On Saturday, Nov. 14, Longmont, Colorado-based Left Hand Brewing Company will hold its second annual Nitro Fest in Longmont’s Roosevelt Park. The festival celebrates nitrogenated beers, like the company’s own Milk Stout Nitro, and is set to feature offerings from over 40 brewers.
A circus featuring local performers will entertain the crowd, including Denver world music and dance group Lunar Fire, Boulder circus collective Fractal Tribe and the Boulder Circus School. The local culinary arts will be on display as well, with food from area restaurants like the Roost and Samples World Bistro.
The main focus, however, will be on tasting a variety of nitrogenated beers. These beverages are gassed with a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, resulting in a thicker, creamier product than most beers, which use only carbon dioxide for carbonation. Nitrogenation was once mainly associated with Guinness Stout, but it has become more common among American craft brewers in recent years.
Left Hand, founded in 1993 by Eric Wallace and Dick Doore, first used the process for the Milk Stout in 2011. The company went on to produce several other varieties of nitrogenated beer, such as the Nitro Sawtooth and Wake Up Dead Nitro.
Some of the other brewers who will have nitrogenated beers available for tasting include Founders, Dogfish Head and Victory. In the event announcement in the Longmont Compass, Left Hand’s Community and Event Manager Josh Goldberg emphasized the exclusivity of the beers on hand. He said, “Some of these beers will be nitrogenated for the first time, and many do not make it out of their home brewery tap room.”
The 2015 festival boasts an expanded lineup from 2014, which included beers from 21 brewers. The company reported raising $42,982 at the previous event for the Left Hand Brewing Foundation, pledging to spend the money on local emergencies.
In 2014, Left Hand attempted to build up its brand as the leading brewer of nitrogenated craft beers in the U.S. by trademarking the word “Nitro” as used in relation to beer. The action resulted in a legal battle and much controversy because of the possible effects on other breweries pouring nitrogenated beer. Left Hand ultimately dropped its case.
The brewers head into this year’s Nitro Fest following a more popular public move. Left Hand built on its reputation as a socially conscious company by announcing a shift to majority employee ownership in July 2015. Westword reports that employees now hold 54 percent of the stock in the company. Left Hand made the change by buying stock back from shareholders. “We are part of a worldwide revolutionary movement in beer,” Wallace explained. “How much money could make up for not being part of that?”
Nitro Fest runs 6 p.m, to 10 p.m., and tickets cost $50, which includes unlimited tasting, a commemorative glass and snacks. Designated driver tickets cost $25 and restrict the attendee to non-alcoholic beverages. VIP tickets at allow early access and an opportunity to meet the brewers for $75. See the event website for details.