Saturday, November 1, 2008

Breweries of Longmont Part II - Left Hand Brewing

Left Hand BrewingToday marks the second in a series focusing on the breweries of Longmont Colorado. It is not only the biggest but one of the oldest breweries in Longmont and that is none other than Left Hand Brewing Company. Left Hand had it's humble beginnings back in 1993 as the Indian Peaks Brewing Company but soon after changed it's name to Left Hand Brewing to avoid a conflict with another brewer. The name Left Hand is derived from the Arapahoe Indian word Niwot. Within the first year of operation, Left Hand won two medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Then in 1998 Left Hand merged with Tabernash Brewing of Denver and doubled their capacity.

Click to enlarge mapYou can easily find Left Hand if you follow the map. Take Hwy 119 from I-25 west and follow it along until you see a turn off for Nelson Road. Take Nelson west to Sunset Street, then head north a short distance to Boston Avenue and turn right heading east. You won't be able to miss Left Hand on the south side of Boston Avenue. Left Hand is a fairly large operation and there is plenty of parking in the lot next to the Tasting Room.

I got to Left Hand's Tasting room on a Friday early afternoon just after 1:00pm and it was not crowded at all. There were just a handful of patrons there and a friendly employee there serving beers. The room was all decorated up for Halloween and made the room festive for the season. I was already well acquainted with most of the regular year long offerings from Left Hand, so I chose to focus in on the beers I hadn't had much of first. Left Hand was offering about 10 different beers on tap today including some seasonals. The samples are free if you get them in the small tasting glass or you can get a full pints for a few bucks.

Terra Rye'zd Black Rye Lager - This brew was a collaboration beer that was jointly made with Terrapin Brewing from Georgia. This 6.6% ABV brew was a dark mahogany color with a thick tan head. It had a very hoppy and malty smell with a rich roasty taste, almost like a porter. It was made with 2-row, Rye, Crystal Rye, Dark Munich, Chocolate Rye and Sinamar malts and bittered with German Magnum and other select hops. Rye was the predominant malt choice in this beer and made it a wonderfully different beer. Very malty and bitter and with a dry finish.

I then ordered a seasonal sampler which included three different beers.

Chainsaw Double Sawtooth - this was one of their big beers weighing in at 9% ABV and 55 IBU. It's classified as a Strong Ale and poured a cloudy ruby orange color. It's made with Maris Otter Pale, premium Pale, 2-row, LH custom malt, Caramalt, raw oats, Special B and Black Malts. That's a lot of malt! It's hopped with Magnum, US Golding and Cascade hops. This brew had a nice white head with a creamy lacing. It was hoppy good and had a little sweetness to it and had some garden herb overtones. This is a decent strong ale. Very dry and bitter. Go easy on this one.

Twin Sisters Double IPA - continuing on with their big beers, their double IPA weighed in at 9.7% ABV and a hoppy 77.7 IBU. This brew was made with 2-row, Munich, Rye malt and flaked barley and generously hopped with Serachi Ace, German Magnum Cascade, Mt. Hood and Willamette hops. Then on top of that it is dry hopped with more Mt. Hood and Cascade. That's a boatload of hops. This beer was clear, about the same color as the Chainsaw, hoppy, and very strong! It had a very sticky hop taste - perfect for the uber hop head.

400 LB Monkey IPA - this beer you can only get at Left Hand's tasting room and is not offered in bottles. It was hand pumped from the cask. It's slightly redder than the Twin Sisters with a white lacy head. It's less hoppy and more drinkable then it's stronger cousins. Still, it was dry and very bitter and not sweet. You get a mouthful of Cascade hops. Decent IPA but not for the timid.

Update: 12/2/2009 - Left Hand announced that 400 Pound Monkey will now be a year round offering and will be bottled for the first time. It will be available in 6-packs, draft and cask starting January 2010.

I then was offered two of their award winning beers to finish off my session. I had both the Milk Stout which won the Silver medal at the 2008 GABF for Sweet Stout, and also the Sawtooth Ale, their flagship beer that won a Bronze medal at the 2008 GABF. Both were excellent and a great way to finish off after tasting their big beers. The Milk Stout is one of my favorites from this brewery.

Overall, the takeaway I got from visiting and sampling Left Hand Brewing's line of beers is that they are big believers in hoppy beers. I suggest that you drink their beers with a lively meal to take the edge off the hops, particularly from their IPAs.

I couldn't stay long as I wanted because I still had one more brewery to visit that day. In Part III of my series, I visited the Oskar Blues new brewing facility in the south part of town. Look for that posted very soon.

I'll leave you with a short 3 minute video that I compiled of my visit to Left Hand in hopes to inspire some of you to visit their tasting room.

Left Hand Brewing Co.
1265 Boston Ave
Longmont, CO

Related articles:
- Breweries of Longmont Part I - Pumphouse Brewery.
- Breweries of Longmont Part III - Oskar Blues.
- Left Hand Brewing in the news.
- Left Hand Milk Stout review.
- More videos from Fermentedly Challenged.

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