Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 687 | Ratings: 2,094
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.

 159 characters

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.

 1,300 characters

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.

 161 characters

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.

 476 characters

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.

 281 characters

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.

 362 characters

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?

 323 characters

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.

 738 characters

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.

 325 characters

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.

 1,491 characters

Photo of mmva321
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Clear with a small amount of carbonation, the body is a darker, though somewhat flat, amber color. The head is frothy and off-white with decent retention and leaves some delicate and dissipating lacing.

S: The smell is noticeable right form the pour. Strong and well balanced over all. Strong hops, strong malts. There's a vanilla sweetness that really comes through that's almost too powerful. A little funk rounds it all out nicely.

T: A strong beer that trends towards the hops, though leaving a balmy maltiness to round it all out. There's a small amount of lemon citrus that undercuts it all. Pretty well balanced.

M: It's a strong beer that has a pretty bold mouthfeel as well. Creamy, smooth, carbonated; it may all be a bit too much, but I'll give credit for going big.

 810 characters

Photo of SSS
3.74/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- nice head on this medium bodies IPA
M- carbonation is adequate and pleasant, not too fine or heavy CO2
S- definite roasted malt aroma, with a subtle hop after drop
T- the malt seems to overpower the hops, but there is a nice bitterness to the mid and finish points. A sweet malt flavour does dominate
O- drinkable, but not overly memorable

 342 characters

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

Brilliant copper with minimal ivory head. Very sweet caramel malt aroma, slightly nutty. Flavor is overly sweet, very malty, with a fairly bitter and resiny finish. There's a bit of a minerally note. Hop character is bitter dominant. Didn't expect as much malt character, which is pleasant, but the rest is somewhat nondescript.

 328 characters

Photo of jimthepisces
5/5  rDev +35.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my absolute favorite American style ESB. The balance between the malt & hops is perfection. It's complex but definitely sessionable. I had one one draft and have also tried it on nitro...I think I prefer the co2 version for this one. Very sessionable. A must-try beer!!

 277 characters

Photo of tillmac62
4.33/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

BBD 6/4/14. Pours a clear amber with a good head. Lacing and retention are normal. Nice subtle nose of orange, caramel malt and spice over a nice subdued mineral note. Magnificent heavy medium body that is creamy and better than many stouts. Above average carbonation with a nice effervescent finish. Well balanced and somewhat complex flavor profile. It begins with an orange and spice note which then flows into a moderate bitterness. Towards the end, the sweet caramel malt shines. It finishes with an effervescent burst that is slightly citric and tart, leaving you with a nice lingering low level bitterness over a mineral note. Not as bitter as I expected, it is; however, quite outstanding.

 697 characters

Photo of ZtremEoj
4.03/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Really nice beer. Not heavy and easy to drink. Enjoyed on a warm afternoon and it is refreshing.

Appearance is as expected.

Smell is average. It does not smell too beery, as others I have tasted/smelled do.

Taste is really nice. As the bottle states, it is not too malty and not too hoppy. A nice balance.

I am impressed by the mouthfeel of this beer. It is a light-medium body, almost creamy, mouthcoating type.

Overall, I would drink this beer again. In fact, I would not find it difficult to drink more than two or three at a time. To me, that means a lot. I usually like to move from one beer to the next, so staying with one for more than a couple drinks is a good thing!


 697 characters

Photo of dacrza1
4.02/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

DATE REVIEWED: June 5, 2014... GLASSWARE: Howard's Pub pint... OCCASION: last "1" day of the year--close to the end... APPEARANCE: nice brownish amber body with slow, subtle effervescence; white tow-finger, pillowy head is uneven; a good cloudy haze... AROMA: caramel malts and some more subtle West Coast hops generate a soft, slightly nondescript experience... PALATE: good, substantial mouthfeel with a balanced attack--teeth are active while the throat feels smoothly engaged--a pleasure to hold... TASTE: malty--mostly caramel--and some lagerish notes; likewise, hops are agreeable and aromatic; this beer has sessionable written all over it--and literally, written on the label ... OVERALLL: an overly agreeable pale ale that is balanced enough to make friends of democrats and republicans, Yanks/Sox fans, and ale/lager drinkers....

 839 characters

Photo of dougbassett
3.67/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

One of the "1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die" -- #49 of the ones I've reviewed here.

I rather liked this one. Pleasant and sessionable, like somebody here has already said. The pour is an orangish-brown and made me worry for a bit that we'd be in American Amber land, a land I'm not all that crazy to explore, but this is much cleaner and crisper than most American Ambers. An interesting nose , once it warms up a little, of orange blossoms and spice. Again, you need to warm it up a bit, but once you do there's an interesting slightly orange-sweet touch that quickly turns to some prominent (although not TOO prominent) hop bitterness and bite. The mouthfeel emphasizes the crisp refreshingness of it, which is all to the good.

Something of an underrated beer, although it does need to sit in your glass and open up a bit first.

 843 characters

Photo of jaredtp
3.6/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a really good beer I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed the taste a lot. It was very refreshing. It had a really good taste, I enjoyed the extra strong bitter taste that it had. I wish that they did not retore this beer. The hazy brown color was a nice color as well. The head of this beer was not that bad as well.

 317 characters

Photo of thecheapies
3.66/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sawtooth pours a hazy bronze color with toffee coloring and only a small head cap. Doesn't really lace, but the cover stays on for awhile.

Dark, almost spicy, toastiness with mild savory hops and disrupted chocolate. Dry, with a little tobacco, and must English malts.

Bitter, at first, with some lingering earthy pine hop and light roast. A touch of toffee and chocolate to define the malts as British. Sessionably approachable, with no real heat to speak of. Has that odd English fruitiness that you get from a pub ale, but almost drowned out by rugged malty grain. The body is slick, but not oily. Carbonation levels are desirable. All is well, but not awesome, in Sawtooth land.

 684 characters

Photo of Mojo
3.57/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle -> New Belgium globe glass

A - pours up a cloudy deep amber with a small one inch white head, good retention, and good lacing.

S - the nose is very weak with barely perceptible grass and bread notes

T - very sweet and malty upfront with definite caramel notes. The finish is bitter but there is a sour undertone there as well.

M - average carbonation, some aftertaste but not severe

O - decent ESB, easy to drink.

 437 characters

Photo of KFBR392
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours with a slightly amber red color. Half a finger of head on the pour which dissipated quickly. Carbonation is below average for the style.

Smell: Amber malt, hoppy tones, and a combination of spices hit the nose first. The body is filled with cloves, medium bodied fruits, and lingering pine. Tones of brown sugar and syrupy malt run throughout. Airy spices and bitter hop tones really mix well.

Taste: Caramel and amber malt pop on the palate immediately. Some piney hops hit but reveal some medium bodied fruity hop tones. Syrupy caramel blasts through again on the back side which combines with the lingering bitterness which at this point comes off with a grassy flavor.

Mouthfeel: Great balance achieved of linger bitterness and sweet hop tones. Well done.

Overall: Probably one of the better crafted beers I've had from Left Hand. Impressive transitions in this brew. A good choice to bring to a party or drinking session with some friends.

 970 characters

Photo of DenverHopHead
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle with an enjoy by date of 6/4/14; into a pint glass.
Appearance - light, bubbly amber; thin white head that leaves scattered lacing.
Smell - I detect faint toast, some pine, as well as mild spice.
Taste - sweetness from the malt paired with a touch of bitterness from the hops.
Feel - light body with a well balanced malt and hop profile!
Overall - better than I expected and a good value!

 409 characters

Photo of barnzy78
3.74/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Nitro bottle, Best By 05/08/14
L - very rigorous pour, as indicated on cap and label, reveals a copper colored ale with a smooth ivory head that eventually rises to half a finger
S - very herbal aroma, caramel, vanilla and bread are all faintly present
T - bread, caramel, vanilla, herbal hop,
F - extra smooth feel, medium body, goes down easily
O - I'm not sure which I prefer (regular Sawtooth or Nitro Sawtooth), but this one is definitely unique. Glad to try it.

 469 characters

Photo of a0lbudman
4.28/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Dark brown with a red tint when a light is shined through and has a tan head that fades slowly and leaves a good lacing
S-a good dose of caramel malt with a moderate hop aroma
T-caramel malt comes in strong with a good hop bitterness that fades back tp a sweeter finish
M-medium carbonation and medium body
O-I think this beer was great I liked the balance and nothing was over the top

 387 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.