I stood in the elevator and watched the numbers tick up. I was in the Denver Grand Hyatt during the week of the Great American Beer Festival, trying to pop my ears as we ascended to the 38th floor where Left Hand Brewing Company was celebrating their 20th anniversary. I had no idea what to expect. I only knew my friend, who is a sales rep for the brewery, hinted that this celebration was going to double as a release party, but kept mum on what exactly we’d be seeing released. Per usual, I had no fucking clue what I was doing on this dark, windy Thursday night. My only plan was to have a few beers and then head home to prepare for work the next day. What’s that saying? The road to Hell is paved with something something of somethings?
The media had already been invited early to see the awesome digs Left Hand set up. Pictures of a bell, saw and skull were plastered all over the place on posters, stickers and on our complementary pint glasses. Was my skull going to be sawed open and have my brain replaced with a bell? I love Left Hand just enough to allow whatever experiments they could come up with on my pickled brain. We stood in line to get into a room with several bars lined up against windows that looked down over the night-covered city of Denver. Each bar was stocked to the brim with bottles. Lots of bottles.
I took my glass, some temporary tattoos and started eye-fucking the branded cow bells floating around on the tables, because god only knows the one thing drunks need are cowbells. The bartenders were were opening the bottles and pouring out wonderfully smooth looking beers. Now, anyone familiar with Left Hand wouldn’t be totally surprised by this. Their Nitro Milk Stout is a goddamn fine beer, but these were strange.
There were several colors. I could easily identify the glorious dark milk stout with it’s fine white head without ease, but suddenly there were bursts of amber floating from the bottles and a black as night beer with a glorious coppery head as well. To my hand clapping, squealing and jumping up and down schoolgirl delight, I discovered the special release tonight was actually Left Hand’s Sawtooth amber ale and Wake Up Dead imperial stout as new additions to the nitro bottle family. My dick about shot through the ceiling.
Of course the first beer I ordered was the Wake Up Dead. Did anyone even question that? (I chronicled a previous love affair with the beer here) It poured like a thicker and awesomer version of Guinness. The chocolate waterfall was even more glorious to behold because of the deep tones the head took on as it settled to the creamy smooth as butter in the 1850’s separation of beer and foam.
Was it art? I don’t fucking know because I had a beerection the size of the Sears Tower just holding onto the glass. I took one taste and the smooth, satiny beverage made me forget about time and space and the recent government shutdown that plagued us. The world was beautiful and wild white stallions ran past me while dolphins swam up the most glorious waterfall and then dove into the clearest, bluest waters right in front of me.
To say that was the best way to start the night is a serious fucking understatement and I would like to personally thank the people of Left Hand for giving us (what I am COMPLETELY assuming is) the first nitro bottled imperial stout. Once I was done mouth-loving my beer, I decided to move on into the big ass ballroom adjacent to the room I was standing in. The traffic moving that way clearly indicated I wasn’t to the main event yet. While I went all super orgasmic about Nitro Wake Up Dead, the sight in the ballroom was a completely different beast to behold. There were bars set up with jockey boxes all along the walls. Each jockey box station held several taps dispensing a different mainstay beer from the course of Left Hand’s 20 years. Once I scooped my jaw off the floor and wiped the poop out of my pants (not necessarily in that order), I began to scheme.
Scheming proved to be a useless effort though. Soon, the whole room was packed elbow to elbow with people. A band rocked out at the far end of the ballroom and bodies continued filling the room. Amazingly, the party reached capacity and those admitting people in the lobby had to throttle the crowd in a one for one policy like a club. I hadn’t seen anything like this in years. Eventually, rumblings started going around the room that the last of the beers had been tapped a full hour and a half before the event was scheduled to end; a lot of thirsty fucking people came by to wish Left Hand well on their next 20 years.
I met so many members of the Left Hand family that night, and countless others as well and I can’t begin to describe how bad ass that crew is. There’s actually a part two to this piece that will be ready next week. It requires some deep reflecting and possibly some permission. All I will say is the Left Hand sales team is a force to reckon with if you want to party. As fate would have it, this anniversary party got me in the right state of mind to carry on late into the night and made for an interesting day at work and the actual GABF session I attended. Oh, now I remember that old saying: the road to Hell is paved with the best of intentions. Consider my road a well asphalted highway…
An open mind and a few beers can make anywhere an adventure.