Monday, November 19, 2012

Left Hand Fade to Black Volume 4 review

Left Hand Fade to Black Volume 4When breweries release their winter seasonals they usually stick to a single recipe year after year. Not Left Hand Brewing. For the last 3 years, Left Hand Brewing has put out winter seasonal called Fade to Black. The first version was a bit hit, then to everyone's surprise, the next year they changed the recipes totally. Turns out, that was on purpose. Now in it's 4th iteration, Left Hand Fade to Black Volume 4 has changed once again. And this time it's in the form of a Rocky Mountain Black Ale.

It seems like every region of the US is now putting out a hoppy black ale and are calling the style something slightly different. You have American Black Ales, Cascadian Dark Ales, Black IPA's and others. This one is the first I've heard of called a Rocky Mountain Black Ale. In this version, Left Hand wanted to showcase both the dry roasted malts and the hop bitterness.

The main featured ingredients include Colorado Centennial and Centennial hops along with 2-row, Munich, dark chocolate, Crystal and Carafa malts. The brew weighed in at 6.5% ABV and a respectable 64 IBU's.

Appearance: Fade to Black Volume 4 poured just as dark as it's previous cousins and built up a nice tan head in the glass. The lacing stuck around a long time as well. Held up to the light I couldn't see any lighter edges either. Black is a good description. The brew seemed to have a fair amount of carbonation as well.

Aroma: Wow, there was a lot going on in this beer. I got both semi-sweet chocolate mixed together with a big citrus hop aroma. It smelled like a big earthy dark roasted brew packed with a lot of hops that I normally find in an American Pale Ale or IPA. It seemed very inviting to the senses.

Taste: First thing I got was a dry, roasty malt flavor with hints of chocolate and then as the sip went down I got an aftershock of bitterness and hop. The beer was fairly drying, slightly creamy, and a good tongue coater. The bitter roast lingered in my mouth well after the sip was done.

Overall: I've come to know that when I drink a Left Hand Brew that the hops are definitely going to be featured. This beer definitely put them in the spotlight and made dark beer taste much like a good IPA with a dry roasted kick. Of the 4 versions of Fade to Black, this probably comes in as my 2nd favorite behind the original Fade to Black Volume 1. Don't be afraid of this beer just because of the IBUs and the darkness, it won't bite. If this is the definition of a Rocky Mountain Black Ale, then I thoroughly approve.

Disclosure: This bottle was given to me directly by the brewery as a free media sample.

Related articles:
- Left Hand Fade to Black Volume 4 debuts. (Press Release)
- Left Hand 2009 Oak Aged Imperial Stout review.
- Left Hand Sawtooth Ale review.

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