Sawtooth Ale | Left Hand Brewing Company

Sawtooth AleSawtooth Ale
Liked This Beer
3.72 w/ 2,148 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,148 |  Reviews: 705
Photo of scott2269
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of mcorwin
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of bpfrush
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of Adamostella
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of garuda
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of Jspriest
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of richbrew
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of Spider889
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev +3%
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 JerzDevl2000
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up down at Joe Canal's since I hadn't had this before and I was intrigued as to the style of this beer. This does run true to form as a bitter but for someone looking for a full-bodied and bold example, it isn't here. It's not often that I think that the lacing is the best aspect of what I'm drinking but suffice to say, that's the case here!

This poured a hazy apricot hue with practically no head and just a bit of lacing. Not a lot of carbonation here and this was balanced for a bitter, but just light in the mouthfeel. Not a lot of flavor here and this had a grassy, grainy undertone to it. The back was just a slight bit metallic but there wasn't anything memorable about this. It should have been apparent to me since the aroma was nearly nonexistent!

Bitters tend to make for decent session beers and this is not an exception to that rule. Thankfully, the alcohol couldn't be detected here and if possible, I could have had more than one in a sitting. Everything could have been amped up a notch or two here but on its own, this wasn't bad and anyone new to the style could easily start off with this offering.

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Photo of wingman14
3.26/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Pours a yellow orange with a frothy white head. Smell is almost buttery, with malt and subtle hops. The taste bitter, with the buttery flavor coming through. A very smooth mouthfeel, the nitro is always nice for this reason. Overall not one that I am impressed by, not something I would get again.

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Photo of osusullins
4.46/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I think that this is an excellent ESB. It is meant to be poured from a nitro tap, so I can understand some of the poor reviews from the bottle drinkers. Totally different experience with nitro.

This is my favorite beer to watch pour from the tap. Pours initially a cloudy off white, but soon begins to cascade into the most brilliant looking tan ale with an off-white head. Beautiful lacing.

Not much to the aroma. I know it sounds stupid, but it just smells like beer. lol.

Taste is solid for an ESB. Dry with some bitterness, but not offensive at all. The nitro helps create a texture that I find comparable to Boddingtons. Finishes quite dry. Very creamy and smooth... So very, very smooth. Just covers the mouth with creamy goodness. Taste lingers. I've found that this beer accompanies spicey foods very well. Probably my favorite pub ale.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.28/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a perfect pint.

3.5 A: Lightly hazed medium orange color. Just one finger of creamy beige head. Retention is about average and a short ring of lacing is left.

3.0 S: The nose is pleasant, but it seems particularly muted for the style. Grassy hops with bready malts and light touches of caramel and yeast.

3.0 T: The taste suffers from the same problems. What's there is good, but there isn't enough of it. Again, grassy and earthy hop flavor. Malts are lightly bready with a subtle toastiness and caramel.

4.5 M: Mouthfeel is quite nice. Medium body, rich and velvety creaminess, with good carbonation levels.

3.5 D: Not a bad beer, I just wish the malts popped a bit more. The mouthfeel is awesome and brought the overall score up another half point.

 769 characters

Photo of DrewSnyc667
4.24/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nitro Tap @ Stag's Head into a pint glass

A - amber gold to copper with a thick creamy head. Very still with incredible lacing

S - Dry roasted malts, sugar and bread, a touch of spice

T - Earthy roasted malts, dry corn, very malty with a mild hop finish

M - Nitro tap gives a creamy smoothness that makes it super sessionable

O - really great!

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Photo of langm12
3.88/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

A - pours a nice golden amber with a fizzy finger of off-white head with above average retention. A bit coudy with lots of carbonation bubbles. Good lacing.

S - Very sweet. Caramel, with subtle citrus and hops. Nose is a bit subdued.

T - Sweet caramel and some biscuity/toasty malts. Some fruits and hops sneak in at the end. Bitterness is subtle, balancing out the malts.

M - Medium. Smooth with just a touch of carbonation.

A pretty good ESB. You might not go out of your way to get one, but you certainly wouldn't turn it down if offered.

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Photo of zimm421
2.64/5  rDev -29%
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 allforbetterbeer
4.17/5  rDev +12.1%
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 -7%
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 -9.1%
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 +7.5%
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 -5.9%
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 -22.6%
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 -4%
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 +5.4%
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 -4.6%
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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Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
Beer rating: 55.6% out of 100 with 2,148 ratings
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