Independence runs deep

Left Hand maintains autonomy, honors Naval crew with new brew labels

By Kyle Kirves

If, like me, the back window of your Colorado fun wagon is a veritable passport of stickers hyping bands, brands and brews, then it’s undoubtedly dotted with a few “stamps” from breweries near and far. One of those passport punches on mine is the left palm on a circle of white that, at one time, instantly signaled you’d made safe conduct through Longmont. 

Yet with sightings worldwide, that iconic handprint sticker is less a symbol of where you’re from or where you’ve been, but rather that you love great beer produced in just one place: on the banks of the mighty St. Vrain. Thankfully, that red southpaw remains clearly visible on every bottle and can of Longmont’s original craft brewery. 

Make no mistake: there’s only one Left Hand Brewing. And they plan to keep it that way. 

“We are very vocal about being proudly independent. Proudly employee owned.Proudly brewed right here,” says Britt Freeman, creative manager and marketer at Left Hand Brewing. “And we wanted to send that message with a special beer and a label that clearly states our position on who we are and what we stand for.” 

Enter a new offering, Rye on the Prize, an Imperial Red Rye ale created and packaged to reemphasize Left Hand’s 23-year commitment to creating beer that people will not just like, but love. Moreover, it suggests the autonomous spirit in which Left Hand continues to operate philosophically. 

The label blazes with the kind of fiery red eye you’d expect to be resistant to all forms of hypnotism. And you’ll find one of Left Hand’s driving mottos, “Righteously Independent,” which circumscribes the reddened pupil on the bottle label. 

While Rye on the Prize is certainly a message to consumers about Left Hand’s commitment to craft, is LHB also putting brewers on notice who have sold to Big Beer? 

“Let’s just put it that the Left Hand Brewing you see today, the people working here, crafting world-class beer, the owners, everyone, will be the same people doing this 10, 20 years from now. We’re in this for the long haul,” said Freeman. 

Long hauls seem to be something of a running theme for Left Hand, too. Pride Runs Deep, a sister beer of Rye on the Prize in LHB’s “Big Mo” series, was brewed to commemorate the commissioning and crew of the USS Colorado, an attack sub tasked with missions sometimes months in length -- what’s a longer haul than that? 

“The sub will be fully commissioned in 2017,” Freeman says. “And we’ve been doing events with the commission for quite some time now. We’ve even had some of the Naval Academy officers help us with the brewing process. We’re really proud of our connection and association with the USS Colorado Commission and what it’s meant for us and them.” 

True to their mission of community service, Left Hand donates a portion of the proceeds from Pride Runs Deep to the crew and families of the Colorado. Call it a salute, if you will, to the brave men and women who preserve our freedoms every day. 

Freeman explains that the label design has evolved over time, with feedback from the commission and input from local brand experts Moxie Sozo. The namesake sub on the label is almost zeppelin-like, cradled in the hands of some cloud-like waves, while the signature twin peaks of Meeker and Longs loom in the background. Pine trees cleverly rendered like hop buds complete the picture. It’s creatively paradoxical, but works as a complete picture of the complex IPA, brewed with Colorado pine tips, and the occasion for which this special brew rolled out. It’s worthy of both the state and the sub that bears its name. 

Since 1993, LHB has remained committed to creating memorable, old-world beers in a variety of styles, flavors, and formulas, first and foremost for just one person: you. With Rye on the Prize and Pride Runs Deep, LHB amplifies and augments that mission, loudly voicing their fiercely autonomous craft-focus, and dedication to community service. Regardless of what direction any brewing industry forecast might suggest, I can tell you that with beers like these, I’ll be turning Left. 

Kyle Kirves is a solid dude who believes drinking beer should be a “five senses” experience.