Heist Brewery has made a mark over the last couple of years with both their cocktails and their “twisted American cuisine,” but it’s no secret that some of their beers didn’t hit the mark with the craft crowd. Not only were the styles a little pedestrian when compared with the food coming out of the kitchen, but they were often milder takes on already subtle styles (think light lagers, blondes and a variety of fruit-infused hefeweizens).
Recognizing this, founder Kurt Hogan and company parted ways with brewer Zach Hart in favor of Eric Mitchell and Josh Johnson, who first started homebrewing together four years ago while students at in Alabama. Eric has been with Heist since last summer, when he started brewing the Not So Small Batch Beers. Josh just recently left Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta to once again join Eric in brewing, this time on a professional level. In a recent blog post, Heist acknowledged their commitment to brewing better beer:
The brewing changes at Heist are a representation of who we are and who we want to be. We want to change, we want to grow and we want to be different; we want to challenge ourselves as well as others in the Charlotte craft beer industry. Overall, we want to brew great beer.
As such, Eric and Josh have tossed all of the old styles and introduced five new mainstays, which I got to try last week. On the whole, I will say that this new portfolio of beers is much improved, both in terms of styles and execution. Here are my thoughts on those five mainstays:
DZL Double IPA: One of my favorites of the night, this 100 IBU double IPA had notes of pine and citrus. It reminded me a bit of Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo.
San Fran Disco American Pale Ale: This one’s not your average American pale ale. Half of the grain bill is devoted to wheat malt, which lends the beer a little breadiness.
Muscles from Brussels Belgian Pale Ale: The Belgian yeast contributes a little banana and clove, which works well with this slightly sweet pale ale. This is a very easy-drinking beer, and I could see it pairing well with any number of Heist’s menu items (especially seafood dishes).
The Duke of Ted ESB: This extra special bitter has a slight floral quality and a little of the biscuity character you expect of the style. There’s a tartness here, too, that calls to mind sweet cherries.
Cross Pollen-Nation Belgian Stout: This was one of my favorites of the night, which is funny since I usually don’t like Belgian yeast in non-Belgian styles. This beer boasts a nice balance of the Belgian yeast with just a hint of roast and chocolate, and it finishes smooth.
In addition to the mainstays, Heist will fill the rest of their taps with beers from their everchanging Not So Small Batch series. These beers are brewed on a really interesting system that Eric’s friend built called the Bluto 555, which while much smaller than Heist’s main brewhouse is really pretty sizeable for a pilot system. It will allow Eric and Josh more room to experiment. A new Not So Small Batch beer is tapped at 4 p.m. every Monday.
I tasted the following Not So Small Batch beers: