Feeling right at home

Leinie Lodge authenticity makes it a Chippewa Valley must-see

The Leinie Lodge features a ski-resort cabin-like feel, a fire place, couches and numerous memorabilia.

The Leinie Lodge features a ski-resort cabin-like feel, a fire place, couches and numerous memorabilia.

Story by Nick Erickson, Managing Editor

Northern Wisconsin. Let those two words process in your head for a second.

There, now that you’ve had some time to ponder, I’m going to take a stab at some images that came to your head: pine trees, lakes, log cabins and snow. Put all of those images together, and you’ve got the backdrop of the Leinie Lodge on the grounds of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in Chippewa Falls, a 20-minute drive from Eau Claire.

As soon as you walk in the door of the Leinie Lodge, you get the sense you are stepping into a log cabin at a ski-like resort.

Look to one side and you see a fireplace with leather couches for relaxation. Look to other and past the memorabilia, you see a bar with about 10  Leinenkugel’s seasonal brews on tap.

Customers 21 and older are invited to sample these different taps. All it takes is a valid ID, a wristband and a glass slightly larger than your average shot glass. Oh, and the best part of it all, just $1. That’s right. For just $1, you can sample up to five beers in your little glass, which you even get to keep as a souvenir afterward.

If you’re a fan of trying different beers, it doesn’t get much better. You get a wide variety of flavors, from the hoppy, darker beers to lighter and fruitier beers for those who want a taste of summer in an endless winter.

What’s special about the sampling station at the Leinie Lodge is you don’t have to buy a ticket to go on a tour of the brewery to put your taste buds to work.

The MillerCoors Brewery in Milwaukee and the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis require visitors to purchase tickets and take the tour before giving out similar-sized samples.

But let’s say you’re not quite 21, or don’t enjoy the taste of beer enough to make a worthwhile trip just for sampling. If this sounds like you, you’re in great luck, because the Leinie Lodge also serves as a museum to celebrate the rich history of a Wisconsin family business dating back to 1867.

In the back walls of the lodge is a timeline categorizing each of the speciality beers and when and why they were made, everything from the original Leinenkugel beer to the recently developed Canoe Paddler.

Also dominating the back walls in the museum section of the lodge is an old tank used in the early 1900s, which emphasizes the rich tradition of the Chippewa Falls-based brewing company that has grown to cater in all 50 states.

If it happens to be a nice day outside, you can walk around the grounds of the brewery and get breathtaking views of the mill in the original brewery.

The Leinie Lodge not only remembers but celebrates a vital part of Wisconsin history by keeping the originality of the 1867-born brewery alive and well today with the growing enterprise it has become.

So if you have some free time on a Saturday afternoon, do yourself a favor. Gather some buds (haha, get it?) and treat yourself to an afternoon cherishing one of Wisconsin’s most successful businesses in the history of the state.