Fade To Black - Volume 4
Left Hand Brewing Company

Fade To Black - Volume 4Fade To Black - Volume 4
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American Black Ale
3.73 | pDev: 13.94%
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Fade To Black - Volume 4Fade To Black - Volume 4
Notes: Rocky Mountain Black Ale
Reviews: 73 | Ratings: 403 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of mothmanscott
3.6/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque deep brown producing a single finger of frothy but thin, shortlived, tan head that leaves minimal lace other than a surface collar. Aroma is roast, chocolate, nuts, faint coffee & a faint hint of hops. Taste is roast, chocolate, some hop notes of citrus & a little pine backed by hints of anise, nuts, toffee/caramel & a degree of fruitiness I can't pin down. Nicely balanced between sweet & bitter. Medium bodied with medium-high carbonation it is smooth & thinly creamy but lively.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.95/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #72 (Jan 2013):

The next volume in Left Hand’s series of black beers, this dark ale is brewed with Rocky Mountain water, malted barley, malted wheat, hops and yeast. Personally, we’d like to see the wheat dialed back on this one. It’s very tannic and paired with a dry malt and hop-centric profile creates an unbalanced, harsh brew.

STYLE: American Black Ale
ABV: 6.5%

LOOK: Opaque, pitch black, tan head and lacing

SMELL: Herbal, roasty, straw

TASTE: Smooth, crisp, bitter, pine, resin, light citric, roasty, coffee, earthy, bone dry, aspirin, astringent, husky, tannic

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Photo of goochpunch
3.04/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours out almost black with a khaki frothed milk head. Smells strongly of crystal malt. Very toasty, with a bit of a roasted twang. Smells heavily of fruity esters. PNW hops in the nose, as well. Flavor is big on chocolate, toast, citrus/pine hops, and lots of jelly fruity esters. Mouthfeel is sticky. Could use more carbonation. Too sweet overall, and the flavors don't meld together well. Not a fan.

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Photo of smcolw
3.63/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours near black with a tan head. No light passes. There's some streaky ring lace but the head is quite modest, settling into only rim bubbles.

Mild smell of predominantly crystal malt--sweet and nutty. The color belies the smell.

The taste features dark chocolate and some background floral hop. The aftertaste reminds me of the experience of eating dark chocolate. Neutral body with ample bubbles.

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Photo of MrBoz21
3.19/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Color - black with copper hue. Thin white head quickly faded into light skiff. A bit murky.

Aroma: Diacetyl. Light nutty roast, hint of molasses.

Taste: Apple hiding behind roast. Molasses, resiny-grassy hops.

Mouth: Dry and tingly. Thin-ish ... not creamy.

Overall: Sorry to say I'm a bit disappointed. Not as much balance and interplay with flavors as I think should have. Astringent.

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Photo of whoahwhat
3.42/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thin tan head when poured that dissipates almost immediately. Nutty coffee scent, does smell very much like a stout, and flavors like a stout. I feel like it's missing something but I can't put my finger on it. Not a very complex flavor, but not bad either. Strong coffee notes stand out the most, little bit of carbonation, hint of hops. It's alright.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.51/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Comes out of the tap an opaque coffee brown with a thin tan head. Aroma had notes of roast malt and quality coffee plus a snip of hops. Flavor has rich mocha and hop notes, like the best stout mixed with the best IPA, plus caramel, nutty, earthy and licorice tones and a fruity hint. Not too sweet, not too bitter. Firm texture is quite smooth and quite fizzy, leaving a hoppy mocha finish. Don’t fade away, drink one!

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Photo of GorgonSed
3.44/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A - Jet black and opaque. Head disappears quickly. Head is thin and light.

S - Smells like a stout. Roasted chocolate, nuts, grain.

T - Starts out like a stout but doesn't develop as much. Flavor stays the same, roasted chocolate, I want to say barley, nutty finish. Little bite as you take the sip.

M - Thinner than expected from it's look but still some weight to it. I'm expecting a stout mouthfeel every time and not getting it.

O - I like it. Like a stout but different. I tend to like Left Hand's offerings.

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Photo of shacawgo24
4.16/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

A-Black as outer space. Held to light you cannot see through. Dark brown edging. Barely perceptible carbonation bubbles shoot up beautifully giving an appearance of a star spangled dark universe. Head is collar thick and brown. One can stare deep into this beer for minutes.

S-Basic notes of cocoa beans, coffee grounds, caramel malts, alky. These smells don't grab your nose per se, but are detectable. Wish it smelled more mind blowing. Meets the bar.

T-Initial taste and smell join hand in hand sharing the same ingredients. Cocoa, coffee, caramel malt. Further sips, a medium bitter finish reminiscent of IPA hops. Bitter chocolate let's say. Wheat and rye grown on the palate. Resin and smoke billow out to the edges. Some sugar here. Smooth flavors.

M-Black velvet envelops your tongue. A creamy body. With time thins out, but this is good because it's an ale, not a stout/porter. You experience both spectrum sides with the mouthfeel.

O-Not a typical cocoa/coffee/malt dark beer. The use of field grains and hops come to play as welI. I sum it up to being ironically Left Hand Milk Stout without the milk. With a bitter start and finish. Left Hand is on the forefront when it comes to mouthfeel in beer. Look and feel standout most.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Served on tap in a pint glass

Appearance – The beer is served a super deep brown, nearly pitch black color with a one finger of tan colored head. The head fades relatively quickly leaving a good level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass

Smell – The aroma is light overall, but consists of some roasted malt smells as well as a bit of a caramel sweetness. Rounding out these aromas are some very light vanilla, coffee, and chocolate as well.

Taste – The taste begins with a sweeter caramel and light chocolate flavor mixed with some roasted malt tastes. A vanilla sweetness quickly comes to the tongue as well as a creamier like flavor, producing a somewhat sweet and roast chocolate like taste on the tongue. A bit of coffee comes to the tongue more toward the end as well as a little bit of a more citrus hop taste with the combination bittering up the taste ever so lightly. In the end the mix of flavors leaves a rather present and smooth sweeter chocolate and roasted flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer is average in terms of thickness and creaminess with a carbonation level that is rather average as well. Both are a nice for keeping it a very easy drinking brew, although a lightly thicker body may have accentuated the darker flavors a bit better in light of the sweeter flavors. Overall however it was quite enjoyable.

Overall – A rather nice and tasty black ale that is very porter like in my opinion. Tasty and one to try if you get the opportunity.

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Photo of MartzMimic
3.63/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into a tulip. Dark doesn't begin to describe it, as the light on my phone couldn't pierce the blackness. Off-white foamy head that dissipated a little sooner than I would have expected based on other reviews. Smells of chocolate, coffee, plum and licorice. Burnt coffee and chocolate predominate the initial taste, but turns to hoppy bitterness that lingers. A bit of carbonation, but it really coats the tongue. I'm not really sure what this beer is trying to be. I don't dislike it, but it feels a little muddled.

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Photo of chugalug06
2.62/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

A good appearance. Black as night brew, a bit thin. Head has lots of volume. Head falls fast and is made of thin loose foam. Lacing is nice, but uneven.

Roasty, toasty, and far from style... Lots of burnt chocolate. Not a bad aroma, just not on style.

Nice backend bitterness. Front flavors are wet, forward, roasty and dark chocolate flavors. Creamy, earthy, coffee, slightly dirty, and milky. Carbonation is much too high, sweetness is close to too much, and bitterness is absent for the most part. Again, far off style.

This is ABA needs more substance and needs to drink less like a Milk Stout. It's good, just not on style. Recommended, just not to style.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 11/7/2012. Pours pitch black color with a 2 finger dense tan head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big grapefruit, orange zest, dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee, floral, pine, char, and floral/roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and hop notes; with good strength. Taste of grapefruit, orange zest, dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee, floral, grass, light pine, char, and floral/roasted earthiness. Fair amount of pine/roast bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of citrus zest, dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, roasted malt, light pine, floral, char, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice balance and complexity of hop and roasted flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a creamy, lightly sticky, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an excellent Black IPA style. All around great balance and complexity of hop and roasted malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of bcsbeer
4.31/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured black with a healthy dark head. Good retention and lacing.
At first sip I knew I was in for a treat. It had all the dark roasted goodness of a quality porter with notes of coffee, dark chocolate and roasted malts followed up with a light hop bitterness in the aftertaste. Mouth feel was solid, it had a nice weight to it, silky and easy to swallow. Very drinkable. I'm headed back to the store for more.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.02/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Single bottle from Merchants Fine Wine in Dearborn, MI, alongside a few other Left Hand brews I have yet to have the pleasure to have tried.

Poured into a nonic. Nearly black indeed, with a sturdy half inch of cappucino foam which settles into a thick ring with lots of sticky lace. Great looking brew, for certain.

Nose is a mix of the citric and piney hops of a cascadian dark with the coffee, chocolate and dry roastiness of an English porter.

I enjoyed this one a great deal, simply because it drank so much like a porter. Hearty, bitter brew, with a nice pine-grapefruit-earthy hop finish. Nice coffee and chocolate notes as well. Dry, very flavorful. Medium bodied, mild carbonation, good feel to it.

Fine example of the black ale style. Hops and dark ale base work well together.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.07/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

What a nice black fade in. This is black with loads of white lace. Nice. The aroma is hoppy and roasty. Also nice.

The taste is bitter roasty as well, and lingers nicely as a nice bitter, almost licorice flavor. Overall, this is less over the top than American styles often are but it is quite good and balanced. I would definitely get this again.

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Photo of FLima
4.09/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Very deep black color with a thick caramel head with eternal retention and leaving a wall of laces.
Delicious aroma of dark chocolate, not so hoppy relatively to its style.
Good flavor of roasted and smoked malts, but here with a decent amount of hops, though not aggressive. Notes of pines and coffee. Dry and bitter aftertaste with a long lasting coffee taste.
Full malty body with medium carbonation.
Excellent Black IPA, flavorful with a nice punch without knocking you numb.

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Photo of chefhatt
3.55/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I poured this beer into a glass, it is black as night with a small tan head that quickly dissaperead. The smell has a roasty, chocolate aroma to it. The taste has a roasty malt taste and chocolate up front, then followed by a little bit of hops, not to much just a hint of them. This drinks more like a stout than a black ale.
The mouthfeel is very nice, rolls off the tonuge good and overall a pretty good beer.

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Photo of gleemonger
4.05/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As the name implies, this one is almost totally black, just the slightest bit of brown coming through. Very small tan head that goes away pretty quickly. Not much lacing.

Chocolatey with some roasted malts. Smells more like a stout - not picking up any hops. Not super complex, but smells pretty tasty.

Like the nose, mostly chocolate and dark roasted malts. Not really any hops at all except for some bitterness. Kind of tastes like an Irish stout, but with a touch of chocolate. Again, good, but not what I'd expect from the style.

Pretty full bodied with lighter carbonation and a pretty smooth and creamy feel.

Pretty nice, I guess my only problem is that I don't get the hops at all in this one, so I'm not sure why they'd call it an ABA, unless it's an old bottle and the hops died back. If I were to measure it in the Irish stout style, I think I'd like it much better and for that reason, I'd say it's just a pretty damn good beer.

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Photo of screamking
3.77/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into glass.

Thick khaki head, above a black sea of beer. The head stays quite awhile leaving tons of dark lacing on the glass. Lots of chocolate and coffe on the nose. This drinks very easy, even easier than a porter. Not as much coffee in the taste, but still lots of bitter chocolate. The aftertaste falls a bit flat, none of the notes seem to linger. Glad I got to try this one out and I will be looking for more in this series.

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Photo of WoodBrew
4.15/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The vol. 4 is a great porter....I look forward to this release every year. This vintage seems to be a bit more hoppy than in years past. The beer pour an opaque black with thin off white head that is leaving a spotty lace. The scent is happier than most Baltic porters...yet still has coffee and peat tones. The taste start bitter quickly followed by coffee and espresso which then a peppery spice settles in on the follow through. The mouthfeel is full bodied with subtle carbonation. Overall this is another good year for the FTB!

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.96/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Puffy, creamy, lumpy purple-tinged tan head that clings like mad over black body.
Orange oil, charcoal, plum and a bit of burnt rubber on the nose.
Black currant, ash, and black bread then pine sap, more orange oil and resin for hops.
Prune juice finish and charcoal bitter linger.
Medium, chewy, silky, some oil.

Snakey hops underneath a lot of black. Another way of saying this is surprisingly deep. Too many dark notes, but above par for LH.

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Photo of RWLawman
3.29/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A - Just about jet black, with a generous white head that sticks around for the majority of the experience. Scattered lacing left behind on the glass.

S - Some chocolate and roasted malts, but to me the piney hops stand out the most.

T - Chocolate, roasted malts, maybe a little grain, but finishes with a noticeable piney hop bite. I'm not a huge fan of pine hops, but it's not enough to absolutely kill the beer.

M - A little sticky, moderate mouthfeel, with a little creamy texture as well.

O - A "not bad" beer. Not something I'd seek out again, but it wasn't too bad.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.82/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Brewed on the banks of the mighty St. Vrain. Fade to black. That time of year when the light fades away. Brewed for the darkness, Fade to Black speaks in volumes." Brewed in the style of a Cascadian Black Ale. Fourth individual installment in the annually released series. This early winter release resembles dark ales, but this is the first year that it doesn't showcase a "porter" of some kind.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a snifter. Served north of 55º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a creamy mocha brown head over a very dark brown, near black. Nice thin curtain of lacing and good head retention makes this an appetizing-looking beer. 4.25

(Smell) Aroma is certainly indicative of a black ale, with bitter, roasty malts, a moderate level of resiny and piney hops and a mild bready yeast profile with a hint of diacetyl, not uncommon in my experience with the style. Notably more sweet than the average black ale, this one leans a bit more towards a chocolatey malt-forward black ale than a hop-led beer but comes off with a nice balance and no perceptible undesirables. Potency is medium. 4

(Taste) Flavor is notably shallower on the sweetness of the malt body and instead has a light roasted chocolate, mild caramel and lightly toasted black malt blend for a slightly lighter body, but finishes with a forward resiny and hop character, a key player in the flavor which may not be to everybody's liking. A bit lighter on flavor than I was hoping for, I had my hopes set on fulfilling the malt aroma I picked up on earlier, as this one goes much lighter in flavor than expected, despite maintaining a nice balance. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Goes for a mild carbonation presence, mildly airy, slightly creamy with a medium dry finish accentuated with a resiny hop bitterness. Body is slightly below medium for the style and medium/heavy overall. Alcohol presence is very low, thoroughly concealed by the hop blend. Slightly lower body than I had hoped for, but the carbonation is right by the style and makes up for it. 4

(Overall) This would have been a top-notch beer provided the malt body had kept in line with the aroma, which was very sweet and chocolate-forward. The end result is enjoyable, but not extraordinary for the style, going for high drinkability and showcasing a bold hop resin undertone. It's certainly quite good for what it is, but it could have been much more unique with a bolder malt presence. 4

Left Hand Brewing Company's
Fade To Black Ale Volume 4: Rocky Mountain Black Ale

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Photo of DenverLogan
4.47/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 22 oz bottle. Poured in Great Divide tulip glass.
Pours black with big brown head that lingers with lace.
Aroma of dark roasted malts and chocolate.
Modest carbonation and significant mouthfeel.
Flavors of dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bitter malts. Overall very smooth and tasty...goes down easy yet has rich flavors...will have to taste next to Tommyknocker's Hop Strike.

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Fade To Black - Volume 4 from Left Hand Brewing Company
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 403 ratings