Fade To Black - Volume 1
Left Hand Brewing Company

Fade To Black - Volume 1Fade To Black - Volume 1
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Foreign / Export Stout
Ranked #7
Ranked #3,413
4.1 | pDev: 8.78%
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
Fade To Black - Volume 1Fade To Black - Volume 1
Notes: Volume 1 - Foreign Stout - Pours black with licorice, espresso bean, molasses, and black cardamom notes that give way to a feeling of self loathing, burnt opportunities and smoked relationships. 2010 Gold Medal Winner at the Great American Beer Festival in the Foreign Stout category.
Reviews: 407 | Ratings: 1,058 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of just1cho
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

*Poured into a Teku glass from a 12oz can*

Poured a pitch black color as the name of this beer would imply. Had an impressive two finger thick head which was khaki in color. It had a nice diversity of rocky and micro bubbles and had a good retention to it. Once the head subsided, it left a nice lacing around my cup.

On the nose, I got a bunch of black licorice upfront coupled with sweet roasted malts. There was also hints of sassafras roots, giving me a bit of a root beer, herbal, and earthy vibe to it. I can definitely see people either really enjoying these aromas or absolutely hating it. Unfortunately, I don't particularly like these aromas, but I think Left Hand does well on what they was trying to achieve here.

The taste follows the nose, so the same comments that I made about licorice in the aroma also applies here. There was an espresso-like mellow bitterness upfront which eventually developed into a sweet molasses profile that was complemented nicely with a bit of an earthiness from the licorice in the middle. The flavors then finished by showcasing more of the hop characters of the beer with some grapefruit bitterness and citrus, but were then quickly overshadowed by a deep earthiness from notes of yams, Sumatra coffee, and ash/char.

The feel was honestly a bit chalky for me. It left a bit of a ash-like coating around my mouth and left a very long and lingering bitter and earthy aftertaste, almost medicinal. This was pretty medium bodied with a light carbonation to it, these two things made this quite smooth and drinkable.

If Left Hand were trying to create a very dark, complex, earthy, and ash/char tasting beer, they have definitely succeeded. Personally, I'm not a fan of most of the flavor/taste profiles of this beer, but despite that I still enjoyed/finished this beer. Overall, this was an above average beer that I probably won't buy again, but like I said, I'm just not a fan of the profiles of this beer.

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Photo of CTHomer
3.97/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: opaque; very dark brown in color; a 2 finger medium brown head that receded to a wispy cap; nice lacing;

S: deeply roasted grain and black coffee;

T: a balance between deeply roasted grain, black coffee, and licorice; moderate bitterness on the finish;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation; moderately dry finish; hides the ABV well;

O: nice flavor; smooth;

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Photo of TooManyGlasses
4.04/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A slightly aged can but seems to have held up ok!
Pours a clear very dark brown with finger of tan to mocha head.
Super roasty malt on the nose with coffee, molasses, and a bit of an earthy/herbal note.
Tastes of roasted dark malt, coffee grounds, molasses sweetness, and a touch of licorice before finishing with a bit of earthy, spicy bitterness.
Mouthfeel is medium - thinner than expected for 8.5%, but still a slightly creamy sensation and a hint of espresso bitterness lingers. The age is on me but this is still a quality beer!

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Photo of RaulMondesi
4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Well, this one definitely has flavor, that’s for sure. Son of a gun pops like a weasel. Question is: Is Raul into it? And I think the answer is: I think so. To be honest, I can’t put my pimp finger on what the flavor is. On the can it says that it pours black with licorice, espresso bean, molasses, and black cardamom. And, sure, why not?

So, pretty much like at the end of the day, if I make out with a hottie and she tastes good, what does it matter if I don’t know what kind of toothpaste she uses?


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Photo of jrc1093
3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best before 10/17/20

Pours a clean, glossy black body with mocha brown accents capped with a few fingers of frothy dark khaki foam; great retention fades steadily to a paper-thin cap, slight, creamy collar, and a thin, comprehensive caking of soapy lacing covering the glass.

Aroma opens with a tempered burnt malt tone feeding into prominent highlights of bitter roasted coffee; anise and milk chocolate show a contrastingly sweet and spicy middle fading into a silky roasted malt close.

Taste of dehydrated coffee grounds and moderately roasted malt to start accentuate a brief toasted black bread interlude; dry cocoa sweetness touched by a crackling anise spice on the back end of the palate along with a touch of black licorice and herbal hops.

Mouthfeel shows a roasty medium body balanced with a light-moderate carbonation and a deeply ingrained oily bitterness fleeting in the background; dry and pillowy soft on the palate throughout, and with minimal alcohol presence, though the quick finish is airy and a touch too thin.

What initially appears rough and aggressive ends up calming to a plush, sweetly roasty stout featuring straightforward assertive malts and a sharper hop backdrop seldom giving way to sweeter nuances; a bigger beer executed for palatability and easy presentation of a developing flavor profile.

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Photo of chinchill
3.78/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz can with a BB date stamp on the bottom of October 2020.
Pours with an essentially black body that is topped by a short tan head.
This is a complex, smoky porter with a moderate amount of dark roasted coffee. The aftertaste has burnt toast, expresso, smoke, along with subtle hints of licorice, molasses and bitter chocolate and hops. Medium+ body with medium carbonation.

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Photo of gentlystewed
4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this one into my big ass imperial nonic. The body is a beautiful inky dark ebony topped with a fluffy brown head that doesn't stay long.

The aroma is a cacophony of roasted barley malt, cookie dough, brown sugar, licorice, and just a bit of espresso.

The flavor is everything listed above, along with a healthy offering of cocoa notes. I'm not detecting any hop bite at all and that's just fine because this is fantastic as is.

The mouthfeel is light and somewhat oily in a good way, making this brew smooth like polished stone.

Overall, an incredible stout. This is something I could eagerly drink all damn night long, but would probably pass out on the couch rather early due to the 8.5 abv.

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Photo of HorseheadsHophead
4.43/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black, used motor oil appearance with a creamy brown head. Good retention and lacing.
Smells of bittersweet dark chocolate, black licorice, molasses, and soy sauce.
Huge flavors of dark chocolate, cacao nibs, espresso, and burnt toast. Huge bittersweet roasted flavors. Then black licorice, star anise, savory soy sauce, and then a powerful spicy hop bitterness.
Lightly fizzy carbonation with a slick, creamy mouthfeel.

A perfect imperial stout that flawlessly melds characteristics of American and Russian imperial stouts, and black IPAs.

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Photo of Mindcrime1000
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a can into a tulip.

Volume 1 has apparently returned for 2019 (labelled as "foreign stout).

Pours dark black and heavy, but not motor-oil viscous, with an excellent dark tan/cola head that gives way to sticky, clingy, persistent (need some more) lacing.

Aromas of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, carob, barley, smoke, and char.

The brew straddles the line between an export/foreign stout and an RIS in its flavors. Solid roasted barley and caramel malts on the tip of the tongue quickly surrender to a variety of bitter flavors in mid-stream--espresso, dark chocolate, carob--as well as anise, smoke, and char. As the brew warms, the finish opens up with some additional malty dark fruit sweetness, and just a hint of earthy hops. There is a bit of booze in the background on this one, but very restrained.

The brew is initially medium-full bodied, but it never feels heavy or sticky. It is well carbonated for the style, and has a remarkably drying finish, with some ashy/chalky feel that actually meshes well with the faint malt sweetness. It isn't crisp (how could it be?) but it sure tries hard to get there. Remarkably drinkable for the ABV.

This is a tasty chameleon of a brew. It delivers just a bit too much malty and boozy punch to be relegated to mere export stout status, but its remarkable ashy dryness says this isn't an imperial stout.

Fade to Black is deceptive and difficult to classify. It is a bit strong for an export stout; nevertheless, it exhibits the best attributes of that category. A tasty brew.

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Photo of EnderFett11
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a can into a snifter glass. Effectively black color with three fingers of brownish head that faded after a minute or so. Smells of barley and molasses mostly. Taste is a bit intense at first when it's cold, with more molasses and maybe licorice flavors. As it warms, more malt and molasses flavors come through. A tad bitter for my taste, but overall good. Medium mouthfeel and carbonation. A solid daily stout for a change of pace.

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Photo of dfillius
4.49/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Yum! This is stellar.
A: moderate to increasingly aggressive pour yields pitch black liquid with 1.5” of a lovely cocoa-colored head
S: coffee, cocoa, molasses, licorice for sure, but I don’t really get cardamom. Lovely nonetheless.
T: bitter malts, some hop bitterness. Nice sweetness and rich maltiness to balance it all. This is spot on for style.
M: Amped up bitterness with some mild astringency. Thick and creamy too. Love it.
O: wow, I took a chance on this one, knowing my BIL Graham’s love for it, and stumbled across a gem. Love it. Drinks way easier than it’s 8.5%.

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Photo of Peach63
4.24/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a tan head. Nice lacing as you go. A 550 lumen flashlight couldn't penetrate the glass.

Aroma of roast malts & coffee. No noticeable hop aroma.

Tasted anise (licorice) right off the bat. Also, coffee, molasses, burnt malts.

Creamy mouthfeel with a little bite. Dry finish.

An excellent stout in my book. Another winner from Left Hand.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Best by 10/27/16"; drank 8/14/16 @ the Yarchives.

Black appearance.

A rough pour yielded a nice, dark tan head; strong, frothy lace.

Bakers chocolate, cream & fresh earth notes in the nose.

Medium thick mouthfeel.

Dark chocolate, cream & fresh earth flavors up front; black coffee notes on the finish.

Robust but drinkable; this was like a palatable RIS. I'd have another...

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Photo of Ahypercube
4.71/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Alright, this is worlds better than the other two stouts I've found while living in Colorado. In fact, I'd gamble that this kicks the pants off of anything that's widely produced in the state besides Son of a Baptist, which I still do prefer slightly, but that's been a favorite for a while.

L: Super opaque dark brown body. Looks unfiltered. Head is minimal, but it leaves very nice bands of lacing on the glass. Can art is nice, but not impressive.

S: Spices are notable first, predominantly clove, black pepper and cardamom. A dark chocolate note presents almost simultaneously, followed by dark roast espresso, some black olives, and a hint of molasses and licorice sweetness. Charcoal dominates the finish but some woody tobacco comes through as well.

T: The first impression comes off like semi-sweet chocolate, which is significantly sweeter than the nose suggests (i.e. almost none). Coffee joins quickly, bringing in the black pepper and other spices. As they arrive, the toasted barley notes start to come up and mellow things out. There's a flash of salty black olive, and then charcoal takes over and dominates the finish on the palate as well.

F: Nice creamy texture and clean dry finish. A nearly ideal mouthfeel for a stout.

O: This might be a little tastier than Son of a Baptist. It's hard to say, since that's more coffee forward and this is more focused on the character of the roasted barley malt. Kinda depends on how much coffee you like in your stouts. Regardless, this is a delicious brew. I'd pair it with a fire grilled chicken dish of some sort. Fajitas could work; fettuccini alfredo would be even better.

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Photo of RMehrenberg
4.41/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick opaque blackness. Tiny bit of head but clings to glass well. Scented of coffee and black licorice. Tastes of dark roasted coffee and well blended hops...licorice (gratefully) does not transfer to taste. Warming mouthfeel. Well worth trying again

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Photo of SB2017
3.79/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Not too impressed by the look: kind of like coke zero. Would love to enjoy this on tap instead of poured from a can. Good smell, loads of brightness to balance out the heavily malty base. The beer itself becomes a little overwhelmed with an espresso-like flavor and acidity. This should be billed as more of a coffee stout given its strength. A good stout, and one which I will continue to enjoy, but a little disappointing in one or two regards.

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Photo of MikeWard
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz can into a pint glass. Best by 8/15/19, so plenty fresh.

Black body, small tan head, decent lacing.

There is a pretty strong aroma, but I can't put my finger on what it is. (Then again, I've no idea what black cardoman is supposed to smell like) Pleasant aroma though.

Decent tasting. medium roast malt, faintly bitter, and a nice pepperiness to it. Some spice and faint coffee notes. Also a little smoky.

Mouth between medium and full, finish is roasty, spicy, and slightly bitter.

Overall, one of those beers that I was happy to try, and enjoyed, but not something I'd want to drink more than one of at a time.

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Photo of mushroomcloud
3.93/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz can with a best by date of 9-24-19
Dark brown to black with a 1 1/2" tan head. Great retention and sticky lace left behind.
Roasty, estery nose. Grilled meat, earth, licorice.
Licorice, coffee - espresso, char, faint smoke. Piney hop buried deep in the finish.
Medium body. Lengthy charred finish, touch of sweetness.
Enjoyable, full of flavor and a unique style somewhere between a "regular" stout and a RIS.

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Photo of Riff
4.04/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with a thick, foamy, tan head. Smell is roasted malts, chocolate, hint of smoke, licorice, and dark fruit. Taste is smoke, roasted malt, dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, and licorice. Medium body, moderate carbonation. Delicious example of a foreign stout, certainly glad I grabbed a 6 pack.

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Photo of hman43
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look: It pours dark brown with a brown head Head retention is moderate.

Smell: It has roasted aromas with chocolate notes. There is a very low burnt note in the background. There is also a bit so dark fruit and hint of smoke.

Taste: There are heavy roasted flavors with a hint of smoke and burnt. There is a low amount of alcohol.

Feel: It has a moderate feel with high bitterness in the finish.

Overall, an abundance or roasted flavors with some burnt elements and a bit of smoke.

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Photo of BrewAskew
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a lacey tan head and very dark brown color. Aroma is toasty smoky malts and sweet alcohol. Flavor is a very dry, brandy-like affair featuring the roasted grains throughout. Mouthfeel is medium and CO2 is light. A great dry sipper.

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Photo of HoppingMadMonk
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Completely black color, medium carbonation as well as body. Aroma is roasted malt, licorice, and yeast. Taste is identical, a little bit of coffee which didn't show up in the aroma. The licorice isn't very strong which is a good thing. Definitely needs to warm up which greatly improves the flavor

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Photo of barnzy78
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz can, best by 09/15/2018
Pours near black with a tall & frothy tan head that leaves chunks of lacing on thr glass. Aroma is lots of charred roasted barley, cocoa, and earthy hops. Bold flavors with notes of dark baker's chocolate, roasted barley, espresso, smoke & char, fig, anise, earthy hops, and a hint of vanilla and creamed french roast coffee. Full body, finishes somewhat astringent with roast and smoke lingering. Very solid foreign stout. Glad to come back around to it after a couple of years.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz single can - pretty cool to see more of this brewery's offerings available up here in Alberta.

This beer pours a solid black abyss, with the scantest of amber basal edges, and three fingers of puffy, finely foamy, and bubbly brown head, which leaves some decent splattered snow rime lace around the glass as it evenly bleeds out of sight.

It smells of bittersweet cocoa powder, gritty and grainy caramel malt, day-old coffee grounds, a hint of anise spice, some free-range ashiness, and very tame earthy, weedy, and floral green hops. The taste is bready and doughy caramel malt, medium dark chocolate, acrid cafe-au-lait, ethereal black licorice, some muddled stone fruitiness, wet char, and more understated earthy, musty, and gently lit-up floral verdant hoppiness.

The carbonation is adequate in its palate-satiating frothiness, the body a sturdy middleweight, and more or less smooth, once the smokey character starts to dissipate. It finishes off-dry, but not by all that much, as the malt starts to falter, and the coffee, spice, and charred notes hold fast.

Overall - this comes across as a studious and well-rendered version of the style, with some nicely-restrained roastiness, and the other attendant stout notes duly checked off. Add to that a pleasantly concealed 17-proof booze factor, and, yeah, crank up the mid-80s Metallica, because we have a winner here.

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Photo of mothmanscott
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark brown so dense it appears black. The pour produces 1.5 fingers of somewhat lasting, frothy, mocha head that leaves only a hint of surface cap & lace. Aroma is earthy dark malt, pumpernickel crust, fudge brownies, dark semisweet chocolate & molssses notes with hints of dried figs, coffee, thin floral hop tones & a little smoke. Taste is fronted by dry, dusty cocoa, dark semisweet chocolate, roasted/burnt malt, molasses & smoke followed by mid-sip fudge brownie, licorice, coffee, figs & toffee. Finishes sweet & smooth with burnt bread, watery Hershey's Chocolate Syrup, smoke & licorice hints in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is heavy bodied with medium carbonation, prickly up front with a smoothness developing at midsip & intensifing into the aftertaste, creamy & a little chewy, dry throughout.

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Fade To Black - Volume 1 from Left Hand Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 1058 ratings