This week's Beer of the Week is the newly released Commander Barleywine from Lift Bridge Brewing Co., a bourbon barrel-aged beer that's as potent as it is pleasing to the palate. It's also an appropriate tipple to offer your friends or family at Thanksgiving dinner, especially when you consider the story behind the very first batch.
"This beer started back in our home brewing days," says Dan Schwarz, co-owner and CEO of Lift Bridge. "We made it early in the year and put it away to age and settle until late November. It became tradition to bust it out the day after Thanksgiving and drink it with leftovers. It definitely complements the flavors in those rich holiday meals."
This is the third year Lift Bridge has brewed this beer, and Schwarz says the minor change in flavor from year to year can be attributed to the bourbon barrels they use to age the barleywine, which come to them directly from Heaven Hill Distillery in Kentucky.
"This beer is brewed to wine strength, almost 12% ABV," says Schwarz, which is why he recommends serving it in a snifter to encourage you to sip slowly and savor it. Its shape is also conducive to helping the beer to warm in the glass a little, allowing it to release its subtle notes of sweet cardamom and orange peel.
"It's very malt-forward. We use almost three times the amount we put in most of our other beers," Schwarz reveals. "The idea was to get this vanilla-y, bourbon-scented, English-style barleywine, which unlike the American style can be really hoppy."
This year's batch of Commander Barleywine was released just this past weekend. Look for it in 22 oz. bomber bottles at fine liquor stores or plan a trip to the brewery
where you can pick up 750 ml bottles for $15.
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