just want to ask: where can people find more information about Weeping Radish?
Uli Bennewitz: [33:32]
On our website for starters.
We don’t distribute at this point in time, anywhere other than hyper-local. So you can just come to the website and see what we do. We do ship beer and sausages within the state of North Carolina.
We can ship beer anywhere, but sausages only within the state. So online, WeepingRadish.com.
If you have a name like Weeping Radish, it’s wonderful. You’ll get your own internet address. If you Google “Weeping Radish,” you only end up with one response that’s here.
Carl Hedinger: [34:14]
How did you come up with the name Weeping Radish?
Uli Bennewitz: [34:17]
Because we knew Google was coming one day and we will be unique on Google. No, I’m just kidding.
It was another stupid thing.
I had a partner at that time from Roanoke Island who when describing Bavaria, explained that we have biergartens over there and they serve whole weeping radishes on a plate right there. And that’s your appetizer.
And what you do is you take those slices and you dip it in liquid. Then you eat them with your beer. Of course, that liquid is pure saltwater and makes you extremely thirsty.
It makes you drink an awful lot of beer. So that’s how the name came.
I found them in 1986 and we put them on the menu and nobody bought them. And then we tried to give them away as a free appetizer and nobody wanted them. Then, we decided it was time to quit. Every now and then, we don’t listen.
Carl Hedinger: [35:20]
Uli. Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today.
I really wish you all the best, through what’s going on right now.
As the first NC micro brewpub, if I got that terminology, right. And you’re also the oldest brewery and restaurant in the US, is that right?
Uli Bennewitz: [35:39]
That is correct. In the early 90s, we were invited to the Chicago National Restaurant Association Show, and I didn’t even know that they existed.
We said, “Why on earth are you calling us?”
And they said, “Well, we’ve done our research and you’re the oldest full-size restaurant brewery in the United States.”
So we got a trip to Chicago out of that one.
Carl Hedinger: [36:01]
Thank you so much and seriously, best of luck to you through all this. I hope to come back cause I really love the sausages, the beer cheese, and the beer, of course. But I mean, the food compliments the beer and you really have a special place there.
I hope we can keep coming back there for a long time.
Uli Bennewitz: [00:36:19]
Thank you so much.