Life and Limb
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Life and LimbLife and Limb
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Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Style:
Strong Ale - American
Ranked #41
ABV:
10.2%
Score:
90
Ranked #6,057
Avg:
4.04 | pDev: 11.39%
Reviews:
785
Ratings:
1,652
From:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
 
California, United States
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  161
Gots
  492
SCORE
90
Outstanding
Life and LimbLife and Limb
Notes: Brewed in collaboration with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

Eight years after it was last seen, a blast from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s past is set to return.

That creation is Life and Limb 2019, a 10.2 percent ABV strong ale brewed with birch and maple syrup that is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada’s founder Ken Grossman and brewer Brian Grossman and Dogfish Head Brewery’s founder and president Sam Calagione and vice president Mariah Calagione. This will be the third time that the ale has been released after it debuted in 2009 and it was rereleased in 2011.
Reviews: 785 | Ratings: 1,652 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Jwale73
Jwale73 from Rhode Island

4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep cellar pick - vintage 2009. 22oz. bottle served in a Spiegelau tulip. Pours the color and clarity of cola with a tight, creamy one-inch, tan-colored head that slowly disperses into a tight band around the shoulders and a dollop across the center. Nose expresses hints of roast, cocoa and root beer. Taste consistent with nose with some dryness to the cocoa almost akin to bakers chocolate. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body with a mild carbonation just shy of still and a slight creaminess to the texture. Overall, this beer has held up quite well for the age. I'll need to seek out a recent vintage to note the differences. Everything has coalesced nicely with time.

Sep 24, 2021
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EmperorBevis from England

4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bevis Maun
Life and Limb by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Bevis Maun is drinking a Life and Limb by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. at Beer Nouveau

Leafy old ale tasting real good stuff

Can Can
American Craft Beer Around The World Earned the American Craft Beer Around The World badge!
Sky's the Limit (Level 52) Earned the Sky's the Limit (Level 52) badge!

Jun 13, 2021
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz can. Dated '09/19/19'.
Deep brown colored body, with a garnet back lit edge. Tan, small bubble head sticks around. Leaves behind rings and spots of lacing.
Aroma of toffee, oak, maple, woody root, and maple. Also some dark fruit of cherry and fig.
Taste is toffee and molasses, dark fruit, maple, oak, and a sweeter malt. Starts to have the flavor of an artisan root soda in the after taste.
Creamy, thicker mouth feel. Produces a little tongue numbness after several sips. Good carbonation.
Very interesting taste profile for a beer. No bitterness, but certainly not overly sweet. Hides the higher ABV% well. Heavily influenced by the two syrups.

Nov 19, 2020
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woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

CANother night, CANother Sierra Nevada CANlaboration for The CANQuest (tm)! Last night, it was Bitburger & them, tonight is them & DFH. 'Nuff said.

From the CAN: "Ale Brewed with Maple Syrup and Birch Syrup"; "We are proud to share our third version of Life and Limb with its thousands of other branches that collectively comprise the craft brewing family tree. Sip slowly with friends and loved ones and savor long because one could do better than be a swigger of birches."; "Life[:] This living brew is naturally carbonated to enhance complexity and refinement and to encourage aging."; "Limb[:] For the Birch and Maple trees, whose syrup give this unique ale its flavor and symbolize the collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head."

I Crack!ed open the vent & beCAN a slow, gentle C-Line Glug into the awaiting glass. I was pleasantly surprised by the formation of two-plus fingers of dense, foamy, rocky, deep-tan/light-brown head with excellent retention that slowly fell away to a skim. Color was Very Dark Brown to Black/Opaque (SRM = > 34, < 44), allowing cola highlights to be seen at the edges. Nose was VERY sweet and CANbined maple syrup with the equally familiar smell of birch beer!

The latter is actually pop (soda pop) & a PA Dutch country staple. You would be hard-pressed to find any true Lancaster or Berks County native that has not had Birch Beer in their lifetime. A-Treat was a major manufacturer, but Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer is now widely sold, if you are interested.

Mouthfeel was big, thick, full & creamy, like a dollop had been scooped into my mouth & onto my tongue. The taste bordered on my leading edge of tolerance for sweetness. The maple syrup sweetness was actually causing me to sweat in response until the sharpness of the birch syrup kicked in.

This would be a good place to point out that Birch Beer (pop) is NOT Root Beer (pop)! It CAN be an acquired taste with a pronounced sharpness that sweet root beer does not evince. Also, it is a deep, rich red color, further differentiating it.

The birch syrup was really making it for this beer. Without it, I think that this would be far too sweet for CANsumption, ever. I have a good feeling that this is really going to smooth over time with age. I would hope for a drop-off of the sweetness as the sharper birch becomes more assertive, something that was already happening, a year into its time in the CAN. It was also dangerously drinkable as I realized when I stood up to do something & it hit me like a runaway freight train! Whoa. Time for a transcription break.

Okay, I'm back. No wonder they disCANage being a "swigger of birches" - my head was beginning to swim! I beCAN to savor each subsequent sip from that point onward. This was a definite ass-kicker, or perhaps I am out of practice with several long months of hard, grueling work. Either way, I was fully into taking it easy. Warming, closing in on room temperature, it became much more strong in terms of its spicy, earthy, almost medicinal birch flavor.

Remember me saying that it was an acquired taste? It is NOT the sugariness of the maple, nor is it like root beer. I knew a LOT of locals that went off of alcohol, but took up Birch Beer in its place. Not sugary, not sweet & goes really well with hard pretzels. Mmm.

Finish was still making me sweat. The interaction between the maple & birch was reaching a level, at just one year in. I am setting a seCANd aside for MUCH later in the hopes that the birch becomes really assertive. In the meantime, YMMV.

Aug 12, 2020
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TheBricenator from Oregon

4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Jet black with a tan head that reduces to a thin layer leaving heavy lacing
Aroma: Maple, vegetal notes – almost chicory-like, molasses. No booze, no hops, slightly over-toasted bread
Taste: Oak, maple, brown sugar, almost melanoidin notes, figs, dates, caramel and again, zero alcohol heat that I can detect
Mouthfeel: Viscous but not heavy, lighter finish than expected and most welcome as it doesn’t coat the tongue or kill the palate – begs for another sip
Overall: Deep, heavy-hitter here – almost what I would call an “imperial brown ale” - and really good. Complex but not over-the-top and wouldn’t expect anything different or less from these two great breweries

May 30, 2020
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rajendra82 from Georgia

3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer in the tulip glass looked dark ruby in color and formed a one finger thick head that dissipated quickly. The aroma was pretty heavy on chocolate and maple syrup. The taste was quite different than I expected. It was not too sweet at all. Instead there was a mix of sour cherry, roast grain, and black coffee in the taste which I did not detect clearly in the smell. The finish is where I could get a touch of vanilla and some birch syrup astringency. The aftertaste was somewhat spicy. The body of the beer was quite thin, compared to other ales of this strength. Alcohol content was very well hidden under the layers of complexity, and there was no boozy feel here. Very interesting mix of flavors, and very cool looking can.

May 12, 2020
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DannyBoy15347 from Missouri

4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can dated 5-9-19 into a pint glass. Pours a nice dark black color with a big light tan head. Aroma is great, I get the maple syrup, carmel, as well as an awesome roasted malt character. Taste reflects all of the aromas with the rich malt flavor really shining bright. Mouthfeel is also really fantastic. I know the alcohol is there, but this brew is so smooth you'd never suspect it. Really an awesome collaboration between Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head!

Apr 30, 2020
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Beersnake1 from California

4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from fridge temp - 2019 vintage. Lots of tan head. Dark brown - almost black in color. Nose is black licorice, spice, burnt wood, dark fruit. Taste is molasses, raisins, dark fruit, licorice, and a lot of bitterness on the back end (maybe the birch syrup?). Mouthfeel is really nice and thick - chewy. Alcohol relatively undetectable. Really interesting and complex.

Apr 14, 2020
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HaoleBoy from California

4.44/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Canned one year ago. If I had the discipline I'd put a can back for another 6 months and see how it changes.
Deliciously sweet and spicy (peppery). Thick, rich, almost chewy mouthfeel.
Beer is definitely a "sipper" and fortunately, it holds up well as it warms. As you drink it the complexities are drawn out ... caramel, some cherry fruitiness, as well as subtle the roasted malt flavors.
A really remarkable beer.

Apr 09, 2020
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mactrail from Washington

3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Handsome dark brown brew with an abundant light beige foam in the thistle glass. Rich and sudsy on the tongue. Sweet but also tangy. Plenty sweet but the sap flavors are more interesting than the blandness of lactose or other residual sugar. Roasted malt, nuts, and cocoa. Hot and even peppery with alcohol, but smooth and clean.

Dark caramel aftertaste but not much bitterness. For a massively strong brew this is highly sippable and thoroughly interesting. A great alternative to the endless RIS styles. I think this is what DFH had been needing: a faultless big brewer to make their recipes. From the 16 oz can, a big of of tall order for something this strong. Packaged on 05/08/19, stamped on bottom of can.

Mar 03, 2020
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josanguapo from Spain

4.75/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

De Labirratorium. En copa Teku. Estudiando + Jugando a Order of the Thorn Kings Challenge. No he notado el sirope de arce, pero es todo un señor birrote, con un perfil tipo black ipa pero mas corpulenta

Feb 15, 2020
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BB1313 from Ohio

3.92/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2019 vintage. Canned on 5/9/19. 16oz can poured into a tulip. Pours a dark brown with auburn hues; creamy khaki head that sticks around leaving great thick retention and sticky frothy lacing. The aromas are malt forward. Some floral notes. Hints of maple, caramel and cocoa. The flavors are bolder than the nose indicates. The maple syrup really shines in the flavor department. Lots of caramel along with some chocolate and toffee. Brown sugar is there. It's sticky. It's definitely on the sweeter side, but it's not cloying. Strong malt backbone. Finishes with a subtle warmth, but it's not hot or boozy at all. Mouthfeel is full-bodied with moderate carbonation. It's fluffy, creamy, heavy, velvety and smooth.

This is a nice brew. The maple shines. Nice flavors. The craftsmanship is on point. There's about 8 months on this one and it has aged well. It's enjoyable and fun to drink. I like it.

Jan 15, 2020
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keithmurray from Connecticut

4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - dark mahogany body with tan head

Smell - caramel, anise, root beer, maple

Taste - root beer, maple, caramel, anise, toasted malts

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, medium carbonation, slight sweetness upfront, nice maple/root beer flavors on the back, nutty

Overall - nice beer here with good flavors, recommended

Price point - $10.99/ 4 pk 16 oz cans

Jan 05, 2020
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Snowcrash000 from Germany

4.08/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark mahogany coloration with a large, creamy head. Smells of toasted, bready, caramel malt, brown sugar and sweet and spicy maple/birch syrup. Taste follows the nose, being dominated by toasted, bready, caramel malt and sweet maple/birch syrup, with the birch syrup standing out particularly, lending a slightly spicy quality to this, as well as notes of brown sugar and earthy/herbal accents, with just a hint of pine and dark fruit: fig. Finishes bittersweet, with a light bitterness and some sweet and spicy maple/birch syrup, toasted, caramel malt and brown sugar lingering in the aftertaste. Full mouthfeel with medium/rich body and medium carbonation.

This is quite a well-balanced Strong Ale that's not nearly as sweet as I had feared from the maple and birch syrup additions. In fact, the more dominant birch syrup adds quite a nice spicy quality to this, while the rather herbal/earhy and lightly piney hop notes help balance out the sweeter bready, caramel malt, brown sugar and lighter dark fruit presence, Perhaps a tad boozy, but really not too bad, making for a rather pleasant sipper that manages a good balance between sweet and bitter/herbal/spicy notes.

Dec 29, 2019
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rex_4539 from Greece

4.19/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Jet black color, two finger light brown/beige head, messy lacing, no visible carbonation.

S: Coffee, chocolate.

T: Chocolate, roasted coffee, sweet.

F: Medium bodied, balanced, nicely flavored.

O: Good beer that I would gladly drink again.

Nov 07, 2019
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haines710 from Delaware

4.16/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found a 5/9/19 can in Wegmans and made it part of my six pack. Glad I did. It was very tasty and perfect for a fall night. Got better as it warmed and had great caramel and toffee notes. Creamy with a little bite. Not too sweet. I enjoyed very much.

Oct 27, 2019
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arizcards from North Carolina

3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a single from the Craft Beer Hop Stop 7-24-19 for $3.75. Canned on 5-9-19; consumed on 10-8-19.

Beer poured brown with a nice off white head that has some hang time and is leaving some lacing behind.

Nose is toasted with some light roast along with some sweet maple.

Taste is a toasted and light roasted malt base that is pretty large. A touch of sweet maple ties in nicely. Hopping is well played by the brewers to nicely balance out the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium to large bodied and proves to be a smooth sipper.

Overall this is better than i expected. I envisioned a brew that would be too sweet and funky given the DFH participation in this collaboration but it was actually enjoyable!

Oct 08, 2019
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chinchill from South Carolina

3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

16 oz can with a May 2019 packaging date stamp on the bottom - - from the Wall of Beer in Clemson ($3.69).
Served in a St. Bernardus snifter.
Pours with an essentially opaque dark brown body that is topped with a semi-durable tan head.
Mild aroma that suggests a less complex and interesting flavor than tasting reveals. Mildly bitter with faint sweet notes from the syrups.
Smooth medium+ body with medium-light carbonation and a touch of heat.
Overall: well balanced although I wish the maple and birch notes were more obvious.

Sep 20, 2019
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Jimmy_Kneecaps from Tennessee

3.32/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The pour is clear brown and in the glass the beer is very dark brown with over 3 fingers of very light tan head billowing over the top of the glass. Aroma is very faint but intricate and enjoyable, if you can stick your nose in the glass. Toffee, caramel, maple sweetness. Taste is kind of muted but exactly the same, however that goodness is kind of tainted by a metallic hint. Back from the dead! After the metallic bite, the finish keeps on keeping on for minutes. Sweet maple, caramel, maltiness continues to grace my taste buds and ALMOST saved the beer. Mouthfeel is thicker than medium, but not by much. Slick, slightly prickly, a little coating forms on the roof of my mouth. Overall I’m enjoying this beer and it would be excellent if this stupid metallic taste wasn’t in my mouth.

Sep 01, 2019
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sjrider from California

4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can, very dark brown with khaki head leaving some frosty lacing. Nose is sweet and malty. Taste follows with more delicate layers of sweetness -a malty ,earthy delight.. This is really tasty. Finish is creamy and smooth with a touch of woody dryness. ABV well hidden, this could easily get you in trouble -standing up, having an intelligible conversation,operating heavy machinery. To be enjoyed in a safe environment.

Aug 07, 2019
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.84/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

(one pint can, PKGD 050919... poured into a fat tulip)

L: dark garnet-brown liquid; ton of foam on pour (over-carbonated?). exploded, still sponge... 'naturally carbonated' - ohhhh, gotcha, ok - good idea!... bit of lacy leavings, not much

S: wood, sweet leather, sugar wood sap, stained desk... turbinado/hard-candy-like note; bit of urinal... like a bland, too-dry, off-base, American attempt at a Scotch ale?... little apparent booze... rather weak overall potency, but lovely earthiness

T: dark, bready, densely-malty base; woody and toasty on the edges, lightly-sweetish, lightly camp-fire smoky/burnt caramelized core... possibly picking up some delicate maple, but the absence of aggressive infusion and/or concentrated sweetness is rendering whatever subtle nuances exist almost neutral - maybe randall the mofo thru the sap?

F: plush, satiny texture; bit of sweet heat tickling on the finish... lends the feel of something one ought to savor before a long day of at-home bs to hash out; gives a lasting, hearty warmth

O: I like the concept, the beer itself is good, densely-layered, and pretty much to my tastes, but not unique at all, though I do believe I may grab another can or two to age if I happen across it... it's at least a 4/5 overall, but it ain't clickin' (1425)

Aug 05, 2019
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HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has around a medium body with light carbonation
Aroma is birch,earthy,wood/spice, root beer
Taste is similar to aroma with birch being center stage and the maple is more of a backup dancer. Reminded me of adult rootbeer but not very sweet

Aug 04, 2019
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can poured into a snifter

A-pours a brown color with a one-finger off-white colored head that has decent retention.

S- Smells of brown malts, toasted nuts, bread crust, maple syrup and some earthy wood

T- sweet and nutty brown malts up front give notes of brown bread, walnuts, caramel and toffee. Mid-palate gives some woody notes, as well as some maple sweetness. The finish continues with the sweet maple, as well as more nutty malt

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that continues into a slightly warming finish

O- This is listed as an American Strong Ale but drinks just like a brown ale, and a good one at that

Jul 30, 2019
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ovaltine from Indiana

4.5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a rich mahogany brown with a full tan head. Beautiful beer, and it leads into a beer with big maple aromas and what I’m assuming is birch (though I’m not aware of a “birch aroma”) that is very organic and earthy.

The maple is up front on the taste, but it is actually the rhythm guitar to the fantastic lead guitar lick offered by that organic, earthy note from the nose. It’s a little spicy, it’s a LOT oaky, to the point that you’re wondering where the vanilla notes relinquish control to the maple and vice versa.

I wish I had a campfire, a dozen or so NBSers, and a keg of this beer so we could solve all the world’s problems, because this beer is at that level, IMHO.

Jul 29, 2019
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cjgiant from District of Columbia

4.48/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Can:
A deep brown body that is easily distinguishable from black with a halfway decent inspection. Head has varied in pours, but generally has ended in an average ring that doesn’t supply much lacing.

Nose definitely brings out the earthy root spice vibe, with birch being specifically distinguishable. The base is a cinnamon bread, toasted on medium that was allowed to toast a longer as the coils cooled.

Taste is more earthy, and has a little hint of Palo Santo in it. A bit more rich and heavier than other old ales, but also not as sweet. The birch spice grabs hold by mid taste, seemingly aided by the maple that never grab the palate for itself. Earthy, but not bogged down by it.

I really liked this beer as a pseudo-Altbier. There’s some bite and spice from the birch, craftily added.

---
Revisit of a can from a four pack from SN, dated congruous with my original review, so I'm confident it's an aged version.

At over 2 years old, the look is still impressive - perhaps better maintenance by SN than the distributors? It actually looks better today than my review indicates, so up a notch.

Nose isn't quite as strong - general spice and cola and lightly roasted malt, Feel wasn't mentioned in my original review, but it's a solid medium towards heavy without being thick or cloying. Muted but appropriate carbonation.

Taste isn't too different than noted, but I might argue there's less distinctive "spice" to the beer. An earthy heavily toasted and not quite roasty malt backbone with a more neutral spice note that is more notable in the aftertaste than up front. Aged version is backing up my assessment of flat enjoyment quite well.

Jul 25, 2019
Life and Limb from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 1652 ratings