Life & Limb | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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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 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.

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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.

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

Thanks goes out to JJFoodie and Hophead101 for this brew.

Pours a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, nice little one-finger creamy light tan head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some nice toffee/caramel notes, picking up some alcohol in the nose. The taste is sweet, malty, and lots of toffee/caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, a pretty nice brew, glad to get some to try out.

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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 Hullabaloo2
3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma - Malty, dark sugar aroma. The cloying sweetness of the syrup comes through. More of a Dogfish Head characterisic than the limb and life. Very little hop aroma.

Appearance - Very dark brown. Small tan head. Very little head retention.

Taste - Rich with dark syrup. Cloying. Little to no detecable hop flavor. No hop bitterness. Noticable alcohol, but not hot. Lingering sweetness. Even the malt is just dominated by the sweetness of the syrups. Very out of balance toward the sweet.

Mouth Feel - Medium/heavy body. Medium carbonation. Cloying sweetness. No bitterness. Some alcohol. Lingering sweetness.

Overall Impression - This beer is ok. It is very characteristic of DFH, almost to a fault. I would love more hop flavor, or at very least more bitterness for balance. This is a little too cloying for my taste (Think DFH Burton Baton). I really expected Sierra Nevada to show through more in this beer. I also had hoped for somthing more original. This is really just like every other stronger dark beer from DFH. Sam, lay off the syrup man!

Update: After having this beer in the bottle I found it to be much less cloying than I originally perceived. Because of this I am raising the taste and mouth feel points.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.56/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

24oz. bottle poured into a stemmed glass. Bottled sometime in Oct./Nov. of 2009.

(A)- Pours a dark brown color with lighter brown highlights. Produced a rather large & bubbly-like yet creamy looking tan head with good retention. Left lots of lacing as it dissipated.

(S)- A very nutty molasses with a rather grassy-like hoppiness. The birch added is very evident; kinda chalky at the end.

(T)- Again, a chalky-like molasses with some nutty maple syrup; very malty for a Sierra Nevada, so this must have alot of DFH influences. Finishes with a touch of vanilla & raisin dryness.

(M)- The hops are there and present, but is definitely overshadowed by how malty overall this is. Good carbonation level, just a bit uneven right now.

(D)- I am glad I got the chance to try this due to its a collaboration from two breweries whom I respect and enjoy very much, but this is a little dissapointing; dont get me wrong, its good, but I was expecting more. Perhaps a few more months in the cellar will soften its edges?

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Photo of rudylaw
3.35/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

24oz stubby, poured into a tulip.

Dark brown pour with red hues. A gigantic 3 finger head that receded into a thin rim.

Lots of grapes, brown sugar, maltiness in the nose. A corn syrup/pecan pie aroma.

Chocolate, maple syrup, sugars and coffee in the taste. All elements I love in stouts, but for some reason, it's not coming together for me here. There is a good deal of alcohol burn on the finish that is ruining this for me.

Medium body with a sticky mouthfeel.

This is a pretty big disappointment for a collaboration between two of craft beer's legends. Perhaps my other bottle will come oigether in a few months?

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Photo of TKEAnimal
3.45/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Before I start my review I just want to say that before I bought this beer I was extremely excited and anxious to try it. I thought that I was going to wowed by this beer due to the fact that I am a big fan of breweries. So needless to say I had high expectations for this beer. Unfortunately, I was disappointed, not to say this is a bad beer, but it did not meet my lofty expectations. So my rating of this beer is a little low.

A - Dark brown color with a tan color head.

S - I was surprised by the lack of hops in the aroma of this beer. I do smell coffee and burnt caramel malts.

T - The smell of malts comes through with my first taste.

M - This is a full bodied beer, but that was expected.

D - Overall this is a drinkable beer. I am keeping a bottle to cellar to see what time does to the overall feel of the beer. Hopefully it will get better with age.

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Photo of thequeen711
3/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice dark pour,, minimal head, nose of a stout. Slight hop bitterness of an aftertaste. This is an interesting collaboration, not prominent flavours prevail, just the hype was worth the taste. Some say it is reminiscent of the Kentucky Breakfast Stout from Founders, however, I must totally disagree!!! From the minds of Dogfish Head Brewery, I expect a better brew!!!

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3.76/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a snifter.

A: Very attractive & interesting brew. Average-sized head that was off-white and creamy and didn't stick around to find out what happened next. Completely opaque body that was dark brown (nearly black) with ruby edges along the glass. The opacity was an unexepected pleasant surprise.

S: Also surprising was the aroma. In an interesting way. Average malt character, mainly molasses, coffee and burnt caramel. The hops didn't exactly jump out either, but added their 2 cents. Floral and resiny. There was a leathery, earthy, leafy yeast presence as well.

T, M & D: Red grape, rasiin, & maple syrup came to party too. Light alcohol (well-hidden considering) on the back end of the palate. Medium body and lively carbonation. This is clearly the big brother and much, much better than Limb & Life. Although I was still a litttle disappointed, certainly a valiant effort and definitely an above average brew.

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Photo of PBoegel
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was able to grab three bottles of this brew from Glenmont Beverage Center off 9W in Glenmont, New York. Pretty stoked, thought I was going to miss and wanted to age some.

Anyway shared the 24 oz bottle with four folks at family christmas.

My pour was into a duvel tulip, about 8-10 oz.

Deep dark brown with mahogony and reddish highlights, head was light leather brown shade and broke fairly quick.

Aromas were grapey munich malt, brown sugar, slight woodiness, baked apple pie crust and slight citrus. Very clean, some faint esters and alcohol as it warmed.

Flavor was very rich and porter like, with no dark grain harshness, some residual sweetness and faint creamed coffee flavors. Subtle chocolate and vanilla.

Mouthfeel was full bodied with a light carbonation and some slight alcohol warming and a balanced hop bitterness.

Extremely drinkable big ale with lots of character and layers in each sip.

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Photo of unseenbyyou
4.73/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank in a tulip glass...shared with brother in law down San Diego. Life and Limb reminds me of the collaboration beer that Stone did.

Appearance: Dark, like dark vader...

Smell: no distinct smell, not strong, not weak...just pleasant

Taste: earthy undertones, with a slightly sweet aftertaste....perhaps a good cigar would compliment this beer, not as complex as alpine's great or angel's share, but a subtle complexity that is not usually found in most dark beers that are not imperial stouts

Mouthfeel. mouth loved it

drinkability: though I only drank about 8-10 ounces, I could have easily drank the whole bottle and another bottle had I another. very drinkable...again, unusual for a dark beer that is not an imperial stout

life and limb...if you can find it, drink it...damn good beer for the holidays!

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Photo of farrago
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gets close to two fingers of deep brown, solid mixture of foam and mixed bubble sizes, very good retention, the lacing ain't too shabby neither. Very close to black in color but stays within the bounds of darkest brown, a touch of orange gets through at the rims. Relaxed and easygoing nose of milk chocolate, raisins and dates, honey, rum, molasses, gingerbread, sweet but not "sugary" per se, quick burst of pepperiness and trace of earthy leafiness, minimal hops presence. Full-bodied, not heavy but has a big bottom, not a beer with swift pacing in the mouth. The carbonation has a nice fineness to it, not too fluffy. Straightforward caramel, honey, molasses, chocolate flavoring, little deviation from the nose. More breadiness and powdery texture. You get some mixed citrus zing and generalized hoppiness but little of distinct character. Earth, straw and pepper bloom through the finish. Maybe even some bacon. Solid, if unspectacular. (Collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head)

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Photo of Gavage
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours a clear brown color with some tan color on the glass edge. 1/2" head falls quickly. Light lacing develops during the session.

Smell: malt sweetness, molasses, and maple are easily detectable.

Taste: nice malt base with maple syrup, molasses, plums, some hints of alcohol, and a moderate bitterness produces a unique flavored beer.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Lightly crisp to start, smoother towards the finish. A light dryness is noticed throughout. Aftertaste is long as the flavors stick on the tongue.

Drinkability: definitely a slow sipping beer due to higher alcohol, but this has a great flavor. If you can find this, get your hands on it.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer pours dark brown with a white head. The aroma is malty, with lots of caramel malt. The flavor is malt along with dark fruits including cherries. You also get a maple flavor that is very nice. The beer has a big alcohol warming affect but the alcohol is not that present in the flavor. Medium mouthfeel and very drinkable.

I have a couple of these put away and will be anxious to see how they age.

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

The beer pours a dark brown/black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a warm, roasted malt scent along with some burnt toffee and hops. I guess the Birch and Maple add some aroma, but it's muddled within the malt bill. The taste is great! It has a complex array of flavors that begin with a solid malt bill of pale and roasted malts along with very nice hop character. The maple and birch syrup adds another layer of complexity. The maple character really compliments the hops. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine beer. Again, a brewer collaboration has spawned an instant classic.

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

Bottled shared with friend at Mahar's in Albany, NY. Bottle to 2 pint glasses.

Notes from phone.

Life & Limb

Bottle to pint

A: dark brown with ruby hues. Small head, spotty to no lacing

S: sweet and malty. Very little hop presence. Some alcohol aroma

T: strong malt backbone. Dark fruit and sweet alcohol.

M: med to full body. Low carb but appropriate.

D: surprisingly drinkable, hides alcohol well.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.69/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep dark brown approaching black, looks good so far, smell, different, unique, I can't put my finger on it, probably the unique birch, maple & honey confluence.

Taste, uh, well how about peculiar? You get the hints of some of those ingredients, but you never really taste the alcohol, you just get a warm feeling indicative of alcohol. Very well hidden. On top of that, it is relatively easy drinking, all things considered. Decent amount of unexpected hoppiness (nowhere near a normal SN/DFH amount, but for what it is).

Many suggest aging it. I'd say drink one now, save one for 1-2 years. I suspect the tiny amount of zip you get with it will fade and become sweet and more alcoholic with age.

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

24 oz bottle split with Sweemzander who procured this (thank you!) and poured into a Nonic. 9 286219 16 Printed on the label. I assume its 9286 (Oct 12th). 10.2% ABV, Brewed with Maple and Birch Syrup.

A - The color is a clear dark brown with a huge cream head. Great retention to the three-finger head and a bit of lace around the edges.

S - Malty sweet with a dark candi-sugar hint and a light maple syrup natural raw nose. There is a small hint of grassy hops in there too. No alcohol on the nose for the percent it has in it. Rather low and uninteresting overall.

T - There is a lot of birch flavor in this one. Very malty for a Sierra Nevada brew too. The Dogfish Head in it comes out a bit more. Lots of sweetness wraps around a potent fusel alcohol flavor. Dark candi-sugar, raisins, and maple syrup in this brew.

M - Smooth and warm in the mouth and stomach from the alcohol, it's medium-full-bodied with a low carbonation feel.

D - A bit overly boozy but it makes for a good winter sipper. The label evokes feelings of late springtime or early summer, but it certainly works well as a winter beer.

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Photo of ReDave
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, the reviews seem to be all over....
forums seem to be also...

I liked this. A tad expensive, wish I could buy some to cellar, but it tasted good right now too.

Pours a rather dark brown, with a tan head.

Aroma sweet, some faint hops or spice.

Tastes kinda like a sweeter side barleywine
some maple maybe, earthy overall i like it
something different for me.

Nice finish definitely something to share, great for a winter fire and goblet sipping.

Like these new things from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of brownbeer
3.11/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice, dark brown color with a light brown head.

From a distance it smells a little like cheap beer with corn adjuncts. Other than that there are some more pleasant notes; light maple, brown sugar, all spice, tree bark, and no hops to speak of.

Taste mimicks the nose for the most part. It tastes like an imperial brown ale to me. The body is too thin and a little watery, alcohol is well hidden.

Overall, I expected a lot more richness and complexity from these two great breweries. I think this could improve drastically in a few years but right now it's a pass.

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Photo of wnh
3.01/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

24 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a rich deep mahogany with a foamy light tan head without much staying power.

Smells remarkably like a cheap adjunct beer upon first whiff. A few more sniffs and it starts to open up, showing oxidized mashes bananas, brown sugar, very light and subtle maple syrup, a slight earthiness, and allspice, but it still has an unappetizing underlying cheap beer aroma.

Thin maple syrup flavors and mashed bananas again on the palate, somewhat reminiscent of banana pancakes with syrup, though not approaching the intensity of flavor expected in that kind of combination. Somewhat dry on the finish. Thin-ish in body, with a prickly carbonation that turns me off. Well-hidden alcohol. Finishes short, but not particularly clean.

Disappointing on the whole. I didn't know what to expect from this beer, but I expected a beer from Sierra and DFH to just be more than this is. Sadly, the label art is better than the beer.

My recommendation: age it. Doesn't really seem to be worth drinking now, so you may as well set it back for a few years to see what it does. Even if it turns out lackluster, that doesn't, to my palate anyway, make it a loss.

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Photo of dseda73
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Franciscan Goblet. Dark strong choclate coffee ale. Definitely could smell nice aroma and taste of maple syrup. Light/med thickness with a mild bite in the beginning; smoothing out beautifully with a nice warm feeling. Overall I enjoyed my night with my lady!

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.73/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A solid brew, but one that is clearly victim of its own hype. Decent but nothing to rave about. Even cellaring is unlikely to make this something for the ages.

Presentation: 24 oz. bottle. Earthy, organic design with a tree made out of two different woven trunks with nature, folk, and brewing symbols among the leaves, the roots are under mountains and water depicting the two breweries. Front paragraph offers a short description of intent, collaboration, and best way to enjoy the brew. Lacks an evident date of bottling (this is an 09 brew in any case), and shows Alc. by Vol. (10.2%). Served into a snifter.

A - Black pour with dark brown edges. Off-white short head, with poor retention that fades with some small lacing.

S - Subdued at best, but relatively fair. Faint sweet notes, caramel, generic raisin and dark fruit smell, and a general malt sense.

T - Follows the smells, still subdued but not so bland although not too remarkable either. Caramel, sugary, malt notes, some wood, and overall a pleasant feel.

M - Medium body leaning on a hefty side, nicely integrated alcohol, and fine natural carbonation.

D - It is a nice sipper. Earns some richness as it warms up, but sure enough it is nothing too remarkable or worth seeking for, but remains rather balanced for such a keynote collaboration.

Notes: This might do well with some cellaring. But actually, despite all the hype, and being a decent brew, it is well far from deserving half as much of the attention. I´d sure be happy to be proved wrong a few years from now, cause right now much as I typically like DFH (and even SN for that matter) I would deter anyone from the urge to get a second bottle, let alone the first one. The hype is its shepherd ,and by design it is hurting a fairly decent if also forgettable brew.

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Photo of Patrick999
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Holy Mackerel goblet at Abraxas Lounge, South Beach.

Dark red, decent head that acquits itself nicely when swirled.

Aroma is an awful lot like smelling a root beer....which honestly is a new smell for me when trying to get a handle on a beer's aroma. You do get some of the maple as well. Actually quite a bit more elegant than I was expecting, I was expecting it to be too alcoholic.

Based on the reviews I'd read, I was expecting this to be hot and not that drinkable. I'm pleased to say that's it's really not that much of a ball-buster. The maple, birch and malts dominate, not the alcohol. Yeah, it is a sweet beer....yet for some reason the sweetness doesn't bother me so much here. It's a tasty flavor bomb, like a slightly alcoholic birch beer.

Feel is thick, almost syrupy but not quite.

It's a cool beer. Yet I don't really want a full bomber of it. I would like to have it again, certainly, but I'm very content to share it.

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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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