As with many craft breweries, Left Hand Brewing started with a passion for home-brewing between friends, and has turned into a success story. It began in 1990, when Dick Doore received a home-brewing kit as a gift for Christmas from his brother. Dick became obsessed with home-brewing, and found himself in Colorado in August of 1993 with his college friend Eric Wallace. While Dick was the one with expertise in home-brewing, Eric brought with him all his experiences from traveling around the world and sampling beers wherever he went. After impressing family members and neighbors with their brews, one night, after finishing off their supply of homemade dry stout Eric brewed, they had their epiphany: “Let’s start a brewery!”
While their heads may have been a little fuzzy the next day, the idea was clear and stuck in their heads, and they set about right away with founding their brewery. In September of 1993, Dick and Eric founded Indian Peaks Brewing Company, named after the Indian Peaks Wilderness nearby. While they were having early success in finding both a facility and equipment, troubles arose when another brewery claimed the name Indian Peaks for one of their brew lines. Hoping to avoid costly legal trouble this early in their brewing career, they quickly changed their name to Left Hand Brewing after local tribe chief, Chief Niwot (Niwot being the Arapahoe word for left hand.)
On January 22, 1994, Wallace and Doore opened the doors to Left Hand Brewing, rolling out their first line of Sawtooth Ale (still available today.) In October of that year, at the Great American Beer Festival, Left Hand took home 2 medals, a Gold Medal in the Bitter Category for Sawtooth Ale, and a Bronze Medal in the Robust Porter Category for Black Jack Porter. These mainstays, along with newcomers such as Good Juju Ale, Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout, Jackman’s, Motherlode, Maid Marion and Deep Cover Brown Ale, helped Left Hand develop public support and expand into new markets.
In 1998, Left Hand merged with Tabernash Brewing from Denver, which allowed both to sell 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles (up to that point they only sold 22 oz. bombers and kegs.) They also started Indian Peaks Distributing Company the same year, but over the years the partnership with Tabernash has phased out and the distributing company sold, allowing Left Hand to focus on making some innovative brews.
Left Hand Brewing Company has certainly found success along the way: they cracked the Brewer’s Association Top 50 Craft Brewers in 2012, has consistently increased production year after year (over 30% in 2010 during a recession,) and began a 5 year, 9 million dollar expansion project in 2008 to keep up with demand. This success over the years has allowed Left Hand to be on the cutting edge of innovations such as Nitro bottling, green initiatives, and give back to the community in big ways.
In 2011, at the first night of the Great American Beer Festival, Left Hand introduced the world to Nitro Bottling. Traditional CO2 beers have a much greater carbonic bite compared to the much smoother Nitro series. The addition of Nitrogen to a beer gives way to much smaller bubbles, creating a smoother, creamier experience. Beyond mouthfeel, there are variances in appearance and smell as well. Take Classic Milk Stout and Milk Stout Nitro. Visually, you will notice that as you pour Classic Milk Stout, it behaves like a normal beer with an instantaneous mahogany body and receding taupe head. As you hard pour Milk Stout Nitro, the beer will immediately begin to cascade, settling to reveal the body and developing a thick, billowy, off white head on top. In regards to smell and taste, Classic Milk Stout overall has a greater nose, as well as a more roasty character and a very slight hop bitterness. Milk Stout Nitro has a more creamy mocha essence throughout the beer, with no noticeable hop element. This innovative process has allowed Left Hand to stand out from their competitors and remain successful in the competitive craft brewing community, where new comers pop up everyday.
With so much continued success, Left Hand has the ability to get involved in some pretty cool charities and events that let the public know Left Hand is very appreciative of their support. Left Hand supports a team at Bike MS every year, and event which hopes to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis, and raise money to help treatment of those with this debilitating disease. In addition to fighting MS every year, Left Hand loves supporting charities that want Left Hand to donate beer or money to help their charities. The Left Hand Brewing Foundation was set up so they could effectively help charities, and you can apply for help from the foundation online, where you can also see a list of organizations Left Hand has helped so far.
In addition to reaching out to community events, Left Hand also gives back to the community they live and work in by focusing on making their brewery as sustainable as possible. They work to achieve this by focusing on reducing energy consumption, installing solar panels around the brewery, and trying to recapture some of the energy used in the brewing process to be recycled later. Left Hand was able to cut down on water consumption, CO2 emmisions and electicity they consumed, and holds a meeting every month to come up with new ways to make the brewery even more sustainable.
Since beginning production 20 years ago, Left Hand Brewing has racked up 21 medals at the Great American Beer Festival, 9 World Beer Cup awards, 6 European Beer Star Awards, and a growing loyal customer base in 27 states and throughout Europe. Left Hand has found success in prdoucing honest beers, innovating new brewing and delivery systems, and making sure to give back to the community which has shown them so much support over the years.
Milk Stout Nitro
The original bottled Nitro beer, this stout boasts mocha flavors which go down super smooth. Pouring hard out of the bottle, Milk Stout Nitro cascades beautifully, building a tight, thick head like hard whipped cream. The aroma is of brown sugar and vanilla cream, with hints of roasted coffee. The pillowy head coats your upper lip and its creaminess entices your palate. Initial roasty, mocha flavors rise up, with slight hop & roast bitterness in the finish. This brew comes in at 6% ABV and 25 IBUs and is also available without Nitrogen.
Sawtooth Ale Nitro
The original recipe produced by Left Hand and given a new look by being injected with Nitrogen, this amber ale uses Pale 2-row, Crystal, Munich Wheat and Black Malts along with Magnum, US Goldings, Willamette and Cascade hops. Its malty chewiness slowly transitions over to herbal, earthy hops with a dry finish, and boasts a 5.3% ABV along with 27 IBUs.
Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout Nitro
This smooth, warming Stout has been injected with Nitrogen, enhancing the malt flavors of raisins, licorice, coffee, and dark chocolate. Stored in Left Hand’s cellar for four months till its perfect, this brew uses Pale 2-row, Munich, Crystal, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Black Barley and Flaked Oats malts as well as Magnum and US Goldings hops. Coming in at a strong 10.2% ABV and 45 IBUs, this black stout is one of the darkest beers Left Hand offers.
400 Pound Monkey IPA
An English Style IPA with earthy, herbal hop notes, well-balanced by its bready malts. Using Pale 2-row, Crystal, Munich and Malted Wheat malts in addition to Magnum, Boadicea and Sovereign hops, this IPA comes in at 6.8% ABV and pairs well with burgers or spicy dishes.
Opening on of these up, you are immediately taste notes of dark chocolate, espresso and herbal hop which pair nicely with its slight malt sweetness. This porter incorporates Pale 2-row, Crystal, Chocolate, Munich and Wheat malts with Magnum and US Goldings to produce a darkly delicious brew, with 35 IBUS and sporting a 6.8% ABV.
Fade To Black, Vol. 1
This foreign export stout won the gold medal at the Great American Beer festival, not once, but twice, in 2010 and 2013 in the foreign stout category. Using Pale 2-row, Roasted Barley, Black Malt, Chocolate Malt, Cara-Aroma and Malted Wheat malts and Magnum and US Goldings hops, this stout Pours black with licorice, espresso bean, molasses, and black cardamom notes. At 8.5% ABV and with 30 IBUs, this is a stout worthy of two gold medals, not doubt about it.
Proudly distributed locally byFrank B. Fuhrer Wholesale Company.