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Commander | Lift Bridge Brewery

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Very Good
256 Ratings

Brewed by:
Lift Bridge Brewery
Minnesota, United States

Style: British Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

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.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 256 |  Reviews: 77
Photo of Benish
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2018 batch. It poured as deep opaque brown with an off-white head that disappeared quickly. Aromas heavy in pitted fruits, toffee and sweet caramel-like whiskey. The flavors are precisely the same, whiskey soaked raisins and prunes, a ton of toffee candy, and finished with whisky. Very in depth and sweet, almost beyond what I can describe. Mouthfeel: full bodied and slick. Very smooth with almost no warmth. Overall: finally an outstanding English barleywine without the ‘whale’ hype. For such and exceptional beer, it’s still sitting in stores. People are missing out.

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Photo of Zenboy99
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75


5 characters

Photo of Victory_Sabre1973
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2016 vintage reviewed on 1-17-2019.

Pours a reddish brown color. Minimal head, but what is there is off white. Dissipates into a ring around the edge of the glass. Even though there's minimal head, there's some carbonation rising in the glass.
The nose has some spices to it, but no idea what. Some vanilla. Some caramel.
Taste - The spice is very up front. It hits first and hard. The vanilla and caramel seem to be more backside.
I really like how this beer feels. Very full bodied. Smooth, with just a very slight alcohol warming on the backside. The spices also linger as a feeling in my palate.
Solid barleywine overall. This is a beer that can age, and it's doing so very well.

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Photo of ian_graf
3.79/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of vette2006c5r
4.39/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Commander pours a dark brownish color, with a little, barley lacing head. Big harsh malty aroma, hints of alcohol, and the cardamom is noticeable. Flavor is the same, big full, harsh hops, with a sweet and spicy, abet small flavored, cardamom balancing out everything. Very smooth, and good body. Overall, a nice big, smooth, easy to drink barleywine.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

a very cool twist on a traditional english barleywine here! not only is this barrel aged to perfection, but its got a dash of cardamom in it, which really makes it quite interesting, a perfect after dinner sipper following our thanksgiving feast! i know cardamom can be polarizing, but i cant explain these poor ratings here, this is way better than its marks. its pale bronze colored beer with a small white head and a little haze, some serious density, and a very appealing aroma of baked malts, long boiled concentrated grain sugars, and this neat cardamom complexion which i think is splendid with all the bourbon and vanilla this has from the barrels. sweet in the flavor both from the malts and from the whiskey, the cardamom is floral and bright to me, a neat wrinkle in the perfect spot, i get a candied orange peel thing too, a breakfast bread desserty vibe, and a lot of whiskey and oak. its smooth and mellow and not sticky or stupidly strong or heavy, i think the base beer is killer on its own but the cardamom and bourbon barrels pop this off to the next level. suitable for extended ageing i would think. this is awesome wintery beer, a highlight from lift bridge. my label looks quite a bit different than the one pictured below here. insane beer overall, so creative and well done!

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Photo of TheStoutHound
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of darktronica
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2016 bomber, poured to a teku. Muddy and caramelized in appearance, with minimal head and no lacing. Cardamom is not a spice I would think of with respect to a barleywine, but it is quite prominent here and works well! It was instantly noticeable on the nose, and the downside is that it's there in spades, crowding out some of the other more nuanced flavors of a traditional English barleywine (even more so when considering barrel-ageing).

As a result, I have some trouble deciding on a score. It's clearly trying to be idiosyncratic by introducing the cardamom in the first place, but as a result, it's not particularly balanced. But again, it's really pleasant and enjoyable despite the lack of balance.

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Photo of Kurmaraja
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of bpfrush
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Photo of MykeJ
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

Photo of Dave2234
3.69/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Evilyak
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2014 edition, just bought this week. wasn't marked as cellared. that's something.

pretty beer. reddish brown and very still.

barrel and brown sugar jump out in the nose with vanilla. cardamom is subtle but there's a spiciness to it.

vanilla and sugar in the taste. cardamom does show up well in the aftertaste. for 12.5%, the alcohol taste is well masked by the other elements.

mouth is thick and mild carbonation. alcohol warmth is there.

all in all, that's a tasty burger.

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Photo of RobinLee
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of timmyj6
3.69/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Whiskeydeez
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of mnredsoxfan69
4.06/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

8 oz. tap pour at Selby Bar & Grill (Whole Foods, St. Paul)

This lovely little barleywine pours the color of raw honey with a thin ivory cap and a little bit of lacing on the glass. The aroma of brown sugar and caramel and alcohol fill the nose, followed by the same on the tongue along with brandy and a welcome bitter aftertaste. Medium bodied and silken on the tongue, this brew is a sipper for a cool, autumn evening. Very well made. With some aging it will improve.

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Photo of Soneast
3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.96/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass from the bottle.

Appearance: Slight hazy Amber with an orange tinted head rising about one finger's length above the body.

Smell: Light bourbon scent which is super light.

Taste: Complex taste, you feel butterscotch and an overwhelming sweet alcohol which reminds you of brandy and toffee.

Mouth: super sticky, with sweet loaf cake and whiskey.

Overall: Little souvenir I brought back from Minnesota, nice little find that I personally believe delivered. If you're into barleywines I think it's an easy notch under your belt.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: looks like liquid rust. No head at all
S: slight barrel, sugary sweetness and a dry alcohol
T: much like the nose, slight barrel, caramel sweetness.
F: thick syrupy
O: a decent ba English barleywine

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Photo of AGB
4.75/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Lucoli
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Photo of Taybeh
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

from a bomber, 2015 edition, into a Bad Weather snifter, pours a somewhat swampy reddish brown with a thin cap of white head on it that subsides quickly and no lacing. Nose is vanilla, light brown sugar, marshmallow...pretty sweet but the notes aren't all that distinct or developed. On the tongue, this is better...everything noted in the nose is there except the vanilla...toffee is much more pronounced, maybe a little cardamom at the edge and sweet raisins and very light bourbon soaked bananas that blend into the heavier and sweeter notes pretty well. Not getting much from the bourbon barrels except a little bit on the fruit. Not getting much by way of hoppy liveliness, and it is a little on the slick side, not really drying out a lot at the end. Body is decent, but a little slight for the style and the abv, though from sip to sip, it hides or diminishes the boozy or heavy nature that the actual abv would predict. All in all, this is a little too sweet for me, and it lacks the complexity of the better barley wines... but it is still fairly good and definitely worth a shot. In the absence of lots of alternatives, I'd be happy to revisit later editions, maybe letting them age a bit more.

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Commander from Lift Bridge Brewery
Beer rating: 3.97 out of 5 with 256 ratings