10 Craft Beers That Aren't
6. Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing
Why it's not craft: Owned by SABMiller, uses adjunct ingredients in its beer, not "traditional"
The fact that the Leinenkugel's brand is owned by Miller comes as no real surprise to anyone living around the Leinie Lodge in Chippewa Falls, Wis., where Leinenkugel's was founded in 1867. Miller bought the company in 1988, before all but the most long-lived craft breweries existed.
Even its 10th Street Brewery in Milwaukee -- the basis for MillerCoors' 10 & Blake Beer Co. brands including Blue Moon, Pilsner Urquell and Peroni -- was bought more than 15 years ago. The problem, it seems, is that MillerCoors has since taken Leinenkugel's national and filled beer store shelves with its Sunset Wheat, Honey Weiss, Oktoberfest, Red Lager and Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout and Imperial IPA varieties.
While nobody's disputing the corporate ownership or even the presence of adjuncts in some of its brews, we can understand why the folks at the Leinie Lodge get a bit testy about that "traditional" claim. When you say that a brewery that's been around for nearly a century and a half and is a huge draw for Chippewa Falls isn't "traditional," you're just inviting the Leinenkugel folks to counter with "145 years of craft beer brewing and Leinenkugel family history," as they do on the Lodge's tour page.
If you're going to take away their tradition, they're going to take away your made-up "craft" label. Seems like an even swap.