Making craft beer is a mix of art and science. Hoof Hearted Brewery and Kitchen gets it just right, with one more important ingredient: a sense of fun.

Making craft beer is a mix of art and science. Hoof Hearted Brewery and Kitchen gets it just right, with one more important ingredient: a sense of fun.

This is a story about a group of guys who grew up in Westerville in the 1980s on a steady diet of Van Halen, Corey Haim movies, skateboarding and Donkey Kong.

It's about following your passion in the leftover moments between day jobs and kids until you've created a phenomenon that has people lining up for three hours before you open.

It's about a collaboration between a microbrewery and one of the city's hottest restaurant groups, A&R Creative, by way of the sister in the Alshahal family, Nohal Alshahal.

And it's about the art and science of making seriously good craft beer with unserious names like Mom Jeans.

The brewers behind the new Hoof Hearted Brewery and Kitchen in Italian Village are Jarrod Bichon, Ryan Bichon and Trevor Williams. They've been perfecting their IPAs-and earning a cult following-at a no-frills facility off a country road in Marengo in Morrow County for several years. Their Sunday afternoon canning events became so popular-people were driving in from other states to wait in line-that they had to make it a ticketed event.

Jarrod Bichon was a welding engineer working on government defense projects until Hoof Hearted took off earlier this year and required his full-time attention. That know-how helped him build the brewery's first operating and monitoring systems. Before Williams was a beer guy, he was a wine guy. He worked for a local wine distributor for a decade and was a sommelier at Spagio Cellars. The Bichon brothers and Williams, along with Thom Lessner, who creates the colorful, spoofy artwork for Hoof Hearted's cans, have been friends since middle school.

The science of craft beer involves hops, yeast strains, fermenters and nerdy debates about filtering. Hoof Hearted gets those things right. What makes its beer special is the unknowable, unquantifiable art of it. A willingness to say, "Let's try it and see what happens."

Down at the new brewpub you seat yourself, which makes it feel more like a bar than a restaurant. My dining companion and I popped in for dinner one hot summer night and snagged two seats at the long white marble bar. One of the flat-screen TVs above had the Indians game. The other was showing the 1984 David Lynch cult classic "Dune."

The modern European aesthetic was influenced by a trip Williams took to Copenhagen. No exposed brick or reclaimed wood here. It's a bright airy space with blond Ikea-like shelving, concrete floors and big communal tables. Will you see a few man-buns and big hipster beards? You bet. But even with artwork that evokes Beavis and Butthead, the streaming homage to '80s pop culture and a name that sounds funny when you say it out loud, there's a level of sophistication to Hoof Hearted that draws a more discerning crowd.

Most nights, there are around eight different beers on tap in both small and big pours, plus a few rotating guest drafts. On the service spectrum, the staff leans toward passively chill. Ask for a recommendation or try a flight of four 5-oz. pours for $12. Musk of the Minotaur, a Belgian IPA, is popular among those who love "that unmistakable dank stank," as Hoof Hearted's website says. For something less bitter, a fruited IPA called Wet When Slippery fits the bill. Many of their IPAs are a hazy golden color, like California sunshine.

Go out of your comfort zone and you may discover something revelatory like Rose Gose. It's a sour beer brewed with Himalayan pink salt, coriander and hibiscus, which turns it a pretty pink color. I like the way it looks and the way it tastes: slightly salty and as clean and crisp as dry champagne.

So, how's the food? Dishes are seasonal and made with locally sourced, high-quality ingredients, not unlike those served at A&R Creative's The Crest. It's not as ambitious or fussy as Wolf's Ridge Brewing but way more interesting than your average pub.

The best dishes tend to be the shareable ones that pair well with beer. We started with a communal cup of seasoned peanuts, corn nuts and chicharrones called Naughty Bits ($6) and a big white bowl of blistered shishito peppers ($12) with a creamy dipping sauce that offsets the heat. Shishitos are popping up all over town right now. Most taste like the grill. These tasted like actual peppers and weren't prohibitively hot.

Large, nicely curated cheese and sausage boards can be ordered separately or together for $21. Scattered among the house-made sausage and variety of soft and hard cheeses are caperberries, marinated cipollinis, a jam and good charred bread. Chef Justin Wotring makes the sausage in house.

The guac ($6) is good and has lots of mild avocado flavor. It comes with fresh tortilla chips and dense fried plantain cakes that might have a second career as a doorstop.

We also shared an open-faced sandwich called Fork Pork ($13), although it's probably meant to be an entrée for one. Tender pulled pork is tossed in a pineapple and mango barbecue sauce and piled on soft sandwich bread. A slice of cheddar and kimchi coleslaw make the dish even stranger sounding. Somehow it works.

On all my visits I scanned the menu for fried chicken, which I'd heard was very good. It was on hiatus, but is reportedly returning to the menu. If the grilled half-chicken is any indication, the rumors about the fried chicken are correct.

But even the late, great John Hughes made some duds. Serving a ceviche of fresh chopped shrimp ($12) on those leaden plantain cakes didn't do it any favors. The single piece of fried fish in the fish and chips (a steep $19) is heavy with oil, and the giant brined "wedgie" fries seem like a waste of potato. Swayed by the name, my 6-year-old (calm down, it was a weeknight) insisted on the Crabby Patty ($13). The kitchen proved its skill in sourcing and preparing the meaty soft-shell crab. But it seemed misplaced on a falling-apart sandwich that was basically a BLT.

Speaking of things falling apart, there's the Ferg Burg ($13). Made with black-eyed peas, it's an interesting riff on a veggie burger, but as unstable as a Hollywood marriage.

And this will make me sound like an old lady, but the music is so loud it's nearly impossible to have a conversation.

A good brunch is offered on Saturdays and Sundays, with Spanish peasant dishes like Extranjero ($12) with braised beans, house-made heart wurst and bacon and a breakfast burrito ($12) stuffed with roasted pork.

There's a theory in the wine world that the personality of the maker shines through in the final product. That assertion seems to apply to craft brewers, too. When they have fun, we have fun.