Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada – Life & Limb

Tasting: September 2, 2011
Style: Ale (Dark)

Maybe I’m too competitive. I really don’t want to see my business competitors have any margin of success. I guess I view it as every dollar spent with a them is a dollar lost to my company. But when it comes to craft beer, there seems to be this sentiment that “we all win” with the growth of the business as a whole. From a business perspective — it’s totally brilliant. Frankly, I still think the talk behind closed doors of the brewery still sounds like; “that beer is crap”, “that brewery makes crap” and “everyone but us brews crap” and so on. At least the competitor in me sees it that way. But on outward appearances these days it seems that some brewers drop their battle axes and truly want to collaborate like musicians and make beautiful music (or beer) together.

Leading the way in this collaboration rage is Dogfish Head. Off the top of my head, they’ve collaborated with The Bruery, Stone/Victory, Sam Adams and even some smaller regional brewers like Portsmouth and 3 Floyds. This collaboration is with a “granddaddy” of the craft beer world – Sierra Nevada. Sierra Nevada began making craft beer on a small scale in 1980. After seventeen years of brewing, Sierra Nevada expanded their brewing operations to a grand scale. Really, their growing pains after seventeen years was not unlike the growing pains many craft brewers of the same age are experiencing today. This ale is named Life & Limb and according to the label — is dedicated to all small brewers that risk life and limb pushing the craft beer community further.

This is batch number 2 (2011). Has a very cool label and packaged in a bomber with champagne cork. The label also mentions that this ale is made with birch and maple syrups for carbonation (yeast food). It yields and ABV of 10.2%. Pours a rich black with a brilliant tan head of the finest carbonation. It vanishes pretty quickly. Aroma is interesting coffee and subtle birch. My first sip is of a light coffee stout with an alcohol burn finish. A few sips and I get some birch but the maple starts to sneak into view. This isn’t as heavy-bodied as I had expected. It’s actually rather light, but I do eventually get some stickiness. I’ve been critical of Dogfish Head — mainly because the beer falls short in the flavor department. I don’t know — do they skimp on ingredients? This one is too boozy, thin and lacks depth. Sorry, but that was a waste of $13 — 69 points.

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