This past week I was fortunate to find myself surrounded by a great group of co-workers and a few special guests in Chippewa Falls, WI. This all started with landing in Minneapolis on Monday and an anecdotes worth of experiencing the city.
As Tuesday came, my co-workers joined me and we boarded a bus for Chippewa Falls, WI. Only a couple of us had visited the little town in Northern Wisconsin, but we were all eager to see the home of beers like Summer Shandy, Creamy Dark, Honey Weiss, Wisconsin Red, and so many more.
This was a team trip to discuss the year’s goals, but it was also an opportunity for us to connect with a story that resonates with the phrase “Join Us Out Here.” So where is “Out Here?”
Nestled among the pine and Duncan Creek lays the Leinenkugel Brewing Company. Founded in 1867, because of a demand for beer from the booming lumber industry, the brewery has seen and continues to see generations of the Leinenkugel family work within its walls. Beyond the brewery grounds the family has made an impact on the Chippewa Valley. You can feel it when talking with locals the importance the brewery has on the town. However, it wasn’t always this way according to brother’s Dick and John. The brewery had to persevere at the moments when others closed their doors.
The two brothers surprised our group as we worked through our year’s plans and goals. We heard stories about the history of the company, but I wanted to hear about what it was like to grow up in and around the brewery as a kid, so I asked.
As kids they would go into the brewery with their father and walk around the equipment. John remembers the distinct smell of malts growing up, while Dick remembers assembling hundreds and hundreds boxes with a stapling machine in the packaging area. While the brothers are different from one another, they are all proud of where they come from and their family’s history.
On every bottle and can it says “Carefully Brewed By” and it’s important to emphasize, “Care.” The current generations of the family care deeply about what the brewery means to drinkers. There is no clocking out for them, beer is as much a part of them as blood and water. There is a reason why there is a hotline on each product to call with your thoughts.
When Wednesday came I had somewhat of an out of body experience while floating down the Chippewa River. As the sun reflected across the water, I found myself with Dick Leinenkugel, drinking the family’s original Chippewa Pride Beer. I realized what “Join Us Out Here” meant while floating down the river linked with my co-workers and Dick. It’s experiencing the outdoors with friends, relaxing, and having a beer.
Writing & Photography by yours truly.