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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Ratings: 1,540 |  Reviews: 745
Photo of saintwarrick
4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This dark crimson brew has a slightly foamy off-white head. Lots of alcohol and sweet sugar show through in the aroma, but the taste is rather reserved. Malty sweetness starts out before a noticeable bitterness takes over. Hints or dark caramel, toffee and milk chocolate define the taste, finished by a semi-sweet, citric bitterness. A fine strong ale here, very warming but not all that thick. Was hoping for something a little more unique from two of my favorite breweries, but this is still a very good brew to be had for any beer geek.

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Photo of DNICE555
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at the B after Kate Day

A - Clear brown, not much head, very little lacing.

S - Malt,molasses, cinnamon, maple, fruit alcohol, very nice.

T - Malt, maple syrup, vanilla, spices, warming alcohol flavor.

M - Medium body, crisp smooth, nice carbonation.

D- 10.2 percent is very well hidden. I made my way through a 13 ounce chalice pretty quickly. I was very impressed with this sierrva nevada dogfish collaboration. This was very limited in CT and I think it's very cool Plan B held onto this for a while and is now busting it out on tap.

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

a red so dark it's brown. nice ruby highlights and great headyfoaminess

airy hops present themselves first. i smell root beer! it really does smell like good root beer. the maple (and birch, perhaps most importantly) syrup must be to blame. cashews, molasses. by the way, you know it's gonna be a fun one when the ethanol is smellable

more birch beer character to be found in the flavor. good hop flavor, but it's earthy so as not to interfere with the maltycaremlly going on. there is an innovative flavor going on here: (insert tree variety here) syrup keeps the body lively on a very strong ale and provides a unique flavor--presumably there is a ton of malt in this brew but i don't taste a typical ASA malt profile. sweet, certainly. caramel. still pretty sweet

it's certainly a warm one, and bitter

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Photo of cld253
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

24 oz. Bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A- One finger, off white head quickly dissipates with decent lacing left behind. Nearly opaque in color, black with dark ruby hues around the edges.

S- Sweet, toasted, caramel malt. Astringent fruit, currant and dried cherries, and maple depth.

T- I think of these two breweries and I think of bitter, citrus crazed hop heads. The bitterness is subdued by the sweet and roasty malt, as well as apparent syrup adjuncts. Noble hops maybe? Definitely subtle, but balancing throughout. Very complex.

F- thick and slick. resinous, syrupy oils that coat and stay, but once they mellow, you want it again.

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Photo of wryepicures
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured dark brown with ruby highlights from a bottle into a regular pint glass (sadly not my choice); fluffy tan head with good retention.

Initial aromas of syrup (maple), molasses, malt, earth. Opens up a to a slight bit of smoke and root beer.

Tastes strong complex malts, smoky wood, maple/birch syrups present but sweetness balanced by the bitter finish. Earthy sweetness reminds me of root beer and I drink it, the sweeter it becomes. The malts are slightly bitter/toasty, and I also get a bit of old ale style oxidation which adds to its complexity. Well hidden alcohol.

Well carbonated, bitter finish, med-full body.

A very complex malty/sweet beer that has a bitter finish and hidden alcohol. Alot of flavors to think about, and its an obviously well crafted beer. Drinkable even with the price and hype.

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Photo of zadams1
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When two of my top breweries team up its tough to give an even handed review but I'll try my best.

A - Poured into a tulip pint. Deep, dark brown getting real close to black except at the bottom of the glass where theres some dark amber streaks show. A nice fluffy tan head to start.

S - Malt, fruit (raisin/date), and maple are all there with a bit of alcohol smell during the first sniff.

T - Not surprising based on the smell but a little alcohol taste up front but as this goes on and warms up a bit it only gets better. Heavy on the syrup taste with a lot of chocolate, malt and a light toffee flavor.

M - Medium and well-carbonated up front with a more full and mellow feel towards the end.

D - It is what it is. Great for a one off tasting once every 6 months if you were lucky enough to get the bottles. you can probably tell I took my time on this one and the beer did evolve quite a bit over the course of an hour. Scoop it up if you can find it.

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Photo of DosBeerigos
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

C(clarity). Absence of light from the side, but can actually see hue when light enters from the top
H(hue). Really, really, really dark amber
N(nose). Sweet, Syrupy, Hint of Hoppiness.

As you all know since you have read my bio, I'm not a fan of stouts or dark beers, but this is a sexy beer. In fact, this beer is so sexy, it's like Aunt Jamima served me this beer in a bikini, all while pouring maple syrup all over my pancakes. On a serious note, this beer was definitely worth the wait and creativity that Dogfish and Sierra put into it. The beer truly gets better after every sip. I would highly recommend this beer to anyone that can currently find it, if not you'll have to wait until next year.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - Pours brown with about one finger of brownish head with great retention. Little carbonation evident.

s - Smells like syrup, malts, a little fruit. Also hints of alcohol and maybe even chocolate?

t - Very nice malty/syrupy taste. Some fruit taste is also evident. A little sweet, but also hints of alcohol.

m - Medium to full bodied, little carbonation. A little thick.

d - Overall this was a pretty good beer, but a little disappointing because I had great things about it. Nice sweet malt/syrup taste, a little hot but not bad. Would definitely try again, but will probably hold onto my other bottle of this for a bit.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes Jan 28, 2010

Poured deep ruby with an off-white head. Caramel, roastiness, and a hint of figs in the nose. The taste is very similar but there is more roasted barley and robustness that gives a bittersweet finish. Medium bodied with smooth carbonation. The sweet finish is almost cloying for this beer. Decently drinkable though.

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Photo of ryanonline
4.01/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this beer looks dark, opaque and brown. Pretty good lacing but very thin head.

smells of a slight grape, or raisin scent, even a roasty malt, with that almost salty scent that sierra nevada has.

the taste is fantastic, a very classic dark ale flavor, kind of fruity somewhere between a raisin and cherry flavor. it has a nice roasty almost stout like backbone. the finish is like sweet maple syrup, yum.

spritzy on the tongue although more flat once it goes down, almost a creamy texture.

a little filing and fairly complex, could have one or to max.

I considered it a bad omen when the lip chipped of the bottle whilst i tried to open it but no glass fell in so i feel good about this beer. YAY!

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Photo of DavidSeanNJ
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

24 oz. bottle poured amongst friends. Multiple pours about 3/4 of a pint glass full.

A- Dark brown, getting close to black color. Large off white head. Some lacing. Looks thick.

S- Sweet molasses and maple syrup. Roasty and toasty malts. No hops in the nose (not used to this from SN). Maybe some fruit but that is kind of a reach.

T- Quite delicious although the alcohol is very much prevalent. Chocolatey cream. Brown sugar and organic syrup. Caramel notes. Tasty, but this beer was so hyped up, I was expecting a lot more.

M- Thick and smooth. Creamy texture. Carbonation evident.

D- Some cloying flavors which is why the drinkability takes a hit. I enjoyed this though.

I expected some great things from this beer and I found it to be very good, but not what I expected. The hype did not match the product. Still a very good beer.

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Photo of nickd717
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at City Beer in SF.

Mostly clear dark brown color with a nice beige head and good lacing.

Aroma is good but doesn't quite jump out at you. Malty and sweet, fairly nutty, with caramel and maple syrup, maybe some fruity notes.

Flavor is pretty sweet, but not too much so like others have commented. Caramel and toffee, maple syrup, roasted nuts, and sweet dried prunes and dates.

Fairly full-bodied and mildly syrupy with an appropriate carbonation level.

Suffers a little bit on drinkability, as it overwhelms the palate somewhat a few ounces into it. This is a good beer overall, but not as awesome as I hoped it would be when I first heard about it. FT: my remaining bottle...or maybe I'll just age it for awhile and see what happens.

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Photo of JayQue
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one is a winner!!! Not the usual hoppy Sierra Nevada offering but impresive all the same. Pours a dense black or dark mahogany color with reddish highlights only getting through at the bottom of the glass. Light tan head with fairly good retention and some lacing.

Smell is of maple syrup and malts. Tastes good. Dark fruits, mostly cherries (reminds me a little of Ommegang 3 Philosophers), malts and maple syrup.

Mouthfeel is very rich and creamy. No hint of alcohol. It goes down real smooth. Drinkability is good for a beer of this octane. Complex enough for this to be a slow sipper, but creamy and tasty enough to sip a lot of it. Very nice!!

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Photo of srandycarter
3.81/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Near black, off white head stays long. Good retention. Lots of cling lace.

S - I don't think it is too cold, but not much smell. Some barley malt, that is about it.

T - Big thick darkly cooked caramel. Hops to balance, but thicker sweet malt dominates.

M - Thick, a little cloying, gread carb and coating. Pretty good balance, though.

D - Too big for more than one.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a three finger light brown head that fades slowly to a ring, leaving a good lace. Deep brown/mahogany color. Very light maple syrup nose. Medium carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Flavor has hints of maple syrup, hops; balanced not cloying; high ABV is hidden. Nice strong ale. Worth trying at $10.00 for a 24oz bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

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Photo of weeare138
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to josh for this...
Appears a hazy dark mahogany with a small, beige, batter-like cap. Spotty traces of lacingare left around the cap.
Smell is of molasses, with herbs, spices, pine, and caramel.
Taste is of the aromas with brown sugar, roasted grain, caramel, and maple.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, chewy, bitter, and malty.
Drinkability? A bit lifeless(yes, pun intended)...and limb-less. Not that bad but not living up to the hype that surrounded this beer.

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Photo of BDLbrewster
3.52/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark almost opaque mahogany color with a fairly firm off white head.

The smell is heavy with Aunt Jemimah and heavily roasted (not burnt) malts. Very boozy, but the heat melds amazingly well with the heavy sweet aromas the brew throws off.

The taste starts off sweet, not far away from tasting like cola. This odd flavor is followed promptly by rush of malty sweet, sugary, syrup infused heat. Moderately boozy in the finish with seemingly tons of tooth scaring residual sugar. Sweet and hot...

Mouthfeel is medium-heavy, the carbonation is lost in the syrupyness of this brew and overall about what I expected.

Overall, good collaboration. An off-centered strong ale from
two reliable breweries. Seemingly more DFH influence here, but nothing to complain about.

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Photo of riored4v
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed 1/7/10

Poured into a pint glass. Thin, 1/2 finger tan head sits on top of a dark brown body w/ hints of ruby red.

Smell was citrusy hops and burnt caramel & toffee notes. Slight sweetness.

Taste was of toffee and dark, burnt malts along with some raisen notes. Slight syrupy sweetness with a nice bittering finish. Hops seem to be earthy and piney and provide a nice blend of flavors. Some mild hints of the ABV.

Mouthfeel was a medium/heavy body. Slick and sticky mouthfeel with good carbonation.

Drinkability was good. Slight signs of ABV along with stickiness limit the drinkabiliy a bit.

Overall i can say i enjoyed this beer and it's unique flavor. Would be interested to see how it turns out after some longer aging.

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Photo of ibbjamin
4.43/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $12.99 for a 24oz bottle from Perry's Liquor in Livermore, CA. Poured into a large snifter to review. I did not notice much variation between the 2010 and 2011 batches.

Dense, beige colored head of about an inch with some froth up top. Nice thin layer of retention and excellent lacing. As close to black as brown can be in color.

I smell classic Sierra danky hop aromas in excellent balance with sweet caramel malts and raisin. Clean, fresh and earthy.

Wow that's a tasty one. Takes on a much more robust malty character in the taste, yet still in great balance. Roasted malts, hop balance with the high ABV completely at bay.

Superb mouthfeel. Thicker than I expected with a medium full body and perfect carbonation. Velvety smooth with a medium finish of balanced sweetness.

This is going down too quickly. Get it if you see it!!!

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Photo of armock
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a mahogany color with a brown head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of maple syrup for the most part some alcohol

T - Theres a lot of stuff going on in here all sorts of flavors from maple syrup, dark fruits, chocolate, and a hint of alcohol good stuff

M - This beer has a full body with medium carbonation to it

D - This was a very good beer but its strong making it a slow sipper but I really enjoyed the way it tasted too bad the store limited it to one per person worth finding to try

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Extremely dark brown with garnet highlights. Light tan head and spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of sweet dark malts upfront. Crisp with dark fruit accents. Lots of syrup tones that bring herbal and earthy accents.

First sip brings crisp dark malts moving into herbal and earthy tones. Syrup is bold and weaves in well with maple tones and a bit of fruitiness throughout. Not overly sweet and it goes down well. A tasty strong ale.

Medium body overall with a creamy and smooth texture. Goes down pretty darn easy for the ABV. Overall this was a good collaboration and a tasty brew.

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Photo of stephens101
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, bordering on black with a one-finger tan head that dissipates quickly leaving little to no lacing behind. Smells sweet and a bit vinous like someone spilled a cask of wine in a candy store. A little maltiness and hoppiness is noticed as well as some dark fruits and distant phenols. Taste isn't as sweet as the smell, but the vinous qualities are still present. You can really tell that SN is involved with this brew, as the hops are more prevalent than in most Belgian Strongs. That being said, they're well integrated, and enhance the experience. On the other hand DFH puts it's mark on things with the sweet, brandy-like sweetness that lingers throughout. Some ripened grapes and some grain are also noticed on the palate. Goes down fairly dry with a slightly creamy middle. Alcohol is hidden, but becomes more noticeable as the brew warms. Great collaboration leads to a distinct and tasty brew.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The brains behind Bigfoot AND 120 Minute collaborate? I'm in.

Pours a deep dark brown color, glossy and entrancing, with a beige head that doesn't last too long. Just by looks, it appears to be a pretty viscous beast. Let's see...

Aroma is anise, milk chocolate, spiciness from the alcohol, and a dark berry/fruit vibe.

Flavor is indistinct at really takes some time to open up; glad I had several bottles to judge it by before reviewing (not in one sitting, mind you). It's a subtle beer, but a luscious, delicious one. Cocoa nibs, dark berry/fruit (raisin, date, fig), nice prickle of alcohol/spice. Good slick mouth, and an ample chewiness that remains buoyant enough to not overwhelm with thickness.

Reminds me of Schmaltz's Monumental Jewbelation 10th anniversary beer of a few years ago... just this big, dark, warming, dessert-like beer, one that takes some time and patience to decipher.

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Photo of MinorThreat
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bomber purchased from Libations on Parker and Arapahoe.

Let me start off by saying the packaging is great, it reminds me of the Bright Eyes "I'm Wide Awake, Its Morning" album cover

A-Rich deep mahogany/ruby color, the edge of the glass shows nice clarity. Gorgeous tan head that reduces to a decent skim, pretty good lacing.

S-Not too much going on here; subtle hints of chocolate, maple, caramel and cereal grains.

T-The first thing that comes to mind is how well integrated this brew is. It has a great malty body with hints of raisins, toffee, chocolate and caramel. The booze is hidden very well, only a slight twinge on the tongue and a nice warming down the throat. Really nice.

M- Pillowy and soft, enough gas to wash the palate well. For a big sticky beer it maintains a light, clean mouthfeel.

D- So well integrated and light on the palate with little to no alcohol burn makes this bre.w highly drinkable. Highly recommended

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Life & Limb from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.97 out of 5 based on 1,540 ratings.
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