Commander | Lift Bridge Brewery

BA SCORE
85
very good
243 Ratings
THE BROS
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CommanderCommander
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Lift Bridge Brewery
Minnesota, United States
liftbridgebrewery.com

Style: English 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.

Added by plfahey on 11-19-2011

BEER STATS
Ratings:
243
Reviews:
72
Avg:
3.79
pDev:
15.83%
 
 
Wants:
62
Gots:
93
For Trade:
2
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 243 |  Reviews: 72
Photo of roostor07
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of doucmehu
3.16/5  rDev -16.6%
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.

 826 characters

Photo of spycow
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.67/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

 591 characters

Photo of Cyclone8
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of hoplover82
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
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!

 1,527 characters

Photo of MN_Beerticker
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of Revenant
1/5  rDev -73.6%

Photo of eclipse54
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

 984 characters

Photo of allouez86
3.79/5  rDev 0%
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.

 1,277 characters

Photo of chippo33
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of josephwa
4.77/5  rDev +25.9%
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.

 372 characters

Photo of MarcatGSB
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

 1,212 characters

Photo of kawilliams81
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

 425 characters

Photo of tuckerlikesbeer
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of QCABeerTour
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of zac16125
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%
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

Photo of CWhite
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of Philly82785
3.6/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one needs some age on it. I had a side by side 2012 and 2011. The bourbon taste is over powering for a fresh batch, you can't taste the subtle notes of carmel and nuts. The aged one however the bourbon was very toned down and you could get the caremel and nutty notes much easier.

 285 characters

Photo of Etan
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle from the 2011 release, #3510.

A: Copper body, small white head.

S: Heavy cardamom (slightly minty, a bit herbal, but not in a bitter way), some molasses and brown sugar.

T: Tastes better than it smells, with more balance between the cardamom and the base beer. Marshmallow, cardamom, light bourbon, caramel. The spice becomes more pleasant as the palate gets used to it.

M: Medium bodied, light carbonation.

O. This beer was a lot better than I was expecting. Still, the base beer is a bit lacking compared to other top-notch barrel-aged barleywines, and it took a while to get used to the cardamom.

 617 characters

Photo of theCoder
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of yamar68
4.17/5  rDev +10%
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.

 637 characters

Photo of oline73
3.98/5  rDev +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.

 854 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

 651 characters

Commander from Lift Bridge Brewery
3.79 out of 5 based on 243 ratings.
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