1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Commander - Lift Bridge Brewery

Not Rated.
CommanderCommander

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

176 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 176
Reviews: 59
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 16.28%
Wants: 53
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 176 | Reviews: 59 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Photekut
Photekut

Tennessee

3.75/5  rDev -4.6%

05-19-2013 13:39:33 | More by Photekut
Photo of blindpiggie
blindpiggie

Colorado

4.25/5  rDev +8.1%

05-18-2013 06:43:13 | More by blindpiggie
Photo of rudzud
rudzud

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

2011 vintage shared with friends. Poured into a tulip.

A - Poured a nice clear honey amber hue with a quarter inch head that fades to leave light lacing and a thin cloud.

S - Aromas of sweet malts and light vanilla. Fairly standard.

T - Taste is similar to the nose with nice sweet malts and light vanilla. Good barleywine here very solid as age has done this well.

M - Mouthfeel is nice for a barleywine with the alcohol hidden nicely.

O - Overall not a bad barleywine. Alcohol hidden well could use a hair more age but for all intensive purposes a solid beer.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2013 00:26:36 | More by rudzud
Photo of KBomb
KBomb

Minnesota

4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2013 04:41:21 | More by KBomb
Photo of Scotchboy
Scotchboy

Idaho

4.24/5  rDev +7.9%
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!

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2013 13:45:49 | More by Scotchboy
Photo of bigbeers84
bigbeers84

Minnesota

4/5  rDev +1.8%

04-21-2013 23:11:04 | More by bigbeers84
Photo of mikeyv35
mikeyv35

New York

2.78/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Date: 04/05/2013
Type: 22oz. Bomber
Vintage: 2012
Glass Southampton Tulip

Pours a light brown mahogany in color w/ a thin white head which produces minimal lacing. Aromas of caramel, toffee, breadiness, light bourbon, spices (guessing Cardamon, but I am not sure exactly what Cardamon should smell like). The flavor was of caramel/toffee up front, transitioning into butterscotch, and finishes w/ strong breadiness and cloying spice (Cardamon). Medium bodied w/ lower end carbonation. One glass was way too much for me as the cloying Cardamon was really getting to me. Ended up drain pouring the remainder of the glass which I rarely do.

Overall, a very unique brew that I can appreciate due to how outside the box and creative it is. However, not my type of barleywine at all and one that made me realize that I don't like Cardamon in beer at all.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2013 00:41:15 | More by mikeyv35
Photo of derkfromwi
derkfromwi

Wisconsin

4/5  rDev +1.8%

04-09-2013 03:28:05 | More by derkfromwi
Photo of Ol_Johnny_Skippelwicky
Ol_Johnny_Skippelwicky

Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

03-29-2013 01:32:42 | More by Ol_Johnny_Skippelwicky
Photo of roostor07
roostor07

Minnesota

3.25/5  rDev -17.3%

03-24-2013 18:51:28 | More by roostor07
Photo of doucmehu
doucmehu

Wisconsin

3.15/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

2012 vintage poured into my gnome tulip.

A: Pours a crimson tinted amber, thin head runs away quickly, leaving little to no trace of bubbles. Nice clarity.

S: Sweet vanilla, caramel, holiday spices, dark fruit, booze

T: Vanilla extract, caramel, estery dark fruit, bourbon presence is thin and reminiscent of cheap whiskey (not all bad), alcohol dominates on the finish. Slightly metallic hint.

M: Moderate viscosity, a hair on the thin side for a big barleywine. Carbonation is acceptable but low. Hot, buttery alcohol starts slow, and keeps on creeping up until my mouth is warm and toasty. Lasting rubbing alcohol flavor is minimal, but off-putting.

O: Seems different than last year, more bourbon? Decent beer, I didn't find the spice overwhelming. More dark fruit than I was expecting. I think I will pass next year.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2013 01:38:34 | More by doucmehu
Photo of spycow
spycow

Illinois

3.25/5  rDev -17.3%

03-10-2013 23:39:25 | More by spycow
Photo of barleywinefiend
barleywinefiend

Washington

3.68/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2013 14:55:35 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of Cyclone8
Cyclone8

Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

02-27-2013 20:21:46 | More by Cyclone8
Photo of hoplover82
hoplover82

Texas

4.34/5  rDev +10.4%
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!

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2013 03:38:29 | More by hoplover82
Photo of MN_Beerticker
MN_Beerticker

Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +8.1%

01-26-2013 23:44:25 | More by MN_Beerticker
Photo of Revenant
Revenant

Minnesota

1/5  rDev -74.6%

01-20-2013 17:54:39 | More by Revenant
Photo of eclipse54
eclipse54

Minnesota

4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2013 23:26:38 | More by eclipse54
Photo of allouez86
allouez86

Wisconsin

3.79/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2012 version served into my D'achouffe tulip, this beer is only a couple months old and it says on the bottle that it should age for up to ten years. Have had it at a year old before but am reviewing the newest version which is only a couple months old.

Color is dark mahogany, like most barleywines are. Barely any head, no surprises since it's a 12.5% barleywine.

Smell is definitely vanilla forward. There is the smell of cardamom and cinnamon which is also expected as it says that it was brewed with cardamom. Very slight hint of bourbon and orange zest. The vanilla is very strong.

The taste to me doesn't quite live up to the $17 price tag when it's this fresh. I get very little hop presence and sweetness that I love in a good barleywine. To me the oak, bourbon, and vanilla overpower any sign of a barleywine. The booze is hidden well, but the spice is a little too heavy.

Medium mouthfeel with very little carbonation bite, per the style.

Overall this beer being as young as it is was just ok. We had last years' version recently and was blown away by the good that a year of aging can do to this beer. I'd definitely recommend holding on to this beer for at least 10 months or longer, just to let the spice die down. This beer will get much better as it ages.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2013 00:18:57 | More by allouez86
Photo of chippo33
chippo33

Vermont

4/5  rDev +1.8%

01-10-2013 05:51:41 | More by chippo33
Photo of josephwa
josephwa

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +22.1%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-08-2013 00:51:31 | More by josephwa
Photo of MarcatGSB
MarcatGSB

Michigan

3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage bottle number 2037. Poured into DFH Signature glass.

A: Pours a very bright ruby/copper color with a very intriguing white head, almost 2 fingers. Nice lacing around the edge the glass, and it persists for the entire glass.

N: Very, very intriguing. I'm picking up some sort of mint flavor...it's interesting and appealing. What is it? Not really sure, but it's followed by a certain spice quality, and some nice soft vanilla notes.

T: Very sweet. Alot of the typical BW notes are coming thru...Caramel, vanilla, molasses. A touch of smoke helps to balance this out. The barrel character is not overwhelming, but actually is very pleasant.

M: Mouthfeel is a bit thin relatively speaking, but it drinks really nice. Some sticky quality, but fades away. Creamy, and the perfect amount of carbonation.

D and O: I feel this beer has aged very well, and is extremely drinkable. I'm torn on how to review this, because I'm really enjoying it, but I feel with the spice quality and the mint, it's not really "true to style". So I will rate it as such, but please note I REALLY enjoyed this beer, and was a nice change of pace from some of the big bodied BA Barleywine's I've been drinking as of late.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2013 18:47:36 | More by MarcatGSB
Photo of kawilliams81
kawilliams81

Illinois

3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage.

A- pours a dark copper with a 1 finger off-white head. Some trails of lacing remain on the glass.

S- sweet honey, some herbs and spices, slight vanilla.

T- sweet buttery caramel, bourbon, vanilla, faint chocolate, roast near finish.

M- full body with medium carbonation. Has a syrupy, buttery feel.

O- not a amazing, overwhelming BA Barleywine, but still has a nice flavor to it. Wouldn't try again though.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2013 02:53:55 | More by kawilliams81
Photo of tuckerlikesbeer
tuckerlikesbeer

Minnesota

4/5  rDev +1.8%

01-02-2013 23:04:46 | More by tuckerlikesbeer
Photo of QCABeerTour
QCABeerTour

Iowa

4/5  rDev +1.8%

12-29-2012 01:53:52 | More by QCABeerTour
Commander from Lift Bridge Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 176 ratings.