We’d like to introduce you Sam Harriss, co-owner and artistic director at Swells’a Brewing Beer Company located in Kill Devil Hills! Not only are Sam and her fellow owners passionate about brewing great beer, but they are also passionate about protecting and enhancing our Outer Banks national parks. Through their “Pints for Parks” nights and 1% For the Planet contributions, they ensure these special places will endure for future generations to enjoy. We are grateful for their partnership!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your brewery.
As one of four owners of Swells’a Brewing Beer Company, I can say that we all have different reasons for calling the Outer Banks home. I grew up here, and though I spent a lot of time living in other parts of the world and country, I always had a strong pull to return. Family definitely kept me close, but the magic of this sandbar is undeniable. Brad (my partner and brewer) and Alex (my cousin and co-owner) both grew up coming down when the waves were good, eventually making a permanent move. Brad has been living on the beach since he was 18, and Alex and Laura moved down four to five years ago with their two children.
What I love the most about this sweet little spit-o-sand is the weather. No matter if it’s raining and blowing sideways or a steamy, muggy summer day. I love the changing of the seasons and that we get all four, but I definitely crave the solitude that winter once brought.
The first few winters Brad stuck around he realized he needed more than a pastime. I bought him an easy home brew kit and told him to make me some “hooch” while I was away at college. With his background in science and as an avid craft beer drinker, he instantly fell in love. From there he picked up a couple of odd jobs to learn more about the production side. He went from a few bottles given away as presents to brewing in Charleston, South Carolina, at Revelry Brewing Co., to this!
What makes our brewery different from most? Well, obviously, the beer! And then the location…there are few breweries with sea views and with that comes a big responsibility to Mother Earth.
We are making strides in planet-friendly options, and we hope other breweries and businesses will follow suit. We do our best to not carry or buy single-use plastics; our six pack holders are recycled cardboard, as well as our post-consumer can labels. We encourage folks to bring a reusable bottle for our water bottle filler, and we repurpose our spent grains to feed livestock and even make dog treats. We also carry a ton of local products and try to work with other companies that understand the importance of their footprint on this fragile planet.
Where did the name “Swells’a Brewing Beer Company” come from?
There’s swells’a brewing in the ocean across the street and there’s swells’a brewing beer in our brewery — it’s a pun.
Why are our Outer Banks national parks important to you?
There are precious landscapes all over this country and I love that the National Park Service does such a great job protecting them and educating folks on the history and ecology. It’s often hard to imagine this place without shoulder-to-shoulder homes and traffic; thanks to the national parks, all you have to do is take a drive down south to remind yourself of what the Outer Banks was like before we developed.
What is your favorite way to enjoy our Outer Banks national parks?
Taking my dogs on long beach walks in the fall! Love the serenity of our southern beaches.
What is a favorite memory you have from visiting our Outer Banks national parks?
Shelly Island forming! We drove down to Cape Hatteras National Seashore and spent the day surfing and playing with our pups in the awesome tidal pools. Seeing how the sands shift and move so quickly is awe inspiring.
Why did you choose to support Outer Banks Forever?
So future generations can enjoy a little slice of this sandbar as it once was.
Wait…people can support our Outer Banks national parks by buying a beer?
Oh yeah! We are a partner with 1% For the Planet, a nonprofit that helps address environmental issues. Now anytime you support our business, whether buying a beer or a t-shirt, we donate back each year 1% of our profits directly to Outer Banks Forever. Pretty cool.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about you, your brewery, or our Outer Banks national parks?
We are open year-round, and you can find our beers on draft in a number of restaurants. We love our guests and their dogs…we consider ourselves dog friendly and people tolerant.