Prohibition and Pops, "I think this would be a good time for a beer”!

by Marty Nopper, Tastemaker in Residence

Read Marty’s Prohibition to National Beer Day for some unique and historic, Prohibition craziness.


The fun never stops. I always try to make the best out of every situation. As I get older, I've tried to remember that I'm not 29 anymore but my mind somehow tries to trick this older bag of bones into thinking 'one more' is still ok. It is, right? Alright, whatever...Recently, I have been given the opportunity to lead the Sales Team to greatness, helping to mold some young professionals to be the best they can be. Now, some may call it a curse or even a demotion but I'm up for the challenge. As part of my duties, I have to assess the strengths and areas for growth for each rep and to do that, I usually spend a couple of days in the field with them, monitoring call activity, sales messaging and all the stuff that leads to said greatness. Typically, I fly and get up before the sun, but today, I was gonna drive myself, listening to Sirius all the way down, singing every song on the radio? Staggering out to my car in a sleep coma, I drove 6 hours southwest until I reached the outskirts of Charlotte. The trip was mostly normal until I got 2 miles from my hotel. Sitting at a light, I spied a Charlotte Police SUV pulled up on the curb, with an officer speaking to a young resident. The light changed and I started off. All of a sudden, a small skirmish broke out and the cop was wrestling with the young man until he broke free and dashed across the street right in front of my car! Slamming on the breaks (I heard several screeches behind me and braced for impact), my grill was almost imprinted with his grill, closely followed by the officer, who hesitated for a moment debating what I was going to do. Anyway, moving on, I found myself at the hotel, unpacked, and went to lunch and then awaited the sales calls.

Normally, when I know my schedule of ride-along’s and the cities I will be visiting, I try to scope out activities (namely music…ok, breweries) and try to arrange myself accordingly. Very rarely does a musical happening coincide with my schedule, but the gods were smiling tonight. The Gin Blossoms were in town at a small venue about 15 minutes away, playing their first album, New Miserable Experience, front to back. Bam! I'm in. Scoring my ticket and eating dinner next door at VBGBs (they have about 40 crafts on tap), I found myself singing along to every song, every lyric, feeling 29 again (that also happens to be the first time I saw them, in 1992, when they released their initial smash album). 

The next night proved to be a little less exciting, but still flavorful, opting for a local watering Hole.

Heist Brewery, located in the NoDa (North Davidson) area of Charlotte, was selected as my joint, due to its hipness and food nearby. With 3 bars and an industrial, warehouse feel, its old brick walls separated each room and made you feel like you were in yesteryear today. Heist opened its doors in 2012, as Charlotte’s only Craft Brewpub.  Heist focuses on small batch beer ranging from traditional Belgian Table Beers, Saisons, to IPA's and Double IPA’s, to Porters and Imperial Stouts. Tonight's selection of 6 brews on tap was less than I would normally like to see in a brewery but the neck oils they procured were right up my alley. 

Scouring the menu, I see Strong Ales, IPA’s and Stouts. Ahhhh. Yum. I settle for the classic tropical IPA, Citraquench’l typically Citra hopped beer. Citrusy with slight floral and light pine. Easy drinking at 7.1% with a definite tropical vibe due to it being produced from 100% Citra hops (think fruit cocktail in a can for all those older than 40), with a sticky, thick white lacey residue. This incredibly typical New England style IPA delivers a 7.1 ABV headache but is sneaky good as this lobe liquid really delivers the goods. Armed with a solid base and ready to try ‘em all, I selected a little different avenue of alcohol. Polar Projection is an 8.2% Double Imperial Stout (trouble) reeking of heavy coffee notes, a hint of chocolate, and vanilla while visually producing very little head. Not really detecting much of the coconut influence as described in the brochure but I’m sure it’s in the ingredients. Or maybe it’s just me. Dark and rich (a little sweet?), I’m only allowed one as my colleagues to the right are starting to get louder in a college freshman ‘I just had my first beer’ kinda way. Heist has the most current 6 brews on tap but rotates the offerings on a weekly basis, available in 16-ounce beers and flights of 5 4-ounce pours. Starting to feel like my skull is tied to balloons, I cash out and search for something more substantial for my belly.


Ok, funny as hell. So, I walk a couple of blocks to Cabo Fish Taco. A cozy little specialty taqueria that has a decent draft menu. The receptionist is dealing with some obstinate patrons so I tell her, on the sly, that I’m going to the bar. When getting there, I see one seat open and give my usual, ‘hey man, is there anyone sitting there?’. Unfortunately, it’s a young lady who is not too happy with my inquiry and says ‘whatever’. Man, this meals gonna be good. Fortunately, she huffs down the last of her (I’m sure) tofu taco and rolls out with her ‘friend’. Nonetheless, I try a local brewers delight called Jalapeno Pale Ale from Birdsong Brewery from Tap# 8. I am here to dine and drink so let’s get this party started! As all 6 of you know, I’m a huge fan of peppery flavored beers so I try them wherever I go (similar to chocolate peanut butter porters-save the vomiting for later until you try them). This brew is somewhat flat so I’m not overly impressed. What I do notice is the nice balance between heat and flavor, something lost as breweries screw up when adding the heat. This brew starts as Free Will Pale Ale and then they add a crapload of shucked, seedless jalapenos to round out the flavor without getting too hot or spicy. Its only clocking me with a 5.5% ABV but and a 45 IBU so it’s on the smoother side. Better yet, next trip to the Queen City will allow me to try this brewery as it’s right down the street. Next up on the menu is a brew also made right down the street, NoDa Brewing Company’s Hop, Drop & Roll. A 2014 World Beer Cup® Gold Award Winner, American-Style IPA. Hops in your face. Crisp, mouthwatering, American citrus hops dominate for an ideal IPA character. It’s hopped before, during and after the boil with late boil additions of Citra and Amarillo for a complex flavor profile. The rich golden color comes from a blend of English and American base malts accented with substantial amounts of Vienna and Wheat malt. This is the beer that started it all for NoDa Brewing. Got to have more. Next time…Back to the food. Sidebar 1-Guess who was here and wrote about this place? Guy Fieri from Diners, Drivins, and Dives fame, Season 9, Episode 4 in 2010. He also tried the BBQ Mahi tacos and found them delicious.