23 February 2010

KOTBR #95 - Life, Limb, and Lost Roundtables

This continues our series of lost roundtables where we throw off the shackles of traditional numbering systems in order to promote anarchy. Not really.

Keeping up with the newest in limited release beers has become a futile exercise - you might be on top of things for a while, but eventually you end up with a beer closet full of things you have to find special occasions for or make excuses to drink.

But when the two craft beer heavyweights that are Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada combine forces, I can't help but pay attention. Back when I went around asking for suggestions on beer for aging 21 years, Dogfish's Sam Calagione suggested that I might check out the Dogfish/Sierra Life and Limb - a 10% ABV strong, dark beer that defies style characteristics (more here) - saying, "Any of our beers over 15% abv should last for that long. Also – the Life & Limb beer Dogfish and Sierra brewed together that comes out in November would be good for this sorta thing."

Well 21 years is too long to wait for me, and the downtown Indy BW3's was lucky enough to acquire a keg or two of Life and Limb for tasting now. So when BW3's Sam gave us the heads up, we headed downtown.

Because Sam Calagione suggested this beer would stand up to 21 years of aging, I expected a monster. Instead the beer starts surprisingly mild, at least when cold. What happened over the next hour was interesting, though, as the flavors grew and my palate pushed me to savor what was in front of me. It's rare that any beer can hold my attention for an hour anymore - usually something that rich will wear me out.

The nose on this beer is tootsie roll and (Rod will love this) hot slot car track1 - a sort of burnt sulfur thing, slightly smokey and boozy together. The flavors are what you might expect - sweet dark fruit, grape, and a finish that works its way up your nose. Just a bit boozy.

You could definitely age this beer, but I like it right now. If you're lucky enough to find some (both bottles and kegs are pretty limited), I think you'll be happy either way. 4.29 Mugs

I had high expectations going into this one. The quintessential America Pale Ale brewery paired with the definitive extreme beer brewery. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I certainly was expecting something good. On tap, Life and Limb pours like an imperial stout. It also smells like an imperial stout with lots of dark chocolate and molasses characteristics. At first taste, I'll admit that I was a bit set back by the alcohol. The alcohol was a bit more warming than I expected and will definitely aid in the improvement of this beer over a few years. I found chicory reminiscent of the Dogfish Head Chicory Stout and traditional imperial stout flavors such as molasses, dark chocolate and oak. Life and Limb contains an intriguing sweetness that I can best characterize as cherries and honey. The finish is surprisingly dry, seemingly a result of a touch of hoppiness on the back. I'm eager to see what this one tastes like in a few years and I've already tucked away a bottle. 4.15 Mugs

I thought Life and Limb was pretty good, though definitely rough around the edges and a little boozy. I'm sure everybody has already said this, but it'll probably be better with a couple years aging. 3.9 Mugs

Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life and Limb
Mike: 4.29 Mugs | Chris: 3.9 Mugs | Rod: 4.15 Mugs | Gina: 4.05 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.09 Mugs

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1I know that references like this one have a very limited audience, but if you know what I'm talking about and have a chance to drink the beer, I think you'll be surprised that I don't just make this stuff up.

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