Leinie's goes national with Summer Shandy

2013-03-27T09:11:00Z 2013-03-27T10:34:15Z Leinie's goes national with Summer ShandyBy ROSS EVAVOLD | ross.evavold@lee.net Chippewa Herald

Considering the tremendous growth and popularity of Leinenkugel’s beers, it was only a matter of time that the Chippewa Falls brewer would extend to all 50 states.

What is remarkable is that it is a seasonal beer, Summer Shandy, that is busting Leinie’s out onto the national stage.

“It is something where I scratch my head, because I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime,” said Jake Leinenkugel, president of the Chippewa Falls brewery.

He said it’s quite a switch from the years that he and brother John Leinenkugel worked Wisconsin and Minnesota to make Leinie’s a huge regional beer, and their brother Dick helped open up the Chicago market for them.

The expansion from coast to coast is being accompanied by a large national advertising push that is kicking off this month. Television ads for Summer Shandy will be airing on the NCAA tournament broadcasts from Thursday through Sunday on CBS and TBS.

It marks a meteoric rise for Summer Shandy, a summer favorite and one of 16 beers Leinenkugel’s now brews.

Summer Shandy, a wheat beer brewed with natural lemonade flavor, has filled a craft beer niche and taken beer drinkers by storm. Its sales soared by 90 percent in 2012, quickly becoming Leinie’s top-selling beer.

“By far it’s our No. 1 beer,” Leinenkugel said, noting it is only available for about five months, through about August. “It keeps our Chippewa Falls brewery at full production, and we’ve had to brew some of it out of Milwaukee to keep up with the demand.”

Leinenkugel’s is the nation’s seventh-oldest craft brewer, dating back to 1867. It is also the fifth-largest craft brewer in the U.S.

Leinenkugel said his company could be the third-biggest craft brewer if it would brew Summer Shandy year round. But don’t look for that to happen.

Lemonade-flavored beer has been popular in Germany for quite some time, for its low-alcohol, refreshing taste. Jake gives a lot of the credit to Dick Leinenkugel for the success of Summer Shandy. More than five years ago Jake said his brother pushed for the company to fill a void that existed in the American beer market.

“Craft beer has been blossoming in general,” Leinenkugel said. “This (going national) is something our distributors have been talking about for two years now.”

On two other occasions Leinie’s was on the brink of moving to a national stage. In the mid-1990s its Red Lager was distributed in around 30 states, and in 2002 Leinie’s Sunset Wheat could be purchased in about the same number of states.

A key part of Leinie’s growth has been its emphasis on its small-town roots, and its advertising features Jake and his brothers John and Dick and other family members in local settings.

“With the new spots, there’s a little banner that comes down about 15 seconds in, that highlights Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. It’s a great shout-out to the area,” Leinenkugel said.

He takes great pride in spotlighting the Chippewa Valley in the advertisements, and the Leinie Lodge has become a huge tourist destination for Leinie drinkers.

In addition to seeing the ads during the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight NCAA games, Leinenkugel said they will be showing on several other key cable shows, including mini-series such as the History Channel’s “The Vikings” and “The Bible” and one of his favorite shows, AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which concludes its run this Sunday.

Leinie’s has also been a big advertiser with Major League Baseball. This season it will increase its presence on Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins broadcasts, and also sponsor the White Sox, Tigers, Indians and Reds games.

Copyright 2015 Chippewa Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. baskets
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    baskets - March 28, 2013 1:24 am
    This Chippewa Falls transplant living in bush Alaska was pretty excited to see a Leinenkugel's commercial on Alaskan T.V. I easily recognized Jake's voice from another room and smiled brighter with the mention of Chippewa Falls, WI. My husband and I wish it were easier to purchase Leinenkugel products in Kotzebue, but enjoy what we can bring back when found in Anchorage. Congratulations on going National......CHEERS!
  2. doc
    Report Abuse
    doc - March 27, 2013 9:03 pm
    Chewbacca - This is your BEST POST EVER! Well said!

  3. dans
    Report Abuse
    dans - March 27, 2013 12:52 pm
    I agree. I don't really know what "craft brewer" means, and I don't care who applies it to whom, but I do know that I like Leinies and Summer Shandy is a good product. Good for them. I hope it brings more success in the future.
  4. Chewbacca
    Report Abuse
    Chewbacca - March 27, 2013 11:50 am
    Leinenkugel's has been around regionally and locally for almost a 150 years. They brewed a bock beer and porter style going back to the late 1800's and early 1900's, both styles are now considered "craft" style beers. Their Red Lager and Limited releases were being brewed and were popular far before the majority of U.S. brewers were making amber styled lagers. The brewery itself has great meaning and history for the Chippewa Valley, but yet cynics feel the need to find fault. The brewery and its employees continually give back to their local communities through charity work, donations, and volunteerism. Yet, due to cynics, they can do no right. The thought that Leinenkugel's "poses" as a craft beer is laughable. They've been around for over 100 years, brew a Shandy-style beer that EVERYONE ("craft" brewers included..wink...wink) is trying to copy, and brew solid Germanic-styled lagers. (just ask a German) Just one quick question for you, who's posing who?
  5. petergriffin
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    petergriffin - March 27, 2013 10:49 am
    Nobody cares.
  6. petergriffin
    Report Abuse
    petergriffin - March 27, 2013 10:49 am
    LOVE IT!!!
  7. ObbieZ
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    ObbieZ - March 27, 2013 10:00 am
    If they're a "craft brewer", then I've got a bridge to sell. I'll bet nothing on the packaging or in the advertising bothers to mention that Leinie's is a division of one of the big-three global brewing corporations.

    Keep posing as a "craft brew", but I'll pass.
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