Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: Charlotte, NC: Drinking the Breweries of NoDa

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Charlotte, NC: Drinking the Breweries of NoDa

So here we are in Charlotte, NC, also known as the Queen City.  Neither Jeanine or I have been here before (aside from driving through or a flight connection), so when we heard that the two things that Charlotte did best were food and craft beers, we knew we were in the right place!  While Charlotte has many different areas/neighborhoods, one of the closest ones to Elmore RV Park, is named North Davidson, or NoDa. We felt like a "Sunday Funday", so what better way for us to get out on the town than by sampling a few of the local brews?!

From Wikipedia:
NoDa (short for "North Davidson") is a popular arts district in CharlotteNorth CarolinaUSA. It is located in the North Charlotte neighborhood on and around North Davidson Street and 36th Street, approximately one mile northeast of Uptown. Formerly an area of textile manufacturing and mill workers' residences, the area has also served as a center for the arts. NoDa shares the same geography as Historic North Charlotte which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The name "NoDa" was coined by architect Russell Pound. In addition to historic mill houses, NoDa has seen a boom in residential construction in multifamily housing in recent years. The neighborhood has become an entertainment district focused on bimonthly gallery crawls. In addition to the art galleries, there are several music venues and restaurants in the neighborhood.
...and they have a bunch of breweries, too.  Before coming to Charlotte, neither of us had heard of NoDa, but it seemed to be all the talk amongst the locals.  Formally more of an industrial area, it (NoDa) transitioned into more of an art-based area for a number of years but due to rising costs of rent and decreased interest (so we were told) in art has since been graced by bars, restaurants, and breweries.

NoDa - North Davidson Street

Situated along Davidson Street, you'll find everything from simple, inexpensive dive bars to restaurants featured on national television (Check our story here: Cabo Fish Tacos).  The best part about it all, there are a myriad of locally-brewed beers available at just about every place that serves alcohol.  But there is nothing quite like guzzling down, err, enjoying the flavor, of a freshly brewed beer!

Since planning really isn't our thing, we decided that "winging it" was going to be the way that we experienced NoDa.  After jumping into our  ├╝ber ride (only 5$!),  our driver was quick to tell us about all the great places to check out in NoDa.  So, instead of trying to figure out where to go, we asked our driver's advice.  After pointing out the pros and cons of each place (considering it was Sunday around lunchtime and not all breweries were open), we decided to go somewhere that had both the option of food as well as take a swill.  While the options were nearly limitless, we wanted to ensure that we were going to the place offering the best blend of craft beer and delicious food.  The only one that was offering a Sunday brunch (we were looking for a future revisit) was Heist Brewery, so that made the choice pretty easy!

The first stop on our brewery walk (crawl), ended up being Heist Brewery.  Taking up residence at 2909 North Davidson Street, Heist offers the feel of an industrial building with its exposed roof beams and ventilation shafts, but still has the warmth and inviting feel that a brewery should have.  Nostalgic to a point, but very modern and comfortable.  Enough of that, let's get to the beers!

Heist Brewery -
Menu at Heist Brewery
" Heist Brewery takes on a Belgian Centric approach when it comes to crafting beer.  Inspired by the monks of old, Heist looks to keep true to traditional styles, such as dubbels, tripels, quads, and saisons while missing up new age ingredients to create a wide variety of ales to suit any palate. Even though Heist focuses on Belgian style, don't be surprised to find your favorite American style hop bomb for the Lupulin lovers and weekly small batches releases for your adventurous side"
Since we usually start out with a flight (5-7 smaller portions of each draft beer style), we opted for the Succession, Ancho Mamma's Beer, Central Express, Cross Variation, and C'est La Vie.   Unfortunately, they were tapped out of the Barrel-aged Cataclysm, which I (Eric) was really looking forward to, so we will probably have to revisit this particular brewery :).  Neither of us is disappointed by this prospect!
Heist Brewery from inside

Jeanine is not particularly into heavy (read: hoppy) beers, so her favorite was the Succession as it was a lightly-hopped farmhouse style ale.  My favorite, by far, was the Cross Variation, which was similar to a Belgian Stout, but they used a saison yeast so the finish was more dry and (as their description states) more drinkable - it most surely was drinkable!

Our first "flight" at Heist Brewery
In addition to the beers, we had one of the brunch items (assuming the menu changes on brunch food as there is no menu on their website)  The dish comprised a (delicious) piece fried chicken, tempura egg both over macaroni and cheese and all topped with a buffalo wing Hollandaise sauce.  If we hadn't just eaten before we got there, we would have had many more foods - it was out-of-this-world delicious!  I am not usually a huge fan of fried chicken as it's usually greasy and over-spiced. This one was different.  Lightly-breaded and extremely crispy with the perfect amount of spice, this may have been the best piece of fried chicken I had to date.  It didn't stop there.  The cheesy mix in the macaroni was deeply flavored with savory goodness - a perfect match to the crispy, crunchy chicken.  Adding to this was the tempura fried egg.  Dipped in tempura batter and flash-fried to crispy perfection, the egg was the perfect compliment to the other items in the dish.  Lastly, tying everything all together, was the hot wing Hollandaise sauce.  Thick, rich, and lightly spicy, it brought the flavors of the dish together in perfect unison - YUM!  We will definitely be visiting again but next time will be for the brunch.

Our fearless bartender!
 The second stop on our brewery walk was Growler's Pourhouse.  Specializing in craft beer and "beer food" (as opposed to regular old greasy bar food), Growler's came to us from the recommendation of our bartender from Heist.
Growler's from the inside

Growler's was not at all like Heist.  Situated at 3120 North Davidson in the livelier section of NoDa bar/restaurant/art gallery area, Smaller, more cozy and much more "historical" looking (read: original brick walls and woodwork).  Not nearly as fancy (or the size) as Heist, but for sure had a great selection of beers.  Again, we started out with a flight of beers as is traditional when we visit a new brewpub.

Growler's flight
Our selection included Growler's Pourhouse Pale Ale (from cask), Dogfish Namaste Witbier, Fullsteam Coffee is for Closers, and a Bells Amber Ale.  Since I am very partial to darker beers, the Fullsteam Coffee is for Closers won me over immediately!  Deep, dark and refreshing with almost zero aftertaste - perfect style of beer for me!

Beer selection at Growler's Pourhouse
Another draw to Growler's is, of course, its food.  Since we just had a sampling of the food from Heist, we weren't hungry... at all.  So, we sat and looked at the menu...and looked...and looked.  Sensing our impatience, the bartender brought us a daily specials menu.  Nonchalantly hanging out on the bottom right corner of the menu "Oyster Shooters $1". Who doesn't love a good bargain - especially when it involves oysters!  Normally, our oysters shooters are taken at bars that serve only beer and wine, so that means that its beer, hot sauce, horseradish,  pepper, beer, and the star of the show, a big fat (raw) oyster.  This is our usual preferred method of doing oyster shooters.  But, at Growler's, its full bar including liquor, so our oyster shooters included Absolut Peppar vodka in lieu of the beer.  Needless to say, they went down easy and were delicious!  We highly recommend trying one... or three!  While they weren't anything special (no crazy ingredients, etc), since Jeanine and I love oysters, they really hit the spot!

Front of NoDa Brewing

Our last and final stop came to us as a recommendation from our bartender at Growler's (this became our go-to way of figuring out where to go next), NoDa Brewing.  NoDa Brewing, located at 2229 North Davidson Street,   is a true brewery. Offering beers to imbibe and only a food truck in the parking lot (or BYOF/order-in) for food choices, come to NoDa Brewing expecting to sample good, fresh beer in an unassuming, industrial-style building.   From the front, the building looks like an entrance to a regular retail store, so it's a little tricky finding the actual entryway (it's along the side of the building) from the front.  No signs or arrows indicating where to enter the building had us walking around the outside for a bit, but it turns out that effort found us the food truck.  While we didn't sample any food (still full!), the menu looked delicious.  We plan to revisit and check it out.

NoDa Brewing's beer menu
NoDa Brewing had significantly more beers to choose from than either Heist Brewery or Growler's Pourhouse.  Since there were so many beers to choose from and it was going to be our last stop on our brewery walk, we decided to go for it and split three flights worth of beers.  This was a sure-fire way to ensure that we would be able to sample all of the offerings from NoDa!

Our triple of flights
Instead of trying to review each of the beer samples out of the twelve that we had,  the favorite for J and the favorite for me is what we'll focus on.  To try to weed out the specifics of each style of each beer would just end of being boring and way too technical for our purposes!
Jeanine with her NoDajito

Jeanine typically likes a white beer or witbeir (german for white beer).  Since they are lighter in flavor and generally not has hopped as many heavier beers, it strikes a happy medium between an American style lager and and German style ale, which are two of her favorite styles of beer.  Although she is not a huge fan of mint, the very light mint and lime flavors of the NoDajito proved to be a light, refreshing beer for the heat of summer - she enjoyed it!

As previously mentioned, I have a taste for heavier, darker beers.  Usually an IPA (Imperial Pale Ale - heavily hopped) or a Stout/Porter are my go-to styles of beer.  This day was no exception.  For my favorite, I went with the CocoLoco Porter.  Characterized as:
"Deep, rich and delicious. This robust porter has a base of Chocolate and Brown malts for a stunningly deep rich color with ruby highlights. The slight bitterness from American chocolate is balanced with the sweet notes of organic coconut we toast onsite at the brewery. It was even awarded the Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal in 2012"
I could not have described this beer any better if I had written it myself!  Deep, complex, but not bitter and doesn't leave the trademark coffee aftertaste like many stouts and porters do.   I am not normally one that likes coconut, but the slightly bitter flavor in the chocolate is balanced with coconut (as the description states) for a great, easy drinking beer.  The CocoLoco was my favorite beer of the day!  Each sip had me waiting for the next one - it just kept getting better with each progressing moment that passed. What a great Sunday Funday!

Did we get it right?  Please post any comments agreeing or disagreeing with anything about our post! We welcome any and all criticism as well as any advice or maybe something we missed.  We certainly aren't experts, but we do strive to give the most accurate information we can from our experiences. Please comment below or let us know if you have something to add!  Thank you - we appreciate everyone following our travels!

Disclaimer: We are not paid writers, neither for our writing or our opinions. We represent our experiences with products, services, etc, with 100% accuracy and give our unbiased feedback.

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