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Leine reaches production max in Wisconsin.

Leine reaches production max in Wisconsin

As we approach the end of the 80s, Leinenkugel Brewing Co. is quickly approaching something else - its production capacity.

Two years after its purchase by the Miller Brewing Co., officials at both breweries believe that the Chippewa Falls, WI facility should reach its estimated capacity of 150,000 barrels annually within two years. At that point, some big decisions will have to be made.

"We're hoping we will have to address that issue," said Thomas Koehler, vice president of sales, Miller Brewing Co. "We're guessing by the end of next year we'll have to look for a solution."

Some Miller and Leinenkugel employees have suggested moving some of the brewery's production to other facilities; however, Leinenkugel executives are wary that this move might alienate loyal Chippewa Falls area consumers.

"What we're concerned about is what the consumer would think if the beer were brewed in another Miller Brewing Co. facility and not in Chippewa Falls," said Jake Leinenkugel, vice president, Leinenkugel Brewing Co.

By modernizing some of the brewery's techniques, Leinenkugel added, several thousand gallons more per year might be eeked out of the 122-year-old brewery.

While many Miller and Leinenkugel employees would love to see a nationwide expansion of the regional brew, they are wise to realize that a stronger base within existing markets is essential to increased sales. According to statistics from the Wisconsin Wholesale Beer Distributors Assn., Leinenkugel owned just 1.1 percent of the state's beer market in June, while Miller's market was 42.3 percent.

"The easiest thing you can do is to go out and put your beer in another state," Leinenkugel reflected. "But what does that do for you three or four years down the road if you don't have an existing base?"

In the next two years, while Miller and Leinenkugel debate the production fate of a beer with an abundance of loyal Wisconsin consumers, the brewery will try to "maintain that heritage of a small brewery surviving," Leinenkugel said, since afterall, "that's really all we are."
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Title Annotation:Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Oct 2, 1989
Words:341
Previous Article:July imports to US drop eight percent.
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