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Sawtooth Ale | Left Hand Brewing Company

687 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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 687 | Ratings: 2,095
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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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.

 271 characters

Photo of SanRaphael
3.21/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

America's sudden immature obsession with over hopping beers ruins another nice email. There's no reason for such a beer to lack subtlety by simply making it stupidly bitter.

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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 DrMullet
3.79/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A clear amber pour. Malty caramel with a hint of citrus, it has a bit of a silky smooth mouthfeel.
A slight dark fruit sweetness followed by a mildly bitter aftertaste.

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Photo of Alkey
3.92/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint galss a dark copper color with small off white sudsy head that sticks to the glass.
Smell is of sweet bread like malts and floral hop aroma.
Taste begins with sweet watery malt and quickly turns to dry floral bitterness.
Very good session ale with a dry finish that make you want to take another sip.

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.81/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: crystal clear; amber colored; 1 finger khaki head that receded to a wispy cap; OK lacing;

S: well balanced; herbal hops with a touch of pine; caramel and toffee;

T: caramel for a moment, then a bit of lemon gets added in; light herbal and lemon rind bitterness on the finish;

M: medium bodied; light to moderate carbonation; lightly dry finish;

O: very nice; would have liked a touch more bitterness;

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Photo of Ian_B
3.81/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Very translucent, dark toffee color with glints of amber. Decent head with thin retention.

Aromas of sweet, buttery caramel backed by very faint esters of plum and blackberry.

Taste of caramel or toffee without being too sweet. A tiny bit of blackberry toward the middle, accompanied by a mild, earthy hop bitterness which lends a bit of burnt bread crust (the good kind) to the finish.

Light yet creamy body that is crisp but not overly-carbed. Slight dryness on the finish provides a pleasing balance.

Overall a very solid representation of the style; a great introductory craft brew.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.99/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a 12 fl. oz. bottle with a Best By 4/10/2015 date stamped on the neck of the bottle. Sampled on February 22, 2015.

A good looking pour with copper-amber tones and a lingering cream colored head. Good clarity.

The aroma is vibrant with toasted bread, caramel, and sweetness while any hop sensations are downplayed.

The body is medium.

I like the sweetness of the flavor with a brown sugar characteristic, caramel, and bread and a muted but dry hop bitterness. Nicely balanced.

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Photo of fscottkey
3.4/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: [4.00] Poured into a snifter. Formed a tiny head that was gone pronto! The beer is a rusty red color. It is very transparent. The bottle lists the ABV (5.3%), recommended glassware (nonic pint) and the best by date 04/02/15.

S: [3.25] Smells syrupy and sweet. There are sweet bread smells and maybe molasses.

T: [3.25] The has a "lager" taste profile. Nice malt backbone and pronounced biscuit and sweet bready flavors.

M: [3.75] This had a rich full body feel for 5.3% ABV. The carbonation was a little high and tingly.

O: [3.50] I love Left Hand Milk Stout. This is my second offering from Left Hand and it is no where near the Milk Stout. The flavors are muted - the aroma is even more muted.

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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 Jeffreysan
4.04/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a pretty, almost opaque, deep, dark, mahogany color, speckled with orange highlights and a quarter of a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Not much in the aroma department at all. I do get some faint aromas of bready, toasted malt, and a touch of caramel and black pepper, but not much else, and very faint notes at that.

Taste: What the beer lacks in aroma, it more than makes up for in flavor! There are strong, delicious, notes of bready, toasted malt up front, imparting flavors of freshly baked English muffins and sourdough bread, followed by some caramel and brown sugar-like sweetness and black pepper. There is very little to no hops, in this beer, which, since it’s an English-style ESB, makes it spot-on appropriate to have almost no hops what-so-ever.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, creamy and smooth, as there is very little in the way of carbonation. With an ABV of 5.3%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: What a delicious, English-style ESB! Malty and slightly sweet, it’s a malt-bomb for sure! It’s another excellent beer from Colorado, and another excellent beer from Left Hand, which is fastley becoming one of my favorite Colorado breweries.

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Photo of crob3888
4.25/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Excellent example of an ESB, as far as I'm concerned. Delicate, malty, with a hint of floral and piney hops to balance. Would buy six packs of this for the fall.

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Photo of BurningTreeMufen
3.6/5  rDev -2.7%

Appearance- A light amber, honey appearance with a small head.
Aroma- Floral and earthy hops give way to a caramel maltiness.
Taste- Biscuit and caramel malt flavors in the forefront with a nice bitterness to complement the sweetness.
Mouthfeel- Medium mouthfeel but very drinkable. A slight lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.
Overall- A sessionable ESB/Amber Ale that will not provide a lot of punch with maltiness or hoppiness, but is very well balanced and enjoyable.

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Photo of Maryobeerian
2.9/5  rDev -21.6%

Pours nicely, with a decent head. Nice honey color. Subtle, biscuity nose. Slight carbonation and caramel in the front, but then nothing much. Disappointing finish. Nothing offensive but rather a boring beer. Won't buy again but will save to serve to friends who don't like beer.

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Photo of dcscientist
3.67/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I'm not a huge ESB guy, but this one's pretty good. It's not overwhelmingly bitter, and it is very drinkable on its own. This is another beer that Left Hand has made as a nitro, so I'd like to give that a shot to see how different it tastes. I like other brews from this brewery more, but I'm ok with this one if I'm in the mood for something beyond my usual.

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Photo of delta490
2.95/5  rDev -20.3%

Pours a nice clear amber with a short-lasting creamy white head that still managed to leave some little lacing. The aroma is pretty bland, with just a faint hint of malt sweetness. The taste is equally lifeless. It doesn't quite qualify for OK, based on the flavor/aroma profile. If it doesn't taste good, what's the point?

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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 far333
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper colored with a low orangey yellow head that settles out slowly. Aroma of biscuity malt and lemon notes.

Flavors of bisucit malt, some nuttiness, but herbal and spicy hops emerge. Some lemon notes, mild peppery bite. Well balance, not individual flavor dominates. Even mouthfeel, moderate carbonation, good beer.

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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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Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 687 ratings.
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