One of Northwest Indiana's newest craft breweries is hidden in plain sight.
Cognito Brewery recently opened in an industrial park at 8622 Louisiana Place in Merrillville, by the Lakeshore Public Media headquarters.
The family-owned nanobrewery specializes in Belgian beers, including the She-Devil Belgian-style golden strong ale, the Champipple Thrills Belgian-style Tripel, and the Double Trouble Belgian Dubbel.
Owner Dwayne Williams said the brewery hoped to be a hub for local arts and artists and planned to eventually distribute its flagship beers in kegs and cans to local bars and retailers.
Cognito Brewery also is adding a kitchen it hopes to debut during the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, along with three new beers, including a cerveza and a blueberry ale.
"This was just guys who had been homebrewing for awhile getting together to open a brewery," Williams said. "We like beer, especially big beers. It's called Cognito because we were incongnito when we were homebrewing, just hidden doing our thing. Then we went public with it."
The brewery is hiring a chef and looking to add a food menu that would include burgers, chicken, shrimp, pizza, and nachos so customers could go there for a meal and drinks.
The brewery occupies a 1,500-square-foot space that's close to U.S. 30, the Southlake Mall, many hotels and new developments. Given its central location, it aspires to draw people from across Lake and Porter counties.
Cognito Brewery brews small batches of beer on a nine-barrel system that sold for consumption at the taproom or in cans to go.
It seats about 30 and could accommodate up to 50 or 60 when accounting for standing room. It plans to add an outdoor patio that would seat another 15 customers during the spring and summer months.
"We have a garage door that will open right to the patio," Williams said. "We're going to do events with food trucks, have live music and do our first festival here in June. The proceeds are going to benefit Lakeshore Public Television and Lakeshore Public Radio. They depend on fundraising and we think we could help them out."
The annual festival will have a Latin theme with salsa and Reggaeton DJs. Cognito Brewery also plans to host arts and canvas nights in its taproom twice a month.
"We want to work with all the great artists in town," he said. "We'd like to showcase their sculpting, painting and photography in our taproom. Local artists put a great deal of work into art on our beer cans. Northwest Indiana has such a great arts scene."
Long-term, the brewery would be interested in helping artists set up studios in its industrial park to help make it more of a destination people would seek out.
Cognito Brewery is open from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, but plans to expand its hours this summer.
For more information, call 219-769-3677, visit cognitobrewery.com or find Cognito Brewery on Facebook.