CHIPPEWA FALLS — For the first time, Leinenkugel’s Original lager will be sold in all 50 states this fall.
The old-school, macro-style lager will make its national debut in the Leinie’s 12-bottle Fall Explorer sample pack, with three bottles each of Original, Leinenkugel’s Red, Oktoberfest and Anniversary Lager. Leinie’s Red lager is returning by popular request after a two-year and contentious hiatus. And Anniversary Lager is a collaboration with Hofbräu München released this spring to commemorate the Chippewa Falls brewery’s 150th birthday.
Original also has a tie to Leinie’s history; it’s modeled after Jacob Leinenkugel’s 1867 recipe.
“It will be interesting to see what type of comments we get from our lovers across the nation, as they get Leinie’s Original in an area where they don’t usually get it,” said Dick Leinenkugel, president of Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing and the fifth generation of his family to helm the brewery. “This is a way for us to give our fans, our Midwest transplants, the taste from here.”
Leinenkugel said about 20,000 barrels — 5,000 barrels of each beer — will be dedicated to the Fall Explorer sampler.
“That will take us through the end of the year,” he said.
All those beers, except Oktoberfest, are made exclusively in Chippewa Falls; some of the Oktoberfest brew is made in Milwaukee.
Leinenkugel said the lagers of the Fall Explorer Pack — and in particular Original, which is sold in Wisconsin and Minnesota — is part of the brewery’s heritage that many nationwide may not associate with Leinenkugel’s.
“We’ve been doing a variety pack since the late 1990s,” he said. “Typically, we have a shandy beer in that pack. People know us for our Summer Shandy and Grapefruit Shandy, but they don’t know we have the great lager-style beers.”
While the sampler pack has been around for several years, this is the first time Original has been included.
The rollout of Oktoberfest last month spells the close of Summer Shandy season, and that beer’s last brew of 2017 has ended, Leinenkugel said.
“We typically want that beer to be in market through Labor Day,” he said. “We’ll have a record year for Summer Shandy.”
But winter will bring another new shandy from Leinenkugel’s, following the Watermelon Shandy that debuted this spring.
The Winter Explorer Pack will feature the new Pomegranate Shandy, which will join Creamy Dark, Northwoods Lager and Snowdrift Vanilla Porter. The latter beer, introduced in 2012, is also returning to six-packs as a winter seasonal this year after being available only in the Winter Explorer Pack last year.
The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram and Chris Drosner of the State Journal contributed to this report.