Sawtooth Ale | Left Hand Brewing Company

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688 Reviews
Sawtooth AleSawtooth Ale

Brewed by:
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States | website

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: 688 | Ratings: 2,101
Photo of kajerm
1.87/5  rDev -49.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Tried this at a beer tasting a few months back. Poured golden-brown with an averageish head into my pint glass.

The aroma? Yogurt, yogurt, and more yogurt. This beer reeked of lactobacillus. The taste was nearly as bad, laden with sour cream and yogurt notes-- horribly, horribly infected.

Drinkable for a vile bottle of pestilence and plague, I guess.

I've tasted Left Hand's imperial stout and I know they can craft a decent brew, but a for-profit brewery should not be letting this kind of thing happen.

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Photo of BarleyThere
2/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Just beer.

This beer is good, let me say that first. Give me a plate of nachos or a bucket of hot wings and I could drink it straight through the night. That said, there is absolutely nothing salient about the brew.

Pours a light copper color, with light head retention.
Very mild smell of hops and some vague fruit characteristics.
Taste is almost like a brown ale, but without the caramel flavor or biscuit-y quality.

Tastes like beer, drinks like beer, great for packing 'em in. Not to be savored.

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Photo of q33jeff
2.05/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2


Color is clear reddish brown. Flavor is watery, ash. Caramel. weak. Not sure why it called nitro. ....that assumes something tough, and this is weak."

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Photo of TargaFlorio
2.06/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A recent reviewer wondered if he stumbled upon a bad batch, I think we got the same one. No flavor at all. Thankfully I just purchased a single. Drain pour.

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Photo of GRG1313
2.09/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a bright clear copper orange. Thin and fast fading white head.

Unassertive light orange juice nose with just a hint of light spice; rather unassertive and with little real character in the nose.

Mouthfeel is thin, weak and short; watery.

Flavors are light, without character and with only hints of bitter orange juice, a hint of malt and a hint of yeast. Not real flavor; no real character and no real finish other than a very short basic light bitter with no appeal.

This is a beer with absolutely no character; tastes and smells like a lightly bitter water. Just my opinion or a really bad batch.

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Photo of Eldalonde
2.23/5  rDev -39.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Has aromas of hops and some spice. The head retention is disappointing but the flavor is rather interesting. It tastes of carmel, some spices and a little hoppy. When I had this, I didn't really care for it...the flavors just didn't meld to well. It's mildly complex, but nothing terrific.

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Photo of Xadoor
2.23/5  rDev -39.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Dark gold or copper colour in the glass. Off-white head that settled quickly. A strange aroma, sort of grassy and earthy. Flavour is a little odd as well, I opened a couple of them to see if they all tasted like that. My first impression was that it tasted a lot like iced tea. Sweet biscuity malt flavours to start with some light pine and fruitiness. It finishes quite dry, but with only a light hoppiness. Thin to medium mouthfeel. Its not a bad beer, but I just can't get rid of that tea-like flavour that I seem to get from it. Maybe I'll give it a try again if the opportunity presents itself.

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Photo of jsh420
2.31/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

bottled on 11/01/11 (yes bottled in the future so the calories do not count until then)

pours clear copper with a 1/2 finger head that left no lacing

smells of watery toasted malts

taste is not any better - bland watery hops and malts - i question why this considered craft beer

mouthfeel is light decent carbonation

overall - its a good thing i am already hooked on craft beer because this would not be reeling anyone in

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Photo of mschofield
2.35/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a dark golden amber, topped with a two finger fluffy light tan head, leaves webs of lacing.
Interesting aroma, herbs, kind of floral, bread and cinammon.
Not a very pleasant taste, it's harsh and seems off, fruit, tree bark and grain husk.
Medium bodied.

 263 characters

Photo of GreenWBush
2.39/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

From a "American Craft Brews" sampler pack, 12 oz bottle.

Dark bronze with a head that froths, then completely fades. Lacing like a bald man's combover.

Nose: malty and yeasty. Sweet. No hops on the nose whatsoever. Eeek! A little bit of trailer-park beer smell on the nose.

The taste is a bit flat: roughly blended malts along with only the slightest tingle of hops. Slight hints of rotten fruit. Poorly carbonated.

This beer made me think of a beer donut, or a bowl of beer-flavored frosted flakes. The mouthfeel wasn't much better: if handed to me in a glass, I would have guessed it was a gone-bad Rogue Dead Guy.

One of the first beers in a long, long time that I couldn't even finish. I won't be trying this brewery again.

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Photo of claspada
2.5/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Aroma is mainly centered around the greenery on this one. Nice earthy, herbal, and mildly citrus nose with warming caramel malts, basically liquid bread.

Taste is kinda a letdown after the nose. Kinda watery to be honest. Not a great hop presence or malt backbone. Small amounts of earthy/herbal bitterness with semi-sweet caramel and biscuit malts but not enough of any to be honest.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied easy going natural carbonation not a cloying aspect to be had finishes a bit dry with some earthy hop bitterness.

I appreciate what they were trying to do here (make an American ESB) but this falls kinds short in my opinion. Drinkability is very high because of how light and watery this brew is in my opinion. This is a beer that you could be a 6 pack deep and not realize it, a good and a bad thing, but not a good thing in my opinion for and ESB.

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Photo of chaz01
2.55/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

On tap at South Park Tavern in Dayton, paired with my pizza.

A: Clear light amber color with a thin head.

S: Faint Citrus piney aroma.

T: Grassy haw and orange flavor up front, followed by more orange and an unpleasant muskiness in the finish.

M: Well carbonated, maybe a little too much as the carbonation covers up some of the taste.

D: This left me unsatisfied, it wasn't very hoppy and the malt profile seemed a little bland to me. Hard time putting away a full pint glass of this and was eager to switch to something else.

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Photo of zimm421
2.64/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a shaped pint glass. Bottle is clearly dated 08/26/11.

Appears a dark red to brown color. Has an off-white head that leaves great lacing from the start. Head doesn't stick around too long.

Nose is floral, grassy and has sweet undertones. Not a lot of strength to the aroma. Taste is also fairly muted. Not a lot of sweetness like in the nose, but the base is there. There isn't really much flavor to the bitterness. It's just bitter. Some grassy and floral flavors as it warms. Pretty boring, and disappointing.

Mouthfeel is pretty thin, lots of carbonation. Very sharp bite from the carbonation. Not too easy to drink, but that's from the flavorless bitterness. Overall, disappointing. Not a lot of flavor, aroma or complexity. Just straight bitterness, as it is supposed to be, but let's accomplish this using more interesting ways.

 869 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
2.66/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear light copper color, with a white foamy head that disappeared quickly. From the looks, it seems almost watery. There was some good lacing, and no apparent carbonation problems. Smells slightly of citrus, and not much else that I could identify. Tastes astringent slightly sweet malt, with a dry finish. There was a slight hop presence in the finish, but it seemed to lack character. I found this to be thin, however the carbonation was right. I didn't think it seemed very drinakble. I don't know if this one was just off, or what. I am usually fond of Left Hand, but this one was not one that I would care to have again.

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Photo of hopmonkey
2.68/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A - Pours a nice copper hue. Very rich color.

S - A nice smell with some pine, citrus, bread.

T - In a word, boring. Thin and one-dimensional. Seems closed off. Relatively balanced, but to the point of a lack of identity.

M - Thin carbonation adds to the feeling that this almost tastes like a beer that's been sitting out in the sun for too long.

D - Low ABV makes it a drinkable beer. Too bad I don't want any more of it.

 427 characters

Photo of praufs01
2.7/5  rDev -27%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance – Hazy copper color with rocky off-white head and light lacing.

Aroma – I detect a good bit of caramel ion the smell.

Palate – Medium body and carbonation that is fairly smooth.

Flavor – Malty flavor with a bit of clove in the slightly dry chalky finish.

Final thoughts – Although the brew is smooth it lacks depth and complexity. One is enough for me.

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Photo of fltmedic
2.74/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured quickly into a heavy pint glass gets a nice one inch head of thick offwhite foam. The copper red color looks nice and is pretty clear. There are few if any bubbles rising, but admittedly this bottle isn't very cold.

There is not much aroma, but what is there is pleasant and a little sweet.

Flavor holds back until the end. A bit of malt upfront, the body has a slightly fuller malt, some light citrus and yeast. Then the fade comes through with hop bitterness and some citrus rind.

I originally thought that the feel was a little thin, but as I moved through the beer I thought it served the style well.

Overall this is a decent beer but not a standout. I would like to see more aroma and flavor in entry and body. This is a beer that won't insult anyone's taste-buds.

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Photo of schoolboy
2.78/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Ah, yesterday was my birthday and the beer is always a great gift, even if is not very good. My sister happened upon one of the carry outs I frequent once a month or so and apparently it changed hands since I was there last and they were closing out their "singles" beers. Liking whatever is on sale runs in my family, so I got 12 different beers as a gift.

Some were ones I had previously tried. Others were not. I don't remember this one from before. I wonder if maybe the bottle sat too long. That's how it tastes. Funky and skunky. Weak head. No real redeeming quality.

It seems to me like I tried some Left Hands before - perhaps when I was skiing in CO, but I will avoid this one. Maybe the Chainsaw is better.

07-08-2011 I am having another of these and though not funk and skunky, it is a bit wimpy. I have noticed than nothing smells good today - it is summer, the windows are open, and for some reason everything has a wet - sea pier - smell that ruins it. It's not just me! It's definitely better than the sample that was too old, though.

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Photo of Vancer
2.78/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This Lefthander didn’t do a damn thing for me. The pour (clear amber brown with a foamy and lacey head) and aroma (a malty caramel) were ok to good.

But the quaff, whoo – not a ale to sample again in my book. A raspy saw cut of earthy vine. Biting, needs a lot more malt for a balanced brew. Finishes harsh and rough.

Oh well, not every brew is gonna be a winner.

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Photo of rousee
2.79/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

An ESB ? It doesn't strike me as one. More like a cherry amber pouring american red pale ale. It does have a slight flatness like a good british beer will but sometimes this aids the smoothness factor. Overall, this is kind of disappointing. The other Left Hand I had was better and I am left handed.

Taste notes:cedar and woody nose, spicy and cidery -all elements are present palate-wise too and there is a peppery finish.

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Photo of albern
2.8/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This one is a bit of a disappointment. The pour is amber, more on the light side of the spectrum as far as ambers go. The beer pours a slightly frothy head that dissipates quickly. Lacing is minimal. The smell is malty, sweet, cloying, ehhh, nothing great. The taste is definitely sweet, there is a bready feel to this one. There is a dryness that complements the sweetness and rounds things out a bit. There is some hop on the back end, but you need to really search for it. This beer is medium bodied and very average. Quite frankly, I was disappointed, thinking this was so much more. In part this is due to the ubiquitous availability of Left Hand, which seems to be on the shelves everywhere. As the beer warms, I'm getting a goodly dose of caramel and leather. This one is a one and done for me.

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Photo of americanbeerbuzz
2.85/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a chilled stemless wine glass. It pours virtually no head with a vigorous pour. Settles kind of flat and lifeless. The deep color is pretty cool. Has a good first pale bite but putters out into a sorta syrupy mix. The flavor is pretty good after it resonates for a while. Don't think it has the pale bite I've grown to like.

 336 characters

Photo of DogFood11
2.86/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

copper to amber color, swirling aggressive carbonation supports a tight creamy off white head, lacing/retention is admirable.

Even though its a light looking brew this one packs some big flavor and the mouthfeel is pretty heavy all things considered. Tons of caramel malt flavor, suggestions of dark fruits and the hop presence, although subdued and laid back cleans up ok towards the end. This was not one of my favorite ESB's as the score indicates, what its missing is that bitter quality that I've come to associate with this style. Not HUGE bitterness, but at least detectable and this doesn't have it.

Notes: Its enjoyable and easily consumed but below average in my opinion. As it warmed up the mouth got heavier and more of raw mash type taste came out. Decent.

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Photo of avalon07
2.88/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a somewhat cloudy consistency. A big amount of foamy head and some decent lacing here.

S: Slightly hoppy smell, along with a little malt. Not particularly powerful.

T: Some hops up front and a light maltiness, but little else. This beer has a surprisingly bland quality about it.

M: A good amount of carbonation and a slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: Overall, this beer did nothing for me. While it was not without its strong points, I found the taste a little watery and uninteresting.

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Photo of ZenAgnostic
2.88/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

ESB - pint glass

Appearance - Thin white head with no stick or retention. Bronze body.

Smell - More of the same musky corn. Mild-moderate maltiness with an mild hop presence. Has some balance.

Taste - Thin honey-like body. Thin hop presence. Very mild and boring.

Mouthfeel - Moderate body, but with a thin finish.

Overall Drinkability - A thoroughly unimposing and unimpressive beer. I think the best case for drinking this it is "It's not Budweiser".

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Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
3.7 out of 5 based on 2,101 ratings.
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