Off Square Brewing In Crown Point: Proud To Be Just A Few Degrees Off Plumb
Where else but across a home brew kettle would a biochemist and a construction specialist learn to bond? In this case, that craft beer friendship has blossomed into a new brewery in Crown Point. Off Square Brewing opened June 29th at 11000 Delaware Parkway, near the 109th Avenue exit off of I-65.
The name Off Square comes at you from two directions. They are definitely located off the town square in Crown Point, about two miles from the city center, but also because they are using it in reference to a construction term. Their brewing philosophy is just a bit off plumb – out of square, if you will.
Co-owner Phil Logan is the builder, and he did most of the build out for the brewery. However, he is also a long time home brewer, and he along with head brewer and co-owner Dave Hellwege, have penchant for developing original recipes for their beers. They can do beers that are scientifically precise for the style, Dave is a biochemist after all, but they also like to brew outside the box. Whether the beer is conventional or odd, they pride themselves on paying attention to details of each batch.
Dave is a founding member of the Northwest Indiana Brewers Society (NIBS) and together, he and Phil have more than 25 years of brewing experience. This long path has led them to their opening, with no fewer than eight of their own beers on tap from day one. Walter and I have tasted their beer before they opened – a collaboration with Burn ‘Em Brewing called Wallonian Fields Forever. This saison is kicked up with strawberry puree and green peppercorns. The strawberry is up front while the phenolics of the peppercorns come much later.
The rest of the beers are new to us. I can tell you about them based on descriptions from Rod Mackenzie, Off Square’s very experienced taproom manager, but we will travel north soon to try them out for ourselves. There is the EZ Day APA with a bit of honey to smooth out the hops, while the American IPA is called Long Day, and has nothing other than a double dry hop with Citra and Amarillo hops to distract from the hop bitterness. A second IPA runs toward the New England style, which includes 120 pineapples added to the whirlpool.
How many breweries would open with a rice IPA, a double no less – yet that is what Dave and Phil have done with the Rice Rocket. Forty percent rice in the grist is an off-square way to highlight the Azacca hop that is so popular now. More traditional is the Saphir Zum Trotz (translates as sapphire for spite… huh?) Hefeweizen, with the banana and clove one would expect from this wheat beer.
Two oatmeal stouts round out the opening day tap list, the Angry Betty and the Bold Betty, in which she is both angry and hopped up on espresso beans. Why Betty is angry I have no idea, the base oatmeal stout has a cocoa nibs and shells included in the mash and secondary. Isn’t chocolate supposed to make you calmer? Whichever way you cut it, these first seven beers from their twenty-barrel brew house (with four 20 BBL fermenters) is a good start, which leaves their one-barrel pilot system for experimentation.
If this isn’t enough for you, Off Square has a total of twenty taps, so they now have some guests beers from Crown Bewing, Devil’s Trumpet, and Burn ‘Em as well. This is nothing to sneeze at, and pairs well with the menu that executive chef Trey Matson has put together for the brewpub. How does a short rib poutine sound to you? No – how about lamb tacos with pineapple, jerk shrimp, or a bevy of wood fired pizzas? Many of the recipes include the Off Square beers, so this is truly a collaborative between brewery and restaurant.
If you have the time, make a trip to Crown to support Dave, Phil, and the rest of the crew as they undertake this venture. If you don’t have the time, make some – it’s not like your kitchen is going stay pristine even if you clean it. Off Square is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 am to 10:00 at night, and 11:00 to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. You’re going to like this place – you’re a little off square yourself.