My previous review
tasted a beer that was heavy on the juniper so, in keeping with that theme, I'm going to again engage with a brew that eschews hoppiness in favor of the coniferous. This time we have Hinterland's Winterland
Hinterland is up north in Green Bay. From what I can tell, the brewery has a something of a middle-of-the-road reputation. I don't hear people bad-mouthing them but they also haven't found their break-out beer like Spotted Cow or Hopalicious – that beer known statewide and upon which their reputation is made.
Winterland, a porter brewed with juniper, is the brewery's winter seasonal. I believe the beer was first brewed or perhaps bottled back in 2010 but it took me until this past winter for me to give it serious consideration.
The beer pours a deep, dark brown that is opaque. When you look at it in the narrow portion of a glass, you can see that the brew is clear. My pour produced a nice, pillowy head that was tinted brown. And it hung around for a fair spell. As I drank, I got some pretty good lacing to decorate my glass. On the nose Winterland gave off a lot of that coffee aroma from what I take to be the chocolate or black malts. Oddly enough, there's also a slight berry fruitiness in there. And of course there's the resinous, piney goodness of the juniper.
One might expect a beer so dark as to absorb all of the light around it like a black hole to be heavy but Winterland has a nice medium body. It's slightly chewy but mostly smooth. The roasted grains are front and center with their bitter chocolate and coffee flavors but the juniper is no slouch either. When you pull a Winterland out of the refrigerator the juniper is definitely noticeable but the malt is still at the fore. As the beer makes is ascent to room temperature, the sharp piney flavor of the juniper grows. The effervescence complements the pine notes well here.
The brew finishes on a slightly bitter and dry note. It is here that my tongue became aware of the hops. While I'm not sure what varieties were used, they tasted like the Noble kind with a spicy, almost peppery, flavor that accented the fresh, resinous juniper very well indeed. Winterland weighs in at 7.5% A.B.V. which means it's a fairly potent brew but I couldn't discern any alcohol burn.
I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Winterland and that it will be a go-to winter seasonal for me later this year when Boreas reminds us that the snow is once again on its way. Why I neglected to give it its full due until now escapes me. It is a hearty brew and I love juniper. Here the spice plays well with the prominent roasted grain and Noble hop flavors. The juniper also reminds me of Wisconsin's pinery up north and of venison since I like to cook it with the berry. In this sense Winterland is a fine addition to the Badger State beer portfolio as I appreciate brewers and beers that reflect their regional origins.
Junk food pairing: Try Jay's Onion & Garlic Ridged Potato Chips. Let the sharp, clean juniper go head-to-head with the pungent root vegetables on your tongue.
Labels: Beer, Hinterland Brewery, Porter