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Life & Limb - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Life & LimbLife & Limb

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,497 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,497
Reviews: 744
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.69%
Wants: 144
Gots: 489 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head collaboration brew.

(Beer added by: mjl21 on 11-14-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,497 | Reviews: 744 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of PDXHops
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Ryan011235 for sharing this bottle, which we split into oversized snifters. The body seems to be an optical illusion; too dark to be brown, yet there's no such thing as 'light black'. Charred amber highlights when held up to light. A finger of already thick head settles into an even denser skim. Lazily scattered streaks of lacing.

The nose is lushly warm and boozy, mysterious layers of burnt and baked sweetness, a touch of tobacco. Exceptionally smooth and coating with a modest carbonation made up of very tiny bubbles; a soft feel to be sure. Maple syrup and brown sugar bring the sweetest flavors, molasses and cherry pie take things into tangy territory. There's an underlying bitterness that flares up from time to time. Charred and woody notes disrupt the smoothness now and again. Roasty and sweet finish that doesn't have the lingering booziness I'd anticipated based on the nose.

Overall impression: Quite an enjoyable sipper.

Photo of ChristianBlack
4.83/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Love this brew. Love it. Love it! Very dark brown black color. Decent head.

Aroma of malty goodness.

Love the maple flavor. That's what made this beer memorable.

Overall, an excellent brew and one that won't forget. I would write more but that's really all that needs to be said. Excellent brew. Loved drinking it.

Photo of CraftAleRookie
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured in a 9 ounce tasting tumbler, number 4 in a series of tastings for the 2010 Holiday.

Very dark brown ale, light does get through around the edges. Very thin 1/4 inch head that disappeared to almost no lace. Aroma of malt, toasted marshmallow, candied fruit. Sweet notes.

Tastes of barle, malt, and a twist of hop is notable. Maple hints are there, with an slight sweet (but faint) edge. Regretably, this bottle is somewhat flat. But the silky feel helps the mouthfeel score.

Overall, a good brew and one that will get more interesting with age. Going to wait a few years before popping the cap off my second bottle.

Photo of scottfrie
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

24oz bottle into New Belgium snifter. Batch 1.

A: Pours an extremely dark ruby-brown with a billowing khaki colored head that took forever and a day to recede into a thick oily film that left epic sheets of lacing down the glass. Great head retention.
S: Not picking up much, but I know it's there under the thick head. I get notes of sweet malts and molasses with light hints of dark fruits and alcohol.
T: Sweet caramel, toffee, molasses and birch are prominent. At times I get flashes in my brain of alcoholic root-beer. Overall fairly sweet, almost like brown sugar. Hops take a back seat at this point, but there is a light bitterness to the finish. The aftertaste has just a hint of alcohol similar to rum soaked raisins. Very porter-esque.
M: Really smooth mouthfeel with a medium-full body that is closer to the full end of the spectrum. Carbonation is soft but tingly enough.
D: A year of age has knocked back some of alcohol and made this an exceptionally smooth and rich dark beer. This was my favorite beer at the time when I first had it exactly one year ago today (last Christmas). While I feel my palate has matured over the year, and I've had hundreds of world class beer since then, I still feel like this is at the top end of the 'beer greatness' scale. I'm glad and have a few more bottles of this, and I wait in anticipation to see if any more ever gets brewed.

Photo of lstokes
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a very pretty beer, an opaque, slightly burnished brown with a lovely molasses head and decent lacing. I did not like the smell at all--roasted malt and BURNT toffee.

The taste is nice, though--opens with a burnt caramel and then expands with the syrups, with wood and leather, with some surprisingly fruity esters--plums and raisins--and the resiny pine hops to give a very full taste profile.

It's a little viscous in the mouthfeel, but I imagine that's to be expected with the syrup. In summary, this is a great drinker, experimental like you expect from DFH, but also smooth and delicious. Too bad we've already cracked our bottle--I wouldn't mind another few of these.

Photo of clarkm04
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from 22-ounce bomber

Appearance- Very heavy and dark. Minimal head retention with slight lacing.

Smell- Caramel, toffee-like notes mixed with a boozy note.

Taste- Very complex taste with a mixture of caramel, toffee-like, the birch and maple syrups add to an undertone to the beer. Has a nice front and finishing notes. I had this beer fresh last year on tap and out of the bottle and age has made this beer settle down some of the booziness and sharp notes of the beer. I'm really impressed with the added smoothness of the beer without losing some of the amazing flavors. I enjoy the syrup flavors in the beer but it makes the beer somewhat sticky on the lips and glass.

Mouthfeel- Very heavy. Sits on the tongue with minimal carbonation.

Drinkability- Fairly low which is to be expected for an American Strong. This beer is definitely a one and done for me. I am excited to drink my other two bottles and I wish Sierra Nevada and Dogfish would brew this beer again.

Overall- Very unique and good. I would definitely recommend this beer especially if you enjoy complex, thick, and slightly boozy beer.

Photo of ColForbinBC
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Josh for being overly generous.

24oz bomber poured into a pint

The body sits a dark chestnut with a purple hue underneath a one finger tan cap. The head rose and fell without much fanfare and settled to form some bubbles and delicate lace.

The nose on this bad boy is heavily boozy, thanks to the age. Large amounts of toffee and caramel with a touch of molasses, that is rounded out by plums and dark cherries. A pretty hearty nose that is equal parts deep and broad.

Plums and cherries with toffee dominate the palate. Heavy amount of booze hits through the middle and then fades to a warming finish. The flavor profile doesn't seem as complex as the nose would let on. I think the booze takes the reigns a little too much, but I have to respect the fact that this bottle has been aged.

A lush, medium body with a creamy feel. A little hot due to the heat from the ethanol, but tolerable. I'm having no problems putting this guy back. A definite sipper; drinkability is on par for the style.

Photo of taigor
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 8oz glass.

A - Poured dark brown color with medium head that quickly dissipated leaving moderate amount of lacing around the glass.

S - Sweet malts upfront with hints of brown sugar and honey.

T - Just like smell it is sweet with malts upfront followed by slight hint of spices and honey. Alcohol comes through towards the finish.

M - Medium bodied with high carbonation.

D - Good strong ale but a bit too overwhelming with alcohol.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a nice, deep brown color with a light off white head. A small amount of lacing exists as the beer goes down. Nose brings some notes of wood and birch as well as some drier brown malts. The birch stands out a bit in the taste to me, assuming that it is the woody note I keep getting but don't really recognize. Good malt presence backing up. Slightly dry feel with a nice body. Drinks fairly well now, but I am looking forward to seeing how it ages.

Photo of jsanford
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Unibroue tulip

A - Pours very dark, almost black. There's a very thin head of off-white foam that settles to a thin ring around the glass. No real lacing.
S - Smells rather sweet, with dark malt and maple syrup dominating. More subdued notes of toffee, dried fruit, chocolate and alcohol.
T - More dark roasted malt with coffee, maple syrup, brown sugar, dark dried fruits and toffee. Despite all these sweet flavors, it never get cloyingly sweet, which is quite a feat. There's a surprising amount of bitterness from the hops in the finish that balances thing out nicely.
M - Medium-bodied with low carbonation.
D - This could be a dangerous brew if more readily available, as I'm not tasting the +10% ABV at all!

Really glad I got to experience this beer, wish it was a yearly release!

Photo of morebeergood
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle back in the Fall 2009 and have been aging it in the cellar ever since. Last night, my wife was making a special dessert, so I thought it would be a great night to crack it open. Served at cellar temp, and poured into Brooklyn stemmed flute glasses. Dark hazy brown color. Nice sized white head that stuck all the way up the glass. A wonderful aroma of brown sugar and molasses. Taste was just as good. It had amazing flavors of raisins, maple syrup, and sugar cane rum. Mouthfeel was very smooth, as I think the one year of age helped corral the 10% abv heat. Drinkability was high on the scale too, as this beer hit the nail on the head in every way. Wish I could have gotten my hands on a second bottle now. Paired last night very nicely with a maple sugar-apple cider-cranberry tart for dessert.

Photo of jeffthecheff
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black into my DFH signature glass. Great light brown colored head that has great retention and lacing.

Aroma has a very dry character overall, with roasted, stout like attributes. A dry, woods and bark aroma comes through, probably from the birch syrup. The maple seems to be absent in the nose, but is probably just resting in the background.

The flavor is sweeter than the nose would suggest, with a rich, full sweetness that includes charred malts and a touch of maple. The maple stood out really well while eating maple bourbon bbq steak tips (shouts to Meathouse). A touch of smoke comes out with the grilled tips, and without food the dry, barky flavor comes back from the nose.

Mouthfeel manages to stick with the dry theme, with a light, airy carbonation to stand up to the high gravity. This beer took a while to impress me, but after a few sips, I really started digging the deep, unique flavors here.

Photo of jlindros
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One I've been saving for a while.

A nice fluffy bubbly 2 finger head fades semi quickly then slows to a 1/2 finger head covering that stays strong, all over an almost black but more very dark brown color.

The nose billows out on the pout with lots of dark malts, roasty, crystal malts, Belgian strong dark malts, toffee, dark fruits, raisin, dates, fig, some maple, a nice creamy rich malty aroma, with a slight touch of booze and some light creamy chocolate.

The taste comes on like a heavy creamy porter crossed with a Belgian strong ale. Creamy and rich malts. Lots of malts, crystal, dark roasty, with a little creamy chocolate, Belgian dark malts, etc. Some toffee and caramel, molasses, and hint of maple. Some warming tingly booze as well, some sweet sticky feeling too, with a little syrupy feel and taste. More fruits, fig, raisin, date, etc. Finishes with lingering malts, syrups, sticky sweet fruits and roasty.

Mouth is heavier bodied, rich and syrupy, with decent carbonation.

Drinks OK for what it is. It's boozy with warming and tingly feeling which is typical for a 10% beer. Lots of sticky sweetness too, but not the minerality I was expecting.

Photo of cameraman
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark tawny red color with touches of amber around the glass. A soft beige head dissolves away quickly, to form a small ring on top. The sweet fragrance of malt comes forward at first, then fig and raisons come out. The strong scent of alcohol hits the nose then ending with soft a chocolate fragrance. The sweet, almost sugary, flavor grabs the palate at the start of each taste. That is followed by a dried fruit flavor, with a mild bitterness takes over and finishing with sour and tart flavor. A medium to heavy feel, with a dry and boozy finish. This beer is unique in the fact, that you don't know what it is. It has the darkness and color of a stout or porter. The aroma and flavor has Belgian aspects, with a feel and finish of some IPA's.

Photo of Elendinn
4.65/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to chswimmer for this generous bottle. Poured into a tulip glass.

A - at first it seemed black, but, after some consideration, I decided that it was an exceptionally dark, rusty copper. It poured with about a finger of cream-colored head that quickly dissipated.

S - malt and a bourbon-like booze are dominant; chocolate and caramel are in there, as well. The maple syrup aroma is present, though subtle. The sting of rubbing alcohol lingers.

T - lots of malt up front, followed by chocolate, caramel, and maple syrup. Bourbon flavor is there, though subdued and quickly overwhelmed. Finishes fairly sweet, with a hint of raisins and port, and the very faint bitterness of hops.

M - thick, full-bodied, and syrupy, with little carbonation.

D - malty and sweet, but not overwhelming. The bottle is a pleasure to drink, though the alcohol permits only one. Of course, there's no reason to drink this in excess; sip and savor it, or pair with a great dessert -- my wife made a spectacular creme brulee and this complimented it very well.

Photo of DKter
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This ale is brewed with maple syrup, and I'd be happy to have it on (or in) my pancakes. At 10.2%, you can taste the sweet maltiness that gives the beers its "oomph." Sierra Nevada's ever-present West Coast hops are overwhelmed by the malts, so don't expect the usual bite, but if you like Belgian Strong Ales, this American version is more creative and unique.

Photo of bs870621345
2.93/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This was one of my top wants, and honestly it was a little dissapointing.

Pours beautiful with a half inch of white head and a redish brown color.

Smells of raisins and maple syrup. Not much alcohol smell which is nice for a 10% beer.

Taste is syrupy and raisins. Light hop bitterness, seems to be in an ackward phase between hoppy and malty. Its not a bad taste, but it should have been drank fresher or held onto longer. Didn't get better warmer than cellar temp.

Mouthfeel is very thick but a nice amount of carbonation.

Drinkability isn't so great. 24oz was a lot to have and by the end it was tough to drink.

Seems like i should have let it sit for a while longer, a bit of a letdown but still alright.

Photo of HardTarget
3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Translucent red ruby body with good clarity. Holds a brown head that gives up a little lace.

Smell: Rich malty base gives it some weight, heady alcoholic fumes pack some punch!

Taste: Malty wins the day with some hop bitterness and alcohol in the finish. Hints of maple syrup in the background.

Mouthfeel: Heavy body, lower carbonation, burning alcoholic finish.

Overall: Not wow'ed by this one. Nice malty flavor, enough hops to keep it from going sweet, hell of an alcohol kick, but good flavor. Not sure if the cellar would help this one, but it might mellow the heat.

Photo of philbe311
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cracked open a bottle at the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth, DE...

A - One fingers worth of rich creamy light tan head quickly fades leaving a thin milky way like lacing and a couple of bubbles around the collar of the glass... An intense muted dark brown color that allows just a touch of light in and displays some ruby highlights... Quite still...

S - Not nearly as intoxicating as expected... The alcohol presence is most noticeable on the nose... Also present are birch / licorice and subdued sweet malts... Pleasant and enjoyable, but not as potent as expected given the "big" nature of this offering...

T - Malt, malt, and more malt... Caramel... Toffee... Fig... Raisins... Plum... Maple syrup... Slight undertones of birch which add a very unique layer of complexity... A hint of licorice... Wonderful balance and complexity... It's quite the achievement that this one never becomes cloying...

M - The mouthfeel was a bit of surprise... Not nearly as heavy or viscous as I would have expected... Medium bodied... A bit on the sticky side... Smooth... A slightly dry finish... Very nice...

D - What a great collaboration... I wish this were available on a regular basis... A malt bomb to be sure, but never does it become cloying or overpowering... There isn't too much alcoholic heat, but the 10.2% keep this from being more drinkable...

Photo of beertunes
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Pigwings6 for hooking me up with this, as only a few bottles made it to our town. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a very nice deep mahogany color with a tall fluffy white head that had great retention and moderate lacing.

The aroma was a little on the bland side, but had some nice roasted notes and a very noticeable alcohol scent. On the tongue the alcohol is most noticeable and the grainy malts and roasted tastes follow that. There is a slight sharp taste on the finish.

The body is very good, but the alcohol finish cost it a half-point. Drinkability is pretty good for a beer this strong. It'd be nice to have this in 12oz bottles instead of these huge 24's. Overall, a pretty good beer, worth trying if you see it.

Photo of Bitterbill
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Ding!

This is a GREAT looking beer. A dark brown reddish colour, it has an attractive off white head of foam, about an inch worth, and there's plenty of sticky lacing.

The smell has notes of caramel and maple syrup with a touch of fruit and spice. It smells pretty sweet by both definitions of sweet.

The taste is a malt head's dream! The caramel sweetness and maple just could NOT get along better. Oh so malty and sweet yet not overly so and becoming cumbersome to drink.

I get some chocolate notes as well now. Mostly milk(sweet) but also a bit of mild chocolate bitterness. Yowsa. Just feeling some of the alcohol but I expected to feel a lot more.

The mouthfeel is smooth as hell with just the right body and carbonation.

Drinkability? I'm glad this comes in the big 24 oz bottle. I can enjoy and take my time with a delicious American Strong Ale. More at one sitting? Nah, but it's a fine drop.

Photo of ZimZamZoom
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is just a beautiful deep chestnut brown colored ale, tinges of red on the edges. A thin tan head fades to a film rather quickly, but I don't find this at all inappropriate.

A big sweet and spicy aroma, caramel, maple, hop spice, alcohol. I almost get a Beam & Coke type aroma from this, but there's also a nice roasty background. Nice. Taste is roasty spicy and sweet. Alcohol blends nicely with a sweet dark fruitiness, a dark amber maple syrup flavor adds to the complexity. Again I get a cola like finish but more of a cola flavored hard candy than actual cola. Some bitterness and alcohol warmth round this all out.

This is a big-bodied sipper, that has some great flavor complexity. Good drinkability for a huge beer.

Photo of jwhancher
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip shaped glass from the tap during Philly Beer Week. Appears a very dark brown; not quite black but dark enough to not see through the glass. Aroma of maple syrup, caramel malts, and a bit of chocolate. Tastes more on the sweet side with a slightly bitter finish. Again, syrup notes with toffee, chocolate, and a tart coffee taste. Average in carbonation. Comes with a feel that tinges your tongue tip. Ok drinkability; however, this is hard to find and pretty high in ABV.

Photo of TheJollyHop
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

After holding on to this bad boy for quite some time, I decided to finally crack it open and see what all the fuss is about.

Pours a finger's worth of thick, toffee head on top of a nearly black body showcasing shades of brown in the light; large bubbles and scattered lace clings to the glass. So far an above average appearance.

Stewed fruit with some alcohol, wine character along with ample scents of maple syrup. Almost like a lightly crisped pancake breakfast with fruit; roasted barley as well.

Alcohol is upfront and peppery exhibiting a wine like quality and yielding a deep burn. Roasted grain and milk chocolate, with some raisins and maple syrup sweetness on the taste. Fruity flavor in the middle. The finish is long with roasty, bittier, resinous, earthy wood and dark chocolate flavor. Bitter hits very late after malt does its thing (kind of misses the bus). Bitterness greatly extends the length of the finish.

Sides of the tongue are stimulated. The beer is full bodied and medium carbonated with a blanketing, syrupy smooth mouth feel no doubt from the residual sweetness.

The flavors exhibited don't mix or balance each other out. The malt does its think and then the bitter, roasty, and woody flavor comes in but in competition. The hop bitterness lingers too long as well. Also, the booziness is a little too unrestrained. Still too young of a beer, or just possibly a miss.

Photo of Reagan1984
3.3/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to my buddy Sean for sending me this beer from CA. There was a great deal of feedback that indicated this beer needed some age. I've held it for over 6 months to allow some time for it to mellow. It's time to take it out for a spin.

Pours with a creamy tan head that shows excellent retention. Very dark beer that appears brown from straight on, but has a lot of ruby/mahogany color when held to the light.

Aroma is all malt and some grain...a touch of maple perhaps. Admittedly you have to search for the maple aroma.

This seems to be a beer that may grow on you as you work through the bottle. First impressions are that it's fairly straight forward with a strong malt focus. Maple and a little licorice are noted. Lots of nutty notes as well. The same graininess that I noted in the aroma is present in the flavor. Sweetness is interesting. Almost like a diet drink... sweetness there but it vanishes prematurely.

Your tongue is left flat or dry after you swallow. Not that the beer is flat, but rather it finishes very dry in mouth feel. Body is medium to almost bold.

I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed here. It's not bad... It's just not that exciting. I saw another reviewer comment that it reminded him of a doppelbock. Yeah, that has a lot of merit to it.

Glad I tried it, but would never chase this... (if it were brewed again)

Life & Limb from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 1,497 ratings.