Leinenkugel's is Branching Out

December 8th, 2011
!/system/artwork/0000/0263/LK_Berry.jpg!:http://destinationbeer.com/beers/leinenkugels-berry-weiss If the designation craft brewer demands you be under family management for 140 years, operate an actual brewery, and introduce one of the top-selling craft brands in 2006, the leading craft brewer is the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company.:http://destinationbeer.com/breweries/jacob-leinenkugel-brewing-company The Chippewa Falls, Wis., brewery's heritage and connection to the North Woods is a story that grabs consumers, says Dick Linenkugel, the vice president of marketing for the brewery. He's the great-great-grandson of brewery founder Jacob Leinenkugel. Once people hear the story, they are intrigued, Leinenkugel says. What that then leads to is a bigger conversation that makes them feel that they're part of the family. Popular in the Upper Midwest for decades, Leinie's - as it's known to its enthusiasts - is now trying to win over consumers across the country. In response to distributor excitement, Leinie's rolled out its new Sunset Wheat to markets across the country. It's now available in 42 states. Despite a limited time in the market, it was the third-fastest growing craft brand in volume and per-volume distribution last year in supermarkets. Leinie's is now in the midst of extending its Berry Weiss:http://destinationbeer.com/beers/leinenkugels-berry-weiss and Honey Weiss:http://destinationbeer.com/beers/leinenkugels-honey-weiss brands into new markets. !/system/artwork/0000/0261/LK_Honey.jpg!:http://destinationbeer.com/beers/leinenkugels-honey-weiss (The brewer's ability to tap the Miller distribution network is one of the advantages of being owned by Miller Brewing Company. Miller bought Leinie's in 1988. It's operated as a seperate company.) Leinie's also is experimenting with bold big beers. It rolled out its Big Eddy Imperial IPA (named after the spring that feeds the Chippewa Falls brewer, it has 71.41 bitterness units and 8.9 percent alcohol by volume) on draft in Milwaukee and Madison. Next on tap: Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout. This new direction highlights Leinenkugel's convection that craft will continue to evolve - and become a bigger part of the overall beer category. People now more than ever want to try something that's unique and more personal to them, he says. Indeed, this embrace of different styles of beer underlies Dick Leinenkugel's thumbnail definition of a craft brewer. What defines craft is having a variety of interesting styles of beer, he says. Brew - A Magazine for Beer People - August 2007 edition