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 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 oline73
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thanks to duff27 for sharing this bottle! Thanks duff!

poured into tulip.

Appearance: reddish brown bodied beer with a thin white cap. Drops quickly to no head.

Smell: Big malts, syrupy, medicinal, menthol, brownsugar and maybe some peppermint.

Taste: Malt forward. brown sugar and caramel. menthol and spicy booze. Unusual combination, but it kind of works.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carboantion. Spicy and slightly warming booze.

Overall: Its a solid beer, but nothing too crazy. I did not get much for barrel notes from this beer. If I did not know it was barrel aged, I would have thought it did spend any time in a barrel.

Photo of Duff27
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Short lived off white head. Cap and collar left. A light red orange color. A lot of lacing for an English barleywine.

Different smelling for sure. Not sure what that is and not sure what to think.

Methol, straight up. Mintiness. Sweet. Booze presents itself but not overpowering.

A little syrupy. Low carbonation.

It tastes like a Halls! But still good. Can blow a cool breeze. Not as bad at the BA rating. Thanks mnbearsfan.

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 mothman
2.39/5  rDev -39.6%
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.

Photo of MordorMongo
3.34/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review #5, served cellar temp in tulip

A : Transparent dark amber, toffee hues, off-white medium head fades to a lingering cap, legs very persistent and likely this beer's best attribute.

S : Cardamom, still. Had first bottle of this back in March and while the smell has faded noticeably it is still way too over-bearing and dominates completely. Can pick up some traces of bourbon and vanilla from time to time, but damn that cardamom comes right back!

T : Here the cardamom has faded even more-so...sadly not quite enough yet, maybe should have given this another 6-12 months? Some nice caramel notes come through mid-palate, finish is cloying with that lingering cardamom, though it is MUCH improved over ~3 months ago.

M : Sticky, full mouthfeel, honestly close to on-point for the style.

O : Decent BA Barleywine, really wish they had went way lighter on the cardamom as I am not sure what it adds at this level of dominance. That said, it is clearly fading and if I had another I would wait a year or so in hopes the spice notes dissipate further.

Photo of lurpy1
3.56/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Very curious to try this beer picked up several months ago. It has been interesting to see the boss initial reviews, followed by a run of reviewers hating on it. Going in with an open mind. 750 ml bomber, split with wife. Who, BTW, lasts about 3 sips before announcing Commander doesn't work for her.

Lovely fossilized amber coloration. Slight head, but no retention, not much lacing either.

The smell has booze, oak, sugar,and spice.Lot's of spice.Not so much cardamon to me, but mint and even a little pepper.

I really wanted to love the taste of this beer, but dammit, I cannot profess my love. The spice renders it a sipper at the absolute most. In fact, taking an aggressive gulp was outright uncomfortable. Still, I found a lot of tasty bourbon and sweetness to save the day and bring it up to a passable score.

The body was good, not great, in terms of thickness, but Commander did have an awesome, glazed-donut level of stickiness.Likey.

Lastly, my stomach was a bit upset afterward, and even though I have indefinite tolerance for heat and spice, I blame it on the liberal handfuls of spice thrown into the brew. Gotta ding the score for this. I could do 8 oz of this beer next time. The spice differentiates the beer but doesn't necessarily make it better at all. Without the spice, this could be great, because all the other qualities of a killer barleywine are there. With the spice, it's still drinkable to daring palates, and recommended, but probably just a slightly subpar barleywine. Very happy to see interesting offerings coming out of Stillwater.

Photo of drabmuh
3.6/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

Photo of mdfb79
3.54/5  rDev -10.6%
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.

Photo of Thorpe429
2.44/5  rDev -38.4%
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.

Photo of ShanePB
2.91/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 ml bottle
Served into my Lift Bridge snifter

A: Crystal clear ruby red with some orange highlights throughout the body. A fluffy, soapy off-white head sits atop and leaves minor sticky lacing on the glass. Only a thin retention ring is around the outside, too.

S: Medicinal herbal quality straight away, mint, ginger... is all of this coming from the cardamom in here? Subtle bourbon and wood undertones, rounding out with big malty sweetness and spearmint. Very odd smelling beer.

T: Sweet spearmint, ginger, candied sugar, caramelized sugar, dark and caramel malts with a very faint bourbon note coming through in the back end. I think all these herbal, medicinal and mint flavors are coming from the cardamom, and it's just too much. It's overpowering all the subtleties the barrel treatment should have imparted into the beer.

M: Sticky, smooth with a good amount of carbonation. It still felt a little too sticky for my liking and the accompanying sweetness didn't help the cause.

This was a bit of a miss for me. I was pretty excited to try this but I think the cardamom was used a bit too much. Tone it back, let the base beer and barrel treatment blend everything together, and this could easily be a great one.

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

Photo of MattyG85
3.97/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Surly Darkness Chalice glass. 2011 Bottle number 3432.

Appearance: Pours a deep and clear brownish amber orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. Not much head as a little bit of off white foam fades quickly into a few thin patches. Lacing is fairly light too. About what one would expect from such a high abv.

Smell: A pretty noticeable aroma of bourbon with some sweet vanilla and oak. Lots of sweet malts with caramel and toffee. Definitely noticing some spicy cardamom. Also some light hints of dark fruit and some alcohol. Smells like a nice blend that is sweet but fairly balanced.

Taste: A pretty tasty blend. Good taste of bourbon upfront with strong notes of sweet vanilla and some wood. Sweet caramel malts with some toffee and hints of dark fruits. Very noticeable cardamom which gives a nice spicy kick. Also picking up a banana like flavor and some earthy hops towards the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Moderately syrupy and somewhat boozy but still pretty smooth for a 12.5 abv.

Overall: A pretty nice take on an English Barleywine. Far from traditional but the spices add a nice flavor.

Photo of gford217
3.12/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750ml bottle.

Pours a deep, clear amber with a Sally thick beige head that slinks down the sides of the glass leaving delicate lacing.

Aroma is odd for the style, really herbal, presumably from the cardamom, with only a little caramel malt sweetness coming through. The barrel character is also subtle. I'd love to know what this smells like without all the cardamom.

The taste is a marked improvement for me. There is much more caramel and vanilla sweetness supporting a more subtle cardamom presence...well, more subtle than the aroma at least. The barrel is also more prevalent, especially in the finish.

The mouthfeel is solid, medium bodied with soft carbonation.

I don't exactly now what to say about this one. I really think it would be an excellent beer if it wasn't for the cardamom overload. As it is, it's an average BA barley wine. I would love to try this with a couple years on it to let the cardamom die down.

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 ChadQuest
2.03/5  rDev -48.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

LiftBridge Commander

A quick cap forms and then fades until the body is mostly still, just a thin band around the edge, very thin.
The body is a charry amber color.

The aroma is both very sweet and shows alcohol. Smells like cotton candy, very much so.

I figured it out on the taste. Cream Soda. This beer tastes like A&W Cream Soda. The sweetness is very strong, and
the sticky mouthfeel and carbination match up so much. The alcohol is easily noticable but not harsh as it is covered
in a lot of sweetness and floral notes, which is really odd for a barleywine. this whole thing is odd. I dont really get
the barrel much, unless the barrel tastes like Cream Soda and flower Cotton Candy, then i get a freakin ton of barrel.

I wouldn't say this one tastes terrible, i drank the entire bottle, but not at all good for a -Bal Barleywine,
i wanted barrel,heat, and caramel, this one gives me none of those.

D+

Photo of cosmicevan
3.77/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

big thanks to biglobo8971 for hitting this want in the growler plus BIF (round 3). opened and enjoyed from my blue point snifter.

a - a hard pour yeilded a solid finger of big foamy bubbly off white head on a crisp semi transparent rosy amber.

s - i can smell it from the table in front of me. upon closer inspection big caramel toffee. very nice vanilla sweetness from the bourbon barrels. it comes across more like the bourbon barrel flavoring on backwoods, that really creamy caramel malt. quite nice. feels like i'm in for a treat.

t - WOW...the sweetness from the nose almost knocks me over. that is INTENSE. the toffee is extremely in your face. the english barleywine maltiness is there, but it sits in the backseat to the boozy sweetness from the barrels. as it warms and i get used to it, it becomes more enjoyable and less cloying. the potpouri cardamom is a bit intense.

m - pretty soft and smooth...kind of tingly. sweet caramel coating in my mouth. boozy.

o - overall, i'm a big fan of barleywines and a big fan of beers that age in barrels. this was enjoyable and certainly worth a try, but in the category of barrel aged barleywines, there is some STEEP competition and this one is decent, but there are some superstars. this one just doesn't hold a candle to an abacus, king henry, blighs, moas, the list goes on and on...
very happy to have tried it though!

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 Rhettroactive
2.63/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

From 750mL bottle to CBS snifter on 1/26/12
*From notes

-- Thanks, Ben --

A: Grab an amber ale off of your local bottle shop's shelves and it'd look like this: clean and unremarkable. A good pour yields a .5 finger head that fades rather fast. Minimal lacing and collar.

S: Ugh. I like herbs in beer, but I don't like this. It's just too much for a barleywine, especially one designated as English. Gimme a saison or a wild ale if you wanna herb it up. But this? Eek!

T: No barrel is present here, just more cardamom. It's like Stone, Victoy and DFH contracted Lift Bridge to make "Barleywine du Buff". Not good.

M: Meh, it's ok. It's got more carbonation then a lot of barrel aged beers. I'll give credit where it's due.

O: Hugely dissapointed by LB's Commander. Not a single person at our tasting enjoyed this, and it's no wonder. What exactly was to be accomplished here? Without question, this beer is one to avoid.

Photo of billab914
3.11/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a snifter. It poured orange amber in color with a thin white head sticking to the edges of the glass.

The aroma is very herbal as the cardamon flavors are the focal point of it. I get some sweeter, honey notes to it, but unfortunately not really any barrel aged characteristics. It feels somewhat medicinal to me. The cardamon dominates way too much as well.

The taste also shows a lot of the herbal cardamon flavors throughout. I get a more of the honey sweetness to it as well. It's very herbal, floral and sweet, which just didn't work well for me. Both the barleywine and barrel flavors are overshadowed unfortunately.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being moderate. Overall it was way too sweet and herbal for me. It could have been a little more balanced and the herbal flavors could have been toned down some as well. I would have liked a little more traditional barleywine characteristics to show through as well as the barrel flavors. It wasn't a terrible beer, but it isn't something I'd buy.

Photo of siege06nd
2.8/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks, Rhettroactive, for setting up the trade for this.

A: Pours a relatively light, cloudy orange color. Very minimal head, just a dusting of head around the edges of the brew. Faint lacing traces the glass after a hard swirl. Good color, crappy head, retention, and lacing.

S: Some caramel, super sweet grapes and apples that probably represents the cardamom, some ginger and spice. An extremely sweet, fruity nose. Not a lot of malt, barrel depth though. The barrel-aging is undetectable. Meh.

T: I don't know, man. This is just weird. Lots of sweet cherry, apple, grape. Also a ton of herbs, particularly belgian spices. I get absolutely zero barrel aging on this. Just a touch of booze heat on the finish. It's sweet and fruity with a pungent herbal finish. Tastes nothing like any English Barleywine I have had. *Sigh*

M: Medium carbonation, medium to full mouthfeel. Not nearly as thick or cloying as the style should suggest. Saccharine and sweet, I'm not sure about this one. Bitter herbal qualities really clash with the sweetness and result in a mediocre finish.

O: Nowhere near what the early reviews suggested. I understand the "home team" bump, but I can't believe how badly MN locals misrepresented this one. This is nowhere near a memorable English Barleywine. I would expect this is what I would get from the next "Stone plus two random breweries" collaboration barleywine. Overly sweet, way too much residual sugar, herbal knavery. What can I say? It's mediocre. Decidedly mediocre.

Photo of womencantsail
3.68/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

Photo of HopHead84
3.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1/22/2012

A: Transparent dark orange with a big white head.

S: Caramel blends with wood and brown sugar. There's a candied sweetness. Bourbon is retrained. The cardamom is pronounced. I get a little dark toffee.

T: Cardamom, caramel, toffee, and booze. Bourbon is strong and I detect a little vanilla. I'm not really digging the cardamom, especially not in the finish. Alcohol is pretty well hidden.

M: Upper medium body with medium carbonation.

Overall: A solid beer but that spice is detracting. It adds nothing positive.

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

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