Sawtooth Ale | Left Hand Brewing Company

691 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: 691 | Ratings: 2,116
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 kylehay2004
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed at the brewery.

A: amber, clear, tons of lace. Half finger head.

S: caramel malt. Very mild hop notes.

T: not really in the realm of a typical esb. Caramel malt. Not much of a hops flavor. some earthy notes.

M: moderate carbonation and medium body.

Overall: Not a true ESB from what I have experienced. Overall a little medicore.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.02/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

love this one. smells well balanced but no descript, hints of english malts and a gentle sweetness. flavor has a lot of interesting subtleties, complex malts but maintains a light and refreshing mouthfeel. its crisp and clear and easy drinking. an excellent session beer, and just enough abv to warm you up on a cold day. this is one of my favorite left hand brews i have tried.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.05/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer pours out as a reddish brown color with a foamy cream colored head that has some good retention. The carbonation is light, the mouthfeel is smooth and not overly thick. The flavor is like a traditional ESB but not quite as good as the real thing from England but damn close. The flavor is bitter with a dry aftertaste, kinda musty. It's worth trying.

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Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Barcade, Jersey City, NJ

A: The beer is clear very light copper in color and has no visible signs of carbonation. It poured with a half finger high off white head that had excellent retention properties and hardly ever died down and left thick lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of bready malts in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of biscuit and bready malts with notes of sweetness and hints of caramel.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a low amount of carbonation.
O: This beer goes down very easily and is very sessionable.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I'm more impressed with this beer than I thought I'd be. This is one of those styles that American Micros usually butcher. Pours a nice light copper to straw color. Higher carbonated that expected. Decent head retention. Smells malty, caramelly and nutty. Light hop detection. Tastes are similar to aromas throw in more breadyness, yeastyness, earthyness. Nuttiness reminds me of pecans, nice on top of caramel and toffee flavors. No flavor is dominating. The beer is smooth in its flavors, the carbonation may be a distraction. Mouthfeel is round and just shy of medium. Finishes fairly airy and crisp. Nice subtle hop bittering; not too sweet. A very easily drinkable beer.

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Photo of brentk56
3.55/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Medium amber slightly cloudy body with a decent head that quickly dissipates to a ringlet and leaves very little lacing

Smell - Malty, caramel bouquet with a touch of citrus hops; smells like wort

Taste - Starts out rather sweet but the hops kick in mid-palate and build through to the finish; a very subtle malty sweetness also comes through but never really balances with the bitterness

Mouthfeel - medium bodied with a fair amount of carbonation

Drinkability - Pleasant enough but certainly unusual for the style

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Photo of LXIXME
4.03/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A clear caramel/copper colored beer awaits below a moderately slow dying off white head. It eventually works it way to a thin lacing.

A light aroma of caramel malts sort of on the sweet side, with a little hint of something that I can't figure out, oh well.

A lightly roasted caramel malt taste with added bonuses of slight dry hops, some earthiness, and just a hint of citrus.

A light dry aftertaste that almost borders on some citrus going on.

A very easy to drink medium bodied beer, goods down good, maybe to good. I kind of wished the taste was just a little stronger with the same proportions of roasted caramel to the other added tastes, but maybe this way it'll be a better gateway beer for those starting to be adventuresome in their beer tastes.

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Photo of zeff80
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a reddish/orange color with a tan, foamy, two-finger head. It left some nice lace.

S - It smelled of grass and hops. There was a slight pine smell.

T - It had a nice balance of roasted malt and grassy hops. There was a subtle citrus taste (possibly Cascade hops). The bitterness was understated.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - A very nice ESB. One of the better beers from Left Hand.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a really nice copper color that is a bit bright. Really nice white head and quite a bit of lacing. The nose brings some light pine and earthy hops and also has a good dose of some caramel backing. The taste is focused more on some bready caramel with only faint hops in the background. Good feel that is a bit malty and slightly bitter. Good body, especially with the cask. Drinks quite well and goes down really smoothly.

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Photo of nickfl
3.62/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Small, off white head that settles quickly and leaves slight lace. Clear, amber-brown body.

S - Malty with lots of caramel and biscuit malt. Weak floral hop aroma in the background.

T - Malty but dry with toasted malt and lots of biscuit flavor. A bit of caramel in the middle with slight yeast fruitiness and a little slickness on the palate in the finish.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - This is a drinkable amber ale with good caramel aroma. A bit bland overall, and more of and American Amber than an ESB, but enjoyable nonetheless.

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Photo of oberon
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice rich copper color with not much head but kept a nice lace down the glass.Smell was very malty and fruity with some dough-like aromas.Taste is very fruity with good balance of hops thrown in but it did leave an odd aftertaste.Seems to be quaffable Iam on my first with five more to go.

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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into signature pint glass, best before 8/26/2014. Pours fairly crystal clear deep orange/copper color with a 1 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of orange zest, pear, apple, caramel, toast, biscuit, light nuttiness, herbal, floral, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of orange zest, pear, apple, caramel, toast, biscuit, light nuttiness, herbal, floral, light pine, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Good amount of earthy pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes or orange zest, pear, apple, caramel, toast, biscuit, light nuttiness, herbal, floral, light pine, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice robustness and complexity of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester flavors; with a nice malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, fairly creamy, and slightly sticky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very good ESB style. All around good balance, complexity, and robustness of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and fruity yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering.

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Photo of chinchill
3.62/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

served in pint glass

Malt, hops and some extra fruitiness in the aroma.
A little fruitiness in the taste as well, but mostly a simple malt flavor with a mild hop overlaid. Has a typical moderately bitter ESB finish and aftertaste.

Medium-light body; fine carbonation.

O - a good ESB (not a favorite style), but promising aroma is not matched by the flavor.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pilsener glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malt, tea, citrus and a little hops.

T: The taste is malty with flavors of caramel, tea and citrus. There’s a decent hops presence that provides some balance. There’s a good malt character. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down ok, decent kick, not too filling, decent representation of style, I could drink a few of these and it’s not a bad beer, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: ???
I've had this a while ago, but I don't remember where or in what form, apparently forgetting to write my review at the time. So this review will apply to a recent tasting / refresher on nitro-tap at Capone's, Norristown, PA.

*This will also be review #1000 for me!

Poured a brilliant copper color with orange tints, a slight chill haze, and an overflowing mound of white froth from the nitro tap. The head stayed creamy and left a bit of soapy lacing on the glass. Aroma of sweet malts, toffee, and mild subdued hops. Someone else described it as smelled like wort, and as a homebrewer, I must say that's pretty apt, though it wasn't quite as aromatically full or concentrated as a steamy pot of fresh brew, obviously. Sweet taste, toffee and caramel malts, hints of vanilla, toasted bread, gently hopped for a mild bitterness, that perhaps just puts this on the cusp of being an ESB. Nice and flavorful, which is good, though maybe not always expected for this style. (But then I find most English beers and English-style beers drab and watery, so...) Medium-bodied and easily drinkable, though not quite interesting enough for me to have repeated sessions. In one night anyway.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.87/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear, amber body with a medium-sized, white head that lefts generous layers of lacing on the way down.

Smell: Dry, crumbly, toasted biscuits seasoned with a good dose of spices. Faroff notes of dried citrus rind and creme caramel.

Taste: Toasted biscuit maltiness with a restrained caramel sweetness. Fairly spicy hop character, maybe a hint of citrus, too. Medium bitterness is quite clean. Lingering hoppiness and hint of breadcrusts.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Fine, flavorful ESB from Left Hand.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.6/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Burnished honey suffused with juicy orange. The head is off-white, bordering on ecru, and displays very little persistence. Not much lace makes it to the glass. The aroma features sweetish pale malt and floral hops. This should be pretty good beer.

The flavor, although it doesn't quite match the nose, isn't too shabby. There's a solid malt backbone for the style and fruity-floral hops make up the lion's share of the flavor profile. Cascade is a guess, since grapefruity notes are evident. In the end, the hops aren't upfront enough and the body isn't quite substantial enough.

If Left Hand Brewing would beef up the flavor and the body they'd have a much better beer. It improves somewhat as it warms, but I can't pull the trigger on the next highest taste score. Cliff Notes review: Sawtooth Ale is a decent, drinkable ESB and is a definite improvement on this brewery's Milk Stout.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

decent amber color with a smll head of white that just barely graced the top. Decent side glass lace as well.
very light grain and wheat with a slight hint of earthy grass. This was your average ESB. And I mean average. The flavor was rather bland and non descript with really no defining characteristic to it. Some light cereal grain, and a touch of earthy grass again, but nothing really sticking out in any way. Almost forgotten as soon as it was sipped. It had a very nice amount of carbonation which was the only thing really keeping my intrest at that point

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Photo of Slatetank
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this bottle at Wegman's in Mechanicsburg -poured chilled into a tumbler.

A decent copper color with brilliant look/great clarity and quick to collapse white cap, the head becomes a ring of tiny beads. the lace is semiclinging. The smell is good, mainly fruity yeast with some pear notes, but a mild lemony hop tinge is there and mild caramel malt odor. The feel is relatively light for the style, mild sweetness and moderate carbonation with semi-dry finish.

I really enjoy the light body because it brings the focus more on the flavor which is very good, lots of toasted and gently biscuit-like malt flavors and subtle fruity yeast blends well and makes for a pretty decent take on the style with moderately bitter slightly lemony hop flavors - the dry aspect in the finish is very pleasant. I would definitely go for this again, a prety solid beer and the flavor is very good for a beer bottled about 6 wks ago

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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 mdaschaf
3.45/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to THECPJ for this one!

A: Pours a clear/amber color with a half inch head that dissipates quickly to a little bit of foam on the top.

S: Very malty upfront on the nose, a nice caramel aroma. Also has an earthy sweetness from the hops, but they are subdued.

T: Tastes mostly of bready malt, very sweet, almost candy flavored sweet.

M/D: Medium bodied, carbonation seemed a bit lacking. Overall, pretty good, the low carbonation takes away a bit, but I like the sweetness.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.48/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Lee for this one.

A: The beer is a clear amber color with a finger of white head. Not too much lacing.

S: For an ESB, the nose is surprisingly...sugary. Sweet table sugar, caramel, toffee, and brown sugar pretty much make up/dominate the aroma. There are some light hops and perhaps a hint of vanilla. Bread is about the only aroma in there I expect.

T: More of the same as I take a few sips. Certainly some bread and toast, and there's a mild toffee flavor, too. Again, very little hop flavor, and even less bitterness. Because all of the flavors are fairly sweet, it just seems a bit muddled.

M: The body and carbonation are both medium.

O: Just sweet, one-note, and bland. Not something I'd care to have again.

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Photo of smcolw
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber in color with great (thick and creamy) head. The aroma is less evident than expected--what's there is a very light floral hop aroma.

In the tasting, the bittering hops really stand out. This is a dry beer with a light malt presence. After the swallow, the hop lingers. Moderate body with a high level of carbonation. A fairly typical, but tasty, APA worthy of another.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
3.7 out of 5 based on 2,116 ratings.
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