Day of Colorado Beer – Oskar Blues and Left Hand Brewing

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I had a couple of meetings in Denver and afterwards I met up with my brother who lives in Boulder and we headed out to Longmont to do a little beer pilgrimage. Originally I had just intended to hit Left Hand Brewing but while driving to Longmont we also saw Oskar Blues, which I didn’t realize had relocated to Longmont, so we got a 2 for 1 deal and I went home with some great beer under my belt (or maybe above my belt).

Oskar Blues

The Oskar Blues Bus

The Oskar Blues Bus

I had always thought that Oskar Blues was based in Lyons, which is in the opposite direction from where we were going,but the brewing operations have since moved to Longmont. We hit up the Home Made Liquids and Solids restaurant which has decent(ish) food but a great beer selection with a bunch of their craft beers. Their sampler works just like a sushi menu; you check off 5 that you want, and they bring it to you. Pretty good system.

Draft list at Oskar Blues

Draft list at Oskar Blues

Oskar Blues is famous for being the first craft brewery to do cans and I haven’t had a ton of opportunity to have their stuff on draft. I had Mama’s Little Yella Pils (on Nitro), the Priscilla Wheat, the G’Knight, the Mutilator Doppelbock, and the  Workingman’s Stout.

The Beer

The Little Yella Pils on Nitro was pretty interesting. I liked how the nitro turned it into a more creamy pilsner. The taste was the same, and for a good, crisp beer, you can’t go wrong with Mama’s Little Yella, so it was really enjoyable. The Priscilla was also quite good. It had a great haze to it and was nice sitting outside with the sun bearing down. It wasn’t the best wheat I’d ever had, but the hints of coriander and the nice citrus flavor made it a solid summer beer if you’re in the area. The Mutilator and the Workingman’s Stout were both good examples of the style but they didn’t blow me away. The Mutilator was probably my favorite of the bunch just because the doppelbock isn’t a common style and the Mutilator had a nice mix of earthy yeast, nut flavors, and a more piney bitterness. It was a fun exploration outside of the core styles I associate with Oskar Blues.

 

Oskar Blues Sampler

From left to right: Nitro Mama's Little Yella Pils, Priscilla Wheat, G'Knight, Mutilator Doppelbock, Workingman's Stout

Left Hand Brewing Company

Left Hand Brewing Company

Left Hand Brewing Company

It’s really hard not to be a big fan of Left Hand. I think they get lost a little bit amongst the bigger Colorado brewers, but the make some damn fine beers and have the awards to back it up. I’d wanted to check them out for a while and the brewery is just a quick 20 minute drive east of Boulder. We got there just as it opened, at 3:00, and almost had the tasting room to ourselves. They do a 4-beer taster and you can pick any set of 4 beers you want. The tasters are a little bit bigger pours than most tasters but I’d almost rather trade the extra volume for another sample of beer.

Left Hand's History

History of Left Hand Brewing Company

The place itself is nice and chill. They also provide some very cool information cards for each of the beers so you can geek out on all of the stats and info. The vibe is very Colorado with rough stone tables, lots of woodwork, and a sunny patio for enjoying watching the sun go down with a tasty beer.

The Beer

First it must be said that I’m a huge idiot. I didn’t realize that the TNT was actually made with Tea. As you’ll find out, I’m a bit of a tea snob and I love it when tea and alcohol mix. The fact that I missed that the TNT had nice, smokey, delicious Lapsang Souchong makes me ashamed. Thankfully I think I can get some in Seattle. In the end I went with the Good Juju, Sawtooth, Stranger, and the Milk Stout.

 

Left Hand Beers

From left to right: Good Juju, Sawtooth, Stranger, Milk Stout

The Good Juju was solid. I really like Ginger in beers and this had a nice balance of it. They also used a good combination of hops that kept it bitter, but not over the top grapefruit/citrusy so it came across as more of a zesty beer than a citrusy one. The Stranger was a good, but not exceptional american pale ale. Big on the northwest citrus hops, it wasn’t quite as overblown as an IPA, definitely a bit lighter, but still big on that citrus hop flavor. It was nice, and very drinkable, just not all that unique. I did really enjoy the Sawtooth a lot. I hadn’t realized this was their flagship beer and I’d never tried it before, but it’s worth picking up. I generally like the ESB style, but I like their Americanized version more. Bigger hop profile (the US Goldings mixed with Cascade and Willamette hops) but still maintaining the overall malt toastyness of the ESB style. Really nice beer.

Left Hand Milk Stout

Left Handing the Left Hand Logo

Left Handing the Left Hand Logo

I will admit to not being a huge stout or porter fan. That said, whatever they put in the Milk Stout makes it taste like unicorn kisses. It is a phenomenal beer. It’s a great combination of chocolate, dark malts, and then just that perfect hint of sweetness and milk which gives it great texture and a creamy taste that almost makes it seem like you’re drinking a darker and burnt chocolate milk mocha. If God were to drink a stout, this is what he’d drink. One of the great things about going to the brewery is that I got to try it on Nitro. Take all of the awesomeness of the normal Milk Stout and then times it by 50. The nitro makes a creamy beer even creamier. I just wanted to sit there for days drinking this beer, looking out at the Colorado plains and pondering life.

Left Hand's Awards

Left Hand's Beer Awards

Sadly, all great things must come to an end, and I had a flight to catch. We said our thank you’s, headed back to Boulder for dinner, and reflected on an awesome afternoon. The waitstaff at both Oskar Blues and Left Hand were great and very helpful. It was also awesome for me to be able to check Left Hand off of my keg list (bucket lists are for suckers). Can’t wait to see what Left Hand will come up with for GABF. The pictures from the afternoon are all up on Flickr if you’re interested.

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