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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Reviews: 745 | Ratings: 1,539
Photo of russwbeck
3.56/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A: The pour is dark brown, but some light makes its way through. About a finger of light brown head remains for a while and laces nicely.

S: Roasty malt character dominates the aroma. Booze, caramel, and molasses are there as well. Sort of nothing special

T: The taste seems a bit woody surprisingly, because it isn't aged in anything. Roasty finish, the beer is focused on malt and caramel. It's balanced we'll, but unremarkable.

MF: Medium body with a low carbonation. Booze is apparent, but it is very drinkable.

Value: The taster of this was only $3, which you won't here me complaining about! I was expecting it to cost a bit more, especially considering it's been aged quite a while now.

O: Overall this was forgettable. An average American Strong Ale that I would say could age well. I gotta say unexpected more from these two breweries.

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

A: Dark reddish brown with a heavy, thick and large head; lacing is okay

S: Rich roasty malts; lots of maple syrup and what I presume to be birch syrup; some chocolate and vanilla; a bit subdued but still quite pleasant

T: Rich and malty and sweet--but not cloyingly so; man, this is tasty: chocolate, molasses, maple, some subtle alcohol notes; God, this is tasty

F: Really creamy; great full body; such nice mouth feel

O: This is a rich, delicious malty brew; so glad I got to try this one and I hope to continue this beer

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Photo of cvm4
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cola dark brown with a tan one finger head.

S - Maple & raisins come out strong. Hints on chocolate in the background.

T - Caramel, dark fruit and maple dominate. A sweet chocolate on the finish. The booze is well hidden here.

M - Thick & chewy with medium carbonation.

O - Nicely done collaboration beer! Great flavors and a long lasting finish!

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

Ale brewed with maple and birch syrup.

A: A dense black coloring in the vessel supports a 3 finger frothy buttery bronze head that sits stubbornly atop. Small splotchy lace patches, medium glass coverage.

S: The aroma is of burnt licroce and coffee roast, some burnt sweet molasses and dark fruit (prunes). Respectable in terms of strength, alcohol is 10.0% and is kept well in check.

T: The flavor is sweet coffee roast, dark fruit and caramelized syrup and prunes. Figs and sweet warmth of dark fruit booziness is gentle, adding nice highlights and is inviting for the next sip giving no indication of its high abv% nature. Warm burnt pine, spicy alcohol with some flashes of syrup sweetness interludes. Burnt currant and toffee is evident as well.

M: dark oily roast, good show of carbonation. A lingering dark fruit booziness stays behind to satisfy.

O: Drinkability is very smooth and polished for a beer of this abv. Sweet dark fruit with an inviting and complimenting alcohol that never gets in the way or distracts even upon warming.

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

From batch #1 (2009), just came in the mail this morning! What better way to kick off Craft Beer Week then by having a beer brewed by two of America's great craft breweries.

Appearance: It has a nice dark brown, almost black color to it. It has a nice thick beige head that dies down moderately and leaves some lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of dark chocolate, molasses, maple syrup, caramel and dark fruit (mostly raisins).

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a nice roasty character, sweet maple syrup/caramel, nice dark fruit presence (raisins) with some molasses and chocolate.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a nice thick and creamy overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with great flavors and aromas. Not overly complex but still very nice.

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Photo of neophilus
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a coffee color with a thick, creamy tan head.

Sweet aroma, hints at complex dark sugars but aroma is muddled with alcohol heat.

Mild bitterness up front which hangs on through each sip. Malty sweetness, almost like syrup but without the caramel rich flavors of typical syrups or dark sugars. A lingering alcohol heat helps to dry out the flavor which keeps the beer from being cloying or too rich.

Sweet and hot, with a thick mouthfeel which doesn't quite become sticky because of the sturdy bitterness and encroaching alcohol.

This beer needs to age, there is too much heat in it right now. It is obscuring the aroma and flavors. I can tell there is something complex and tasty hiding underneath but it never reveals itself.

I sat on this bottle for at least 6 months but it was not nearly enough time to let this beer mature. If I had the patience I would go 2 years or more before opening. Unfortunately for the beer I can't score it on how it might taste down the line.

If you have a beer cellar this would be a great addition to it.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.06/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a St. Bernardus

A: Beautiful head fades tragically fast. Translucent, reddish, maple syrup-colored.

S: Syrupy, woody, sticky, molasses-malt. Some fruit.

T/M: Thick and sweet, tingly but balanced. A sort of fruity-bitter maintaste, loaded with brown sugar and a molasses aftertaste. Powerful, full-bodied, and interesting.

O: High marks for being delicious. The added syrups are obvious, but contribute to the overall excellence. Recommended! Sort of like a barleywine

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Photo of Supadup21
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into DFH tulip glass.
A- poured a dark brown w/ a creamy head

S- fairly sweet smelling w/ faint notes of maple & vanilla

T- tastes similar to DFH's immortal ale. U def get the maple aftertaste along w/ a raisin sweet-type taste. When I initially tasted it, I didn't really notice the booze, but it came thru as the beer warmed.

M- not overly carbonated... W/ an ABV Of 10.2% u can tell the booze is there, but it's not overpowering.

O- I'm glad I tried it, as I really like both breweries, but I wasnt amazed. A decent American strong ale, but not as good as Arogant Bastard. I guess strong ales just aren't my jam!... Nonetheless a pretty solid brew & the whole collaboration thing is pretty cool.

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Photo of nimrod979
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml into a snifter. Batch 2.

Appearance - Pours a cola-colored black. Big two finger beige head. Long head retention.

Aroma - Dark bitter chocolate. Raisins, molasses, sweet caramel malts.

Taste - Lots of complex flavors going on. Big thick caramel malts. Raisin/dark fruits carry through the middle. The molasses and maple syrup show signs towards the end before some earthy hops bitterness and toastyness wraps it all up.

Mouthfeel - Thick, full bodied. A little syrupy and chewy. Medium carbonation. But it drinks pretty easy. The ABV is pretty well hidden under all the complex flavors this has to offer. Long lasting finish. Pretty excellent collaboration between SN & DFH.

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

22oz Bottle

Appearance - Dark brown colour with a large size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation and there is some faint lacing. The head lasted for only a few minutes.

Smell - Malts, raisins, caramel, light maple

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and the taste is made up of toasted malts, raisins, and some caramel. There is also a bit of smokiness and I can only slightly pick up on the maple. It ends with a smooth caramel/malt sweet aftertaste without much bitterness.

Overall - Very drinkable considering the ABV, but not very exciting. The tastes are almost too well balanced leaving the beer fairly boring. I was hoping for the maple to stand out a little bit more with this one.

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

I picked up a bottle of Seirra Nevada's and Dogfish Head's Life & Limb last week for $11.49 at The Lager Mill. I was looking for something good to share with my brother for his birthday and I was surprised to see this still on the shelf, so I had to pick it up, lets see how it goes. Batch 2 2011 Vintage. Poured from a cork and caged 750ml brown bottle into a tulip.

A- I like the label on this beer, it looks really good and it's eye catching. It poured a dark brown color that was pretty much black and it had some nice ruby hues when held to the light. It had three fingers worth of chunky dark tan head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left some spotty lacing. This was a really good looking beer, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts out with loads of sweet toasted malts that have a higher amount of medium sweetness and impart some brown bread, caramel and some nice toasted aromas. After that I get a pretty noticeable amount of dark fruits with raisin sticking out the most. Next comes a slightly smokey and oak aroma along with a very slight bit of maple syrup with an equally light amount of earthy hops. This was a nice smelling beer, there were a lot of nice sweet malt aromas, and the slightly syrupy aroma added some nice complexity.

T- The taste follows the nose nicely and is quite similar. It starts out with loads of sweet toasted malts that impart some grainy, toasted, and caramel aromas with the raisins still sticking out the most. After that I get a sweet molasses like flavor followed by some oak and maple syrup flavors. Towards the end I get a light amount of earthy hops that impart a medium amount of bitterness and it had a slightly boozy finish. I like the taste of this beer, it was complex and more toasted then the aroma, but as it warmed it got a little boozy on the finish.

M- Fairly smooth, a little chewy, on the full side of being medium bodied, and it had a nice medium amount of carbonation. The Mouthfeel was good and worked well with this beer, I have no complaints.

Overall I liked this beer and I thought it was a good example of an American Strong Ale, I tend to think of this style as stronger beers with unique aspects too them that don't make it fit in other more straightforward styles, and that's exactly what this beer is all about, and I like that. It had good drinkability, it went down fairly smooth, but as it warmed it got to be a little boozy, splitting a big bottle of this with another person is the ideal amount to me, a whole bottle to myself might be a little too much. What I liked most about this beer was the appearance and the complexity of the aroma and taste, they were both pretty nice. What I liked least about this beer was how boozy it got when it warmed up, it wasn't overwhelming or too warming, but I thought that it could be toned down a little. I might be inclined to but this beer again, but it would for sure be for a special occasion since it's a little pricey, but I don't think I will see it around anytime soon. I recommend giving this a try if you can handle a little booze, you will be rewarded with some rich and complex flavors and aromas. I was pretty satisfied with this beer, I was looking for a strong and complex beer that I could sip on with my brother and that is exactly what this beer delivered, I think this beer could even be aged for a couple years, it might calm down the booze, and bring out some more malty and sweet flavors. I am big fan of collaboration beers and I am glad these two brewery's came together to make one kick ass beer, it's one trend that I would love to see more of and I can't see why it would be a bad thing. These two brewery's did a great job with this beer and I am glad I got the chance to try it, since this was the last bottle left, you can be sure that if you guys get together for another beer, I will be there waiting to get my hands on a bottle, good job all around.

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Photo of Vierenner
4.75/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Surprisingly good! Been sitting in my fridge for quite awhile, frankly because I thought I wouldn't like it. Boy was I wrong! Not much aroma, but flavor and mouthfeel are both magnificent. It carries a fairly persistent head, a nice delicate sweetness, a very pleasant mouthfeel, and only a mild hop bitterness. I believe this is the second beer I've had containing birch syrup ... and I liked the other one just as much. Time to find more birch syrup beer!

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Photo of thecheapies
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch #2 Life and Limb, poured into two snifters.

Dark opaque brown-black with a latte foam head of an inch. Great head retention for 10.2%. Very happy about the way this one looks, and still looks, in my glass. 4.0

Cherried English malt nose on this one. Woody and semi-sweet. Pumpernickel bread and a nice, subtle earthy hop aroma. Slight treacle syrup, Krackel Bar, and dark fruit. Evident booze on the nose. 4.0

Not overly sweet, like I would have expected. Burnt toffee notes with some more of those dark fruits. There's an assertive hop spice going on, and this bottle is about nine months old. Roasted malts matched up with a hint of cherry and coffee. Not super complex, but tasty. 4.0

The natural carbonation really smoothes this one out. The bubbles are tight and firm, but doesn't sell short the body and consistency. It's a little hot, but overall, good stuff. 4.0

I want to rate this one higher, but it's really nothing special. Too many great options in the craft world for this to stand out. I have another one to sit on, but I doubt it will go anywhere but south. 3.5

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Photo of beer2day
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well aged V1, in the back of the beer fridge.

Dark caramel brown pour with 1/2 finger of earthy brown head. No retention and light lace.

Maple and bacon nose. Very nice. Really. Brown sugar, vanilla cream, and a bit of burn sugar.

Nose carries well over into the taste. Big maple and bacon flavor. Like it. Caramel malt and light raisin.

Feel is very, very thick. Over the top so. Thick fermented fruit juice.

Better with a year on the bottle ...

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Photo of ummswimmin
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Before I really got into craft brew, this was a very big "get." Even harder to get was the Limb and Life.

Then this beer was re-released, and everyone went nuts (and I didn't get one). The second batch came out, and then you could find it everywhere. So I bought three bottles for aging. Almost a year later and I open this one (with a lot of effort).

This is an interesting offering for a strong ale. It is thick and strong. L & L is pretty sweet. You also get rich tobacco and malt presence. The flavor is a punch to the pallatte.

Life and Limb is a very good beer. I recommend trying at least one bottle. If you want, maybe I'll even trade one to you.

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Photo of Rutager
3.23/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Cork came out with a massive pop! Only a small collar of foam developed, phew!

Appearance. Pours a deep, deep brown with a little red and a 1.5 finger, thick and creamy tan head that hangs around a while.

Smell. Sweet toasty malts, caramel and raisins, a bit of booze and maple.

Taste. Raisins again and toasty malt with a little caramel. Some wood and molasses with a little bitterness and some rubbing alcohol.

Mouthfee. Medium+ body with medium-strong, fine carbonation.

Overall. Flavours didn't really work for me. I could see others enjoying this, just not me.

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

A corked and caged 750 mL bottle from the HopShop in State College. In a snifter.

A: The ale pour a glorious dark amber brown that verges on blackness. Close inspection supports that initial assessment. Looking very stout-like, very imperial, the ale has a right eggshell white head, ample and prone to lacing.

S: Somewhere between a barleywine and a stout, that's where you'll find Life and Limb. Dark malts, burnt and chocolately with a motherlode of thick malts. The yeast strains are lively, adding fruitiness. The syrup is evident too, a rich sweetness amongst the dark malts. The booze is fully invested in all aspects.

T: Fresh out of the fridge, the ale lacks depth. On warming up though, watch out. The maple syrup adds a full richness. Underneath that, the malts are both roasted and thick, a barleywine-stout hybrid that ably supports the sweet syrup. A quaint hoppiness adds a bite that I wouldn't normally have looked out for. Dark malts, including coffee and porter sweetness, are a lasting flavor, overpowering even the maple syrup. The ale does an admirable job of hiding the alcohol although after a spell it hits you. Quite complex; I've been sipping on it for over three hours.

M: The maple is a great addition, bringing sappy sweetness. Beyond that, the dark base is chewy and strong - up to the task. I'm regretting only grabbing one bottle.

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Photo of tobelerone
2.93/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Very dark brown, big fluffy tan head that holds and holds. Lacing all over the place. Highly aromatic but a little odd; birch is prominent, more so than the maple, putting me in mind of birch beer, with noticeable booziness, molasses, and a bit of a bitter hop note in the end. Flavor also struck me as odd and fairly unappealing; there’s the birch syrup, and a bit of the maple, but much less sweetness than one might expect. Spices and dark fruits, assertive alcohol and general bitterness. Doesn’t hang together very well. Carbonation is quite lively (cork popped loudly and aggressively), body is medium, and the finish is semi-dry with lingering fusel alcohol.

I have to confess I didn’t like this one very much. Just not very tasty, the bottle was finished between two people but just barely. A miss in my mind. I wanted something a lot sweeter, with more maple presence, and less solvent booziness.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.6/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Comparison between a 2011 fresh bottle and a properly cellared 2009 bottle.
Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a very dark red brown amber. Two finger light tan, fine head with good retention and lacing. Spicy, sweet aroma of dark fruit, caramel malt, maple, citrus. Very different from the aged bottle. Wonderful creamy body, with a complex, but extremely integrated flavor; dark fruits, sweet syrups, wood, coffee, chocolate, vanilla. Finishes with a mellow, slightly estery and woody flavor. Very tasty and extremely pleasant mouth feel. This is an excellent ale.

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a very dark red brown amber. 1/2 finger light tan, fine head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of sweet caramel and light roasted malts, syrup, chocolate. Taste is mellow and rich, caramel malt, maple syrup, cocoa, finishing sweet and dry with a woody, sweet finish reminiscent of a scotch ale. Hops are present, but subdued. Nice creamy body. Oxidation on the finish, but cocoa nibs make themselves more noticeable than the fresh bottle. Delicious. bottle. Very different than the fresh bottle, but has aged well and in an interesting way.

Ratings are for the 2011 bottle, the 2009 scored:
The appearance and aroma were somewhat better on the fresh bottle, but the 2009 had developed a very nice body with great mouth feel.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Alluring darkness that is almost black with a brown, creamy chestnut head of one inch. A fine lacing is left behind a slow recession of the head.

Roasted malt with pumpernickel, oak, rum, and raisins all dance about in this Rochefort chalice.

Beautifully balanced with roasted woody notes on entry and return through a long finish. The middle is occupied by plum pudding that reminds me of darkened rooms in my grandfather’s house.

Full bodied with a luscious, velvety texture and ample carbonation. Alcohol is as expected. The finish is drying and amplifies with warmth.

This is an excellent sipping beer to accommodate drinking or deep conversation. It also works well with robust food.

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Photo of draheim
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL bottle (Batch 2, 2011) into a tulip. Cork explodes audibly out of the mouth of the bottle. Beer pours a murky mahogany brown w/ a huge beige head that leaves nice sticky chunks of lacing.

Aroma is - wow - lots going on here. Caramel, toffee, rum-soaked tobacco, figs/dates, booze, black cherries, brown sugar... very nice.

Taste leads off with a heavy alcohol presence and rich chewy malt. Hops are definitely in there, but they're difficult to detect among the strong caramel malt and booze. Taste is sticky sweet.

Mouthfeel is chewy, coating, leaves a noticeable aftertaste.

Overall this beer is good, I just wish it tasted s good as it smells.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy color ale with a super large brown foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of caramelized sugar and light toffee notes with some dry fruit ester. Taste is a mix between some caramelized sugar notes with some dry fruit. Body is quite full with great carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Not the most complex brew thought this is not a criticism as this one is just an easy drinking high ABV beer.

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Photo of 57md
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

SN & DFH collaboration

Appearance is light brown with a finger of head, some of which lingers for a decent period of time. The foam leaves some nice lacing behind as this beer goes down.

The nose is more like wine than beer. Dark fruits are dominant upfront along with a strong alcohol finish that borders on the unpleasant.

Good, but not great. However, this is a noble effort from two of the best breweries we have in this country.

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Photo of minterro
4.21/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I cellared this beer for 4 months after purchase. Opened to celebrate an anniversary.

Hands down the coolest bottle that I've ever seen. From the interesting, unique, complex label to the stamped cork this beer has a great bottle.

Lots of sweet breadyness and big rye tones. Little bits of boozyness and nuttiness (almonds). Really great look to this one. Creamy tan head that pours about a finger and retents redictously well at about a half a finger. Leaves a thick coat of lacing. Little to no carbonation bubbles rising from the bottom.

This beer is very flavorful and intense. Lots of rye tones breadyness and toastyness upfront. Midway through a huge blast of alcohol (way more then I could smell). Bitter bready rolls in to finish off the taste. Very smooth, rich, and creamy. Medium amounts of carbonation and medium bodied. Incredible easy to drink but I would recommend splitting with a friend or love one.

Overall I loved this one, it was worth the wait! I was I had a bottle to drink before aging.

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

24oz bottle into tulip at about 45 degrees.

Pours with a respectable 1F of cream-to-tan head over a deep brown body with maroon edges.

Aromas are full of vinous qualities... lots of red wine, charred oak, kiss of bourbon, and whiff of cocoa.

Flavors are rich and somewhat roasty. Aromas are replicated, with burgundy wine, oak/wood, syrup, with charred wood left on the palate. Mouthfeel is quite light, given the ABV, making it very approachable.

Overall, I would liken this to a drinkable version of an Angels Share.

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Life & Limb from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.97 out of 5 based on 1,539 ratings.
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