The pizza at Gretna’s Heavy Brewing, which opened last November, could be throwaway, or boring, or not that tasty.
But here’s the good news, beer lovers: it’s none of those things.
The super casual brewery, located in an industrial area that’s certainly off the beaten path, has already found its fan base, if the crowds during my two recent visits were any indication.
I like Heavy’s quirkily-named beers and pizzas — some with a PG-13 bent — and of all the breweries I’ve been trying for the first time during this year’s Nebraska Beer Bracket, it’s one of my favorite discoveries.
Let’s start with the beer this time around. We visited Heavy twice, both with family and friends, so we got to sample quite a bit of the current lineup.
My personal favorite turned out to be Deez Nutz, a chocolatey, peanut buttery stout that isn’t too sweet but finishes with a lovely, nutty aroma and flavor. It was a favorite of my sister-in-law, too, and several other friends at the table.
My other favorite was “My Stripper’s Name is Cinnamon,” an English ale with a decidedly vanilla bent. The menu describes its flavor profile as “homemade cinnamon rolls,” and while I won’t go that far, I did really like it.
Perhaps best of all is when the bar mixes these two beers together to create the “Male Stripper;” the resulting drink is a lovely vanilla nut concoction that’s balanced between sweet and savory, with a hint of cinnamon aftertaste.
Our crew sampled plenty of other beers. Mr. Danky is an American IPA with a hint of crisp pine needle and a “dank” finish, which I describe as more of an aroma of funk than any particular flavor.
Rusty pipe, a collaboration with Gretna Plumbing, is a super unusual smoked Irish Porter made with Beechwood smoked malt, resulting in a smoky finish. This is the beer for the Mezcal lover in your life — the one in mine, Matthew, called it “the best collab ever.”
I also appreciate that Heavy has a selection of on-tap Old Fashioneds, a long-time favorite cocktail of mine. There’s three to choose from, and I settled on the High Society, a balanced drink made with High Society double-oaked bourbon, simple syrup and bitters. I really liked it.
Heavy’s atmosphere is sort of like a raw warehouse turned dining room, with one counter where diners can order pizza and a second where they can order beer, wine and cocktails. There’s plenty of televisions playing sports — the Creighton run in the NCAA Tournament brought in quite a crowd — and seating is at mostly large plastic and picnic-style tables.
Diners order beer and drinks at the bar, but the food menu is all operated via QR codes, and orders are placed via smartphone. Though I am often the one lamenting the loss of paper menus, in this case, service was quick and efficient.
I was pretty much sold on Heavy’s version of bar pizza when I set my eyes on the cupped pepperoni tucked into the house cheese blend on “Her Stage Name is Hot Honey,” all of it topped with a drizzle of, you guessed it, Mike’s hot honey. It’s a classic basic with a thin, floury crust, a chewy edge and a flavorful finish. Hot honey is trendy, but here, it makes sense and works well, adding a bit of sweet heat to an otherwise classic Pepperoni pizza.
The rest of the pizzas we tried arrived piled high with toppings, and one of my oldest ways of judging a pizza is simple: Does the crust get soggy? At Heavy, it doesn’t.
A lobster pie was the Lenten special on the Friday when we visited, and though most of the people at our table were feeling questionable, it turned out to be unusual in a good way. Plenty of lobster meat came on the pie, along with celery, red sauce, a drizzle of white sauce and lemon rounds. We didn’t really need the big lemons, but otherwise the combination somehow worked, with its mix of soft and crisp textures. Would it be our first choice? No. But it’s not a bad one if you encounter it.
I’d skip the appetizer menu in favor of pizza, though I think the breaded chicken bites and pub pretzel sticks would probably both be a hit with children. What I did like here was the house made Heavy sauce, sort of like a beer spiked honey mustard, that works just as well as a dipper for pizza crust as it did for the pretzels.
The #1 Stunna pie gives jalapeno popper vibes with its toppings of locally made sausage, a trio of house peppers and dollops of cream cheese. If you like the Tres Peps pizza at Pitch, you’ll like this one, too. We also tried the BBC, Heavy’s version of a barbecue pizza, topped with smoked beef brisket, mushrooms, barbecue sauce, cilantro and Wisconsin cheese curds. Matthew wished for more of that brisket on this one, and I could see his point. I wished for less barbecue sauce, because it overpowered the flavor of that brisket somewhat.
Because we could, we finished with one of the restaurant’s dessert pies — all of us were deeply familiar with the Valentino’s dessert pizzas from our own childhoods — and Heavy amps it up a notch with a lemon and blueberry dessert pizza that was not too sweet. The fresh blueberries are a nice touch. There’s also an apple version for the purists, and I’d try it next time.
I like pretty much everything about Heavy: adventurous beers, Old Fashioneds on tap, pizza that’s good enough to return for and the kind of casual, welcoming atmosphere that feels just right.
20333 Patton St., Gretna
Hours: Monday 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 1 p.m to 10 p.m., Saturday 3 p.m to 10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m to 8 p.m.