Based in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Leinenkugel’s brewery crafts a range of award-winning Germanic-style beers with an American twist that are now enjoyed across the US

Leinenkugel’s beers are loved by thousands of drinkers, but anyone interested in the reasons for their success should look in just one place: the Leinenkugel family home.

“Our brewing secret? It’s our family,” says president Thomas ‘Jake’ Leinenkugel, one of the fifth generation of family members currently at the helm.

The story began when a German brewer called Matthias Leinenkugel made the long journey across the Atlantic to start a new life in the USA. Travelling west before settling in Sauk City, Wisconsin, he quickly founded his own brewery and taught his sons the art of making European-style beers.

Although all Matthias’s sons became important members of the local brewing community, it was Jacob Leinenkugel who founded the company that is still thriving today.

Jacob moved north with his young family from Sauk City to the small town of Chippewa Falls and, along with his friend John Miller, founded the Spring Brewery in 1867 to produce beer for the thousands of thirsty lumberjacks who worked in the area’s timber industry.

In those early years, it was a two‑person operation: Jacob brewed the beer, while John delivered the barrels. Both their families cooked and served food for the employees who also lived on site, working together to keep the business running smoothly.

In 1883, John Miller sold his stake in the business to Jacob who, as the sole owner, added his own surname to the brewery. Since then, the rich tradition of family involvement has survived challenging market competition, the USA’s prohibition act and two world wars.

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Just under 150 years later, Leinenkugel’s is now the seventh oldest brewery in the USA and the family is still running the business their great-great grandfather founded.

The fifth generation of Leinenkugels – Jake, Dick and John – stepped to the forefront of the organisation in 1989, one year after it merged with the Miller Brewing Company, which was later to become part of SABMiller. With this larger distribution network behind it, the company had far greater opportunities to sell its carefully-crafted beers across the USA.

Though multiple members of the Leinenkugel family are involved behind the scenes of the business, it’s the three Leinenkugel brothers who take a high-profile role in almost all aspects of the brewery.

From taking road trips around the country in a customised Airstream camper to reach new audiences, to presenting cooking shows on YouTube using recipes from Leinenkugel’s brews, this family give so much more to the products than just their name.

Jake spends almost two‑thirds of his time meeting beer distributors, customers and key retailers, hand-selling his beers just as his forefathers had. Leinenkugel’s even holds an annual ‘Family Reunion’, inviting ‘Leinie’s’ enthusiasts from across the country to – as their motto says – ‘join us out here’. Thousands of reunion-goers visit Chippewa Falls every year to enjoy the outdoor life at the heart of the brand’s identity, along with free beer, live music, speciality foods and entertainment.

Leinie’s lovers unable to make the pilgrimage to the company’s home can still take part by becoming a member of the Leinie Lodge, and more than 350,000 fans are card-carrying members of this extended family.

And what’s next? With Jake’s sons Matt and CJ, and daughter Ellie, already heavily involved in the company, it looks as though the Leinenkugels will extend their legacy of family brewing to a sixth generation.

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