Brewery Bound: Lakes & Legends Brewing Turns 6!

On the weekend of Dec. 11th, Lakes & Legends Brewing Company is celebrating their 6th anniversary. They will have some special beers that spent some time in barrels on tap as well as for purchase in bottle format. If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “I wrote off Lakes & Legends Brewing years ago.”, you are not alone. However, in the last year or so, their beer quality has improved drastically. More importantly, there is fun and levity being had in the brewhouse which is translating to a palpable change in culture and creativity.

Special Anniversary Beers

Saturday and Sunday promise to be festive times at Lakes & Legends Brewing. In addition to cheery holiday decor and ample space to spread out, there will be some fantastic variations of their imperial stout available. They will also have a limited amount of bottles of these beers for purchase.

1999 Imperial Stout

The 1999 Imperial Stout is a classic version of this style. It presents malt in a very roasty and coffee-like aroma and flavor. There is also ample dark chocolate notes to please your palate. The beer drinks really smooth despite its hefty alcohol content at 12.7% ABV. As it warms up you get a very subtle hint of pipe tobacco and a hint of vanilla.

Barrel-Aged 1999 Imperial Stout

The notes of the base beer are evident in this version with one stark difference-the presence of time spent in a Heaven Hill Bourbon barrel. More vanilla notes in the aroma and flavor. There is also a pleasant warming heat that goes along with the balanced notes of dark chocolate and coffee. This stout is what I crave when the temperature dips down in December. I am not looking for dessert in my beer because if the day ended in a Y, chances are I already had a cookie or 9. I want classic roasted-malt balance with a slight kick of alcohol in my stout and this barrel-aged 1999 fits the bill admirably.

Barrel-Aged Raisin Heck Imperial Stout

This beer is liquid cinnamon bread. The 1999 base beer was aged with cinnamon and raisins in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. This beer tastes and smells like fresh-baked cinnamon raisin bread. If you take a sip and close your eyes, you are transported to a kitchen in the morning as you wait for the freshly baked loaf of delectable sweet bread to come out of the oven. The cinnamon awakens as the beer warms. Before you know it, the subtle dryness of cinnamon is balancing out the sweeter raisin flavors. If you are patient, some dark chocolate from the malt shows its face at the end of the sip. This was my favorite out of the 5 different anniversary stouts we tried.

Barrel-Aged Fresh Prince Imperial Stout

If you like breakfast in a glass, this beer is for you! The flavors in this beer mimic those of french toast-cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. The maple syrup dominated this beer and is definitely the sweetest one of all the variants. If you are a fan of sweeter stouts this will definitely be one to try. For me, I wanted more malty balance like I got in the Raisin Heck. To me, the combo of vanilla and maple syrup leaned too far into the realm of sweetness. The Heaven Hill Bourbon barrel gives it a nice bit of heat to it and will warm you up.

Barrel-Aged Funky Prince Imperial Stout with Brettanomyces

This stout was gently treated with Brettanomyces to give it a bit of funk. As sour stouts go, this one is quite approachable. The aroma is vanilla and a hint of Brett. The flavors are dark chocolate, a hint of Brettanomyces funk and acetic notes. I think that the funk really heightens the dark chocolate bitterness in the stout. If you let it warm up, there are more tannins evident to really dry it out.

A Reason For Celebration

In the last year and a half, I have enjoyed reacquainting myself with Lakes & Legends. Quite frankly, I had written them off. Yet, as Kyle Cooper (Head Brewer) and Kebel Lefto (Lead Brewer) came on board and edited the beer list to provide more reasonable drinking options, Lakes & Legends is now a place that I enjoy.

Gone are the days where every beer was north of 7% ABV. When you order a beer now at Lakes & Legends, you don’t have to brace yourself for an off-flavor or just flat-out bad articulation of a beer style. Kyle and Kabel are brewing beers that are consistent and flavorful for all the right reasons. From Feb of 2016 when I first tried their beers to now, I think that the evolution of Lakes & Legends Brewing deserves some attention. I also think that if you are like me and had written them off, I suggest coming through again and trying a Vibe Czech Pilsner or a 5-Weight Cream Ale. Those beers alone will show that these beers are better than the ones you remember from several years back.

As for this weekend’s anniversary festivities, I am looking forward to toasting the new direction that Lakes & Legends has found. In addition to a major uptick in quality, industry people have told me that there is a renewed vibe of fun and creativity in the brewhouse. I think that creativity and quality can only be fostered where there are positive people. Kyle and Kabel bring a fun culture of innovation and passion. I want to thank Kabel and Kyle for having me out for a sneak peek at their anniversary beers. I look forward to hoisting a pint and clinking pints with them at this weekend’s celebration. Prost!

Dan Beaubien has been involved with Beerploma since 2014 although his passion for craft beer dates back to 2006 when he started traveling for beer.  Dan mostly covers craft beer events, festivals, brewery openings/releases, and beer reviews. Dan has a soft spot in his heart for authentic British Style ales, IPAs, and all things barrel-aged.  If you have any questions or comments about this article feel free to email Dan at dan.beaubien@beerploma.com .