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Where Have You Gone, Leinie’s Original?

July 27, 2020

When your favorite beer turns up in an unexpected place.

Usually, when two of your favorite brands do a cross-branded product, it’s cause for celebration. So I should be ecstatic about Palermo Villa Inc. bringing out “Za Brewski,” a line of their Screamin’ Sicilian frozen pizza with a crust infused with Leinenkugel’s Original beer.

Screamin’ Sicilian is just about my favorite frozen pizza, and Leinie’s Original is my favorite beer. It was one of the most prominent light American lagers to use an all-malt formulation, without adjuncts like corn or rice. So I’ll probably buy this stuff as soon as I can. But as I bite into the crust, my joy will be tinged with sorrow, because it will be my first taste of Leinie’s Original – however indirect – in more than a decade.

For some reason, Leinie’s Original has never been easily available. It was mostly confined to Wisconsin (where it’s brewed) and Minnesota until the fall of 2017, when Molson Coors supposedly took it nationwide. I say “supposedly” because I haven’t been able to find the stuff on the shelves of any grocery or liquor store I’ve been to; a clerk at one store told me they have to special-order it. The only Leinenkugel beers I can find are things like Grapefruit Shandy and Berry Weiss. When it comes to beer, I’m a traditionalist (or a curmudgeon, take your pick); I don’t like flavors that sound like they belong in sorbet.

So as I chow down on Screamin’ Sicilian Za Brewski, I will enjoy it, but mourn that one of my favorite beers now seems to be available only as a flavoring. But I will wash it down with my next favorite: George Killian’s Irish Red, also from Molson Coors. Life goes on.

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