After a miscalculation on our first attempt, we have finally had our first “pizza and beer” date night at Eddyline Brewery – Nelson’s newest brew pub. We have been hanging out for this place since we first heard they were coming to town around three years ago, and we’ve been tracking Mic and Molly Heynecamp over the past year as they have established their location in Champion Road.
Our excitement stems from a bit of shared history with the Heynecamps. Although this is their third brewery, their first is in New Mexico in the Southwestern USA, where we lived for 12 years before coming to NZ. Although we were in different cities, their original mentor created our Il Vicino, our regular wood fired pizza and hoppy beer destination in Albuquerque. So, just the idea of anything like Il Vicino setting up in little old Nelson triggered instant salivation.
Eddyline is between Stoke and Richmond (next to Richmond Aquatic Centre), so it makes a perfect tandem ride from home. We went a little early to avoid riding home in the dark, but that’s no problem as they are open from 11 am – 9:30 pm seven days.
A brewpub is still not a common entity in NZ, so we weren’t sure what to expect. In the States, typically, it will be some combination of casual family restaurant and bar. This one is wedged between two commercial businesses, so the space is a bit like a mall restaurant, but they’ve created a faux shed roof over the bar, and effectively used a mix of high and low tables to suggest bar and restaurant seating. The rest of the decor is minimal, with a little Southwest flair, and some awesome hop lamps in the back area.
We were seeing them less than three weeks open, and despite our early arrival, they were well staffed and the place was half full – mainly with a couple of large group meetings. Pleasantly, the noise level was quite low despite the big gatherings. We were left to choose our own table, but then were greeted and beer orders taken almost instantly. We opted for the beer sampler($20), which allowed us to choose 6 of the 7 beers currently on. (They are working toward filling 10 taps.) When it arrived, we ordered a calzone (pizza pocket) and a pizza, and those came out no more than 10 minutes later, before we’d even tasted all the beers.
We weren’t expecting to find more lagers than ales since they have a reputation for hoppy beers, so the mix had some refreshingly different styles. The Tahunanui Pilsner (4%) was a perfect post cycling refresher- clearly pilsner, not sweet or malty, with a notably spicy bitter finish. We thought the Kaiteriteri Gold Pilsner at 5.3% was going to be more bracing, but it turned out to be quite smooth and creamy, with toasty malt and less apparent bitterness than the first.
Next up, the Kickin’ Back Amber (4.9%) is unexpectedly a Vienna Lager (as opposed to the Amber Ale of nearly every US brewpub) with dark caramel malt and subtle hopping, which makes a really perfect pizza beer. Finally, the Jolly Roger Black Lager (5.4%) had a powerful coffee roast aroma and flavour (enhanced by the low carbonation?), despite its Old Ale colouring, which didn’t meld as well with pizza, but is probably amazing with the Chocolate Mousse.
We skipped the Low Tide Ale (3.5%), and moved onto the all NZ Pozzy Pale Ale (4%), that “punches you in the face” with it’s Motueka and Riwaka hops aromas. Our pizzas were no match for the perfumed floral aromas and the super dry finish, but the distinctive jasmine tea qualities are worth lingering over and might compliment a salad nicely.
For us, it was best for last, with their flagship Crank Yanker IPA (6.3%). It starts creamy and slightly sweet, followed by a big citrus-pine kick, showcasing very American hops. We each had a proper English pint ($9) after our meal, and certainly couldn’t ask for more hops. We could see tweaking the malt a touch (either more pilsner malt, less crystal or a touch of dark roast?) to cut the candy finish, but for the first batch from a brand new brewery, it absolutely made its mark.
We were happy with our food choices. The pizza had lots of flavourful toppings that were nicely balanced. We chose the spicy calzone and loved the heaps of jalapenos, though to be honest the other ingredients did get lost a bit under them. The food menu is very focused, with just a couple starters, a couple salads, lasagne, calzones and pizzas, and one dessert. The quality and flavours were good and quantity satisfying. We did overeat, so two could probably share a pizza for lunch, or a pizza and salad for dinner.
Mic and Molly came in as we were enjoying our IPAs and we asked how they felt about the launch. They are still working hard on finishing touches, including outdoor dining and adding more beers, but seemed really happy overall with the reception so far. They are still waiting for lunch to catch on but are confident word of mouth will get out.
Having tasted the interesting things they are doing with hops, we can’t wait to go back to try the upcoming Porter and other new releases. We also want to explore more of the menu and watch how the community builds.