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“It really ties Left Hand and Cape May together,” Ryan said.

Ties the Room Together

Way out west, there’s this brewery. A brewery we wanna tell you about. Brewery by the name of Left Hand Brewing. At least, that was the handle its loving co-founders, Eric Wallace and Dick Doore, gave it, but no one has much use for it themselves. This Left Hand Brewing, they call themselves “Left Hand”.

Now, “Left Hand” — that’s a name no one would self-apply where we come from. But then there was a lot about Left Hand that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to us. And a lot about where they live, likewise. But then again, maybe that’s why we find the place so darned interestin’.

They call Longmont “The Long Apple”. We didn’t find it to be that, exactly. But, we’ll allow there are some nice folks there. ‘Course, we can’t say we’ve seen London, and we never been to France. And we ain’t never seen no queen in her damned undies, as the feller says.

But, we’ll tell you what — after seeing Left Hand and this here story we’re about to unfold, well, we seen somethin’ every bit as stupefyin’ as you’d see in any of those other places. And in English, too. So, we can die with a smile on our face, without feelin’ like the good Lord gypped us.

Now this here story we’re about to unfold took place over the past year or so. We only mention it, because sometimes there’s a beer… We won’t say the best beer, ‘cause what’s “the best”? But, sometimes, there’s a beer. And we’re talking about a beer from Left Hand and CMBC, here. Sometimes, there’s a beer, well… it’s the beer for its time and place. It fits right in there.

And that’s Ties the Room Together, in Longmont and in Cape May.

But, sometimes, there’s a beer… sometimes, there’s a beer….

Aw… We lost our train of thought here. But…

Aw, hell. We done introduced it enough.

IMG_4703Last week, we played host to Eric Wallace, co-founder of Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Colorado, and two of his Sales Managers, Brian Sweeney and Ryan Vaughan. After a night of bar-hopping through Cape May and Wildwood, we caught up with them in the Tasting Room, as Eric sipped on a Honey Porter.

“The Bog smoothie is interesting,” Ryan Vaughan laughed.

This is not ‘Nam, Ryan. This is brewing. There are rules. (It’s called the Reinheitsgebot, and no one has paid any attention to it for years. Say what you want, at least it’s an ethos.)

Ryan (Krill) and Eric met working together on the Government Affairs Committee at the Brewers Association. Colorado had recently gone through a split in their Guild as New Jersey had.

“I said to Ryan, ‘If you want to talk about what’s going on with you guys, I can tell you a bit of our story,’” Eric said. “I think that’s what started the conversation about a collaboration.”

IMG_4707Through their discussions, Ryan realized that New Jersey and Colorado had a lot of the same issues. Long story short, both Guilds had gotten to the point that someone had to say, “This aggression will not stand, man.”

“I was looking to Eric to understand what happened in Colorado,” Ryan said, “and the conversation started from there. And, on a more positive note, we decided to do something fun and focus on something that’s core to what we do and celebrates indie craft beer.”

We’ve had a few collaborations — Weyerbacher, Referend, DC Brau, Carton — but Left Hand definitely has us beat when it comes to collabs.

“Before Terrapin sold out, we did four years in a row with those guys,” Eric says. “Each year, we’d alternate and go back and forth. Nørrebro Bryghus, in Copenhagen. But that was years ago. Fade to Black #2 — our second version of Fade to Black, which is a Baltic Porter — that was the recipe that we brewed over there.”

IMG_4728Breweries in Italy, Michigan, Colorado, and now, right here in Cape May round out the list. It’s been twenty-five years of beautiful tradition from Milk Stout to Pixan Pepper Porter for Left Hand.

“We’ve done a bunch,” Eric says. “I’m trying to remember where else I’ve gone to stand around, shoot the shit, and drink beers.”

They distribute to 42 states —

“Is Delaware 42 or 43?” Brian Sweeney asked.

“I think it’s 42,” Eric responded.

— and some dozen countries, but there’s far more that unites us.

“It’s supporting independent beer, and good, quality beer,” Ryan Vaughan said.

IMG_4811“Trying to stay independent,” Eric said, “you choose the harder path, for sure. It’d be easier to sell like the big guys who have far vaster resources and have somebody else pushing and have access to distribution. Those guys are basically excluding independent breweries from a lot of places. Wherever they can buy the business — venues, stadiums, concert halls, whatever — it’s really hard to crack into a lot of those places.”

Beyond a commitment to remaining independent, we’re both dedicated to furthering the cause, politically.

“We both donate our time to help our industry,” Ryan said. “We both support our shared values and support the Brewers Association.”

IMG_4803Regardless, the idea for a collaboration was born. And, once it was, we needed to figure out a recipe. Luckily, with the brains behind this beer, if you want a recipe, they can get you a recipe. There are ways. They can get you a recipe by three o’clock this afternoon. With measurements.

“We started throwing ideas out there,” said Head Brewer Brian Hink, “and I just threw it out there first. Left Hand has their Nitro Milk Stout, and something I’d always wanted to do was a big, white Russian-inspired brew.”

The idea for an Imperial cream ale flavored with coffee beans, cocoa nibs, lactose, and vanilla was a “no-brainer,” according to Brian.

“And who doesn’t love The Big Lebowski?” Brian asked, obviously rhetorically.

“My wife doesn’t get it,” Eric laughed.

IMG_4752Like many of the Coen Brothers’ films, either you get The Big Lebowski or you don’t. And, if you don’t get it, dear reader, much of this blog doesn’t make any sense at all. However, you probably know someone who peppers their conversation with references to Larry’s homework, missing toes, Cynthia’s pomeranian, and The Dude.

It must be exhausting.

“It really ties Left Hand and Cape May together,” Ryan said. “Ties the Room Together abides.”

We don’t know about you, but we take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ they’re out there — Left Hand — takin’ it easy for all us sinners.

Ties the Room Together hits shelves in New Jersey and Pennsylvania sometime next month. We’ll bring you updates as news becomes available.