Sawtooth Ale | Left Hand Brewing Company

697 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: 697 | Ratings: 2,129
Photo of williamphelps
4.54/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brownish amber color. Thin lacing/head. Rich yet subtle rye bread with some staleness, light caramel. Palate is caramel, toffee, almonds, peanuts, some roasty bitterness, some citrus, grapefruit hops toward finish; very malty overall, nice richness; finish is sweet kettelcorn; medium plus intensity. Pros are nice intensity of flavor, richness, complexity, roastiness yet with balance. Cons are maybe too sweet and malty taking away from refreshment, not enough hops to balance that, a little staleness at times. 92/100. Very Good.

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Photo of ObstinateOutcast
3.93/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank 04.03.17
L: Yellow/tan head with a fair amount of retention, however, a small head. The body was golden amber with a decent amount of carbonation.
S: Sweet with hints of fruit, crisp, and bright.
T: Crisp and light, earthy, and slightly hoppy (thus a slight bitterness) with a strong hoppy aftertaste.
F: Light, slick, and a dry aftertaste.
This reminds me of a snappy, summer beer.

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Photo of HorseheadsHopHead
3.56/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L: Clear brown with a thin foamy tan head. Not too much retention or lacing.

S: Brown bread, buttery biscuits, a bit of caramel and toffee. A bit of nuttiness and earthiness. The aroma is barely existent, though.

T: Coarse brown bread, like pumpernickel bread. Buttery biscuits. Some caramel and toffee. Hints of cherries and raisins. Lightly earthy, herbal finish. Slightly sweet.

F: Light, but not watery. Carbonation pushes it along quickly. Smooth and endlessly drinkable.

O: A really solid American ESB. Great for fans of English styles or session ales.

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Photo of Parmesan
4.02/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Copper-gold color with a medium white head and several fingers of lacing 4.25

S: Nutty, caramel and toffee, and nice toasted grain.

T: Nutty, careless and earthy, with a medium.floral Hop bitterness, and some nice toasted grain.

F: Medium body and carbonation

O: This is a great easy drinking Amber ale.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.71/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

8oz glass at Beer Revolution YEGDT. Not a lot of ESBs available around here, so it's nice to see one from a new entry to the Alberta beer market.

This beer appears a clear, bright medium copper amber colour, with one average finger of puffy, loosely foamy, and bubbly beige head, which leaves a bit of skewed Bonsai tree lace around the glass as it evenly dissipates.

It smells of bready and biscuity caramel malt, faint toffee notes, ethereal generic citrus rind, and some plain leafy, herbal, and floral green hop bitters. The taste is gritty and bready caramel malt, ethereal biscuity toffee, some softly burnt white toast, still hard to pin down citrusy acerbities, some minor dank pine resin, and more earthy, leafy, and dead floral verdant hoppiness.

The carbonation is quite understated in its perfunctory frothiness, the body a basically normal middleweight, and mostly smooth, nothing particularly up for messing around here. It finishes off-dry, with a nice biscuity malt and mixed hoppy interplay.

Overall, Sawtooth is a pleasant enough version of the style, with a bit of Americanization that is kept well in check. More apt as an old-school pub 'usual', one might think, yet it works equally well in this shiny modern beer bar all the same.

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Photo of GimmeASchlitz
4.01/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful amber into a nonic glass. Minimal cream head that goes away quickly.

Nose immediately picks up malts and a slight floral aroma.

First sip is a great sweet, toasted malt flavor picked up in the nose. A taste of hops balances it out and keeps it refreshing. The end is followed by a taste of alcohol but is not overpowering and doesn't linger either.

The beer has a watery, carbonated feel with no stickiness left in feel. Almost as if you haven't had any yet and invites you for more.

Overall a very nice ESB and well executed beer. The balance between the sweet malts and bitter hops is well done as it should be. This is a great beer to be introduced to the style if not done already. Will be looking forward to more of these to come. Well done Left Hand!

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Photo of Marraybay
2.61/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Meh - Not really my cup of tea; a tiny touch of malt, some grain (corn perhaps), some closing bitterness, but overall maybe too much time spent trying to straddle the centerline between the lager and ale realms. Won't revisit.

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Photo of SaltofOH
4.09/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle best by 12-29-16. DFH Tulip.

A: pours a crystal clear reddish dark Amber with small streams of carbonation and 1 finger of a very bubbly, frothy head that retains well.

S: lightly sweet, toasty malt and a distinctive cascade hop dank fruity, floral sweetness. As it warms,

T: arrival is very much like the smell, toasty malt with an estery and slightly hoppy arrival, layers of bready malt and floral honey across the middle, ending in a slightly lingering blend of malt sweetness and woodsy, fruity, dank English and American hops. Very similar in flavor to Great Lakes Burning River, but less hoppy.

M: heavier side of medium, well carbonated, slight slickness on the finish. Very much an ESB in texture. Did I mention this is SO much better than it was on nitro?

O: a perfectly balanced, "I want a beer" craft beer. Despite the low ABV, it proved to be not very sessionable; after the second one, the heaviness became too much. But for s couple of beers to go with a meal, great. Very similar to Burning River to me, though that is lighter/crisper, finishes more astringent, and is local. Would buy a six pack again for variety's sale, but prefer BR, Censored, and Bell's Amber.

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Photo of akolb
3.72/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Aroma is sweet malts, bread, and herbal hops. Taste has resin, earth, biscuits, caramel, and bread. Well-balanced with a pleasant hint of bitterness. A solid ESB, much better in regular format than nitro, where it tasted pretty flat.

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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 dar482
3.18/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

The beer comes in a clear pale to medium amber.

The aroma offers toasty malts, medium caramel sweetness, resiny hops.

The beer offers a smack of earthy and resiny bitterness upfront, surrounding the beer onto medium minus caramel, a bit of biscuity sweetness, a chewy breadiness, onto more lingering earthy and dried herbal bitterness on the finish. Mouthfeel is medium with a medium minus carbonation.

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Photo of Dinglehacker
4.19/5  rDev +13.2%
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.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.07/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Comes out looking like one of those darker amber ales. Earthen toffee like aroma. Isn't the red/amber malt vibe, more of the Burton/esb vibe going for it, but heartier..

More toffee and old wood notes. For being an esb, seems awfully balanced. One of those middle of the road ticks. Just leans too malty for me.

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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 larryarms847
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a bright golden yellow color.

Lemongrass, biscuity sweetness, fresh grains.

Toasted malt, biscuits, lemon zest, lemongrassy herbal bitterness.

Light-bodied, medium carbonation, slightly bitter after taste.

Overall, a pretty solid brew, nothing special but easy drinking.

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Photo of Guppy314
4.24/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Really very drinkable because it's so well balanced: hops vs. malt. But that also kinda means that it's not stand-out special. I feel a beer is so much more interesting if it focuses on SOMETHING and does that one thing really well; like hopsy, malty, or yeasty. This Sawtooth Ale is "just" a good solid beer that I could (and did) drink all night!

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.21/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Sawtooth Ale has a medium, frothy, off-white head, a clear, bubbly, amber appearance, and spider-web lacing left behind. The aroma is of very subtle lemon, bread crust, and generalized malt, and the flavor is of those elements, with a mellow back-end bitterness. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Sawtooth Ale finishes dry and exceedingly drinkable.


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Photo of Beginner2
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This was one of two of Left Hand's brews selected for "1001 Beers To Taste Before You Die". (Milk Stout was the other.) The reviewer pointed out something interesting: that to make the glacier-melt water simulate the Burton-onTrent water that founded the style, Left Hand made mountain water harder like valley water. They also sought to use the style's other authentic ingredients.

I had Sawtooth in September 2014. As also noted, it was as if its apple fruitiness and caramel notes were getting me ready for autumn. Quite arguably, this deserves to be on the "1001" list. I should buy it again.

4/29/16 re-rated and reduced from 3.81. I decided the after-taste is too bitter for my tastes.

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Photo of Dragginballs76
4.04/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep copper color good sized white head that sticks around very good lacing.

Smell I get some fruity smell as well as some dark earthy notes.

Taste I get malts at first a little caramel comes through some toasted oats.

Feel very smooth slightly bitter light bodied.

Overall I liked this beer and would have it again,

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Photo of damndirtyape
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, best by 11/10/15 or is it 11/10/16? The last number is a bit rubbed off so it's hard to tell. Served in a shaker pint glass.

Appearance: Clear/bright copper-amber. Thin off white head with thick sheets of persistent lacing. Nice looking beer.

Smell: Clean - not a lot of aroma at all. Maybe a little bit of some floral hop aroma and a bit of orange peel of all the odd things to smell in a ESB.

Taste: Definite toasted malt, then a transition to a bitter finish. The two balance each other, but the hops are more American style in their bitterness than English style with some piney/mild citrus to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation, a bit chewy. Definitely sticks to the teeth a bit.

Overall / Drinkability: It's okay. Not a great ESB. By itself it's okay. It's much better paired with food and then it becomes enjoyable and drinkable, but one is enough. I think I prefer English-style bittering hops with my ESB, even a bit of that buttery diacetyl character. This beer is an American take on it, and it has it's charms as it has fantastic lacing and color, but it's not a great beer. Could be that this is best by 11/10/15 and because it is a bit old is why it's not quite holding up. Not sure I would get it again.

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Photo of microbrewlover
3.97/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew pours a solid copper color with some deep amber highlights when held up to the light. There is a white, fluffy two finger head which sticks around for a long time along with great lacing.

The smell is fruity, earthy and musty all at once. There seems to be some lemon juice and orange in there along with sweet malts. Maybe some peach as well.

The taste full of sweet malts, fruit, some nuts and very light floral hops as well. Everything blends together nicely. The feel is smooth and creamy with a little bit of tang on the back end. Overall a quality ESB.

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Photo of ChrisMon02
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Not bad but not my choice I style. Very malty with a dry finish. Well made but just meh for me. Would have again but prefer many others. In can see why others enjoy.

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Photo of Ike_Potter
3.22/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Dark amber color with slightly off-white foam and quite good lacing. Sweet malty aroma with a very balanced flavor. You can pick out both the maltiness and happiness. Overall a good beer.

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Photo of hopphead31415
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

As you may be able to tell at this point, I am becoming an avid drinker of the Left Hand Brewers. I picked up this variety today and plopped in the fridge and then served chilled by pouring into a tall English glass. It has 5.3% ABV and is brewed on the banks of the mighty St. Vrain river in Colorado.

Look-It pours a beautiful clear amber color with reddish copper hues in the light. The color is amber, but definitely more of a red oak wood. The head is foamy and silky, but dissipates into a thin film quickly. The lacing is dropping, moist, and delicate.

Smell-It has a doughy smell with a hint of piney hops, but is malt-forward of course. It focuses on bread, coffee, and caramel. The aromas are slightly subtle, but present.

Taste-It has a moment of caramel and then lemon grass and clover. The malts are sweet bready flavors and some citrus like lemon and orange. The doughy flavors are noticeable towards the middle.

Mouthfeel-It has a medium-bodied feel and almost like a lager. This one has a lot of carbonation which makes for a tingly feel all the way through.

Overall-This sessionable ale is the perfect balance between malts and hops. Very refreshing and is quite a nice style of beer.

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Photo of Lahoi
4.37/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Outstanding for the style. I had one on a very hot, humid day. I think I would have liked it a little better in cooler weather.

Golden Amber, small head with good retention, nice lacing.

Doughy, malty, raisin, prune, citrus.

The finish was my least favorite part, but it was still good. Finishes a little too nutty brown for my liking. Chocolate mocha even. Maybe I would have liked the finish better had I enjoyed one on a cooler day.

The feel was outstanding. Full, malty.

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Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
3.7 out of 5 based on 2,129 ratings.
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