Sawtooth Ale | Left Hand Brewing Company

2,132 Ratings
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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,132 |  Reviews: 697
Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.17/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a glass. "Born on" date clearly marked on bottle.

Pours a slightly cloudy orange/amber body under a fine two finger deep off-white head that slowly falls and laces nicely.

Smells of sweet, mellow, juicy English hops. Quite leafy and sweet in all the best ways. A little swirl brings some lightly toasted malt aromas (including crystal I believe) to the surface.

Right off the bat this beer strikes me with a dashing balance of flavor, bitterness, and sweetness. The lush, ripened, and mellow English hops envelop the palate right away and are followed by a wash of drying bitterness. As soon as this registers however, there is a new crescendo of sweet and caramel malty flavors that rush in and balance everything out. I love the balance in this flavor, I believe this is what is ESB is all about.

The mouthfeel is rather English in its lesser carbonation and smooth compact feel. Medium bodied overall.

Conclusion: I love this style and thus I am quick to judge American interpretations harshly, especially when they are over-hopped and essentially APAs. This is a refreshingly authentic example, and one that is as worthy as any English offering of the title of Extra Special Bitter. Balance, flavor, and smooth finish. Excellent!

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Photo of tjsdomer2
3.46/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Nice sunny golden/copper. Good foam, and the lacing is decent as well.

Smell: Some faint caramel malts and pine hops. Pretty standard. Not good. Not bad.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Good combination of bitterness and sweetness. I'm not gonna remember much about this. Pretty generic. Mouthfeel is very good. Good body for a bitter.

Drinkability: Good, except for the lack of being memorable.

Overall: Would drink again, but wouldn't seek out.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

838th Review on BA
Bottle to Mug
12 oz bottle

Bottle date rubbed off

Thanks to @Beetographer(via twitter)

App- Top fading burnt sienna orange to a clearer orange on the bottom. A one finger head with a small amount of cling and lace.

Smell- Not like an ESB really. This was still malty, citrusy but lacked a bit of essence. This was more like a malty IPA on the nose.

Taste- A nice citrusy beer. A malt balance behind it. It's still tasty just not sure I would call it an ESB. It was very balanced as mentioned. Nice orange, tangerine citrus with a little bitter as well.

Mouth- A light bodied beer with a almost high carbonation level. A bit of citrus remains.

Drink- Overall, not that bad, not that good. Pretty average. Its called an ESB but I don’t feel this qualifies. Since the date was off, could be old? Could be someone on here labeled it ESB and not an IPA?

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Photo of Lolli1315
4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- An orange copper color with a persistent creamy white head. Noticeable sticky lacing on the side of the glass. Fairly clear with some slight haze.

S- Smooth toasted malt with low amounts of caramel popping through the malt. A citrus hop begins to rise in the middle and comes through the finish with a floral hop aroma emerging in the end.

T- Strong toasted malt dominates throughout the beer. Middle brings a out a stronger toasted flavor. Towards the end the floral hop taste comes through with slight bitterness finishing.

M- Medium thin body, smooth carbonation, and a sweet malt flavor.

O- Nice easy drinking beer. Although this is not a session beer, still a nice one to sit around with and relax when you don't want anything too big.

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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 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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Photo of olimpia84
3.57/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured the 12oz bottle into a Pint glass.

A: nice looking dark red amber colored body with opaque tones. Head was less that one finger and dissipated right away. Low lacing.

S: nice sweet malt tones with floral and herbal hints, along with peaches.

T: starts off with a spicy hoppy herbal taste and ends with a bitter citrus note.

M: light to medium body, drinkable. Carbonation is a bit on the high side.

O: a good beer in its style. It doesn't have anything special that makes it stand out but it's a very decent choice.

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Photo of stickynotes
3.92/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - A slightly muddled light caramel with an orange touch. A white head diminishes quickly to a thin layer of bubbles hanging on the edge of the glass leaving minor lacing.

S - Sweet and malty. A very slight bite. An appetizing smell, I wonder what this will lead to; probably due to my lack of experience in this style.

T - Well rounded, on the sweet side. Light, sweet malt and earthy hops that are hardly there. A pleasant taste overall that is quite drinkable and full.

M - Pretty smooth. Easily runs over the tongue and slight carbonation bubbles off of the very end of the tongue/palate.

O - A good brew. Drinkable. For me a bit different and therefore fun.

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

Translucent amber in appearance with a creamy off-white head (about two fingers). The head disappears fairly quickly, but leaves some spotty lacing.

A bit faint, but sweet and pleasant in the nose. Notes of orange and gingerbread.

Mouthfeel is real slick and smooth...a bit chewy. Medium body and a nice level of carbonation. Great drinkability.

Good balance with lots of toffee-like malt flavor and a bit fruity in the middle. Finishes dry with a kiss of citric bitterness.

Didn't set my world on fire, but it's a nice and sessionable example of the style.

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Photo of uawildcat
3.39/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an English pub-glass.

A - Pours with a thin head that has no retention. Not too impressive, but the color is nice.

S - Smells like a biscuit with a slight citrusy smell. Very dry smell.

T - Starts off with a spicy, citrusy, earthy hoppy taste. Then gives way to a toffee-like malty sweetness. It is very nicely balanced bitterness to sweetness, but the combination isn't working so great for me.

M - Has a twangy bubbly feeling in the mouth. Not great, not bad.

O - Not a bad beer, but not one for me. I'd have it again if on tap.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
2.97/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clean amber to orange-ish color with an off white head. In the aroma, a small maltiness. In the taste, gingerbread like maltiness and a hint of citrus. A small hop bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry, hint of citrus in the aftertaste. A small citrus presence, and, well, I feel this would be better not on a nitro pour.

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Photo of Badbobx
3.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass. The beer was a copper color with a minimal head. There was a bare tracing of lace in the glass. The aroma was strong with a sweet malt. The taste was very sweetly malt with a little hint of brown sugar, raisin, and mild roast. I enjoy this style and this beer. I will drink this again given the chance.

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

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- The beer is a clear dark golden with a two finger foamy head that recedes pretty fast. Leaves some decent lacing.

S- Toasted malts, toffee, biscuits with a hint of lemon and butter. Touch of floral hops.

T- Maltiness is dominant with toffee and biscuits in the front. Some butter is evident in the middle. I get a touch of floral, flowery hops and a subdued graininess leading to a dry finish.

M- Medium mouthfeel with adequate carbonation. Drinks clean, easy and smooth. No alcohol presence detected.

O- A good American interpretation of the style. Solid offering here, I will buy again if the mood strikes.

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Photo of McNealc31
3.84/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sawtooth ale pours a cloudy copper. It took me a bit to pick up on the flavors. I got the grain, a hint of caramel, and a little bit of hops. It has a late and dry, yet subtle, bitterness. No flavor was really prominent, but I'm OK with that. Everything was kind of middle of the road. Decent head and lacing, medium body, but not watery.

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Photo of ThaCreep
3.87/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The nose, the hops are present but obviously it did not smell the drug - as in some India Pale Ale - but a pleasant floral scent. Hops in the mouth is not intrusive, far from it. A slight taste of cooked fruit (apples baked in particular) is felt and supports, in the finish, but contained a persistent bitterness. A beer with a very good balance.

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

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark tan/brown, orange, not much of a head or any lacing.

Smell - Malts, floral fruits, light hops, not alot of aroma to this beer.

Taste - Malts are up front, has a grassy/biscuit flavor to it. Hops are light, and has ample bitterness to it. Some light carmal and lemon add a little more flavor.

Mouthfeel - Light and easy on mouth. TOunge gets some malt, palette gets some fruits and bitterness. Aftertaste is a little yeasty and bitter.

Overall - Pretty good, not overpowering in any flavor. Very easy to drink but nothing about this beer is top notch or special. Soild but theres better esb's out there.

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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 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 MTNboy
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer has a bronze colored body with an amber hue. The off white head is thick even after a soft pour. It was rocky and thick. The flavor and aroma are full of fruity hops. Even though this is not an IPA the hoppiness will sort of remind you of one. The body has some small carbonation bubbles to it.

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Photo of aristeros
4.12/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased as part of a mixed twelve pack. This will be my second Left Hand beer. Poured into a British pint. Medium amber with honey notes, about three fingers of white head up top from a vigorous pour. Very active carbonation visible.

Clove honey and biscuit in the nose with very light floral and citrus hops. Well-balanced nose. Taste is relatively malty, biscuit and moleasses, light peanut butter on toast. Light, summery character from the hops, maybe 25-30 IBU.

Lighter body, moderate carbonation. Very refreshing. Good session beer candidate.

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Photo of jwhancher
4.12/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber color with nice, fluffy white one finger head. Nice carbonation. Smells very earthy with a nice soft malt aroma. Malts are breadlike. A little lemony citrus aroma also. The taste is malt forward with a tad sweet taste kissed by some lemon like flavor hops. Feel is a litte more than medium bodied perhaps due to perceived sweetness. Has a nice bitter bite to it. Imagine this beer would be excellent on cask. Overall, a nice English styled ale.

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Photo of jpro
4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a sixer at Total Wine... poured into an imperial pint glass...

A: Sweet - “Bottled on date” of 5/24; pours a clear copper with a light beige, one-finger head; a few specks of lace get left on the glass.

S: Caramel malt; bready; some citrus rind.

T: Bread crust; citrus zest; very bright hop character; slight nuttiness, too... pretty nice.

M: Medium body and moderate carbonation with a bit of zing; very smooth and refreshing.

O: Very drinkable; will probably become one of my go-to “session” brews; really good stuff... simple, yet tasty and satisfying. I’m starting to get more into ESB’s and other lower abv beers... this one is top notch.

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Photo of Northsider
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Bowmans Chicago.

After having my first beer request rejected (didn't have any left!) the waitress recommended this as a "similar style". Well, it wasn't all that similar but it was decent. The smell and taste is very biscuity and bready. The hops in the background I could have done without, but overall I think this was well balanced. Color was dark red/amberish; very little head even with a horrid pour by myself.

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Photo of BLove
4.06/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a pint glass

A: clear amber with thick creamy white head that leaves sticky lace to the bottom of the glass
S: caramel & biscuit malts, very mild citrusy hop aromas
T: mostly malt flavors matched to the aroma...caramel, biscuit/bread malt & citrusy hops. Perhaps some fruit as well. Flavor tilts towards malt with moderate hop bitterness making an appearance in the finish/aftertaste
M: medium body, low carbonation...pleasant
O: very easy drinking ESB, sessionable

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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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Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
3.7 out of 5 based on 2,132 ratings.
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