Fade To Black (Volume 3 - Pepper Porter) | Left Hand Brewing Company

very good
192 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Fade To Black (Volume 3 - Pepper Porter)Fade To Black (Volume 3 - Pepper Porter)

Brewed by:
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by claytong on 09-28-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 192 | Ratings: 523
Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: There's a little transparency during the pour, but it settles pretty black with only a little bit of tan fizz on top.

S: Some chocolate malt and nutty undertones linger on the nose pleasantly, but the pepper is more reminiscent of an astringent nitrogen beer than it is spicy.

T/M: Low to medium carbonation, sweet caramel and chocolate maltiness primarily approach up front while hazelnut floats on the tongue for the finale.

It's not entirely thick and the pepper adds more of an astringent quality, but it's good nonetheless.


 585 characters

Photo of Daniellobo
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice pepper porter, good range with noticeable pepper but never hindering the brew.

Presentation: 12 oz brown capped bottle. Black and white label with an elaborate line illustration, almost a pattern-like range akin to some tattoo styles. Notes generic list of ingredients, and bottling date of 11/03/2011. Served in a tulip glass.

A - Black pour with deep brown edges, short frothy head with small retention, faint surface memory save a thin surface ring and some splashes of lacing.

S - Soft roasted note, coffee, bitter sweet hint and the pepper emerges… A bit shy at first but it is fairly pleasing.

T - Nice long roasted sense,coffee and chocolate rather gently with a nice soft peppery dash over the bitter counterbalance, as one progresses the pepper complexity grows but never overwhelms, complementing the taste rather nicely.

M - Medium/full body with a creamy sense, and a long sense in the finish.

O - Very pleasing flow, enticing with a noticeable pepper element that does not overpower the Porter sense, and yet provides a nice, soft and lingering pepper aftertaste in the palate.

Notes: Still well worth trying, and a nice yearly offering. I personally lean towards the smoked nature of volume II but this is very nice too, well crafted, and well worth the try. Glad to find it out of the blue, after the release date somewhere in VA.

 1,359 characters

Photo of 57md
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is black with a ruby hue. There is a finger of head with no retention. There is a mild scent of herbal smoke in the nose. There is roasted malt upfront followed quickly by a strong chili pepper burn in the finish. This is quite a unique offering with a flavor profile for the on-tap version that is far more distinct than the bottled version.

 353 characters

Photo of jaasen64
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from a 6-pack

A- Pours a dark black with absolutely no head, very little carbonation, and not much in terms of lacing.

S- smells like a typical pilsner- coffee, chocolate, malts.

T- Light coffee, chocolate, and licorice taste (not nearly as much as I expected from the smell) with a lot of underlying tastes. The pepper definitely adds a nice underlying slightly spicey kick to it that remains as an aftertaste.

M- Medium bodied, a tiny bit lighter then I expected, smooth, drinkable, and nicely balanced between the sweetness and slight spiciness. Surprised when I saw the 7.5% ABV, definitely well hidden.

O- This was an interesting offering from Left Hand. I've always been a fan of their milk stout. While their Fade to Black wasn't as good, it definitely didn't disappoint. The smell and appearance were pretty typical for a pilsner, but the taste was what was truely unique. The beer had a typical sweet pilsner taste too it but the pepper definitely added a unique light kick. Left Hand did a good job at making the pepper not too strong so that it balanced nicely with the sweetness.

The only beer I can compare to this one is the Chili Tats from Wormtown that I had at EBF. That beer was basically a stronger version of this (higher ABV, way more kick, and a little bit sweeter). While I liked the take on both beers, I think it would be interesting if Left Hand made a little bit stronger version of this beer in the future. I liked the Chili Tats but it definitely had a little bit too much kick to it (my mouth was almost burning afterwards), I think a balance between the two would be perfect (ie- increase the sweetness a little bit, but keep the kick around the same level).

 1,709 characters

Photo of mtstatebeer
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Growler pour from Vintage Estate, Boardman, OH. Pours a black color with a decent, fizzy brown head, decent lacing. Aroma is roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, pepper (a bit medicinal), nutty, licorice, and earthy. Flavor is chocolate, jalapeno, smoke, licorice, and a hint of earthiness. Pepper opens up as the beer warms. Medium bodied and creamy mouthfeel. Heat sticks around for a decent while. Good beer.

 407 characters

Photo of Dmart1223
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not my favorite kind of beer, but it was pretty tasty for what it was.

This is a daaaark beer, with barely any lining at all, and a thick mocha head. It smells sweet and peppery, with that dark malt smell you'd expect from a porter.

It tastes rich and peppery, with a solid malt backbone that takes a lot of the charcoal harshness out of it. The pepper hits midway through and sticks around for awhile though.

Overall, it's a pepper beer. Like I said, I prefer other kinds, but it's pretty easy to drink nonetheless.

 522 characters

Photo of kemoarps
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark cola colour with minimal head. What little head there is, though, leaves good lacing as I drink.

The smell is creamy, almost sweet but not quite. I pick up notes of burnt chocolate and a bit of coffee.

This beer tastes fairly similar to how it smells. Burnt coffee, dark chocolate, and just a hint of sweet cream. This is where you notice the smoky little pepper zip on the back end.

As aforementioned, there is that little zip to compliment a fairly creamy brew. I like it. The pepper makes it's presence known, but subtly. Worth checking out.

 561 characters

Photo of diamondc
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Almost black, tan mocha colored head. About half a fingers worth of foam left over from the pour.

S: Dark chocolate, coffee roast, licorice, a hint of pepper at the end. After warming up a bit the chiles really come out, almost fruity and smokey.

T: This beer really needs to warm up for the spiciness to come through. Poured straight out of the fridge, you get the standard chocolate roast flavors from a typical porter. Warmed up after 10 or so minutes, the spiciness tickles my tongue and back of my mouth. Subtle, but different.

M: Creamy, yet not very heavy. Carbonation is spot on for the style.

O: A well done porter. Doesn't hit you the head with the chile peppers. Only found this one in singles, worth a six pack purchase.

 742 characters

Photo of TATURBO
3.49/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into New Glarus Pint Glass.

Apperance: Pours a dark solid black with very minimal head.

Smell: I ranked this kind of low but I just didn't get much out of it. Just a bit of Chocolate scent. Could be due to using a pint glass instead of a snifter...

Taste: Dark Chocolate, no hops. Bit of tang from the pepper which leads to a mild heat/kick in the aftertaste. Can feel it a bit in the back of my throat. Minimal carbonation.

Mouthfeel: Average +. Really about right for a porter. Not too thick or thin.

Overall: Solid Porter base with nice flavor. The Pepper adds it's own flavor to the beer that I like. Really like this beer. Definitely would buy again. Bottle I used for this review was not dated but I'd had it a few months in my cellar before finally getting to it.

 782 characters

Photo of warnerry
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours dark brown with one finger of tan head. Head doesn't last long and leaves minimal lacing.

S - Aroma is chocolate, roasted malts and coffee. Bit of a sweet cream aroma as well.

T - Coffee more prevalent here than in the aroma. Actually drinks a bit like a coffee milk stout. After the initial coffee with cream taste,, more roasted malts and chocolate come through, with a nice subtle pepper bite coming in near the finish.

M - Medium mouthfeel that is quite creamy. Finish is a bit more dry and roasty.

O - This is an enjoyable beer that uses the pepper component wisely, adding just a touch of heat without being distracting.

 640 characters

Photo of Aml42000
2.98/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark brown, a bit translucent against a light.

S- A bit shy on the nose. Some smoke and roasted aromatics.

T- If you like smokey flavor, this is the beer for you. An interesting component, but at the expense of everything else, not so much.

M- Medium bodied and a bit thin for porter. High carbonation. Nothing special.

O- A decent porter, but not my favorite left hand offering. Would drink one if poured, but would not seek out in the future.

 455 characters

Photo of nsabo
2.5/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Smokey, roasted grains, coffee, faint vanilla, and spicy cloves that mix for an instant with the pepper. The pepper is obvious after the first sip, and the more I drink the more the pepper takes over, coating the back of my throat. It brings a different (not bad) heat to the beer, but it also stunts my palate, I don’t think I could switch over to another beer after drinking this. Medium thin mouthfeel. About halfway through this beer, the pepper has almost completely taken over and I’m bored.
Years ago, I tried LH’s first FtB export stout. It was excellent, and just about everyone agrees it’s the best of this FtB series. Just like I said about Stone’s Belgo-Anise RIS, bravo for experimenting, now cross this experiment off your list and bring back the tastier beer you had before!

 799 characters

Photo of devinoconnor
3.74/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pitch black color with brow foamy head with dissipates quickly from the bottle.

Smell is complex, and interesting. Cherry and coffee dominate the nose with bitter notes as well.

Taste is mocha/coffee with strong pepper notes on the finish. Pepper is rather bitter, but overall rather smooth for the amount of flavors going on in this porter.

 352 characters

Photo of Gmann
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown color with some ruby highlights. The toasted khaki head is dense and leaves some sticky lacing on the glass as it slowly dissipates.

The aroma is woody, wet bark, with a hint of smoke and charred meat. There is some lactose and brown sugar scents. Nice earthy aroma.

The taste is quite nice. Solid toasted pumpernickle porter base with some lactose notes. Lots of wet wood flavor with some brown sugar sweetness. There is a subtle vegetale note and a touch of spice. These are quite light and add a nice touch to the porter. A sour lemony edge finishes off the flavor profile.

Well bodied with soft carbonation, quite smooth. Good balance between sweet malt and roasty bitterness.

This is a very good earthy porter. I like the hint of the pepper, it is well done. I wish I was able to have the first two from this series.

 844 characters

Photo of tempest
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a glass at Crescent & Vine. I enjoyed the previous Fade to Blacks, but wasn't terribly excited about them. This impressed me though, with a deeper chocolate character. There was a tasty roasted barley up front, and peppery heat in the finish, and then cooled hot chocolate between. It's the smooth, almost milky, cocoa that gets me—it's not something I'm used to finding in a porter, but damn it's good. Check this out, if you don't mind a little heat.

 458 characters

Photo of cmiley123
4.73/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark color with little carbonation. Smell's like a typical porter, but that is where the typical ends. The toasted malt tastes great with a perfect balance of pepper spice that stays with you for a minute or two. I love pepper beers, and I believe this one is the best one I've had. I hope Left Hand brings this back sometime.

 334 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.24/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a very dark brown, appearing black. Thin film of a head, little carbonation, leaves a thin ring around the glass, faint lacing. Aroma of toasted malt, light chocolate. Flavor is dark roasted malt, coffee and chocolate with a rapidly developing hop pepper zing. Finishes with a light pepper and hop bite. Flavor seems somewhat subdued, but the pepper component makes itself evident just in time to completely redeem the flavor. Medium bodied with a surprising carbonation tingle, because there was little evident carbonation or head. The hop pepper lingers pleasantly on the palate. Nicely done.

 634 characters

Photo of Pencible
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This poured a nearly opaque black, with only a bit of tan head.
S: It smelled like dry roasted coffee and bitter dark chocolate, with some licorice and chili pepper and pumpernickel.
T: It tasted like licorice and roasted coffee, with some bitter dark chocolate and rich molasses, and a little chili pepper. It had a clean and sweet aftertaste, with some spicy heat and lingering bitterness.
M: It was fairly thick with moderate carbonation. Nice full body.
D: This was a nice stout with good scent and taste and great body. I didn't realize at first that it was brewed to be spicy, so that took me by surprise, but I really enjoyed it. Not too noticeable in the scent or up front in the taste, but added a good touch of spice in the finish. Age may help mellow this beer, but then it would lose its unique character, so recommended fresh. I'd call it a stout more than a porter, but either way I enjoyed it.

 911 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 1.5 finger thick head on a near jet black body. Very nice lacing.

S: nice smokey with vanilla note

T: smokey and peppery. Just the right of peppercorn flavoring. Mild dried fruit flavor as well. Nice bite in the finish.

M: full body and moderate carbonation.

Overall this is a nice peppery porter with just the right amount of people. Well made

 354 characters

Photo of Lawl3ss
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lightly chilled 12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip pint. Bottling date 9.23.11.

Look- After a vigorous pour, I'm left with two fingers of beige head that starts fizzy but settles to a dense half-inch of foam before dissolving completely a minute or so later. Beer itself is a dark, dark brown that's almost opaque. Decent amount of webby lacing.

Smell- Wood smoke smell is strong, reminiscent of ash logs. I also get burnt whole bean coffee, white pepper, and a hint of something bordering on fruity but more akin to lightly roasted pistachio. Not sure that makes sense, but that's the only analogy I'm pulling out of my skull. Subtly nutty with an sweet/acidic twang that might be a hint of hops blending with the roasty notes. It's an interesting mix, but there's something off-putting about it, for me at least.

Taste- Quite sweet and coffee-centric at the start of the sip, but rolls through a surprising number of medium-to-dark malt and subtle hop flavors before a light chili presence comes through to emphasize the strong dark chocolate backbone. I'm feeling almond, aniseed, lime, cola, malted milk, burnt toast, and Butterfinger candy in a number of strengths and combinations that come and go in turns. Quite nice, actually. Unfortunately, the aftertaste is akin to sweet roasted envelope glue. That might just be my interpretation of the lingering sweetness playing poorly with the peppery finish, but it seems like a decent description from my current perspective.

Mouthfeel- Medium body, moderate carbonation that all comes out on the front of the sip. Smooth, bordering on creamy. Substantial heat on the back end, as expected, but not sharp or even overtly peppery. Tongue-coating and rather cloying once the embers subside, however. Still manages to feel fairly dry, which is probably that rascally pepper presence. Drinks like a chili-laced Dirty Black Russian cocktail.

Overall- An interesting interpretation, to be sure, but it's not meshing quite well enough to turn my palate, and it's not particularly easy-drinking. Worth trying, for sure, and I'd give it a shot on tap or nitro, but I don't think I'll drop $7 on a sixer again, despite the nice price point. +.5 to the brewers for adventurousness. With some tweaking this one could be stellar.

 2,273 characters

Photo of TippySelenoid
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

This beer pours black with a tan head that leaves a nice ring of suds. Very nice lacing.

This beer smells a bit of chocolate. There is also some smoky notes.

This beer doesn't really taste like pepper and at first that was disappointing. The beer has a pretty strong smoke flavor. As the beer warms there are a lot of chocolate flavors that come out.

The beer is pretty thick. It's carbonation is adequate. There is a dry finish. This beer also leaves a warm feeling from the pepper (there it is!), it reveals itself as heat.

This beer's really nice. I'd like more pepper flavor, but what I did get was still an enjoyable pour.

 658 characters

Photo of captenaj
3.94/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I purchased this bottle at Total Wine in Fort Myers, FL, based on the BA rating posted in the store.

A: Pours very dark, almost black, with a minimal head

S: Subtle smell. Not coffee nor chocolate, which is what I expected from something this dark.

T: Very smooth taste and, again, subtle. Subtle until after it's down then peppery on the back of the tongue.

M: Not too full but definitely something there. Good.

O: Very tasty beer that goes down smooth. A little too peppery for my taste but a nice surprise.

 514 characters

Photo of jmdrpi
3.35/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. there' s a spot on the label for a date, but it's blank. doh!

pours black, but light gets through the edges. thin cream colored head that fades fast. aroma is smokey and peppery, like chipotle. but not too strong.

pepper is subtle in the taste. mostly standard roasted malt flavor typical of a porter. but instead of coffee or chocolate notes - it's just sorta smokey. medium body and carbonation that works well.

overall - interesting, but nothing special. one was enough.

 492 characters

Photo of gustogasmic
4.09/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby black. Tiny amount of small bubbles do not stick at all and match the beer well in color.

Smells awesome. Lots of black licorice and sour spice. No chocolate and minimal coffee.

Hits the nose with hops and red pepper heat immediately, which instantly fades to roasty, burnt flavors on the tongue. Becomes sweet as it lingers but stays dark and smoky.

Feels perfect- a big swallow goes down well and turns to small bubbles in the back of your mouth/ throat, stinging a bit with the booze and hops while exerting insane amounts of carbon, ash, burnt vibe. Dry leave. Carbonation throughout.

 598 characters

Photo of One2Remeber
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark black body with a dark brown hue. Creamy, coco, tan colored head. Bubbly and doesn't stay around too long as it fades after a couple minutes to a filmy ring on the edge. Sticky lace ring after each sip.

S: Chili peppers dominate the aroma off the bat. Rich chocolate malts in the undertone. Smells creamy like fluffy oatmeal. Not too familiar with different spice aromas but I can feel it burn my nostrils.

T: Creamy, milk chocolate taste up front. Chili peppers come in after swallow which is accompanied by a lingering burn. Not as intense burn as most chile beers but lingers longer than most.

M: Very light body, great for a porter. Mouth feel really distinguishes itself from a stout. The smooth, light malt backbone lets all the spices really shine.

O: Impressed:) I was blown away with Vol 2 Smoked Baltic last year and this Pepper Porter is by far Left Hand's best offering IMO. You can tell a lot research went into each pepper in how to compliment each other. Lots of unique flavor mixing together yet not over the top making me come back for more. I had a six pack awhile ago and was satisfied but draft is where it is at! Relatively smoother and peppers are more accentuated.

 1,203 characters

Fade To Black (Volume 3 - Pepper Porter) from Left Hand Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 523 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.