When Jacob Leinenkugel started his brewery in 1867, his first beer harkened back to his European traditions. Crisp and refreshing, distinctive and delicious. While many things in the world of beer have changed greatly since 1867, consumers thirst for flavor has not.
Today 144 years later consumer’s pallets have changed in a rapid way and Jacob Leinenkugel brewery nestled deep is the North Woods has stayed true to their great brews with 95% of the beers which they brew. This is not only uncommon with most of today’s brewers it is admirable considering today’s craft environment. Yes, we are utilizing craft brewery and Leinenkugel in the same sentence. There will be several people who read this “beer geeks – beer snobs” who may take issue with this use and or the likes of Leinenkugel and or Goose Island being owned by major domestic brewers but the reality is the acquisitions of these brewers by major brewers may just very well keep two iconic brewers alive and well while many others may just fail. It is important to keep in mind that craft beer is responsible for about 4.5% of the total beer market. Like most of you, we would love to see craft beer continue to grow and expand into a larger percentage of the overall beer market and we believe that Leinenkugel will play a role in the expansion.
What beers make up the other 5% of where Leinenkugel is heading? Beers like Big Eddy an Imperial Stout which is absolutely incredible. Next year Leinenkugel will be brewing one BIG beer per quarter and we cannot wait to get them in the KC market. Look for yourself how Big Eddy rated and you might just be surprised. Knowing that the brewery will not brew anything in this series that does not have quality running rampant we cannot wait to get our hands on these Big Brews!
4.5% of the total US beer market, that leaves a ton of room to expand the category by introducing consumers whom thirst for flavor to the craft category and we believe Leinenkugel is a great example of just the type of beers that can and will lead more consumers to this great category. With 4 seasonal beers and 7 year around beers like Sunset Wheat, Honey Weiss, Berry Weiss, Leini Red, Classic Amber & Original Leinenkugel is providing consumers a great variety of choices which will allow them to dip the toe in the craft segment without having starting out with very Hoppy IPA, Double or other style that may very well turn a potential craft consumers away from the category as a whole. At the end of the day, the craft category will benefit as a whole by brands like Leinenkugel and Blue Moon!
Leinenkugel Brewing Company which was founded in 1867 has survived longer than most breweries in existence. You can count on one hand the number of breweries that have been brewing beer as long as Leinenkugel. When Miller Brewing Company purchased the brewery from the Leinenkugel family they stayed true to the authentic brewing traditions that the Leinenkugel family put in place 144 years ago while expanding the distribution of these brands to a national level.
The Leinenkugel brewery that employs about 100 great people in the Northwood’s as well MillerCoors has and will continue to retain the family leadership of the brewery with Jake and John running the day in day out operations and several other family members involved and working to succeed. Who knows, it may be possible that the Goose Island Brewing Company was facing the same situation that the Leinenkugels faced at one time. Being that they brew good beers, I am thankful that the larger brewers recognized this and made the move to keep them going!
What can we do as consumers to encourage consumers and friends to get involved in the craft category without running them away from the category as a whole? Encourage them to try several beers, for those who have not jumped into the craft category and primarily drink domestic beers…. Suggest a refreshing Leninekugel to get their craft wings strapped on, you never know they may just end up drinking the same beers that you like to drink down the road and help us grow the category!