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Sawtooth Ale | Left Hand Brewing Company

683 Reviews
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Sawtooth AleSawtooth Ale

Brewed by:
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States | website

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-16-2001

User Reviews
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Reviews: 683 | Ratings: 2,079
Photo of Maryobeerian
2.9/5  rDev -21.6%

Pours nicely, with a decent head. Nice honey color. Subtle, biscuity nose. Slight carbonation and caramel in the front, but then nothing much. Disappointing finish. Nothing offensive but rather a boring beer. Won't buy again but will save to serve to friends who don't like beer.

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Photo of dcscientist
3.67/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I'm not a huge ESB guy, but this one's pretty good. It's not overwhelmingly bitter, and it is very drinkable on its own. This is another beer that Left Hand has made as a nitro, so I'd like to give that a shot to see how different it tastes. I like other brews from this brewery more, but I'm ok with this one if I'm in the mood for something beyond my usual.

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Photo of delta490
2.95/5  rDev -20.3%

Pours a nice clear amber with a short-lasting creamy white head that still managed to leave some little lacing. The aroma is pretty bland, with just a faint hint of malt sweetness. The taste is equally lifeless. It doesn't quite qualify for OK, based on the flavor/aroma profile. If it doesn't taste good, what's the point?

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Served at fridge temp in a tulip glass (all I had clean ATM).

Appearance: Beautiful copper with a light brown head that dissipated after a minute or two to a thin foam on the surface.

Nose: Caramel candy, sweet malt, slight hops.

Taste: Round maltyness with absolutely no hop bitterness at all. Much more like a English Mild. Absolutely wonderful flavor of orange marmalade, fruity and delicious (Ringwood ale yeast like).

This was truly a treat. Not at all what I thought it would be like from the bottle description or what I know about ESBs. I've had Redhook beforeand I expected a Pacific Northwest/West Coast hop slam to my mouth but this was so malty and well rounded that I'm going to have to pick up some more. Try this beer.

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Photo of far333
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper colored with a low orangey yellow head that settles out slowly. Aroma of biscuity malt and lemon notes.

Flavors of bisucit malt, some nuttiness, but herbal and spicy hops emerge. Some lemon notes, mild peppery bite. Well balance, not individual flavor dominates. Even mouthfeel, moderate carbonation, good beer.

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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into signature pint glass, best before 8/26/2014. Pours fairly crystal clear deep orange/copper color with a 1 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of orange zest, pear, apple, caramel, toast, biscuit, light nuttiness, herbal, floral, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of orange zest, pear, apple, caramel, toast, biscuit, light nuttiness, herbal, floral, light pine, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Good amount of earthy pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes or orange zest, pear, apple, caramel, toast, biscuit, light nuttiness, herbal, floral, light pine, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice robustness and complexity of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester flavors; with a nice malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, fairly creamy, and slightly sticky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very good ESB style. All around good balance, complexity, and robustness of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering.

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Photo of mmva321
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Clear with a small amount of carbonation, the body is a darker, though somewhat flat, amber color. The head is frothy and off-white with decent retention and leaves some delicate and dissipating lacing.

S: The smell is noticeable right form the pour. Strong and well balanced over all. Strong hops, strong malts. There's a vanilla sweetness that really comes through that's almost too powerful. A little funk rounds it all out nicely.

T: A strong beer that trends towards the hops, though leaving a balmy maltiness to round it all out. There's a small amount of lemon citrus that undercuts it all. Pretty well balanced.

M: It's a strong beer that has a pretty bold mouthfeel as well. Creamy, smooth, carbonated; it may all be a bit too much, but I'll give credit for going big.

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Photo of SSS
3.74/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- nice head on this medium bodies IPA
M- carbonation is adequate and pleasant, not too fine or heavy CO2
S- definite roasted malt aroma, with a subtle hop after drop
T- the malt seems to overpower the hops, but there is a nice bitterness to the mid and finish points. A sweet malt flavour does dominate
O- drinkable, but not overly memorable

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Photo of barczar
3.67/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Brilliant copper with minimal ivory head. Very sweet caramel malt aroma, slightly nutty. Flavor is overly sweet, very malty, with a fairly bitter and resiny finish. There's a bit of a minerally note. Hop character is bitter dominant. Didn't expect as much malt character, which is pleasant, but the rest is somewhat nondescript.

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Photo of jimthepisces
5/5  rDev +35.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my absolute favorite American style ESB. The balance between the malt & hops is perfection. It's complex but definitely sessionable. I had one one draft and have also tried it on nitro...I think I prefer the co2 version for this one. Very sessionable. A must-try beer!!

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Photo of tillmac62
4.33/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

BBD 6/4/14. Pours a clear amber with a good head. Lacing and retention are normal. Nice subtle nose of orange, caramel malt and spice over a nice subdued mineral note. Magnificent heavy medium body that is creamy and better than many stouts. Above average carbonation with a nice effervescent finish. Well balanced and somewhat complex flavor profile. It begins with an orange and spice note which then flows into a moderate bitterness. Towards the end, the sweet caramel malt shines. It finishes with an effervescent burst that is slightly citric and tart, leaving you with a nice lingering low level bitterness over a mineral note. Not as bitter as I expected, it is; however, quite outstanding.

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Photo of ZtremEoj
4.03/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Really nice beer. Not heavy and easy to drink. Enjoyed on a warm afternoon and it is refreshing.

Appearance is as expected.

Smell is average. It does not smell too beery, as others I have tasted/smelled do.

Taste is really nice. As the bottle states, it is not too malty and not too hoppy. A nice balance.

I am impressed by the mouthfeel of this beer. It is a light-medium body, almost creamy, mouthcoating type.

Overall, I would drink this beer again. In fact, I would not find it difficult to drink more than two or three at a time. To me, that means a lot. I usually like to move from one beer to the next, so staying with one for more than a couple drinks is a good thing!


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Photo of dacrza1
4.02/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

DATE REVIEWED: June 5, 2014... GLASSWARE: Howard's Pub pint... OCCASION: last "1" day of the year--close to the end... APPEARANCE: nice brownish amber body with slow, subtle effervescence; white tow-finger, pillowy head is uneven; a good cloudy haze... AROMA: caramel malts and some more subtle West Coast hops generate a soft, slightly nondescript experience... PALATE: good, substantial mouthfeel with a balanced attack--teeth are active while the throat feels smoothly engaged--a pleasure to hold... TASTE: malty--mostly caramel--and some lagerish notes; likewise, hops are agreeable and aromatic; this beer has sessionable written all over it--and literally, written on the label ... OVERALLL: an overly agreeable pale ale that is balanced enough to make friends of democrats and republicans, Yanks/Sox fans, and ale/lager drinkers....

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Photo of dougbassett
3.67/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

One of the "1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die" -- #49 of the ones I've reviewed here.

I rather liked this one. Pleasant and sessionable, like somebody here has already said. The pour is an orangish-brown and made me worry for a bit that we'd be in American Amber land, a land I'm not all that crazy to explore, but this is much cleaner and crisper than most American Ambers. An interesting nose , once it warms up a little, of orange blossoms and spice. Again, you need to warm it up a bit, but once you do there's an interesting slightly orange-sweet touch that quickly turns to some prominent (although not TOO prominent) hop bitterness and bite. The mouthfeel emphasizes the crisp refreshingness of it, which is all to the good.

Something of an underrated beer, although it does need to sit in your glass and open up a bit first.

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Photo of jaredtp
3.6/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a really good beer I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed the taste a lot. It was very refreshing. It had a really good taste, I enjoyed the extra strong bitter taste that it had. I wish that they did not retore this beer. The hazy brown color was a nice color as well. The head of this beer was not that bad as well.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.66/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sawtooth pours a hazy bronze color with toffee coloring and only a small head cap. Doesn't really lace, but the cover stays on for awhile.

Dark, almost spicy, toastiness with mild savory hops and disrupted chocolate. Dry, with a little tobacco, and must English malts.

Bitter, at first, with some lingering earthy pine hop and light roast. A touch of toffee and chocolate to define the malts as British. Sessionably approachable, with no real heat to speak of. Has that odd English fruitiness that you get from a pub ale, but almost drowned out by rugged malty grain. The body is slick, but not oily. Carbonation levels are desirable. All is well, but not awesome, in Sawtooth land.

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Photo of Mojo
3.57/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle -> New Belgium globe glass

A - pours up a cloudy deep amber with a small one inch white head, good retention, and good lacing.

S - the nose is very weak with barely perceptible grass and bread notes

T - very sweet and malty upfront with definite caramel notes. The finish is bitter but there is a sour undertone there as well.

M - average carbonation, some aftertaste but not severe

O - decent ESB, easy to drink.

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Photo of KFBR392
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours with a slightly amber red color. Half a finger of head on the pour which dissipated quickly. Carbonation is below average for the style.

Smell: Amber malt, hoppy tones, and a combination of spices hit the nose first. The body is filled with cloves, medium bodied fruits, and lingering pine. Tones of brown sugar and syrupy malt run throughout. Airy spices and bitter hop tones really mix well.

Taste: Caramel and amber malt pop on the palate immediately. Some piney hops hit but reveal some medium bodied fruity hop tones. Syrupy caramel blasts through again on the back side which combines with the lingering bitterness which at this point comes off with a grassy flavor.

Mouthfeel: Great balance achieved of linger bitterness and sweet hop tones. Well done.

Overall: Probably one of the better crafted beers I've had from Left Hand. Impressive transitions in this brew. A good choice to bring to a party or drinking session with some friends.

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Photo of DenverHopHead
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle with an enjoy by date of 6/4/14; into a pint glass.
Appearance - light, bubbly amber; thin white head that leaves scattered lacing.
Smell - I detect faint toast, some pine, as well as mild spice.
Taste - sweetness from the malt paired with a touch of bitterness from the hops.
Feel - light body with a well balanced malt and hop profile!
Overall - better than I expected and a good value!

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Photo of barnzy78
3.74/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Nitro bottle, Best By 05/08/14
L - very rigorous pour, as indicated on cap and label, reveals a copper colored ale with a smooth ivory head that eventually rises to half a finger
S - very herbal aroma, caramel, vanilla and bread are all faintly present
T - bread, caramel, vanilla, herbal hop,
F - extra smooth feel, medium body, goes down easily
O - I'm not sure which I prefer (regular Sawtooth or Nitro Sawtooth), but this one is definitely unique. Glad to try it.

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Photo of a0lbudman
4.28/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Dark brown with a red tint when a light is shined through and has a tan head that fades slowly and leaves a good lacing
S-a good dose of caramel malt with a moderate hop aroma
T-caramel malt comes in strong with a good hop bitterness that fades back tp a sweeter finish
M-medium carbonation and medium body
O-I think this beer was great I liked the balance and nothing was over the top

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Photo of SamN
3.69/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A mildly limp amber-orange, with a dallop of thick creamy nitro head. Never seen a beer quite like this, though it does make my mouth water a bit. Smell is of pale malts, English-style and some crisp, apple-like hoppiness. Nice aromas, as well. Moderate and not aggressive in the least, but still very appetizing. Taste features that same crip fruitiness, followed by a caramely creamy middle and a nice, easy sweetness. Finish is nicely hopped and almost-bitter, but balanced with no flavor overpowering others. Mouthfeel is dead on creamy and delctable, just like you'd expect a nitro beer to be but not heavy, still lighter in character. Almost brainlessly sessionable.

A nice, easy drinking ESB with a nitro twist that gives it the feel of a Guinness. Never had a nitro beer that wasn't a dark stout ale or porter, so this was a new experience for me. I liked it, and would have again.

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Photo of NiceTaps
4.17/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz nitro-bottle pour into an Imperial pint pub glass.

A- "Pour hard" is the instruction on the label, so I did. Lots of nitro-style cascading suds quickly settle to a creamy 1-finger head. The copper-amber colored body is clean and clear. There's no activity once the head settles, yet it leaves lots of heavy lacing. The head never goes flat. A looker.

S- Very pleasant caramel malt and dark fruit aromas. Cinnamon roll or raisin bread-like. Mild floral hops and nuttiness, too.

T- Bready malts like those in the smell. Some caramel sweetness. Floral and herbal hops are light but...

M-...help the beer finish clean and dry. The body is so nitro-clean, smooth, and creamy. Malt sweetness up front.

O- Obviously I enjoyed this one. It's so well balanced and very true to the style.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.31/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber with cascading bubbles and creamy nitro head. The nose is mild with rich caramel malts and deep grainy notes. Some herbal hop component comes in as well but is very restrained. The taste is somewhat muted. Bready malts, light herbal hops, some rich caramel notes all present. The balance is nice. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Not really sure if the nitro treatment improves this beer. It's an easy drinker and probably makes for a nice approachable beer for people just getting in craft.

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Photo of Zraly
4.06/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Murphy's Stout glass. Drink by date on the side: 3/27/14.

Beautiful clear amber with a frothy, creamy head one can only get from a nitro pour. Always fun to watch and am glad to see Left Hand offering more of these classic English style brews in the nitro format. Cookie dough and caramel nose; really nice and hits the high mark for style.

The taste follows the smell and is simple but elegant all in the same breath. Biscuit and caramel malts support earthy and floral hop notes. Gentle and not too assertive, this makes for a great session ale. As it warms more and more, it surrenders itself a bit more and all of these notes are further highlighted. Mouthfeel is smooth and the finish is bone dry.

Excellent variation of a classic, English ESB. Great partner for fish n' chips, lovely on its own.

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Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 683 ratings.