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Arctic Devil Barley Wine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

976 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 976
Reviews: 335
rAvg: 4.38
pDev: 8.22%
Wants: 939
Gots: 257 | FT: 36
Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  13.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
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 added by: Todd on 03-24-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 976 | Reviews: 335 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4.85/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Holy god what a beer!

The definition of a traditional barleywine that plays the malt card to its fullest.

Tawny amber in appearence. A one fingered off-white head.

Smell is absolutely heavenly. I finally figured out what this smells like — those penny candy chews called squirrel nut zippers (no not the band which as actaully named after the candy)! If you've ever had one you know what I'm talking about. Molasses, toffee, brown sugar, torrified malt. Perfect.

Taste is more of the same. Honey, molasses, glorious malt. Alcohol is always present but so many other sugary flavors going on that you hardly notice the reputed 14%! Fruits abound: brandied cherries, pineapple, dates, figs, plums hell even appricots. Subtily hopped. Again all about the malt.

Mouthfeel is lush and viscous — like any great beer that has this much malt in it.

Drinkability is fantastic for the high alcohol content and the young age of the bottle: Nov. 2005. Make no mistake though, if you drink this one on your own you will be feeling no pain!

Additionally, I taste and smell a little Sam Adams triple bock oaky/maple syrup thing going on here but without the soy sauce element

Hands down my favorite malty barleywine. Get some.

Rochefort10nh, Apr 05, 2006
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.85/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hugely tarnished copper (like an old penny) with raspberry cordial highlights. I'll take it as a good sign that Arctic Devil is incredibly murky to the point of opacity, a much different look than the gemstone-like lucency of most barleywines. The caramel colored cap looked good right after the pour and looks good as it slowly recedes. Too bad the ABV is a lace killer.

The nose is fantastic! I loved what reached me on the pour and I love it just as much up close. As the style dictates, there isn't a whole lot of hoppiness. That's okay because the aroma is incredible without it. Rich caramel, earthy leather and cherry pipe tobacco lead the way.

As I was pretty sure it would be, Arctic Devil is tremendous beer. My first mouthful told me that it's the best English barleywine that has ever entered my glass. Nothing else even comes close. I need more hoppiness than this for perfection to be a consideration, but this beautifully aged ale is very nearly there. I'm not sure if it's just over two years old or just over three.

What a delicious concoction. The brewery must have used a few tons of caramel malt and included 'who know what else' to get the beer to taste this rich and complex. My description of the nose applies on the palate as well, so I think I'll use it again. Stickysweet and bitter and earthy weave around one another like three strands of a supple barleywine rope. Start it out barely cool, like I did, and your tongue just might explode from sensory overload.

I've changed my mind. When a beer nails a style with this degree of precision, when I'd rather sit and savor it than finish the review, that beer deserves the ultimate compliment of a perfect flavor score. I wish I knew what the oak barrels that were used to age this masterpiece previously contained. Midnight Sun says that there are one of three possibilities for each batch: port, wine or whiskey.

Given the sweet, caramelized sugar that is oozing all over my taste buds, I'll go with bourbon whiskey. Then again, there's a fruity vinousness that suggests port. It really doesn't matter in the end. Whatever was used, I hope my next bottle is placed in the same sort of barrel.

I've had bigger mouthfeels, but I don't know that I've had a more silky smooth big mouthfeel than this one. Lucious doesn't quite capture it. How about superduperfreakinamazinglucious? Every other brewer of barleywines should drink this beer and take copious notes.

I must admit, I expected good to great things from Arctic Devil Barley Wine, but I didn't expect the magnum opus that is currently occupying my snifter. If you love great beer, do yourself a favor and do anything it takes to acquire a bomber of this outstanding elixir. This is my new gold standard for the English barleywine style.

BuckeyeNation, May 22, 2007
Photo of ubenumber2
4.84/5  rDev +10.5%

ubenumber2, Sep 07, 2014
Photo of hippityhops85
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This has to be one of the best beers I have ever tasted. Bottle shared with a good friend. I don't know the year specifically (no year on bottle) Assuming it's around 2006.

Pours a deep ruby/brown with minimal head with a thin ring around the circumference.

The nose literally smells like cinnamon toast crunch but like, the best cinnamon toast crunch you've ever had. Lots of vanilla as well.

The taste follows the whole cinnamon toast crunch thing with excellent toffee and butterscotch notes, deep malt flavors, molasses, some tea flavors as well. Unbelievable how much is going on here.

The mouth feel is superb for a 5+ year old bottle. Very light oxidation, thick mouth feel that isn't overbearing. YUM YUM YUM!!

I would definitely buy this again, and again, and again if I was given the option.

hippityhops85, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of ccrida
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22oz. bomber (this years release, cellared ~3.5 months) into my Midnight Sun cervoise, Arctic Devil is a very dark, murky garnet with a 2 finger tan head that faily quickly settles down to a thick collar, leaving no lace.

Smell is really big, sweet malt, fruity, with wonderfully dominating barrel aged notes of vanilla and coconut. Wow, fantastic.

Taste equally strong and rich, huge caramel maltiness and fruit esters, and again, loads of vanilla and coconut. I love the complex flavors from the barrel aging, they really make this beer. Hints of wassil spices, fig, nuts, anise, a noticeable alcohol character that keeps it spicy without adding many fusels. This is one of my all-time favorite barleywines, though I haven't had it since the '07 Hard Liver Barleywine fest at Brower's in Seattle....they had that years, and a 3-5 year old version that absolutely blew my mind, it was the best in show out of a good 50 great brews. Which is why I ponied up $15 a bomber for a bunch of these so I can let 'em run in the cellar for as long as I can hold out!

Mouthfeel is pretty thick and chewy, though booze keeps it dry and helps thin it out some.

Drinkability is way to good for a beer I want to forget I have for a couple of years!!! I'm glued to the couch watching the Elite 8 right now after an epic spring powder dump at Mt. Hood today, and can't think of a better choice for melting away my extreme soreness from floating the 2+ ft of freshies. If you like big, fruity English BWs, this is an absolute must try.

ccrida, Mar 30, 2008
Photo of gkatsoris
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: Pitch black; exactly like an RIS. No head at all, but there is lacing on the glass as I drink.

S: Black cherries, brown sugar, peaches, pineapple, raisins, brown sugar, vanilla, butterscotch

T: Butterscotch, brown sugar, vanilla. Raisins, molasses, and butter.

M: Thick & chewy and thick & chewy. Foam-a-licious. Perfect!

O: God this is delicious! Please come to PA!

thanks Beership!

gkatsoris, May 19, 2013
Photo of coldmeat23
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees

Pours a very dark amber color with brown tinting and deep ruby highlights. A two-finger head of dark tan colored foam sits on top. This recedes to a thin, filmy, surface covering. Lacing is in thick ropes and very sticky.

Huge malt presence which is sweet, yet delicate, and extremely deep. An underlying smell which is not unlike maple syrup combined with a good, high-end, whiskey. Mild oak notes. An extremely small presence of citrus hop notes. It just smells butterey, rich and decadent.
This is an excellent smelling barleywine and pretty much what I look for, from the style.

Good lord, that's good.
A massively deep and rich malt profile stands, boldly, front and center. Big notes of rich, butterey, milk caramels. Huge presence of figs and raisins. A nice level of lightly burnt sugars. Butterey oak notes. Smooth vanilla presence. Toasted hazelnuts. A very light kiss of hop bitterness, on the finish, keeps it from becoming cloying.
This is very possibly the best barleywine that I've ever had. I hate cold weather, but I'd almost move to Alaska to have better access to this.

Very full-bodied brew. This one is thick, viscous and oily, just the way I like 'em to be. The lower-medium level of carbonation is perfect. This one is super smooth and even has a light touch of creaminess to it.

The high abv content would definitely relegate this one to 'sipper' category, although it's very nicely hidden. I'd love to have two or three of these, though, so as to 'sip' on this lovely brew all night long.
This is an excellent barleywine and one hell of an introduction for me to Midnight Sun Brewerey. I must find more....

coldmeat23, Sep 03, 2009
Photo of aerozeppl
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to dmeadows for the share. We did the 2007 and 2008 side by side. The 07 was 10% while the 08 was slightly stronger. Looks like I wrote 1?.4

A: The 07 had more carbonation. The 2008 was a little bit darker. Both are a nice garnet color with some ruby color in there as well. Really a great looking english barleywine.

S: The 07 was so mellow and nice. The 98 is sweeter and a little boozier. More malt. The nose has a ton of malt. The barrel gives it that smooth nose. Just blended everything together.

T: More oak in the 08. More booze as well but still smooth. The thing I could not get over was how smooth the 07 was. Reminded me of a 1998 JW Lees. Just so well balanced. One of the best barleywines I have ever had. Excellent use of barrel aging.

M: Very smooth. Nice carbonation. Both vintages.

D: Amazingly drinkable. Just so smooth. I really loved this beer. Deserves to be in the top 100.

aerozeppl, Jun 04, 2010
Photo of ChadQuest
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

YeahNateNelson got a high five for this pour, i think 2 high-fives actually. If anyone else has a bottle, i will FT: 3 high fives. I probally owe Nate another one too.

So this bottle was an 08, and everything had melded so well it was unreal. There was little alcohol heat, but some deep bourbon flavors are still there. Caramel and Toffee had overtaken all others and created a slightly chewy palate coating monster of a BW. There was a resin hop note that is all flavor and no bitter, and a mammoth butterscotch richness. This one is an awesome Barleywine, i will need to track down a bottle.

ChadQuest, May 02, 2011
Photo of russpowell
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Purchased from bottletrek $16, plus delivery. Here's hoping it lives up to the hype!

Pours an effervescent ruby tinged chestnut with 2+ fingers of fluffy sand colored head. Average lacing & head retention for the style, nice viscous look

S: Oaky, vanilla notes along with other bourbon notes, plus figs

T: Rich dark fruit, singed dark sugar, molasses, & a bit of booze warmth/burn up front. English Christmas pudding, a bit of chocolate, dryness & subtle leafy/herbal hoppyness as this warms some more. Finishes dry, with tons of dark fruit, leafy hops, & more Christmas pudding, if I could give this an A++ I would

MF: Gooey, with near zero carbonation, luscious!

Drinks great for the style & this is a great English Barley wine with a bit of a twist, this devil will get to you before you get to him! Great offering, better than this rating! But very few beers/wines or liquors are worth this price (unless bootlegged)

russpowell, Apr 30, 2008
Photo of largadeer
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage. Hazy amber-brown in color with a small tan head. Rich malty aroma, woody with light resin and sherry-like oxidation. Figs, raisins, huge caramel sweetness. Similar on the palate; dark dried fruit, oak, tannins, toffee. Massive body, remarkably viscous. Deep resiny hops in the finish, noticeably faded with age but still packing a punch, and quite tannic too.

largadeer, May 19, 2009
Photo of womencantsail
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A big thanks to Kevin for opening this one during the Bruery 2nd Anniversary.

A: The pour is a slightly hazy dark amber color with a medium off-white head on it.

S: A really top notch bouquet on this one. Rich caramel, toffee, burnt sugar, and dark fruits. Some bourbon, vanilla, and some more caramel for good measure.

T: The sweetness is certainly present, but it is not cloying at all. The caramelized and "burnt" sugar flavors offer some balance and interact wonderfully with the cherries, plums, and vanilla.

M: A smooth and silky mouthfeel, nearly chewy but not syrupy. A low to moderate carbonation and a pleasant alcohol warmth.

D: Easily one of the best barleywines I've had and one of my new favorites.

womencantsail, May 24, 2010
Photo of beerwolf77
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to me for busting this out while at a recent tasting. 08 vintage. Split into tulips.

A: Cinnamon brown with a slight red tint. Small beige head leaves tiny soapy lace flecks.

S: Rich malt, heavily buttered and sugared white toast. Caramel and toffee drizzled dates and figs. Sweet tarts, mild earthy hops and a bit of leather. The alcohol is faint. Damn there's a lot going on here.

T: Wow! Super sweet and rich caramel malt. The tartness of the hops is still lingering after all this time. Giving it a great push and pull. Dark fruits, brown sugar, bread crusts and maybe a hint of leather in the finish. I can't pick up hardly a trace of the alcohol.

M: Full creamy body. It just slowly drips off the tongue.

O: This was a beer that totally lived up to the hype. I could drink a whole bottle myself. Maybe I will one of these days.

beerwolf77, Apr 17, 2011
Photo of hardy008
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2011 Vintage

Pours a cloudy copper color with an almost full finger light tan head, with nice retention for a high abv beer, and spotty lacing. Has a very nice aroma with figs, dates, raisins, caramel, oak, vanilla, and a little Whiskey. Just a fantastic smelling beer.

Tastes every bit as great as the aroma suggests, and then some. Has a nice sweet flavor, which is not overly sweet, with figs, dates, raisins, caramel, oak, vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, and a little bit of Whiskey. I let this one age for a while, and it has aged and developed beautifully.

Medium bodied, smooth, with low carbonation. The alcohol is extremely well hidden for a 13.4 % abv beer. This is an outstanding beer.

hardy008, Jan 21, 2014
Photo of OneBeertoRTA
4.79/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I bought two cases of 2013 and now that I'm on my last bottle of case #1 I figured a review is well deserving.

Pour- is a dark traditional BBBW color with a good finger in a half of head.

Smell- Nice sweet bourbon, fruit and some mellow malts

Taste- I can tell you after 11 of his brothers that this is an all around fantastic representation of the style. With a healthy abv of 13.4% I can literally taste no heat. Nothing beats one of these bad boys during a laker game or before dinner.

Mouthfeel- Carbonation is perfect and the drinkability second to none in the style

Overall- for a BW and especially BBBW lover this is a fantastic beer. I bought two cases for a reason and haven't traded a single one. Just the right mix of bourbon, oak barrel and traditional barley wine. Drinkable as all hell for the abv and just the right sweetness. Would recommend this to any BBBW lover.

OneBeertoRTA, Apr 05, 2012
Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
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!

SkinnyElvis, Dec 16, 2006
Photo of Docer
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Found a bottle (22oz.) of this some time ago at The BeerMongers... must have been sitting on it in my 12 Deg. C cooler now for over 6 months... I only bought 1 bottle... so I am a bit disappointed by that. Not the beer.

- Poured into a rather narrow French, roughly 17.5 oz. mug... not much head to speak of... though not a bad thing for me. I like my barleywines to pour this way. Slowly a thin blanket of velvety cream colored head road above the clear, rather dark brown, and molasses-like colored brew. As it sits... a nice solid ring exists with a spot in the center (so the nose doesn't get a fluff of head) of none. This is a clean and solid looking barleywine. Wish Shakespeare were here to see it.

- Pleasant brown sugar, molasses.. burnt or charred sugars.. cane.... brown... grains and oats.. all together... mingle without being a strong candy blast. The vanilla from the barrels seems to have calmed, and melded this into perfection. Somebody knows what they are doing here.

- Vanilla and wood.... a dry oak flavor exists within a super grainy, and super balanced sweetness that I can not describe. I think I sat on this bottle for the perfect amount of time. I let it oxidize and settle just perfect... or; this brewery just made one of the best barleywines I have ever had. Balanced brown sugars, molasses, charred grain, and robust oats.... touch of bitterness without the strong fruit. I am flabbergasted.

- Thick, but not too much so... heavy... but light on the palate... this is smooth... and a whopping 13.4%? Holy Moses it can not be? But there is a touch of heat... a heat in which I believe would have been stronger if I had it sooner. But with their aging and blending,... I am sure they already knew they had a sleeper.

- What can I say that I haven't? This is by far the best strong ale, barleywine.... or barrel aged barleywine I have had. They are doing something right up there in cold country. Get this... a few times, and sit on a few like a chicken ready to pop.

(2008 Vintage)

Docer, Apr 01, 2010
Photo of sweemzander
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 2008 Vintage. Huge thanks to beerwolf77 for sharing this one! Been a longtime want for me personally.

(A)- Pours a deep dark burnt caramel color that produced a good tan colored head for the ABV that dissipated down to froth.

(S)- A nice rich caramel sweetness. Hints at fig, raisin, and brown sugar. Honey subtle sweetness; toffee too.

(T)- So smooth! Rich and sweet with very similar characters from the smell; caramel and toffee with fig, honey, and brown sugar. Has a very subtle yet sexy dry oak finish.

(M)- A nice mellow carbonation level. Very sweet and rich, but so smooth and easy on the palate despite the huge 13.4% ABV.

(D)- A fantastic Barleywine. Sweet and rich but so smooth for how boozy this is SUPPOSED to be, but is the opposite. Being around 3 years old, this has even more life left in it for the future. Just amazing stuff that is drinking very well currently.

sweemzander, Apr 06, 2011
Photo of ricke49
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

When considering english barleywines. if you divided the relatively low alcohol ones (i.e Anchor OLD Fofhorn defining the style) and the high alcohol ones (Arctic Devil establishing the bar); this barleywine - acrtic devil by Midnigth Sun is the premier high alcohol english style barleywine, in my humble opinion. Wow! smooth and 13% abv don't normally exist in the same sentence, but this wonderous brew manages to pull it off. The full malt/raisen/fig complex is present as is the warmth....but the bite is nowhere to be found (well....maybe at the very back of the taste perameters). A great brew!

ricke49, Aug 08, 2010
Photo of ajs4bd
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage, into a snifter

A - Dark reddish amber, with a very soft, thin head and small, smooth bubbles.

S - Heavy malty aroma, strong sweet cherry aromas, with hints of molasses, caramel, and prunes.

T - As much as or more than the aroma! This beer is very sweet, with definite hints of sweet cherry. The molasses and caramel also come through, as well as other dried fruits.

M - Very soft, low and small carbonation. A great feeling for a barleywine, nearly ideal. Coats the mouth completely. I can't believe this is only a year old. As full and flavorful as a 10 year old JW Lees.

D - A definite cool weather beer, but not too sweet or overwhelming that it would only be a nightcap. Easy to drink a bottle without completely blowing out the palate.

ajs4bd, Nov 23, 2009
Photo of HopAttack3
4.76/5  rDev +8.7%

HopAttack3, Sep 26, 2014
Photo of Resuin
4.76/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bomber into a snifter. No bottle date but I believe this is this year's version. ABV is listed as 13.4% on bottle. This is being served at just under 50 degrees, but will warm slightly as I drink it.

Appearance: Pours black with a half-finger tan head, which fades slowly to a layer atop the black beer.

Smell: Delicious, strong bourbon and vanilla definitely out first. Chocolate, slightly roasted malts, dark fruits. Really delicious aroma.

Taste: Bourbon out front again mixed with vanilla, chocolate, figs, malts, and finishes with some woody oak. Pretty sweet, really well balanced, and absolutely delicious. Alcohol is masked brilliantly. Phenomenal.

Mouth-feel: Medium carbonation and a really creamy, thick body. Wonderful.

Overall: This is an all-around outstanding beer. The bourbon comes through in the perfect amount for me, and the other flavors, all of which are delicious, blend together for a fantastic profile. Some beers with a similar profile to this are overly sweet, but this one is just perfect.

Resuin, Oct 01, 2013
Photo of brownbeer
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

brownbeer, Feb 14, 2014
Photo of NWer
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

NWer, Aug 23, 2013
Photo of BigE90
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

BigE90, Apr 18, 2014
Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 976 ratings.