Forgive my recent obsession with Colorado Breweries. I have found that although other states have great breweries...Texas has St. Arnold, New York has Brooklyn Brewery, Deleware has Dogfish Head Ale, etc, for my money Colorado has the pot of gold when it comes to the abundance of great breweries...heck maybe it IS the water, and people trying to show that Colorado Beer is much much more than the just the Silver bullet.
The Style: Imperial stout has one of those great histories that some beers have. It all starts waaaaaay back with Catherine the Great, who happened to be a big fan of the Stout style of beers from a trip that she took to England. However when she had some shipped to the Russian court it spoiled on its way to the Baltic Ports. So too appease the Queen, who was none to happy that her favorite drink had ruined, Barclay Brewery in London created a strong bitter stout that they hoped would be sturdy enough to withstand the long journey to Russia. Well they were right and so was born the style of Imperial Russian Stout. Over time the nomenclature Russian dropped from its name and we were left with Imperial Stout a much stronger version of what we think of as Stoute, ie. Guiness. Guiness usually weighs in at no stronger than 4 or so percent, whereas an Imperial stout can be over 10%.
The Brewery: As I mentioned, I am having a obsession with CO breweries of late, and this is no different. Left Hand is from Longmont, CO, which is outside of Denver. I love this place, I was able to visit the brewery a couple years back during a trip to Denver with my girlfriend and its a great place. They make quite a few brews from ales, to pale ales, to a great milk or cream stout, all available in six packs. They also make what I call BIGS...this Imperial Stout being one, but they make seasonal as well. The brewery started out as a lot did back in the 90's. A home brewery got the bug and went insane......Originally incorporated as Indian Peaks Brewing Company in 1993, they changed their name to Left Hand in 1994. and have been growing ever since. 2 years ago you couldn't find any Left Hand in Texas..now, you can find them in Spec's, Central Market, Whole Foods, and some local grocery stores.
The Beer: WOW.....as I mentioned it comes in a BIG, pours a nice dark black/brown in the glass with a small whimsy white head. The nose is full of coffee chocolate, some sweet toffee notes and Malt, lots of Malt and hops. In the mouth you get a full robust roasted esspresso, that went perfect with the dark dark chocolate I had with it, undernotes of cocoa, and a nice level of carbonation. It was incredibly well balanced with hops and malts although on the aftertaste it was all hops. It weighed in at 10.4%. This is a sipping beer, and here is what the guys over at Beer Advocate say