Leinenkugel’s taking rebranded Canoe Paddle Kölsch year-round

In a move designed both to embrace its German heritage and underscore its craft credentials, Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddler is rebranding and will become a year-round offering.

The award-winning lager, which debuted in 2013 as a summer seasonal, is becoming Canoe Paddle Kölsch. Redesigned cans and bottles are slated to hit retail early this fall, says Erica Morris, marketing manager for Leinenkugel’s. The beer recipe will remain the same.

The rebrand comes as Kölsch-style beers pick up momentum, largely fueled by a renaissance of traditional styles brewed by craft brewers. Beers identifying themselves as Kölsch are up 5.2% over the 52 weeks ending May 18, per Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data.

“We have a really special beer in Canoe Paddler, and I don’t think we were really doing it justice by not calling out Kölsch in its name,” Morris says. “And with the style performing well overall, we saw this as an opportunity not only to rename the beer, but to take it year-round and grow it.”

With Summer Shandy comprising about half of Leinenkugel’s volume nationally, the brand also is elevating its portfolio of beers inspired by the Chippewa Falls, Wisc.-based brewery’s German roots.

Easy drinking and crisp, Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddle Kölsch is brewed with Saaz, Sterling and Golding hops, and a small addition of rye, which lends a slightly spicy flavor and a clean, dry finish. The beer won a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2013 in the German-style Kölsch category.

“The rye addition is our little twist on a Kölsch, and over the years it’s become a perennial favorite,” says John Hensley, brewmaster at Leinenkugel’s Chippewa Falls brewery. “We get asked about it a lot when we’re not producing it, so hopefully taking it year-round will give our fans what they’re asking for.”

Hensley counts himself among them.

“I’m personally excited we’ll be brewing this one year-round,” he says. “I like this beer a lot.”