By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 29, 2008 at 5:23 AM

Last summer, the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company introduced Summer Shandy to Midwest markets and it became the brewery's best-selling seasonal beer of all time. That's saying a lot, since the company is 141 years old and operated by a fifth generation of Leinenkugels.

This month, the craft brewery, based in Chippewa Falls, introduced Summer Shandy on a national level.

“We're excited to introduce our popular new seasonal to craft beer lovers across the country who are seeking a new way to satisfy their taste for adventure this summer,” says Dick Leinenkugel, the brewery's vice president of sales and marketing, who lives in Menomonee Falls.

Shandy, short for “shandygaff,” is a mix of beer and lemonade. Although it has been popular in Germany and England since the 17th century, shandy remains a relatively new concept for Americans.

Available April through August, Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy is brewed in small batches, and is a mix of malted wheat and barley, lemonade flavor and a hint of Wisconsin honey.  It has a tangy, citrus flavor that complements spicy summer cooking. Also,  it's the main ingredient in summertime cocktails like the candied ginger shandy, created exclusively for Leinenkugel's by Las Vegas-based mixologist Tobin Ellis.

In 1988, SABMiller purchased the Leinenkugel company. Leinenkugel says Miller provides his brewery with resources and buying power, but basically lets Leinenkugel Brewing operate on its own terms.

“Miller has allowed us to run the business like a brewery-within-a-brewery,” says Leinenkugel. “There's no question about it. We run the brewery as our business.”

Leinenkugel says Miller and Leinenkugel Brewing products are very different and appeal to different drinkers. “We really try to appeal to a more discerning, adventurous palate,” he says.

There are two Leinenkugel breweries in Wisconsin. The original is in Chippewa Falls, and in 1995, a second brewery opened in Milwaukee on 10th Street in the former Blatz Brewery.

The Leinenkugel’s 10th Street Brewery brews Honey Weiss, the company's top selling variety, and also kegs of Leinenkugel’s Special Ale that are available to select accounts on draft only.  This past year, Leinenkugel’s 10th Street Brewery also brewed up two specialty “extreme” beers under the “Big Eddy” name, which is named after the spring in Chippewa Falls.

Leinenkugel says the company will announce a new winter seasonal beer in mid-summer and it will be available in November or December 2008.

“I can't say what it is yet, but we're very excited about it,” says Leinenkugel.

Leinenkugel's has a dedicated fan base of nearly 200,000 “Leinie loyalists” living throughout the U.S.  Leinie loyalists stay in touch virtually throughout the year via the brewery's newsletters and gather for the Leinie Lodge Family Reunion in Chippewa Falls every June. 

“We're excited about the return of our Summer Shandy and are confident that it will be well-received by drinkers around the country,” says Leinenkugel.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.