Life & Limb | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

very good
745 Reviews
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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: 1,539
Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Sugar Maple. Listed as 10.5% abv. Big bitterness that's pleasant enough, not much else going on for me. No aroma, average mouthfeel. Chocolate malts,A little toast and mollasses. Darker brown colour, some head. A bit boozy, alcohol warming.

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Photo of GRG1313
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Life & Limb 2; 750; corked & caged (why is this not listed seperately from the first effort?)

Pours dark brown/black with a lovely thick, creamy and firm khaki head that is long lasting.

Nose is rich with esters and phenols; medium sweet malt, plum, sweet coffee and coca-cola.

Mouthfeel is thick, rich, creamy, malty and just plain inviting with light carbonation and just about perfect balance.

Flavor profile is extremely complex and well integrated - roasted grain, sweet plum/malt and mocha coffee. Bitter coca-cola/bitter root beer character, all of which sounds weird but is very appealing and drinkable. There is a remarkable rich character and drinkability that goes with just about every food profile. (Went well with sweet dessert!)

A finish of bitter coffee/roasted grain and espresso. A really nice effort.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
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 UCLABrewN84
3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is the second batch of Life & Limb with the cork and cage. Bottle shows a "2" on the label.

Pours a super dark brown with a hue 3 inch foamy khaki head that settles to a 1 inch cap. The carbonation bubbles are quite busy, moving down to the bottom of the head. Thick foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted/roasted malt, brown sugar, molasses, and wood aromas. Taste is of roasted malt (very stout-like in flavor), burnt sugar, molasses, and a dry wood flavor. The wood flavor lingers on the palate after each sip. A low level of carbonation with a slightly flat and thick mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that I have been following ever since I heard they were going to brew it again. A good beer but not quite what I was expecting here.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

certainly one of the most unique brews i have ever tasted. poured a slightly red hue of dark brown, with a thin cream-colored head. the smell was sharp and earthy, sweet and pungent. the taste of the beer is where i got hung up. what IS that? it isnt unpleasant, bit i cant put my finger on it. i sipped on an 8oz pour for about an hour trying to figure it out. upon consultation with the bartender, i discovered it to be alaskan birch syrup. AHA! i enjoyed my second glass much better now that i understood the ingredient that gave it such an unconventional taste. could probably make a night of drinking this beer, but i commend the creativity! definitely worth a try if you can find it.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was so glad to get a bottle of this back when it first came out. The beer poured out as a deep rich looking brown color with an off white colored head. The head was thin and didn't do too much in way of lacing. The smell of the beer has some earthy fresh wood aromas mixed with some sweet maple and some caramel too. The taste of the beer was sweet mostly. Had a very light bitterness in the back end. The mouthfeel was very silky smooth, this beer was very easy to drink. Overall I feel that this beer was a really good calaboration between two breweries who don't really make beers of this style. Very interesting.

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is dark brownish amber in color and poured with a thin tan head.
S: There are aromas of chocolate and candi sugars in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the beer is sweet and has flavors of chocolate.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I could easily drink one or two of these, especially with dessert.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's amazing how a brewery can continuously make such high flavory, high quality, high attenutated, and crisp clean beers consistently- this is what Sierra Nevada does and they make it look easy. Simply amazing. Life and Limb seems to take a stab at the American Strong Ale catagory with comparisons to Arrogant Bastard.

Aromas of dry malt, lightly burnt toffee, plumb and grape esters fill the nose and that's basically the beginning and end of the beer. Light citrus hops make a cameo appearance but any more than that is a stretch.

The beer pours a creamy dark brown with a lot of ruby and purple-ish darkness. A creamy and froathy head forms but settles into a lightl sheet of dense foam that evently coats the beer while leaving light lacing and legging behind.

Strong flavors of refined barley malt, lightly scorched toffee, molassas, sorghum, brown sugar... and similar robust sweetned flavors. But the interesting note here is that the beer doesn't leave an overly sweet taste on the palate. Bread crusts and light toast help to emphasize the stronger, more robust flavor notes. Estery plumbs and grapes make the beer seem more sweet than it actually is. Hoppy citrus notes give glimpses into orange zest, lemon grass, and light pine as well as enough bitterness to balance the bold malt presence. Obviously a beer that shows restrained power and delicate balance.

The beer give the impression of sweetness and weight up front but the it begins to lift off of the tongue and other surfaces of the mouth gradually for a malty-dry feel and finish from mid palate on. Truely remarkable and drinkable.

Obviously a sensational beer. After recently drinking the Bell's Batch 9000, this one seems in the same class. Where the flavors here aren't as bold, they seem less reckless and more refined. A joy to drink. Thanks Pwoody!

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Photo of brentk56
3.33/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a burnt caramel color with a sturdy tan head that develops almost like a stout; nice pattern of lacing left behind as the liquid descends

Smell: Burnt caramel, molasses, raisins and maple syrup

Taste: Opens with a burnt caramel and maple syrup, with the raisins adding a dark fruit element; by mid-palate, however, the molasses takes over and thr profile turns in a big and sticky direction, though there is plenty of piney bitterness underneath; after the swallow, the sweet malts continue to dominate and ultimately pummel the hops into submission

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and sticky, with moderate carbonation and some warming alcohol in the gullet

Drinkability: I'm having a hard time getting excited about this brew as it is just too unbalanced for my palate

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy color ale with a super large brown foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of caramelized sugar and light toffee notes with some dry fruit ester. Taste is a mix between some caramelized sugar notes with some dry fruit. Body is quite full with great carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Not the most complex brew thought this is not a criticism as this one is just an easy drinking high ABV beer.

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Photo of oline73
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a side by side with a bottle from batch 1 and batch 2. Poured into a goblet. I enjoyed the newer batch more. Batch 1 had more of an alcohol burn, even with the age on it.

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany color with a reddish tint when the light hits it. There is a finger of off white head and great retention.

Smell: Sweet malt with some banana, caramel, and a hint of molasses.

Taste: Sweet molasses and a mild birch beer like flavor along with the strong malt presence. The sweetness fades while you sip, there are some dark fruit notes as well. The finish is a bit bitter.

Mouthfeel: Body is on the thicker side with tingly carbonation and a slick finish.

Overall: I was surprised how smooth the new batch is. They're both very good in my opinion.

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Photo of zeff80
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a dark, dark brown color with a one-finger, tan head of foam. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled very roasty with chocolate and toffee notes. Some piney hop notes, too.

T - It tasted of strong roastiness with some bitter dark chocolate flavors. A touch of toffee with some piney bitterness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry, clean finish.

O - This was really good. It was worth the wait. Thanks to madarab55 for sharing.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.77/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a nice, deep brown color with a light off white head. A small amount of lacing exists as the beer goes down. Nose brings some notes of wood and birch as well as some drier brown malts. The birch stands out a bit in the taste to me, assuming that it is the woody note I keep getting but don't really recognize. Good malt presence backing up. Slightly dry feel with a nice body. Drinks fairly well now, but I am looking forward to seeing how it ages.

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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 nickfl
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours with one finger of medium-brown head on top of a black body with just a hint of ruby light showing through. The head settles quickly and leaves only minor lace.

S - Aromas of caramel and toffee malt along with brown sugar and molasses. A little bit of non-specific spiciness, allspice and cinnamon maybe.

T - Sweet, thick malt up front with lots of burnt caramel and molasses character. More complex sugars in the middle with a little bit of toffee and some spicy notes of clove and cinnamon. Finishes with more dark caramel malt and some spicy, ginger like notes as well as moderate, medicinal bitterness that helps to balance the significant sweetness. Lingering herbal, spicy character along with burnt caramel and molasses.

M - Thick, somewhat syrupy body, moderate carbonation, and a somewhat sweet finish.

D - So, does this beer live up to the hype? No, but I didn't expect it to and, really, the excitement surrounding the release of this beer last fall was more about its sometimes extreme scarcity than it was about the quality of the beer itself. That being said, it is an enjoyable and unique beer. Much of what it going on here is caramel malt character that dominates the flavor and aroma. It has a satisfying richness, but it doesn't come across as engrossingly complex as some English Barleywines and Old Ales do. Fortunately, the dark caramel is not all that this beer has to offer. There is also a significant depth of character and complexity that is imparted the the use of birch and maple syrups. These complex sugars seem to give the beer an agreeable molasses quality while also imbuing it with a spicy essence that is much nicer that the spice character found in most beers that contain actual spices. Overall, it functions as a nice, smooth winter warmer that hides its alcohol well and incorporates some unique spicy characteristics without overwhelming the drinker.

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Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obviously much anticipated,I am glad to grab a few bottles before they are gobbled up here in my area.Poured into an oversized wine glass a deep dark brown with some deep reddish colored hue when held to the light,a large clingy off white head atop.A mix of a whole lot of good stuff going on in the nose,winter spice,molasses,roast,and resiny hop comes through.Flavors are quite sweet at the onset with mollases and spice,some leather and dark fruit also show up,then a deep resiny hop flavor comes and really finishes this beer out as good as you can.Big chewey and mouth coating,you cant ask for a much better mouthfeel.Man I really like this beer,many times a anticipated beer doesnt live up to the hype,this does.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
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 jlindros
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One I've been saving for a while.

A nice fluffy bubbly 2 finger head fades semi quickly then slows to a 1/2 finger head covering that stays strong, all over an almost black but more very dark brown color.

The nose billows out on the pout with lots of dark malts, roasty, crystal malts, Belgian strong dark malts, toffee, dark fruits, raisin, dates, fig, some maple, a nice creamy rich malty aroma, with a slight touch of booze and some light creamy chocolate.

The taste comes on like a heavy creamy porter crossed with a Belgian strong ale. Creamy and rich malts. Lots of malts, crystal, dark roasty, with a little creamy chocolate, Belgian dark malts, etc. Some toffee and caramel, molasses, and hint of maple. Some warming tingly booze as well, some sweet sticky feeling too, with a little syrupy feel and taste. More fruits, fig, raisin, date, etc. Finishes with lingering malts, syrups, sticky sweet fruits and roasty.

Mouth is heavier bodied, rich and syrupy, with decent carbonation.

Drinks OK for what it is. It's boozy with warming and tingly feeling which is typical for a 10% beer. Lots of sticky sweetness too, but not the minerality I was expecting.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap 10/2/11 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains chocolate, caramel, roasted malts, some fruit and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with flavors of dark fruit, chocolate and caramel. Then a nice hops bitterness comes in. The malt character is hearty and the hops presence is mild creating a good balance. There’s also not much trace of the high ABV. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty with a good complexity, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this is a good high octane beer worth drinking for a long time.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle - $9.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown body underneath a foaming, beige-colored head. The head eventually settles, but never quite dissipates completely.

Smell: This one smells moderately toasty, moderately roasty, and moderately chocolaty, like an emboldened brown ale. Add in the skins of some dark fruit, a bit of licorice rope, some woodsy, bark-like elements, and maybe a boost of booze.

Taste: Upfront dark breadiness, a bit of near-burnt toast, and with some fast-arriving woody overtones and hints of bitterish chocolate shavings given a small sip of bold black coffee. Some maple and birch accents quietly washing across the tongue in small ripples, also some caramel, but, for me, it's never overtly sweet. Sliver of plum skins. Small pinch of licorice powder. Low qualities of citrus and pine from the hops, but ample bitterness to keep things in check. Some alcoholic warmth noted, but it's never problematic. Dry maltiness on the lightly bitterish finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied. Medium-plus carbonation.

Overall: I found it to be both interesting and enjoyable when, to be honest, I was expecting neither. Reminded me of He'Brew Jewbelation Twelve mixed with a bit of Palo Santo, though, maybe that's just the Steak-umm talking.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

From notes. Had on cask at the DFH brewpub during the weekend of compelling ales.

A: Served in a goblet, the beer is extremely dark brown, bordering on black. A perfect, slightly tan colored, head formed on top, about 1/2 inch which lasted for most of the time I was drinking. Wisps of lacing down the side.

S: Toasted malt and caramelized sugar, a little bit of molasses and cocoa. The maple shines through as well some light woody aromas and raisins.

T: Slightly sweet from the maple syrup, which gives a nice rich flavor, but does not overwhelm the beer. There is an earthiness and some cocoa. Solid roasted malt flavor as well as some darker fruits like raisins and plums.

M: Medium bodied with great carbonation. It was incredibly creamy, probably due to the fact that it came off cask, but it made it amazing to drink.

O: A really good beer. It was certainly helped by the cask, but the flavors were nice and it was incredibly drinkable for 10%.

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Photo of russpowell
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Happy to get to try this!

Pours a mahogany-hued auburn with 2+ fingers of brown head. Nice viscious look to this, above average head retention & lacing

S: Figs, ghost booze, faint oaky notes

T: Dark fruit (raisins & figs), plus dark cherry up front, some dryness, leafy hops as well. Faint maple & molasses notes coming through as this warms, some boozeyness as well, more figgyness, a touch of apricot too. Woody hops hang in there as this warms

MF: Rich, chewy, low carbonation, great balance. Carbonation picks up a touch once warm

A nice malty take on the style, I enjoyed the slant this took. A great fireside sipper IMO, a bit overpriced though

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very dark brown, nearly opaque with only the slightest bit of light coming through on both the sides and the bottom of the glass. Very rich color, with slight reddish tints, but mostly just a deep russet brown. A smallish maybe one finger high head of gold and tan colored foam rose up from the bottom and lay across the top of the glass like a pillow. This settled down eventually, but left behind a thin film covering the top and very nice side glass lace.

I did not think this would be coming off as strong as it did. Lots of wood and oak like aroma mixed in as well. I had to let this one sit and warm up to see what else was going to be coming through from it. The next whiff was much more complex then the first. Lots of oak notes still underlying, however these were now being layered in with a good bit of dark fruity notes, plums, or raisins perhaps. Still a touch hot from the aroma, as the alcohol was very discernable.

. A very robust and full flavor profile, this was definitely one to sit down and think about as you go through it. A full on blast of spiced alcohol was the first thing that I noticed, kinda hot, but as it warmed it mellowed out and by the end of the session had all but blended into the background and simply become an outstanding ale. Loads of dark fruit notes were permeating through the flavor. Prunes, Raisins, Figs all very discernable in the flavor and really adding balance to it as they melded together. Lots of spice here as well, very big. The notes of oak and wood in the flavor were clearly becoming evident as it warmed, giving it a very subtle, yet very powerful presence. I can see why people rave about this; it is very unique, very dark, and very seductive almost. The flavor really needed some time to catch up with you, the first few sips were nothing compared to the last few, really outstandingt silky smoothness that really lets the flavor pop and keeps it from getting too heavy. In fact it was really not filling at all, despite how big it was it was excellent as far as that.

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Photo of billab914
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 2 poured from a 750ml bottle into my Devil's Backbone snifter. Dark brown in color with a a half inch of dense foam covering the top.

The aroma shows off the sweeter syrup very well and really compliments the chocolate and caramel flavors I'm getting. It's got some really nice dark fruit notes to it as well. It's got a lot of sweet flavors, but it surprisingly doesn't feel overdone at all. Very nice aroma to it overall.

The maple syrup also has a lot of influence in the taste. It's got some caramel, chocolate and some coffee in the finish. It's got a little bit of a darker fruit, cherry like flavor to it as well. Again, it's got a lot of flavors that are usually really sweet, but it doesn't feel overly sweet at all. Very nice flavors overall, I really like the syrup flavors.

The mouthfeel is leaning towards the heavier side with carbonation being a little above average. Overall, I thought it was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. It really came together well and the maple syrup was really well represented in it. With all the sweet flavors I was really impressed at how relatively balanced and drinkable it was. Very enjoyable overall.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Tj's in Paoli, PA.

A - A deep bronze shade w/ crimson highlights. The beer has a quick dropping beige cap which revives when swirled. The lace clings well and the ale has a tiny bead

S- A creamy scent of birch and toasted sugar w/ a light biscuit and mild cocoa note. The scent is chewy w/ woody aromas, mildll fruity and raisiny nose

M - Thick, viscous, chewy as the nose indicated w/ sweet edge - moderate carbonation and hints of spice in the texture w/ slight heat as it finished but dry texture overall which nice considering the strength

T - The taste is rich but only moderately sweet w/ syrup influence in the taste, dry but malty w/ a light nuttiness and slight toffee-like smooothness. The flavor has hints of cacao and leads to mild pepper and toasted notes w/ subtle sweetness. The birch syrup seems to give an earthy element to the taste, but perhaps a dry aspect too which reminds of cocoa w/ mild astringency and the nutty notes which could also be simply toasted malt flavors. The sweetness is in balance with the alcohol but stilll noticeable in the finish

D - An interesting brew, not the best of the style, but a very drinkable strong brown ale. A success to my taste buds - I could probably drink snifter after snifter of this since it is very drinkable for the strength - a satisfying beer

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Life & Limb from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.97 out of 5 based on 1,539 ratings.
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