The new J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard inside American Family Field is all set for the Milwaukee Brewers’ home opener on April 3 when the home team takes on the New York Mets.
The Brewers and the Barrel Yard will unveil three uniquely brewed beers that will be on tap at the ballpark on Opening Day, including a remastered Red Lager. Leinie’s Red has been in hibernation for several years and will initially be available only at the Barrel Yard. In the fall, Leinenkugel’s plans to bring the brew back to general retail market.
The ballpark-exclusive beers – poured in Opening Day commemorative aluminum cups, while supplies last – will also include a cherry Gose and an IPA, which initially have been crafted at Leinenkugel’s main brewery in Chippewa Falls due to the installation timeline of the three-barrel brewing system at the Barrel Yard. Moving forward, beers will be brewed onsite at American Family Field.
Corrine Georges will serve as the Barrel Yard’s brewer. Georges has been employed in the brewery operations of Molson Coors Beverage Co. since July 2022. She previously served as a brewer at Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City, Left Hand Brewing Co. in Longmont, Colorado, and Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. in Denver.
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Brand ambassador John Leinenkugel, the last of the fifth generation of Leinenkugel family members to remain active with the 156-year-old beer brewer, said in a one-one-one interview with Milwaukee Magazine that he’s especially excited for the return of Leinie’s Red. The brew is expected to be on tap at the Barrel Yard throughout the season, if warranted by fans’ demand. And plans call for the beer to eventually be produced at the brew pub’s three-barrel system, he added.
After the baseball season winds down, Leinenkugel’s plans to bring Leinenkugel’s Red Lager to general market.
“It will come out of the larger Chippewa Falls brewery and will be available on draft and in cans and bottles,” Leinenkugel said. “It will be our seasonal release after Octoberfest going into the fall and winter months.”
At an event at the Barrel Yard on Tuesday, Leinenkugel raised a cup of Leinie’s Red and made a toast to the crowd that had gathered at the site the formerly housed Restaurant to Be Named Later and Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill.
“The Leinenkugel beer drinker will certainly remember Leinenkugel’s Red, and they are going to remember it for two reasons,” he said. “It’s one of the first beers that we brewed that got us into craft beer. Then they are going to remember for a second reason. It’s a beer that we took away. We discontinued. We hibernated it. Something that makes Leinekugel’s so special is people always want what they can’t get. They write us passionate letters about the beers that we brew and how much they mean to them.”
The revamped Leinie’s Red, which is made with a dry-hopping manner that entails adding hops late in the brewing process in order to boost specific aromas and flavors without extracting more of the bittering qualities of hops, is the first beer produced at a new pilot brewing system at the Chippewa Falls brewery.
“That is what we are hoping to do with the pilot system here at the Barrel Yard,” Leinenkugel said. If beers made for the Barrel Yard catch on, they could eventually be made available to beer drinkers statewide or even nationwide, he added.
The cherry Gose brew that has made the Barrel Yard’s Opening Day lineup was first brewed at the end of January for an early March release that Leinenkugel’s did in celebration of Women’s History Month.
“We had a team of female brewery employees up in Chippewa Falls get together, decide on a style and then we built a recipe with our master brewer, John Hensley, and he led the team that brewed this cherry Gose.”
The beer is made with cherries sourced from Door County.
“This is a way to test the receptivity to that style,” Leinenkugel said. “Do beer drinkers understand it? Do Leinenkugel beer drinkers understand it? Do they like it? Would they like us to brew it on a bigger scale? That’s what the pilot brewery is for.”
Although the India pale ales have exploded in popularity in recent years, Leinenkugel’s has only had limited offerings in the category. Leinenkugel said it’s time for the brewer to shift course, which led to the decision to offer an IPA at the Barrel Yard.
“Leinenkugel’s is not known as an IPA brewer,” he said. “This is a straightforward IPA recipe. Nice malt backbone. It has an amber color and four different hops used in it. It’s going to have all that hops aroma and hops character that an IPA should have and that an IPA drinker is looking for. Does the world need another IPA? No. But do we, Leinenkugel’s, need to get into that style and participate and offer that style? Yes, absolutely.”
Leinenkugel said he will ensure that an IPA-style beer will consistently be brewed and available on tap at the Barrel Yard moving forward.
The Barrel Yard is set to begin brewing operations immediately after the Brewers’ home opener.
“Corrine, our brewer, will probably brew her first batch of beer next week,” he said.
Leinenkugel’s President Tony Bugher described the creation of the Barrel Yard as a “labor of love.”
“We have installed a brewery that was commissioned last week, we have a hired a full-time brewer that will be here on site and, most importantly, this demonstrates the strength of the partnership that we have with the Milwaukee Brewers,’ Bugher said. “American Family Field is a world-class destination. We’re proud to have a world-class brewery within that destination.”
But the Barrel Yard isn’t only about beer. It’s also a full-service bar and restaurant spread out in a dramatically upgraded space that overlooks left field.
The brewpub has a food menu that features traditional starters such as soft pretzels and deep-fried cheese curds to more unique items like buttermilk biscuits served with aged creamed whipped butter and hot honey.
Entrees include pressure-fried chicken and an array of burgers and hand-held sandwiches.
“This has been the most amazing experience curating the menu for this restaurant,” Delaware North Executive Chef Loren Rue said. “It’s a lot of hard work and labor that has gone into the recipe building. It really starts with premium ingredients across the board. We are really trying not to overcomplicate the food. All the food is being cooked fresh. It’s just good home cooking.”