went out a while back: two powerhouses of the craft brewing world, Sierra
Nevada of Chico, California, and Dogfish head of Rehoboth beach, Delaware,
would be joining forces to craft two new ales: Life and Limb, a
massive original concoction of formidable strength (10.2% alcohol by volume)
and a companion beer, Limb and Life, brewed from the second runnings of the
latter and about half as potent. The former would be sold in 24 ounce
bottles, while the latter would appear only on draft.
Certainly, collaborations between brewers are on the rise. Appropriately,
Collaboration, Not Litigation Ale is the first I can remember. That
combined effort between Colorado's Avery Brewing and California's Russian
River arose form the fact that both had a beer of the same name, Salvation.
Since then, similar efforts have been rolled out by Brooklyn of New York and
Schneider of Germany, and Terrapin of Georgia and Left Hand of Colorado.
Recently, Boston Beer of Samuel Adams fame announced an upcoming partner
brew with Germany's Weihenstephan.
Sierra Nevada is handling the bottling of Life and Limb, and it's available
in their familiar stubby-style 24-ounce bottles. It's pricey, too: I paid
$9.99 for mine at Total Wine. They call this a "dark beer that defies style
characteristics". The brew gets its name from the ingredients-"Life" from
the fact the beer is alive and undergoing conditioning in the bottle from
the breweries' respective yeast strains, both of which are added to the
bottle. "Limb" comes from the maple syrup from Massachusetts and birch syrup
from Alaska. More traditional ingredients include Two-Row, Carafa, and
Chocolate malts as well as Sterling and Perle hops.
I decant about half of my 24-ounce bottle of Sierra Nevada Dogfish Head
Life and Limb into a brandy snifter. The resulting pour reveals a very
dark brownish black liquid capped with a thick head of creamy tan foam. I
swirl the beer a bit in my glass, then sniff. The aroma that greets my nose
is most prominently sweet maple tinged with a hint of sappy birch. Taking a
sip, one immediately notices the richness of the beer. It's a bit sweet and
sugary with more notes of the sweet maple that the nose promised.
The birch is there too, not as pronounced as in a glass of birch beer soda
but it does recall that beverage slightly, in flavor at least. A little
chocolate, brown sugar and perhaps molasses pokes through from the dark
malts, too. I'm reminded of gingerbread a bit, and as the beer warms the
maple becomes more pronounced.
I think the herbal birch flavor comes out a bit more in the finish, which is
almost balanced (but not quite, it's a tad sweet) by a gentle kiss of hops
and a big alcohol warmth. There's some soft dark fruit in the finish too,
raisin and perhaps prune.
Life and Limb is bottle conditioned, and seeing a splotch of yeast at the
bottom of the bottle I swirl the remaining liquid around to rouse it before
pouring the last bit into my glass. Because of the active bottle
conditioning, this one would probably be interesting to revisit with a year
or two of age on it.
I think I was expecting something a bit more dramatic, but I will say that
this is a fine ale for sipping on a cold fall evening like tonight. It would
certainly benefit from additional hopping, I think. Not a lot mind you, and
I understand why the brewers might be reluctant to over-hop and drown out
the maple and birch which they were trying to emphasize. But in so doing the
resulting beer was left a bit sweeter than I think appropriate. Well worth
trying to form your own opinion, even if you have to shell out ten bucks to
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For
reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.