Left Hand Brewing Co.’s “Black Jack Porter”

December 31, 2013

It was a few years ago and I was out at the Pensacola Greyhound Track playing low-stakes poker. As a rule, I don’t drink any alcoholic beverages while playing as booze can loosen inhibitions and convince me to sit in on hands that I know better than to play. Except this time, I was up pretty nice in chips and only intended on sticking around for another hour, so when I wandered by their bar and spotted Left Hand Black Jack Porter in their cooler, I made an exception.

As someone who’s been a beer geek for a long time, I always have my ear to the ground. There isn’t much in terms of beer news happening around here that escapes my attention. That night in the poker room, I had cause to get excited over finding Left Hand. Not only is it largely – and unfortunately – uncommon to find actual craft beer in such an environment, but I had the inside authority that Left Hand was leaving our distribution area. This was, essentially, the last of any Left Hand in greater Pensacola. Doesn’t hurt at all that it’s one of their tastiest offerings, too.

Perhaps it was having my mood elevated by such a discovery, but my stack of chips got even bigger when I completed a suspicious pre-flop raise in late position with low suited connectors. The flop came down 4-5-6 to complete my low-end straight. When it was all said and done, I trapped my opponent with a vicious check-raise to encourage an all-in bet. My estimation of her hand proved correct – pocket aces with a three-flush draw – and all I had to do was fade the turn and the pot was mine.

Wait… I thought this was a beer column, not a poker tutorial. Even the name of the beer is Black Jack. Don’t I have any good black jack stories?

Thankfully, Left Hand decided to make a return to the panhandle a few months ago; card room status unconfirmed. It had always been a great seller for us so we jumped all over everything they had available. In the hiatus, only one thing had changed at Left Hand.

Their beer labels got fancy. Really fancy. Beautiful, even. These intricate works of art incorporate minute detail, movement, intrigue and even hidden images. Created by Charles Bloom at Moxie Sozo in Left Hand’s hometown of Longmont, Colorado, each label features the face of a different brewery or design firm employee.

Ante up and score yourself a Black Jack. Dark brown with garnet highlights, its head settles quickly to form a thin ring with miniscule, oily lacing. Scents are black coffee with sugar, chocolate and dried fruit. Rich, smoky malt dominates the flavor along with notes of toasty nuts, cocoa and a faint kiss of hop bitterness. Body is robust yet creamy and the finish stays with you for a nice long time.

Go all-in with Black Jack and you’ll come up a winner each time.