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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week:" Life & Limb

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Dec 9, 2009 8:20PM

2009_12_9_botw.jpg We were all set to our selection this week. Then we went to Sheffield's for their Life & Limb release party last night and our original writeup was shot right the hell out of the water. By God do you need to brave slick streets and foul weather — life and limb, some might say — to drink this beer.

As we mentioned yesterday about the release party, Life & Limb is a collaborative beer created by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada. Calagione is no stranger to collaborative brewing. According to Sierra Nevada's Chris Sineni, this was Grossman's first collaborative beer. It's a naturally carbonated strong dark ale brewed with barley grown on Grossman's "farm" at Sierra Nevada's Chico, CA headquarters, maple syrup from Calagione's family farm in Massachusetts in the boil, the house yeast strains of both breweries and bottle conditioned using birch syrup. The result is one of the earthiest, richest beers we've ever tasted. It's sweet without making your jaw seize up, leaving a dry finish in the back of the palate. At 10 percent ABV, Life & Limb also goes down too quickly. Calagione and Grossman took the spent mash and put it through the brewing process again to create a companion small beer called Limb & Life which is in even more limited supply than Life & Limb. Grossman, in particular, was so impressed by the collaboration that, for Sierra Nevada's 30th anniversary, he's honoring his influences and teaming up with none other than Anchor Brewing's Fritz Maytag for a series of collaborations

Sheffield's Beer School Director Phil Kuhl said he was only able to get 2 half-barrel kegs of Life & Limb; one of Limb & Life. Life & Limb is also available at Brick's Chicago Pizza (1909 N. Lincoln Ave., 312-255-0851), the Fireside Restaurant (5739 N. Ravenswood, 773-561-7433), and Hopleaf. If you can find it in 22-ounce bombers retail, buy it.