Left Hand Brewing Company

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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #91
Ranked #34,580
3.74 | pDev: 12.57%
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
Notes: Sessionable. Unpretentious. Left Hand's original flagship. Proof that a beer can be both complex and balanced. Malty chewiness slowly transitioning over to herbal, earthy hops with a dry finish. Brewed to be enjoyed with friends and to stimulate serendipity.
Reviews: 721 | Ratings: 2,193 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by BeerMeister8:
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BeerMeister8 from New Hampshire

4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dec 31, 2015
More User Reviews:
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zhewitt98 from Ohio

1.96/5  rDev -47.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Not sure if I had a bad batch but it tastes like dirty river water

Feb 11, 2015
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Left Hand Brewing Co. "Sawtooth Ale"
12 fl. oz. brown glass bottle
$2 @ Weis, Conshohocken, PA

Notes via stream of consciousness: Clear deer-amber/copper colored body beneath a finger thick head of fluffy off-white foam. The aroma is gently sweet and caramelish with a light hint of floral hops behind. The flavor follows the aroma. It's gently sweet and softly caramelish malt is accented by a light yeasty fruitiness that suggests pears and yellow apples as well as a bit of cherry. It's bready, biscuity, and just lightly toasty. The maltiness is not overdone, either in actual volume or intensity (percentage of the mash), or in depth of color and flavor (choice of ˚L caramel.ccrystal malts); and it's very nicely balanced against the floral and leafy hops. There's also a delicately mineralish character to it that gives it a bit of extra complexity. It's got a firm bitterness, that in combination with the mineral edginess, leads to a dry finish. Just a drop of sweet medium-dark caramel lingers along with some leafy and lightly grassy hops. Looking back I see that I've still got a completely solid, and somewhat creamy surface covering, and the lacing is in both broken and solid sheets throughout the entire area where the beer once was - in other words, excellent head retention and very good lacing. In the mouth it's medium bodied and smooth with a fine- bubbled, moderate carbonation. This is intended as an English-style premium bitter and the mouthfeel quite appropriately matches that of a hand-pulled pint (once it's warmed a bit). A beautiful beer that's remarkably well-done! It's balance is impeccable, and it's rounded character is fantastic! This is probably the best American made English-style premium bitter that I've ever tasted, and not only does it rival some of its UK cousins, it also surpasses many. Absolutely worth seeking out for fans of the style.

Sep 08, 2017
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Dinglehacker from Oklahoma

4.19/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into glass mug. darkish amber color like Marzen. No head to speak of, just light lace.

Very malty nose, with a faint lemon.

Taste is malty bitterness, biscuit, mild sweets.

Very smooth mouth.

This is really well done. Nothing fancy, doesn't rewrite the book or anything. Just a good, malty beer. For fans of Oktoberfest, English brown ale, Helles lager, and, of course, Extra Specials.

May 31, 2016
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Blondarm76 from California

4.18/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap this cannot be passed up...hands down one of my favorites anywhere. Deep copper with a nice thick tan head, it definitely resembles an authentic English Bitter (to me). Bready & malty (two of my favorite characteristics) but crisp and clean on the finish; keeps me coming back for more. Love this beer.

Dec 19, 2018
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sevineyes from Arkansas

3.31/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from brown bottle with Niwot (left hand) icons in sign language on a vaguely Navajo-like label with a saw at the bottom.

A: Clear with lace. Amber colored, but quickly dissipating head.

S: Green grassy-hoppy smell.

T: Between the carbonation front taste and quick finish, the actual malt profile is weak - or hop character for that matter. The taste that is there just seems to start too late and finish too quick.

M: Coats the tongue and sides of the mouth nicely.

D: Really drinkable even though I wish it were more complex overall.

Overall: Another nice, but not complex beer from this brewery. If the taste rose to the level of some of the other characteristics this could be an exemplary beer. Worth picking up a six pack for sure.

Oct 16, 2005
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ATPete from New Jersey

3.72/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

bottled 9/10/08 consumed 1/2/09

Pours an orange brown color with a small off white head and some light sticking. Roasted malt in the nose, hints at chocolate malt as well even some whiffs of coffee, interesting. Nice flavor, subtle bitter hops, stale grainy malt, medium bodied. Nothing that will really 'wow' you but it drinks pretty well.

Jan 03, 2009
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smithj4 from New York

3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

Oct 05, 2013
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agreenman19 from Connecticut

4/5  rDev +7%

Nov 08, 2014
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Mayhewbc from Nevada

4/5  rDev +7%

Jun 10, 2012
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lefty from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +20.3%

Dec 31, 2012
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CraigTravor from California

3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

Jul 23, 2014
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3.6/5  rDev -3.7%

Sep 16, 2014
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objectivemonkey from Minnesota

3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into a pint glass, pours a light clear copper, with good head for a while, pretty nice lacing. Aroma is subtle, but nicely fruity with pale malt. Taste is nicely bitter, floral and fruity and pale malts, some grapefruit. Good body I guess, and overall, just a pretty good beer.

Dec 05, 2006
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betsymagnolia from Ohio

4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Jun 16, 2012
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seeswo from Ohio

3/5  rDev -19.8%

May 12, 2012
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deadonhisfeet from Kentucky

3.86/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out of the bottle a dark, cloudy amber without much of a head (pretty much spot-on for this style). There is a faint aroma of citrus.

This was one good-tasting beer! At first, the maltiness I look for in an ESB simply wasn't there and I didn't think it was very well-balanced in this respect. However, as the beer sat at room temperature for a while and ``warmed up'', the flavors came nicely into balance (note to self: don't serve this beer too cold). Again, this beer has a very nice flavor. In addition to a nice hoppy kick, the beer has a delightful tartness to it and I caught distinct notes of sour fruit. This is a beer I could really enjoy if I stuck it between myself and a ball game.

Jun 03, 2011
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TonyTalon from Wisconsin

3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

May 29, 2012
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Ebb68 from Illinois

4/5  rDev +7%

Dec 30, 2012
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SeatsTaken from Oregon

4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Nov 16, 2013
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robinson31a from Kentucky

3.7/5  rDev -1.1%

Sep 17, 2014
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thufflife from Missouri

3.25/5  rDev -13.1%

Aug 19, 2014
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ToasterChef from Maine

3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a cellar temperature bottle into a 12oz 'pint' glass. The beer has a light brown color with hints of copper. There is a small head of tiny bubbles. Visible in this clear beer are many carbonation bubbles streaming to the top of the glass. While pouring the beer, I could smell some caramel sweetness. Once I bring the glass up to my nose, I get a robust, woodsy, sweet aroma. It is very pleasing and makes me excited to take my first sip. The main taste characteristic is of toffee, but there is also a pine-like hop flavor in the finish. There is a mild bitterness in the aftertaste, but nothing too sensational. This beer tastes more like a brown to me. It has a light body, which suits it well. There is plenty of carbonation and not much coating. I find this beer to be very drinkable. I could have a number of these in a row without growing tired of it. Too bad this is my last bottle!

Dec 05, 2009
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mdfb79 from New York

3.63/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From 10/11/13 notes. Had this on tap at Distilled in NYC. Served in a pint glass, 16. oz pour on nitro-tap.

a - Pours a dark amber color with two inches of thick white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of fruity malts, bready malts, honey, light citrus, biscuit, dough, wheat, and maybe some light caramel malts.

t - Tastes of fruity malts, bready malts, nuts, toasted malts, lightly sour twinge, biscuit malts, and wheat. No caramel or citrus here...small step down from the nose.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. The mouthfeel is awesome, just super smooth and creamy. Very easy to drink; love how nitro makes beers feel.

o - Overall an okay beer; the only thing that made it very good was the mouthfeel thanks to the nitro-tap. A little bland overall, not something I'd probably seek out again.

Oct 14, 2013
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brentblackwell from Georgia

3.94/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dec 30, 2016
Sawtooth from Left Hand Brewing Company
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 2193 ratings