Hinterland crafts 20th anniversary celebration
GREEN BAY – Since its first sale and tapping on Nov. 9, 1995 at the Cock & Bull Publick House in Green Bay (a pale ale and an amber ale if you're curious), it's a safe bet that Hinterland beer has been part of birthday celebrations, anniversaries and even a tailgate or two.
However, the brewery hasn't officially hoisted a mug or glass of any sort to celebrate any of its 20 years of craft beer brewing.
That ends Aug. 29. Hinterland Brewery is hosting an anniversary event complete with bands, food and a special anniversary beer that will first be available at the party before seeing retail distribution.
"It's been a long crazy trip. I'm sure we'll see lots of people from our past," said Bill Tressler, Hinterland founder and owner. "It's a chance to celebrate with our employees, distribution partners and customers who have supported us. We should have done this a lot earlier."
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One more reason for Hinterland to celebrate is plans for the brewery and restaurant to serve as an anchor for the Green Bay Packers' Titletown District, west of Lambeau Field. The Packers own more than 65 acres east, west and south of Lambeau Field in the village of Ashwaubenon and have been working on plans to develop property for additional nonfootball revenue and other purposes.
The trip started in a "tiny, little place in Denmark," and eventually found its way to its home in downtown Green Bay.
Tressler says celebrating is more than just hitting the 20-year milestone, noting the brewery's successes during the past year. Hinterland brought back its PackerlandPilsner to plenty of fanfare, added a new fermenter tank and expanded its distribution foot print.
It's a marked change from 20 years ago.
"People's acceptance of craft beer is night and day," Tressler said. "I used to load up the van and drive around the state calling on liquor stores to stock our beer. Now you walk in and the variety is just amazing."
Tressler and his brewing team tapped a bourbon barrel stout to serve as the anniversary beer.
"We wanted to do a bourbon barrel because those are specialized. It's one of those styles that has a cult following and will hold up for a long period of time," he said.
Food also gets special attention for the party. Look for a bourbon barrel doppelbock bratwurst served on pretzel bun, sauerkraut and spicy mustard. Also on the menu are Twin Elm Gardens (Pulaski) porchetta on a baguette with beer mustard and house-made pickle relish; Caprine Supreme (Black Creek) goat cheese spread; and grilled swordfish tacos with napa cabbage, pickled onion, avocado and lime crema.
It's a lineup that is reflective of the menus at the Hinterland restaurants in Green Bay and Milwaukee in so far as committing to the farm-to-fork movement.
"I've always been kind of a foodie. If you're going to take time to produce really great beer, why not make great food too," Tressler said.
The creativity of the chefs in the kitchen and developing talent led, in part, to Tressler buying The Whistling Swan in Fish Creek in 2003 and opening a gastropub in Milwaukee in 2007.
"As talent developed in our kitchen in Green Bay, there were some chefs who earned head chef status, but we didn't have a spot (in Green Bay)," Tressler said.
Continued growth requires fresh ideas, as much as fresh beer.
"We've always had these kind of flagships (beers) like Pale Ale and Luna Stout. The more important question is, 'What have we done to say relevant?'"
Tressler cites Hinterland's multiple IPAs and return of Packerland Pilsner as examples of past success.
"It's not as much about a few select beers, but coming up with something new."
Much of that innovation comes from Hinterland's firkin program, that gives the brewers a chance to play with flavors. Perhaps one of the more innovative — and popular — firkins is the Bourbon French Toast and Bacon Maple Bock which taps out quickly when it pops up on the brewery's Firkin Friday list.
"It's a way to get people in the door and sampling," Tressler said. "It's an easy way to do a one-night event and see how your customers react."
Hinterland Brewery 20th Anniversary Party
What: Daylong event featuring release of Hinterland 20th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout and music by The Nicks (1 p.m.), The Town Criers (3 p.m.), The Chocolateers (5 p.m.) and TUGG (7:30 p.m.). Hinterland's founder and owner, Bill Tressler, plays drums for The Town Criers. Food also for sale.
When: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Aug. 29
Where: Hinterland Brewery, 313 Dousman St., Green Bay
Tickets: $10 each http://hinterland20.brownpapertickets.com/