Sawtooth Ale | Left Hand Brewing Company

692 Reviews
Sawtooth AleSawtooth Ale

Brewed by:
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-16-2001

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Reviews: 692 | Ratings: 2,118
Photo of jimthepisces
5/5  rDev +35.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my absolute favorite American style ESB. The balance between the malt & hops is perfection. It's complex but definitely sessionable. I had one one draft and have also tried it on nitro...I think I prefer the co2 version for this one. Very sessionable. A must-try beer!!

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Photo of mark_walters
4.69/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Great beer, smooth hopped ale. Taste was consistent through out the sip. Definitely one of my new favorites. Smooth enough to drink over and over, but strong flavor that you can get away with a few.

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Photo of russpowell
4.65/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beautiful copper coloring with a foamy head that holds up fairly well. Residual lace follows down the class

Smell: Citrus-like hop aroma with some faint bready malt smells

Taste is very well balanced, nice sweet maltiness gives way to hoppy, some what resiny bitter tastes on the tounge & throat.

Mouth feel is perfect, chewy maltiness & just right amount of carbination

ESBs are amognst my favorite styles and this is in my personnal upper tier, yum, great finish...

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Photo of JasonCoop
4.65/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

pours typically amber/orange color with a slight haze and a good head

smells light and hoppy. very faint fruit sweet smell.

taste is great. very malty tasting, but stays light. subtle buttery caramel taste with nice crisp, dry finish. nicely balanced.

mouthfeel is nice and crisp, pretty dry. easily drinkable and delicious.

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Photo of LongsPeakAveBrew
4.65/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lefthand Brewery's Sawtooth Ale pours a clear copper into thin walled pint glass. Off white head dissipates quickly leaving curtains on the glass and just a trace of head on the top.

Toasted malt balances earthy grassy hop notes.

Taste opens with a full maltiness before being brought into blance by strong earthy and piney hops.

Nice full ale mouthfeel.

Eminently drinkable due to the perfectly balanced flavor and nice balnce of body and carbonation

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.62/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Murky amber brew w/ a thin bubbly head. Nice arcs of lace. This is almost two-toned in that it is dark amber in the middle and carrrot orange near the top and around the edges.

Excellent citrus hops and biscuity malt. Very zesty yet warm and robust. As the beer warms, a very sweet malt scent steps forward a bit and the orange and lemon hops play second fiddle.

Extremely balance and tasty! Not as hopped as I wouold have thought based on the nose. Robustly malted. I taste sweet orange cookies and biscuits along with a hoppy lemon zest at the slighty dry finish.

Very full bodied, thick, chewy, and smooth as hell. This is excellently viscous!

Drinkability is superb. Although the thickness could be a bit filling if you plan on sessioning this brew, or enjoying a few with a meal, this is highly quaffable.

This is the first beer that the fellas at Left Hand ever brewed, and IMO it's their best offering by far.

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Photo of goodbeer4cheap
4.62/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look- slightly brown ale amber. Smell- Lemony, sweet malt. Taste- Malty forward, slight subtile hops, bready, lemon, slight caramelized backing. Quite good. Feel- Like beer should be, good to the front and back of the tongue.
Overall- a very good ESB. I will enjoy many more of them.

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Photo of tigg924
4.57/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: dark copper, medium head, cloudy, high carb

Smell: cinnamon, malt, brown sugar, and honey

Taste: brown sugar and sweet malt dominate

Mouthfeel: light, smooth, and sweet

Drinkability: I love sweet malt, I love this beer. Left Hand is slowly becoming a favorite of mine and this beer is excellent...I will session this. Wow another great offering.

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Photo of LuDookie
4.55/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my new go-to beer when I'm not enjoying the stouts. It is very complex, in my opinion, and goes down very well. I would not consider it a "strong bitter" at all, for I am not a fan of hoppy beers. I've never even been able to stomach most bitters, or hoppy beer, such as IPA's, etc, but I really like this beer.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
4.55/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: a real hazy straw yellow color, with a foamy white head that sits forever.

Smell: nice mellow floral hops and pale malts

Taste: floral hops that don't leave an outstanding bitterness, followed by some pale malts. Unbelievably balanced and delicious

Mouthfeel: perfectly smooth and clean. almost no bitterness. very refreshing

Overall: This one kinda blew me away. I really enjoyed it. This is almost exactly what I want out of an ESB and certainly the best american version I have had by far. I want to try it bottled and see how it compares.

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Photo of barknee
4.55/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into chilled glass tankard, (yea I know.. Faux Pas!)..showing a foamy light mocha colored head, which diminshed in a few minutes. Color is a saturated medium reddish brown, and the constitution is clear without sediment or particulate. The scent of fruity hops soars from the glass, with hints of lightly roasted cashew nut. The fruity scent that wafts from the glass has a very nice myrrh component to it. The carbonation was not visible, but the feeling of a fine effervescence on the tongue last the entire glass. The taste is wonderful; malty with notes of birch with a very pleasant bitterness, rounded out and balanced. This brew has the perfect acidity, and is a pleasure to take on with vigor. The beer is medium bodied, and has a long tasty finish that lasts several minutes. This is one of the most enjoyable brews I have ever had, and it is a wonderful candidate for a homogeneous evening selection. Super refreshing with a brilliant mouthfeel.
This is a must do situation!!!!

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Photo of RBorsato
4.54/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear golden-copper with a low beige head, good carbonation, and spotty lace. Nice aroma !! Malty with nice grassy hop aroma and a bit of fruitiness. Nice prominent grassy hop flavor and very well balanced. Light-medium (leans light) bodied with a good amount of bitterness in the finish.

Per L.H. website:
Malts: 2-Row, Crystal, Munich, Black Patent
Hops: Cascade, East Kent Goldings, Fuggles & Magnum
Original Gravity: 12 Plato ( 1.050 )
IBU's: 27

Gold - 1994 GABF (Traditional Bitter)

Bottled: 07/15/03 (Erickson)
Tasted: 11/11/03

Bottled: 10/21/03 (Zoe)
Tasted: 03/30/04 (lowered Mouthfeel from 4.5 to 4)

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours gold with copper highlights under a sudsy white foam cap while exuding faint spicy, earthy hop aromas and rich malts. The palate is malty and nutty with some biscuit, drying out on the finish with a moderate bitter accent. Very easy to drink and almost sessionable.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a clear light amber color. Its head is large white and fluffy, and sticks around forever. The aroma is nice and hoppy with some fruity notes. The taste is as hoppy as the aroma. Not overpowering, but still strong. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with ample carbonation. Overall, this is a great brew.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Served at fridge temp in a tulip glass (all I had clean ATM).

Appearance: Beautiful copper with a light brown head that dissipated after a minute or two to a thin foam on the surface.

Nose: Caramel candy, sweet malt, slight hops.

Taste: Round maltyness with absolutely no hop bitterness at all. Much more like a English Mild. Absolutely wonderful flavor of orange marmalade, fruity and delicious (Ringwood ale yeast like).

This was truly a treat. Not at all what I thought it would be like from the bottle description or what I know about ESBs. I've had Redhook beforeand I expected a Pacific Northwest/West Coast hop slam to my mouth but this was so malty and well rounded that I'm going to have to pick up some more. Try this beer.

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Photo of ElizabethCraig
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love ESB's, but I have trouble describing them. I'm hoping by reviewing a few and reading reviews I'll gain more skill in evaluating this style.

Color/Appearance: medium amber, white head that quickly dissipates.

Aroma: Lt caramel with citrus (bitter lemon) notes.

Taste: Medium body, grainy medium caramel fading to caramel and bitter lemon. Finishes fairly clean.

A very enjoyable beer - I've had this one a few times and I think it's one of my favorite examples of the style.

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Photo of cutout
4.47/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 0z. bottle poured into 20 oz. tulip glass.

A. Golden amber color 1/2 finger head creamy but not lingering.
S. Your nose comes alive with malty sweetness and carmel and biscuit overtones.
T. Such a well balance of hop and malt the hops being the real surprise from not picking them up on smell but o so present in subtle way.
M. A dry but sweet taste followed all the way through.
Being a Pale Ale and IPA fan this was a contrast but pleasant surprise to my palate and a beer i will reach for again .

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Photo of osusullins
4.46/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I think that this is an excellent ESB. It is meant to be poured from a nitro tap, so I can understand some of the poor reviews from the bottle drinkers. Totally different experience with nitro.

This is my favorite beer to watch pour from the tap. Pours initially a cloudy off white, but soon begins to cascade into the most brilliant looking tan ale with an off-white head. Beautiful lacing.

Not much to the aroma. I know it sounds stupid, but it just smells like beer. lol.

Taste is solid for an ESB. Dry with some bitterness, but not offensive at all. The nitro helps create a texture that I find comparable to Boddingtons. Finishes quite dry. Very creamy and smooth... So very, very smooth. Just covers the mouth with creamy goodness. Taste lingers. I've found that this beer accompanies spicey foods very well. Probably my favorite pub ale.

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Photo of jpittman80
4.44/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Beautiful brilliantly clear copper with a mostly white head. that fades to the rim.

S - Apples, citrus, wine, faint bready malt and apples.

T - I really didn't see this coming from the smell. Instead of a cidery beer, it's full tasty caramel and bready malts. The apple flavor is present, but faint and in the background. Good clean hop bitterness rounds it out to a nice dry finish.

M - Silky smooth medium body. I really enjoy drinking this.

D - See above. A great flavored, well balanced beer.

What took me so long to try this?

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Photo of LordHammer
4.43/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my ABC glass.

A: A deep amber, edging towards red, with a solid cream colored head that lingers for a few minutes and settles as a solid layer on top of the beer. Really nice lacing down the glass.

S: Mostly English hops in the nose, with a bit of malty sweetness. Definitely piquing my interest.

T: Nice slightly sweet, toasted malts up front with a finish of lots of English hops. Moderately bitter with lots of earthy and slightly spicy/piney notes. This is really brilliantly balanced.

M: Carbonation is relatively low, but the beer still feels substantial without being motor oil.

D: Balance is the name of the game here. For me, this is the ideal level of flavor and moderate alcohol for maximum quaffing potential.

My first beer from Left Hand, and based on this, I'll be trying to find others.

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Photo of gouldnash
4.43/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A 12 oz bottle poured into a shaker pint.

ESB is a style that doesn't get a lot of play in the "beer geek" community, of which I consider beeradvocate to the standard-bearer.

The beer is an outstanding example of the style. The color is a bright ruby-orange. The head dissipates quickly. The aroma is spot on, if not a hint on the "red ale" side. Colorado water keeps the effervescence in check.

The flavor..certainly malt-forward, but not "sweet" in any offensive sense. It has the sweetness you get in a good bread.

Bitterness plays a harmony part in the second half the pallete experience, never overwhelming, never pine-y or resinous; just a crisp, dry bitterness the balance the red-bread-sweetness as it slowly meanders off the front of the tongue.

I love this beer. Not because it's sexy or new or hybrid. Not because the brewer decided to jam as many hops as possible into every sip, from every corner of yakima. This beer is beautiful like good, old blues's exactly what you expect and it still gets to you. It's written from a limited collection of chords, time measures and moods...and it's still beautiful every time.


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Photo of KenC
4.42/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dated: ??/21/11

A - Medium amber color that was slightly cloudy. Three fingers of tan head that quickly dissipated, after an aggressive pour. It left very little lacing

S - Sweet caramel as soon as I opened the bottle. Then noted citrus hops.

T - Started out sweet but the hops come shining through in the middle. The finish has malt dryness in perfect balance.

M - medium body with a fair amount of carbonation.

O - This was just what I was in the mood for. VERY drinkable and I was left wishing I had another one. I’ll see you again, soon.

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Photo of jmbranum
4.42/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The numerical score above is of the most recent tasting

Review of July 17, 2012:

Faint malty aroma

Pours a nice dark amber with a big head. Clear.

Lots of malt. Some toastyness and a hint of caramel. Fairly sweet but not overly so. Just a little bit of hops (too many ESB's put too many hops in, in my opinion) which fits this style just right.

An excellent well-balanced beer.

Medium mouthfeel.

Review of May 27, 2006:

AP: 4.0 AR 4.0 F 4.0 MF 4.0 D 3.5
Goregeous orange-amber brew with a smallish head.

Excellent fresh flavor. Well balanced with some faint floral and pine hop notes, a fair bit of bittering hops, lots of rich malt and a good mix of dryness and sweetness.

Very much recommend this beer for a nice balance and fresh flavor.

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Photo of TXHops
4.42/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

-Original Gravity: 1.050
-Final Gravity: 1.014
-ABV: 4.75%
-ABW: 3.7%
-Attenuation: 70.4%
-Real Extract: 5.24 P
-Calories per 12 oz: 166
-IBU’s: 27
-Malts: 2-Row, Crystal, Munich, Black Patent
-Hops: Cascade, East Kent Goldings, Fuggles & Magnum

Man, aint nothin’ better than looking closely at the beer you brought home from out-of-sate and seeing a bottled-on date within the last 6 weeks… I’ve owned this beer for more than 2 of those weeks! Let’s hear it for bottled-on dating!

Sawtooth is my first Left Hand beer, though I’ve been reading about the brewery for more than 5 years now. Sawtooth is a deep amber, clover-honey-color in the glass, with a VERY white head of fairly long-lasting foam (Black Patent Malts at work?) A huge blast of apricot-like fruitiness is the first thing I smell out of the bottle. Man, this is a fruity beer! The taste is the same—intensely fruity, but not necessarily apricots: it tastes more like a mélange of various, nondescript, indigenous fruits. I know this yeast strain—it’s the same one that the Texas Big Buck uses for it’s ESB, I’d be willing to bet. I’d be further willing to bet that it’s one of the standard Wyeast or White Labs ESB strains, because I’ve tasted it before. It has a signature fruitiness that I’ve always loved and can never forget. Enough digression... The apricot nose seems to pick up steam as the beer sits, and the fruitiness in the flavor grows right along with the nose. For a 4.75% beer, this one has the senses enjoying themselves! The bitterness is expertly employed to offset any cloyingly sweet maltiness, but is far from assertive. Nor is any hop flavor immediately evident. This is one of those beers where hops are used to counter sweetness, not to lend flavor: their original purpose before the Americans and British got hold of them ;)

Ah, great beer. I’d gladly do an English-style session with pints of these. I can only dream of this beer on cask—the fruitiness must be overwhelming…

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Photo of Spica66
4.42/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle during Left Hand tasting at Pat's Liquors in Porter, IN on 7/22/10. The brewery rep was pouring and telling us all about the beers as we went. Very informational and fun.

A: Deep amber, perfect amount of carbonation. Very nice.

S: Noble hops, rich malts. Extremely balanced.

T: Completely balanced rich malt and wonderful hops. Wow!

M: Medium body, carbonation does the right thing.

D: Extremely enjoyable, low alcohol= set'em up!

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Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
3.7 out of 5 based on 2,118 ratings.
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