Life & Limb | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

very good
1,538 Ratings
no score
Send samples
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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,538 |  Reviews: 745
Photo of becktone
3.96/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes 12-28-09

Eye: Mahagony in color with deep red/garnet hightlights. Looks very nice. From what I can tell the beer is very clear...I can see through it when the light is behind it, but only the bulb and that brings out the deep red hues. Head formation and retention are great. A creamy/frothy light tan head sits atop this brew with a nice head about 3/4 of a finger. Sheets of lace mark where this beer has been in the glass.

Nose: Overall dark aroma. Not too much coming through on that. Maple Syrup is noticeable, it lends a certain sweetness too this brew. Candied aromas come from the addition of both maple and birtch syrup. Mostly sweet candied tones, some malt is there to back it up, but I'm really getting a strong almost candy coating from candied apples. Also chocolate, now some malts are coming through. Chocolate tones are in the back but its not like a chocolate malt deal, more like the chocolate aroma from Southern Tier's Choklat. Overall the aroma is nice, but I think some more complexity couldn't hurt. Good but not mind blowing.

Tongue: Definitely bitterness from heavily roasted or black malts, they balance out the sweetness of this beer. Alcohol is evident and also helps to the balance out the sweetness. Dry almost woody character to this beer...maybe its just another side of the alcohol. though. All in all its pretty hard to describe, kinda like BSDA meets a dry American Double Stout, yet there's not nearly enough dark fruit to call it a BSDA and not enough roasted character (just enough to aid in balance) to call it a stout....well I guess it could place well in the American Double Stout category...but its really just out there...a specialty beer. Definitely nothing really belgian about it besides the high abv. Maybe a touch of dark fruit...dates? Again good but nothing real special. Glad I got to try this one time specialty brew, but were it seasonal I doubt I'd be excited or actively seek it out again. Sure its worth it, but not something I'd see myself readily going after again were it available each year.

Feel and Drinkability: Pretty heavy on the palate. Cabonation is low and the body is overall thick and smooth. Warms a bit as it goes down. Definitely one that I'm enjoying, though more than one 24oz bottle would be hard to drink. This is one to sip on over the course of a night/day etc... Glad I got to try it, but like I said before there's nothing all that great about it to make me want to buy another bottle.

 2,486 characters

Photo of jt31914
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: 1 inch foam with a dark black color.

S: Faint sweet coffee notes, not too bitter.

T: Licorice and alcohol with soothing warm finish.

D/M: Decently drinkable and very smooth/creamy.

Pretty good beer, glad I had it on-tap at Hopcat; thanks Steve.

 252 characters

Photo of mcallister
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep mahoganny with a small tan head that fades quickly leaving spotty lace.

Hints of pitted fruits, dark breads, rye, toffee, burnt caramel, hints of coffee and chocolate.

Nice beer. Seet matls in the middle dry out at the finish than to be over taken again by a raisiny sweetness. Plum and toffee, with spent coffee grounds and dark chocolates. Very dark fruits that give a round middle are big and complex. Bitter hops on the end. Complex and good and ageable.

 465 characters

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

On tap at Callahan's, San Diego.

This beer pours a dull black color with very light off-white lacing. The aroma is mild, but with rich roasted malts. More roasted malts (lots!) in the taste with hints of coffee. There's a bit of bitterness in the aftertatse, but it is nicely balanced with a cream-like flavor. Medium-bodied and really smooth; virtually no carbonation. A rather enjoyable strong ale that doesn't taste of the strong alcohol. Definitely worth a try.

 466 characters

Photo of ClassicBrad
4.36/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Trying not to let how hard to find and hyped this beer; it's still damn good.

Though, it's listed as an American Strong Ale, it's almost like a combination of that and a stout. Original and delicious use of birch and maple in the mouthfeel and taste. The nose could be a little more telling but all in all, this beer deserves every desperate beer nerd that is seeking it out.

 376 characters

Photo of Brez07
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was lucky enough to have this beer on tap not once, but twice, at local bars. Reviewed the second tasting. Notes from about two weeks ago. Poured into a 12oz tulip

A: Dark pour with hints of red along the outside. Gives a 1+ finger tan head. Leaves a lot of lacing throughout

S: Roasted malts up front followed by chocolate and a nutty presence. The chocolate and nut are more prevalent as time goes by

T: Again with the roasted malts. However, it mixes well with bittersweet chocolate and even a little dark cherry. I think the nutty smell I detected is translating to pecan on the palate

M: This is a full bodied beer. Very smooth and creamy. Has a little sticky finish

D: Great collaborative effort by two fantastic breweries. The alcohol is disguised very well - would not have guess this was 10%. It was very easy to drink but caught up to me at the end, limiting me to just one glass. If you see this in your area, try it!

 933 characters

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is smooth. Very easy drinking and with the abv well hidden it can put you to sleep.
A dark leather-brown pour topped with a very nice looking light brown head. Foam reached 3 fingers and settled to a nice layering with good lacing.
Aroma is light. Some woody aromas and slight hotness. Faint fig and prune.

Mellow taste. Semi-sweet caramel, maple, brown sugar, hints of spice. A combination of hop and alcohol sharpness on the end, but soften well.
This is a very nice strong ale.

 493 characters

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

01.11.10 at Monk's Kettle in San Francisco.

A: opaque, dark brown, with burgundy tint

S: coffee, cocoa

T: chocolate-y

M: malty, with a foamy finish

D: highly drinkable, this thing just gets smoother and smoother

No offense, but I was really surprised by this. I actually liked it a lot more than I thought, though it didn't have the quirky, esoteric qualities I was expecting.

 382 characters

Photo of NorthsideFred
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great beer! I had it on-tap at Firkin in Libertyville about a month ago, and then last night at Binny's South Loop. I also have four bottles that I'm saving because I think aging will only make it better!

A: Very dark with a nice head.

S: Sweet, roasty, malty

T: Delicious! There is a rich, sweet, malty taste. I don't taste the maple. The alcohol is not overwhelming which is impressive for a high alcohol beer like this.

M: Full-bodied, silky smooth.

D: Very drinkable. Many high-alcohol beers are sipping beers. Not this, it goes down way too easy!

This is an excellent beer, and I wish I had more!

 620 characters

Photo of drseamus
3.23/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark red Ruby with the thick tan head. Fairly tight nose with some sweetness and some light banana notes. Very strong flavor right off the bat. The sweetness is almost overwhelming for a second, then a good bit of wood and a background of banana, probably from the maple syrup. Super creamy, which goes well with the sweetness. Somewhere between medium and light bodied. I think the initial blast of flavor is a touch too much especially when combined with the level of sweetness.

 488 characters

Photo of pourMEanother
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Though this was a highly anticipated release I think I ended up being more impressed by the artwork on the label than the beer... In my opinion one might have thought you were pouring liquid gold rather than beer when hit with the cost of a 24oz. bottle. Initially upon tasting I was a little upset that I had been sold by a great marketing of this product...

A: A shade darker than a nut brown ale, deep and dark, with a mysterious/ what am I in for look.

S: Sweet, Nice Roast, Little Hop Aroma.

T: Again, sweet, not amazingly complex at first but eventually opens all it's hidden wonders to your palette... Could pick up all the syrups and added flavors. Won me over after a while and a little warming.

M: Not much carbonation or head, would have thought it was flat had I not just opened it.

D: No sign of the 10.2%ABV... No hops. Could have drank as easily as a good soda. Never seemed overpowering or undrinkable.

Overall: A nice offering, but a little bit to much hype and not as much show... I want more out of my collaboration brews.

 1,047 characters

Photo of travduke
3.36/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was very excited when I got a bottle of this. It wasn't sold in CT but my distributor tossed me a bottle, I was excited.

I poured this into my La Fin Du Monde tulip, its beautiful.

I can barely see through this when I hold it up to the light. I was expecting dark, but not THIS dark, I'm impressed. Thick head, incredible lacing, this is a nice looking beer.

Sadly, it falls apart with the taste. Its not a bad tasting beer, don't get me wrong. When breweries like DFH & SN put out a beer like this I was expecting hops, and lots of them. Maybe I was wrong to assume that, I don't know. Dark fruits and syrup make up the taste. I really didn't notice much of a hop presence, wish I did.

I notice a lot of people talking about how boozy this beer is, I don't see it. If it weren't for the 10% ABV I could easily put a couple of these back if I desired too.

I was going into this beer like everyone else, high expectations. It just didn't do it for me, I really wish it did. I still love Dogfish and I still love Sierra, just not together I guess. I have another bottle I traded for, maybe in a year I will crack it open and see what happens.

 1,151 characters

Photo of benclimbs
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black brown red with athick tan head and plenty of lacing

smell is cloves, prunes cocoa, syrupy sweetness and booze, just slightly too much for 10% but acceptable

taste is pretty unique and amazing quick and not geared but so much there, a little sweet spice, some maple syrup is noticable, some dark sweet toast, along with some mocha flavours and a rtouch of dry bitter hop. Damn nice!

Mouthfeel is heavy but not overly syrupy sticky sweet

drinkability isn't as high as 10% Belgians but still decent

overall an very strong example of the style - compilations between very good breweries is awesome!

 611 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a cola brown with dark ruby and amber highlights when held to the light. The hed is about one and a half fingers thick, and reminiscent of latte foam. This head lasts for about a half an hour of sipping before it dissipates. The aroma is dark roasted malt faintly recognizable amidst sweet maple syrups, toasted malts molasses offset some by just enough hopping to make the aroma not overly sweet. Great mix of deep roasted malt, maple syrupy sweetness , and earthy hop bitterness for balance this is a great beer. Although I sometimes wnder if the earthy flavors are from the birch syrup or the hops? PLus the alcohol warms things up at the very end of this syrupy sweet yet roasted palate beer. Great sipper and a great bottle to save as a conversation piece.

 767 characters

Photo of CampusCrew
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

OK, my expectations were low because I thoughtthis beer was goign to be all hype but still as I took my first sip I still expected Sam and SN to put out a good beer.

appearance: Deep dark brown. wasn't expecting that. With some red dapple tones. not much lacing though.

smell: heavy brown sugar and bready sweetness

taste: maple, brown sugar but not overpowering as I may of thought. Lots of alcohol bite with some bitter hops on the backend. good roasted malt. good winter warming beer.

mouthfeel: medium bodied, very carbonated

drinkability: Did not disapoint. It's a wrold class colaboration

 600 characters

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

Stubby 24oz brown bottle reads that this living ale was created with both birch and maple syrup.

Pours a very dark brown color with some deep ruby hues when held up to the light. Forms about a finger of tanned head and laces nicely on the glassware. Aroma has a solid amount of pleasant sweetness similar to maple (but I think it is more like molasses) and dark fruit with some notes that are chocolatey. The aroma fades with a bit of an alcohol bite and as it warms a little bit of hops break through. Taste is minorly sweet up front with the alcohol playing quite a bit in the profile. Included in the taste is the maple (I still think it is more like a darker molasses) and slightly bitter hop infused chocolate. The lingering aftertaste includes some spice that I would suspect is the birch finally coming into play. The feel of this beer is medium and somewhat dry in the finish with a moderate carb level.

I think this is one of the more complex beers I have had in awhile, or maybe it was just that I really sat down and tried to give this one the attention it deserved since it was a collaboration between two breweries who I like. Regardless, overall it was a quality beer.

 1,184 characters

Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a fat large bottle into my Corsedonk snifter. Pours a very dark coca-cola like color with a very large frothy head. Leaves very sticky frothy lacing on the glass that lasts the entirety of the drink.

Aroma is very close to most American Strong Ales. Some bitter back tones, some fruity notes...possibly grapefruit. Good smell, inviting...but nothing outstanding.

Wow...this is an American Stong Ale?!?! More like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Dark Belgian candi, dark fruits, sugars...mmm. Wow, I definitely didn't expect this one to taste so good based off of ratings. Some smokey malts...a big sweet front taste, with only slight bitters in the rear. Creamy thick sweet mouthfeel...very good!

 705 characters

Photo of Avagadro
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: burnt umber in color with a grainy, mocha colored head.

S: chocolate, prunes, and spicy hops combine well in this bold bouquet.

T: off-dry, with heavy doses of chocolate and hops. Dried berries also plays a supporting role.

M: full body with a moderate amount of carbonation and a creamy texture.

D: a great brew from a couple of America's finest brewers. Worth seeking out.

 381 characters

Photo of BS68280
3.51/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a DFH signature series glass.

A: Pours very dark brown, with about a 1/4 inch creamy white head. Head stays around for a little but not long.

S: Not much of a smell at all. Very subdued, twirling it a lot brought out a little sweet boozey scent and some hints of roasted malt. I don't think i have had a beer with such a faint smell. As it warms the smells of dark fruits do become a bit more pronounced, however they are still not very complex.

T: A lot of sweet dark fruit malts dominate the taste. Prunes and raisons. Sugary sweetness that sticks around long after the sip is finished. Just a sugary sweet taste and lots of dark fruits. The alcohol pokes its head but is quickly subdued by the sugary sweets. Not very complex.... mostly just sweet.

M: Medium body, a little sugary and sticky.

D: Hides the alcohol but i don't think i have an urge for more than this bottle. This beer is very average. Pretty disappointed from a beer made by two of my favorites.

 985 characters

Photo of dougofthefuture
3.48/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 24 oz bottle into my tulip glass.

A - Dark brown with a thick two finger head.

S - Fairly strong sugar smell. A little bit burnt, but not enough to take away from the sweetness. Just a little bit of hops come through.

T&M - There are a lot of sharp flavors. I have another one of these aging, but I probably should have left this one to mellow as well. I taste those standard SN hops, but the alcohol is really up front, the carbonation is seemingly strong for the style, and the strong syrup sweetness doesn't know what to do with itself in the mix. One thing is for sure - I haven't had anything like it, and that is good.

D - I am sharing the 24 oz bottle, but sharing a 12 oz would have been better. I just don't want that much.

 750 characters

Photo of nrpellegrini
3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass.

A dark clear brown color with a lot of carbonation, has a nice off white head that stays a laces nicely. Smells of sweet malts and some hoppy notes. First drink reminds me of a slightly hopped brown ale with more sweetness. A nice smooth drink, some caramel flavors and nice a small hoppy crisp taste in the middle but smooths out in the end. I really enjoyed this beer but I was hoping for something a little more.. I'd like to have it again though..

 497 characters

Photo of cpetrone84
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-the color is a very dark brown with hues of red as the light shines through. The head is a decent light brown color, two full fingers. It lingers for fair amount of time and leaves a pretty solid lacing on the glass.

S-the nose is very subdued and comes through with a slightly toasted dark malt, some caramel molasses, with sweet dark fruits at the back, plums and raisins

T-the taste brings in a lot of sweetness. the sweet caramel malt sets in first followed by a touch of dark malt. a hint of maple syrup fades in with prunes, figs, and raisins coming in at the back.

M-it has a great full body and brings a syrupy smoothness that feels fantastic. a higher amount of carbonation as they mentioned to help it age well.

D-this is a little boozy and the alcohol is present throughout. however, it has a great mouthfeel and a nice malty sweetness to it. Appears that it will be truly awesome as the carbonation settles and the alcohol begins to mild.

 956 characters

Photo of Tdizzle
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on October 13th, 2009. 10.2% ABV.

A- Life & Limb pours a dark, dark brown color with clear ruby hues when held up to light. An average pour produces a one-finger head of tan foam that settles to a nice looking cap over the beer. The thick ring along the inside of the glass leaves very little lacing behind.

S- The smell is sweet with notes of maple syrup, molasses, and a myriad of dark fruit aromas such as raisins, dates, figs, and black currants. There are notes of dark, toasted malts along with a background of hop spiciness. The high ABV is noticeable.

T- A rich flavor of dark, fruity malts and the syrupy sweetness that the smell promised. The middle flavor yields light notes of toffee, anise, and burnt toast right before the finish leaves a lasting taste of raisiny dark fruits along with lots of residual brown sugar-like sweetness. The high ABV is fairly pronounced in the flavor.

M- Thick, rich, and viscous in texture. In fact, the liquid feels as though it's fighting the tongue, yet it has a lush velvety-smooth lightness to it as well. It coats the inside of the mouth with a slightly oily film. The carbonation is very soft and indicative of bottle conditioning.

D- The flavor is very sweet but not cloyingly so, though it's right on the cusp. This is an overall enjoyable beer, but I wouldn't want more than one glass due to the heavy texture and the heavily sweet flavor profile.

Got one in the cellar to see what happens when some of the heat burns off. Looking forward to it.

 1,515 characters

Photo of barnzy78
3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

24oz brown bottle. A rigorous pour reveals an opaque, deep brown with some bright red hues at the fringes of the glass with a tight cascade of light brown, tiny bubbles creating a cool effect atop the ale. Retention and lacing are excellent. Aromas are sweet with scents of malt and brown sugar. It's boozy right from the beginning and the booze continues to the finish, with notes of brown sugar, anise, vanilla, slight maple, and wood (maybe some mild pine from the hops and is somewhat oaky as well). Finishes boozy, as mentioned, along with a hint of white pepper. Mouth-feel is creamy, smooth, and medium-to-full bodied. Overall, I really enjoyed this one, but it seemed to lack some complexity. Glad I tried it, but wouldn't be persuaded to buy it again if I saw it.

 772 characters

Photo of younger35
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had to swing by Stub & Herb's while Christmas shopping for a quick beer break. Drank from a small 7oz sampler.

Appearance- Pours a dark brown with dark orange edges. A small dark brown head forms that quickly scrambles leaving a decent collar and lacing.
Smell- A fair amount of dark toasty malts that present a tinge of char. Some molasses and black licorice with a fair amount of alcohol. The nose is fairly weak overall and as it warms the alcohol really kicks up. Maybe a touch of maple syrup but not much.
Taste- Wow, fairly intense black licorice and alcohol right from the start. Easily the most black licorice I've ever tasted. Very earthy with an herbaly root type flavor profile. Fairly good dose of molasses too with a few splecks of caramelized sugar. A touch of smoke on the finish and plenty more alcohol. Maybe even some raisins or prunes but it has a tough time cutting though that dark licorice aspect.
Mouthfeel- Very full bodied with a rich mouthfeel and a surprising amount of carbonation.
Drinkability- Definitely not what I was expecting. When I tried the beer I had no idea what was in it. I didn't get any of the maple syrup aspect in the taste as it was just pure licorice to me. Definitely interesting but the 7oz was plenty.

 1,252 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More