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The Six Pack: restored in 2023.
The Six Pack: restored in 2023.

World's Largest Six Pack and King of Beer

Field review by the editors.

La Crosse, Wisconsin

In 1969 the G. Heileman Brewery built six 54-foot-tall storage tanks at its plant in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Whether by design or a bolt of beer-fueled inspiration, the tanks were painted a year later to resemble cans of Heileman's Old Style Lager, and the sextet was proclaimed the "World's Largest Six Pack." Images of the sixer traveled the globe on postcards sold in the Heileman gift shop, which was part of the brewery tour.

Thirty years later the brewery was sold. The tanks were painted white -- a poor job, with the Old Style Lager labels still visible underneath. It took three years for the new owners to realize that a six pack of giant cans was a superior architectural gag. So in 2003 they brought back the World's Largest Six Pack, with a new brand of giant beer -- La Crosse Lager -- to advertise. It was an imperfect sequel, as sequels often are. The new labels were wallpapered on, not painted, which made it a somewhat lazy claim to fame (although certainly better than an inflatable). And the brewery now made tea, soda, and energy drinks as well as beer. If you'd visited during those dark years, the World's Largest Six Pack may not have even been filled with suds.

Gambrinus, King of Beer, hoists his sudsy goblet.
Gambrinus, King of Beer, hoists his sudsy goblet.

The passage of time, however, bought an appreciation for what had been lost, and the six-pack was changed again, back to its original Heileman's Old Style design, in late 2023 (The brewery began making Old Style again as well). A helpful sign in front says that the sixer would fill over seven million twelve-ounce cans, which "would provide one person a six-pack a day for 3,351 years."

Old Style sixer as it appeared in 1985.
Old Style sixer as it appeared in 1985.

Adding to the atmosphere is a colorful statue of Gambrinus, "King of Beer," who stands across the street hoisting a golden goblet of ale. An accompanying plaque, green with age, calls Gambrinus, "a valiant soldier of the 15th century" and credits him with inventing beer. Gambrinus stands 15 feet tall, with one foot propped on a keg, his eyes goggled in awe of his towering neighbor.

The original version of the King was built by unknown beer craftsmen in 1890 and moved here in 1939 from a brewery in New Orleans that went out of business during Prohibition. In March 2015 his sword arm was unintentionally torn off by three unbalanced drunks posing for a late-night photo -- the horror was captured on CCTV footage. The old King, who was made of cement and weighed a ton, was removed in April 2015 and his body parts were used to create an exact fiberglass replica. The new Gambrinus was returned to his original spot in July 2017.

The tanks being fitted with their new Old Style look.
The tanks being fitted with their new Old Style look.

While the King makes a worthy photo-op, the real reason to come here has always been the Six Pack, once again a source of pride for La Crosse, and a mandatory stop for any college student road trip through Wisconsin.

Also see: Hard and Soft Drink

World's Largest Six Pack and King of Beer

Address:
1111 3rd St. S., La Crosse, WI
Directions:
I-90 exit 3 onto US Hwy 53/Hwy 35 (La Crosse). Drive south, following US Hwy 53, for 4.5 miles. US Hwy 53 becomes 3rd St. Stay on 3rd St. The six-pack is four blocks south of the intersection of US Hwy 61/Cass St and US Hwy 14/Cameron Ave., on the east side. King Gambrinus is across the street.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Angel With A SkateboardAngel With A Skateboard, La Crosse, WI - < 1 mi.
Ho-Chunk Lacrosse Players StatueHo-Chunk Lacrosse Players Statue, La Crosse, WI - 4 mi.
Sunny the Giant SunfishSunny the Giant Sunfish, Onalaska, WI - 6 mi.
In the region:
Big Rural Chicken, Holmen, WI - 12 mi.

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