I'm one of the three brothers in the 5th generation of a brewing family that's been making beer in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, since 1867. Today, our brewhouse produces 20 unique varieties of German beer – the most prominent of which is Summer Shandy, which was inspired by the recipe that our great-great-grandfather, Jacob Leinenkugel, brought with him to America 148 years ago.

I can speak to my 30-plus years of experience in the brewing industry, including the past 25 as president of the six-generation family brewery. Fire away! Opinions are my own and not a reflection of the perspective of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co.

Proof: http://imgur.com/TS6a5yn

EDIT - Being a Reddit virgin, I can honestly say this was a delightful experience. The questions were wonderful, and I even chuckled at many of the side comments. Like Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back” (and I might bring my brothers). Thank you.

Cheers! http://i.imgur.com/sNNhAg4.jpg

Comments: 353 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

Senor_Tucan151 karma

After your grandfather passed, did you and your brothers by any chance travel to Munich to fulfill the family tradition of spreading his ashes, only to find a secret beer competition where you were offended by Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen and the German branch of your family who accused your grandfather of stealing an old recipe of the best beer in Germany?

Just curious.

JakeLeinie45 karma

You are one funny person.

ronniemexico52 karma

who is the stunningly hot blonde in your commercials? I'm assuming part of your family, but was always curious what she did there.

JakeLeinie84 karma

That’s my daughter Ellie. I’m very proud of her.

Regan6207243 karma

Who was responsible for creating Snowdrift Vanilla? They're a brewing genius!

JakeLeinie25 karma

We have a great brewing and innovation team. They get all the credit.

MemorableCactus32 karma

Is there any particular reason your company chose to go with twist-tops over the usual pry-tops? I'm curious as to what the pros and cons of each option are.

Your bottle design is a bit different than other companies, more sharply defined I'd say, any particular reason for this?

Finally, despite my deep and unabiding hatred for shandies of all sorts, your Snowdrift Vanilla Porter is always a part of my winter beer rotation. It's delicious and you guys are awesome for making it.

JakeLeinie40 karma

The twist off goes back 25 or 30 years. We started with a twist off because of convenience for the beer drinker (doesn’t need a church key, right?) We remained committed to it because we noticed no difference in oxygen loss with a twist off. Also our machines are set up for twist off, and we are able to purchase our glass bottles more efficiently than pry-off bottles.

jergensmooth23 karma

I know I'm coming here late, but what would you say to people that say your shandys are too fruity and not real beer? I love your product but I have had to defend my drinking choices.

JakeLeinie36 karma

First of all, shandy is a real beer. It was created by Franz Kugler because he was running out of beer (Google it for the full story). They are growing in Germany where they started, and the style was then adopted by the British and Irish. You’re going to find a lot shandy beers especially in the summer. We’re very proud to be the first American brewer to successfully brew and introduce a shandy-style beer. As far as flavor goes, some people do not prefer shandy beers because they do not prefer fruit or citrus.

HankSinatra23 karma

As a fellow Wisconsinite, I would like to know which breweries in the state would you put in your top 5?

JakeLeinie50 karma

Obviously Miller because they’re our mother and father. You’d definitely have to put New Glarus in there. Ale Asylum does some pretty nice beers. Central Waters. I also like Lakefront in Milwaukee.

StraightCashHomey1316 karma

My time at Winona State would have been much more productive if I had put a ring on Ellie. Is she single still and how's the soccer career going?

JakeLeinie18 karma

Sorry my friend, happily married and enjoying life and Leinie’s without kicking a soccer ball.

captaingorla15 karma

1) What's your favorite beer that isn't yours?

2) As a college junior, I've noticed in my circle of friends as well as talking to people in classes, at work, etc. that people are taking more and more to the idea of craft beers and microbreweries. Have you guys noticed a younger crowd going for your brews? Has any of your marketing changed to reach those younger drinkers (that are over 21 of course)?

3) What was your first beer?

JakeLeinie16 karma

1) There’s two. Pilsner Urquell, and Guinness on draft in a traditional Irish pub in Ireland.

2)There’s been a definite attraction of younger beer drinkers to the Leinenkugel family. It goes back to a shift we made in 1992. It started with Red Lager, continued with Honey Weiss and absolutely exploded with Summer Shandy. We’re also seeing new drinkers coming over to our other styles – whether it’s Oktoberfest, Big Butt Doppelbock, or Canoe Paddler (which is a Kolsch).

3) Leinenkugel’s Original Lager.

EDIT - spelling

KittenRaffle13 karma

Any thoughts on the Budweiser "anti-craft beer" Super Bowl ad?

JakeLeinie21 karma

I was surprised by the Budweiser ad. Somewhat shocked in that they have recently made some craft purchases. And also I’m a believer that all brewers and all beers are good.

wilsonhammer11 karma

Who came up with the brilliant idea to have the Family Reunion the day before father's day? Cuz that is evil genius right there.

Plus it works....

JakeLeinie16 karma

It was basically by mistake not knowing that it was Father’s Day. The date was selected by our Lodge Director because that weekend was open – we found out later that Father’s Day was that Sunday. You are correct sir – evil genius it was! You would be surprised how many fathers tell me how much fun their family had – and now that’s their weekend.

JauntyTea10 karma

Favorite British beer?

JakeLeinie77 karma

Didn’t know they made any.

cfurnari10 karma

Jake --

A-B InBev has been very persistent in its pursuit of craft brands. It's made three acquisitions in the last year. Aside from Crispin Cider and a minority stake in Terrapin, MillerCoors/T&B has been relatively inactive with regards to M&A. Is there any particular reason why the company hasn't made any moves? When you were still directly involved in day-to-day operations, did you ever meet with potential acquisition targets? If so, what happened?

JakeLeinie13 karma

I don’t know anything about acquisition strategies except for the one that we were a part of in 1987 as a family. It has worked out pretty darn well for us.

the_c00ler_king8 karma

What is your favourite type of pie?

JakeLeinie18 karma

Homemade apple pie with a scoop of local fresh-made vanilla ice cream. Mmm.

everyone_getsa_beej8 karma

How important is the water source to making good beer? I'd think it's important, but I'd like to hear it explained from an expert. And is there anything particular (maybe chemically or otherwise) about the Chippewa Valley region's water that makes it an asset to Leinenkugel's products?

JakeLeinie22 karma

Good water is essential to producing good beer. We were blessed with having some of the purest spring water in the world out of the Big Eddy Springs. Beer is 92% water. That said, with today’s technology, water can easily be treated for correct pH and mineral content for perfect brewing water. So the easy answer is source is no longer as big of a deal as it was 30 years ago for maintaining the highest-quality beer.

Snow_Pro8 karma


JakeLeinie14 karma

Believe it or not Dick is going up this weekend to enjoy the Eagle River area trails, and we would be happy to sign your paddle.

dankok7 karma

What's your favorite restaurant in WI?

JakeLeinie9 karma

Every one of them that serves our beer.

ismellliketuna6 karma

Hey Jake, I'm a beginner home brewer starting my first batch this weekend, any words of wisdom or advice before I take the plunge?

JakeLeinie19 karma

Stop! Save yourself a whole bunch of money and frustration. Seriously, you will have a blast learning about the wonderful world of brewing beer.

LearnedHandy6 karma

What is the one main goal of the brewery going forward, besides just staying profitable and increasing/maintaining market share?

JakeLeinie11 karma

Ensuring that we stay true to our heritage and all the other generations that came before us in making high-quality beers.

LiterallyCanEven5 karma

Hello Mr. Leinenkugel, big fan and Eau Claire native so I've basically grown up with everyone I know drinking Leinenkugel's 3 questions.

1) You guys are really exploding with shandies right now what are some new ones we can expect in the coming future?

2) Fireside Nut Brown was awesome when is that coming back and how do you decide what beers to retire?

3) My current overall favorite beer right now is Lake Louie's Warped Speed, so could you guys make a scotch ale so I can feel like I'm not cheating on you?

Thanks so much!!!

Last one. Where do you get the pretzels in the Leine's Lodge from I need those?

JakeLeinie12 karma

1) Grapefruit Shandy coming March 1. You might even see it now. Also testing an IPL with local markets. 2) Oh so you were the guy that was drinking Fireside Nut Brown… 3) We have made a scotch ale under the Big Eddy series. We made it in 2012. It was absolutely over-the-top delicious. But it was a wee heavy. 4) They’re made locally. Come and see us and Jan at the Lodge will give you the secret location.

vey3235 karma

Hello, sir - love many varieties of Leinenkugel, and can't wait for Summer Shandy to be back in stores here in NJ.

Was actually having a bit of an argument today about craft brewing, and how I don't agree with many of the definitions and distinctions craft beer drinkers/brewers and the Brewers Association have. Do you consider Leinenkugel craft beer, despite it being owned by MillerCoors, which - according to many - takes it out of the realm of craft beer?

JakeLeinie18 karma

In my opinion craft beer is in the mind of the beer drinker. I can tell you we’ve been making the highest-quality beers for over 148 years. The majority of our beer drinkers consider us craft. Personally, I don’t care about definitions. I care about great beers.

arriegold5 karma

Mr. Leinenkugel:

First I'd like to say you do the Lord's work. Since I discovered your sweet elixirs in 2010 I have been felt forever indebted to your family. I can remember my first Summer Shandy like it was yesterday.

My question for you: What happened to doing your contest to win a canoe? I spent an entire summer filling not one, but two 5-gallon buckets with caps before (spoiler alert) I figured out that the codes were repeated. Did this contest not go over as well as you anticipated and did someone choose the canoe or the brewery trip? I still dream about fishing on my pond with that beautiful piece of art.

Thanks again for you and your family's service to my love for beer

JakeLeinie2 karma

Our distributors do a lot of canoe drawings, and they still do. Every market is different and responds to these types of promotions differently. We’ll try to get more canoes out there.

bdyoung19935 karma

Hi there Mr. Leinenkugel, I work at a local liquor store in northern Wisconsin and we get a lot of requests for the older style leine beers like Classic amber and Fireside nut brown. Any chance you guys are ever going to revive them?

JakeLeinie5 karma

Since I am now retired that will be a great thing for my brothers to decide.

IJustSharted_5 karma

Mr. Leinenkugel Are there any new varieties of leinenkugels that are going to be released in the new future?

JakeLeinie18 karma

Yes. But please call me Jake.

jvanwest19644 karma

There seems to be a huge growth happening in the canning industry with beer products. We see that Firestone Walker, who previously stated they would not go to cans change course and is now offering their popular products in cans. Cans seem to be easier to package and ship. Do you see products like Big Eddy (my favorite, btw!) or Summer Shandy coming out in cans any time soon?

JakeLeinie5 karma

You’re right. Cans are now in vogue, and can be utilized for more drinking occasions. Summer Shandy is now available in 12 and 16 oz cans. No plans as of yet for Big Eddy cans.

Jagc11234 karma

I'm not a beer drinker and don't have a preference really. I would like to change that and find something that really wows me. Do you have a recommendation?

HankSinatra20 karma

Come hang out in /r/beer/ we always welcome newcomers and people are eager to give recommendations.

JakeLeinie28 karma

New to Reddit and will be checking it out soon, thank you.

JakeLeinie10 karma

Start with a Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. Or I highly recommend our Berry Weiss. Both of them can be found right now in our Summer Explorer Pack.

wjlaw1004 karma

Jake, I'd love to make the drive up from the Chicago Suburbs to visit... any Nice Hotels in Chippewa Falls? 10 hour Roundtrip, and consuming enough of your Brews, would not make for a good Round trip

PS. Traditional Lieines was my first real beer, Had to drive over the boarder of WI since the drinking age was 18. Consumed in a Bar right outside Mauthe Lake, on a camping excursion.

JakeLeinie10 karma

Come to the Lodge any time. You should come up for Oktoberfest. Check out the Avalon (they have a lot of our beers on tap).

Quetzalcaotl4 karma

Was there any one particular reason that made you want to brew beer and continue the legacy? Did you intentionally get education (outside of the job) to do the work you did, or did you learn everything from family?

JakeLeinie15 karma

Growing up and being around my father and having him take me to local fairs, festivals – and of course bars – I loved the energy and the people that beer brought together. I spent 6 years in the Marine Corps and really loved it and my father asked me to come back into the business, and I readily accepted. I always learn something new on a daily basis being involved in this business.

briligerent3 karma

I'm a big fan of Leine Original Lager but it doesn't seem to have as big of distribution as some of the other beer styles. Are there plans to expand the distribution of that beer?

JakeLeinie6 karma

We’re always looking at new markets for all of our beers – but my brothers will make that decision (benefits of retirement).

KEM103 karma

As a homebrewer in WI that routinely thinks of running away and joining the proverbial circus, what do you look for in new employees?

JakeLeinie5 karma

Work ethic. Reliability. Passion for beer.

felixl0072 karma

Will you be putting out more canned beer? especially the shandies, great beers in the summer.

JakeLeinie4 karma

We have a canned Shandy Sampler Pack. And our seasonals are always in 12-pack cans too.

Pack42142 karma

What is your favorite variety of Leinenkugel and why did you bring back Summer Shandy so early?

JakeLeinie15 karma

We brought Summer Shandy back early because competitors started chasing us early. And it’s also 80 degrees in Arizona, Southern California, and Florida. Plus, we ran out of Cranberry Ginger Shandy six weeks early because it was so well liked.

frostybollocks1 karma

Do you plan on making other Lagers, Porters, and the like? I love the sunset wheat and it's fruity pebble note as it finishes. Hell I don't think I have had one that I don't like. My favorite is probably the Canoe Paddler and would love to see some pale or blonde ales added to your list.

JakeLeinie4 karma

We currently have a lot of new ideas in the pipeline and quite honestly our Shandy lineup along with testing an IPL are taking up a lot of our brewing capacity.

marriedgamer1 karma

Hey sir I am a huge fan of Leinenkugel!How has the boom in craft breweries had an impact on an existing brewery like your families? Thanks!

JakeLeinie1 karma

The rising tide lifts all boats. What people really care about is authenticity. So if you have an authentic brewery with authentic brewing standards (i.e. our German brewing heritage) and you make a wide variety of great beers, I think you’ll do just fine.

menes401 karma

Thank you for doing this! I'm man enough to admit my favorite Leinies is Orange Shandy (so good any time of the day), and for awhile it was available for about half of the year, and now it's only about two months. Do you have any plans to put it out for a longer cycle next this year?

Edit: forgot it's 2015

JakeLeinie5 karma

Look for it in the newly-released Shandy Sampler Pack.

Regan620720 karma

Hello Jake, Big fan from Bklyn. What made you decide to start shipping to us in the east? I'm glad & grateful to whoever made the decision!

JakeLeinie5 karma

Never thought we would sell Leinie’s on the East Coast. And Summer Shandy helped open all markets. I’m very happy to see the recent expansion in greater New York City.

handym300 karma

  1. What is your favorite beer that you produce that you drink on a normal basis?

  2. Any plans to create any new types of beers in the future, aka "new flavors"?

  3. What beer that you have produced over the years has failed and why?

  4. What is a key element/skill you consider important to have in order to run a brewery?

JakeLeinie5 karma

1) Summer Shandy when available because it’s so quenching and I can drink multiples in various settings. 2) Absolutely. 3) Leinie’s Red Ice. 1995. Late to the ice party. 4) Gotta like people. All types of people.

davec79-2 karma

Is there an amount of money that any of you would accept to sell the brewery to InBev?

HankSinatra17 karma

It's already owned by Miller.

im_no_one_special2 karma

Shhhh it's a secret

JakeLeinie13 karma

No secret. It was front page news April 1st, 1988 in the Chippewa Herald Telegram.

erohWamraKAmI-4 karma

Any chance I can get some free beer?

JakeLeinie15 karma

Look for a friend with money who loves beer.