Legend bar and brewery down in Richmond had been operating since 1994, producing and spreading the gospel of great craft beer. They have a good range of year-round brews that I carry in the store which includes a Golden Ale, Pilsner, Lager and Brown Ale. The Brown Ale in particular seems to attract a lot of attention.
In addition to these, Legend puts out a vast number of seasonal and once-a-year brews. Maybe my personal favorite of these is the Legend Imperial Brown Ale. In the glass, it is really an opaque brown color. Held up to a light, it becomes a slightly reddish-brown, but not much light gets through. It smells like something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. There are aromas of sweet malts and esters, but that something else is killing me…
A very organized and uniform army of bubbles makes up the head, and as you drink the beer it falls down the glass in a sparse trail of lace. Speaking of drinking it: That first sip jogs my head and I finally put my finger on it. That something I was smelling that I couldn’t figure out…Tootsie Roll! It’s not exact nor should it be, but there’s a definite sense of a mix of flavors like cocoa powder, caramel in the malt and spicy slightly fruity tang (from the extra hop going into the Imperial style) that makes you think of a Tootsie Roll a little bit.
I’ve probably gone on a bit much about that, but I was just so glad to get that out of my head. Usually that’s the sort of thing that I wouldn’t remember until I was on the verge of sleep and it would be too late because I’ve already published the blog. I may be a bit too dedicated to what I do.
Anyhoo: The extra malt feels sweet on the tip of the tongue, if that makes any sense. On the front of the palate the hop bitter comes in along with it giving the initial flavor an almost Belgian quality of spice and fruit mixed with malt. Unique in a specifically non-Belgian beer, but very cool. The cocoa and caramel dominate through the mid-palate and into the finish, which is it’s own experience. The finish starts off bitter, with the hops coming to the fore once again, but it transitions into a full-on malty fade. Finesse.
The warming finish is great for late-night hang outs on the patio this time of year (not that I was doing that), but it’s also the only thing that keeps this beer from being completely drinkable. At 8.5% ABV, though, I think that’s a pretty good thing. The Imperial Brown Ale keeps you from drinking too much of it. It knows better than you. Listen to it.
As I said, the regular Legend Brown Ale is very popular and the Imperial maybe even more so, at least around my shop. They say on their site that it’s around from summer into fall, but it never seems to last nearly that long. Again, that’s good and bad: If I could grab a bottle of this any day of the year, things might get out of hand. Then again, this is the kind of beer that gets breweries national attention.
If you dig Brown Ales and malty beers, and want to experience something new this may be a beer for you to try. It’s almost the logical extension of every Brown Ale out there. Get it while it’s around, though; if you can’t snag a bottle…road trip!