Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head Life and Limb

Time to go from one extreme to the next: from the Sam Adams Holiday Porter that was pretty pedestrian but a solid brew, to a collaboration beer that definitely pushes the bounds of creativity. This is one of two brews recently made in collaboration by two of the premier craft breweries in the country, Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head. If you follow the beer buzz online, you'll notice that this beer is extremely polarizing, you either love it or hate it. I think this stems from the insane hype leading up to its release, it became nearly impossible to live up to the expectations of these two behemoths collaborating. Jimmy and I were on cloud nine when we asked if they had any cases of these at Shangy's and they came through for us by giving us a case from the back room. We knew that we were extremely fortunate to get our hands on it, especially once Jimmy heard reports of a 24 oz. bottle going for almost $40 (!!!!!) a pop. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Jimbo) We had also heard that this brew is meant to be aged for quite some time, on the order of years, but I just can't help myself from drinking one now and bringing you a review, if for nothing else, to give us a comparison for the aged ones down the road. Enough chit-chat, on to the beer!

Appearance: Dark, almost black, completely opaque, plenty of carbonation and head that has decent retention.

Smell: Wow, there is a lot here: roasted nuts, sweet maple syrup, pine/earth hops, chocolate chips, and a faint smell of some fruit, maybe a grape or raisin?

Taste: Very busy, pretty much all of the smell scents in taste form, lots of sweetness followed by a bitter bite at the end. As it warms up, the roasted nuts create a nice balance to the sweetness of the maple syrup.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, well carbonated, an interesting mouthfeel in that it seems like it's slightly watery, but then a thick syrup coating washes over the tongue and roof of the mouth, which balances the bitter dry finish.

Drinkability: It is a very good beer, but I don't think you wan't to drink more than one in a night for two reasons: 10.2% abv, and just the extreme flavor and mouthfeel makes you crave for some water. The first time I had this, I thought maybe it was a Belgian Dark Ale or Belgian Stout, but there was just too much sweetness for that to be true, as well as other characteristics like the roasted nuts and the absence of some citrus hop flavors. Like I said, it is a very good beer and I am glad to get my hands on it, but it could use some aging. Usually, you want to age a beer to reduce the bitterness from the hops, but I think the sweetness from the syrup needs time to settle down. I'm looking forward to revisiting this in the future, maybe I'll have one every Christmas time and compare it to the past. I still give it an 8.5/10, but I think with age it has some potential to rise up.

Serving type: Bottle, 24 oz.
Glass type: Duvel tulip

Note: As stated before, this seems to be a polarizing brew, so if you have had the pleasure of having it, we would love to hear your take on it in the comments section. I guess this goes without saying since we would love to hear your take on ANY beer we review, or even those we haven't reviewed yet.


Greg said...

I managed to get my hands on 2 bottles in my pre-Christmas beer shopping spree. I think I'm going to age them for awhile and try to catch Life & Limb on tap since the beer bar around me is suppose to tap it and Limb & Life together. Good to hear it's pretty good. Now I'm a little more tempted to crack one open aid give it a try. I was surprised when I saw some mixed reviews for it pop up.

Jimmy said...

Glad you gave this specialty brew a whirl! Collaboration beers are a hot fad in the industry now and I have not had a disappointing one yet (highly recommend Avery/Russian River Collaboration Not Litigation). Shocked how midnight black it was. I will have my first one within a the next month or so and then again in 2012,14,16,17,18 (timeline subject to change depending on peak drinkability). Lets keep each other posted as to when Life&Limb's slope = 0 concave down style