Leinenkugel Goes National

Helps satisfy MillerCoors distribution network desire for ‘craft’ brands

The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. is nearing completion of a national rollout of some of its craft beer brands.

The Chippewa Falls-based brewer which is owned by MillerCoors, began a phased national rollout of some of its brands two years ago, and is completing the rollout in the Northwest and West.

With planned distribution of some brands in Hawaii later this year, it will leave Alaska as the only state without Leinenkugel beer.

The rollout began as an effort to capture additional market share for Miller Brewing Co., which has served as Leinenkugel’s parent company for 20 years. The rollout is now expected to benefit MillerCoors, especially in light of the restrictive distribution agreement just handed out to all Miller and Coors wholesalers. That agreement stresses focus on “in-house” brands.

Leinenkugel’s beers previously had been available only in the Upper Midwest until the launch of the national expansion.

Plans to go national with Leinenkugel developed after Miller’s top executives approached the brewer to see if it could develop a beer that could capitalize on the immense popularity of Blue Moon, a Belgian-style craft beer brewed, ironically, by Coors. It was at that time that Leinenkugel developed Sunset Wheat.