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Life & Limb | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Life & LimbLife & Limb
1,542 Ratings
Life & LimbLife & Limb

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

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

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

(2009 Vintage) Vintage Ale brewed with Molasses, Maple, Birch

Added by mjl21 on 11-14-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,542 |  Reviews: 745
Photo of chumba526
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a dark brown color and a half inch ring of foam. Smells slightly of brown sugar, a little nutty, a little Smokey, a little grassy and a little like raisons. The taste starts with a funky dried fruit sweetness with slight grassy undertones, a bit of sourness is also present as well as a rich Smokey nutty malty flavor. These flavors lead up to the sweetness of maple syrup. The maple sweetness is complemented by a smooth but still semi bitter taste of hops that balancers out the sweetness. The birch syrup is also present in the beer and adds a unique kind of grassy, tree like taste: this gives the beer a hugely unique taste. The carbonation of the beer is on the low side making it very smooth and easy to drink. I found the beer tasted better being close to room temperature. Overall an excellent collaboration that aged quite well.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep dark brown color-almost borders on black but has some great deep chestnut hues around the edges when held to light. Not much in the way of head. Nice aroma-somewhat tofeeish and slightly maple like. Sweet and sticky caramel flavor. Minor vanilla notes. Somewhat of a woody/smokeish flavor. A tad boozy near the end. Very full, sweet and gummy mouthfeel. This is my 3rd time having this and I really like this. All too dangerously drinkable. Can be complex as it warms but well balanced. Kudos to both brewers for a job well done.

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Photo of devilben02
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Based on respect for both breweries involved, I jumped at the chance to try this collaboration. I split a first bottle with a group of friends, and all were impressed, but this second bottle was just for me.

Pours from the bottle with an opaque, seemingly black color, although a closer inspection reveals shades of brown and a ruby red glow. From above the creamy head of tiny tan bubbles, the aroma is full of a complex array of sweet characteristics, which are brought out to a greater extent in the flavor. Notes of dark caramel, brown sugar, and dried cherries resonate, with a hint of the maple sweetness, but also a bit of graininess. It's a bit boozy, but not as much as I would expect from the 10% alcohol.

Overall, this one is as well-constructed and flavorful as anything you'd expect from Sierra Nevada, plus it has a touch of the uniqueness you'd expect from Dogfish Head. Not a landmark in brewing, but a nice marriage nonetheless.

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Photo of hoplover82
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with an off white head that has very good retention. Very appealing.

The smell is like an earthy, maple syrup note with some very roasty notes.

The taste is much like the aroma but with a hearty bittereness along with some sweet maple syrup and roasty chocolaty flavors. With some faint fruity eshters. Along with some licericy notes blend well with this beer.

And the mouthfeel is huge and sweet. With a longlasting bitterness that's oh so nice.

And very drinkable for such a huge beer. Very nice offering from both brewers.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pretty interesting beer. purs a decent initial head with ok head and lacing.

I get a woodsy spice from this beer. in addition, a licoricy note comes from the beer.

taste is interesting with the birch and maple syrup with a good chocolate background.

mouthfeel os full with a little biit of an alcohol bite.

interesting beer. worth a try.

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Photo of charlzm
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed April 8th, 2010 at 50 degreees F in a Samuel Adams "perfect pint" glass.

Beer pours deep and clear mahogany. A creamy two finger tand head forms and lasts a long time, sticking to the sides of the glass in a quietly attractive way.

Aroma is slightly woody and a little hoppy, but restrained overall. Just caught a whiff of malted milk/choclate malt for a fleeting moment. Molasses, if more than my wishful thinking, is barely present.

Chocolate malt (bordering on porter territory) is the primary flavor. Some herbal and vaguely medicinal hop notes, traces of golden raisin, a touch of wood and vanilla. Not as sweet as feared, nor as hot with alcohol.

Remarkable mouthfeel: a light, creamy texture and evaporative finish. Beautifully attenuated.

This beer is DANGEROUSLY drinkable at this stage of the game: I recommend having it NOW if you've been holding on to it for aging.

A winner.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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 WhiteOak
4.16/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Cola brown, showing bright mohogany red against sunlight. Moderate head is dark tan, settles quicky, and leaves some lace.

S- Muted and disappointing in aroma, only simple roasted caramel malt notes could be coaxed out of this brew. I would expect, however, that 2-3 years in the bottle would bring this beer's aromas out of this suspected dumb phase, and more complexities would emerge.

T- Flavors of sweet roasty caramel malt, sweet brown bread, raisins/dates, and Billington's brown sugar dominate, with faint notes French vanilla coffee with cream. The finish is of toffee. Very pleasant and inviting flavors.

M- Creamy, well-rounded. A touch too much CO2.

D- Good drinkability, even though somewhat viscous & sticky.

I was unable to detect any Birch essential oil flavors, so I'll assume that only Birch sugars (xylitol) were incorporated. The Maple syrup was barely perceptible to me, if at all.

Life And Limb was very good, and was close to unique from stylistic and flavor standpoints. It seem to bridge a few familiar styles without placing itself firmly within one.

I enjoyed this with a good friend, and we both thought well of it, but I can not consider it a good value, even for its novelty.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a stemmed glass.

The color is a beep black with a maroon hue to the color. The head is a finger or two of foamy brownish head and some nice lacing.

The smell is pretty good maple syrup flavor that makes me want some pancakes or french toast. Some dark fruit flavor with some slight funk flavor like a dark Belgian ale.

The taste is sweet with a great maple presence. Some hints of vanilla, and some nice dark fruit flavor. Wow, my mouth is feeling the effects of a really impressive beer.

The feel of this beer is pretty even and mellow, goes down pretty well and is an easy drinking beer. I enjoyed each sip.

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Photo of billshmeinke
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes, had this about a week ago. Poured into a La Find du Monde Tulip.

Very very dark brown and hints of ruby around the edge. 3 finger off white head. Quite good retention. Lot of lacing.

Smells of dark fruits (raisins). Some caramel and maple. Not much else.

Taste follows smell. Lot of dark fruits some vague caramel and toffee. Maple. A little on the sweet side, and too much of the dark fruits for my taste.

Full bodied. Low carbonation.

Fairly drinkable.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a mug. Big thanks to nyrangersfan for this one.

3.5 A: Dark brown, but not quite black color. Two fingers of frothy tan head with below average retention and some lacing.

4.5 S: Smell is damn good. Maple syrup comes through well with fig fruitiness. Dark roasted malts make this smell a lot like many fine porters I've had. Lastly, prominent toffee aroma.

4.0 T: Quite a complex brew. Raisins, dates, and tobacco start the show. Maple syrup is tough to pick out, but it's residual sweetness sure is there. Lots of brown sugar and molasses. A touch boozy and a little too sweet, but not bad at all. There's a touch of hop bitterness, which I think should be upped to balance the sweetness. This smells and tastes like a straight up DFH brew, I wonder what SN's input was.

4.5 M: Heavier body. Good carbonation and very creamy. Couldn't ask for much more. Lingering sweetness on finish.

3.5 D: Overall I like this brew. I wouldn't mind if they made this one again. I wish I had another to age as this one seems like it would do well with some time on it. The only problem is that this brew warrants a 12 oz size. I wouldn't drink a 24 oz of this again by myself. A little too sweet for that much volume.

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Photo of rye726
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice mahogany with a silky tan head. Good lace and retention. Nose has maple syrup, dark candy malts and ripe pitted fruits. Taste also has a nice maple syrup presence. Bready malts, subtle hops, herbal spices, caramel and toffee. Medium body finishes a bit thick. Nice strong ale.

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Photo of femALEist
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head, Life and Limb.Everyone is making such a huge deal about this beer. I recently saw one go for $80 on ebay! Personally I am hoping this one will get better with age. It was good, not fantastic, and definitely not worth the $80 that people are paying. But for $10, it' s a good beer that I would suggest you age and see if it gets any better. It poured almost black. It smelled like molasses, raisins, prunes, chocolate but no hops. It tatsed like dark chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel, and it was a bit spicy. It was thick in my mouth and you can definitely taste the alcohol. The spiciness added an interesting character to the beer body. But I am hoping the alcohol will mellow out a bit in a year. I wonder how much the bottles will go for then?

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Photo of DanOLeary
4.14/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Surprisingly peppery upfront with some dark fruit and cherries blending in. The aroma is quite light overall with only subtle hints of chocolate and caramel trying to come through. Not a whole lot in the nose on this one.

Appearance: Initially you'll think this beer pours a jet black, but hold it up to the light and you'll find a deep cherry red with nice clarity. Head easily pours creamy off-white with good retention. Some small lace down the glass forms as the beer disappears.

Flavor: Ripe cherries smack your palate first off before the flavor dashes between prunes and sweet candi sugar. Moving to the middle there is a distinct bite of alcoholic spice and hop bitterness, but the cherries come back again as Maraschino Cherry sweetness before the alcohol finishes the beer with a peppery spice at the back of tongue.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with high carbonation, the carbonation has an effervescent and tingling quality on the tongue. Alcohol bite is quite noticeable here, into the middle and through to the finish you'll get almost a sting of alcohol heat that is bordering unbalanced but the flavors back it up.

Overall: While the beer lacks aroma characteristics, the real payout is in the flavor and body. Rich cherries and candi sweetness really set the beer off well against the alcohol, which always seems to be playing into the mix. An excellent late night quiet sipper that I would try to categorize as a Barley Wine, but the candi sugar throws it into a style all it's own.

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Photo of craytonic
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Completely underwhelming. Dark pour, decent head. Aroma is mostly malt, touch of toffee and coffee. Faint maple, no birch. Taste is similar, loads of malt, faint toffe and caramel, perhaps a touch of maple and molasses. A couple standard dark fruits like figs and raisins also. Mouthfeel is a bit sticky. I have no clue why there was so much hype on this one, it certainly didn't deserve it.

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Photo of mcann2pu
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had the privilege of trying this one at the Dogfish Head Brewpub during the "Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot".

Appearance: a rich brown / dark beer color with about a half of a finger's worth of tan head on the top, nice lacing around the rim.

Smell: a sweet but subtle smell of the maple syrup comes through,

Taste: the sweetness of the maple syrup is complimented by the slightly woody taste of what I assume is the birch syrup, good taste, some alcohol is detectable but it is pleasant.

Mouthfeel: good, it wasn't too thick despite the dark appearance.

Drinkability: very drinkable in my opinion, despite having a complex taste and decent amount of alcohol, I had to slow myself down from drinking this one too quickly. Overall a good beer that seems like it will age fairly well.

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

Poured into Stella glass from fat bomber bottle.

A: Deep rich brown glowing coloring with tan head, really heavy lacing. Nice looking brew.

S: Sweet malt notes, I do pick up some maple syrup tones. A little alcohol picked up as well.

T & M: Full bodied, quite thick. Nicely balanced but the taste doesn't stand out either. I do pick up on some of maple notes from the nose.

D: Quite drinkable, glad I tried this brew but I was left just slightly underwhelmed.

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Photo of selecter70
3.23/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

When these bottles first showed, they were limited & thus i went on a mad rush once a friend let me know of their arrival. This collaborative effort sounded amazing and on a dreary winter's evening I settled at home with one. A dark, dark brown with the slightest hint of dark orange edges, poured smoothly but lighter than expected. An opaque dark brown and trace head and lace with a dark sweet cocoa aroma and standard hops did not impress, but certainly did not disappoint. A bit standard tasting as well, but tasty at that, with dark chocolate, coffee, plum and a dash of hops in a medium body and quite drinkable. No complaints here, I just expected more for something initially called a Belgian Porter from Sierra Nevada & Dogfish. My fault I suppose.

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Photo of JRed
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark but not black. Aroma of chocolate, medicinal notes, and maple syrup. Great flavors of chocolate, cocoa, medicinal, dry hops. Light in body and the alcohol hides perfectly behind decadent flavors. This beer is truly a collabo of great minds. A perfectly crafted drink.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a DFH house snifter.

Pours an opaque black-brown with about a finger of khaki head that leaves no real lacing to speak of. The nose is dark malts, molasses, syrup, grapes, raisins, and figs. The taste follows a great deal, with the malts, molasses, raisins, figs, and plums coming through, along with a darker bit of syrup, oak, some hoppy bitterness, and even a tiny hint of smoke. The body is lightly heavy, with moderate carbonation and a very thick, chewy, and still somewhat smooth feel. Overall, the drinability is pretty high, though this brew stands better as a sipper than a gulper.

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Photo of HalfFull
4.19/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 24 oz. bottle into a large wine glass. Life & Limb pours a clear mahogany red in color and sports half an inch of tan foam. Offers decent retention and some spotty lacing as it warms.

Nose is predominantly of sweet fruit. Lots of dark black cherry and a occasional waft of sweet red cherry. Some cocoa and a bit of light maple syrup is there as well, revealing itself more with warming and offering a touch of dryness to offset the fruit forward nose. Hop notes are light once the head settles, otherwise earthy in note.

Berry notes continue to the taste, finishing with a dry spiciness that reveals itself ever so slightly on the nose. Maple syrup is evident on the finish after the carbonation lets off a bit, revealing the underlying sweetness that was hiding the alcohol quite well. With more time the alcohol is somewhat evident on the finish as is a return to a berry close.

Carbonation holds up well given the time of exposure for the beer and helps to offer a smooth feel throughout. Drinkability is good 'for the style' in that it never reveals a harsh bitterness or a one-sided sweetness that might deter. Tastes like a Barleywine towards the conclusion yet offers hints of a Fruity Belgian early on. Unique and worth a try though surely not a perfect match to any style and in fact morphs a bit throughout.

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Photo of taylorhamrick
2.84/5  rDev -29.4%
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 zoso1967
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Arrives at my table in a snifter. Dark brown, almost black with a beige head. Moderate retention and good lacing. I am not sure if a beer can smell dark brown, but this one does. Brown sugar, toasty malt, some maple and perhaps a hint of pine. The taste is quite wonderful and much more balanced than I had expected. There is definite maple flavor in there, but it mingles well with the dark malts and a very nice brown sugar/molasses like malt base. Other guests to the flavor party include chocolate, coffee, raisins and even some pine. It is worth noting that this beer carries much more bitterness than I expected. This is definitely a welcomed attribute. Mouthfeel is on the fuller side of medium with a somewhat sticky finish that seems appropriate with this brew. The alcoholic warmth is definitely there, but not in your face. I would not call this a session brew by any means, but it is a great sipper and a fine collaboration between two of America's best breweries.

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Photo of pourmeup
4.97/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a deep opaque mahogany almost black color, with an off white head the quickly resides to a thin ring around the edge of the glass
S- Smells very sweet, has toasted malt aromas and strong smells of maple syrup
T- Bold maple taste on the front and after tastes, has a great malty sweetness that is similar to brown sugar
M- The mouthfeel is great, very thick and heavily carbonated which delivers the taste so well
D- I could easily devour this whole bottle on my own.


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Photo of TCgoalie
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich coppery brown. A white bubbly head quickly forms at the top then dissipates in about 30 seconds.

The smell is a bit more fruity than expected. An apple malt smell dominates with a touch of brown sugar sweetness.

The flavor seems to be torn between two sides. Up front is a sugary sweetness that has an essence of pear and feels a bit dry (perhaps this is Life). The second side seems to finish warmly with brown sugar and raisins (perhaps this is Limb). I'm not sure which dominates the flavor as they seem to be battling in my mouth. I'll go with Limb winning the battle for flavor in a photo finish.

At first it feels like this will finish dry as a twinge of sour creeps in the middle of the taste as if it was a Belgian beer. Then comes the second part of the taste that is slightly sticky and warm. Unique.

This is pretty easy to drink, let's look at the label...wow, 10.2%. You can definitely taste the alcohol warming but it is hidden well. This bomber will sit easily inside my belly. Do I want another you ask, sure. But if you are going to charge me another 17$ for 24ounces, no thanks.

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Life & Limb from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 1,542 ratings
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