The final stop on The Dulcinea and I's romantic getaway vacation extravaganza was the Leinenkugel Brewery
The brewery and the Leine Lodge are situated next to a creek. (Eddy Creek?) It makes for a nice setting despite being in the city of Chippewa Falls. Since there were many people waiting outside, the Lodge opened before its appointed hour. Although I had lived in the general area for a few years and drank more than my share of their brews, I'd never been to the brewery.
The Lodge is part museum, part bar, but mostly a shopping venue. Displays of items emblazoned with the Leinenkugel's logo were littered everywhere. Want Honey Weiss panties? You got it. A Creamy Dark hoodie? They can set you up. Unfortunately I couldn't find a church key. Aside from things intended to part you from your lucre, there were some interesting historical tidbits to be had as well. For instance, here's the man who started it all back in 1867, Jacob Leinenkugel.
Leinenkugel, as one display noted, was thought to derive from the word meaning a maker of linen hoods. Among the other historic displays was that of a cooper's bench (a cooper being he who makes barrels) and one of old Leine's beer cans from back in the days when they had pull tabs. (I remember those very well.)
11:20 rolled around and our tour guide gathered us up. Although their beer is distributed in 45 states, Leine's is still a regional brewery to me. SABMiller-Coors or whatever the company is called now owns Leinenkugels and no doubt this has led to greater distribution, but I believe that it's still the Upper Midwest that drinks the majority of the stuff. Ergo I still think of Leines as a regional brewery despite being a nationally distributed micro. Our tour guide was a young gentlemen who led us across the bridge before telling us that no photography was allowed inside the brewery itself. Unlike the Viking tour, he was not a brewer but a hospitality engineer, of which there were many scurrying about the place. He went over the Leines history in some detail and, if you are keen to learn about it, check out their website as it goes into some depth.
Here's the brewhouse, which had an addition put on in 2001.
The interior retains a lot of the 19th century inside. Sure, there's some high tech brewing equipment, but the old exterior lives on in the entryway and it isn't all sleak and shiny. Considering that they brew something like 350,000 barrels per year, the place was rather small. Sure, there were metal vats and kettles everywhere but there weren't that many of them. The guide told us that the brewery is at capacity.
That's the old malt house which is now used primarily for storage. This is the old stables. Back in the day Leines was distributed by horse-drawn carts and the equestrian locomotors lived here.
Lastly, we have this ditty.
Leinenkugel used to draw their water from Eddy Spring but now uses water from the city. But, as it was pointed out, the source is the same: Eddy spring. The structure above is, if memory serves, was an old pump house. Leines was originally the Spring Brewery, hence the name here.
On the tour we learned that the Honey Weiss and Barry Weiss, perhaps their two worst tasting brews, are their best-selling beers. (Can we have Limited, a.k.a. – Northwoods Lager, back?) Back at the Lodge, The Dulcinea and I exchanged our beer tickets (2 each) for actual beers. We went with Creamy Dark and Classic Amber.
From there, it was off to the highway to return home.