Recent frequenters of Heist Brewery will have noticed several changes in recent years. The beer quality has continued its trend of marked improvement, rocketing Heist from also-ran to serious player in the Charlotte craft beer scene. Heist is swiftly becoming known for their juicy Northeast-style IPAs, and their Cataclysm imperial stout releases draw a crowd.
These improvements come at a significant spatial cost. Racks of repurposed bourbon barrels and clusters of large steel fermenters invaded portions of the dining room, and an army of grain bags continues its occupation. Heightened demand is causing production strain on their brewpub system.
“It was a huge eye-opener when (the first canning run of) Citraquench’l went off,” said Heist Brewery founder Kurt Hogan. “Yep, we’ll need more fermenters.”
To address these concerns, Heist Brewery is making some big moves, the biggest since the brewpub opened its doors in October 2012.
Prepare to say hello to a private event space next door, as well as a standalone production brewery three quick miles away.
As the event space is mere months away from completion, let’s take a quick look next door.
When an adjacent 3,000 square foot unit became vacant in August, Heist saw an opportunity, although not for expanding existing brewing space. “There’s not enough space over there, and it didn’t even cross our minds to do that,” Hogan said. “We’d already need a new brewhouse, and then a new walk-in cooler. It’s also retail priced per square foot, and we needed warehouse prices.”
Instead, they looked into moving private parties next door, versus than the current method of parceling off the current space. The new area will have a second kitchen built to handle these events, and will be self-sufficient. “Right now, when we throw parties, it’s really challenging to serve the restaurant as well as get a party out at the same time,” says Hogan. “That space can operate on its own, and the restaurant will continue on.”
The adjoining space will naturally have its own bar area, and will be open to the public in a taproom capacity when not booked out. Expect a November opening.
Now, onto the future standalone production space.
Say hello to the future home of Heist Brewing and Barrel Arts. This 22,000 square foot facility will allow Heist to greatly expand their production ability, taking them from an existing 8.5 barrel production system up to a much larger 30-barrel system.
A new taproom will occupy 3,300 square feet of the space, and there’s talk of both a bakery and butcher onsite as well. A canning line will ensure a steadier supply of juicy IPAs, and the new space will allow for additional experimentation and special releases.
“The goal is not to maximize distribution,” stresses Hogan. “The goal is to start a sour program, continue barrel-aging, and continue selling cans out of the taproom.”
Demo is already underway. While they’re a little hesitant to publicize the address of the new location (“can you just say Statesville Avenue corridor?”), they’re eyeing an April-to-June 2017 timeline for opening.
Understandably, this is a big shift for Charlotte’s only locally-owned brewpub. But, for the legions of fans seeking to get their fix of Thirst or Jack The SIPA, this is welcome news indeed.