LIFE AND LIMB

Man am I addicted to these collaboration brews.  Whether they’re a mix of styles, mix of cultures, or just a friendly meeting of brewers to create something special, anytime I see a collaboration beer on the shelves it’s going right into my basket.  I recently reviewed a beer from De Proef and Port Brewing that took all the great flavors of a West Coast IPA and mixed them in with a distinctly Belgian flare. Beerford and Slouch recently reviewed a White IPA collaboration from domestic brewers Deschutes and Boulevard that more or less created a style out of thin air, combining the contrasting flavors of a Witbier and an IPA.  Sometimes odd, sometimes complementary, collaborations are a fantastic exercise in brewing that isn’t going away anytime soon.  So, now that I’ve bored even myself with that introduction it’s time to check out another collaboration brew, this time around from Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head.  Yes, I realize the only collaboration I’ve seen recently from Dogfish is mixing disappointment with regret, but I figure the good folks at Sierra can smack some sense into them.  Time to dig into the Life and Limb

I won’t get into the story on this brew too much since there are plenty of press releases and blog posts dedicated to such dribble.  What I will say is that the beer  makes use of maple syrup from the Calagione family farm in Massachusetts, barley from the Sierra plot in Chico, CA (At least the first batch did), and a blend of yeast strains from each brewery.  I think that’s pretty cool.  Also cool is the fact that they make a small beer from the second runnings called Limb and Life, which is aged in barrels that uses wood from the same sources that they gathered the maple syrup and barley.  It’s draught only and I’ll never get to try it, but I think the second beer just adds to the fun project that is Life and Limb.  I’m glad to see Sierra and Dogfish gave this collaboration another try for the re-release.

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LIFE AND LIMB (2)

NOTES:  750ml corked bottle, poured into a La Chouffe tulip

STYLE: American Strong Ale

I take exception with this category since it’s a load of crap.  Granted, I have no idea what style this beer is or where it should fit into judging guidelines, but the catchall “Strong Ale” category drives me nuts.  Oh well.

ABV: 10%

APPEARANCE: Mahogany

HEAD: Big ole’ tan head filled up half my glass.  Apparently I not only suck at opening corked bottles, I also suck at pouring them.  I also spilled.  2 to 3 fingers stuck around for a while and never fully disappeared before my first sip

LACING: Creamy, foamy.  Big thick net of bubbles clung to the glass

NOSE: Sweet dark fruit, molasses, rum.  All pronounced and clearly present, but not overpowering.  Surprisingly enough I’m not getting much booze on the nose.  Again, all subtle and no one characteristic outshines the next.  Would have liked to see a bit of a hop presence, just to balance things out

TASTE: Loads of raisins up front.  Not your everyday store-bought raisins, more like the last raisins left in the bottom of the raisin bran box.  The one’s coated in sugar with bits of cereal stuck to them.  Mmmm.  Caramel, rum again, and a lingering roasted malt flavor that really took me by surprise.  I got a nice burnt taste right before a touch of booze hit me.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body.  Not a ton of carbonation considering the massive head that I started out with.  I was worried that it would have a syrupy feel, no pun intended from the ingredient addition.  Nice, easy drinking

DRINKABILITY:  I pegged this beer as a sipper and wished I had a friend to share in the tasting.  Instead, I was happy that I was all by my lonesome to take down the bottle.  The fact that it’s not cloyingly sweet adds a great deal to the drinkability factor

RATING: 3 Hops

Tough to rate this one.  I want to give it 3.5 hops but I’m running through all of the 3.5 hop beers I’ve had recently and this one doesn’t quite stack up.  It is better than most of the 3 hoppers that I’ve had but doesn’t quite make the leap.

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7 comments

  1. Glad this one’s a winner. I picked up a bottle in Asheville and have been sitting on it for a few weeks. I’m generally hesitant to pick up some of the “bigger” DFH offerings since they tend to be off-balanced (off-centered, if you will) sugar-bombs. But I figured the Sierra brain-trust wouldn’t allow that to happen and I hoped they put their trademark restraint on the Calagione flights of fancy. Sounds like it worked out OK and now I’m looking forward to cracking this sucker open…

  2. Sudsy von Brue · · Reply

    Was a fan of Life and Limb as well, Doc. When DFH gets it right, they get it right.

  3. Does this thing have much hop character at all?

  4. There’s some dryness but you’d really have to look hard to find the hop profile.

  5. Kid Carboy Jr. · · Reply

    It’s not the same thing at all, but I usually take my fruity malt bombs in the form of Avery’s The Kaiser.

  6. I pegged it at 3.5 hops. Quite enjoyable, though you’re right about the lack of hop presence.
    Still, really smooth for a 10% brew, and it has a great mixture of malty, roasty, and fruity flavors.

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