Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & Limb | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & LimbSierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & Limb
Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & LimbSierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & Limb

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: English Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
(2009 Vintage) Vintage Ale brewed with Molasses, Maple, Birch

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 747 | Ratings: 1,547
Photo of travolta
3.89/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Nice light khaki lacing, minimal head retention. Red cola color.

Nose: Toasted malt, brown sugar, molasses, treacle, candied sugars. Faint sweet plum and grape must.

Taste: Sweet chocolate, freshly roasted coffee beans, maple syrup and cloves. Wood char at the finish.

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Photo of Jaunty
4.9/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Really liked this beer, Malty, has a licorice taste, Dark, but has a fresh taste. Probably the maple and birch syrups. Not a thick mouthfeel, thin, Dark with light lacing. I wish I would have waited one week longer to drink this beer for my Birthday. Just a Dam Good Beer! My DH wants another one. Wish it was not retired.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very dark brown appearance, lesser tan head 1/3". Aroma had some interesting and unique stuff going on, all that birch, maple and honey stuff.

The taste yields a warming sensation, and mild impact of some of the smells. This comes off as very much a DFH beer more than a SN one. I dunno, its one of those, well glad I got to check it out but it is kind of expensive for its enjoyment value type of beers, would not bang again, other than the 2nd one I bought at the same time that I thought might improve with some age. TBD.

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Photo of stevoj
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage. Dark and toasty in the taste, aroma fairly faint. Black body with small beige head. Taste makes up for aroma in a big way, plenty of burn at the back. Some dried pit fruit, some oak, some chocolate. Extremely enjoyable.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Dark black with a persistent 2”clingy light tan foam collar that mounds up over the rim of the glass. S: Traces of malt and caramel with hearbal woody notes and a suggestion of root beer. T: Toasted malt, root beer, roast, light sweetness, big alcohol. F: Full body, creamy, soft carbonation, slight warming. O: This is a rich, creamy, complex, deep and full bodied beer.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.02/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml bottle, Batch 2 (from 2011), poured into a Cantillon taster 7/7/2014.

A- Dark mahogany body with a half finger white head with limited retention. No lacing.

S- Smells interesting. A bit of cardboard, a bit of dark fruit, and a predominant sweet sugary maple syrup-like scent. This has clearly oxidized over the last 3 years, and while it still smells interesting, I am sure that it did not improve much, if at all.

F- Maple syrup, candi sugar, caramel, toffee. This has the elements of a generic strong ale with a distinct syrup character. There is some oxidation that detracts from it, though.

M- Medium body but with a sticky syrupy consistency on the finish; lower in carbonation, a bit difficult to drink given the strong oxidation that has taken place over the last 3 years despite being cellared properly in a wine fridge.

O- If you are still sitting on bottles of this, I would crack them open and see if it's come to a place where you like it. I don't think this has done very well with age on it.

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Photo of Levich
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Opened up a bottle of batch #2 from 2011. There was a vigorous pop when the cork was pulled. Poured into a goblet.

This beer is veer deep mahogany color with light caramel head that dissipates leaving a thin coating of bubbles around the glass. The aroma is dark dried fruits and tobacco. The flavor follows suit with a sweet caramel and raisin start. It finishes with a slightly bitter taste with a hint of roasted smokiness. It is a good balance of sweet and bitter. The mouthfeel is quite right. It is just thick and syrupy enough, but has just the right amount of carbonation to keep it light and drinkable. Overall, this is a very good beer. I wish that I had a few more bottles of this one. It could definitely last a bit longer.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

1PT. 9.4 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a teku glass
Batch 2 (2011)

A - This is a dark beer bordering on black. When held to a light source some ruby highlights are visible. A couple inches of mocha head top it off.

S - The smell consists of molasses, figs, and dates. There is plenty of sweetness. It kind of reminds me of a molasses cookie.

T - Alcohol is noticeable in the taste but not overwhelmingly so. I get some dark fruit and molasses. I can also taste the maple syrup in the finish.

M - Thick, smooth, and creamy.

O - This beer has aged wonderfully. I love the thick mouthfeel. Although I can taste the alcohol, it still drinks remarkably well. I am definitely glad I aged a bottle.

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Photo of threeviews
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2nd Edition poured from a corked and muzzled bottle with no freshness date (bottled by Sierra Nevada ca. late 2011 and aged at cellar temperature) into a Rastal Teku 2.0 stemmed glass.

A- Pours deep mahogany (black if not viewed without a strong light, or focused on the edges of the glass) with a 1/2 finger of a creamy, beige head which dissipated quite rapidly. (4.25)

S- The aroma is sweet. Toffee/Molasses (think: tootsie roll) and maple syrup hit first followed by some dark, vinous fruits (raisins, dates, figs, plums). As it warms, the dark fruits mellow in favor of some milk chocolate some earthy spice. (4.25)

T- Along with the dark fruits found in the nose, a milk chocolate/cola flavor is also immediate on the palate. Mid-palate is met with a rather big shot of vanilla. The 'pseudo' barrel characteristics become more apparent once things warm to room temperature. (4.25)

M- Sweet up front followed by (thanks to a bit of aging) a dry, tannin-like finish Much like the appearance of the head, the bottle conditioning creates an absolutely luscious and creamy texture on the palate. (4.5)

O- Although I did not review this fresh (as I remember Life & Limb v2 being cloyingly sweet), the 2+ years of age has done this beer remarkably well. American Strong Ale is a good category for it, as it is quite complex and possesses qualities of an Imperial Stout, Belgian Quadruple and the earthiness of something that might construed as being barrel-aged. I would not purchase a case, but being a fan of both of these breweries, this stands to be one of the most enjoyable collaboration (and aged) beers I have sampled...well done! (4.25)

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In review is a 2011 vintage.

A - Pours a dark mahogany cherry brown color with a toffee colored, creamy, viscous-like head.

S - Dark roasted caramel/toffee, molasses, brown sugar, figs, vanilla, dates, some maple aroma, and some alcohol character.

T - Follows the nose. Molasses, some brown sugar, and mostly maple, vanilla, chocolate, and dark fruit (dates, figs, prunes). There is some alcohol effervescence but very, very little for a 10%+ beer.

M - Heavy medium body, lightly syrupy, velvet-like on the tongue.

O - This beer has aged gracefully in a good way, glad I sat on it.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.48/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750 mL cork and caged bottle poured into a snifter. Batch 2. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Deep mahogany. Off white head that retains well.

Smell - Lots of syrupy sweetness. Maple syrup and molasses. Birch? I dunno. Coffee roasted malts.

Taste - Syrup is still strong. Molasses flavor. Dark malts lend a deep coffee and chocolate flavor. The finish is all syrup flavor, but doesn't finish sweet.

Mouthfeel - Very dry. Not boozy, but still a noticeably big beer. Medium carbonation.

Overall - It's got a lot of the syrup flavors, but that doesn't make it terribly exciting.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 2. Poured from a corked and caged bottle into a DFH snifter. The pour is very dark and mahogany in color with ruby red highlights. It boasts a really nicely-formed foamy off-white head. Good retention, as expected from a bottle-conditioned beer. The nose is rich and malty, like a Scottish Ale or English Barleywine, with bread and toffee aromas. I get some faint oaky notes as well.

Medium-full body with a creamy, velvety feel and a really malt-forward flavor. Loads of toffee and treacle flavors up front give way to some vanilla and sarsaparilla at mid-palate. No real hop presence here, it's all about the malt. The birch lends a delightful earthy, toasty, almost smokey undertone to the flavors, especially in the back of the mouth. Slightly warm on the finish, but does not betray its ABV at all. Really sweet all-around, but not cloying. Terrific sipper on a cold winter day.

I had this beer at a tasting a couple years ago and was really impressed by it. I bought a bottle, stashed it in the cellar, and forgot about it ... until today. I'm glad I waited, as I think I have developed more of an appreciation for clean, malty flavors since then. This is a delightful beer and I hope DFH will brew it again someday so others can try it.

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Photo of BierJager89
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Black with a light brown head.

S: A hint of bourbon, a touch of alcohol, molasses, and maple in a somewhat weak nose.

T: Notes of maple, and roasted malt with strong molasses on the tail end.

M: Full bodied and smoothish.

O: Really drinks more like a stout than a barleywine, which, I guess, is why they use the useless term "American Strong Ale" to describe it. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats in Rehoboth Beach, DE. 2012 vintage.

Pours dark brown, with a one inch head and not much lacing.

Aromas include brown sugar, caramel, toasted bread, and maple syrup.

The flavor is similar, with some added stuff. The maple syrup aspect is nice- it's sweet, but earthy, so it doesn't get cloying. Some mild grassy hop bitterness is there too, as well as oak, vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel. A very malty delicious beer.

Medium bodied, creamy mouthfeel, very drinkable for the ABV.

Awesome collab here, wouldn't expect anything less from these titans of brewing excellence.

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Photo of mjpolzin
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had been holding onto this bottle for over two years so I figured it was time to drink it. I bought this when DFH was not distributing to Wisconsin but now that they are back, I don't feel quite the urge to hoard everything they are involved with.

It wasn't as good as I hoped but it was still delicious and very unique. The maple syrup is definitely noticeable and became more prevalent as the beer warmed. The mouthfeel was thick and creamy and the more I drank, the more I started to like this beer.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Two finger tan head with excellent lacing and retention on an dark, deep amber body. Aroma is excellent with dark chocolate, brown sugar, toasted malts, earthy hops and semisweet dark fruit. I was a little timid trying this one expecting it to be very boozy but it wasn't at all. Flavors more on the dark fruit and sour fruit side up front with bitter citrus into the finish on a base of chocolate and caramel toasted malts in the background. Full body and light to moderate carbonation. Nicely smooth for the style. Very nice beer. Deceptively boozy. Good to share.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Life & Limb 2...Im thinking this is 2011 vintage pours a dark brown color with an ample small-bubbled tan head. Modest lace and great retention.

Nose is smooth Tootsie Roll chocolaty-ness with some well integrated light fruit.

Taste is fantastic, everything flows so well and the alcohol is harmonized. Aged very well...though I only had Life & Limb 1 semi-fresh - never #2. Nutty and fruity but oh so smooth and the syrups play nicely with everything. Im loving this, I wish I would have bought more.

Here is my original review of Life and Limb 1. Batch 2 aged was soooo much better (orig score of 3.45):

24 oz bottle of the 2010 vintage pours a near-black color with a lively cap of tan head. Retention just ok, as is the lacing.

Nose is rich and fruity. Caramel malt with only mild suggestions of chocolate and roast. Plenty of alcohol and the nose is quite pleasant.

Huge licorice notes with lighter berry-like fruits...strawberries and maybe even cranberries. A lot going on here and is still a bit hot, could probably benefit from another year or two. Still a decent hop bite. Medium sweetness (molasses perhaps?) and the mouthfeel is pretty rich. Interesting brew, although I am getting a bit too much on the licorice-alcohol combo, they seem to accentuate each other.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.52/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch one from the national release (I believe), Bottle number 9 28622013; Sampled April 2012
A soft pour into my lost Abbey Teku glass produces a three-finger thick, pale brown tinged, dark tan / amber colored head. The beer is a concentrated, darkened amber color that shows a brilliantly clear, concentrated ruby hue when held up to the light. The aroma smells of nutty toasted malt, pomegranate syrup, thick caramelized malt, touches of cola or perhaps root / bark soda, hints of woodiness towards the finish and even some evident oxidation towards the end. There really is an interesting spicy character here that I would guess is contributed by the birch / maple syrups that were used in this beer; these are almost minty, sort of woody, a bit like Christmas spices and enhancing a fruitiness.

The beer is sweet tasting, with lots of caramelized malt flavors, a significant toasted character that doesn’t quite get to roasted. Fairly thick bodied, definitely a chewy beer, but retains a fair amount of drinkability for a beer of this strength; the perceived bitterness is fairly low which seems to make this drink a bit smoother as well. There is a bit of warmth, not quite heat, from the alcohol here that boosts the spiciness of the flavor. A touch of woody like, almost astringency is also found towards the finish. There is almost a touch of a cocoa note in the flavor, though it is quite fleeting and subtle and flirts with coffee like notes at times. There are lots of brown sugar roasted brown bread like flavors here that combine well with the soft maple and birch like notes; the maple and birch are not so noticeable that I would have been able to identify them blind, but definitely contribute to the flavor profile of this beer.

The beer has definitely gotten a bit on the overcarbonated beer (at least from what was intended), but it is not excessively so and this has likely dried out the beer a bit more than it otherwise would have been. I am a bit surprised that I have had this beer since 2009, it is certainly holding up well, even if a touch of oxidation is becoming noticeable.

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Photo of Samuel906
3.03/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This was not my beer. Made by two of my favorite breweries, DFH and Sierra Nevada, this didn't really come through for me. The color surprised me first of all, and was not a bad thing, but was much darker than I was expecting. Dark with bronze highlights when held to light and moderate wet head. Smell has lots of maple, brown sugar, and some malt, but is muddy and indistinct. Taste is the same... lots of the same flavors but nothing really stands out and it becomes just a sweet blur. Feel is smooth, a little sticky.. Definitely not my favorite from these two, and there are many other better American Strong Ale choices like Brown Shugga' and Deliverance.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Joseph Belgian bier chalice shaped similar to a brandy snifter.

Pours a nice two finger white/light brown head. Color is dark, light doesn't go through. Head falls into a thin layer on top. Leaves a lacing around the side of the glass, but doesn't stick to the side at first, follows the beer down the side until half way down.

Smell is slightly woody with sweet thick malty and slightly chocolatey flavors.

Taste is woody barrel flavors and sweet dark malts. Hints of Bourbon flavors are smaller, but well balanced into the sweet malts of the beer.

Mouthfeel is creamy and medium-full bodied.

Overall, a very good sweet beer with a little barrel flavor that is highly drinkable. I did not even notice the beer was 10.2% from drinking it.

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Photo of sholland119
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Blind beer #6, thanks to Phelps. Corked and caged 750 with all visible markings obscured. Tossed the cork without looking in case there are marks further down.

A-Pour is a ruby to dark brown, rather deep in color with a frothy tan head with some reddish tinge and huge lacing. Barleywine? 4.25

S-Dark fruit, cherry notes, rich malt base, a hint of booziness, very appealing. 4.25 Yeah, barleywine I think. No barrel qualities apparent.

T-Tasty beverage indeed. Rich malt, sweet raisins, some plum notes, quite delicious. 4.25

M-Nicely rich, a bit heavy but not overly so. 4

O-I like this one quite a bit. Delicious, rich, a bit sweet but not overdone, very flavorful. 4.25

Pretty sure this is a straight up barleywine but let's see:

Life and Limb, the SN/DFH Collab. Nice. I think time has been kind to this one . Better mouthfeel than I recall. Thanks!

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled 6/29/2011. Pours fairly clear extremely dark reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger dense khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of raisin, toffee, molasses, toast, biscuit, wood, chocolate, maple, clove, light vanilla, and roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with great balance and complexity of malt notes with well balanced wood notes. Taste of raisin, toast, toffee, chocolate, dark bread, wood, maple, molasses, light clove, roasted malt, slight char, and roasted earthiness. Slight earthy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of toffee, toast, raisin, chocolate, maple, molasses, dark bread, roasted malt, light clove, slight char, and earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity and balance of malt flavors with wood notes; with light hop balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a creamy and fairly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an excellent strong ale! Great balance and complexity of malt flavor and wood aging; and very smooth to sip on. Really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a beautiful dark brown pour with 3 fingers of beige head, excellent lacing, great head retention. smells of licorice, caramel, maple, honey, vanilla, slight hint of bourbon, chocolate. an earthy bitterness up front followed by a sweet brown sugar/bourbon flavor.. notes of vanilla, chocolate, very sugary sweet.

medium body, a bit thin for the abv.. low carbonation.. a nice burn on the gums, warmth in the chest.

overall, a really nice offering. way different than the ipa they came out with this year. but still really nice.

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Photo of blackie
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bomber from Norm's Vienna and cellared awhile after release

a: poured into a wide piraat snifter, life n’ limb is a deep mahogany brown in color, floating a dark khaki head that quickly falls back to only a thin ring

s: huge sweet malt nose - dark brown sugars, genuine maple syrup, spicy-sweet alcohol, lots of earthy, natural sweet aromas, raisin and date, wet cured tobacco, a earthy root spice that’s presumably birch, gentle touches of bitter chocolate, the sugars and alcohol give something of an apertif effect, moderate resinous pine hop aroma buried within, quite nice

m: carbonated to a light-moderate level, with a medium-full body and some sugary weight, smooth and picking up some creaminess after sitting for awhile

t: very rich on the tongue - loaded with heavy, dark malt sugars, date, sweet maple syrup, highly sweet, a moderate pine hop presence puts a small dent in the malts - adding a nice bitterness to the finish, some boozy fumes in the back of the throat - can feel the strength on this one, dark sweet breads, drying a touch after the swallow to leave woody roots, dark fruit leather, and toasted malts to linger

o: lots of alcoholic effect, dig the malty sugar flavors but it wears after awhile, the maple and birch add some interesting effect - nice overall, huge and somewhat complex but not fully capitalized, was far too hyped at the time

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Photo of zeledonia
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Life & Limb #2, 750ml corked and caged bottle. If I'm reading the bottle code right, it's from 11 July 2011. It got lost in my cellar for a while; somehow I thought it was a one-time thing. Not really sure what to expect from this beer, and with the ambiguous style, I'll be reviewing it on base merit.

Pours very dark, essentially black in the middle of the glass. Coffee brown at the edges. One and a half fingers of medium tan head. Decent retention, fine lacing.

Smell is unique, and quite nice, though it fades out rather quickly. Deep sweet notes, almost stout-like. Sugary, but not overpoweringly so. It's like a light, mildly roasty stout with maple syrup on top. Intriguing.

Taste doesn't do it for me. Some of that is oxidation, but I'm having trouble finding much behind that to like. Woody, flat, with a touch of sweetness. But mostly an overpowering, flat, mid-level bitterness with a slight medicinal edge.

Mouthfeel is fine. Medium-heavy body, kinda syrupy, with medium-low carbonation. Small bubbles, fizzing up. Lasts, well, a little longer than I'd like, with that long-lived bitterness.

There are pieces of this beer that I like. But there's more that I don't like. The taste is lacking, and that really defines the whole beer. The smell promised sweetness and depth, but the taste didn't deliver. After a glass, I'm finding the strength surprising. I'll give it that - the alcohol is quite well hidden.

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Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & Limb from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 1,547 ratings