Lift Bridge Brewery

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Lift Bridge Brewery
Minnesota, United States
English Barleywine
Ranked #117
Ranked #12,049
3.98 | pDev: 14.07%
Jun 26, 2021
Nov 19, 2011
Very Good
Notes: 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.
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Photo of JayQue
Reviewed by JayQue from Virginia

3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
2018 Batch. Bought a bottle at Bernie's Wine and Liquor in Fargo ND. I have a wooden map of the US with spaces for beer bottle caps, I was looking for North Dakota beers in bottles but no luck!!! It seems that North Dakota brewers are using mostly cans!!! I did score a Montana beer cap and this Minnesota beer. Pours a hazy, murky medium brown color with a beige head that fades fast. No lacing to speak of. Aroma is pretty good. Caramel malt, maltiness in general and some bourbon barrel flavoring and oak bitterness. Big beer/lot of malt flavor. The caramel malt, bready malt and bourbon barrel flavoring are just right. not enough hoppiness for it to be classified as an American Barleywine. Mouthfeel is strong , rich and malty. Some alcohol presence and interesting bourbon barrel and oak bitterness in the finish. This is a good beer, strong but well mannered. Aged enough not to be harsh.
Jun 26, 2021
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Reviewed by MNAle from Minnesota

3.84/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
2019 vintage. Murky brown color under a short off-white head that is gone in less than a minute, leaving a creamy ring. Even with a backlight, there is not much visible through the murk. The appearance is kind of ugly; surprising for such a "young" beer.

The smell is very barley-wine-like, dark fruit, brown sugar, toffee, alcohol, along with a sweet breadish aroma.

The taste is very different, however. Quite spicy, almost a cinnamon flavor, backed by the sweet bready malts and brown/burnt sugar. I'm not sure what cardamom tastes like; perhaps that is what I am identifying as cinnamon. There is a solid bitter hit almost immediately, which continues throughout, fading a bit in the aftertaste. The finish is spicy, sweet, a bit bitter, toffee, with a nice alcohol warmth. This is a pleasant beer, but more of a holiday warmer than a (quoting the label now) "bona fide barleywine ale".

Moderate body, just a bit on the slick side.

Overall, this is a really good beer, good enough it may make my holiday list for next year, but it is decidedly a different take on what a barley wine should be (but, then, the cardamom on the label tells you that), so I would not recommend this to someone who wants to taste a barley wine for the first time. It's a really, really nice sipping beer to finish the evening with, though.
Feb 01, 2021
Photo of ovaltine
Reviewed by ovaltine from Indiana

4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Pours a beautiful dark copper color with a tan head that dissipates quickly. I was expecting no head from a 2014 bottle so I’m already in bonusville! The nose has a heaping helping of toffee and caramel aromas, some fruity notes from the cardamom, and the slightest hint of the barrel with a subtle boozy note.

The subtle boozy note from the barrel continues on the taste, but it appears WAAAAAY after you take a drink of this - there’s big caramel and toffee flavors, the fruity sweetness, and then, after a substantial delay, a boozy warming sits in your chest. Wow.

This is executed exceptionally well. I was a bit concerned about how this would hold up after 6+ years and 2 long trips, but my concerns were unfounded, because this is a world-class barleywine.
Feb 01, 2021
Rated: 3.9 by Dharmelink from Wisconsin

Dec 27, 2020
Rated: 4 by MonkeyPilates from Minnesota

Dec 15, 2020
Rated: 5 by Can_if_you_can from Minnesota

Jul 23, 2020
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Reviewed by gatornation from Minnesota

3.89/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Pours a cola color with a tan head.Smell of caramel,fruit,and spice. Taste followed nose yet had more spice than i would like,notes of dark fruit and vanilla. Mouth feel is thick and hoppy with cardomen in the finish. glad this is now available in a 12oz bottle.
Apr 16, 2020
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Rated by beer_banse from Wisconsin

4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
22oz Bottle - Year 2016 - Bottle Number 0739 - Overall a solid barleywine
Apr 13, 2020
Rated: 4.5 by d5001986 from Wisconsin

Apr 03, 2020
Rated: 3.95 by bschmidt_37 from Illinois

Mar 17, 2020
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Rated by BarrelAgedG from California

4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2011 Vintage........ maybe waited a little too long.... oh well.. it was actually pretty delicious and tasted of caramel and vanilla!
Mar 16, 2020
Rated: 4.17 by Burgy from Minnesota

Oct 31, 2019
Rated: 4.05 by jakea from Wisconsin

Oct 20, 2019
Rated: 4.05 by TheGent from New Jersey

Sep 01, 2019
Photo of brutalfarce
Rated by brutalfarce from Connecticut

3.08/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3
Thin boozy overly sweet just not for me
Aug 31, 2019
Rated: 3.63 by Stevedore from Oregon

Aug 12, 2019
Rated: 4.1 by Sparky44 from Illinois

Aug 11, 2019
Rated: 4.24 by crobinso from Colorado

May 23, 2019
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Reviewed by REVZEB from Illinois

3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Had on tap. Light caramel brown pour, no head. Can smell the bourbon right off the bat, with tons of caramel, candied orange, vanilla, and cardamom. The taste is sickly sweet, not enough wood from the barrel played in. The candied orange, vanilla, and caramel dominate, brightening up the whole profile. It's not bad, but it's not great either. Feel is sticky, slightly cloying, and thin.
May 10, 2019
Photo of Benish
Reviewed by Benish from Wisconsin

4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
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.
Feb 19, 2019
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Rated by Zenboy99 from Wisconsin

3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
Feb 17, 2019
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Reviewed by Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
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.
Jan 18, 2019
Rated: 3.79 by ian_graf from Minnesota

Dec 18, 2018
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Reviewed by vette2006c5r from Minnesota

4.39/5  rDev +10.3%
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.
Dec 02, 2018
Photo of StonedTrippin
Reviewed by StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
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!
Nov 25, 2018
Rated: 4.14 by TheStoutHound from Wisconsin

Aug 13, 2018
Photo of darktronica
Reviewed by darktronica from Indiana

4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
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.
Jan 27, 2018
Rated: 3.99 by Kurmaraja from California

Jan 07, 2018
Rated: 4 by bpfrush from Wisconsin

Dec 18, 2017
Rated: 4.25 by Eziel from Ohio

Oct 20, 2017
Rated: 4.32 by MykeJ from Minnesota

Oct 03, 2017
Rated: 4.25 by teamwiggum from Wisconsin

Sep 26, 2017
Rated: 3.69 by Dave2234 from Minnesota

Mar 16, 2017
Photo of Evilyak
Reviewed by Evilyak from Minnesota

4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
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.
Mar 05, 2017
Rated: 4.02 by RobinLee from Wisconsin

Mar 03, 2017
Rated: 3.69 by timmyj6 from Minnesota

Jan 31, 2017
Rated: 3.75 by Whiskeydeez from Kansas

Dec 14, 2016
Photo of mnredsoxfan69
Reviewed by mnredsoxfan69 from Minnesota

4.06/5  rDev +2%
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.
Oct 04, 2016
Rated: 3.84 by Soneast from Wisconsin

Sep 19, 2016
Photo of ScruffySouthpaw
Reviewed by ScruffySouthpaw from New York

3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
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.
Sep 11, 2016
Commander from Lift Bridge Brewery
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 275 ratings