Ethan Applen, CEO, co-founder of Lakes & Legends Brewing Company

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Who are you and your current job?

CEO, Co-founder of Lakes & Legends Brewing Company

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What was the inspiration behind your brewery?

We wanted to create a brewery that focused on the farm- and Belgian-inspired beers that were approachable and food friendly. We saw a space in the market where people were getting turned off by certain beers that were harder for first-time beer drinkers to get into, and the farm and Belgian styles worked great for that approach. We also source from small local farmers/growers as much as possible, tying our drinkers back into the community via what they're consuming.

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Can you give us a tour of your beer scene?

The scene expanded dramatically in the last several years. There were no taprooms until Surly changed the law in 2011 - in that time, we've expanded so that there are now over 120 breweries in the state, from huge ones like Surly or Schell's to neighborhood and suburban breweries and taprooms. That growth has driven current breweries to start focusing on quality and innovation, doing things to really make them stand out in the market. The result is a scene that's really getting as diverse as some of the best beer cities in the country.

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What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery?

Research, research, research. Talk to everyone you can meet, and call the people you want to meet from breweries - most of the time they'll be receptive and give you time, they were there once themselves! Once you've got the entire plan ready and it makes sense, pull the trigger!

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