Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Heist Where You Don't Get Robbed

WAZE told us "turn left here." 

But the Missus said, "We can't go in here! This is a factory." Thirty-two years of marriage advised me as to which woman's voice to obey,  and I drove past our "destination" but saw that we had indeed arrived at it. Defying our digital guide, we just went in another way. 

But it sure looked like a factory, perhaps because at one time back in the early 1900's, it was. A mill, in fact, which made the interior of Heist Brewing rather cavernous. 

The bar at Heist Brewing
Situated in the NoDa section just north of the center of Charlotte, NC, the interestingly-named Heist Brewing is the progeny of Kurt Hogan, a one-time bio-tech engineer who decided to turn his skills to the somewhat risky business of opening a taproom/restaurant. Turns out that the name came from a chap on Hogan's family tree named "Baby Face Nelson," a name probably recognizable to geezers, yet unfamiliar to most millennials. But given the frequent connection of Mr. Nelson (a "banker" of sorts) to the word "heist," the name stuck and the brewery was born in 2012. 

Original plans for Heist was this bar only
The plan was for a much smaller facility, but expansion "just kind of happened," according to GM Spencer Farrell, "once we rented a jackhammer without the slightest idea as to how to operate it."

Despite its 340-person capacity, there is at once a welcoming and eclectic feel to said interior (which includes a loft), composed of various building materials, but the effect is dedicated to producing beer the way the "monks of old" did it. Hence, dubbels, triples, quads and saisons are prominently featured, but not to the exclusion of beers for the many "lupulin lovers" who patronize the place; and weekly small batch releases tempt those who who are even more "adventurous."

The food menu, under the direction of Chef Matt Wenrich, changes every six weeks, replacing items that don't move with ones that do. One of the offerings that never changes, however, is the Beer Cheese Platter, a tray of house-made pretzels from a brick oven, accompanied by a melted cheese concoction that utilizes beer made especially for the kitchen. Our party could have made a meal out of a few trays of this amazing creation alone, and it came as no surprise to learn that the dish is responsible for 10% of the entire food sales of Heist Brewing.

But the menu has even more to offer, and every staff member is trained as a professional beer server--some en route to Cicerone status-- so as to allow the proper recommendation of a Heist Beer to accompany whatever the menu offers

And the beers that I sampled were kick-ass. I was somewhat disappointed to learn that three I had researched prior to my visit had kicked, but that made for a very neat red "Kicked" stamp on the menu, which obviates the need to ask a server, who then comes back with the bad news. Not that it's any less bad news, but at least you know before you ask.

That little hiccup didn't bother me, however, considering the flight I ordered had some damned fine beers on it. My Window Smasher, Concentrate, Succession and Blundus were all deliciously complex and flavorful. The Pater Tots is Heist's transition beer for "canoe beer" drinkers, and the missus, a Stella Lover, enjoyed hers immensely. 

But the beer that made me sit upright was called Hive Five, a dry-hopped honey blonde made with locally sourced honey. It was a perfectly balanced American blonde that incorporated Australian Summer hops. Nowhere near a mouth/cheek/eyeball puckerer, it was just a damned good beer and a credit to Brewer Eric Mitchell's skill. And it paired exceptionally well with my Monster Cobb Salad, an order necessitated after bingeing on the Beer Cheese pretzels. Heist even makes its own root beer for those who don't imbibe, like Barbara. She did allow that it was excellent, however. I'll take her word for it. 

Hive Five and The "Monster" Cobb

In fact, "excellent" is completely applicable to my entire visit to Heist Brewing. As my logo above says, "Good Beer, Good Pubs, Good People."

And nobody got robbed.
At Heist, you walk out with the "loot."

L-R: Brewer Eric, Owner Kurt, Baby Face Nelson, GM Spencer

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