Within the fall of 1993, two Air Power Academy graduates set their sights on destroying boring and bland beer. That’s when Eric Wallace and Dick Doore launched Left Hand Brewing Co. in Longmont, Colo., and brewed their first beer, an amber ale, in January 1994.
The brewery’s early recipes had been designed by Doore, who had been experimenting with a homebrew package. Within the years that adopted, Left Hand gained a popularity as a constant supply of high-quality brews, even turning into one of many prime 50 craft brewing corporations in the US.
Left Hand can be a pioneer in crafting and packaging nitro beers, together with its long-running Sawtooth Amber Ale and Left Hand Milk Stout, each of which can be found in each common and nitro variations. Left Hand isn’t resting on laurels because it continues to face out in craft beer’s previous and current panorama. Listed here are 11 extra causes to understand Left Hand Brewing.
Left Hand’s flagship beer is a neighborhood landmark.
When Wallace and Doore launched Left Hand’s first beer in 1994, the amber ale’s earthy and crisp taste profile earned it a landmark title: Sawtooth, the title of a mountaineering path within the Entrance Vary mountains that run via the southern Rockies. Sawtooth Amber Ale went on to change into a flagship model, and continues to be a year-round favourite amongst followers. It even noticed a revival with a nitro version in 2019.
Later, two extra beers earned geographically impressed names: Twin Sisters, a double IPA, was named after a path within the Rocky Mountains; and St. Vrain, a Belgian-style tripel, earned its title after the river that flows via the identical mountains. Each beers have since fallen out of the brewery’s common lineup — though St. Vrain could also be making a comeback in cans soon.
Left Hand went nitro with no widget.
Early experiments with serving Left Hand Milk Stout on nitro on the brewery taproom proved that patrons wished extra, as they discovered nitrogen lends a creamy character to any beer. “The suggestions was all the time super,” says Jason Ingram, Left Hand’s nationwide gross sales director. Since Guinness was a bit cagey about the way it managed to bottle its personal nitro stout, Left Hand turned decided to determine a method.
Left Hand discovered the answer: inject nitrogen into the bottles for a mix of roughly 70 % nitrogen to 30 % carbon dioxide, and depend on physics. It took numerous analysis, improvement, and reverse engineering, based on brewing operations director Jeff Joplin, however the brewery launched its tackle nitrogenated bottled beer with Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro on the 2011 Great American Beer Festival.
Left Hand’s title is extra sophisticated than it sounds.
Similar to the Longmont brewery, various areas round Colorado bear the title “Left Hand.” The namesake is one particular legendary left-hander who got here to a tragic finish. Chief Niwot (Niwot means “left hand” in Arapaho) spent winters within the Boulder Valley along with his tribe and witnessed the arrival of gold prospectors throughout a gold rush in 1858. By 1864, even whereas Niwot tried to keep up peace, tensions between Native People within the space and frontiersman got here to a head and the chief was killed because of an assault by the Third Colorado Cavalry.
To hold on the reminiscence of the unique Colorado residents, Left Hand based mostly its first brand on extremely intricate Native American patterns based mostly on these utilized by the tribes that when referred to as the realm house. In 1995, when the brewery first bottled beer, designers tried to shrink that brand down onto bottle caps however simply couldn’t make it work. As a substitute, the workforce developed the easy left-handed print now synonymous with the model.
Left Hand’s brand didn’t change for 25 years.
The left-hand brand remained unchanged on these bottle caps, on the labels, and everywhere in the brewery till 2020 when the brand underwent a slight refresh. The up to date brand put extra emphasis on the title of the brewery across the red-hued hand by enlarging the textual content and shrinking the hand down only a bit. And label designs had been reconfigured to look extra streamlined as properly.
The objective of the refresh was to create a extra fashionable aesthetic for the packaging as a complete. But it surely additionally accentuates the names of the beers to essentially stand out on a shelf. All of it got here with a model new tagline: “From Our Hand to Yours,” a nod to the brewery’s “hands-on approach” to crafting beer.
Left Hand turned a trademark failure into an annual celebration.
“Nitro” turned so ingrained in Left Hand’s product line and firm tradition that the brewery attempted to trademark the time period in 2011, and continued combating for a number of years. The transfer was met with rivalry from a number of competing breweries, specifically Guinness. Left Hand quietly ended its efforts to trademark the time period in 2014.
Nonetheless, that very same yr, Left Hand launched a pageant in celebration of the fundamental fuel: Nitro Fest. At that first occasion, 21 breweries introduced nitrogenated choices to Longmont and poured them whereas aerialists and fire-eaters carried out round them on the brewery property.
Whereas the 2020 fest needed to be canceled, Left Hand already has plans within the works for the 2021 Nitro Fest.
Stout this good wants its personal glass.
Given Left Hand’s longtime expertise crafting award-winning stouts, it is sensible that Spiegelau sought out the model to assist develop a glass particularly made for the beer type. In 2014, Left Hand, together with Rogue Ales & Spirits, teamed as much as design the most effective glass for a stout. The Spiegelau Stout Glass encompasses a form meant to boost stouts’ roasty, chocolaty, and occasional aromas. Etching on the base of the glass encourages carbonated bubbles to rise for the right creamy head.
Left Hand staff work for themselves.
In a continued effort to buck the mainstream and alter the world, Wallace announced in the summer of 2015 that Left Hand had change into a majority employee-owned firm, in partnership with greater than 100 staff on the time. An effort meant to instill satisfaction in Left Hand’s workforce members, the transfer permits those that work on the brewery to earn an allocation of the corporate’s earnings every year.
You can thank Left Hand for the ‘onerous pour.’
With no widget to talk of, Left Hand set about educating beer drinkers in regards to the “onerous pour,” a method of pouring beer from a bottle absolutely perpendicular over a glass to “activate” the nitrogen. It was a hit, and shortly the workforce was bottling extra of its brews with nitro.
The brewery abides.
After years of resisting the can, Left Hand opted to include canning into its packaged choices in 2016. In late 2019, a nitro mixed 8-pack of Left Hand Nitro beers appeared on cabinets at retailers across the nation. The brand new packaging gave the brewery the flexibility to make use of widgets. (Take that, Guinness Draught!)
Left Hand continues to innovate within the nitro house, introducing new nitro-first recipes just like the “Dude-approved” White Russian Nitro, a white espresso nitro stout; and Wheels Gose ‘Round, a gentle sour ale with lemon and raspberry.
Take a left flip on the seltzer craze.
As a substitute of boozing up a can of seltzer, Left Hand determined to take a unique method in 2019: CBD Seltzer. The road of seltzers combines 20 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD from Colorado-based WAAYB Organics with glowing water. They’re natural, freed from synthetic elements, and calorie-free.
The transfer permits Left Hand to tackle the onerous seltzers flooding the market over the previous couple of years, together with large names like White Claw, with out following the identical components as everybody else. There stays some grey space as to how authorized CBD drinks are — actually, it’s technically unlawful to ship them out of state — however that regulation hasn’t actually been enforced. Three flavors of the seltzer, traditional, lemon lime, and blood orange, had been launched in August of 2019 each in shops and online.
Left Hand fights racism with a beer in hand.
From the time Left Hand first opened, Wallace and Doore believed in building their community and giving again the place they may. After the George Floyd protests started in late Might of 2020, it solely made sense for the brewery to contribute to the trigger. Greater than only a black sq. on its Instagram, the workforce got here collectively to take motion. Becoming a member of Weathered Souls Brewing Co. to boost cash for anti-racism organizations, Left Hand’s brewers collaborated on their model of Black Is Beautiful, a dunkel-style beer. The brewery pledged to donate the earnings to Black Lives Matter 5280, the Denver space chapter of the nationwide group.
The Left Hand workforce didn’t cease there. Via June 2020, 50 % of purchases of Raspberry Milk Stout bought on the brewery’s tasting room went to Center for Black Equity, a bunch aimed toward lifting up the Black LGBTQ+ neighborhood.