Left Hand Brewing Co.

White Birch Rusalka

White Birch Rusalka

Beer No. 70 – White Birch Rusalka

Imagine an Oompa Loompa that dipped his finger in just-grey ash then stirred your Milk Stout. This is what you get, and it’s exquisite.

My chief complaint with Left Hand Milk Stout (Beeradvocate 89, ratebeer 96) is that it “drinks more like a 2% milk stout than it should.” No problem here. Undeniable creaminess, latte-like consistency and a polished product that’s best captured by that moment right before your tongue runs along the roof of your mouth in bitter dissatisfaction. Except it doesn’t, and the fact that it teases you with it is maddening in the best possible way.

The real winner here is my taste buds. It’s impossible to overlook the way three different grains – barley, wheat and oats – are blended to achieve a smooth malty balance that at least one review says is “very” sweet, which I agree with if by “very” he means “just right.”

Complaints: Few. I don’t think it needs them at all, but I was promised “plumb” and “raisin” and get neither. Maybe they’re victims of my chill chest, filled with Belgians where those flavors come to the fore more directly. I could coax a little raisin from the nose but it’s still not there on the palate.

Overall an excellent offering that I’ll be trying to get my hands on again.

Beeradvocate Rating: N/A (five ratings)

ratebeer Rating: N/A (six ratings)

Hayward Abbey Rating: 92


Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey

Left Hand 400 Pound MonkeyBeer No. 59 – Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey

I’m going to have to grow into this style.

STYLE: English IPA

ABV: 6.7%

LOOK: Cooked orange and nearly translucent. Nice dirty head – not that it lasts – that’s most memorable for cutting the foulness.

NOSE: Garbage night, moldy peaches, nutmeg.

MOUTH: Has it gone bad or is this what it is supposed to taste like? Chalky tapwater, butcher shop, cowboy boots. It’s times like these when I have to walk the fine line between giving an honest assessment and respecting the time and effort some people, and probably more than I can imagine, put into this. Let’s call it a learning experience for all of us. (I’m sure a year from now after I have more and more of these that I’m going to regret this review what I wrote about Brooklyn East India IPA because I’ll have developed a taste for raw meats and dusty shoes.) 

Beeradvocate Rating: 81

ratebeer Rating: 71

Hayward Abbey Rating: 68

Left Hand Milk Stout

Beer No. 4 – Left Hand Milk Stout

I could drink three to four more, easy, but today isn’t that day. Today I’m craving something robust and this one drinks more like a 2% milk stout than it should.

STYLE: Milk Stout

ABV: 6.0%

LOOK: It must be the way I pour a pint. Another two-finger head, only this one dissolves quickly and the lacing recedes to nothing within a minute. A shame, really, because it’s an interesting topper. More brown than black, cinnamon sugar with rich coffee dimples. The many air pockets also provide an attractive side view – the side boob of beers, I suppose.

NOSE: Style-limiting nose here. Roasted coffee beans, to be sure. Smoky too.

MOUTH: This is where it gets…complicated. By which I mean the way I feel about this tasty but underwhelming brew. Mild-roast coffee beans, brown sugar, a touch of cake batter. The finish is short, good bitter, well balanced. A little crumb of sugary sweetness lingers on the lips. Lacks robustness – probably its fatal flaw.

Beeradvocate Rating: 88

Hayward Abbey Rating: 83