One of the many nice things about so many new breweries popping up, is if you decide to head out of town to check one out, you can usually find one or two more not too far away to make your trip that much more advantageous. Since I tend to plan my out of town adventures just that way, on my recent trip to visit Three Floyds, I decided to check out Crown Brewing on the way back.
I was familiar with them through their one beer, Crown Brown, which had been on tap locally for a short time and was pretty well done. I wanted to check out more!
The first impression of the bar at Crown was it was very cozy. There is a nice display of their swag as soon as you walk in the door and a large chalkboard, which tells you which of the standards and specialty beers they currently have on tap. The bar isn’t overly large but very comfortable. A light made out of dozens of beer bottles carries most of the illumination duties, and casts a nice warm glow adding to the intimate ambiance. In addition to the small bar, there is a very large family room that appears to be a local favorite hangout. There is also a good-sized outdoor patio that was beautiful when I was there this fall, and quite busy.
The bartender immediately greeted us with a friendly hello, which is always the first step in winning me over. Despite serving the bar and the patio, she was very attentive and helpful in choosing beers. Staff is so key, I simply cannot stress that enough. I was extremely pleased with the service.
I decided to start off with a flight. I always find it interesting how different bars/breweries present their flights. Some are very creative, some resourceful, some with very little attention or presentation. Crown uses a simple tray with a laminate wipe off sheet to write the different beers. I really liked this! It made it easier for me to keep track and I liked that there wasn’t added waste of paper that gets thrown away. Their flight was 6, 3 oz. pours. I went with the IPA, Imperial Red, Saison, De Railer, Java Porter and Cream Ale. I went with both styles I have a high bar for (Saison, Java Porter) and styles I’m more ambivalent about. (Imperial Red, Cream Ale).
I’ll start with the Saison. I’ve had some really top notch Saisons and they are one of my favorite styles. My favorite is Saison Dupont, the flagship beer for Dupont Brewery in Tourpes, Belgium. Saisons were originally brewed as a summer ale, with a much lower ABV than current styles (more likely in the low 3% range). Typically referred to as Farm House ales, these were often brewed in the fall and winter by farm hands as a way to keep them employed through the slower winter months, and in the summer months the beer was used in the field to keep the farm hands hydrated. A safer alternative, due to lack of potable water.
The Americanized version tends to have a higher ABV (typically 7-10%) and are brewed with a more fruit and spice influence. One of the best out there is Tank 7 by Boulevard Brewing.
Crowns version of the Saison was not bad. It wasn’t terrific either. Drinkable but without any kind of wow factor.
As I went through the rest of the beers, I kind of had the same feeling. They were all pretty good, none of them made me say “oh wow, now that is amazing”. The Java Porter was probably my favorite and to me, the beer that was the most true to style and well crafted.
That being said, one of the most interesting things to me is the sheer variety of beers Crown is brewing. If you follow them on FB they are really good about posting when a new beer is being released and a lot of them sound really intriguing. Currently (based on their FB feed), they have a Pecan Pie Java Porter, a Milk Chocolate stout (which I’m assuming is different than a Milk Stout) and a Marshmallow Cream Java Porter. I have to give some props to breweries that are willing to extensively experiment and offer beers that you simply aren’t going to find in a package store. The counter to that is weather or not they are giving themselves the time to refine their beers. This is a line of thinking that gets talked about a lot. Brewing quantity of beers over a handful of beers really, really, really well. Some breweries do it well (Thinking of Drangonsmead in Detroit that brews close to 50 beers on site and they are all pretty amazing) and some are still refining the process.
Either way, I would definitely go to Crown again. I’d really like to go NOW after reading the new beers they have on tap.
To me, one of the most important things to keep in mind, is that supporting your local brewer is important. Some are going to have outstanding beers. Some are going to have good beers. Some are going to occasionally put out something less than perfect. But they are ALL better than a majority of what the macro producers are producing. And you are supporting local business. So get out there, and explore what is available!
211 South East Street
Crown Point, IN 46307