No Corporate Beer: Left Hand Brewing 25th Anniversary

Beer: 25th Anniversary
Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Company (Longmont, CO)
Style: Stout – Imperial/Double
12.1% ABV / 41 IBU

25 years is a long time in this biz, and Left Hand Brewing Company has definitely earned the right to toot its own horn with this anniversary brew. 25th Anniversary is a boozy imperial stout first unveiled at this year’s Great American Beer Fest and the Left Hand tap room, then quickly rolled out for wide-release. Average price for this is about $13.99 for a 4-pack, which is the perfect excuse to get crocked at home while your friends go out and pay twice as much for beers that are half as good. Which is to say: You’ll pay a premium here, but it’s a superior brew.

Why imperial stout? Left Hand hasn’t tipped its (left) hand with an explanation, but it’s really a no-brainer. Despite some pretty out-there beers like the botanical-infused saison series Les Quatres Saisons, the deepest part of Left Hand’s line-up has always been stouts. Left Hand Milk Stout is the company’s flagship and probably the most ubiquitous milk stout on the market, and Fade to Black vol. 1 has way more depth and character than the beer it draws its inspiration from (Guinness Foreign Export).

Perhaps the only surprise here is that 25th Anniversary is not a nitro. Hopefully, that’s the next evolution. The beer pours with a very slight head and a gorgeous onyx color, but the dominant character of 25th Anniversary is that it is smoother than a Barry White album. This is unusual for a 12.1% ABV beer; typically when you get into the double-digit ABV range, you can taste the alcohol. Some imperial stouts compensate for this by oaking, upping the bitterness (which the IBU scale sort of measures), or masking with other flavors. 25th Anniversary is deceptively boozy, but it doesn’t punch you in the face with it. It’s the right thing to do, and the right way to do it.

Left Hand Brewing will be pouring at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest: Los Angeles alongside performances from Triptykon (all-Celtic Frost set) and Testament (The Gathering and The New Order set). Tickets are available here.