With sales of its crown jewel, Summer Shandy, surging despite the cold, Leinenkugel’s is set to add three new beverages to its national lineup: Session Helles; Lemon Haze IPA, Leinenkugel’s first national IPA; and a new flavor of its beer with a splash of seltzer, Spritzen.
The new additions pay heed to the brewery’s spirit of innovation, with Summer Shandy the most visible example.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on our innovation, and now we’re bringing new styles that are on trend with what’s happening in craft,” says Dick Leinenkugel, president of Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company.
Craft trends indeed show that IPA and crisp styles like helles are growing in popularity among drinkers. IPA continues to be craft’s hottest style, and the haze craze shows no signs of ebbing. Meanwhile, beers with lower alcohol content are becoming more popular as drinkers migrate to beverages with fewer calories.
Leinenkugel’s Lemon Haze IPA
Lemon Haze IPA is Leinenkugel’s first year-round, national IPA and its first IPA since dabbling in the hop-forward beer space with Big Eddy Imperial IPA and Leinenkugel’s India Pale Lager.
Leinie’s says its take on the hazy IPA will resonate with drinkers who aren’t hop heads, but are attracted to a balanced beer packed with citrus flavors, Leinenkugel says. Results from testing in the Great Lakes region bear that out, with 87% of consumers saying they would buy it, internal data show.
“It’s something that our consumers have been asking us about for long time, and I think we really hit on something that builds on lemon and lemonade and Summer Shandy,” he says. “It’s got a refreshing profile, but also taps into what’s happening in craft with hazy IPAs, that juicier style of IPA.”
Pouring a hazy dark golden color and checking in at 4.9% alcohol-by-volume, Lemon Haze IPA comes in with a slightly malty, lemon zest aroma from Citra, Centennial, Cascade and Hallertau hops and a taste that matches. With a moderate body, it finishes with an IPA’s hoppy bitterness.
“It’s not a knock-your-socks-off-blow-out-the-bitterness-on-the-back-of-your-tongue IPA, where you can’t taste food for a day,” Leinenkugel says. “It’s going to deliver that great hop aroma, and you’ll pick up that lemon when you drink it.”
Leinenkugel’s Session Helles
With Session Helles, Leinenkugel’s is building upon its Germanic roots, but offering drinkers a more sessionable option, with an ABV that checks in at 3.4%, well below the traditional 5% helles.
“When you think about being out with family or friends, perhaps enjoying a day on the lake or the beach, that 3.4% ABV and only 99 calories and with all the full flavor of a beer, Session Helles is a really nice beer to have on those daytime drinking occasions,” Leinenkugel says.
The straw-colored Session Helles, which replaces Leinenkugel’s Orange Shandy as a spring/summer seasonal, has a moderate citrus and hop flavor with a bready malt character. With an aroma of toasted bread, crackers and herbal earthy hop notes, it finishes clean and crisp.
Leinenkugel’s Spritzen Blood Orange Cranberry
The brewery will also bolster Spritzen, its year-round beer-with-a-splash-of-seltzer concept that debuted last year, with the new Blood Orange Cranberry flavor. Blood Orange Cranberry will join both the six-pack and 12-pack Spritzen variety packs, which already feature Grapefruit, Raspberry Lemon and Pineapple Strawberry.
Like the other flavors, Blood Orange Cranberry checks in at 4.2% ABV, has 2.2 carbs and 93 calories, and puts a beer-inspired twist on the popularity of hard seltzer.
“As the hard seltzer market grows, it’s increasingly hard to stand out. There are so many out there that look the same, and we wanted to do something different in the space,” Leinenkugel says. “The real key this year is getting it back out on display, getting more people to try it and increase our sampling opportunities for Spritzen. It really is a delicious product.”
The new products come as Leinie’s is off to strong start in 2021 with sales up nearly 10% versus last year, per Nielsen – including Summer Shandy, which is up 78%. The brewery hopes to continue that momentum with its new additions.
“We always pride ourselves on our innovations, and Summer Shandy is a starting point that lends proof to our ability to innovate at scale,” says Leinenkugel. “When you talk to our distributors and retailers, they see the power of innovation and Leinenkugel’s’ ability to bring a new style to the beer category.”