Left Hand Brewing of Longmont has proved that it’s not just good at brewing beer in general. The 21-year-old brewery’s third gold medal in as many tries for the winter seasonal Fade to Black, Volume 1 at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival is proof positive that Left Hand Brewing co-founder, Eric Wallace, and his crew owns the Export Stout category. L
Winning a GABF medal is fantastic and is evidence that a brewery’s particular batch of beer, in a particular year, was really good. But for a brewery to win three gold medals each of the three times a particular beer is entered in a category pretty much means you own that category. And that’s the case with Fade to Black, Volume 1. It won gold the first time it was entered in 2010, again in 2013 and again this year.
“It is THE Export Stout,” Wallace said. “Of the five volumes we did, it’s my favorite.”
Left Hand Taproom regulars know when it’s coming because the brewery is overcome with the smell of roasting malt. “We’re smoking [malt] for a month. More than a thousand pounds; tons of smoked malt,” Wallace says.
When Wallace was working on the recipe with former Left Hand Brewmaster, Ro Guenzel (now Brewery Manager at Great Divide), he said they rounded up all of the stout beers they could find from around the world, threw out the obvious outliers (Imperial Stouts, Milk Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts, Dry Stouts) and brewed batch after small batch, trying to replicate the flavors from the best examples of the centuries old classic style they could find.
“Three for three?!? Oh, Hell yeah!” Wallace said, holding a snifter of his style-defining stout in front of the GABF Left Hand booth and sporting a grin as wide as the Indian Peaks. “There are no beers out there that have gone three for three. It’s so difficult to win a medal already. And that randomization of who the judges are and what order they taste the beer in, for this to get through all three times and get gold, yeah, that’s brewer glory right there.”
Left Hand also saw two of its other veteran styles, Black Jack Porter and Sawtooth Ale, each win bronzes.
Other local medalists at the 2015 GABF include Avery Brewing, which took home a silver medal for its “White Rascal” Belgian Style Witbier brewed at its gleaming new facility in Gunbarrel Steve and Leslie Kaczeus at Bootstrap Brewing in Niwot took home a silver medal (the first for the four-year-old brewery) for their “Wreak Havoc” Imperial Red Ale and, after launching just over a year ago, Liquid Mechanics in Lafayette took home a bronze medal for their “Altbier.”
But in the area of collaboration, Boulder County shone brightly at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. With 91 entries in the Pro-Am category, Odd 13 Brewing in Lafayette took home a silver medal brewing Mike Froehlich’s “Atahsaisa” and FATE Brewing in Boulder won bronze with Ryan Lotter’s “Citra IPA.”