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Chainsaw Ale - Left Hand Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Chainsaw AleChainsaw Ale

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

304 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 304
Reviews: 170
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
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Ratings: 304 | Reviews: 170 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bound4er
2.33/5  rDev -38.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A. A stiff pour produced minimal, white head (not much density to the head either) over an amber liquid. Kind of meh looking.

S. Faint malt and an alcoholic cherry note - not much else.

T. Thin, uninteresting but not off-putting. Some citrus flavor upon entry and then mild piney bitterness from the hops at the close.

M. Thin, almost watery feeling and a bit low on carbonation.

D. Man, this beer did next to nothing for me. The beer "guy" at my local bottle shop recommended this. I guess I should have ignored him and grabbed the Founders Porter is was eyeing up. One of these is more than enough for me.

bound4er, Apr 17, 2010
Photo of babaracas
2.3/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a slightly hazy red with amber edges, fast fading thin white head, couple of dots of lace. Smell: an astringent lemon ("we need more lemon Pledge"), leafy, toffee, cherry cough syrup. Taste: caramel, citrus peel, Capri Sun Cherry. Mouthfeel: medium bodied, nothing special, cherry cough syrup finish. This is really horrific, it tastes like a cherry Capri Sun with a big medicinal finish. Up until this, I was on the fence with Left Hand... hadn't been impressed but nothing was bad... this is just bad. You're off my christmas card list Left Hand! (2/3rds of bomber down the drain).

babaracas, Apr 16, 2010
Photo of brownbeer
2.03/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Poured from a bomber of the newest label. Bottled in 2010.

The appearance is a rather muddled looking orange-brown with no head.

The aroma is faint for a double anything, I mean off in the distance, far away. What I can smell is a medicial maraschino cherry. The aroma just gets further and further away until it's almost completely gone.

The mouthfeel is flat and syrupy, borderline horrendous for me. The taste is about as bland as the aroma. Dirty, watery taste that quickly transitions to a harsh finish, which isn't from a desirable hoppiness, it's just harsh. It makes me grimace. It's kind of cardboardy and becomes more medicinal as it warms. It lacks any warmth, depth, creaminess, or any other enjoyable qualities.

I really like Sawtooth, and a number of other Left Hand beers for that matter, but this is no Double Sawtooth. I've enjoyed few beers less.

brownbeer, Apr 14, 2010
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A solid offering from Left Hand here. Pours a ruby-amber-copper with a creamy off white head. Slight stickiness around the glass as it drinks.
A fruity aroma, soft fruit like apricots, raisins and some floral. Malt offers a strong backbone and if you put some jam on toast you might get the same aroma, perhaps not as strong though.
A fruit/caramel mix in the flavors. Seems the hops provide a good start off with a floral and soft fruit bouquet and malt comes along to offer a caramel biscuit. None of the flavors dominate, they take turns, and none are super strong. Alcohol is just beneath the surface, well hidden and soft.
Good drinking for a Strong Ale. Neither bitter nor sweet, and with a clean finish.

Mebuzzard, Apr 10, 2010
Photo of Parrotbeak
3.33/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Murky, rusty amber with a thin, white head that fades quickly, leaving some very thin patches.
Smell is sweet, sourdough-bready malts. Red fruits.
Taste is heavy, slightly sweet malts accompanied by some bitter hops. Caramel notes follow, with some faint, mushy red fruits. Finish is slightly bitter and malty, with a touch of brown sugar.
Mouthfeel is fairly flat and flabby, with a tiny bit of carbonation. Medium body, with a watery finish.
Drinkability is okay. While the alcohol is well-concealed, this one is a bit messy and off-balanced.

Parrotbeak, Apr 08, 2010
Photo of Flashsp2
4.38/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Chainsaw Ale

Poured from a 2006 750ml (corked and wired) into a snifter. Beautiful deep mahogony color with a two finger, fluffy/creamy, tightly bubbled, beige head. Dissipates to a thin layer which stays all the way through. Decent lacing down the sides.

Deep vinous aroma with spices, maybe some slight oxidation from the hops. Smells of bourbon, with some raisin and prune notes as well. Some underlying caramel malty sweetness. Nose is almost overwhelming, some overripe dark fruit linger. The aging has really brought out some massive complexities here.

Dark fruit in the taste, some bourbon with the subtle boozy sting, some malty sweetness underlying it all, and hanging out a bit at the end. A little bit of oxidation in the form a slight wet cardboard taste, but given the age and likely substandard storage (the distributor found it after almost two years), it's still amazingly good. Maybe some currant? Anise? Hops pull through around midway, giving a little bite that lingers almost to the end. The end is mainly prune, licorice. Big pruny and bourbon throughout. Better storage would have made this amazing, but for now it's damn near amazing.

Mouthfeel is lush, full bodied, nearing syrupy, but since it's not entirely sweet the viscosity is actually quite nice. The 9% is well hidden. Quite quaffable indeed.

Got this for $4, and at that price I would definitely consume this bad boy again....and again

Flashsp2, Mar 15, 2010
Photo of ImusBeer
3.3/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a regular 16oz pint glass. Dark amber in color and slightly cloudy. About an inch of head yellowish tan in color. some lacing on the sides of the glass as I drank.

Aroma was mostly malt and kind of sweet. Taste mimicked the aroma with malty tones and possibly dates.

It was slightly silky feeling on the tongue, smooth and a bit syrupy. Lots of Hop pine bite at the end.

ImusBeer, Feb 17, 2010
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 750ml corked bottle poured into my nonic pint glass. Appears a clear crimson amber with about an inch of light ecru foam. Nose and flavors consist of caramel malt, brown sugar, biscuits, floral hops, apples. Approaching full bodied but not quite there and amply carbonated. Worth trying if you like the style.

ClockworkOrange, Oct 04, 2009
Photo of markaberrant
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - deep red, dark, but glows when held to the slightest bit of light, very clear, small light tan head, eventually receeds and leaves some scant lacing.

S - juicy sweet malt and hops hit my nostrils before I can even finish pouring, mostly malt, carmel and booze

T - carmel, brown sugar, chocolate (not roasty), booze adds some dark rummy notes, hops are mildly spicy, bitterness is not high, but does not finish sweet, aftertaste is lingering chocolate and bready malt

M - med body, low carbonation, gives it a nice weight and depth without being heavy or cloying, booze shows up more in the aroma and flavour than in the back of the throat, very nice and smooth

D - real nice malty american ale, rich and satisfying

Without a doubt, this beer will not satisfy hopheads, but it is an excellent choice for anyone that loves malt. Not as fruity as an english barleywine, but every bit as complex and enjoyable, maybe even more. This is my first taste of Left Hand's beer, and I look forward to trying more.

markaberrant, Jul 12, 2009
Photo of djeucalyptus
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours a beautiful, rich amber with hints of ruby. relatively clear from a gentle pour (tons of sediment remains at the bottom of the bottle). A nice looking burnt caramel-colored head of a solid finger fades a bit quicker than I would have liked.

aroma is intoxicatingly rich and complex. rich toasted caramel, molasses and brown sugar intermingle with fruit and berry notes as well as a bit of earthy alcohol. Digging it.

Taste follows nicely. rich toasty sweet. almost overwhelmingly sweet... the fruit notes in the aroma translate into caramel sweetness on the tongue. not a bad thing... but almost a bit much. the malt presence is mellow but strong enough to smooth the flavors out.

mouth is creamy, full, well balanced, with light and soft carbonation that coaxes all the flavors out of the beer across the tongue. A tiny bit slick and just a hint sticky, with a tad bit of residual sugary bitterness.

Drinkability is solid for such a high abv. smooth and balanced, with some great flavors that make an interesting brew. It has some english barleywine notes that give it a bit more character and depth than the usual strong ale. One I'd definitely seek out again.

djeucalyptus, Jul 04, 2009
Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.4/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Hazy, dark-amber/red body and a big, creamy head with an orange tint. Leaves a solid sheet of lacing and retains at about 1/8 inch thick. Body is too hazy to see carbonation streams, but the head is composed of mostly micro-small bubbles with a few larger bubbles mostly along the edge opposite my sip.

S- Lots of sweet, creamy, and grainy aromas in the nose. There's a hint of suntan lotion (coconut, pineapple, banana) on top of a biscuit and caramel malt base.

T- The taste is more bitter than the nose led me to believe. It really helps to balance the sweeter caramel malt flavors on the tongue. Ends up tasting spicy and doughy. There is a hint of tea with flavors of honey and flowers.

M- Creamy in body and carbonation, this beer goes quick with a very quaff-able personality.

D- Enjoyable in many ways, drink it with or without food. I forgot to mention alcohol characteristics because they weren't noticeable.

EnojysAnyBeer, Jun 27, 2009
Photo of ryrust5301
3.7/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Dark golden brown caramel color. Looks rich as hell, as if it has a heavy body to it. Murky and dark, just like a thick toffee bar. I can tell that this will be a malt heavy beer. Head was a frothy off white color, that settled in quite nicely to leave a glowing ring on the top. An off white mist lays atop the beer.

Smell - Thick, rich, and dark caramel malt with a BIG sweetness. Hops have pretty much drown in the slab of caramel toffee that this beer seems to have had thrown in.

Taste & Mouthfeel - This one has serious barleywine capabilities. Huge, massive, and rich caramel taste. Boatloads of malt must have been thrown in to make this beer as deep as it is. Unfortunately it's a little one sided, as only a faint amount of hops come through in the back end. It's a little to smooth in the mouth and kinda syrupy. A little carbonation pop could really make this one go.

Drinkability - Maybe this one has been cellared too long and the age has taken it's toll. This one seems more of a barleywine to me, but it's definitely an enjoyable drink.

ryrust5301, May 25, 2009
Photo of ShrLSU
3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 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%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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


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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

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
Chainsaw Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 304 ratings.