Thursday, April 28, 2016

Something Totally New - and Tasty - from Left Hand

Considering of all the things Left Hand Brewing has done in its 22 years, the most surprising omission from its resume has been "make a year-round American IPA." With this month's release of Extrovert, however, that feat no longer is lacking - and what the brewery's done is introduce something that can only be called uniquely Left Hand.

Extrovert's main hop is Jarrylo, which gives it a tropical taste with even a little hint of pineapple. Beer makers at the Longmont brewery had been experimenting with a number of single-hop ales ever since they purchased a seven-barrel pilot system last year, and when they tasted the stone-fruit flavor this one gave off, they decided that it was going to be their centerpiece in the IPA, said Nick Cassaro, the company's Denver sales rep who was showing off the beer at Freshcraft on Thursday.

At first blush, Extrovert might remind you of Boulder Beer's Mojo IPA for its unusually fruity quality. But it breaks from many others in the genre by finishing crisp and dry with only a touch of bitterness on the back of the tongue - a quality developed with the use of Acidulated and 2-Row Rye malts, Cassaro said.

These characteristics also make the release of Extrovert perfectly timed to take advantage of a summer beer market where beer geeks are seeking something light but flavorful. Good IPAs always fit the second part of that description but not always the first; Extrovert stakes its territory there.

One may be tempted to ask why a major brewery would add an IPA after waiting, almost stubbornly, for two decades to jump into the most popular style of craft beer. (Left Hand's biggest forays into the IPA world have been 400-Lb. Monkey, an English-style IPA, and Introvert, a session IPA.) Said Cassaro: "It was time."

Yeah, it was time. But the truth is, Extrovert was worth the wait. It may not blow your taste buds away like an Odell or Melvin Brewing IPA. But it carves out its unique niche. And it's a beer you may come back to time and again.

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