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Commander - Lift Bridge Brewery

Not Rated.
CommanderCommander

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

185 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 185
Reviews: 60
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 16.2%
Wants: 54
Gots: 75 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Lift Bridge Brewery visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
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 added by: plfahey on 11-19-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 185 | Reviews: 60 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%

djrn2, Jan 28, 2012
Photo of Thorpe429
2.4/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of mdfb79. Served in a SAVOR wine glass.

Pours a clear golden color with a big white head and some spotty lacing as it makes its way down to a thin cap. The nose carries way, way too much spice, and the spice that is there doesn't really work. The spice is so heavy that you can barely pick out a big, malty beer in the background.

Flavor is likewise overwhelmed with spice. Loads of cardamom in this one. Some residual sweetness. The body is better in that there's a bit of alcohol mixing with the spice.

I really did not see where they were going with this and wasn't a fan of the spicing at all.

Thorpe429, Apr 03, 2012
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%

zestar, May 05, 2014
Photo of spycow
3.25/5  rDev -17.7%

spycow, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of nmann08
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%

nmann08, Jan 08, 2012
Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%

acurtis, Sep 30, 2012
Photo of womencantsail
3.68/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for sharing this one, Shane.

Pours burnt orange in color with an off-white head. Smells mostly like caramel and toffee with hints of vanilla. The cardamom that is added comes through fairly strongly. A bit of bourbon, but not much. A sweet flavor, mostly caramel and toffee with some vanilla to it, too. The cardamom is again noticeable. Much more bourbon than on the nose. Perhaps a little bit of grape flavor, too. Medium bodied with low to medium carbonation.

womencantsail, Jan 24, 2012
Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -24.1%

ygtbsm94, Jan 11, 2012
Photo of JAHMUR
3/5  rDev -24.1%

JAHMUR, Jan 02, 2012
Photo of MasterSki
3.03/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Carleton (SpdKilz) for sharing this one. Served in a Captain Lawrence tulip.

A - A half-finger of white foam settles to a thin ring of bubbles. Transparent orange-red body.

S - Smells like perfume. I initially thought lavender hand soap, but upon inspecting the label I discovered it was actually cardamom. In any case, that's pretty much all I can smell - I let the beer warm up for a while in the hopes some of the other flavors would show up, but all I got was some nebulous sugary malt.

T - The taste is again redolent of cardamon, perfume, and flowers. There's a tad more sweetness and a bready malt character as well, but I just can't get past the overpowering cardamom.

M - Medium-full body, lower carbonation, a slightly grainy texture, with light residual stickiness. Some warming alcohol, but nothing out of place for 12.5%.

D - Did I get the right beer? I didn't get any of the advertised barrel-aging and only a little of the barleywine. If you loved Poppaskull then you'll probably love this beer, but if you're like me and have limited tolerance for cardamom then you'll probably hate it. Either way, to me it's mono-dimensional and hard to drink it large quantities.

MasterSki, Jan 08, 2012
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.15/5  rDev +5.1%
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...

feloniousmonk, Sep 09, 2013
Photo of drabmuh
3.58/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Opened at a recent tasting, thanks to who ever did that!

Beer is brown and hazy with an off white / tan head of small bubbles, some lacing on the glass, low retention.

Aroma is spicy like peppermint or something...later to be revealed by the label as cardamon.

Oh dear this beer is a cardamon bomb, interesting and strong. The spice dominates eclipsing all other flavors and perception. I couldn't finish a bottle myslef or a pint. Not a repeat for me...too much.

drabmuh, Apr 06, 2012
Photo of oline73
3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this at the November Baltimore BA tasting. Served from the bottle into a tasting snifter.

Appearance: The beer pours a clear reddish amber color with a layer of off white head that sticks around pretty well.

Smell: The theme here is a smokey caramel sweetness. There is a fruity note here that reminds me of a caramel apple. Some warm bourbon/alcohol in the finish.

Taste: This is a very sweet barleywine. Caramel malt has a strong presence. There is some smoke that I would guess comes from the bourbon barrels. There is a slight bitterness that builds towards the finish which is also quite warm.

Mouthfeel: The body is a bit syrupy with a lot of tingly carbonation. The finish is rather slick.

Overall: While this beer is quite sweet, I still found my pour very easy to drink. I thought it was very smooth and would have more in the future.

oline73, Nov 17, 2012
Photo of mendvicdog
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%

mendvicdog, Nov 06, 2012
Photo of mdfb79
3.6/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 03/30/12 notes. Shared with a few friends. Thanks to nugganooch for sending this one my way. Bottle 2034.

a - Pours a deep reddish amber color with a few white bubbles, and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells a bit minty, and of cardamom, caramel malts, spices, and coconut. Weird mix, doesn't work very well at all. Not very good.

t - Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, toasted malts, caramel malts, toffee, sweet dark fruits, light alcohol, and light cardamom and spices. MUCH, much better then the nose. As it warmed up it got even better. Really nice taste.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Not much heat at all, actually pretty easy to drink.

o - Overall an interesting beer. A ton of spice and cardamom in the nose that is weird and doesn't work well, but the taste is really nice and is missing most of that. Worth checking out for the taste.

mdfb79, Apr 05, 2012
Photo of XmnwildX12
3.25/5  rDev -17.7%

XmnwildX12, Dec 09, 2013
Photo of kojevergas
3.29/5  rDev -16.7%
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.

B-

kojevergas, Dec 12, 2013
Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev +1.3%

oriolesfan4, Nov 05, 2012
Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev +1.3%

drewone, May 21, 2012
Photo of tempest
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

tempest, Dec 21, 2011
Photo of barleywinefiend
3.68/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured a maberish-crimson color with a small dirty white cap which provides a few bubbles and light lacing.

S: A big caramel and toffee nose with a little spice and bourbon w/ vanilla

T: Big sugary sweetness upfront, loads of toffee, caramel. Boozey sweet for sure. Barrel influence plays into this providing old wood, vanilla and bourbon. A lingering dash of spice hides out as well. The finish is sweet, lingering, sharp

M: Medium bodied, well carbonated, layers of toffee and caramel sweetness cling to the palate

O: Good. No major issues but the sweetness was really in your face.

barleywinefiend, Mar 04, 2013
Photo of duceswild
3.25/5  rDev -17.7%

duceswild, Nov 04, 2012
Photo of mothman
2.4/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Aroma: all cardamom spices. Christmas spice. Winter Warmer.. Little barrel flavor

T: whiskey and vanilla then all spices.  Tastes like christmas. Oaky. 

Mouthfeel: Warming and spiced. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation.

Overall, this was a terrible beer. I won't drink much if this. Just not for me. Sorry LB, but the recipe needs to change.

mothman, Jul 27, 2012
Photo of Huhzubendah
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared by mdfb79. Thanks Dan.

The beer is bright orange with a small, fleeting, off white head. The aroma offers sweet malt and an abundant spice character. Mint, pepper, cardamom. Ehh...this is ok, but not my thing. Minty, spicy, sweet. I can understand why some people may enjoy this more than I, but again, this is not my cup of tea/beer. Alcohol is pretty mild, considering the high abv. A good beer for sure, and worth a try.

Huhzubendah, Mar 31, 2012
Photo of Gonzoillini
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%

Gonzoillini, Apr 06, 2014
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Commander from Lift Bridge Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 185 ratings.