Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & Limb | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & LimbSierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & Limb
1,544 Ratings
Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & LimbSierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & Limb

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

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
(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: 1,544 |  Reviews: 746
Photo of wnh
3.01/5  rDev -25.1%
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 +7.7%
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 -7.2%
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 +5%
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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Photo of ebraun
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a tulip glass.

A: deep, dark amber with a head that rolled and rolled and left a nice lace down the glass. Really nice appearing beer.

S: Deep caramel notes. Ginger as well. Made me think of Kung pao sauce.

T: Huge sweetness with a bitter finish, like burnt sugar. Nice.

M: full and smooth, aftertaste less appealing

D: You wouldn't want to put back a ton of these but it's good for the style.

Other reviews Seemed a little tough on this one but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Should have splurged on another bottle.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.46/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark ruby red brown color with big ruby highlights and a large light tan head that retains pretty well leaving nice lacing.

Nose is pretty damn boring to be honest. Thin caramely malt with some slight spice presence and candi sugar-like sweetness. All fairly muted though.

Hmmm. Really not incredibly excited about this one. Deep sugary malt profile, hops are significant enough to notice, but do not take a leading role in the profile, aside from some decent bitterness on the finish. Adjunct sugars do make an appearance in this one, which makes for an interesting sweetness, rather than just the usual malt goo. Sort of a belgian noel-like brew. Syrup and slight spice linger on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel seems thinner than expected, but a nice viscous milkiness rolls around about half way through and balances it out.

Drinkability is ok, but nothing special. Still a bit hot, but hopefully that will knock out with some age. A sweet enough beer that this one is not for mass consumption.

Overall, this is an ok beer, which, unfortunately, is kind of what i expected out of these two giant craft monsters. I'm sure others will love it, and i don't mean to trash either brewery, as i am a big fan of some of their offerings, but i just think they could have done better with this one. Certainly worth a try, but the price tag is pretty monsterous, despite the high abv. We'll see how it does with some age, hopefully it works wonders, but until i see how these do with at least a year on them, i won't be excited to open another.

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Photo of Cresant
3.48/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured this 24 oz. brown bottle into a tulip glass. The head was tall and looked like a root-beer. The sticky lace left rings. A cap remained throughout. The body was dark cola colored.

Smell was metallic and dark fruit. Sweet malt syrup. Alcohol is present at the beginning and increases as it warms.

Taste was medicinal. Sassafras. Light sweetness. Cough syrup. Finishes bitter and green. Tart fruitiness. Raw sapling twigs over-rides the sweet maple syrup notes. Alcohol.

Mouthfeel was medium to full. Creamy.

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

Pours a really dark brown with the faintest of garnet highlights when held to light and a good sized tan head the recedes slowly. Smells of molasses, brown sugar, slightly bready/nutty with a hint of alcohol. Maple and birch can't be found, although I wouldn't know the smell of birch sap if it was there. Taste is a bit on the sweet side. I get lots of caramel and brown sugars, a woody almost oak note in there, some earthy tones and a lingering sweet malt and alcohol finish. Maybe its a yeast thing, but as soon as I tasted this I thought DFH. Light carbonation, big body with a creamy/syrupy mouthfeel. I thought this came together well for the diversity of ingredients involved. I honestly couldn't find any maple or birch in this. Maybe the bottle I put away for a while will develop those flavors for me. I liked it quite a bit actually.

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Photo of northaustin
2.71/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a dark brown with a fat finger of brown head which hangs around for a while but leaves almost no lacing.

smell: syrupy maple sweet madness. some roasted grains but for the most part its just extreme with the syrup. me no likey

taste: double dogfish brown ale with a buttload of syrup. no joke.

mouthfeel: pretty thin at first but goes into syrup mode and leaves a stickyness. once again, me no likey.

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Photo of natelocc787
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark Strong ale with a little bit of a Belgian feel to it. Big head with craters, birch and maple syrup in the nose along with caramelized brown sugar and mild chocolate coffee. The taste score almost earns the next highest score, maybe will with some age. More birch and maple with the birch more prominent. Not the most complex example but extremely well crafted and tasty, a true treat. Great feel to this beer with a light thickness, a fluffy character while being heavy at the same time, very creamy and silky. Nice to have a beer where there is no trace of a weakness.

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Photo of Ezekiel81923
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark dark brown/black color. Not quite opaque but damn close. Foamy 1-1/2 finger head is tan and long lasting. Nice little 1/2 finger head seems to linger the whole time.

Smell: Can definitely pick up the maple syrup. Some dark, sweet fruits, warming alcohol and mild spiciness come through as well.

Taste: Well, they certainly didn't go light on the maple and white birch syrups. Flavor is mostly those two, with a sweetness provided by either that borders cloying. Some raisin and fig flavors come through as well as some lightly roasted malt. An almost chocolatey taste arises as the beer warms. Alcohol comes through slightly as well.

Mouthfeel: Medium-Full bodied beer that leaves a syrupy coating all over your mouth. Very light carbonation. Warming from the alcohol.

Drinkability: Pretty low. Not only is it a strong beer, but the sweetness becomes overwhelming after a while.

A pretty solid beer that I'm glad I got to try. Plan to age my other bottle to see how that goes, since fresh(ish) it's pretty sweet.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.86/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

24oz bottle into a Mad Elf tulip.

A: Pours a clear dark body that glows a brilliant, beautiful persimmon when held up to light. 1.5" of frothy tan foam with decent retention and a good amount of sticky lacing. Gorgeous color and solid carbonation make for a lovely-looking beer.

S: Rich, sugary malt; a touch of spiciness (cinnamon and clove) and some birch on the finish. Nice, but nothing overwhelming.

T: Malt, maple sugar, spicy birch sap, hoppy bitterness, and a woody, slightly metallic aftertaste that shows its strength. Hugely complex, but a bit harsh on the finish. I kind of dig it.

M: Sticky, mouth-coating body with a perfect amount of fine, velvety carbonation.

D: Too hot and harsh right now, but the array of unique flavors keeps me highly interested.

Notes: Very cool result of a very cool collaboration. Definitely lives up to my expectations, if not all of the hype. If DeCicco's had had two, I'd have bought it to age - I have a feeling that this would be truly lovely with a year or two on it.


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

I have no notes on this beer. The birch flavor stands out and is memorable for me. I also picked up a dark brown sugar flavor, though I understand it is maple syrup. Cool concept beer. GREAT label. Had the Limb and Life the same night and enjoyed this more due to its better balance of malt and hops.

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Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

So was it worth driving the 50 minutes to Lakeville MA for this beer? Well yes and no. Yes because the pure joy of the concept of Dogfish and SN doing a collaboration is awesome. Upon pouring I realized i was getting into something interesting. And the taste, reminded me of a slightly twisted Stone Arrogant Bastard replica. It wasnt by any means as brutally bitter, but had that same consistency and bite to it. This however had a little more too it with the maple hints with some dark spice. All in all a pleasure to drink, and would grab another one in a heartbeat, if there were any more left....

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

Found a bomber of this at Celebrate in Las Cruces for just under $11 USD.

Appearance - almost pitch black. Tan head. Unlike anything you're used to from SN.

Smell - molasses, peat, raisins. Anything but hops.

Taste - coffee, dark chocolate, sweet candy.

Mouthfeel - motor oil. Low viscosity.

Drinkability - at 10.2% abv, should be consumed in moderation.

This beer was an enigma. At first blush, I cursed SN for going against their hop-infused principals, but the longer I let this Strong Ale mature, the more I enjoyed/craved it. I recommend sipping this after a nice meal to tempt you into a nice, long sleep; preferably in front of a fire and snow on the windowsill. Find it, drink it, and enjoy it. It's a rarity.

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Photo of beergod1
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark Stout like appearance, with burnt red hue through the bottom of the glass. Short lived tan head, but kept a steady thin layer of foam on top, with some lacing. I feel almost a "stout" body but with dark fruit and chocolate covered Cherries, and I imagine the unknown "sweet" taste is the maple? not real sure what to think of this 10.2% monster, but the more I drank and the warmer it got, I really started to get into this beer. Flavor's burst, and so did a "Light" alcohol burn on the back of the throat. This wasn't a Well balanced beer, but interesting and worth the $10. Now to find Limb and Life.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.15/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hmm, intrigued by the label listing some ingredients. Was hoping for a hoppy, SN offering, but this is not looking so good. Poured murky brown with a fluffy off-white head. Okay lacing. Strange nose. Can really smell the maple syrup and roasted malt. There is a smell in there I just can't describe. Like a molasses/tree bark/wet leaves/cocoa powder mess. Its not pleasant, but interesting. Taste was okay. Coffee, cocoa, maple syrup and the birch as advertised. Reminiscent of the Sam Adams Root Beer from that 1700's/Presidential series. Except the Root Beer is blended with a nice porter. It could have used more hops, because this just felt flat in mouthfeel and taste.

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Photo of wknight167
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Apearance - Pours a near black with red edges. One finger tan head has respectable holding power. very little lacing

Nose- Roast malt, brown sugar, maple syrup, dark fruits and some spicy hops holding it all together.

Palate- Roast malt with a chocolate touchare slowly over come by the maple sweetness that hints at molasses. ends with a spicy alcoholic warmth.

Mouthfeel- Thick, syrupy

Drinkability- Smooth, very full bodied with slightly low carbonation.

Overall- I think I'll like this better with some age.

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Photo of jacobseyb
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into an tumbler. Pours a nice thick dark ruby/brown with a tan head. Limited lacing. Initial aromas are definitely roasted malts and sweetness of the maple syrup. Taste is sweet initially with the malts being very present seem to taste some bitterness following with a hint of coffee, maybe chocolate. Feel is medium to full bodied, leaning to the full side, with some light tight carbonation. Alcohol warming is present and noticeable in the aftertaste. Overall a good beer, with great unique attributes. ABV limits sessionability as does the sweetness in my opinion.

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Photo of jwc215
3.49/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into tulip glass:

Pours opaque black - slight ruby highlights. Beautiful, creamy off-white head lasts, leaving rings of lacing.

The smell is of roasted notes, some coffee, molasses and hint of maple.

The taste is of roasted coffee, chocolate and molasses. Some maple and a birch that grows as it progresses come through. Sweet, but not too. I caught more DFH than SN character to it, though brewed at and distributed at latter. Alcohol certainly comes through. Finishes with a roasted sweetness and dark breadiness.

It has a creamy medium-to-full body. A bit more carbonated than expected. Almost reaches the notch higher in score, but has a certain just too much carbonation, though it does keep it from sitting too heavy on the palate. Alcohol does come across too raw though. "Interesting", but that's about it.

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

24-oz bottle poured into tulips.

A = Very dark and dense red oak, almost opaque but light does show through at the edges. Forms a dense tan head of about an inch and a half which has good retention and leaves very light lacing as it recedes.

S = I'm guessing they used a Dogfish Head yeast in this since it has a similar smell to a couple of their beers such as Immort Ale, light syrup scents, light chicory, some almost cola like smells. I'm thinking this one will probably improve its smell over time. Not at all bad now, but not as well integrated as I would like.

T = Good balance of sweet flavors and some spiciness. There is cocoa powder, sarsparilla or birch beer, some chili powder, brown sugar. Good flavors with perhaps just a bit too much heat though. As with the smell, I think this one should improve with some more time in the bottle.

M = Medium-heavy body, fair amount of soft carbonation which gives a smooth creamy quality to it, good mouthcoating, only drawback is there is a little too much alcohol heat at the moment.

D = I really like this beer but it has strong flavors and is not yet well integrated. This makes it a sipper and one that you probably do not want too much of at once. I am curious to come back to this in a few years though and see if it has improved in this category.

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Photo of sidetracked
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a cream white head.

Smells of caramel and a bit of bourbon. Near the end of the glass it begins to smell more of maple syrup and a touch woodsy.

Tastes really sweet with a little alcohol to it, yet earthy. A little bitter aftertaste combines with the sweetness to help balance it out.

Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy.

The combination of syrupyness and the sweet taste make it hard to have more than a glass, but this is still a great beer.

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Photo of jeffjeff1
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My fiance was able to get this for me at her work.
It was a present.

Appearance- dark brown almost black, head dissipated quickly

Smell- light, sweet aroma, hint of spice

Taste- hint of bitterness, woody note

Mouthfeel- smooth, medium to full bodied, warm finish

Drinkability- I thought it was really good. I wish I could get more. I enjoyed it.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours brown in color with some translucency around the edges. There's a nice two inches of foamy head sitting atop the beer. Smell is dark malts, some slight piney hops and just a hint of sweetness underneath.
Taste is more of the same. But the sweetness allows for a very incredibly smooth mouthfeel. This beer is around 10%, but you won't find a more hidden, or smoother beer at that level. There's a very nice sweetness from the maple syrup that comes through in the finish. Not overly complex or bringing a whole lot to the table. But still a very smooth, easy drinking and enjoyable beer.

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Photo of RedHaze
3.79/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

24 oz bottle into the DFH snifter.

Pours a very dark brown, falling a couple of shades short of black. A two finger head falls very slowly to a thick cap, leaving a nice sheeting of lace. Very impressive looking.

Smell; at first I was really disappointed in the nose of this, as there just didn't seem to be much going on for a while except a slightly nasal clearing alcohol presence. Once it warmed up though it developed a nice maple and nutty aroma with some vanilla, sugar and a slight char all swirling around in there.

Taste; the alcohol really didn't bite as much as I was expecting from the smell, though it does have a significant presence. Maple syrup is definitely present, so are some dark fruits (dates and figs mostly), cocoa powder, vanilla, molasses with just a touch of bitterness to keep the sweetness from becoming too cloying.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability; Mouthfeel is full bodied and close to being sticky, but the fairly active, though smooth, carbonation helps with that a little. Drinkabilty is pretty good once you get passed the alcohol presence, which seemed to fade to the background a touch as I drank it.

I was expecting to be a little let down by this one considering all of the hype/excitement surrounding it, but I thoroughly enjoyed this, and I plan on keeping the other two bottles to see what a little time does to this one. It reminded me a little of some of the He'Brew Jewbelation beers I've had over the couple of years. If you liked 10 and 12, I think you'll enjoy this.

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Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head - Life & Limb from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.02 out of 5 with 1,544 ratings