Sawtooth | Left Hand Brewing Company

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2,179 Ratings

Brewed by:
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: English 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: 2,179 |  Reviews: 717
Photo of keilerdunkel
3.68/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured with a nice deep amber color with a large fluffy head that subsided gradually and left nice lacing on the way down. This is more of a traditional English Bitter very dominated by the malts (a little fruit taste in there as well?) with very little in the hops. It is a little shock to my system moving away from the American hops, but very good. This was an old favorite of mine when I lived in Colorado, and it is nice to see that it is still solid.

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

Pours out a hazy copper color with a nice head that goes away to lacing. Smell consisted of malts mostly with a fruity backround, but malts were way stronger than the fruity tones. Taste was ok. Malts show up quickly but then mix in with some fruit notes and then the hops take over everything. Blends in quite nicely though. Mouthfeel was medium with a good enough carbonation in this thing. A decent ESB to say the least.

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Photo of Gavage
3.76/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color with some big carbonation bubbles sticking to the glass. A 1" head with big bubbles lasts through the drink. Some mild lacing develops too. The aroma is a dull caramel tone. The flavor is all caramel with a little bitterness, and is rounded out by some bread tones. Not great at the start of the glass, but it grows on you.

The mouthfeel is smooth at the start with a short caramel dry finish. Medium bodied. Overall drinkability is good as this has a nice flavor and seems light in alcohol.

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Photo of budsboy
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes: Poured a dark amber, clear as glass, with a thin white head.

Smell is bready, malty with a slight hint of citrus. Not inviting really.

Taste that carmel malt. Big. But then a nice balance of hops and sweet malt combine. Cool. Sweetness is dominant.

Thick, full-bodied but finishing cleanly, nearly dry.

A bit too sweet for my bitter tastes, but still a nice brew and one I'd recommend for what it's worth.

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Photo of Billolick
3.6/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle, W/ bottled on dating, FRESH. Found this stuff, down in NJ, never seen it before in NY state. Pours a mid auburn, honeyish color, low carbonation and head, tiny bit of lacing. Nice grainy, bready nose. Mild sweet malt notes, soft on the old palate for this mellow Brit style ale. A wee bit lacking in the flavor department for my tastes, but what remains is a drinkable, balanced session brew. Worth a try.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.76/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this bottle up in Iowa. Not available here in Wichita.

Appearance: A nice looking, amber colored beer. Almost crystal clear with just a hint of chill haze. The two-finger head rose up easily, becoming dense and somewhat fluffy as it settled. A decent amount of lace was left behind.

Smell: Right after the pour, the beer had a putrid, sickly sweet smell that did little to impress me. This sweetness eventually subsided and some cracker-like roasted malt rose to the forefront. Very light hints of hops occasionally peeked through.

Mouthfeel: Almost medium-bodied and rather smooth. It had a slick, buttery feel at times.

Taste: A lot of sweet malt upfront, with additional flavors of lightly roasted malt and faint diacetyl. A nice amount of hops kicked in in the middle, just about the perfect amount for an ESB. The finish was a continuation of sweet malt and hops, but they were joined by a little more roasted malt and a light fruitiness.

An easily quaffable brew.

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Photo of brentk56
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
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 hustlemuscle
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice copper color, with a nice amber tint to it. Very sweet malty nose. Sweetly malty, but a bit watery with a tiny touch of the hops as it rushes down your gullet. Just the slightest tangy finish doesn't prevent a very this overall mouthfeel. Not a bad beer, mellow, easy drinking, but somewhat indistinct.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at The Horseshoe Pub, Hudson, MA, presented in an imperial pint Guinness glass.

White 1/2" head over a copper brew, with nice lacing. Slight "beery" aroma, nothing stands out much. Taste is very well balanced, not as much bitterness as I would expect in an ESB. Mouthfeel and drinkability were great. Big time sessionability with this one.

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Photo of WesWes
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark golden/amber color with a thick frothy off-white head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a mildly malty scent with a good hop aroma. The taste is good. It has a pale malt flavor with a nice floral hop finish. It goes down easy with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a fine extra special ale. It has good flavor and aroma; a good drinker.

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Photo of smcolw
3.58/5  rDev -3.8%
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 Bierguy5
2.66/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear light copper color, with a white foamy head that disappeared quickly. From the looks, it seems almost watery. There was some good lacing, and no apparent carbonation problems. Smells slightly of citrus, and not much else that I could identify. Tastes astringent slightly sweet malt, with a dry finish. There was a slight hop presence in the finish, but it seemed to lack character. I found this to be thin, however the carbonation was right. I didn't think it seemed very drinakble. I don't know if this one was just off, or what. I am usually fond of Left Hand, but this one was not one that I would care to have again.

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Photo of edchicma
4.2/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite a bit of body for such a low abv. Great appearance... medium to dark amber with a chunky head and decent lacing. Smell was sweet and malty. Taste was sweet, smooth and ended in a nice light bitter quality. Some fruity notes with a nice finishing hop flavor. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and a pleasant surprise. Very drinkable and smooth. A definite recommendation.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.05/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

OG 1.050, 27 IBU, 4.75 ABV.
Brewed with 2-row Crystal, Munich, and Black Patent malts. Cascade, East Kent Goldings, Fuggles & Magnum hops.

Pours out to a brilliantly clear orange-amber, forming a whipped biege head with very good retention and lacing. Carbonation is moderate. Aroma is pungently hoppy with a west-coast skunkiness (marijuanna) I relate to Magnum and Amarillo hops, followed by some mild malts, and faint toffee. Mouthfeel is soft and smooth with a medium body. Taste begins spicy with floral and citric hop flavor, followed by a well-balanced caramel malt body, balanced by a pleasant bitterness level. The semi-dry finish has more smooth hop flavor with an interesting sweet orange note which is not sharply citric nor pungent, as well as a warm toastiness and mild grain husk. The hard water compliments the malt body and drinkability. Alcohol is imperceptable. The skunkiness becomes obtrusive towards the end of the glass, but some people may love this.

This is an interesting brew, similar to a fresh Young's ESB on tap, mixed 70/30 with a Lagunitas or Stone Pale Ale. Satisfying in many aspects, very refreshing, and easy to drink. A very enjoyable brew. Recommended.

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Photo of 99bottles
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Whew. This is an ESB for sure. Very sweet, very much malt flavor, again: sweet carmel / diluted molasses. Pours a nice deep reddish brown with an avearge little head. Smell is very smooth and rich, lets you know you're in for a Bitter. Tiny little hops kick up mid-taste, but subside to the sweet malted grains. I've always found it funny that bitters aren't really very bitter at all. This one is smooth and slippery like maple syrup. It's good and has a nice thick mouth on it. Very unassuming, and yet addictive. A great example, and much better than other offerings I've tried.

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Photo of shirfan
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice clear amber with a sticky head, aroma is of biscuit-like malt and mildly leafy hops.

Taste follows suit; a good chewy malt backbone, earthy, a touch of caramel. Ends fairly dry with a bit of unique hop flavor; a crisp, leafy, hard water style instead of the more common acidic Cascade zing. A hint of buttery diacetyl lurks in the aftertaste; carbonation stays at a sensible level.

Would make a good changeup session ale.

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Off-white head sits atop this copper brew.
Aroma of caramel malt and a slight fruity hop character.

Taste shows a toasty caramel malt backbone with just a touch of roastiness. Solid balance from the fruity, slightly grassy hops.
Finishes fairly well.

Mouthfeel just a bit thin, but if this beer is only 4.5% ABV then it's good for this beer.
Easy-going and very drinkable, but I'd like to see the hop character step it up a notch.
Overall, a solid ESB. Nothing exciting, but no big negatives either.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.6/5  rDev -3.2%
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 nomad
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, there are some drastically differing experiences with this beer...

Pours out clear, colored a slightly burnt-orange shade. Most impressed by its soft, fluffy head that stuck around stolid. Glass after glass, its fair lacing leaves a wall of thick stain for inches down my glass. A very nice looking ESB.

Smell begins with a load of fruity esters but these dissipate quickly, and then settles into scents of lemon, biscuit, and a faint roast smell. A straightforward display of sturdy malt with small hoppy accents. Tastes of nice biscuit malt, full of roasted flavor yet light and drinkable, far from the pounding roasted flavors of a porter or stout. Hops are lightly lemony and herbal, quietly bittering the brew but more so patiently flavoring it. They tickled my tongue and throat with textured English bitters, aided by the strong carbonation which, despite being much for the style, isn't too harmful.

Just a touch too watery of a thin mouthfeel. Is it better in a bottle? In my experience, it doesn’t seem to sit well in kegs, yet it seems like others have problems with bottles. Who knows.... for me this beer is excessively drinkable, a great ESB I won’t forget. Cheers to a good session beer.

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Photo of chilidog
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Not even knowing this was an ESB, but I thought it would be a well hopped ale, I enjoyed this very drinkable ESB. It poured a nice clear amber with a soft white head that laced fair. The nose was caramel, dark fruit and citrus hop. The taste had a caramelized malt, biscuit bread flavor, with a fairly good dose of floral and citric hop. The mouth is left with a hoppy aftertaste while the drinkability is aided by the sweeter than expected malt flavor. A very drinkable busy ale. Thanks Celina wine staff for the recommend.

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Photo of GreenWBush
2.39/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

From a "American Craft Brews" sampler pack, 12 oz bottle.

Dark bronze with a head that froths, then completely fades. Lacing like a bald man's combover.

Nose: malty and yeasty. Sweet. No hops on the nose whatsoever. Eeek! A little bit of trailer-park beer smell on the nose.

The taste is a bit flat: roughly blended malts along with only the slightest tingle of hops. Slight hints of rotten fruit. Poorly carbonated.

This beer made me think of a beer donut, or a bowl of beer-flavored frosted flakes. The mouthfeel wasn't much better: if handed to me in a glass, I would have guessed it was a gone-bad Rogue Dead Guy.

One of the first beers in a long, long time that I couldn't even finish. I won't be trying this brewery again.

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Photo of ElGordo
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light amber out of the bottle with hardly any head or carbonation. Slightly sweet, slightly nutty nose. Hints of caramel, nuts, and pine on the palate, with a bit of astringency. Finishes smooth and sweet. Not a remarkable beer, but good enough for one without high expectations.

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Photo of merlin48
3.17/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle, "Bottled on 05 20 03" stamped on bottom right of label. Pours a clear copper amber, essentially no head, and minimal lacing. Not much of an aroma, maybe some candied caramel apple and piney hops. Mouthfeel feels a lot more carbonated than it looks. Taste is somewhat putrid. I'm beginning to think I got a skunky bottle that got lightstruck sitting on the shelf as a single. English ESBs are my favorite style but I can't even finish this glass. I'll give Sawtooth Ale another try somewhere down the line and see if this was just a bad bottle.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted 12/28 at The Minturn Country Club in a 22 oz bomber.

Poured a rich amber color with a thin white lacing. The first thing that really stood out to me in both the flavor and the aroma was the nice, round bitterness of the hops, along with some light fruity notes. This had a very nice bitterness with a nice, clean finish, and was surprisingly drinkable for a beer with this kind of hops profile. Not bad at all.

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Photo of Gasp100
3.82/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper appearance with a frothy white head. Strong fruit smell with malt sweetness and a bit of hops. The taste was light, clean and bitter, but some fruit was just taking over (in a good way) and I could not pick out what it was... I really, really liked it because it was definitely NOT syrupy or overbearing. It just kind of hung in the air. The mouthfeel was crisp but not as bitter and dry as most of the other ESB's I have been drinking. This was pretty drinkable and that fruit overtone did not get in the way. This may be worth a case sometime in the future.

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Sawtooth from Left Hand Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.72 out of 5 with 2,179 ratings