Monday, August 1, 2011

Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey IPA review

Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey IPAEver quaffed with a 400 pound monkey? If you have, you've probably heard of the English-style India Pale Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company called 400 Pound Monkey IPA.

Used to be, prior to January 2010, this beer as found only on premises at Left Hand's tasting room in Longmont, Colorado or in a keg or cask at a special pouring in Colorado.

Today, 400 Pound Monkey IPA is part of Left Hand's perennial collection of beers and can be easily found in stores in 6-packs. I had the pleasure of 1st trying one of these two years ago at Left Hand Brewing on cask and now I wanted to see how this beer compares from a bottle.

Appearance: I poured this beer into a Left Hand goblet mug fresh out of the fridge. The Left Hand web site tells you that if you let this beer warm up then the real monkey comes out of the bottle. In my case, it was very cold and poured out with very little off-white head yet it gave a decent hiss as it was opened.

The brew was a light orange-copper color as is found in most IPAs of this style. There were a fair amount of bubbles in the glass so I knew it still had some carbonation left in it. Yet after a while I knew it probably could have been a bit more carbonated. The bottle could have been several months old by now.

Looking at this beer up into the light, I could see that there was a bit of chill haze in this beer. It wasn't clear by any means but it didn't have any sediment either.

Aroma: Here is where you have to wait if you opened this bottle cold. Ice cold out of the fridge you can't hardly smell any of the hops. That worried me for an IPA, so I let it sit for about 15 minutes before smelling it again.

Once the 400 Pound Monkey had warmed up to it's surroundings, I began to smell some of the Magnum, Boadicea and Sovereign hops. It had a slightly citrusy aroma with a hint of spiciness too. I wanted to let this warm up even further so I decided to let it breathe for a bit longer before judging the rest of it.

Mouthfeel: After a few more minutes I tried a few sips. This beer is no heavy weight but rather is medium bodied with a slight kick to it from the 6.8% ABV rating. My mouth's first reaction was to start salivating when drinking it but after a while that subsided and my mouth started to dry out a bit from the developing bitterness.

Taste: Some IPAs tend to be all hop, but Left Hand decided to let some of the malt come to the surface on this brand. I agreed with the brewer, this beer was best a bit warmed up but still needed to be colder than room temperature to be at it's best. Anyone else find this to be true?

There was a smooth bitterness up front with a slightly sweet malty finish. It's well balanced between the hop and malt. It's not an over the top bitter IPA but rather a surprising milder version.

I seemed to recall two years ago that this brew used to be made with Cascade hops and was much hoppier and drier than it was in this sample. I think I like it better this way. It was smooth with not much heat despite it's ABV. For the my palate, this IPA was quite drinkable and lead me to want a second one. I couldn't say that with a lot of IPAs.

Overall: While this bottle may not have been the freshest around (it's bottled on date was worn off or missing), it was still a very drinkable and enjoyable IPA.

It left my mouth moist and mouth watering. It had just enough bitterness and maltiness to leave me satisfied. I'm quite surprised by the change in the last two years. I feel this beer is more mainstream tasting than it used to be.

I'll give Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey IPA a decent Thumbs Up and a second helping recommendation.

What do you think? Has this beer changed noticeably to you in the last two years? Did you like it more or less when it was keg only at the brewery than in bottles? How would you compare this to other IPA's you've had? Let's hear from you in the comments below.

Related articles you may like:
- Left Hand Sawtooth Ale review.
- Left Hand Milk Stout review.
- The tasting room at Left Hand Brewing.

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