Commander - Lift Bridge Brewery
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Ratings: 175 | Reviews: 59 | Display Reviews Only:
3.29/5 rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5
2012 vintage bottle number 4364. "Ale brewed with cardamom and aged in bourbon barrels." [For the record, I have no idea what the fuck cardamom tastes like. Duff27 is laughing right now.] 12.5% ABV confirmed. 22 fl oz with intricate gold foil-ed over unbranded gold pry-off pressure cap acquired as a gift from me sister (I aged it for a year) and served into an EKU 28 stem-snifter in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, CO. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given its current ratings as well as the style.
Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.
A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.
Pours a half finger wide head of white/off-white colour. Disappointingly thin. Retains for less than 20 seconds. Lacks creaminess. Not real frothy. No lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.
Body colour is a translucent pinkish peach-orange. Nontransparent. No floating yeast particles are visible. Appears well-carbonated.
Overall, it looks like a substandard barleywine, to be honest. There's nothing unique or special (or even particularly remarkable) about it. I'm optimistic. There are no egregious flaws here.
Sm: Marshmallow is the first thing I notice. Some spice. Light unrefined caramel. Faint spice-induced bitterness emerges just after the finish. Brown sugar. Faded floral and vaguely fruity hop notes. I don't find explicit bourbon, but there is some faint vanilla - which is neither authentic like true vanilla bean nor syrupy and artificial like vanillicin; it's in-between. Definitely on the sweeter side. Fermented cherry. Treacle. Maybe maple?
Again, I don't pretend to have any idea what in hell cardamom tastes like. I don't even really know what it is.
A pleasant, appealing aroma of moderate strength, though it doesn't really provide much evocative bourbon nor is it consistent with the best barleywines I've tried. In any case, I'm looking forward to it.
T/Mf: Marshmallow, floral hop character, vague fruity hops, pale malts, amber malts, vague toffee, treacle, syrups, caramel, and nebulous vanilla. No definite bourbon presence - there's no toasty refined oak wood barrel notes nor any authentic vanilla bean. I also don't get any bourbon-induced spiciness, which I consider a good thing, but which speaks to the lack of actual bourbon character here.
No hop character or yeast character comes through.
Not as well balanced as anticipated. Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour. I expected far more from the bourbon barrel, but it doesn't really develop the natural tendencies of the base beer. We're left with a complex enough brew, but one that isn't particularly subtle, intricate, or nuanced.
It's a biteen too sweet, especially on the climax. Not as boozy/hot as anticipated. Wet. Unrefreshing. Smooth. Good thickness and body. Well-carbonated. Pretty nice presence on the palate.
Dr: I figure age has helped it, but ultimately it isn't as good as expected. Drinkable for what it is, but at heart it's a sipper. I'll kill this alone as a nightcap, but you'd really want to share it (as Lift Bridge openly acknowledges). I wouldn't go out of me way to recommend it to friends or trade partners, but it's a pleasing barleywine with interesting elements. Ultimately, I want a lot more from the bourbon and there isn't all that much complexity, but it hides its 12.5% ABV as well as any average barleywine. Well worth trying, but not the kind of barleywine that's ideal for my personal tastes.
As much as I like it, it just doesn't offer that much more than most above-average barleywines.
I'll probably buy it again a couple times, but it's not worth going out of one's way to acquire it. Tasty, but not a paragon.
Serving type: bottle
12-12-2013 03:58:51 | More by kojevergas
4.14/5 rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
2012 release, bottle 5131.
Much lighter than expected for a barleywine. Bourbon is really up front with this one. No hint of the cardamom that seems so polarizing for this beer, but then again, this is a year old, so it may have faded. I have been advised that this beer is hot when young, but it is ever-so-smooth today, if a little sweet.
Drinkability is great, but this is definitely a bottle for sharing. The sweetness gets to be a drag after a couple of hours, which is what it takes to drink this bottle solo. It never stops smelling great, however. Best thing I have had from Lift Bridge so far.
Serving type: bottle
09-19-2013 03:11:36 | More by DaveAnderson
4.15/5 rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Lift Bridge Brewing Company Commander Bona Fide Barley Wine Ale. 2011 bottle, #3014. Ale brewed with cardamom and aged in bourbon barrels. Alc. 12.5%. Goblet worthy. Brewed & bottled by Lift Bridge Brewing company, Stillwater, Minn.
Beautiful clear, garnet hue, off-white head slims down with a quickness.
Aroma: cherry, vanilla, brown sugar, alcohol…and bourbon. Gorgeous.
Taste: Mmmm, boom! Big malt flavor right off the bat, huge taste, enormous. Maple is here, treacle, rich, warm and delicious. Incredible. Vanilla, sugar, big booze, Amazingly complex, rich, and rewarding. Some chocolate roars in, cocoa, caramel, toffee.
Maybe a little too much,?
but, no, not really…
Serving type: bottle
09-09-2013 09:33:39 | More by feloniousmonk
Commander from Lift Bridge Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 175 ratings.