“Beer is just water that’s been influenced.” -A brewer from Hinterland Brewery
On our way “Up North” for Memorial Day weekend, we decided to stop in Green Bay and see the Hinterland Brewery.
We were familiar with Hinterland from our ABCs of Milwaukee Dining dinner at their Milwaukee restaurant, Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub.
The website for the brewery suggests you call in advance to secure a tour. Tours run only on Saturdays at 3 and 4 p.m. They are $10 and include two free beer samples and a free 16 oz. glass–a pretty good deal considering they charge $4.75 for a beer, so essentially, the tour costs 50 cents.
After one quick stop in Sheboygan for food on the way up, we arrived at Hinterland, just across the river from Downtown Green Bay–which was absolutely deserted on a Saturday afternoon.
The building was hard to miss, with a new grain silo with the unmistakable Hinterland logo, a white ‘H’ set on black, circled by a yellow ring, painted on it.
Hinterland’s minimalist style doesn’t just reflect the aesthetics of their packaging, but permeates every part of their business including decadent menus and buildings featuring exposed beams, low lighting, leather, wood and iron, or as my friend Shannon calls it, the “apothecary theme.”
We arrived at around 2:30 and were show to a stylish second floor bar. We were the first people there for the tour and got a few minutes to talk with the bartender. He told us that all Hinterland beers are sold in four-packs of 16 oz. bottles, rather than the conventional six-packs of 12 oz. bottles (except for the new White Cap belgian IPA, brewed in a contest with Titletown Brewing Co. across the street, which is sold in the regular manner).
I was excited to see they had the IPA on nitrogen and picked that easily (pictured above). It was creamy and hoppy. Michelle chose the Saison, which she enjoyed.
Shortly after our first beers were poured, people began arriving … and continued to arrive until the tour started … We were told that around 15 was the maximum for the tour, but there must have been more than 20 by the time we embarked.
I asked the bartender if they had a “flagship beer” and he said it was the Luna Stout, brewed with beans from local coffee company, Luna Cafe. He generously gave us each a tasting glass full of the stuff and it was dark and robust as you would expect, it is a popular style, a lot like Lakefront’s Fuel Cafe.
What became apparent as soon as the tour began, both through the words of our guide, one of the brewers, and the actual experience of walking through narrow corridors, is that this growing brewery is almost at capacity in this facility.
As they told us about their brewing process, that “influencing of water,” I asked how much they yielded each year: 4,000 barrels the brewer said–a true microbrewer. Breweries over 50,000 barrels are considered major microbrewers.
Our group barely fit into the chilled secondary fermentation room. They mentioned they used their yeast for about 30 brewings. More than Ale Asylum, who only uses yeast 10 times, but still well within the range where each batch will keep its flavor.
Barrel-aging is so popular in the craft-brewing world, and Hinterland is no exception. In order to build this large storage room, they got rid of the popular balcony, much to the chagrin of many customers, but at Hinterland, the beer comes first.
We headed back upstairs, taking in some of the fine dining areas in the restaurant.
Though we didn’t have time to stay an eat, I’m sure that, based on my experience at Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub in Milwaukee, the food is great.
I fully suspect that the next time I tour Hinterland, it’ll be in a new, larger facility to keep pace with their growth.
Being from Green Bay, Hinterland could have easily adopted some sort of football-theme, instead they forged their own path, creating a minimalist, posh brand that is growing in popularity in Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida and New England.
For our second beers, I had the Pilsner and Michelle had the Pale Ale. We sat back in the upstairs bar and enjoyed our drinks, excited for a relaxing Memorial Day weekend with my family.