Sawtooth Ale | Left Hand Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
688 Reviews
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 688 | Ratings: 2,101
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

Photo of SamN
3.69/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A mildly limp amber-orange, with a dallop of thick creamy nitro head. Never seen a beer quite like this, though it does make my mouth water a bit. Smell is of pale malts, English-style and some crisp, apple-like hoppiness. Nice aromas, as well. Moderate and not aggressive in the least, but still very appetizing. Taste features that same crip fruitiness, followed by a caramely creamy middle and a nice, easy sweetness. Finish is nicely hopped and almost-bitter, but balanced with no flavor overpowering others. Mouthfeel is dead on creamy and delctable, just like you'd expect a nitro beer to be but not heavy, still lighter in character. Almost brainlessly sessionable.

A nice, easy drinking ESB with a nitro twist that gives it the feel of a Guinness. Never had a nitro beer that wasn't a dark stout ale or porter, so this was a new experience for me. I liked it, and would have again.

 890 characters

Photo of NiceTaps
4.17/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz nitro-bottle pour into an Imperial pint pub glass.

A- "Pour hard" is the instruction on the label, so I did. Lots of nitro-style cascading suds quickly settle to a creamy 1-finger head. The copper-amber colored body is clean and clear. There's no activity once the head settles, yet it leaves lots of heavy lacing. The head never goes flat. A looker.

S- Very pleasant caramel malt and dark fruit aromas. Cinnamon roll or raisin bread-like. Mild floral hops and nuttiness, too.

T- Bready malts like those in the smell. Some caramel sweetness. Floral and herbal hops are light but... the beer finish clean and dry. The body is so nitro-clean, smooth, and creamy. Malt sweetness up front.

O- Obviously I enjoyed this one. It's so well balanced and very true to the style.

 789 characters

Photo of homebrew311
3.31/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber with cascading bubbles and creamy nitro head. The nose is mild with rich caramel malts and deep grainy notes. Some herbal hop component comes in as well but is very restrained. The taste is somewhat muted. Bready malts, light herbal hops, some rich caramel notes all present. The balance is nice. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Not really sure if the nitro treatment improves this beer. It's an easy drinker and probably makes for a nice approachable beer for people just getting in craft.

 510 characters

Photo of Zraly
4.06/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Murphy's Stout glass. Drink by date on the side: 3/27/14.

Beautiful clear amber with a frothy, creamy head one can only get from a nitro pour. Always fun to watch and am glad to see Left Hand offering more of these classic English style brews in the nitro format. Cookie dough and caramel nose; really nice and hits the high mark for style.

The taste follows the smell and is simple but elegant all in the same breath. Biscuit and caramel malts support earthy and floral hop notes. Gentle and not too assertive, this makes for a great session ale. As it warms more and more, it surrenders itself a bit more and all of these notes are further highlighted. Mouthfeel is smooth and the finish is bone dry.

Excellent variation of a classic, English ESB. Great partner for fish n' chips, lovely on its own.

 821 characters

Photo of Jadjunk
3.61/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a pint glass. Served north of 51º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a creamed frothy head of a dirty white complexion over a copper maple amber body. Clarity is very high. Retention is very good, naturally settles to a thick frothy silk layer with medium-light curtained lacing. 4

(Smell) Aromas of caramel, light toffee and a mild nuttiness. Soft tropical fruit and grassy, floral hops. Potency is light/medium, as per the nitro treatment, the aroma is cleaner and softer to the nose. 3.5

(Taste) Caramel grain malts, light toffee, soft, lightly dry tropical fruit. Mild, drinkable and smooth due to the nitro. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Texture is smooth, light, dry and chalky. Body is light/medium for the style, light overall. Alcohol presence is light. 3.75

(Overall) A fairly enjoyable if not too ordinary ESB with potentially increased drinkability from the smoothness that the nitro treatment has to offer. 3.75

Left Hand Brewing Company's
(NITRO) Sawtooth Ale

 1,003 characters

Photo of Dayman766
3.19/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A- Transparent, amber/gold
S- Rather light; certainly pick up the hops and the generic "amber-style" smell
T- I was expecting more powerful flavor. While the malts and hops are fairly balanced to give a nice bready taste, the taste overall just didn't really stand out enough for me.
M- Fairly smooth
O- Fine drinking but I won't be seeking it out

 349 characters

Photo of Act25
3.92/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz brown bottle with the bottled on date stamped on the side.

Appearance: Medium, clear amber with a very thick, lumpy and foamy white head, with exceptional retention. This will make a great black and bitter.

Smell: Caramel, cherries, figs, esters, cracker grain and light hop aromas.

Taste: Malt first. with flowers, biscuit malt. Pleasant fruit follow with malt and hop balance. Long firm finish. Hop bitterness is mild but long. Mineral, fresh, long finish.

MF: firm mouthfeel, medium-bodied. Even a bit creamy. Again - going to be a great blend with Stout.

Great: Top ESB. Easy to session.

 620 characters

Photo of gr0g
3/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Copper color with a one-finger head of creamy nitro-foam. Good head retention and stickiness, much like Left Hand's bottled Milk Stout Nitro. Aroma is faint and it's all bready, biscuity malt. Only the slightest trace of floral hops. Just weak and uninspired all around.

I hoped things would improve on the palate, but it didn't really turn out that way. On a positive note, the mouthfeel is nice and creamy. A very pleasant texture that would facilitate drinking multiple pints if the taste were even decent. It's not. The basic malt profile an English Bitter is there, but that's it. Mild hop bitterness. None of the tea-like herbal notes and fruity esters that proper examples of the style exhibit.

As a fan of Left Hand Milk Stout, I was hoping Sawtooth Ale would at least be a decent example of an English Bitter / Pale ale. Nope.

 837 characters

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
3.57/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Had high hopes for this, especially since I like LH's nitro stout so much. but the flavors and feel just weren't there for me. Not a drain pour, but lacking in robustness. Could use more citrus, carbonation, body. Maybe this is a style I just haven't learned to appreciate fully yet. (Although there's Fuller's.) Disappointing but I guess I'll soldier on.

 355 characters

Photo of Johnny_Muir
4.37/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into pint glass. Delicious foamy head, mostly cloudy and a gorgeous rusty caramely color. What you might think of when you think of a good beer. Plus, I'm left handed and a trail worker or "volunteer lumberjack" and appreciated the art work on the bottle. Lovely all around.

 281 characters

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

A - half finger head, slight hazy copper

S- mild citrus, mild spicy. Hops.

T- this is that ESB that I'm looking for but a little off. A little too much citrus. Then more citrus. Mat doesn't really come through.

M- medium nice and solid. A little "grainy".

Overall, seems like a lightly hopped, light citrus pale ale.

 321 characters

Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A- Pillowy, cloud-like head. Amber and copper in color. Good carbonation.

S- Malty, sweet brown sugar, mild piney hops.

T- Caramel, sweet malts, bread, bitter hop finish

M- Sweet, creamy start, hoppy, dry, bitter finish

A good beer with an excellent flavor and easy-drinking, yet complex profile. Aside from the nose, which seemed muted, this was a great beer.

 414 characters

Photo of jmw4437
3.97/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: This beer poured a nice golden orange color with a nice head that dissipated fairly quickly.

S: Not too much to note, faint grainy smell. Generally light in nature.

T: Main flavors that come through are a biscuit and grass with a slight hint of something sweeter such as toffee or caramel.

M: Very smooth with mild carbonation.

O: Overall a fairly good beer. Definitely something that you can keep sipping for an entire afternoon.

 437 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
3.19/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3

I really like nitro milk stout so I had to grab this one. I can't even remember having teh regular bottles of sawtooth. Appearance is great, bright amber with a creamy head, good lacing. Aroma is faint grainy malts, nothing special. Flavor is a bit of mineral and nuts, slightly chewy toffee flavor. Mouthfeel is great of course but overall this beer probably just wasn't that great to start with.

 397 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From 10/11/13 notes. Had this on tap at Distilled in NYC. Served in a pint glass, 16. oz pour on nitro-tap.

a - Pours a dark amber color with two inches of thick white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of fruity malts, bready malts, honey, light citrus, biscuit, dough, wheat, and maybe some light caramel malts.

t - Tastes of fruity malts, bready malts, nuts, toasted malts, lightly sour twinge, biscuit malts, and wheat. No caramel or citrus here...small step down from the nose.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. The mouthfeel is awesome, just super smooth and creamy. Very easy to drink; love how nitro makes beers feel.

o - Overall an okay beer; the only thing that made it very good was the mouthfeel thanks to the nitro-tap. A little bland overall, not something I'd probably seek out again.

 817 characters

Photo of MikeWard
3.43/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Best by 12/07/13, so well in time for this one. Looking forward to it.

Poured a pretty cloudy reddish amber color. Decent off white head, little lacing. Carbonation hard to gauge due to cloudiness. Oh-oh.

Smell ws pretty bland, just a faint wiff of bready malts

Taste wasn't much better. Something there. Bottle describes a perfect blend of hops & malts, but couldn't discern the hops at all. Not unpleasant, just didn't seem to be much to it.

Mouth was closer to medium than thin.

Overall, a rather bland and uninspiring beer.

 587 characters

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.09/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Golden orange in color, mildly hazy. The head settles quickly, leaving a little more to be desired. A delicate ring of lacing remains where the head was once at its height.

S: Biscuit, light toffee, orange marmalade. Hint of grassy and tea-like hops. A good but muted nose.

T: Dry grain and biscuit. Shortbread and toffee. Treacle. Marmalade and lemon peel. Fig. Just the slightest suggestion of nutty cocoa. Grass and tea from the hops. Grassy hop finish.

M: Medium bodied. Creamy and smooth with moderate carbonation.

O: As good an American interpretation of an ESB as I've ever had. Very well done, nails the style.

 666 characters

Photo of denver10
3.79/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours copper with a thick white head. Aroma is nutty, floral, earthy, caramel. Flavor followed suit; quite nutty, floral, earthy hops, and some caramel and cream. A medium bodied, creamy mouthfeel. Overall, solid brew from Lefthand here. Would drink again.

 256 characters

Photo of vandemonian
3.44/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Left Hand Sawtooth Ale is a simple clean ESB. Maybe they are just accurately making the style, but I just wanted more flavour!

A: Orange colour and a 3 mm head that fades pretty fast. 4

S: Grainy. 3

T: Malty with some subtle, woody pine-hop tang. Clean finish. 3.5

M: Low carbonation. To style. 3.75

O: 3.5

 311 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.36/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle from CJ's Potsdam NY for $2.30

Appearance - Clear amber colour with a large size frothy beige coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, caramel/toffee, cereal, grass

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel and grassy hops. There is also some wet hay type flavour and bit of a rustiness. It ends with malty herbal aftertaste.

Overall - Not my favourite style of beer.. kind of tastes like a okotberfest type of brew. I wouldn't buy this one again.

 637 characters

Photo of FLima
3.61/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber color with a thick head with good retention and leaving lots of laces.
Nice sweet aroma of slight toasted malts and floral hops.
Sweet biscuit malty taste well balanced by earthy and floral hops. Notes of guaraná soda.
Dry and bitter aftertaste.
Medium body with low carbonation.
Decent ESB, pleasant to drink and very well balanced.

 340 characters

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

Hazy reddish yellow with a small white head. Looks a little flat, I wonder if this one is a little too old. No lacing.

Biscuity grany malts, a little honey sweetness, the slighest touch of citrusy hops (again, may have faded due to age). Some caramel malt too.

Very much follows the nose with the biscuity and caramel malts with just a light amount of citrusy hops and bitterness to balance it out. Pretty basic, but nice.

Moderate body with a fairly light carbonation. Could use a bit more carbonation I think, but pretty refreshing.

Bottle date is about 7 months old, so I'd like to try this again fresher, to maybe pick up a bit more of the hops. But regardless, it's a very nice, super refreshing ESB that goes down easy but has a good amount of complexity and is really tasty.

 789 characters

Photo of utopiajane
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep copper amber with a good head of fine foam that fell lazily to some sticky lace. Perfect clarity and some bubbles on their way up from the bottom of the glass. Nose is gentle. Good bit of yeast to kick start it then lots of bready malt. Doughy, biscuit, and toasted. Mellow floral hops, grass, some fruits, a little dank. Taste is excellent. Traditional. Malty with plenty of biscuit. Thin and a little watery at first then smooth and not chewy. Perfectly balanced. The chocolate in this beer is an airy dusting of cocoa powder that is light, easy and so well done. Hops are nice and floral, a touch fruity & grassy - but the malt stays up throughout the drink and the feel of it is flowing. It has some mineral qualities and a very nice malt sweetness takes it into the finish with some oil and hop bitterness for an unmarred aftertaste. Pleasant, drinkable and a great example of the style. Positively dapper.

 922 characters

Photo of SportsandJorts
4.55/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: a real hazy straw yellow color, with a foamy white head that sits forever.

Smell: nice mellow floral hops and pale malts

Taste: floral hops that don't leave an outstanding bitterness, followed by some pale malts. Unbelievably balanced and delicious

Mouthfeel: perfectly smooth and clean. almost no bitterness. very refreshing

Overall: This one kinda blew me away. I really enjoyed it. This is almost exactly what I want out of an ESB and certainly the best american version I have had by far. I want to try it bottled and see how it compares.

 559 characters

Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing Company
3.7 out of 5 based on 2,101 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!