From their hand to yours

1265 Pilsner is a keeper

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Left Hand Brewing

In the glass, it’s a thing of beauty. Inside a crystal clear liquid, the color of harvest straw, a swirl of tiny bubbles gathers at the top of the glass. It would look like champagne if not for the mountain of pillowy white foam piling high above the rim. The nose is even better: aromas of freshly baked bread. Then a sip of vibrant hops mingling in a light and cool liquid seals the deal. If you were drinking it with dinner, it would knock a Vinho Verde off the table. But it does just as well by itself—crisp and refreshing, slightly sweet, but the finish is dry as a bone. On certain days you can pick out some candy cereal qualities. Froot Loops, maybe? On others, it has the aromatic botanicals of a picnic lunch in the woods. A knockout.

Meet 1265 Pilsner, one of Left Hand Brewing’s latest additions to its year-round lineup.

“We had Polestar for ages, and, sadly, that beer was discontinued, and we had a lull with no pilsner,” Jeff Joslin, director of brewing for Left Hand, says. “That was a sad time.”

Polestar Pilsner, a German-style pilsner made with pilsner malt, magnum, Mt. Hood and sterling hops, was a Left Hand classic for years. But tastes change, and classic hops like magnum aren’t in vogue these days.

“Polestar was a different style of pilsner than the kind of pilsner that’s popular today,” Joslin says. “So 1265 is a lot more approachable, crushable, drinkable—whatever adjective you want to use to describe that element.”

From a base of classic pilsner malt of 2-row barley grown in the San Luis Valley in southcentral Colorado, 1265 is hopped with sterling, “as an homage to Polestar,” Joslin says, “Cascade for the classic craft beer profile . . . and then citra brings the new sexy.”

1265 clocks in at 5.2 percent alcohol by volume—so you can drink a couple without falling on your face—and 23 international bittering units, which keeps your palate alive and well. 

“We got a lot of faith in it,” Joslin says. “We love the beer, and we think if people try it, they’re gonna love it too.”

Easier said than done.

“Unfortunately, we debuted [1265 Pilsner] in the spring of 2020,” Joslin says. “Right when the pandemic hit. Draft sale shut down because all the bars closed, and [1265] obviously had no following or foothold yet, so we didn’t get any of that off-premise, pantry-buying benefits.”

When the lockdown approached in early March 2020, drinkers packed their fridges, pantries, basements and garages with packaged beer from grocery and liquor stores. Sales across the industry shot through the roof. It was a boon for standards but a bust for newcomers.

“[1265] didn’t get any of that boost,” Joslin continues. “It kind of languished for a while. And just now, it’s starting to really get its legs under itself.”

The timing is fortuitous. While Pilsner makes for a great summer beer, it’s also ideal to have around for warm autumn afternoons, particularly when it comes time for the season’s great beer-drinking holiday: Oktoberfest.

Coincidentally, that’s where 1265 got its start.

“To get the kind of Oktoberfest profile we’re most happy with, we need to grow the yeast,” Joslin explains. But they had discontinued Polestar, their only year-round lager. “And we needed to grow the lager yeast for the Oktoberfest.”

So, they had to start brewing a lager again. Joslin and his team liked what they tasted, so they refined it.

“We poured some kegs through the tasting room, but a lot of it just got dumped because we didn’t have a home for it,” Joslin says.

But they kept tweaking, kept refining until they settled on something they liked, and voila: 1265 Pilsner—named for 1265 Boston Avenue, Left Hand’s home address in Longmont for the past 28 years. Find it wherever good beers are sold.

Michael J. Casey is the author of Boulder County Beer, a refreshing history of how a collection of young entrepreneurs turned the cities of Boulder, Longmont, Lyons, and beyond into ground zero for craft beer in the Centennial State.