Leinie’s Turns 150
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company has played a huge role in Wisconsin’s rich brewing history. Even craft beer hardliners, who point to the fact that Leinie’s was acquired by Miller Brewing in 1988, have a hard time denying the impact the brewery has had.
The brewery is still operating, and members of the sixth generation of the Leinenkugel family have active roles within the company. This year marks the 150th anniversary of when founder Jacob Leinenkugel set up shop in Chippewa Falls, which was then a thirsty logging town.
The brewery commemorates the achievement with a collaboration beer made with Germany’s Hofbräu München. Leinenkugel’s Anniversary Lager isn’t just your everyday adjunct lager. The beer is a marzen, with an amber color that nicely balances sweet malt with a slightly bitter finish. I’m not always the biggest fan of the style, but I thought the beer was very good. Clearly effort was put into the commemorative brew. Expect to see it hitting area tap lines in April (Miller Park is serving it) and released in bottles in June.
“As we discussed how to celebrate this incredible milestone for our brewery, we wanted to ensure whatever we did was truly genuine and in the spirit of what we’ve been doing for a century and a half,” said president Dick Leinenkugel in a recent press release.
The beer is just part of the anniversary celebration. Leinenkugel’s plans to have a party in Chippewa Falls the weekend of August 11 at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair Grounds in Chippewa Falls. I will keep you posted with more details about the celebration as soon as I get them.
Last week, owner Pat Lafferty announced that the The Malt Shoppe (813 N. Mayfair Rd.) is closing. I had nothing but good experiences at the store, which opened in the fall of 2014. Lafferty penned a short note about the closing but did not provide specifics about what led to the closure, and he didn’t feel like commenting when reached. Good luck to Lafferty and his staff.
Crafts & Drafts Spring Beer Fest may not happen until April 23, but it’s a good idea to get tickets now. The annual event at Serb Hall (5101 W. Oklahoma Ave.) has become a can’t-miss for beer lovers because of the amount of limited brews on hand. And, proceeds benefit the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance.
Last week, the Brewers Association released its annual craft beer statistics for 2016 and it included some interesting numbers. The positive? There are now more than 5,200 craft breweries operating in the United States. Notes of concern? The volume share for craft brewers was up just 0.1% from 2015, after seeing steady increases over the past five years.