The other IPAs: Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey

Dallas Craft Beer Examiner

If there ever were an “official” American beer style, my vote would be for the IPA. American craft brewers and consumers (especially West Coasters) have rabidly expanded the style and, using hops unique to the New World, made the IPA their own.

This beer is all pine and citrus, sometimes strong but always very sharply hopped. However, there is another style of IPA that, well, is the “original” style—that of the British beers, who indeed invented the India Pale Ale style. We do not see many of these over here in the US, so enamored are we with our own bitter beverages.

As a fan of these British-style IPAs, I am more than happy that Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Colorado, chose to follow this style instead of just brewing another hop-bomb. From what I gather, that is actually the rationale behind the decision and the name: Director of Brewing Operations Joe Schiraldi once retorted something to the effect of “any monkey can throw 400 pounds of hops in a kettle and call it an IPA.”

Thus, we now have Left Hand’s 400 Pound Monkey, an “English-style” IPA. This one lacks the sharp bitterness of American native hop species, using the more earthy and subtly floral UK hops instead. A toasty malt base keeps it drinkable, and a tart and bitter finish reminds you it is still an IPA, but this is a soft and moderate ale that is easy to drink without being aggressively hopped for the sake of hoppiness.

Being 6.7% ABV, the 400 Pound Monkey still works well at any dinner table. Compare it to Belhaven’s Twisted Thistle, and it has easily found its way into my normal fridge rotation.

Availability: Found just about in all better beer bars, pubs and retailers, as Left Hand enjoys almost as wide a distribution as New Belgium or any other Colorado beer.


Originally published June 2, 2010, at

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