This beer is the second in Left Hand’s Fade to Black series, which are strong, dark beers brewed to be served as the northern hemisphere days shorten. Since the days are now getting a bit longer I guess I kinda missed the boat on that, but oh well. It is still cold out, and strong, dark beer sounds pretty good to me. The first of this series, released in 2009, was an Export Stout. The 2010 offering is a Baltic Porter. I was somewhat tentative to try this beer, since smoked beers can be overpowering, and I have been disappointed by several Left Hand offerings.
NOTES: Shared with the Miss at the Hordeum Ranch. A 12oz bottle (from a mixed-six) poured into a pair of Snifters
STYLE: (Smoked) Baltic Porter
APPEARANCE: Pours thick and viscous from the bottle. The beer is dark but hardly black, a little bit of light brown on the edge of the glass.
HEAD: Almost none. What is there is light tan, and fades away immediately.
LACING: Just a bit.
NOSE: Wood smoke, bacon, toasted malts, very earthy, a faint whiff of hops. The nose isn’t over the top on this one, which is a good thing, since smoked beers can be extremely one-dimensional. The smoke is there, but doesn’t overpower everything.
TASTE: Unlike the Metallica song, you don’t have to wait several minutes for it to start kicking ass. And yes, if you haven’t figured it out by now, the photo from this is a young James Hetfield drinking either some horrid American adjunct lager or Lars Ulrich’s urine after losing a bet. Oh yeah, taste: Toasted malts, a little chocolate, and espresso, accentuated by a bit of acidity. A little bit of smoke (but not as much as in the nose), but not overpowering. Some hops make their presence known near the end. The finish is very clean and dry, a little bit of pleasant warming alcohol burn. Really quite well balanced.
DRINKABILITY: This beer is a sipper, fairly light in carbonation, and fairly smooth. It has an awesome, creamy mouthfeel, similar to the Left Hand Milk Stout. Great for a cold winter evening, but I probably wouldn’t want more than one in a sitting.
RATING: Quite enjoyable, a nice effort. I may pick up some more of these, though I’m not sure I want to dedicate myself to a full six. Three hops.