May 01, 2007

Every guy has his signature brand of beer: Homer Simpson has Duff, The McKenzie Brothers have Elsinore, Billy Dee Williams has Colt 45. I have Leinenkugel’s, a Wisconsin-based beer made by one of the country’s oldest family-operated craft breweries. But when I moved out of the Midwest a few years ago, I lost my go-to brew: In its 140-year, five-generation history, Leinenkugel’s hasn’t distributed its beer outside the upper Midwest. Then came the good news: I ran across a six-pack of its seasonal Sunset Wheat beer last weekend—in Tampa, Florida, of all places—and found out that Leinie’s is now branching out across the U.S. It’s also leading the charge for legislation in Wisconsin that would allow retailers to offer small samples of free beer to their customers. The bill was unanimously approved a couple of weeks ago and awaits the governor’s signature. Personally, I hope this kind of bill catches on across the country: It’s just as helpful to sample an unknown craft beer as it is to taste a wine before you invest in a bottle. Until I can try before I buy, I’ll be prone to stick with my (newly reunited) signature beer.

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