Breweries come in all shapes and sizes. Some breweries have massive distribution reach, while others stay within their small towns. Some breweries experiment with ingredients while others focus on quality brews of traditional recipes. Some breweries attract people from far away, while others become a place for locals to catch up and enjoy each other.
Upon walking into Lake Ann Brewing Company (LABC), it is clear that it has become the small town’s meeting place. The beer is exceptional, the environment is comfortable, and the people are friendly. LABC has become a favorite with reliable brews that locals enjoy. You won’t find off the wall beers with unusual ingredients. Instead, you’ll find an array of styles of quality beer from blonde ales to IPAs to stouts and porters. You’ll also find local wines, meads, and ciders amongst its 24 taps.
“Our customers are not checking in on Untappd. They’re here to have a good beer and enjoy each other. Take our blond ale. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s a good blond ale and it’s what a lot of the people who come in here are looking for,” said owner and head brewer Matt Therrien.
LABC opened earlier this Spring in Lake Ann and has already made an impact in the area. Lake Ann sits roughly twenty minutes outside of Traverse City, and boasts a large population for a small village. For those that don’t want to make the trip into Traverse City, where the beer scene is bustling, LABC is the perfect solution.
Therrien has been homebrewing since the 1990s, but didn’t see the potential of a brewery in Lake Ann until recently. After putting a hold on working in construction six years ago, he focused on brewing quality all-grain brews with a new homebrewing set-up. Meanwhile, a long-standing building sat vacant in downtown Lake Ann. After much discussion with his wife, Therrien put an offer on the building in October 2013.
Therrien used what he had learned from homebrewing, as well as advice from other local brewers, including Tina Schuett of Rarebird Brewery, to put together what he thought would work best for his location and his community. For instance, as a homebrewer, he had dealt with his fair share of kegging, and knew he did not want to keg at the brewery.
“We have six serving tanks instead. It’s much more efficient, the beer is even, and cleaning is much easier,” said Therrien.
He also bypassed a 3-barrel system, and instead installed a 7-barrel system. Hearing from others about growing pains and batch sizes, he knew a 7-barrel system would work much better for what he envisioned. Even with these careful considerations, Lake Ann Brewing Company opened quietly ahead of schedule in June.
“We didn’t make an announcement beforehand because we were unsure of how long things would take,” Therrien said. “And after we made it through our first week, we thought, ‘we’ll be alright.’”
And in the six months they have been opened, things have continued to be “alright.” Whether it’s a weeknight or a Saturday evening, the taproom sees a consistent flow of traffic. Locals stop in often to visit with each other. In fact, Therrien himself can often be seen chatting with locals he knows well.
Located right next door is The Stone Oven, which happily delivers to LABC. This adds to the atmosphere and gives patrons another reason to visit. Not only can they get a crisp and clear brew, they can also order a delicious pizza and have it delivered to them in the taproom.
“We have a great location, we’re the only place in town, and we have great food next door. It’s great!” said Therrien.