Tuesday, January 8, 2013

HEIST Brewery is a NoDa gem!

It took me way to long to discover the great brewing scene in Charlotte's NoDa district.  The best comparison is like a mini Asheville right here in our area.  After many 2 hour trips to Asheville it was time to stay closer to home.

HEIST has done a great job of converting the the Highland Mills factory into a fun throwback to a time long lost.  The story is that one of the masterminds behind this place is a distant relative of Baby Face Nelson.  Considering my Great Uncle was THE Melvin Purvis (yes, the man that caught Baby Face), it serves well that I would review this place to make sure it was legit.

When you arrive, you want a big sign telling you that you are at the right place.  Not here.  One you are inside, you are sure you have arrived.  Stripped and exposed brick walls, large wood beams, great homage to the mill is all over the place.  A large glassed wall has huge views into the tank room.  The bar area is all big wood and a great tap station.  High top tables are the table of choice in this place, so be prepared to sit high.  It's not Chili's, so booths are not the design concept.

The menu is more eclectic than you would ever imagine at a brewery restaurant.  They do have a white cheese dip with pretzel sticks.  The pretzels are of course fresh made soft sticks, and the cheese is insanely good.  They offer bisque but don't ask for a spoon.  It comes in shooters.  Perfect for sharing.  The martini doesn't require you to be 21 since it's Steak and Papaya.  Pork belly corn dogs, duck quesadilla, flat breads and vegetarian options add to this great menu. 

Beer and burgers go well together and they don't miss.  The burgers are insanely delicious.  One even has ground porterhouse and beef brisket.  That 90% fat chuck burger doesn't have any place here.  I even got mine Med Rare.  Yes. - really.  It was great.  Side items are not fries.  Choices are a little limited unfortunately.  Marinated cukes, creamed corn and tater tots are the choices.  I have to admit that the tater tots are the best I have ever eaten.  Fresh shreds of potato mixed with some mashed, speckled with rosemary and flash fried.  Who needs ketchup?!

What makes this even more interesting a place to eat is the in-house baker.  Who does that?  Well, it appears they do, and I saw the guy so he really does exist (like the M&Ms that met Santa).  I have heard of places cross-using the beer ingredients in baking, so that may be the advantage.  All I know is the bread products are really really good.  I had a sandwich with jerk chicken on one of these sourdough-styled rolls and the bread was a highlight for sure.

Okay... should I mention the adult carbonated beverages?  If you insist.  There were 10 to choose from on our first visit.  We had a blast with a couple of flights as our tasting lesson.  The stouts and porters were just what you would hope for.  The I2PA was a great hoppy treat without tasting like a pine cone.  The red, the hefe and the pale ale were all studs in their respective categories.  The only hiccup for me was coming back for the second time and the porters were different.  Same name, same description, more hop and less malt.  They were good, but inconsistent with the earlier batch.  That can be troublesome if you find one you really enjoy and it's never the same.

I can assure you that we will be there several more times in the future.  This place has really opened us up to NoDa and we have had fun recently exploring those neighboring breweries.  I highly recommend a visit (or three) to the area.  Just remember to have a DD so you can enjoy your time there. 

Heist Brewery on Urbanspoon

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