The Left Hand Brewing Company made me cry this year when VP of Operations Chris Lennert announced it would no longer make its Snow Bound spiced ale, which was been one of my favorite holiday beers over the past few years. I I like beers with hints of holiday flavors (although you can keep the pumpkin beers).
But the Longmont brewer's brand-new holiday offering, Fade to Black, is a worthy replacement - with one hell of a kick-ass label. Here's how the brewery -- in dramatic Banana Republic catalogue fashion -- describes the beer and its mystique:
"One-hundred thirty-four days of blackness. Three thousand, two hundred and sixteen hours before the clocks are switched again. Welcome to Fade to Black. That time of year when the day seems to fade away...Creatively brewed to pair with shorter, darker days, Fade to Black is a Foreign Stout that pours black with notes of licorice, espresso beans, molasses, and black cardamom notes. Its 8.5 percent ABV gives way to a feeling of self loathing, burnt opportunities and smoked relationships. And like 'some late visitor entreating entrance at your chamber door,' six different malts and two different hop varieties create the 'darkness there, and nothing more.'"
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To me, Fade to Black is drier than a typical stout, and drinking it felt almost like I was crunching the dark roasted malt itself between my teeth -- but in a good way. With almost no sweetness, it still maintains a smoky, complex, full flavor, almost like coffee beans and chocolate. Fade to Black pours dark brown/black color and has almost no head.
Left Hand's unusual holiday-season plan with Fade to Black is to make a different style of beer every year while keeping the name and packaging the same.
See the rest of Beer and Cheer here.