When the darkness fills your glass
A Review of Fade to Black Vol. 3 by Left Hand Brewing Co.
Posted on 1/6/2012 by Brew's Your Daddy
When someone asks me what my favorite time of the beer year is, I almost cut them off with an excited yell of ''Winter! Hands down!''. And its totally true, because winter to me signals peak season for my favorite beers. I love all the dark varieties, and this time of the year is when all of the big boys come out of hibernation. Now I am going to save the argument about stouts being porters and porters being stouts for another time. I don't have it in me today, and quite honestly, who cares? If its a good beer, shut your facehole and drink it! (write that down) And speaking of a good beer, allow me to introduce you to the Left Hand Brewing Company Fade To Black Volume 3.

The Fade To Black Series from Left Hand Brewing Company is their winter seasonal that retains its ''Fade To Black'' name always, but the style can change from year to year. Their first go at it in 2009 turned out the Export Stout(Vol. 1), and in 2010 they gave us the Smoked Baltic Porter(Vol. 2). This year they decided to remain on the porter end of the pool, but toss in a few peppers to give us, you guessed it, the Pepper Porter(Vol. 3).

In the glass, the Fade To Black has the appearance of pitch black until you hold it up to a light source, where it then takes on much more of a dark mahogany coloration with some deep ruby red hues on the edges. There's not much head to speak of even on an aggressive pour(see helpful pic), and after a minute of resting you end up with nothing more than a thin ring of bubbles at the very edges of the glass. The first smell of it introduces you to a nice smoky aroma that is quite welcoming. Moving past it you find a layer of rich chocolate and dark fruits, that hold your attention for some time. Only after a bit more digging can you pick up on some of the pepper notes that gives the name its credibility.

When you take the first taste of it, you know instantly that you are drinking a quality porter. The mouthfeel is slightly on the thin side, but that's alright. With all the flavors that are floating around in the glass, the last thing you need is a distractingly thick or overly active body to it. The smoke is again very upfront, and coats all the other flavors for the entire session. The chocolates and malts are much more noticeable in the taste, while the dark fruits detected in the nose are much more subdued. Only after finishing a sip of it are you allowed to find the peppers. They take front and center in the aftertaste. There is a slight tingle on the tongue from them, as well as both a ''spice'' taste and a ''heat'' feel. Rarely do I take the time to give what I think would be a good food pairing with a beer, but I could totally see myself sitting down with a plate of smoked ribs and baked beans in front of me, and this beer to accompany them.

As far as I am concerned, Left Hand Brewing Company has an amazingly interesting offering in their stable with the Fade To Black Volume 3. No, it's not a simple porter. No, it probably won't make the worlds best porters of all time list. But, is it a good beer? Absolutely. Is it an interesting beer? No doubt. Does it have plenty of flavor and drinkability? You better believe it. Would I drink another one or five? Without question. And as far as who I would recommend it to, I think that with an open mind, really any level of beer drinker could enjoy it for it's stylistic twist. So open up your mind this winter and take it for a spin. This one won't be back again, and if nothing else, you can at least say you had it when it was.

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Fade To Black Vol. 3 by Left Hand Brewing Co.
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