Commander - Lift Bridge Brewery

Not Rated.
CommanderCommander

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

219 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 219
Reviews: 65
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 15.15%
Wants: 64
Gots: 87 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Lift Bridge Brewery visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: plfahey on 11-19-2011

The Commander™ is our English-Style Barleywine ale brewed with heavy fists of malts and subtle, sweet Cardamom. Aged in bourbon barrels, its bold, complex flavor reaches heights measured only by the building of its namesake. This 12.5% ABV treat is best enjoyed in smaller portions when you have some time to savor it, between now and 2020.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 219 | Reviews: 65
Photo of DCon
4.77/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed a 1 PINT 9.4 FL. OZ. 750 ML bottle of this w/ ChrisF when he arrived in town. Poured from the Dark Aqua/Orange Labeled bottle w/ a Silhouette of an army man in front of a High Towered Farm House into a 12oz Snifter Glass. Has 2011 BOTTLE NUMBER: 2280 on the side & also sayings like "GOBLET WORTHY" & "Savor In Smaller Portions" scattered.

Aroma- Huge scotch and light-medium booziness from the beginning. Raisins and dark fruits come around also.

Appearance- Pours a ton of bubbles but no head at all. Has a dark copper body with good clarity. Leaves suds behind on the glass.

Flavor- Tons of depth and complexity from the start to finish. Can tell it is has been aged in barrels with the amount of bourbon and scotch characteristics. A sweet finish is then present with a light bitterness level. Perfect!

Mouthfeel- Medium-Full Bodied, Moderate Carbonation, Smooth, and subtle on the finish. Has a nice amount of alcohol warmth and just enough to make you want another drink. Not overpowering at all.

Overall Impression- Very rich and perfect amount of character! Enjoyed thoroughly and will be looking for more of this brew at a later date. First time having anything from Lift Bridge and was impressed! Thanks Chris!

Photo of josephwa
4.77/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - perfect head retention, rusty copper hue, white head.
S - fruit, bouron, caramel, smoke, oak.
T - sweetness, molasses, bourbon, oak, light hoppiness, sweet malt, dried fruit.
M - medium body, light after burn, very well carbonated.
O - wow, this was a fantastic beer. I would highly recommend it. The bourbon aging went really well with the complexity of the beer.

Photo of Buebie
4.69/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tatter tot hotdish in the oven. What to do? What to do?
How about open this badass local brew? Sure, why not.

Poured rigorously from the bottle into an oversized merlot glass.
Super pale copper color with redish hues when held to light, very hazy, not much can be seen through the glass.
Head almost forms half an inch, leaving a solid collar and spotty thin streaks of lace.
Aroma is superb, malt driven with sweet brown maple sugar, just snipit of barrel and vanilla. Loads of bready sweet malt. Man this is smelling really wonderful. Mild floral hops with a small amount of resin.
Taste: My reaction literally "Wow, this tastes amazing" My mouth is smiling on the inside. I really like this beer, outfuckingstanding to be exact.
Starting out with just a small amount of heat. So for me, to have such a small amount of well hidden heat and just the right amount of warming, its fairly significant. At 12.5 % thats a well hidden abv. Goose and Maverick would call this thing dangerous.
Sweet delicious malts, vanilla, mild bourbon, toasty wood, maple brown sugar and syrup drenched buttery rolls that melt in your mouth.
Hops warm through the swallow presenting with very floral flavors and mild pine.
Mouthfeel is slick, not heavy, but balanced with a slick mild creaminess and moderate carbonation.
A small amount of earthy peppery flavors through the swallow as well.

This beer has so much flavor and so many terrific attributes. I wish I could afford several more bottles to open over the years. Because this is by far the best beer of this style to come out of MN, and also one of the best beers of this style to ever grace these lips.
Great Job LBB, you guys nailed it!

Photo of adrock7309
4.65/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured one of my bottles into a cigar city snifter.

There was about a half inch of light tan head with pretty large bubbles present too after an aggressive pour. It lasted only a few seconds before dissapating.

The color was a brownish garnet with a slight orange tint as well.

The smell was glorious and filled with oak, caramel, bourbon, and some holiday spice hints. Almost reminded me of a hot buttered rum or egg nog scent. Totally into it.

The flavor was much of the same and I was surprised how smooth this was for such a big beer. I am really looking forward to trying it again with a couple years on it. I really have to commend Lift Bridge on a stellar brew, This is phenomenal.

Photo of CraigP83
4.51/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Candied fruits, caramel, toffee, boozy

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours brilliant deep amber with ruby highlights under a thin cream colored foam cap that hugs the side of the glass.
S: Fruit and malt aromas with a little biscuit and a suggestion of pear.
T: Rich malt flavors join with big alcohol with cardamom, vanilla, fruit, and biscuit.
F: Big body with average to below average carbonation.
O: Big alcohol gives this a mixed boubon drink character with a nice warming on the finish.

Photo of jera1350
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #1603

Pours into a Duvel tulip a deep ruby color with a thick foamy head of sandy colored foam. Some light lacing.

Rich sweetness in the nose with some floral notes, light bourbon and cardamom.

Love this flavor. Huge sweetness in the forms of toffee and brown sugar. The cardamom is very prevalent and is a nice compliment to the sweetness. Some booze, but not hot, and light bourbon presence. The bourbon doesn't really stand out as it's more mellow and well blended with the overall flavor.

Full bodied and slick smoothness. Very supple carbonation feel.

This goes down so well and the flavor works awesomely. I'm a huge fan of this beer. I really hope they decide to make this one again. Interested to see how this ages, but it sure does drink tremendously right now.

Photo of lackenhauser
4.48/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Very nice, deep bronze color. Not much head wise but a definate nice carbonation level. Malty and slight bourbon aroma. Buttery sweetness. Simply a great flavor overall. Just a huge malt bomb. Massive caramel sweetness. Distinct bourbon flavor but not overwhelming and not massively oakey. The cardomon lends a sublte, mildly anise like spice to it. Huge mouthfeel, extremely sweet and sticky. I would rate it higher as it is what I like but trying to keep it in line overall. A killer UK barleywine in my book. Very sweet and big which may be a turn off to some. At 12.5% there is not a hint of booze for miles. many thanks to mnbearsfan for this Secret Santa sample. Wowzers! Great, great stuff and going on my wants.

Photo of maximum12
4.42/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled a titch out of the bottle the day before the release party, had a glass at the release party, had another glass at the release party, pondered having a third glass, considered the car keys in my pocket, thought better of it, bought six bottles. Guess I like it.

Pour is a cloudy orange with a heavy dose of yellow, almost hefesque. The smell reaches out to grab one by the noses short & curlies: spicy, sweet, vanilla, malty. Lovely.

Commander is a barrel-aged English Barleywine of unique parentage. The spices, assumedly cardamom, are tearing a whole lot of hole in this beer. There's also a rye component - rye barrels? The barrel presents itself with a nice dose of vanilla & faint bourbon underneath the spicing. Finish is a malt rampant, a swift blow of sweet malts that's slashed by the drying of the wood. The balance is exquisite.

This is an excellent barleywine, & a great first barrel-aged effort by a young brewery. Delighted to have a few bottles to see how this one turns in the next year or two. Lift Bridge, do this again, or something like it - this is a unqualified success.

Photo of hoplover82
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a slightly hazy rich copper color with a small white fleeting head that leaves some spotting lacing.
S-The aroma right off the bat is IN YOUR FACE with a caramel covered nuttiness, warm alcohol notes, some complex dark fruits, dry figs stand out to me. The nose is very sweet. There is some butterscotch way in the back you have to look for it. Along with fresh sweet smelling leather like earthy notes.
T-In the flavor, I do think I pick up on some of the cardamom spice. The oak age shows up mainly as vanilla notes and some faint woodiness. There is also some butter like notes way on the finish. There is definitely warm alcohol in the flavor as to be expected in a beer this big, but it's not overwhelming or overly fusel. As the beer warms a little, it kinda of reminds me of a good burbon that I've had before. The beer is extremely complex, with dark fruit notes of figs and dry apricots and prunes, I could sit for hours evaluating all the different notes that I pick up. I'm surprise that this beer doesn't have a higher rating.
M-The mouthfeel is very slick and creamy with a medium low carbonation and extremely long warm oaky finish.
O- My overall impression of this beer is that it's underrated and I think this stands up well against other well known barley wines. This has such a great complexity and balance that it's hard to achieve in a beer this big. This is my first beer I've tried from Lift Bridge and I am very impressed. Mad props to my friend Sara Jane for hooking it up! Thanks again, Sara!

Photo of Hopstout
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Brownish copper with a hint of orange. Clear. Very little head and low carbonation. The color is uncommon and intriguing.

Aroma - Decent scent of bourbon whiskey and a splash of sweet vanilla. Also, a hint of Oak. Maybe a little raisin as well.

Taste - Very full flavored with multiple layers yet balanced beautifully. Strong taste of warm bourbon whiskey with Vanilla, Sweet malt and Oak.

Mouthfeel - Potent yet calm and smooth with a nice aftertaste that doesn't linger.

Overall - This barleywine takes your whole mouth hostage with a floodgate of flavors that really are uniquely balanced. With the high alcohol content and powerful whiskey zest, this one is made to swig in small tasty sips.
I really enjoy both bourbon and beer so this was right up my alley.
I decided to cellar two bottles of this to try at a later date and I have a feeling that bottle number two will not last a year.

Photo of tempest
4.27/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split a bottle with a friend, but this beer was so big it wouldn't have hurt to have a 3rd. It poured a deep red with a weaker off-white head and larger bubbles that seemed to indicate the higher ABV. Wow, the aroma jumps out of my goblet and is rich and fruity with vanilla coconut and pineapple upfront. The flavor is equally rich, but not over the top, or cloyingly sweet. The strong, but gentle bourbon flavors blend seamlessly with fruity esters, making one of the best barrel and beer collaborations I've tasted. It's hard to tell where the complex beer character ends and the barrel starts. It may have been $18 for a bottle, but it's worth trying at least once.

Photo of Scotchboy
4.24/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 bottling (#3789) split with a mate...my portion into a chalice...

A: Tawny with gold highlights...just a hint of haze...some lace and legs, a decent amount for a big, barreled beer.

S: Big-time sweetness...malty, sugary...dried figs, light spice (really in check here, YES!), honey, oak, earthy, hints of spirit...really a nice nose...

T: ...and the taste is just as good. Super smooth toffee, sugary malt (not cloying though), butterscotch, dried fruits...figs, dates...raisins, some alcohol warmth, earthy spice...caramel, cardamom...hints of cocoa and vanilla as well. Very complex and unique.

Spices unfold more as this warms up, but by no means is the cardamom overwhelming at this age. The barrel character and bourbon are semi-light but definitely there...with the honey-like component I'd guess Jim Beam but apparently these are Heaven Hill BA. Either way, very nice.

MF: Creamy...smooth...light warmth for this big of a beer...viscous too...full bodied...lower carbonation.

O: Really liked this one, and glad I sat on it for a year or so. Really was able to pull out a lot of different components in the nose and palate, which is always a plus. English-Style Barleywines aren't really my thing either, this is just really well done.

Thanks Aaron for shipping me this bad boy!

Photo of dar482
4.21/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer comes in a dark ruby color.

The aroma is straight huge cardamom, big caramel and bourbon sweetness.

The flavor hits again with that cardamom, which I'm not quite sure is doing in the beer. Then onto vanilla, caramel, dark fruit of dried date and plum, and some oak drying.

The beer drinks below its ABV on the alcohol, with a slightly thinner mouthfeel.

Still, the base is fantastic, I am just unsure what the cardamom does for this.

Photo of yamar68
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage:

Clear burnt orange body capped with a quarter inch of egg shell white head that dissipates quickly, leaving a stubborn collar that produces some oily lacing.

Caramel malts, sage, conifer, very unique smelling beer... the relatively soft booze presence mingles with all the pine and spruce... some toffee, pretty tame bourbon character... nice.

Extremely smooth given the ABV. A far greater sense of balance and approachability compared to its '11 counterpart, classic English barleywine profile with an intriguing spice addition. Quite good - but not 18 bucks per 22oz good...

Give it a go, it's definitely interesting.

Photo of DaveAnderson
4.17/5  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.

Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to LaCoursiere for this bottle...

A: Pours a translucent mahogany red/brown with almost no head whatsoever. There is only a thin white ring of white foam around the edges, and even that fades quickly. No lacing as it drinks.

S: The nose is sweet like caramel, toffee, and honey. There is also a great spice component to this beer that I'm really enjoying. The booze is there, but it's not overpowering.

T: I get caramel, apples, raisins, honey, cinnamon, and clove. It's sweet to start with the caramel and the fruit, but as it fades on the palate it get's spicy and boozy hot. I'm actually really enjoying the heat from the bourbon.

M: Full bodied beer. It sticks to the palate, coats, and casually moves off. the lingering flavors are bourbon, raisin, and toffee.

O: This is a pretty damn good barleywine, but it's not the best I've ever had. I really enjoyed the apple notes right up front, which I haven't tasted in a barleywine before. I'm extremely happy to have tried this beer, and would to have more again in the future.

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
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.
So much.
Maybe a little too much,?
but, no, not really…
not quite...

Photo of plfahey
4.12/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Amber copper and quite clear-looks warm and inviting. Trace of cream colored foam and some legs show upon swirling.

Aroma-Pleasant blend of fresh cardamom pods and bourbon, along with substantial vanilla from the barrel aging. The cardamom notes serve to accentuate the vanilla notes as well. Malt profile runs from brown sugar to black tar molasses and maple syrup. In addition to the cardamom, spice notes include clove and ginger, and there's a fair amount of coconut and herbal/minty notes as well. Quite interesting.

Flavor-Follows nose with cardamom spicing-ginger, clove, and cinnamon. Some caramel and light dried fruit-like pecan caramel rolls or cinnamon swirl bread. Bourbon notes are well integrated, and coconut and vanilla are once again quite prominent. Finishes with smooth alcohol and some toasty caramel.

Mouthfeel-Viscous, full body with moderately low carbonation. Moderately warming, though the alcohol is quite well disguised.

I wouldn't call this anywhere near a traditional English barleywine-what with the spicing and the barrel aging, it overshadows the toffee/caramel flavors that I would have expected. That said, it's pretty damn tasty and is right for the season. The overall impression is one of a beefed-up Christmas ale, and I think one of the most impressive features is that, even without any age on it, the 12.5% alcohol is smooth and well integrated. Good, and exceptionally interesting-definitely a step forward for Lift Bridge.

Photo of TCMike
4.06/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Produced a 1 finger, short lived tan head. The color is a medium amber/orangish.

The aroma is of bourbon, bread, and citrus.

The taste was bolder than I had anticipated. It has low carbonation, and a medium, sticky mouth-feel. Predominate taste is bourbon, followed by dark fruits, and then a hint of citrus.

A definite sipper, and another good beer from a local brewery.

Photo of KBomb
4.06/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep ruby-brown color, entirely translucent, not much head or lacing (consistent with the style).

Aroma has big-time candy sweetness. Lots of honey, brown sugar, and even some chocolate. A touch of oak and some faint "cheap" bourbon aroma marks the boozy smell. I'm surprised to hear other people comment on how strong the cardamon smell/taste comes through since I find it to be very mild.

The front of the sip is super-sweet with honey, toffee, fig, rum soaked raisin. I only detect the cardamon in the aftertaste, and again I find it very mild. Bourbon flavors seem missing, but other sweet flavors are highly prominent.

Mouthfeel is notably balanced. Less syrupy and cloying than some other big barleywines, yet still has a slickness to it.

Commander is a very fine brew, but the alcohol content and sweetness are almost too much. I poured about 10ozs for myself and I can't even finish it despite my admiration for much of its qualities.

Photo of morimech
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle number 3296.

Clear, crimson color with one finger of head that quickly settled to a thin film. Just a little spotty lacing is left on the glass during consumption. Looks are about what I expect from a barleywine.

Enjoyable aroma that is a compbination of barleywine and barrel. Deep caramel flavor with compliments of bourbon, vanilla, and cut grass. Alcohol is noticeable.

The barrel comes through in the flavor much more noticeable. Flavor of bourbon and vanilla with a sweet caramel undertone. A bit hot with plenty of alcohol in the finish.

Nicely carbonated with a smooth, subtle texture. Compliments the sipping nature of this beer

By far the best Lift Bridge beer I ever had. One of the better bourbon barrel aged barleywines. Might be worth buying another and age it for a couple of years.

Photo of eclipse54
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light brown that is almost plum in color, and develops a thin layer of khaki head. The head dissipates quickly, leaving some bubbly legs strewn across the surface. The aroma is of plum, dark cherry, candied apple, sweet caramel, a bit of oak, and faint bourbon and vanilla. It smells much fruitier than anticipated, and the barrel notes are very subtle in the nose. Taste brings a large change of pace. Ample oak, vanilla, and bourbon jump our, with the fruits playing second fiddle; more plum, cherry, and some date all rear their heads. Brown sugar, caramel, and a bit of hazelnut are detectable as well. Mouthfeel is rich in flavor, but there is a solid amount of carbonation to keep things lively. Not overly sticky or cloyingly sweet. Overall, this one reminds me a lot of Founders’ Backwoods Bastard, which I enjoy greatly. The dryness from the wood and bourbon really complements the sweetness of the fruit and malt flavors. This one makes for a great evening sipper.

Photo of bsp77
4.01/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into goblet.

Appearance: Dark murky orangish-brown with thin off-white cap.

Smell: Mostly bourbon notes in the aroma with just a touch of Barleywine toffee notes.

Taste: The Barleywine notes are more evident in the taste, with toffee and dark fruit notes. But the malts are still not as complex as preferred in a world class Barleywine, but the bourbon does a good job of elevating the beer, with oak, vanilla, coconut and just general bourbon-ness. The cardamom comes through very lightly on the finish, which is unique for the style.

Feel: Thick and chewy with low carbonation. Fairly warming but not as hot as expected for the high abv. Maybe waiting almost a year before opening this helped in that regard.

Overall: While I am not sure that the core Barleywine is anything special, the bourbon and cardamom helps make this Interesting and enjoyable.

Photo of tewaris
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tasting snifter.

Perhaps the first Minnesota barleywine for me. I am glad that it was at the tasting because my first impression of this beer (on tap at the brewery) was NOT good. Poured into a tasting snifter. Thanks for sharing!

Looks the usual: dark amber, molten look of barleywines. Medium head/retention. Here's the thing with this beer, it's a different barleywine that takes some time getting used to because of the strong notes of green cardamom. Smells like an Indian dessert, frankly: sweet w/ plenty of green cardamom thrown in.

Tastes similar with sticky caramel coming forward, and finishes with a mild bitterness. I think it will age beautifully. It's one of the rare beers in which alcohol is tasting delicious. Medium bodied for a barleywine, and a good example keeping the ingredients in mind.

4, 4, 4, 4, 4

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Commander from Lift Bridge Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 219 ratings.