Fear not the E.S.B.
A Review of Sawtooth Ale by Left Hand Brewing Co.
Posted on 5/21/2012 by Brew's Your Daddy
I can think of no other style of beer that brings on more confusion off its name alone than the E.S.B. Now for those of you unfamiliar with style, E.S.B. stands for Extra Special/Strong Bitter. Does everything make perfectly good sense now? Yeah, I didn't think so. Let me break it down for you in real simple terms. At it's core, the E.S.B. is a kind of English Pale Ale. That's really all you need to know. Most people consider one that is Extra Special as more flavorful and sweet, while the Strong Bitter name is reserved for those that are, you guessed it, a little more on the strong side of bitter. Recently I was able to get my hands on one of the most delicious examples of the E.S.B. style when I picked up Left Hand Brewing Company's Sawtooth Ale.

In the glass, Sawtooth takes on a bright coppery, almost amber coloration. A very light tan colored head forms from a standard pour, and it has some very good retention and lacing qualities. Getting your nose in the glass allows you to pick up on a very prominent malt profile that has both toasted and caramel characteristics. Give it a minute or two to warm up, and lighter notes of toffee, faint figs, and even chocolate can be picked out. Laying way down at the bottom of the glass is a very earthy, but also strikingly floral hops smell. Though the combination of dirt and honeysuckle may sound strange to some, it comes off as mouth watering here.

When you going to the first taste, there may be a moment where you think you've gotten your hands on a brown ale. The malt profile is just as dominant in the flavor train as it was in the nose. It remains very caramel, and at times deliciously rich. The toasted aspect of it comes across as muted, but still noticeable in the background. At this moment, all thoughts of a brown ale disappear as the hops profile starts to kick in. The hops have a little more pop to them than they did in the nose as they come across in a very citrus way, and they balance out the sweetness of the malts perfectly. The mouthfeel is light and the carbonation is lively, which makes this an amazingly sessionable beer.

According to their website, Sawtooth Ale was Left Hand Brewing Company's initial flagship brew. After finally getting a chance to sit down with it, I can fully understand why. It is packed full of flavor, highly drinkable, and is a great example of a E.S.B. style. I can easily recommend Sawtooth Ale to all levels of drinkers. It would make a perfect bridge beer for those looking to get some experience with style, and a great back porch session brew for those with a bit more experience under their belts. I fully expect to have a few more encounters with this one, and I highly suggest you all do the same.

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Sawtooth Ale by Left Hand Brewing Co.
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