Life & Limb | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

very good
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Life & LimbLife & Limb

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

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head collaboration brew.

Added by mjl21 on 11-14-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 745 | Ratings: 1,538
Photo of Sandstone
1.46/5  rDev -63.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

This beer is bad.

A: Pours a thick reddish brown with a head that quickly dissipates into a thin splotchy froth

S: Smell of alcohol and molasses. As the beer warms up it takes on an incredibly solventy aroma.

T: When cold, the beer has a weird astringency in the finish. As it warms up, the beer gets sweeter and sweeter until it becomes capable of putting you into a diabetic coma, and the finish transforms into something a bit more solventy.

M: Syrup. You could ooze this out over pancakes.

D: I wasn't able to finish my bottle. By the time I got to the last 6oz it was like chugging on a bottle of Ms. Butterworth's that had been spiked with cleaning solvent. Drain pour.

Overall, I think this is a bad beer coasting by on the hype of being associated with two popular (but usually mediocre) breweries.

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Photo of Arbitrator
1.94/5  rDev -51.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

On tap at the Rose & Crown.

This is one of those beers where I wonder, "What the hell is everyone else drinking?"

A: Pours a clear, deep amber color with a finger of off-white head in the snifter. Retention is quite amazing, especially for 10%. The final result is a collar on the brew, with no lacing down the sides.

S: Molasses, roast, nuts, raisins. As it warms, it quickly starts giving off a rubbery ethanol aroma, and when it really opens up it smells like a dead ringer for solvent.

T: When cold (and I mean COLD), it's really not that bad. A nice melange of toasted nuts, raisins, burnt caramel, molasses, and the lightest hint of roast. But again, as it warms up and hits its stride, it becomes _incredibly_ solventy, to the point where I'm wondering what the point of making this was. Didn't they taste this before releasing it?

M: Light-bodied, with high carbonation. LOTS of booze. Not even a little shy about 10%. Jeez, try to hide it better.

D: No. This is so harsh and solventy. It might age well -- the flavor underneath the booze was pretty solid -- but I have no desire to find out. I don't have any patience or respect for a booze-bomb.

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Photo of nrbw23
1.96/5  rDev -50.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A- Pours a dark brownish color with just a few bubbles for a head. Bubbles hangg around the edge for a few and leave no lacing.

S- Smell on this one is pretty sweet. I'm picking up molasses, nuts, and dark fruits mainly plums.

T- Taste is also way too sweet. Follows the nose pretty well with the addition of charcoal, booze and raisins. Not really digging this one at all. Maybe a touch of wood in here too.

M- Lighter side of medium in body and pretty much no carbonation.

D- Struggled hard with this one and then was bailed out by Steve. No, thanks on this one again.

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Photo of TheFlern
2.05/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Batch 2, not barrel aged.

So, flat beer scoring highly? Interesting...

my thoughts.

The beer comes in a beautiful bottle with a cork. It pours well. No lacing. Decent head retention.

Smell, is sweet with slight chocolate and syrup flavors. Thin is the word here.

Taste is very thin and syrupy, in a bad way. Imagine a coca-cola that you opened and let all the carbonation out of.

Mouthfeel, once again, imagine a flat coca-cola

Overall. Sucked. Sierra Nevada is quickly falling down my list of liked breweries with beers like this. Big disappointment. 9 dollars I'll never get back.

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Photo of harrymel
2.28/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Vintage 2011, 2nd release

A: Pours a dark brown ale with a finger of maple bar foam over the top. This head falls to a quilt of the same. Spotty lacing. Excellent, cherry hued clarity in this ale.

S: Coffee, birch and maple (but mostly birch), nutty brown smell. Reminds me more of a brown ale; light and sweet.

T: Sweet, hot. Tastes like the fermentation was poorly controlled with tons of roasted banana bread flavors and some more coffee and roasted malt flavors. Bad, disappointing at best.

M: Thin but sticky, highly carbed, dry finish. The opposite of what I believe this beer should be.

O: This does not make me happy. Does not make me want more. Reminds me of a RIS I did a couple years ago, the fermentation happened in the 80's and the beer took 8 months to taste right. Kinda feel like that is where this one lands; making it very sub par.

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Photo of bierguru
2.35/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A - this beer poured almost black with a decent head that stayed well

S -didnt get much out the smell except sweetness

T - flavor was about the same and when it warmed it tasted like pure alcohol

M -mouth was nice full but felt like syrup with just enough carbonation

O - yeah i wouldnt buy try it again but since i already have another bottle im going to age it for about a yr before i try it again

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Photo of zhanson88
2.56/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a rather thin looking dark brown color with deep plum highlights. About an inch of head forms, which has very nice retention and lacing. Very good for a beer of this ABV.

Smell: I detect a touch of maple, some nuts, and dark fruits as well initially. Both cold and warm, a lot of ethanol comes out too. Alcohol really overtakes as the beer gets warmer.

Taste: Starts out reasonably promising, with maple, dark fruits and nuttiness. In the middle, pure alcohol takes over. Finish is empty and hollow with a lot of ethanol. A bit disappointing.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Body is pretty thin for the ABV, and carbonation is moderate. Not terrible, but again the alcohol retracts from the feel. Overall, wanted to like it and the base flavors are decent, but way too much alcohol. Not terribly impressed, unfortunately.

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Photo of mothman
2.63/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Life and Limb Part 2 Cork and Cage

Pours a finger of tan head. Fades to a thin layer. Color is a deep brown with mahogany edges.

Aroma: Syrup flavors and malts. Caramel and toffee with chocolate notes. Some nutty flavors.

Taste: The syrup flavors show so much more here. Very sweet. Caramel, toffee, chocolate, and vanilla notes. A bit of heat shows.

Mouthfeel: Dry and sweet, a bit roasted. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry.

Overall, I was less of a fan of this one compared to the first one and I didn't enjoy the first one very much. It was just kind of messy. Not something I'd buy again.

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Photo of Nachojon
2.64/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from bottle into pint, probably not the best choice. Anyhow I was excited, Sierra? Dogfish Head? My favorites. Not my favorite beer. Malty chocolate head very thin and minimal lacing. Dark chocolate color, was a nice looking beer. The first sip is dark chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, sugar, malt, yes maybe I cannot stand a beer with no bitterness. Honestly, would drink it again just to prove myself wrong. Mouthfeel was the blandness, how can a beer this thick be so watery? Just not my cup.

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Photo of Stigs
2.68/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

24oz bottle, served into a snifter

A - poured a nice looked deep brown, with a very thin and spotty, soapy and odd looking head

S - sweet malt, licorice, caramel and butterscotch. maple and hops are there if you seek it out.

T - sugary sweet with a metallic twang, tastes like the hops are already turning south. overwhelming sweetness and barely anything to compliment it.

M - thinnish body, very chalky. all the sugar puts sweaters on your teeth. needed to order a water to help cleanse my pallate every few sips.

D - drank the whole bottle, mostly because of the $25 price tag. not much good about it.

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Photo of northaustin
2.71/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a dark brown with a fat finger of brown head which hangs around for a while but leaves almost no lacing.

smell: syrupy maple sweet madness. some roasted grains but for the most part its just extreme with the syrup. me no likey

taste: double dogfish brown ale with a buttload of syrup. no joke.

mouthfeel: pretty thin at first but goes into syrup mode and leaves a stickyness. once again, me no likey.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
2.81/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

I never got a bottle of this when it hit the shelves, but surprise to me when my local beer bar pulled out a keg a few days ago. An 8oz pour for 4.50 and the thick copper liquid sits in front of me. Its a dark brownish copper, in the light hints of red and purple shine through.

Smell has hints of maple syrup, wood, and a ashy roast. Taste is lacking, its feels like many good things are buried but there is an overarching burnt roast, like cheap charcoal. The maple comes out in the lingering sweetness, probably the highlight of the beverage.

The beer is a bit thin for my tastes, but is definitely drinkable if you dont get bored of it. Sadness, I love Sierra Nevada, I was hoping for something spectacular in this beer.

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Photo of loren01
2.83/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a reddish brown color, large head with not too much lacing down the glass
S: Smell is sweet, almost smells like root beer to me, not much else though
T: Sweet and syrupy once again tastes like root beer
M: Full bodied, too much so. Syrupy and slow going down
O: I honestly expected a better beer from a Dogfish/Sierra Nevada collaboration beer. Way too syrupy sweet. I would not buy this again.

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Photo of taylorhamrick
2.84/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Reviewed from notes from January 2010.

Pours dark, but not quite black, a nice deep mahogany brown, with a hint of blackness in there. The head is very thin, the bubbles fade fast, and there is absolutely no lacing. Looks average - and I have no idea what to expect from the sight. The smell has a big of coffee and chocolate in it, but there's a rum-like sweetness, which is probably just the smell of alcohol that comes from a source other than fermented maltose. I can even smell a bit of tobacco leaves in there, earthy and herbal kind of. The smell is kind of lost somewhere between a mixed drink, a belgian quad, and a brown ale. But still, a little more enticing than the look. The flavor is fruity. Reminds me of rotten plums, like the ones that fall off the tree and have laid there for a couple days. I can taste the maple syrup, too, dried out from fermentation. There are flavors of wood, rum, and toffee. I get a bit of the roasty, chocolatey in there too. And I can taste the leaves, like burning leaves - not in a bad way, but like earthy, nearly charred, herbal flavors - kind of like the tobacco from the smell - a combination of the hops, probably, maybe a bit of the darker malts, and the fermentation temps (ester production) are the most likely culprits for this. I guess a lot of what I've described sounds bad - but the beer isn't actually bad. I will say that I was interested in it, which, actually, I suppose, usually means something bad from a beer persons mouth. I can definitely taste and feel the alcohol, but he body is kind of medium, thinner than a beer this strong should be. The carbonation, for what it lacked in head production, sure does bite in the beer. This beer, for what it has in pre-drinking intersted, kind of lacks overall. It was okay, but not sensation, probably would be worse if it didn't have SN and DFH name on it - you know? You really kind of wan to like it more than you actually do.

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Photo of BeerMaverick
2.85/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Very dark brown, nearly black, beer. In large volume it's opaque, but in a lesser amount I think it's translucent. About a half inch of khaki head that dissipates quickly leaving a good amount of lace on the wine glass.

S - Not too much here; only faint aromas are present such as darker fruits (grape, fig, raisin) and some licorice. Smells (and appears) as though it will lean towards the maltier side of the spectrum.

T - The taste is bolder and provides a little more detail than the aroma. The fruits are more pronounced and the malts nearly dominate this area. Very little hop contribution, but some piney bitterness comes through in a feeble attempt to balance this beer.

M - Surprisingly the hops make a comeback and successfully balance this beer out nicely. Despite the strong malt backbone and initial lack of hops, they somehow do their job.

O - A well-balanced beer that successfully represents its style. Beyond that, however, nothing special. It's tasty, but there's not anything spectacular or unique about it. If I found it on tap I would order it to compare, but I would not buy it bottled again.

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Photo of MisterSH
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

24 oz into a Duvel tulip.
A:Pours a deep brown, almost black, with a nice creamy brown finger head. Seems to be lacing pretty good as the head settles.
S: Maple (go figure), sweet malts, deep fruit, alcohol, some hop on the nose, also a candy/sugary note. Smells great, although not outrageously aromatic. I'm dipping my nose pretty deep into this glass to get a nice whiff.
T. Very sweet, a unusually sweet sugary note is the first taste, followed by roasty, bready dark malts. Some diacetyl flavors in here. Finishes sweet and quite hot with some strong,nearly solvent-like fusels, ends with a delicious candy-like caramel flavor on the tongue that tastes more and more like maple sugar as you let it sit. Certainly has a host of stout-like characteristics, but the dark malts are always secondary in intensity to the strong sweetness throughout. Every now and again, there's a strong taste which is DISTINCTLY maple syrup-induced. Slight hop bitterness throughout lingers on the tongue and is probably the only thing keeping the lasting sweetness from becoming cloying.
MF: THICK. I've described beers as syrupy before, but damn, this thing takes the cake. Low carbonation makes this a heavy beer on the tongue, gooey, sticky... pour it on pancakes thick.
Drinkability: Comparatively low for a whole host of reasons that I just mentioned. Plus, it's quite strong indeed.

As a novelty... it's pretty interesting. This is not something I'd want to drink on a daily basis, however. The heat on the finish is increasingly coming across off-puttingly harsh as I drink it. The beer is exceptionally sweet, almost intolerably so. I wish there was a hoppier finish. This beer is delicious as it sits in your mouth, but around the time you swallow, rather than getting a balancing blast of hops to mellow out the sugary taste of this brew, you instead get an intense blast of even stronger sweetness which is frankly a little overwhelming. Most upsetting to me is the mouthfeel of the beer, which is expectedly thick due to the maple-syrup, but is quite hard to handle, no matter how hard I try to appreciate it for being exactly what I anticipated. Wouldn't it be possible to make a beer with maple syrup that feels like BEER in your mouth? This feels more like syrup. In the end, this is one hell of a sipper at 10.2% and I'm feeling every bit of the alcohol in my brain, and feeling every bit of this thick syrup marinating in my stomach. A cool idea, but definitely a one-timer for me.

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Photo of waltonc
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to the esteemed bardwashrind for providing me with this. Pours a very dark brown with lots of tan head. On the nose and palate, there is lots of sweet caramel, dark fruit, and the birch syrup, which is cloying in more than extremely small quantities (6 ounces of this beer is enough). Body is on the thicker side with medium carbonation. Overall, an interesting beer, but I don't get why this is only sold in 750 ml bottles. Because it's a "special" release? To make more money? Why not sell this in a regular 12 ounce bottle given the high ABV and lack of drinkability? Ugh, the unnecessary oversized bottles are getting old.

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Photo of neophilus
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a coffee color with a thick, creamy tan head.

Sweet aroma, hints at complex dark sugars but aroma is muddled with alcohol heat.

Mild bitterness up front which hangs on through each sip. Malty sweetness, almost like syrup but without the caramel rich flavors of typical syrups or dark sugars. A lingering alcohol heat helps to dry out the flavor which keeps the beer from being cloying or too rich.

Sweet and hot, with a thick mouthfeel which doesn't quite become sticky because of the sturdy bitterness and encroaching alcohol.

This beer needs to age, there is too much heat in it right now. It is obscuring the aroma and flavors. I can tell there is something complex and tasty hiding underneath but it never reveals itself.

I sat on this bottle for at least 6 months but it was not nearly enough time to let this beer mature. If I had the patience I would go 2 years or more before opening. Unfortunately for the beer I can't score it on how it might taste down the line.

If you have a beer cellar this would be a great addition to it.

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Photo of brewerdrew
2.91/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer poured a nice Dark Brown with Ruby Red notes. Very little head that dissipated fast.

Surprisingly, very non-discript flavor with out too much body or flavor.

As a whole, underwhelmed.

This beer will probably be better with Age.

If this wasn't a collaboration between SN/DFH, my guess is the ratings would be alot lower. Just goes to show what hype and the Sam Caligione marketing machine can do.

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Photo of yemenmocha
2.91/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Boozy maple syrup concoction. Pours cola brown, plenty of initial head. Nose is boozy caramel. Palate offers a very boozy maple flavored spirit.... Ahem beer. Some hops, herbs, but overall a maple liqeur like liquid in this glass. Tough to drink- good for them that drinkability was axed as a criterion.

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Photo of tobelerone
2.93/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Very dark brown, big fluffy tan head that holds and holds. Lacing all over the place. Highly aromatic but a little odd; birch is prominent, more so than the maple, putting me in mind of birch beer, with noticeable booziness, molasses, and a bit of a bitter hop note in the end. Flavor also struck me as odd and fairly unappealing; there’s the birch syrup, and a bit of the maple, but much less sweetness than one might expect. Spices and dark fruits, assertive alcohol and general bitterness. Doesn’t hang together very well. Carbonation is quite lively (cork popped loudly and aggressively), body is medium, and the finish is semi-dry with lingering fusel alcohol.

I have to confess I didn’t like this one very much. Just not very tasty, the bottle was finished between two people but just barely. A miss in my mind. I wanted something a lot sweeter, with more maple presence, and less solvent booziness.

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Photo of Ryan011235
2.95/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap in a tulip at Bodega on 8/12/11

Dark, might as well be black (actually just a dark brown). Poured a thin, wispy head and that's how it stays (thanks to retention). Collar retention. No lace.

Smells weird. Roasted dark malts sit underneath a too-prominent dark fruit tanginess; think blueberries and raspberries. It almost seems like a raspberry chocolate cordial. Some maple syrup hangs in the air, but not until it warms. Smells herbal after a while.

Upon sipping, maple hits right away with a syrupy sweet note. It's then enveloped by sweet roasted chocolate and such dark-malt-what-have-you-now. Lots of sugars going on here. Maybe some molasses. Burnt undertones. Over time it becomes apparent this is too sweet.

Obscenely high carbonation initially hides some of the sweetness, but this is a heavy laden, sticky-sweet beer. A bit of booziness, but not bad. The last sip finishes a tad earthy.

This year's vintage isn't terrible but it's too sweet for mass consumption. 4-6 ounces would be plenty. I had a bottle last year with some age on it; that seems to be the way to go.

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Photo of bs870621345
2.96/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This was one of my top wants, and honestly it was a little dissapointing.

Pours beautiful with a half inch of white head and a redish brown color.

Smells of raisins and maple syrup. Not much alcohol smell which is nice for a 10% beer.

Taste is syrupy and raisins. Light hop bitterness, seems to be in an ackward phase between hoppy and malty. Its not a bad taste, but it should have been drank fresher or held onto longer. Didn't get better warmer than cellar temp.

Mouthfeel is very thick but a nice amount of carbonation.

Drinkability isn't so great. 24oz was a lot to have and by the end it was tough to drink.

Seems like i should have let it sit for a while longer, a bit of a letdown but still alright.

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Photo of popery
2.96/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Tap @ SF L&L Release dinner and @ City Beer Store. A rather disappointing mess of a strong ale. Life & Limb certainly isn't awful, but it doesn't live up to the hype surrounding this collaboration of two high profile craft brewers. It pours a dark brown, opaque, with little head. Light aroma of birch, citric hops and nutty malt, which sounds pretty good but it's already obvious that the beer is too sweet for my taste. The flavor is sweet with syrup and malt with a bit of a hop bite. Unfortunately, nothing seems to mesh. The flavors aren't terribly pleasant on their own and don't really work together well. Feel is thick. Had to try it twice to confirm.

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Photo of psujmatt
2.99/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on draught at Flying Saucer poured in an 8oz glass.

A: Very dark, almost black. Almost completely opaque. Foamy, creamy head.

S: A hint of wood in the aroma, a little toffee. Not very much aroma at all.

T: Not nearly as complex as the color suggests. A very weak hop bite or coffee bitter. Hints of sugar. Balanced, but just very simplistic for this type of beer.

M: Caronation becomes apparent as it sits on the palate. Very smooth, almost silky.

D: This was only 8oz serving, and despite the alcohol content it was easy to finish in a hurry and move on to something better.

I had this beer in a bottle previously and this was nothing like it. Different aromas, flavors, and appearance. Seeing the other reviews here, I was hoping I just got a bad bottle before. I think my bottle was off, but the keg version was still nothing to write home about.

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Life & Limb from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.97 out of 5 based on 1,538 ratings.
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