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Arctic Devil Barley Wine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

1,110 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,110
Reviews: 347
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 965
Gots: 286 | FT: 39
Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  13.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Todd on 03-24-2005

Arctic Devil Barley Wine, aptly named after the ferocious wolverine of the north, is an English-style (meaning malt-inclined) barley wine. Though the recipe and process for Arctic Devil have evolved over the years, it is brewed once a year then aged in oak barrels for several months before the entire batch is blended, bottled and released.

In its youth, Arctic Devil gnarls and snarls its way across the palate. Containing this beast of a beer for long periods in oak barrels--some having previously aged port, wine or whiskey--tames the unleashed malt and fierce hop flavors, melding and mellowing this powerful liquid into an incredible elixir worthy of a brewer's table.

Each annual batch of Arctic Devil Barley Wine represents the brewers' resolve to create an intriguing and sought-after barley wine by precisely brewing to well-designed specifications, carefully selecting the type and combination of barrels to use for aging, and meticulously checking the beer as it ages. Distinct nuance and complexity are contributed by the wood's previous tenants, resulting in unique flavor profiles in each batch that continue to change over time. We invite you to savor Arctic Devil Barley Wine upon its release then cellar some for future enjoyment.

20 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,110 | Reviews: 347
Reviews by dotes_on_dipas:
More User Reviews:
Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

3000th review! 22 ounce bottle into snifter; 2014 vintage, bottled in late 2013. Pours hazy dark ruby red color with a 1 finger fairly dense khaki head with solid retention, that reduces to a small spotty lace cap that lingers. Slight spotty lacing on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, plum, fig, caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, coconut, vanilla, bourbon, oak, leather, light chocolate, and oak/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/toasted malt, fruity yeast, and bourbon barrel notes; with good strength. Light-moderate booziness as it warms, but not too bad. Taste of big raisin, plum, fig, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, toast, coconut, brown sugar, molasses, brown bread, bourbon, oak, vanilla, leather, light chocolate, and oak/toasted earthiness. Light oaky bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, fig, caramel, butterscotch, molasses, toffee, toast, coconut, vanilla, brown sugar, bourbon, oak, leather, light chocolate, and oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and bourbon barrel flavors; with an awesome malt/yeast/barrel balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy, fairly slick, and slightly syrupy/sticky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a light-moderate warming lingering after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic barrel aged English barelywine style. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and bourbon barrel flavors; and smooth to sip on for the huge ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Photo of oberon
4.07/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Before I review I must say beware of this devil it f*ckin will bite you!Just newly bottled on November 5th this bad boy poured a deep amber with a thin off white head,incredible complexities in the aroma vanilla,oak and kentucky whiskey really hits and hits hard really waking up the senses and quite appetizing.Now I really liked the flavors of this beer but whoo they hit ya,very woody and whiskish (if thats a word) with vanilla and caramel standing out as well.The alcohol burn steals the show it actually burned my nose going down.This beer weighs in at 14% alc although the label says 10% that according to the head brewer at Midnight Sun and it feels like more than that.A very good very complex barley wine but these need to be laid down for awhile thats for sure.

Photo of RoyalT
4.12/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This one poured a nice, glowing brown in color with an off-white head that frothed up good for a high-octane ABV.

Smell – Man, this is a big ‘un. The huge, roasty malts are thick and boozy. They are drenched in fruity and refined sugars. This nose is almost overpowering. If you like big Barley Wine bouquets, you have to buy this just for the smell.

Taste – The malts from the nose are thick and roasted at the taste as well. The alcohol is sharp but very confident in the flavor profile. The giant table sugars almost make this one feel like an English-style Barley Wine.

Mouthfeel – This one is in between medium and full in the body with a nice, almost stinging alcoholic mouthfeel.

Drinkability – This is not for everyone, but if you like your ABWs big, bold, and boozy (like I do) than this definitely is for you.

Comments – Ms. Skyhand busted out this Barley for her first annual Bring on Da Booze festival, and personally it was the highlight of the evening for me.

Photo of tectactoe
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2007, big-time thanks to Ed for bringing this one to the tasting and sharing it with the rest of us. Pours a dark mahogany color, 50/50 mix of clarity and haziness, topped off with a small tan-ish head that reduces to a ring around the glass pretty quickly.

Aroma is comprised of a nice meshing of oak, bourbon, sweet plums, black cherries, syrup, brown sugar, molasses, and maple. Lots of things going on here - very sweet and very complex. Malty to the core with no real sign of hops or herbals anywhere, but after six years - can you blame it? Amazing how well everything has held up for being this old, and it shows no real signs of oxidation in the aroma.

Arctic Devil hits the palate thick and muddled with a surprisingly substantial amount of carbonation considering its age. Very sweet up front, but still pretty far from being cloying. It's more of a refined and controlled sweetness, albeit very strong. Brown sugar, molasses, maple, light anise, plums, dates, black cherries. Buttery and creamy smooth on the palate - the bourbon and alcohol is noticeable and warming, and becomes even more so with time.

The finish is full of sweet, candied dark fruits and a mild oakiness. Despite the 13.2% ABV, this one remains pretty damn drinkable, making it very dangerous. Even though the aroma didn't show any, the taste reveals some light oxidation - not nearly enough to hinder or really even matter - I mean goddamn, this shit was six years old!

Big thanks again to Ed for opening this one. It was damn delicious. I have no other Arctic Devils to compare it to, but holy shit, this was super-drinkable for a 13.2% barleywine. Very sweet and woody all around, such a pleasure to drink.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.49/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle says 10%...no date so I'm not quite sure of the vintage. Guesstimate 2006 or 2007. Pours into my glass a deeply murky brown with dark red highlights. A small khaki head forms on top and then falls. Aromas start with deep rich malts overflowing with caramel, toffee and a mix of dark fruits. Spicy accents with a bit of woodiness in there as well. Touch of bourbon along with some hops. Vanilla floats in on the back end. Really rich and enticing aroma.

First sip brings a bath of sweet, dense malts upfront that attack the palate. Swirls of caramel, toffee and ripe fruits. Woody, oak accents with a definite kick of bourbon. Vanilla and spice on the way down. Sweet throughout with a nice hoppy bitterness on the finish. Just an awesome barleywine overall.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good steady carbonation. Not overly heavy and ends up being quite a tasty drink. This is a damn tasty barleywine that holds nothing back. A bit on the sweet side but it works and packs a hefty malt punch with a good dose of alcohol to match.

Photo of tjthresh
3.68/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours dark clear brown without much head. Buckets of hops in the nose with chocolate covered caramels. Some nice cherry as well. This thing has tons of hot alcohol, but there's still plenty of malt and hops. Good stuff, but I'd hoped for better.

Photo of warriorsoul
4.62/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to beernut7 for this one....not sure of the year, but I believe it is an '04.
Dark rust in color with less than 1/4 finger of off-white head...disappears rapidly and produces no lacing.
Huge raisins in the nose, caramel malt sweetness, mild alcohol.
The taste is insanely flavorful and rich...huge fig/raisin profile with a malty sweetness that is balanced with a bittering hop profile...finishes bittersweet with no lingering aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is thick as any I've tried in the style and the carbonation is sublime.
A definite sipper at 10%, but so fun to consume it is silly.
So glad to get to try this one, as I have never really seeked it out...I just may have to after this experience.

Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to beerbeing for a bottle as a gift. I am splitting this bottle with blitheringidiot. This is fantastic. It is classified as an English barley but it is close to an American in taste. Just a little head & is very malty and thick with a hint of sweetness. This is a great sipper. Wow this is good.

Thanks again, Alex!

Photo of kingcrowing
3.7/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle poured into a sampler. 2010 vintage.

Pours a deep ruby amber with a small brown head. Nose is malty and sweet, a bit of cardboard .

Taste is sweet, sharp a bit of oxidation but super tasty and a bit tart
Really crisp and quit drinkable. Mouthfeel is creamy and rich.

Photo of ehammond1
4.42/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2011)

Thanks for opening this with me, baybassboy!

Dark chestnut in color, with a small, tightly bubbled light khaki colored head that remains a small ring round the top of the beer for the duration. Small bubbles dot the glass.

Rich, sweet, malt-forward aroma of caramel, oak, earth, candied sugars, and dark fruits. Complex.

The flavor follows the aroma, and the alcohol is marvelously well hidden. The sweet, earthy, and fruity malt characters play nicely against the wood. Complete and very nice.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Fantastic.

Photo of mahak213
4.48/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 Arctic Devil, into a Goose Island snifter-

Appearance- Clear, very dark amber with a light tan head that recedes quickly.

Smell- Brown sugar and sweet booze with a light vanilla and oak presence.

Taste- Starts off with sweet toffee and dark fruits, like a fig dredged in brown sugar, then moves on to vanilla and bourbon. Has a really nice balance between sweet and bitter, and the alcohol presence is integrated perfectly.

Mouthfeel- Medium body, finished sticky and sweet.

Overall- Very impressive beer from Midnight Sun, this and Berserker should surely be on your wants list.

Photo of glid02
4.67/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Joe - judging by the bottle it's a 2007 vintage and has only a sub-10% ABV.

Pours a hazy honey-copper color with a half-finger cream-colored head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of smooth caramel malts with light toffee and vanilla aromas. Also present are slight amounts of milk chocolate and dry honey.

Tastes similar to how it smells, yet somehow even more complex. Moderately sweet caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by equal parts butterscotch and toffee flavors. Midway through the sip light vanilla and slight bourbon flavors make an appearance. Finally, hints of oak smooth things out near the end of the sip, carrying through to a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a smooth thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass very quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall I was a huge fan of this beer, something I normally can't say about aged barleywines. An amazing beer that is very much worth a shot. Also worth setting one down for a few years if you're lucky enough to have multiples. As a quick note that was tasted side-by-side with Mother of all Storms and came out on top. Both fantastic beers but it really wasn't even a competition to decide my favorite.

Photo of timc100
4.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 Vintage -

Very bourbon dominated. Aroma of strong caramel, soaked oak, slight vanilla, coconut, straight bourbon whiskey. Slighter vinous fruit notes. Taste similarly dominated with bourbon, great rich barrel notes, caramel, booze. Mouthfeel is slick, smother, very low carbonation. Fantastic barrel aged english style barleywine

Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
3.42/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 Vintage:

Drank July 7th, 2011 - Split with rfragga77

Not following regular format here...

Not sure if I got a batch variated bottle or if I'm just not at all a fan of English Style Barleywines. Both rfragga77 and I agreed, there was not much barrel to be found at all in this beer. A little thin for the ABV and almost had a green apple flavor along with toffee / brown sugar sweetness.

We both finished the bomber as I paid $20 for it but I'd much rather an Abacus without batting an eye which was agreed upon. (Yes, I understand they are very different animals) It wasn't too hot for the ABV which I'll give it credit for. It didn't finish overly sweet either so if this were your bag...you could finish the bomber solo.

Call it blasphmey if you will, but I just don't get it.

I'd be happy to revisit to see if I bought a "off" bottle but I won't be purchasing another

Photo of mdaschaf
3.71/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2011 Vintage. Review from notes.

A: Pours a brown color with a small tan head on top that quickly reduces leaving a thin ring on top. Minimal lacing.

S: Sort of vegetal, a little caramel and and brown sugar. Some dark fruit mixed in.

T: The flavor is a bit better than the aroma, but was hoping for more. Others who had previously had it said it had certainly fallen off. Caramel and toffee with some brown sugar with a bit of the vegetalness coming back.

M: Medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

O: Really had high hopes, might have just had a bad bottle, or one that might have been a little too old? Will hopefully have this one again and will rereview if needed.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.05/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks again to msubulldog25 for another NW barleywine. This one's about as Northwest as it gets too--Alaska's Midnight Sun. Love the creature on the label, sort of a wolverine-ish looking guy...he's completely wigged out, probably due to a few too many of these bad boys.

Poured into the snifter a cloudy, milky caramel color. Thin head slims down to a thin ring with a quickness.

Big aroma of alcohol, dark fruits, vanilla, citrus rind, milk chocolate.

Flavor delivers a barleywine that's on the chocolate/malt side of the spectrum...big burly sweetness that's not overdone, very dessert-like. Alcohol nip is pretty big, and even though I like the warming sippability of it, I'd rather the more intense part of its personality came from hops (like Bigfoot, another northern devil). Hops are here, but diminished in presence by the gooey candy-like malts and sherry-like alcohol warmth. Good bitterness lays on the tongue in the finish, a welcome melange of green grass, unripe fruit and hops.

Mouthfeel is wonderful, a little gooey, a little sticky, but carbonated enough to give it some lift and action. Really nice.

There are hardly better beers to drink in the cold winter months than Barleywines or Russian Imperial Stouts...Midnight Sun are doing right by Alaskans in brewing this sucker.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.85/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Arctic devil 2007 vintage. Pours hazy brown, settling in the glass dark almond brown with light haze at the top. Thin ring of head with swirling light carbonation in the center. smell comes of a kind of toasted caramel with slight alcohol tones. Tastes very luxurious and sippable. leaves a sugary residue on the lips, not as strong as JW. Lees but much more syrupy than your average craft brew. taste is very warm and sugary, and not nearly as hoppy as most american brewed barley wines. Goes down smooth, with the exception of a slight alcohol twinge at the finish(very bearable twinge, not like samichlaus or anything) but I suspect the alcohol finish will disappear with age and some of the dark fruit flavors present will increase, with a few years I could see this as one of the top barley wines in america. Reminds me of a darker version of john barleycorn, only more syrupy and sweeter. Great buy!

Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber shared over lunch. Dark brown, bubbly initial head. Although the alcohol isn't very apparent, this is strong and calls for food, It's a sipper. Cinammon and spice and nutty barleywine. Full mouthfeel. Flavorful winter warmer crossover, very good.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 22 oz brown bottle; packaged November 2004.

The Arctic Devil is a devil to be sure! This little nip will sneak up on you quick!

It pours a clear, dark-chestnut body with a reddish-cast and glowing crimson and orange highlights. What head comes up initially is a yellow tan; but it doesn't hold for long and leaves only a few spots of lace here and there (which can sometimes happen with stronger beers).

The nose is malty, caramelish, toffee-ish, and lightly hoppy with a leafy side.

The body is full, and it moves across the tongue with a light zest from its exceptionally fine, moderate carbonation (and perhaps some alcohol sting as well!) before warming to become more dextrinous.

Toffee and molasses dominate the flavor, backed by dark sweet fruit (prune, raisin, red grape, some fig), a rub of leafy hops, and a spritz of spicy alcohol. It's rich and malty, but not overly sweet due to it's solid bitterness and alcohol. It finishes with some residual maltiness entwined in drying alcohol that fades to reveal some even longer lingering dull-bitterness.

A better head retention, a touch more complexity, and a little less alcohol would bring this up into world class status! Very nice!

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.94/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Unsure of the vintage but this one is labeled as 10% ABV. Thanks to ipa247 (Jeff) for this one. Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a Darkness snifter.

A: Gentle pour yields just a thin ring of frothy lacing around the edge of the glass. Beer is a semi-cloudy clay-brown. Lacing is stringy and thick with moderate cling. Pretty average.

S: Nose is outstandingly aromatic. Toffee, caramel, brown sugar, and some plum and raisin notes. Alcohol is prominent but not enough to cover the robust flavors. Nice.

T: Opens toffee, caramel, and molasses. Brown sugar, honey, plums, and raisin towards the middle along with a sharp alcohol twinge. More toffee and caramel at the end. Alcohol becomes warming and subtle. Finish is molasses and anise with brown sugar in the aftertaste. Super rich and hearty. Great complexity.

M: Full bodied with low carbonation. Oily and filmy in the mouth with good viscosity. Goes down smooth and warm. Finish is messy with a lingering aftertaste. A bit too thick but incredibly rich and smooth.

O: A monster of a beer, Arctic Devil is a meal in a glass. Incredibly robust and complex with a ton of subtle flavors. However, what keeps it from the top tiers is the huge body and alcohol bite towards the middle and end. Age would probably do wonders to this one. Definitely worth trying and older vintages are likely worth their weight in gold!

Photo of dirtylou
4.47/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber

appearance: served in oversized snifter - rich garnet body with a creamy beige head. nice looking beer

smell: rich and sweet - oak, vanilla, whiskey, dark fruits

taste: really awesome - at 13+% abv, i expected a sticky and excruciatingly sweet beer which was fortunately not the case. sweet brown sugar, dark fruits, oak, whiskey, vanilla, tannic notes, maple. Really good stuff

mouthfeel: creamy and quite smooth, light bitterness

overall: great barleywine

Photo of mikeale
4.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks TexasStout for this one.
Served in a snifter.

A. opaque dark rust ruby body, caramel head fades quick.

S. Caramel, toffey, citrus hops are faint

T. toffey, creamy vanilla, alcohol, leather notes.

M. wow! this is almost chewey, mouth coating, rich,

D. I started this on Saturaday 11:00 A.M. still enjoying over an hour later. Well balanced, I did'nt find the alcohol overpowering.

Yummalisus!

Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.44/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip. Pours a deep brown color. Like a dark stained oak. When held to the light it shows a deep red almost purple. Nice head. Disapated to a film. Decent lacing.

Aroma is of tons of caramel. Molassis a little bit. Rasisns. Man. Tons of aromas going on. I love it.

Taste was super sweet at first. As I drank it nice and slow it became more tolerable. Lots of molassis and a little bit of dark fruits. Caramel and a nice alcohol bite. Soooo tasty.

Mouthfeel is thick at first. Your mouth gets use to it and it gets better as it warms up.

Overall a super tasty barlyewine but I'm glad I shared it with some people because I don't know if I could finish the whole thing.

Photo of nickd717
4.65/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2008 bomber shared by Arbitrator at a tasting.

Pours clear medium brown with a nice small light tan head that fades to a ring.

Aroma is awesome - really strong barrel notes - oak, whiskey, and vanilla. A lot like Perfect Storm. Toasted coconut, caramel, and toffee as well.

Flavor is awesome too. Excellent base barleywine with caramel malt and lots of sweet toffee. Lots of wood, whiskey, vanilla, and coconut

Mouthfeel is straight-up amazing. A little dry with ridiculously full body and lots of alcohol warmth.

Damn, this beer is great. I'm cellaring a bottle of what I think is '07 right now. Looking forward to having this again.

EDIT: Ticked the '07 vintage from the bottle (well, poured into a glass) recently. UN-BE-LIEVABLE. Great -bal character and just so much going on. Nearly the perfect -bal aged barleywine. Just amazing.

Photo of HamFon
4.92/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this at the Walk The Line On Barleywine judge thank-you tasting. It came from my cellar, and vintage 2008.

Wow!

A: clear deep copper with nice slight-off-white head of small bubbles that faded quickly (probably since it's a 10% beer)

S: yummy - all kinds of malt, caramel, English floral and earthy hops, and some dark fruits

T: yummy again - big caramel, toffee, malt, floral, black raisins

M: medium body with lots of malt flavor but not too sweet or cloying

O: This is one of the best English style barleywines I've had - a perfect balance of malt accentuated beer with enough supporting hops to keep it from cloying, and also with some interesting fruitiness that adds more dimensions and complexity.

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Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 1,110 ratings.