Classy in the Country

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I was pretty certain that my Wednesday was going to be a normal day full of research and work, which I don’t particularly like, especially when compared with beer tasting. Lucky for me, the day turned out very different. I had a chance to go to an awesome exhibit in Appleton about Wisconsin’s food, drink, and the history behind it including everything from immigration, to farm strikes, to sturgeon fishing – then finish the day with some good beer. I took a picture of one the first fat testers used in cheese making, and a lot of other pictures. If you have any doubt that Wisconsin is awesome, I really recommend looking into this exhibit more.

Getting to the beer – I had to take my friend to get her car fixed at her boyfriend’s garage that’s in the middle of a small residential neighborhood in Suamico, WI. We needed something to do while it was getting fixed. Despite your stereotypes of places in the country in Wisconsin, most of these places take credit cards and have the whole to do now, but our stop was even a step up from that.  If you’re ever north of Green Bay in what might seem like the middle of nowhere if you’re from a city – you should totally stop at The Bottle Room. They have a room full of wine, great artisan food (obviously including an amazing cheese plate), and some great Wisconsin craft beers.

I tried a flight of four craft beers that I think are a good fit for the summer months. Luckily, it was craft beer week at The Bottle Room & I got myself a flight of four beers at 6 ounces each for fewer than ten dollars. It was a winner.

First I had the Horny Goat: Watermelon Wheat. When I first read the name, I very seriously thought it was going to taste like kool aid. I’ve had one watermelon beer before, and it was interesting.  It basically tasted like someone mixed some cream and watermelon together, with a wheaty after taste.  That was 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon (not my favorite beer – but kudos on the name). The Horny Goat beer was better. The watermelon taste was still light – but the experience was a little more complex. It started off bitter hoppy taste, but quickly transitions into a nice wheaty watermelon. It’s not sweet – you taste it on the back of your tongue where (I learned this in Girl Scouts and for some reason remember it), you taste sour and bitter flavors.  The taste slowly gets more subtle as you wait for the taste to settle in – which I recommend.

Next was Abita: Spring IPA. This is a nice light IPA that goes well with summer. The first thing I noticed was the tangy smell. The first tastes will taste tangy, medium on the bitterness and hoppiness scale, and some light spicy flavor will settle in quickly – and that will be the lasting taste. This beer has all around a bunch of nice soft, light flavors that are flat out balanced really nicely. If you’re looking for a good summer beer – give it a try.

The Dark Horse: Crooked Tree IPA is not so much for summer, but it’s not extremely heavy, so it worked for me. This is a great beer for those of you who like bitter beer. It has some citrusy overtones, an all-around bitter flavor, and a dry, crisp end to each sip. Even though the flavor doesn’t scream summer, for those of you who look for a crisp, thirst quenching texture in your bitter beer for the summer – this is worth at least a sample.

Last I tried the Central Waters: Shine On. For all you Florida Georgia Line fans who are intrigued, this one is a medium weight, hoppy, spicy red. If you like reds, you’ll like this. I have to say I thought it tasted pretty standard, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. This red is high on the hoppy end and low on the molassesey end. Give it a try and decide for yourself – the folks at Central Waters know what they’re doing.

The best days are always the ones that are full of unexpected fun, and learning. This was one of those days. The Bottle Room was great. The wait staff knew what they were talking about – and they really have something for everyone. The friend I was with likes wine – so she got to sample four of those while I had fun tasting my beer.

Whenever I write about a spot in Northeast Wisconsin, I really have to stress that I am doing all I can to encourage folks who come up here for Packer games to venture away from Ashwaubenon, go to a nearby town, or go downtown, and support some of our great local folks instead of the chains downtown. You’ll find some great down to earth folks who know a lot of Wisconsin’s rich culture, a smaller crowd, better beer, and people who know more about it. The Bottle Room is just another example.

More about the Bottle Room:

www.the-bottle-room.com/

@TheBottleRoomGB

More on the Breweries I Tasted (and you should too):

Horny Goat – www.hornygoatbrewing.com, @HornyGoatBrewCo

Abita – www.abita.com, @TheAbitaBeer

Dark Horse – www.darkhorsebrewery.com, @DarkHorseBrewCo

Central Waters – www.centralwaters.com, @CWBrewing

A Spot Too Often Missed in Downtown Green Bay

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Our biggest industry in Wisconsin is tourism. One of the reasons is because a bunch of people come to Green Bay every year for Green Bay Packer games.  Downtown Green Bay is an area usually missed by football tourists, but if you’re also a craft beer lover, you should make the quick drive over. One of the treasures downtown is Hinterland Brewery. Hinterland Brewery also distributes locally, so it’s a great thing to pick up and bring home.

First – if you’re thinking of having dinner here, be prepared to pay a little more. If you’re super hungry for a good bear and a big greasy cheeseburger, this isn’t the place. They have a lot of reasonably portioned, well crafted, locally grown food. So if you want to go somewhere where you’re sure to try some new, creatively put together food, this is the spot for you.

But I am more concerned with the beer.

True to form, I started out with their Pale Ale – the go to beer at Hinterland. It tastes and smells grainy & floral toned hops. I loved this one because the texture was really unique. I felt like I could feel the grain on my tongue when I was drinking it & it gave my beer a really fresh edge. The Pale Ale is a medium weight & is a great start to the night at 5.3% ABV.

Another staple at Hinterland is their Luna Stout. This stout is medium weight and goes down super smooth.  This is a perfect fit if you’re a creamy coffee lover. If you don’t like coffee – don’t get this. Like most stout – this comes best after dinner, but you honestly could have it any time.

By far & away in my mind, the best year- round- beer at Hinterland is their Amber Ale. First I should point out that a lot of times when you go to a brew pub & order “The Amber,” you’re getting a lager. This is ale. In a nutshell, ales are more flavorful because they are brewed differently and often use more ingredients.  So this Amber is heavier than you might expect and has a strong roasty – piney flavor, & even has a hint of a sweet after taste. This is a must have if you’re in Green Bay.

I want to mention quick just two seasonal beers. First is the Cherry Wheat. If you’re overwhelmed by the ales and stouts are a dark, scary thing to you, the cherry wheat can be a safe space. It’s a clean, crisp, wheat beer that doesn’t overdo it – and obviously have hints of sour Door County Cherry. Door County Cherries are famous here – and they make just about cherry everything up there. If you’re in Wisconsin for a while and making your way to Door County – you’ll know Shipwrecked in Egg Harbor also makes cherry wheat. Hinterland’s is better.

In honor of the 40-50 degree difference between the weather now, and this time last year I want to mention the Winterland seasonal. The winterland is medium weight with a full malty flavor – but what makes it special is the tart juniper berry aftertaste. It’s a great beer for the end of your night.

I should also mention if you’re coming here with non-beer lovers, there’s a good selection of wine & scotch here too – so everyone should have a great time!

The last thing to point out is that the staff here is good. They know their beer, and they know their menu. They’ll be able to walk you through your beer and food choices successfully. They’re also smart. I haven’t had a trip to hinterland without having a conversation with the staff about current events, and NPR radio show, or how Green Bay is working to rebuild its downtown area. Overall – I’d rate this place a 9/10 on the awesome scale. Hope you all can make a trip here after the next Packer game!

 

Things to Google Before You Go:

Science Friday on NPR (just for conversation with the nice host)

Hagemeister Park Green Bay (the park – and the restaurant)

Kavarna Coffee (a great place nearby)

Duck Heart (because yea… it’s on the menu)

More Info on Hinterland:

About the beer: http://www.hinterlandbeer.com/Beer.html

Follow on Twitter: @hinterlandbeer

Want to start beer tasting & learning more? I have the place for you.

Titletown Brewery is more than a brew pub… it’s become a neighborhood hot spot in Green Bay. Whether you’re a veteran beer lover, taster, & enthusiast, or… usually drink Bud Light in someone’s basement, there is a spot for at the bar, and better beer for you to try.

Titletown is a great place in particular if you’re not an avid craft beer drinker and want to go somewhere with no judgment, but a world of opportunity to learn about Wisconsin’s great beer tradition – and a little bit about the Green Bay Packers while you’re there – hence the name Titletown.*

I’d like to share a couple of my personal favorites at Titletown, and start with the beers that won’t overwhelm you if you’re just starting to learn about the amazing world of beer. I have two go – to beers at Titletown. The first is the Johnny “Blood” Red. This is a tried & true Irish Red Ale that has just a tad more of a roasted taste than usual. It’s a great starter if you’re out for dinner, because it’s not quite light – but by no means heavy & you’re sure to finish it before your meal arrives in time to order yourself a beer to have with dinner.

My second go – to beer, as an IPA lover, is the Green 19 IPA. Number one, it smells great. It’s all around a great introduction to IPAs as it pretty medium all the way around on intensity. It has a clean floral – citrusy taste with medium hop bitterness. If it’s too much for you – call me a hop head and be upset.

The next beer to highlight is their Bamberg Brew which the menu describes as a “Smoked Oktoberfest Style Amber Lager.” Obviously that’s a long title, so let me simplify. I tried it and immediately thereafter said “This tastes like bacon.” Try it.

If you’re a beginner and scared of darker beer – go ahead and try the ZizaniAle – it’s a brown ale with an ounce of wild rice per pint. I absolutely loved it. Dark doesn’t mean heavy – and this one is light, smooth, full of smoky flavor, and goes down nicely. It’s a great beer to eat with the beer cheese fondue (that you should totally order), because it will quench your thirst and keep you feeling fresh without sacrificing taste.

If you pop in during the next few weeks – you’ll for sure see signs for the Perle Pale Ale. In Wisconsin, we like our creative hop blends, but this beer is brewed with 100% Perle hops that have a minty –spicy flavor giving it clean, crisp, full taste. It’s also a bit smoother than your average Pale Ale. This Pale Ale is worth a try, and a great beer to grab a growler to go & take home to family & friends. It’s hard not to like.

Things to Google Before You Go:

Green 19 Aaron Rodgers

Johnny “Blood” McNally

Sno- Cap Root Beer

Lombardi Trophy

Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Depot

More Info:

On the beer: titletownbrewing.com/beer

Follow on Twitter: @titletown

*Titletown refers to the title of Green Bay, WI being Titletown, USA as they won the first Super Bowl, and the Super Bowl Trophy is named the Lombardi Trophy. I know there are a few other cities that feel like they deserve the title based upon accomplishments in recent years. If you’re one of those believers, don’t bring it up while you’re in Green Bay unless you want a history lesson about the greatness of our city, our team, their fans, and our all- around awesome spirit for and unparalleled dedication to the Green Bay Packers.