They say you haven’t ‘made it’ until you have a beer named after you.
Well, maybe it’s just me who says that. But it is a huge honour to have Leishman Lager get off the ground so well in its first three years.
In 2016, I approached Back Bay Brewing Co, whose beer I already loved in my local Virginia Beach, and said I wanted to sell a beer as a once-off to raise money for the Begin Again foundation.
For those who don’t know, my wife Audrey survived a near-fatal case of toxic shock syndrome in 2015. It was a really tough time in our lives, but somehow we were among the lucky few who pulled through. After that, we launched the Begin Again foundation to provide financial assistance to American families experiencing medical and life crises.
I thought having a novelty beer which we served at a Begin Again gala would be a good way to raise some money for the foundation. But, as we went through the brewing process, I started to realise it could be a pretty good drop.
During the brewing process, I was asked what type of beers I liked. First and foremost, the idea was that it should be an Australian-style lager. We went from there. I’m pretty happy to say that three years later, the recipe is not that different to that first batch brewed in 2016.
Once we got through the first batch, we realised it was too good not to brew again. A few people started trying it and all the feedback was that it tasted great. During the next couple of years, it grew in popularity and people started asking me where they could buy it. On draft, Leishman Lager is available in stores in my adopted home state of Virginia and at about 100 restaurants and bars there.
“We realised it was too good not to brew again.”
We had not put it in cans until this year and the first batch of 7,200 sold out in less than a month. Some very talented people helped come up with the logo – and the artwork for the can – and it means Leishman Lager looks as good as it tastes.
We’re now awaiting the approval of a US Food and Drug Administration licence to sell nationally across the US. That should take about four to six months. Once we’re hopefully approved and selling nationally, the goal is to have a portion of the proceeds pay for the variety of programs we run for families through Begin Again.
We officially launched the beer in late June in Virginia and I have to say, it’s pretty satisfying having something that’s so enjoyable succeed and raise money for a cause that is close to my and Audrey’s hearts.
I’ve let some Australian media who cover the PGA Tour try Leishman Lager, and I’m glad to say I have their tick of approval. The exposure helps a lot, and recently the PGA Tour filmed a clip at my house in Virginia Beach. It was a lot of fun, and they detailed my obsession with my lawn and how I mow it daily. Growing and cutting grass is a hobby of mine and it’s kind of an escape. It’s something to continually work on. Leishman Lager got a bit of airtime in the clip because it really is the type of beer you crack on the back lawn after you’ve just mowed the grass. There was a shot where I had to crack a Leishman Lager, walk towards the camera and take a sip. I made sure I took a couple of takes to get it right!
Reading this in Australia, you’re probably wondering when Leishman Lager is going to be available back home. I would guess it will take longer than 12 months, but hopefully less than two years. Because of import taxes, it makes much more sense to brew it in Australia for domestic customers. We just have to look into the logistics of that. But I’m excited for Australians to be able to drink it.
I’ve joked that I’ve appointed myself Chief Quality Control Officer of Leishman Lager. And I’m looking forward to my new role. Cheers!
Leishman Lager is an approachable, sparkling lager born on the fairway. It combines elements of classic Australian bittering hops and German noble varietals to balance out the bready and toasted malt backbone with subtle spicy and floral notes. Perfect for 18 holes or backyard gatherings.
Marc Leishman spoke with Evin Priest