21 Jul Beer Samples and History on the Leinenkugel Brewery Tour
The first stop on our Wisconsin road trip with AmericInn Hotels was in Chippewa Falls to tour the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. The brewery is located just over an hour away from our home base in St Paul, MN, and I’ve wanted to plan a visit there for quite some time, as a Leinenkugel brewery tour sounded like a great experience. Luckily, the brewery was basically en route to our hotel in West Salem, Wisconsin, so we were able to schedule it into our trip without a hitch!
When we arrived at Leinenkugel’s, the air was hot, humid and heavy; we couldn’t wait to get inside for some nice, cool air conditioning. At the check in desk, we were presented with the choice of two different tasting tours. One option included four samples for $5.00 per person and the other had two pints and some light snacks for $10.00 per person—both included a souvenir glass. Because we hadn’t tried many of their beers previously, we went for the four sample option and were off on our way into the Leinie Lodge.
Tours run approximately every 30 minutes throughout the day and samples are offered before and after your tour. We had about 20 minutes to spare before our tour got underway, so we made our way to the taps to decide on our first samples.
Our bracelets were ticked with 1 out of 4 and soon we were sipping on our first sample of the afternoon—Honey Weiss for me and Wisconsin Red Pale Ale for Micah.
Next, I tried the Berry Weiss and Micah had the Summer Shandy, and halfway through we mixed the two samples to give the Pink Lemonade Leinie Mix a try. There are several different suggestions for a Leinie Mix, but basically it consists of mixing two of your favorite Leinenkugel beers to create a new flavor! Some suggestions are the Sunny Bear which consists of 4/5 Sunset Wheat and 1/5 Berry Weiss, or the Honey Bear which is made up of ½ Honey Weiss and ½ Berry Weiss.
After a quick browse around the store, it was time to head back outside into the sweltering heat for our tour of the brewery. We started off with some history of the area and learned that the brewery was started all the way back in 1867 in Chippewa Falls on a prime spot along the river. The brewery has been run by family since the beginning and today the sixth generation has made their way into the ranks.
Chippewa Falls used to be a logging town, so the rich soil and the pure water were the perfect combination to craft excellent beer—the lumberjacks in town became some of Leinenkugel’s first fans.
As with any alcohol producer, the Prohibition took a hard hit on the brewery. Thankfully, with some extra cash from home mortgages, the brewery equipment was upgraded, and the 3rd generation was successfully able to keep Leinenkugel’s up and running.
In 1988, Miller Brewing Company purchased Leinenkugel’s, but the brewery is still run as a partnership with the family. The partnership has increased production and distribution, which has allowed for the beer to be sold in more markets throughout the United States. To keep up with an increase in demand, a second brewery was opened in Milwaukee in 1995. Currently, around 25% of the beer is brewed in Chippewa Falls, and all beer is brewed to order. This means they only produce beer after an order is placed so they don’t end up with an overabundance of expired beer.
Photos were not allowed inside of the brewing facility, but we made our way through the entire production process, from start to finish. We learned all about the ingredients that go into the beer, got a peek at the brew kettles and the fermentation process, the bottling line and all the other steps along the way. Another part of the tour that I really enjoyed was the history of the beer varieties and how they rotate and retire various flavors. When a flavor is taken out of rotation, it’s put into hibernation—this gives them the ability to pull customer’s favorites out of hibernation every so often when demand is strong enough.
Oh, and did I mention it was extremely hot inside the brewery?! Because they were brewing beer on the day of our visit and it also happened to be a steamy day outside, we were all practically dripping with sweat as we left the facility. After a wonderfully informative tour and some great insight into the brewing process, we returned to the Leinie Lodge to finish up our samples.
The rest of our samples consisted of the Sunset Wheat, India Pale Lager, Grapefruit Shandy and the Creamy Dark. While we enjoyed all the different varieties we sampled, my favorite was the Sunset Wheat and Micah’s was the Wisconsin Red Pale Ale.
Once we finished our tasting, we had a look around the Leinie Lodge at all the history on display. It was great to get a peek at the old brewing machines and historic artifacts after the tour—it really put the tour into context and gave us a full circle story on how the brewery came to be. We also couldn’t resist some relaxing on the riverside patio that was attached to the back of the lodge.
We had a wonderful time hopping on the Leinenkugel Brewery tour, and eventually it was time to continue our AmericInn road trip towards West Salem, WI. I would have to say it was a successful start to a week full of fun adventures!
We partnered with AmericInn Hotels and Suites on a summer road trip through Wisconsin in connection with their Fill-Inn-To-Win promotion. AmericInn is giving away a free night stay every day throughout the summer, so be sure to enter for your chance to win! As always, all opinions are our own.