Tag Archive: Left Handed Giant


Left Handed Giant: Double Dot Matrix (England: Imperial Stout:8.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. A cream brown cm of a head.

Nose: Cherry. Black cherry. Crushed chocolate bourbon biscuits. Creamy.

Body: Cherry liqueur. Black-forest gateaux. Vanilla cream. Cocoa dust. Vanilla toffee.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Fudge. Black-forest Gateaux. Red cherries. Cocoa. Crushed peanuts.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a black-forest gateaux stout. BOOM. Notes Done.



Ok, I have to do more. It’s in my contract. A contract which I wrote for myself. To myself. I hate me some times.

This is very smooth, slightly creamy which gives a nice weight to it. There are hints of booze, especially in the finish. Nothing harsh, nor that thick boozy feel, just a pleasant reminder to be careful when drinking this. It is very cocoa to creamy chocolate bourbon biscuit at the base. It would be a smooth, satisfying, if lacking range, stout even without the special ingredients – making a good base for the rest to work from.

Layered on that is a lot of vanilla cream, vanilla toffee and some fudge style that adds sweetness and thickness onto that, combining to make a very creamy beer indeed. The base bitter cocoa keeps the sweetness in check though, so it all works out very well.

So, the cherries then. Actually initially a lot of it comes across as red cherry to cherry liqueur notes, all bright and such rather than the black-cherries actually used. The black-cherries still do their work though as the brightness dies down, mixing with the bitter cocoa, cream and such to give ….

A black-forest gateaux stout. BOOM. Notes Done.

If you use that to loop back to the start now this could end up an infinite review.

Anyway, a smooth and creamy stout, with great black-cherry usage. This is a spot on imperial stout that is dominated but not totally overpowered by its special ingredient. So very good.

Background: So far I have not been overly taken with LHG hoppy beers, not that they are bad, just that they have not entranced me. So I decided to try this to experiment more with their malt led side. Dot Matrix was a milk stout collaboration made with Stillwater. This is a brewed up Imperial Stout take on that. The stout is made with Cacao nibs, vanilla, black cherry and dextrose. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. I went with a mix of Gogol Bordello tracks for music while drinking this.

Lost and Grounded: Moor: Left Hand Giant: Berry Lush (England: Fruit Witbier: 4% ABV)

Visual: Black cherry red. Huge strawberry red head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Blackcurrant cheesecake. Blackcurrant jam. Twigs. Strawberry. Thick. Tart grapes.

Body: Wheaty. Sharp lemon. Blueberry. White pepper. Tart blackcurrant. Charring. Tart grapes. Gooseberry.

Finish: Tart blueberries. Noble hop oils. Subtle blackcurrant. White pepper. Charred bitterness.

Conclusion: There is a massive disconnect between the aroma and the taste in this one. The aroma is hugely jammy, packed with fruit flavoured jelly notes (aka Jello for our American friends). It is sweet and thick. I was kind of worried that the sweetness was going to dominate the body too much and end up with a simple, one notes, sweet thing.

That definitely did not turn out to be the case.

The first hit of the main body is a sharp lemon note that seems fairly much like your standard expectations of a good wit, which was encouraging. It was good to see signs of the base beer evident through the berries. There also was a strong white pepper character that called to the spice use in a traditional wit. However that element isn’t too well used, combining with charred notes that make the beer feel unnecessarily harsh.

At this point the fruit is pretty much non existent, and the beer was feeling really lacklustre due to the harsher notes, the lack of fruit and the base beer being overwhelmed by the charring and spice. So, massively flawed, but not in the way I expected it to be.

This however turns out to be a beer that works better when warmer and with a bit of time to air. The rougher notes subside, though do not totally vanish. The berries rise without taking over and the base wit feels like it has some room to roam.

It is still not great, but is far more drinkable than it was before. Showing evident traditional dry, lemony wit character with subtle berries backing it up. There is still too evident pepper and charring which hurt it – however if they managed to turn that down a bit then this would be a heck of a better beer.

Bad start, reasonable end, but definitely needs work.

Background: This seems to a collaboration of some of the great breweries we have in the west country – Moor is an old fave of mine, while LHG and LAG are comparatively new kids on the block, but with some tasty beers already out from each. I’ve been feeling like a Belgian style wit for while, so when I saw this one – made with blackcurrant puree, at Independent Spirit, I figured it was worth a try. Put on a bunch of White Zombie for some retro b-movie style metal fun.

Left Handed Giant: Heretic: Monuments (England: Saison: 8% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon yellow with a gold hint. Large white mound of a head.

Nose: Raspberry. Wheaty. Light cloves. Light dried banana. Flour. Soft bitter red wine.

Body: Pomegranate. Cherry picked digestives. Wheaty. Peppery. Light lemon. Slight sour red wine. Apircot. Funk. Raisins. Plums. Moderate, earthy, low level bitterness.

Finish: Rum. Pomegranate. Raisins. Turmeric. Dry red wine. Dry plum notes. Milk. Port notes. Lightly earthy with a yeast funk.

Conclusion: I’ve had to take quite a while with this one, as it isn’t a beer that instantly jumps up and punches you in the face with what it is all about.

It is a gentle rustic style saison rather than the highly hopped take on the style – slightly milky, oaty mix with the rustic and wheaty notes that makes a soothing background that the pomegranate notes can come out from in a natural feeling and not too heavy way.

There is an earthy bitterness that becomes, well, present over time if not overly evident. The barrel ageing starts off light in raisin and plum backing notes, but becomes fully fledged with sour and bitter red wine notes coming out by the end after flirting with sweeter red wine notes for a moment before. It is never heavy, more a robust body that is a competent part of the beer, but doesn’t feel overly dominant.

It is both blessed and cursed in its balance – it is definitely barrel aged, but not so much as to make you go “wow” but also not to lose the base beer. It is definitely showing its fruit, but I would not call it a fruit beer for better and worse. It has a good rustic base, but the other elements of ageing and fruit mean that you don’t really get to see it at its best.

So, it is balanced, super easy to drink but… also 8% abv at that. At a low abv this would be a fairly awesome beer that you could drink forever. As it is is a master-work of balance that uses that balance to deny itself the large moments that would justify the 8% abv.

So it is very good and very impressive, but can’t quite earn the high abv, nor work as a session beer, so it struggles for a spot in the drinking line up.

Background: This came on my radar for a couple of reasons – one, I dig saisons and they don’t seem to pop up as often as I would like, so new ones tend to catch my eyes. Two, this is made with pomegranate puree, which was unexpected – saisons also seem to be a beer style where people don’t try the odd experimentations as much as some other styles. Finally – burgundy barrel aged, another bit of experimentation that often is overlook with saisons. So I grabbed a bottle from Independent Spirit to give a go. Put on Television Villain again while drinking – so proud of those guys for their awesome music.

Odyssey: Left Handed Giant: Left Handed Zombie (England: Amber Ale: 5.3% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy bronze to amber. Large loose bubbled beiged head.

Nose: Peach. Pineapple. Grapefruit. Sweet fruit syrup and fresh fruit tartness. White grapes. Peach Melba.

Body: Lightly brown bread. Peach Melba. Good bitterness and hop character. Pineapple. Slight sour dough and chives. Light charring. Rye crackers.

Finish: Brown bread. Solid hops and bitterness. Light black pepper that grows over time. Sulphur and smoke. Peppermint.

Conclusion: Ok first up – no this is not as good as the showstopper that is the big brother of this – Imperial Hop Zombie Blood. Then again, what is? This is a less clean feeling beer – it has more notes that call towards the heavier real ale style, with bready notes making it a solid drink, with sulphurous notes mid to late on. It feels like a mild concession to make a more sessionable, more standard drinking ale style out of an intense beer, without losing what made that enjoyable.

Now, where it is most like its big bro is in the big bitterness it brings,and the big flavours with that. It bring sweet peach and tart pineapple, mixed with white grapes which makes this a right mouthwatering mix. That is set against that very robust, grounded, bready and slightly sulphurous base. It is an interesting contrast and works better than you would imagine. A very traditional feeling base with the fruit punching right out of the gaps.

It is heavy, almost rye tasting in style with some peppery character, but the fresh notes manages to keep it from getting wearing.

It isn’t a shining wonder like its big brother, but it also doesn’t feel like it is aiming for that. Instead it feels like a new world hopped, rye best bitter that is also an amber ale. Solid, tasty and one to have regularly- rather than a lot of similar beers that are great one offs but not one to have regularly. Not exceptional, but it hits its spots brilliantly.

Background: I learned something with this one. Mainly relating to the word dank. People have started referring to great dank hops a lot recently. Which confused me – as well, dank is “Unpleasantly damp and cold” which is not really something I want from hops. However after hearing a few uses it seemed to relate to those thick, oily, sticky hops. Which makes sense now after a bit of googling as it seems it probably comes from cannabis references – good sticky and oily cannabis being called dank in relation to the original usage. Also explains why everyone calls good memes “Danke memes” as a joke these days. Though it does not explain why and when meme changed so much from its original meaning. Then again that is kind of appropriate giving its original definition. Was completely out of the loop on Danke. Probably cos I’m an old fart now. Also I use muggy hops for a similar, though different style so I can’t really get on my high horse about using imperfect words to try and communicate an experience. Anyway, loved Imperial Hop Zombie Blood – so since this seems to be linked to that I grabbed this as fast as a could when I saw it in Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to a bit of At The Drive in – seems they are making a bit of a comeback now which is cool.

independent-spirit-left-handed-giant-black-angus
Independent Spirit: Left Handed Giant: Black Angus (England: Imperial Stout: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown bubbles at the edges but only a thin grey dash at the centre.

Nose: Peaty. Wet moss. Brown bread. Smoked bacon. Slight medicinal notes. Cake sponge. Oily cooked fish skin.

Body: Bready. Creamy. Smooth chocolate. Light gin notes. Vanilla. Touch of sugared oranges and orange liqueur. Tart and creamy lemon mix. Chocolate strawberry. Milky coffee. Blue cheese. Nougat.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Creamy lemon. Bready. Bitter coffee. Cream. Chocolate strawberry. More cocoa as it warms. Nougat and vanilla ice cream.

Conclusion: Terrible. Utterly Terrible. No, not really. Was just saying that to wind up everyone at Independent Spirit. Because I am evil. Anyway, cruel jokes aside – going into this I wasn’t sure if it was their Arran or their Fettercairn cask that was used to barrel age this. I thought the Fettercairn was more likely, as the Arran had only been bottled recently, but wasn’t 100% sure. So, now having sipped this (then confirming with the shop, but sipping is the important part) I am 100% certain it is the Fettercairn. It is unmistakable.

Anyway, will get to that later – as we have something a bit different to the usual Imperial Stout story here; However first we have the fact that up front is is exactly what you expect – A heavy, smoked Imperial Stout that booms, all peaty, forthright and meaty. Tempting, but no hint of the barrel ageing here.

This bold, booming front then soothes down into a creamy, lemony and orange influenced body – utterly shouting the Fettercain influence over the chocolate and coffee notes that you would expect. It wears the weight of the smoke openly, but ends up creamy and sweet heading out into a very different last note on the finish from the peaty smoke that welcomed you on the nose.

This develops even more with time and heat – the smoke style brings subtle blue cheese as it warms, which adds a well used savoury note to go with the sweeter creamy style.

The more traditional chocolate and coffee notes, while there, and more present when warm, actually feel more like a backbone for the more unusual notes to do their work. The smooth texture the barrel ageing brings has given a lot of room for the interesting notes to float. Often a smoother Imperial Stout can feel too light for me, but here it just seems to give room for the lemon,cream and such like to work.

You have a very competently made and very different beer here. Heavy up front, smooth out back with surprises in-between. Very good indeed, and I’m not just saying that to avoid getting barred from the shop.

Background: Bias warning: Independent Spirit jokingly said they would ban me if I gave this a bad review. I am 90% sure they were joking. Probably. Anyway, grabbed from the aforementioned shop this is their collaboration beer of which only 188 Bottles exist. It is a smoked Imperial Stout that has been aged in the cask that previously held Independent Spirit’s Fettercain whisky release. Drunk while listening to Massive Attack: Mezzanine. It is almost cliché by this point to love the opening track – “Angel” but it rocks, and the entire album is wonderful background atmosphere for drinking music.

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