Ethan Applen and Derrick Taylor hope to bring a slice of the Belgian countryside to downtown Minneapolis’ Loring Park neighborhood when they open Lakes & Legends Brewing on December 5.
The brothers-in-law are in the final stages of building out their 12,000-square-foot brewery on the first floor of a new luxury apartment building on Lasalle Avenue. “[Opening a brewery is] a little bit like Asteroids, the old video game, where you just shoot what’s closest to you. And the closer you get to opening, the faster everything is coming,” jokes Taylor, the company’s director of sales and marketing.
The farmhouse-inspired 200-person taproom is replete with reclaimed barn wood and greenery, and the brewhouse is equipped with a 15-barrel brewing system, three 30-barrel fermenters, and two 15-barrel fermenters. When up and running, the brewery will specialize in producing beer styles from across Belgium’s notable beer regions.
The brewery’s Belgian bent stems from Applen’s culinary zeal. “I had a passion about food forever, then kind of got into beer in the last five or six years,” he says. “Particularly around Belgian beers, which tended to pair with food, and the flavors were kind of informed by food.”
This May, Applen moved to Minnesota from California where for 20 years he worked for start-ups as well as in entertainment, holding positions with Walt Disney and most recently Warner Brothers. Taylor, a Minnesota native, worked in sports marketing for Red Bull where he helped produce the Flugtag and Crashed Ice events in St. Paul.
Applen brought the idea of opening a brewery to Taylor when they were visiting breweries in California. Taylor was hooked. They considered Northern California, Portland, and Austin as potential locations, but settled on Minnesota after touring a potential space here.
“It just felt right out here,” says Applen, Lakes & Legends’ CEO. “There’s a connection here between farming and the culture that we thought we’d kind of tap into.” For Applen, the connection to farming in Minnesota runs deep—his family still owns a 140-acre farm in Marshall.
— Lakes & Legends (@lakesandlegends) September 14, 2015
Once they settled on the location, the pair chose their name. “The ‘Lakes’ really calls to the provenance in Minnesota. And the ‘Legends’ piece […] is really about the stories people tell that bind everyone together,” Applen explains. “We want to be the beer that’s there when [life’s] big moments happen around you.”
Taylor and Applen hired Andrew Dimery, a professional brewer who worked for Bluegrass Brewing in Kentucky and Sun King Brewery in Indiana, to be their head brewer. Dimery has been “laser-focused” on perfecting recipes for the farmhouse saisons, wits, and Trappist-style ales that will be available on tap, in growlers, and in 750mL bottles at the taproom.
Eventually the team will release barrel-aged sours, feature live music at the taproom, and open an outdoor patio for the summer months. For now, they’re just focused on getting the doors open on December 5 to serve that first pint from the bar.
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Brewer: Andrew Dimery
Beer: Farmhouse saison, wit, golden strong ale, Trappist-style ales, and a rotating selection
Visit: 1368 Lasalle Ave, Minneapolis, MN
Hours: TBD, opening Dec. 5