December 2015 Greetings from Tim

Welcome to the latest edition of Tim’s Blog.  It’s the time of year when everything gets hectic and frantic.  For whatever reason, December always seems to sneak up on us.  The holidays will be here before we know it, ready or not.  This month tends to be a blur to me, when every day feels like a busy Saturday.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  That’s just the way it is in the retail business.

Recently, two coworkers and I were invited to the Hinterland Restaurant in downtown Milwaukee for an evening of fine food and, of course, some excellent beers.  Mike, our Hinterland brewery representative was our host.  After meeting us at the door, he led us to the chef’s table, the most prestigious table in the restaurant.  Overlooking the kitchen, we were able to watch the chefs prepare everyone’s entrees.  It was quite interesting to watch them work, flames bursting from skillets while they effortlessly tossed what was sizzling into the air and back into the pan.  I guess really good chefs don’t use spatulas.  They also have a wood fire grill that sent off aromas of seared steaks and chops.  It’s hard not to love that smell.  If there are any vegans reading this, I apologize.

Our first course was a sea bass fillet in a celery root cream sauce paired with Hinterland’s Packer Pilsner.  All of the fish they serve comes in daily and is always fresh, never frozen.  It was a wonderful start to the evening.  Next was a wild pork loin made with many Indian and Asian spices, curry being the most prominent, and served over a bed of jasmine rice.  This was paired wonderfully with Hinterland IPA.  Made with Simcoe hops, this ale was easy to like, well balanced.  (6.7%, 65 IBU)  The flavors of the wood fire grill were very evident and gave a great enhancement to the pork.  Our next entrée was a flank steak gently surrounded by a red wine reduction sauce.  This was paired with Hinterland’s Luna Coffee Nitro Stout.  The brew master uses coffee from the Luna Coffee and Roastery  located in Depere, Wisconsin, not far from the brewery.  Noted as their flagship beer, it is a wonderful deep mahogany color with subtle coffee and dark chocolate notes with a creamy mouthfeel.  The creaminess comes from the nitro blended gas that is used to tap it.  Once again, this was a delicious combination.  Our last entrée of the evening was an elk loin over mushrooms and a wild blackberry sauce paired with their Bourbon Barrel Aged Dopplebock (aged about 10 months, 8% ABV).  The sweet maltiness and subtle bourbon influence from the beer blended wonderfully with the elk.  And now for desert.  And, yes, I always leave room for desert.  The chef prepared a vanilla cake with lemon cream sauce topped with apple compote and butter brickle.  And what, pray tell, beer would you dare serve with this?  If your guess was Hinterland Saison, you get a gold star.  This beer has a hazy golden hue and is made with Belgian malts and yeast.  The crisp citrus and mild spiciness were very complimentary to the sweet and tartness of the desert.  It was exceptional.  We finished the evening with a special treat, a bottle of Hinterland’s 20th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout.  This is a dark black stout with far from subtle bourbon character, dark chocolate and toasty vanilla nuances.  This 9.4% “closer” was a nice warmer on a cold and rainy evening.  I would like to thank Mike from Hinterland and Dave from Beechwood Distributing for an awesome night.  If you would like to experience the Hinterland Gastropub, they are located at 222 East Erie Street.  They serve from 5pm-10pm daily and reservations are recommended.  Check out their website. (

During the month of December, Otto’s will be featuring two of Hinterland Brewery’s Limited Release offerings, Bourbon Barrel Dopplebock and Barley Wine.  Buy two bottles and receive a beautiful snifter glass, an $8 value.  Stop by any of our 7 locations to purchase these fantastic selections.

I hope you have a great holiday season filled with memorable moments with family and friends.  Here is a toast to a safe December that won’t be too hectic and frantic, and a prosperous and healthy New Year.  Until next time.  Tim