The hospitable folks at Legend Brewing Company invited us over for a little beer tasting and tour. Being a group who 1) loves leaving work early and 2) loves free stuff, and 3) is looking for quality places to send our readers this St. Patrick’s Day, we jumped right on board.
Last week, the hospitable folks over at Legend Brewing Company invited the staff of RVANews over for a little beer tasting and tour. Being a group who 1) loves leaving work early and 2) loves free stuff, and 3) is looking for quality places to send our readers this St. Patrick’s Day, we jumped right on board.
In case you’re not familiar with Legend (beyond it having THE BEST porch to do some Richmond, summertime sitting), here’s a little background on the brewery and how they do things…
Open since 1994, Legend is all about keeping it local. All Legend beers are produced in their brewery just downstairs from the restaurant. An interesting tidbit for you: there didn’t even used to be a restaurant connected to the brewery; instead it was just your standard pub offering a very small selection of sandwiches. Probably just to appease Virginia’s bozo “no bars allowed” law.
Legend sports two systems for brewing: their 30 barrel system for their high-production brews and their 10-barrel system used to do one-off batches. The brewing process starts outside of their building with their own silo housing 50,000 pounds of grain. The grain gets pumped into the building and hydrated with good ol’ Richmond City water before it’s taken through all steps of the brewing process (mashing, wort separation, boiling, whirlpooling, cooling, fermenting, conditioning, and filtering) on site. Then it’s sent to serving tanks or bottled and keged to be sold to the brewery’s distributors, about 80% of whom are within a 50-mile radius of the building.
And how’s this for renewable resources? The spent grain (a by-product of the brewing process) is picked up by a farmer in Louisa who feeds it to his cows. For all I know, this is a common practice for brewery’s, but I felt it added to the “We just want to brew good beer and help people out” feel of the place.
OK, enough background. On to the the DRANKIN’!
When we arrived for our tasting, we were greeted by Dave, the brewery’s sales and marketing rep (among other things) who’s been at Legend for 13 of the 15 years they’ve been open. He quickly got us settled in a booth in the back of the bar, loaded us up with chips (yessssssss), and had the server bring us out a few samplers of Legend brews. Mike (one of the brewers, clad in his “Brewer’s Onesie”) came to join us and give us the low-down on the fruits of his labor.
Now I am not a beer drinker by any means. When greeted with the opportunity to imbibe, I usually prefer to pound cocktails over brews. So I was honestly a bit intimidated by all of the beer sitting in front of me, particularly because two of the people I was sitting with (Ross and Erik) actually know a thing or two about beer. But perhaps my lack of knowledge will make my thoughts on these beers more accessible for the layperson. So here I go…
We started off with the lager. My first reaction was “Hmmmm, it tastes like beer.” Come to find out that my insight wasn’t completely dense, as others around me deemed it a good standard beer. Not super heavy or overly hoppy, this seems to be a great go-to brew for people who aren’t looking for anything fancy and just want something that will taste good with their cheese fries or crab cakes.
Next up was the pilsner. Even I could notice that it had more body than lager and a much hoppier taste. Strong hops aren’t my thing, but Ross picked it as his favorite for the day. My other companions also deemed this one as smooth, complimenting how easily it went down. And I could see this beer going with pretty much everything.
Then came the Brown. Mmmmmmm, the brown. My personal favorite, as well as Lauren’s and, apparently, the rest of Richmond, as this brew makes up for about 65% of Legend’s sales. I mean, it’s got CARAMEL in it, what more do you people want? Fuller-bodied and with a higher alcohol content than the lager or the pilsner, this is definitely one I would leeeeeeisurely nurse over a giant plate of chicken fingers. And ribs. And chili. Definitely my pick for St. Patty’s Day.
Our foray into heavier brews continued with the porter. A beer after Scott’s own heart, this one is loaded with coffee and chocolate flavors, two of his most favorite things. Upon tasting this one I immediately thought, “Man, this is like a meal.” Rightfully so because, as I found out, porters are brewed to be filling and nutritious (Think Guinness. Or monks trying to find something to fill them up while they’re fasting during Lent). If you must drink it with food, I hear it’s best paired with beef dishes like a NY strip or a sirloin. Basically, a big dude’s dream come true. And maybe mine? This one also got Erik’s recommendation for any festivities happening on the 17th.
We took a brief detour from the sampler to get a special tasting of Legend’s current seasonal, their Fifteenth Anniversary Belgian Quadruple which turned out to be Erik’s top pick for the day. This one was like no beer I’ve ever had with a sweet, herby, fruity taste and barely noticeable hops. I thought it had a “cough-droppy” taste, but I mean that in the best possible way. (Seriously, I love cough drops, ask anyone.) Important fact: this beer has got an over 11% ABV, so enjoy but pace yourself.
We rounded out our tasting with the Golden and Pale Ales, two very hoppy brews best paired with spicy food. The Golden was very similar to the Pilsner, but with stronger hops and a higher alcohol content. While tasty, the Pale Ale is not something I couldn’t drink a lot of – but if hops are your thing, this is where it’s at.
So there you have it, folks. I hope you’ll consider putting Legend on your St. Patrick’s Day route this year. You’re sure to find something for everyone in your brood: those who want something light, those who want something heavy, those who want to just get a bit tipsy, and those who want to get sloppy-fall-down-I-can’t-find-my-pants drunk… just like the holiday intended.