Throngs of people gathered in Tinley Park on Saturday to enjoy some cookies and milk that typically wouldn’t be left out on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus.
But the man in red was the inspiration for Santa’s Cookies & Milk Stout.
The brew was released over the weekend at The Open Bottle and Hailstorm Brewery, both in Tinley Park, to much fanfare as curious craft beer fans gathered to taste the limited edition brew.
And befitting the spirit of the holiday season, sales of the beverage that was inspired by the taste of Girl Scout cookies raised money for a good cause.
One dollar of every bottle sold of Santa’s Cookies & Milk Stout at the two locations will go toward Tinley Wish, a nonprofit charity that benefits local families in need.
Patrick Bisch, co-owner of The Open Bottle, expects about $1,500 to be donated to the charity.
This is the third Christmas season in a row his craft beer shop and tap room has partnered with Hailstorm brewery to make a stout inspired by treats left by families anticipating the arrival of Santa.
“They did an excellent job,” said Open Bottle customer Bill Lambert, of Manhattan, about this year’s stout. “It tastes just like a Samoa with a little bit of a kick.”
Customer Rob Scott said he’s not generally a fan of stouts, but he found Santa’s Cookies & Milk easy to drink and was surprised that it contains 11 percent alcohol.
“This is more like a desert,” he said. “It’s not heavy.”
Like the Girl Scout Samoa cookie, the beer is flavored with hints of coconut, chocolate, vanilla and caramel.
Hailstorm brewmaster Steve Miller said the beer took much longer to brew than other stouts because of all the extra flavor that was added.
“We designed the beer to be sweet like the cookie,” Miller said.
A different cookie flavored stout has been made each year of the partnership. Last year, the popular taste of peanut butter cookies was infused into the beer.
Customer Seanie Daly, of Lockport, said he preferred the peanut butter stout over the Samoa-inspired brew, but he still loved both.
“Last year, they nailed it,” he said.
Daly said he’s been a regular customer of The Open Bottle and Hailstorm since he discovered craft beer, mostly because the owners are down-to-earth.
“There’s a lot of elitism in the craft beer industry, but they are so nice,” he said of Bisch and his wife, Julie, who co-own the business.
The Open Bottle partners with several Chicago area breweries to craft seasonal brews throughout the year.
Bisch said their next collaboration will be with Mikerphone Brewery in Elk Grove Village for a sundae-inspired imperial stout called Taking Back Sundae that will be released in January.
Along with the Christmas stout The Open Bottle partners with Hailstorm to also make a fruity IPA during the summer.
Reservations for bottles of Santa’s Milk & Cookies can be made online at theopenbottle.com until Dec. 8. Bottles are $14.99 and customers will have until Dec. 24 to pick them up.
Frank Vaisvilas is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.