Commander | Lift Bridge Brewery

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85
very good
69 Reviews
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CommanderCommander
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Lift Bridge Brewery
Minnesota, United States | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
The Commanderâ„¢ 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.

Added by plfahey on 11-19-2011

BEER STATS
Reviews:
69
Ratings:
235
Avg:
3.78
pDev:
29.89%
 
 
Wants:
63
Gots:
94
For Trade:
3
User Reviews
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Reviews: 69 | Ratings: 235
Reviews by zac16125:
Photo of zac16125
3.25/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a small snifter
2012 vintage, bottle number 3757

Thanks to haveanother1 for sending this over in a trade.

A: Pours a rather thin appearing murky brown with dark amber red hues when held to light. A sliver of light tan heads comes and goes almost immediately. Leaves no appreciable lacing.

S: So not gonna lie, I dont know what cardamon is, but Im guessing thats what Im getting from this beer. Its kind of like a minty-sage, and it certainly is prominent. I also get some caramel, toffee and bourbon notes. But make no mistake, the green spices sure do dominate. As it warms the cardamom (which I am now calling it since thats what it must be) subsides and some lovely other aromas come out like cinnamon and gingerbread, along with more pronounced barrel characters. Allowed to warm even further and those aromas are completely overtaking by ethanol booze. The aromas of the beer take you on a roller coaster ride, unfortunately, the troughs are much more prevalent than the peaks.

T: Sweet barleywine flavors; caramel, toffee, and molasses. Similar to the nose, the minty-sage component is prominent, but not as dominant. I also get ginger, faint bourbon notes that are hard to pick up behind all the spice flavors, some booze. As it warms the taste becomes very boozy. This starts off unique, gets quite enjoyable for a bit, but than finishes a boozy mess (and unfortunately the 'finish' last for the majority of the drink.)

M/D: Medium bodied, a bit thin for the style. Carbonation is very low, approaching flat. This one is a slow sipper, I almost never have trouble finishing a bomber by myself, but this one could be a challenge. So much spice, coupled with sweet syrupy characters make drinking this whole thing difficult.

O: Overall, this is a perplexing beer. There really are hints of greatness here, but as a whole it just doesnt quite come together. I think the cardamom could be a really cool addition to a barleywine, but it needs scaled down. Similarly, they need to find a way to make it a touch less ethanol-boozey. I really do think with a couple tweaks this could be a terrific beer, but as is its just a unique, but far too boozy and not terribly well done, barleywine. That being said, I do recommend it to others, cause the uniqueness alone is worth checking out. Just make sure you have a friend or two to share the bottle with.

 2,379 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of mull0263
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of NWer
4.5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of DaftPatrick
4.5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of bsp77
4.01/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into goblet.

Appearance: Dark murky orangish-brown with thin off-white cap.

Smell: Mostly bourbon notes in the aroma with just a touch of Barleywine toffee notes.

Taste: The Barleywine notes are more evident in the taste, with toffee and dark fruit notes. But the malts are still not as complex as preferred in a world class Barleywine, but the bourbon does a good job of elevating the beer, with oak, vanilla, coconut and just general bourbon-ness. The cardamom comes through very lightly on the finish, which is unique for the style.

Feel: Thick and chewy with low carbonation. Fairly warming but not as hot as expected for the high abv. Maybe waiting almost a year before opening this helped in that regard.

Overall: While I am not sure that the core Barleywine is anything special, the bourbon and cardamom helps make this Interesting and enjoyable.

 896 characters

Photo of deebo
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cask on chai at town Hall tap gives a different twist on this English style barleywine. Easy to drink barleywine. Smooth and whatnot. This version has less carbonation and more caradamom with a hint of cinnamon.

 211 characters

Photo of NilocRellim
3.25/5  rDev -14%

Photo of MNMike
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours brilliant deep amber with ruby highlights under a thin cream colored foam cap that hugs the side of the glass.
S: Fruit and malt aromas with a little biscuit and a suggestion of pear.
T: Rich malt flavors join with big alcohol with cardamom, vanilla, fruit, and biscuit.
F: Big body with average to below average carbonation.
O: Big alcohol gives this a mixed boubon drink character with a nice warming on the finish.

 431 characters

Photo of warmbier804
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

Photo of MattyG85
3.97/5  rDev +5%
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.

 1,183 characters

Photo of jtladner
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of roostor07
3.25/5  rDev -14%

Photo of Shawner
3.84/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of 4four4
4.75/5  rDev +25.7%

Photo of ChopperSmith
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a clear tulip glass.

Appearance: Slightly hazy ruby color with a one finger tan foam head that fades fast and leaves some sticky suds on the side.

Smell: Sweet with the bourbon whiskey right up front, mixed with some good bready malts. Nice.

Taste: Sweet and smooth with that bourbon barrel flavor right there. Mixed with some good roasted malts. The alcohol warming is there right away with the first sip, as to be expected with a barleywine. The bourbon flavor really makes this one shine.

Mouth feel: Sweet and slick with low carbonation, which fits the style well.

Overall: I love good beer, and I love good bourbon whiskey...so this is really the best of both worlds. Full and robust flavors, smooth as silk and strong as hell. An excellent English Barleywine from our own little Minnesota brewery Lift Bridge. Well done, Lift Bridge!

 879 characters

Photo of leschkie
4.5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Photekut
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of tempest
4.27/5  rDev +13%
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.

 669 characters

Photo of plfahey
4.12/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Amber copper and quite clear-looks warm and inviting. Trace of cream colored foam and some legs show upon swirling.

Aroma-Pleasant blend of fresh cardamom pods and bourbon, along with substantial vanilla from the barrel aging. The cardamom notes serve to accentuate the vanilla notes as well. Malt profile runs from brown sugar to black tar molasses and maple syrup. In addition to the cardamom, spice notes include clove and ginger, and there's a fair amount of coconut and herbal/minty notes as well. Quite interesting.

Flavor-Follows nose with cardamom spicing-ginger, clove, and cinnamon. Some caramel and light dried fruit-like pecan caramel rolls or cinnamon swirl bread. Bourbon notes are well integrated, and coconut and vanilla are once again quite prominent. Finishes with smooth alcohol and some toasty caramel.

Mouthfeel-Viscous, full body with moderately low carbonation. Moderately warming, though the alcohol is quite well disguised.

I wouldn't call this anywhere near a traditional English barleywine-what with the spicing and the barrel aging, it overshadows the toffee/caramel flavors that I would have expected. That said, it's pretty damn tasty and is right for the season. The overall impression is one of a beefed-up Christmas ale, and I think one of the most impressive features is that, even without any age on it, the 12.5% alcohol is smooth and well integrated. Good, and exceptionally interesting-definitely a step forward for Lift Bridge.

 1,533 characters

Photo of brewnic
5/5  rDev +32.3%

Photo of Gonzoillini
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%

Photo of jmpizzo
3/5  rDev -20.6%

Photo of MontereyBay831
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

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Commander from Lift Bridge Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 69 ratings.
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