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.