At Home in a Foreign Environment

By: Phoebe Hyde

Located amongst the quaint, wood-paneled homes of Manteo, Full Moon Café and Brewery sits on the far side of the street from the water, offering a one-of-a-kind brew. Here, small batches of British ales are produced using imported malts and hops.  Housing both British and Irish style beers, Full Moon Brewery uses Otter malt as their base and adds various combinations of Black Patent, Brown malt, Crystal malt, and Roasted barley to the preferred taste of each beer. Fuggles, East Kent Golding and Challenger are the hops used at the brewery. From the Baltimore Blonde, named after the owner, Paul’s, wife—a blonde beer lover from Maryland—to the newly introduced Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch—an 11 percent alcoholic imperial beer named after Catherine the Great (who preferred a good stout), Full Moon Café and Brewery has a lot to offer. But only in Manteo. This small year old business does not have the size or the consistent, year-round revenue to bottle their beers. Only recently did they allow “to go” drinks (specialized for Manteo’s block party on the first Friday of every month).

We were able to connect with owner Paul Charron—a beer lover who discovered his love from drinking British ales throughout his life living in an Irish New York neighborhood. His enthusiasm and willingness to speak with us was admirable, as he balanced sharing the history behind his passion for brewing beer with greeting customers at the door and offering them either an indoor or outside patio table. It was clear that Charron is a well-involved business owner, as it is more common that a hostess be hired for the role of greeting customers. Instead, Charron runs his business from the floor, creating an extremely close-knit family-like group of employees, which is exuded in the way they all interact and share jokes not only with one another but with us. Each one of the six employees we had the opportunity to interact with engaged in open conversation with us, always with an ear-to-ear smile on his or her face. Some may say this is simply the nature of the restaurant business, but I beg to differ. There was undoubtedly a unique ambiance built by the employees and owners of The Full Moon Café & Brewery that encouraged our desire to spend an extended amount of time sitting at the bar counter. That, and the delicious taste of these one-of-a-kind, exclusively brewed mugs of rich caramel colored liquid that were sitting in front of us, of course.


Originally brewing beer as a hobby, Charron realized his interest was expanding elaborately and would need to be moved out of his family’s home to maintain good relations. His wife had previously started the Full Moon Café in 1995, so he decided to merge his “business” with hers. Charron custom built a brewing system in the now Fill Moon Café & Brewery, and today handcrafts each batch produced.

Today, Full Moon Café and Brewery has six handcrafted beers. Four out of six of them are session beers—low alcohol, British style beers that one can drink many of in one sitting (or “session”). Newly introduced to Charron’s menu, however, are two high gravity beers—a 9 percent alcoholic scotch ale named Stone of Destiny, which Charron claims makes Guinness taste like water, and an 11 percent alcoholic Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch as mentioned earlier.  Stone of Destiny is a Scotch ale, with caramel, cocoa, and coffee flavors with a hint of smoke. It has a rich dark color, and is recommended as an Autumn seasonal. Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is an imperial stout—a beer known for requiring higher alcohol content to allow for preservation along the long export journey from 18th century London to the Russian royal court. While the other session ales are a bit calmer, their flavors are not to go unrecognized. The first brewed beer, The Lost Colony (after the town’s nickname which can be read about here), was brewed five years ago, and has an ever-changing recipe. After all, it has quite a name to live up to, and Charron just can’t seem to reach complacency with his various recipes for the northern English style ale. He claims he has changed the recipe at least five times. The Lost Colony is currently a Walnut colored red ale with a sweet malty taste. Caramel, coffee and molasses flavors from the imported British malts imbue the liquid. In addition to that, the Charon Stout is offered. This is a dry Irish stout with molasses, caramel and toasted malt flavors. Stouts are robust full flavor porters but less filling and with fewer calories than most beers. Then, Manteo Porter is brewed with a blend of Crystal, Brown and Chocolate malts for a creamy delivery balanced by traditional Fuggle hops. And last, Baltimore Blonde (the one named after Charron’s wife) is a British bitter with citrus flavors and aromas, and a dry finish. This beer is a little darker and a bit more bitter than most blondes. He is not in love with the current recipe, but stated, “you can’t change a beer that you’ve named after your wife.”


To suppress our buzz we looked to the wide-ranging café menu that perfectly complements the brewery favorites. Looking for a small snack, we ordered an appetizer to split between four of us—baked brie. This brie was served alongside thinly sliced green apple wedges, and topped with roasted almonds. Two triangular white bread baguette wedges, grilled and lightly buttered also came with the dish. This small appetizer was beautifully served, making one hesitate to jump in with their butter knife and ruin the display. Truly one of the best presentations of any dish I’d seen in the area. The brie was simply warmed, and not encrusted in a pastry crust as many baked brie recipes often are. This allowed for the taste to be a bit milder than expected, which for some may be appealing, as brie is known to be a particularly potent cheese. If the rest of Manteo hadn’t been urging our exploration, we would have undoubtedly spent a majority of our time at this homey restaurant, jumping into the Carolina crab cake sandwich or the moon melt which made our mouths water as they passed by on their way to other patrons’ tables.


Full Moon Brewery & Café stands out in my mind as one of the most noteworthy places I visited along Highway 64. The ambiance and culture of the restaurant is matchless and unrivaled in the area. The restaurant blends a tourist-dominated demand with a congenial, cozy environment, making travelers feel relaxed in a foreign environment in case the shore side villas weren’t enough to do the trick.