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The Beer Circle » American Strong Ale, Better From The Barrel?, Blend, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. » SAVOR: Better from the Barrel: Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head Life & Limb 2 at Churchkey

SAVOR: Better from the Barrel: Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head Life & Limb 2 at Churchkey

Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head are two breweries that we here at The Beer Circle are familiar with, and you should be too. I went to Churchkey for the second straight night to check out Sierra Nevada’s tap-takeover, featuring no less than 55 Sierra Nevada beers on-tap at one time. Slightly overwhelmed, I grabbed a glass of their collaboration with Dogfish Head: Life & Limb (the second running of the beer), and it’s bourbon barrel aged older brother to see what improvements some time spent in an oak barrel could do to this beer.

The 55 taps available were the most ever in one bar for Sierra Nevada

Life & Limb 2
The pour is dark brown, but some light makes its way through. About a finger of light brown head remains for a while and laces nicely.
Roasty malt character dominates the aroma. Booze, caramel, and molasses are there as well. The aroma isn't bad, but I just can't say it's much better than average.
It seems to me that I'm tasting some oak barrel aging characteristics, which surprises me because it isn't aged in anything. Roasty finish, the beer is focused on malt and caramel. It's balanced well, but unremarkable.
Medium body with a low carbonation. Booze is apparent, but it's very drinkable.
The taster of this was only $3, which you won't here me complaining about! I was expecting it to cost a bit more, especially considering it's been aged quite a while now.
Overall this was forgettable. An average American Strong Ale could age well. I expected more from these two breweries. Back in November 2011, Paige and I did a side by side of Batches 1 and 2 of Life & Limb and my final judgement was that the first batch was a much better beer. Perhaps with another year of age this will really become something special, but it isn't drinking all that well right now.

Beer Stats
Style: American Strong Ale
Serving: On-Tap
Size: 4oz
ABV: 10.20%
BA Score: 88
RB Score: 98
Wood Aged Life & Limb 2
The pour is black as the night with only a thin ring of bubbly, light brown head. Hardly any retention.
The aroma is really dominated by bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Only very faint malt undertones remain from Life & Limb. It does have a rich chocolate tone which I was not expecting.
The taste is exquisite. Rich chocolate, big bourbon and vanilla notes, with light caramel maltiness and some booze. The malt is on the backend, just to remind you it's there. The barrel has taken over a bit, but I'm still tasting some Life & Limb in there.
The body is medium with a very low carbonation point. The smooth and rich qualities of this beer lend to its drinkability. I finished my glass quickly.
This was a little more expensive--$4.50 for a taster--but I wasn't surprised, nor did I look twice at the price. This was the first barrel aged Sierra Nevada beer I've had, so I wasn't going to be stingy.
Great beer. Absolutely better than Life & Limb in basically every fashion. Although the base is only slightly noticeable, and typically that's a point of contention for me, I have no complaints.

Beer Stats
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged American Strong Ale
Serving: On-Tap
Size: 4oz
ABV: 10.80%
BA Score: N/A (8 Reviews)
RB Score: 99

The suspects: Wood Aged is on the left

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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