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This is a beer I have been trying to hunt down for a while, Left Hand Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout. This is the barrel aged version, which has me even more excited.
Pours black, of course. Sweet vanilla, charred oak, and currants in the aroma. Flavor is even more complex with bourbon, more char, and smoke added. The evidence of the barrel aging is more pronounced as it warms. I’m even getting a hint of cherry, which really works. Cocoa powder and anise in there, as well. Hops finally come in at the end to provide a bitter finish.
A big fan of this. Huge flavors, obvious impact from the barrel aging, complex, balanced, very smooth. And the name? You’d never guess it weighs in at 10.2% ABV!
Here is another season I look forward to every year, Left Hand Fade to Black. A different recipe every year, this fourth version is a “Rocky Mountain Black Ale”. Could fit into the Black IPA category as well.
Color certainly matches the title. Thin, creamy head floats atop a pitch black body. Very strong pine hops are noticed first. Charred wood comes through next, followed by sweet malt. Bitterness from the hops really linger. More than 60 IBUs almost make you pucker. Chocolate comes through as it warms.
The balance is what makes this so good. There is enough going on with the sweetness, bitterness, texture, and char to give it great flavor. This is why Fade to Black is so good!
LONGMONT, CO – Fade to Black. That time of year when the light fades away. In the fourth year of the renowned winter series, Left Hand introduces a Rocky Mountain Black Ale as Volume 4. Showcasing the duality of dry roasted malts and hop bitterness, Colorado Centennial hops take center stage of this pitch black ale.
Volume 4 looms overs its predecessors with a sharp bitterness and dry roast, celebrating the darkness and leering in the face of warmer days. The ale pours black as a winter night with an off white head. Your first inhale is dominated by citrus and roast, as slight sweet malt gets pushed back by initial citrusy hops followed by powerful Italian Amaro, Gentian and hop bitterness. The Rocky Mountain Black Ale finishes with a pleasant duality of dry roasted malts and hop bitterness.
Brewed for the darkness, Fade to Black speaks in volumes. Volume IV is the latest edition of Left Hand’s esteemed winter seasonal series. The Fade to Black family made its presence known beginning in 2009 with Volume 1, when the Foreign Export Stout won GABF Gold. The following years have presented our handsmoked Smoked Baltic Porter in 2010 and last year’s Pepper Porter featuring Chipotle, Serrano, & Ancho chiles, as Volume 2 and 3 respectively. This year’s Rocky Mountain Black Ale takes its place in the Fade to Black series, standing apart as the dry and bitter cousin. Perfect for those chilly winter nights, Left Hand’s Fade to Black is a cult favorite, as fans eagerly seek out each year’s offering.
About Left Hand Brewing Company
Celebrating nineteen years of brewing a well-balanced portfolio of craft beers, Left Hand Brewing Company is located at 1265 Boston Avenue in Longmont, Colorado. The brewery has received 18 medals at the Great American Beer Festival and 8 medals at the World Beer Cup, and its beers are now available in 25 states. “Sometimes you’re not in the mood for what everyone else is having.”
A dark wheat and tea offering here from Left Hand with TNT. Pours a rich, deep brown. Nose is a mix of tobacco, smoke, and cherries. Leather and smoke dominate the flavor. Cherries make an appearance, and the tea comes in late. There is a dry and bitter finish that I would associate with overdone unsweetened iced tea.
As I’m getting into it more and it warms, the smoke and leather are becoming more tame and the bad iced tea flavor is going away. More dark fruit flavors are coming out. And a hint of bacon.
I can’t say I love this, and I can’t say I hate it. But it’s different and worth trying. I don’t even know how to grade it.
While I don’t quite get where the name came from with Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey, I do get what they’re trying to do with the style.
To me, English IPAs focus a bit more on balance of malt and hops and aren’t simply out to destroy your palate. Spicy hops lead the way but there’s a distinct wheat breadiness. Also some of the hard water flavor found in a lot of English ales. Very unique mixture of hops including Magnum, Boadicea and Sovereign.
More punch than a Pale Ale, not as much as most IPAs. Respectable 6.8% ABV that adds just a touch of warmth.
It’s definitely good, but maybe a step below their porters, stouts, and the Good Juju.
Even thought I missed out on Volume 1, last year’s Fade to Black, Baltic Porter, was outstanding. And as the chile beer is something I’ve been eager to try, I’m very excited for Left Hand Fade to Black Volume 3: Pepper Porter.
The color is perfect and the fragrance promises lots of smoked chiles. There is a lot more depth to the flavor than just chiles, though. There’s bittersweet chocolate, anise, and the smoky chiles.
There is some subtle heat, and at just a touch under 2000 Scoville units, that puts it at about the same as a poblano. It’s just enough that you know it’s got chiles in it. The heat does get a little more intense as the beer warms.
Smooth, complex, drinkable, and just enough heat to have you know this is something unique. Real chile heads won’t feel much here, but I am a fan and will be seeking out more of these!
My feelings on ginger are mixed. Love it fresh, can’t stand Ginger Ale (the pop), love the women. This is my first try at a ginger beer, Left Hand Good Juju.
The color is a hazy light copper with a fluffy just off-white head. One whiff and even if you didn’t read the label, you’d know it’s a ginger beer. The most powerful flavor is, of course, ginger, but there’s some malt and a bit of hops in the finish. It’s not particularly complex, but I do think the ginger is well balanced. Just a tinge of that ginger heat, too. You don’t need to worry about the alcohol in this one, just 4.5%. I’m thinking of some Chinese dishes this would be the perfect match with.
Another winner from Left Hand. I’d like a little bit more hops just to give it a bit more complexity, still it’s very good.
Can’t beat that bottle design, either. I don’t like all their bottle redesigns, but I love this one.
Left Hand makes a lot of tasty brews, and this is the first I have tried the Stranger Pale Ale. Light in color, the nose is full of hops and orange. But the flavor isn’t has bold as the smell would lead you to believe. There is a bit of hop bitterness and character, but also a lot of grass and rye. A dry, spicy finish.
It’s almost like a mild IPA. It’s smooth and drinkable, even if the flavors aren’t over powering. And at 5% ABV, it’s a good session beer.
I don’t think the Stranger is bad, but I’m not in love with it. Doesn’t have enough to be an IPA, but maybe a bit more than what a standard Pale Ale should have. At least it’s aptly named.
This is a beer I have been looking forward to for a while. Left Hand’s Fade to Black. I have been impressed with everything from Left Hand, especially their Black Jack Porter and Milk Stout. Hopefully I will get to try Wake Up Dead soon.
They describe Fade to Black as a smoked Baltic porter. Pours black with a thin, dark tan head. The smoke is definitely there, along with some meat notes. This really does taste a bit like bacon, but with more smoke. The mouthfeel is somewhere between heavy medium and light heavy. It certainly has some body, but it’s not really heavy. There’s a bit of malt sweetness in the finish as this is more malty than hoppy.
This style is right up my alley, and it’s exceptionally well done. A pretty interesting story on the history of the beer on their website, too
Sawtooth ale pours a cloudy copper. It took me a bit to pick up on the flavors. I got the grain, a hint of caramel, and a little bit of hops. It has a late and dry, yet subtle, bitterness. No flavor was really prominent, but I’m OK with that. Everything was kind of middle of the road. Decent head and lacing, medium body, but not watery. Then I realized why I liked it; because it’s middle of the road. I think this beer has a great potential for mass appeal. It would be a great gateway beer and an all night beer. To use a cliche that I hate, it doesn’t try to do too much. It’s very drinkable. Try it!