In Wisconsin, there is almost nothing more tailor-made than a brewery that begins in a cheese factory. From those humble beginnings, Hinterland Brewery is now front and center of the Titletown District across the street from Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
The brewery inside of this small cheese factory in Denmark, Wisconsin, was pieced together by Bill Tressler in 1995 and from there, Hinterland grew into the award-winning brewery that overlooks Lambeau Field in one of the most beautiful breweries in the country. Hinterland has the beer, the view and a wonderful setting that all fit perfectly with a unique and wide-ranging menu.
The High Gravity Kitchen is on the second floor of Hinterland, and they really bring out the wow with a menu that defines creativity. The highlight of the menu is the grilled baby octopus: amazingly fresh and grilled just to where it has a great sear, matching perfectly with the leek ash on the dish. Then, all of this great char flavor is offset by a wonderful citrus emulsion. Not far behind are the seared diver scallops that are as jumbo as jumbo scallops can be. Once again cooked perfectly, this dish is paired with a fabulously unique squid ink risotto and completed with rich maitake mushrooms. If you are looking for a perfectly prepared fish, try the local walleye. A very light and flaky fish, similar to a sea bass, the walleye brings in all of the flavors from the richness of the parmesan-serrano ham broth. The fish by itself would be fabulous, but it is then really brought to an all-encompassing meal with the addition of Israeli couscous, fennel and turnip greens. The only way to finish off any meal at the High Gravity Kitchen is with the olive oil cake. This cake is a little more dense than most, but has that great earthy olive oil flavor throughout, and from that point on you just get a plethora of flavors, beginning with the basil ice cream and finally you get just enough sweetness from the strawberry chia seed combination and blueberry preserve. The High Gravity Kitchen menu will likely change as they base most of the menu on seasonal and fresh ingredients, but regardless of what is on the menu, you can be sure it will be creative.
The High Gravity Kitchen must be impressive if we have yet to even discuss the beer, which is amazing by itself. Hinterland offers a great lineup of seasonal and year-round beers, so the best way to start off your experience is with the sampler. The Packerland Pilsner is the perfect beer for tailgating: a very classic German pilsner with an easy-to-drink smoothness to it and only 4.5% alcohol. This beer is great to go with all the German flavors that you find throughout Wisconsin, and it is like a marriage made in heaven when you drink it with a brat. As you make your way through Green Bay and up into Door County, you will find that cherries are plentiful and Hinterland pays tribute to this state favorite with the Cherry Wheat. This is not your typical sweet cherry beer that tastes artificial. Hinterland created this beer with the more tart cherry from Wisconsin that gives it a very subtle sweetness, but allows the local cherry flavor to shine. The Luna Stout is simply one of the best stouts you will ever try. Hinterland starts off with local coffee from Luna Coffee in nearby De Pere that provides the richness in this stout and yet it comes across as a very well-balanced and smooth, drinkable beer. Venturing a little into the increasingly popular sour beers, Hinterland came up with the Blackberry Berliner Weisse. Again, they let the blackberry really take center stage on this beer while giving it a little extra twinge of tartness that makes this a great introduction to sours without going over the top.
While the downstairs does not have quite the refined menu as the High Gravity Kitchen, it not only offers some great pub type food, but elevates those dishes in a variety of tasty ways. The one item that jumps off the menu is the beer battered Mahi Mahi tacos. Mahi Mahi is a little unexpected in Green Bay, but again it is very fresh and the batter is golden brown and crispy, but yet it doesn’t overwhelm the fish. You get a really well prepared cilantro crème to go along with salsa and shredded cabbage to give you a nice alternative to the typical fish taco. Friday night the panko breaded perch is a Wisconsin staple that you must experience, and if you are looking to pair that with everything that is Wisconsin, add the deep fried cheese curds and the Packerland Pilsner cheddar brat platter. Sharing those three at a table among friends will leave you longing for your next visit to Wisconsin. The entrees downstairs certainly can give the High Gravity Kitchen a run for its money, with dishes such as bison meatloaf, blackened barramundi or champagne oysters that are flavored with lemon and cherry wheat migonette.
Hinterland isn’t done quite yet with the Titletown District location as they are working on adding a beer garden so guests can enjoy an ice cold beer outdoors. In addition, Hinterland has a location in Milwaukee.
It isn’t very tough to find a beer in Wisconsin as in this state beer goes hand-in-hand with just about anything and everything. While that is true, we have passed the point where a beer is just a beer, and Hinterland has created a beer menu that will push your beer palate to the limits. What truly sets Hinterland apart is that while the beer is spectacular, the experience is almost more meaningful. They give you a truly once-in-a-lifetime setting and a food experience that might just make you forget about the beer. Don’t think of this as a Packer brewhouse, think of it as “the” brewhouse experience.