Genuine American Beer Queen Sharona opens the sold out Saturday night Left Hand Brewing tasting event at Hop Hideout, Sheffield, with a high-energy rundown of what she and the lads from the Colorado brewery are all about – how they turned their garage-based homebrew experiments into an international craft heavyweight, got their Native American-influenced name, and the happy mistake that led to their simple, instantly recognisable five-fingered logo (it involves an angry graphic designer and bottlecap-printing drama!).
Polestar Pilsner is as good a beer as any to help process this – light, refreshing and quaffable but naturally with a bit more balls than your average American lager; definite summer night sipping. Those who thought L.H. were only about the dark stuff have some thinking to do from the off.
Although hold that thought too; self-proclaimed ‘beer slinger’ Sharona now uncaps bottles of Black Jack Porter. Brewed using East Kent Golding hops, this is certainly a beer brewed by traditional British ale fanboys. With a rich roasted aroma and tastes of the melted remnants of a scoop of chocolate and scoop of vanilla, this is certainly a contrast to the pilsner. So okay, they’re diverse, but surely we’re not onto dessert already?
Sharona interjects with more info on Left Hand’s mantra and impressive medal cabinet. Despite living in London, a far old distance from her employers, she’s certainly clued-in. Got geeky beer questions? She’s got geekier beer answers, and of course more to pour!
Wicked Juju, the evil half-sister of the brewery’s Good Juju (a refreshing golden ginger ale) features stunning bottle artwork inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. With its unmistakable artisan gingerbread characteristics this is a remarkably unique beer, as black as midnight on a moonless night, and perfect for a bonfire evening agree tonight’s samplers – although coming in at over 7% it’s definitely ill-advised to set off any fireworks after sinking one!
More shadowy devastation follows in the form of a sinfully indulgent foreign export stout from the Fade to Black series, and the show-stopping finale – Nitro, Wake Up Dead (10.2% ABV) – which requires a unique horizontal pouring technique to ensure a thick creamy head (and okay, to impress your yet-to-be-initiated friends) on this belting imperial Russian stout with its explosive dried fruit flavours reminiscent of a very alcoholic Christmas cake.
Left Hand’s specialities are undoubtedly jet black, ballsy beers that’ll put you well above the driving limit with just a few sips, and tonight’s lucky punters have certainly become testament to that. Surely nobody is walking away (or should that be clanging? Pockets weighted with L.H. pin badges, bottle openers, and the odd temporary tattoo) thinking the U.S. craft scene is still just a hophead’s IPA wet dream.
Words: Jordan Lee Smith
Images courtesy of Hop Hideout & Left Hand Brewing