1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Chainsaw Ale - Left Hand Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Chainsaw AleChainsaw Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

292 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 292
Reviews: 169
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 12.07%
Wants: 20
Gots: 24 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Left Hand Brewing Company visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  9.40% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: RoBotGod on 03-06-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 292 | Reviews: 169 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ShrLSU
3.73/5  rDev -2.1%

Caged 750ml poured into a snifter.

Color is a deep cloudy mahogony color with white wisps of head on the top. Leaves nice alcoholic lacing around the edges. Smell is deep caramel malts and some rich toffee and slight citrus hops. Taste is pretty much like the nose. Caramel malt is right there with sweetness and slight citrus hops carry it a little farther. A slight alcohol taste at the end. This is pretty low carbonation but its rather thick and chewy. It has some high viscosity to it as well. Overall its a pretty decent brew. Worth a shot.

ShrLSU, May 25, 2009
Photo of twiggamortis420
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%

Pours a deep amber color with a thick, fine-bubbled tan head with nice retention and lacing.

Nose is filled with sweet biscuity malts with hints of sourdough bread and toffee. Has a bit of a floral hop presence that creeps in at the end.

The taste leans towards the malty end of the spectrum, but there is a firm piney and floral hop flavor that is very nice. Caramel buttermilk biscuit flavor is unique. Hides the ABV well. It's a good, easy drinking big beer, but not sure it is quite worth the high price tag ($11 for 750mL).

twiggamortis420, Apr 10, 2009
Photo of bark
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%

The colour is dark red-brown; the liquid is a little hazy. The finger thick pale brown head slowly sinks down to a thick lid and a fine ring, leaving lots of lacing.

The smell is sweet and malty with ripe notes of raisins, apples and Christmas spices. Some warming alcohol and citric/bitter American hops in the background.

The taste is very malty with a sometimes intensive sweetness. Notes of rye bread, crisp bread and cookies. There are sweet fruity flavours of raisins, plums, matured apples, and quite a lot of warming alcohol. Those notes are complemented by somewhat earthy and moderately bitter hops. The long aftertaste is sweet and fruity (raspberries, apples, banana peels) with a gentle bitter-sour touch.

The carbonation is mild with small very fresh bubbles. The liquid is smooth.

A American strong ale with more bitter flavours and alcohol than I had expected. Still, a fine beer with that special Left Hand hop profile.

bark, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.08/5  rDev +7.1%

Pours a gorgeous dark coppery color with a nice 1 inch of coarse bubbly head that slowly dissipates. The bottle conditioned quality of this beer is evident, as you can see bits of yeasty sediment suspended in the glass. Carbonation bubbles continue to rise through the beer. Lacing is slight, if any.

I let this one sit for a little, which I think let it mellow out a bit. It is evident in the smell, for sure, and also the taste, which I will get to in a minute. Smell is largely caramel malts with a hint of a roasted flavor. Piney hops also come in and out.

Taste is overwhelmingly malty...probably shoulda drank this a couple weeks ago, being the hop-head that I am. Either way, caramel malts and piney hops are the dominant flavors. There are also some chocolate notes, surprisingly, which I did not expect at all. The finish leaves a roasted taste on the palate. The caramel malt is the first thing I taste, followed by muted piney hops. A delicious combination! Then very slight chocolate tastes tickle the palate followed by a roasted malty finish. ABV is surprisingly well masked. I would never have guessed 9%.

Mouthfeel is great. Nicely carbonated and textured. I almost want to chew it. Nicely syrupy without being too thick. Like I said on the ABV, it's hard to find. That being said, I could sit and drink a full 750mL of this without an issue, which I am going to finish doing, now that I am finished with this review.

NittanyBeerFan, Mar 09, 2009
Photo of WalterSobchak
3.38/5  rDev -11.3%

Pours a hazy mahogany with a tight thin white cap, not much of a head.
Rich chocolate and malts and that's about it.
I'm pleasantly surprised. Definitely a malt heavy beer but the very nicely done carbonation and hops follow up make it lively on the palate and a lasting smokey malt flavor.
Fairly drinkable but not really my thing; I would recommend it for those who are into the malts.

WalterSobchak, Feb 28, 2009
Photo of mwilbur
3.3/5  rDev -13.4%

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter. Labeled as 2008 bottle.
A: Pours red in color with high carbonation producing thick (2+ inches) off-white head. Decent retention on the glass.
S: Boozy malt aroma. Some floral and herbal hop notes come through after a bit.
T: Unfortunately, the high ABV overpowers the rest of the brew. In the background, herbal hops with a hint of pine are noted. Malt is barely distinguishable.
M: Medium body, alcohol lingers with a bit of hoppy bite.
D: This certainly isn't a terrible beer, but when comparing to the original Sawtooth there is no comparison. Sawtooth is a wonderful beer...making a higher ABV version doesn't go so well. I'm glad I tried it, but it certainly won't be a regular in the rotation.

mwilbur, Feb 25, 2009
Photo of oldbowhunter
2.48/5  rDev -34.9%

A - Corked and caged bottle poured into a pint glass. Color was a murky, copper; sediment settled and the beer cleared somewhat. Slim, off-white head which fell off with little lace - reminiscent of a day-old beer??? Something I may discuss with my retailer.

S - The aroma is definitely heavy on the malty side, with tastes of (over) rip figs and brown (burnt) sugar.

T - Initial taste is very malty and yeasty, then turns to a lingering bitterness and alcohol.

M - A medium to heavy bodied beer; thick and sweet, reminiscent of cold medicine.

D - Takes "getting used to." Definitely a sipping brew.

I probably won't drink this beer in the future.

oldbowhunter, Feb 20, 2009
Photo of goatgoat
3.45/5  rDev -9.4%

Pours a dark copper with a thick off-white head. Head falls into a thin cap leaves a moderate lace. Aroma is strong and balanced. Sweet, lightly honeyed and dark fruit malts with musty herbal hops. Taste is malt forward at first switching over to a lingering hop bitterness. There's a bit of late astringency and alcohol warming. A good medium heavy mouth.

A decent brew. Seems it was last brewed in early 2008, I probably would have enjoyed this more if it were fresher.

goatgoat, Feb 19, 2009
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%

"I'm a lumberjack baby
I'm a lumberjack baby
But I ain't jacked my lumber baby
Since my chain saw you"

--Jackyl

Tropical sunset orange suffused with a coral blush. The beer is clear so far, but should become nicely murky once the sediment at the bottom of the bottle is added. The pour produced a generous four fingers of khaki colored foam that has a wonderfully creamy, sticky texture. Loads of outstanding looking lace definitely helps the cause.

The nose suggests an ale that has both pale and caramel malts, as well as fruity hops. No single member of the hop bill takes charge (Magnum, U.S. Goldings, Fuggles and Cascade). All in all, the aroma is slightly underwhelming, although I have faith that it will improve over time. Note: it does.

Left Hand Chainsaw Ale is a rock-solid American strong ale that could also be thought of as an American barleywine. I have no idea when in 2008 it was bottled, but it's drinking fine on this sunny afternoon in mid-February 2009. It isn't too brash or hot, and it definitely isn't toothless (chainsaw reference).

There's more melted English toffee on the palate than was suspected. There's also a hint of tobacco-like earthiness that is probably due to Munich malt. It isn't overdone, though, which is good. The top notes are reminiscent of fruit soaked in fruit brandy. Apricots first, followed by oranges... and maybe a handful of cherries as well. This really is tasty stuff if you're a fan of big beer.

The mouthfeel could stand to be more chewy (personal preference), but is fine for the style and the ABV. It makes drinking quickly a breeze, as does the soft, caressing carbonation. That said, I'd advise against it. Sipping this beast is the way to go.

Chainsaw Ale doesn't exactly carve a wide swath through the American strong ale style, but it does carve out its own little niche. Even at the slightly high price of $12.99, I'd be happy to fire this baby up again. But first, I need to ease my way into the evening with the final half of this one.

BuckeyeNation, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of stephens101
3.55/5  rDev -6.8%

I have always been a big fan of the Left Hand Sawtooth Ale due to the fact that it retains drinkability (not the Bud Light kind) while maintaining a hearty taste, so I've been looking forward to getting my hands the Chainsaw Ale (or Double Sawtooth). Here I'm reviewing the 2008 vintage.

There's a good amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottle that mixes up after a little bit the usual before pour handling. The pour is a hazy ruby red that is finished off with a one and a half finger, quickly fading light tan head. A few splotches of lace are left on one side of the glass. The aroma is big on sour cherries up front, then comes some figs, yeast, and burnt sugar. The aroma is deep, bold, and somewhat gnarly. The taste involves some toasted malts, dark fruits, subtle hops, bubblegum, and taffy. A bit of astringency exists. Mouth-feel is medium to full-bodied, and goes down just a little uneven, but nothing too extreme.

Left Hand makes some great brews, and seeing as they're one of the first Craft brewers I really started following, I have a lot of nostalgia for them. That being said, some of their bigger brews, while getting high marks on complexity and taste, lack just a little too much in the balance department to get them to that next tier of brews.

___

**updated review 5/22/10**

Left Hand puts their own twist on the Belgian Strong with this one. Whether you like it or not is probably of personal preference, but I can't find a lot wrong with it.

Has a dark reddish-brown core with hazy orange edges. One finger of tan head jets quickly and some tiny streaks of lace stick around the perimeter of the glass.

Smells of dark chocolates, cherries, esters, caramel, allspice and a negligible damp earthiness. A bit thin on the palatte, comparitively speaking, but fairly tasty with the Sawtooth bitterness shining through. Some marischino cherry sweetnees and a little woodiness finish things off.

Has a medium body and a prominent alcohol heat that lasts throughout the session.

stephens101, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of cjgator3
4.35/5  rDev +14.2%

750ml bottle

A- Corked and caged bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark amber color with a huge off-white head that possesses excellent retention and lacing.

S- The aroma leans heavily towards the malty side with a lot of toasted malts and caramel along with some hops as well.

T- The taste provides a lot of malt and caramel like the aroma suggests, but the taste also has a really nice hop presence that was a little surprising considering the malt stealing the show in the aroma.

M- The mouthfeel is on the lighter side with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Not bad at all, I'm really enjoying this one. Overall, this is one of the better offerings I've had from Left Hand. Highly recommended!

cjgator3, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of rye726
4/5  rDev +5%

Not trying to be a style cop, but I'd definately call this one a barleywine. Pours anice amber with a tan head. The nose has sweet sugary malts and subtle citrus hops. The taste is not too complex. Candy malts balanced by bitter hops. Medium to full body is well carbonated. Overall, a bit light, but still quite good.

rye726, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of jujubeast6000
2.7/5  rDev -29.1%

Reviewed 8/25/2006 (bottle):

Pours a cloudy light-ish brown/red colored body, with a slightly off-white head. Has a very nutty aroma, and maltiness. A very malty taste, somewhat acidic. Also has a corn syrup sweet-like taste. Not too bad for a malty beer.

jujubeast6000, Jan 20, 2009
Photo of tpd975
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%

Thanks to SeaBass for serving this one up.

A: Pours a golden shade of brown with an average sized creamy head. The retention is good with nice spotty lace noted.

S: Tons of sweet caramel malt with notes of dark brown sugar. Nice piney hops with notes of herbal grassy hops.

T: Nice balance exhibited. Brown sugar with notes of caramel malt. Nice resinous pine hops come next. A bit of tea round things out.

M: Medium to full in body, smooth with good carbonation.

D: Damn drinkable. Left Hand does in fact make some real nice brews. Hopefully more and more will find their way into Florida.

tpd975, Jan 11, 2009
Photo of Cyberkedi
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%

Has a strong, malty aroma with a fruity overtone, mainly apple, so it smells more like fruit juice than beer. Pours a very appetizing translucent cola brown with a very thick, fluffy, light tan head that sticks around for a bit. Flavor is malty with a rather strong alcohol bite and a firm undertone of hops, along with hints of caramel and cinnamon. Texture is very smooth and just a little bit syrupy, leaving a tingly finish that is edgy and hop-bitter but just a tad sweet.

Cyberkedi, Dec 31, 2008
Photo of WickedSluggy
4.38/5  rDev +15%

I enjoyed this malty strong ale. Having a head-cold, I was afraid I would not be able to taste much. (Two nights ago, this cold ruined my Great Divide Old Ruffian - a brew I usually enjoy tasted like hop tea)

I was very pleasantly surprised. I will have to get another bottle and try it when my sinuses clear.

A - Amber brown; second poor with inevitable floating yeast (25oz bommber) since it is a bottle conditioned ale.

S - Nice caramel malty (I have a cold, but it still smells good).

T - Not as bitter hoppy as my usual choices.
Malty caramel, sweet - Just what I was hoping for on this occasion.

M - Full bodied with light carbonation.

D - The 25oz bomber is plenty. Good dessert brew or meal replacement. If I were to follow this up with a second beer that beer would be somthing light bodied.

WickedSluggy, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of magictrokini
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%

An excellent American Strong, right up there with Arrogant Bastard. Hazy copper pour with a medium off-white head. Rich aroma of caramel malt, piney hops, and yeast. Nice bittersweet taste of leather, wood, caramel, resiny hops, and a touch of smoke. An all-around excellent beer.

magictrokini, Dec 10, 2008
Photo of pinotboy007
3.05/5  rDev -19.9%

A - Murky root beer with amber color, decent cream colored head that leaves some nice clumps of lace; some yeast floaties, too.

S - Malt that has a pronounced Belgian inspiration to it.

T/M - Malty hops with some nice toffee/caramel notes and even a tinge of leather as it warms. Has decent enough mouthfeel but is a bit thinner than I'd hoped.

D - I may need to try this again. I can see this as a dessert and cigars kind of ale.

pinotboy007, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of Monkeyknife
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%

Poured from the bottle a dark hazy brownish-orange with a thin beige head and lots of yeastie floaties.

Malty aroma with toffee and caramel accents. Light floral hops are there but subtle.

Taste is much like the aroma. Very malty with caramel, toffee, and dark cherries. Finishes with a chocolate milk and vanilla flavor. The alcohol is well hidden.

Medium bodied, smooth and creamy, and lightly carbonated.

A big malty beer for the winter season. Definitely not a sessionable beer. Try it when you can.

Monkeyknife, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of BirdFlu
4.3/5  rDev +12.9%

Pours a brownish amber color, a bit like a cola or rootbeer, though a little less opaque. Sort of looks likea scotch/wee heavy. It tastes like it should have a darker color, but is still nice looking.
Smells very malty, like roasted malts and cocoa. A bit of a milk chocolate smell. The aroma isn't very strong, but its enticing.
Taste is very nice. Its sweet but I did not find it to be a syrupy sweetness. Chocolate (milk, again, not dark), roasted malts, toffee, a bit caramel. Has a bit of a bittersweet aftertaste that isn't very strong. Again, like rootbeer.
Mouth is a medium ground and well carbonated. Not too much gravity, which is good cause its a big bottle but it doesn't weigh you down. A good body for the flavor.
Very drinkable. Its delicious and not too heavy like a stout or something.

BirdFlu, Nov 02, 2008
Photo of GilGarp
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%

Chainsaw or Double Sawtooth is a creative play on their classic Sawtooth Ale.

Served on tap at the brewery, it has a hazy ruby-red/brown color and no head.

As with many of the beers I tried there just wasn't that much aroma. Maybe I'm a little stuffed up.

Flavors of toasted malts, toffee, and vanilla. Some clove spiciness. Lots of bitterness on the finish with an earthy hop quality.

Mouthfeel is good and full bodied with low carbonation. It's smooth but strong. One is enough. It's just too strong for multiples but a good sipping beer.

As it warms, there is an unfortunate scented candle flavor from the vanilla but otherwise it's a good strong ale.

GilGarp, Oct 21, 2008
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +18.1%

Left Hand's 2008 bottle conditioned Chainsaw Ale pours a very dark copper/chestnut brown color, and it's topped by a creamy khaki head. The head retention is excellent and it continually maintains a full surface covering. It eventually erodes to a thin. 1/4" lid, but still leaves some very nice spots and splashes of lace as it goes.

The aroma is clearly bent towards malt (richly grainy, toasty and bready with a rich caramel edge), and well-infused with floral, leafy, and grassy hops. A hint of spiciness sneaks in, as well as some dark fruitiness.

In the mouth it's full bodied and remarkably creamy and slick with a very-fine-bubbled, natural (bottle-conditioned), and moderate carbonation.

The flavor is very much as the nose suggests, but much fuller and wider in flavor. It starts with a combination of smoothly caramelish bread, and oat-like malt infused with fruitiness; and then moves into spiciness and more hoppy notes that include pine/herbs, leaves, and a touch of grassiness. There's some mild yeasty fruitiness as well, including apples, berries, a hint of dark fruit, and perhaps some papaya (even coconut). The spiciness includes mild coriander and cardamom... and perhaps a suggestion of anise. It finishes dry with a wash of alcohol that clears the residual maltiness; as well as a slap of alcohol that helps to dry it.

It's rich, full, and complex - how can you go wrong? Certainly worth seeking out!

NeroFiddled, Oct 03, 2008
Photo of BeerSox
3.53/5  rDev -7.3%

750ml bottle into snifter.

Cloudy ruby hue with a one finger light tan head that settles to a thin cap.

Syrupy hard candy aroma with some contrasting spicy, bitter hop aromas.

The candy flavor is repeated, with a little bit of caramel malt flavor. Assertive hop bitterness, but nothing overpowering. Full bodied with good carbonation. The finish is a bit of lingering malts.

An interesting beer but nothing too special. It isn't the hoppiest beer either, just a strong ale.

BeerSox, Aug 31, 2008
Photo of blakesell
3.85/5  rDev +1%

I found this in the back of the cellar when clearing out some old beers. This one has to be about 3 years old at this point.

Poured from the caged and corked 750ml bottle into an oversized brandy snifter.

Appearance- Beer pours a brown amber with enough pulp to look like brown orange juice and a very thin head that quickly fades. The beer looks to have eaten a little of the cork, but it has done nothing really to kill off the carbonation. Lacing is even and clings to the sides of the glass.

Smell- Subdued hops that I'm sure were much fresher at an earlier time, but at this point it smells like a strong English ale with just a hint of oxidation, but not enough to detract from the beer overall. I catch some figs and raisins in there as well as hops and a balanced malt.

Taste- Tastes like a strong ale alright, I was pretty sure it was a double IPA or a double pale, but now it simply tastes like a strong ale. Not a bad one either. Age hasn't damaged this beer too terribly bad, but I wouldn't let it age any longer. Lightly warming considering it's high gravity. Decently malty.

Mouthfeel- Not cloying, not overly oxidized, not warming, smooth, medium in carbonation and medium full bodied.

Drinkability- I may have to hunt down a fresh bottle after sampling this one, this is one fine beer from Left Hand.

blakesell, Aug 30, 2008
Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4/5  rDev +5%

Sweet and malty, splash of hops. Dark and sticky, kind of earthy like a ripe cheese, a little dark fruit.

Pours dirty copper/amber color, translucent, moderate head.

Expectedly thick and malty, the first sip delves me into a dark world of the chewy and the sweet. Dark fruit, cherry, plum, etc. Brown sugary, hints at maple. Hint of chocolate and coffee. Light alcohol buzz. Balancing hops: floral, perfumey, a little spicy and perhaps a little earthy. After reading the description, it is a kind of herbal.

Nice yeast cake on bottle bottom.

Pretty good. A dark, malty, sweet brew.

MrHungryMonkey, Aug 26, 2008
Chainsaw Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 292 ratings.