Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Arctic Devil Barley Wine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

355 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 355
Hads: 1,209
Avg: 4.35
pDev: 15.17%
Wants: 976
Gots: 301 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 355 | Hads: 1,209
Photo of wagenvolks
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 bomber into a Stone Old Guardian tulip. BIG thanks to hopsleeroy for bringing this my way...been wanting to try it for a while.

Pours a deep sienna hue with hints of mahogany at the edges. Dark custard head composed of tightly packed bubbles that retains well and builds quickly with a swirl of the glass. Intricate, intoxicating aroma of maple syrup, caramel, toffee, and a pungent, boozy alcohol note. All in perfect syncopation with one another (aka, great balance).

Taste matches the aroma well, with lots of complex toffee malts and a flavorful boozy liquor presence of brandy and rum. Bread and biscuits lurk in the background with a pinch of earthen hops. Body is smooth to no end (not creamy), with a near-perfect carbonation level and a medium-thick mouthfeel. I really enjoyed this beer, not only a fantastic introduction to Midnight Sun, but a great barleywine as well! Highly recommended.

 907 characters

Photo of Beerzebub
4.37/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured in a big wine glass at 57 F/ 14 C.

Deep garnet color, ring of yellow-beige froth, fine intricately patterned lace.

Pungent, heady aromas of sweet tobacco, vanilla, dark caramel, bourbon, earth, something sort of like clay, and some fresh herbs and spices.

Tastes massively sweet. Loads of complex caramel malt and vanilla, with some mild herbal/grassy hop flavor, some menthol, and clearly discernible but beautifully integrated port, bourbon, and oak flavors from the barrels. A bit of woody astringency, but the wood never dominates the malt. Long finish of malt, wood, spices, and menthol, with the sweetness fading but still there.

Viscous sticky texture. Quite drinkable for what it is.

 702 characters

Photo of mykie73
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

a) Burgandy caramel, burnt amber color with small lacing

s) Complex. red apples, cherries, hint of figs, vanilla, toffee

t) delicious; tastes like it smells but with more toffee. lingering after taste. reminds me of eating a twix bar in away. can not taste the alcohol at all.

f) so smooth, does not coat mouth, great feel.

d) very drinkable. A spendy beer at $15 a pop so something you bring out for a special treat. Very happy that this beer is very available in Oregon. Tremendous Barley Wine.

 500 characters

Photo of paco1029384756
4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a ruby brown color with a small off white head.

Scent of grass, earth, molasses, caramel, tobacco, and fruit. balanced and complex, alcohol is masked very well.

Taste of maple, sugars, tea, tobacco, and a hint of mint. Strong and tasty Barleywine.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and rich with some carbonation.

 315 characters

Photo of Grabbin2nd
3.85/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Notes: 12/28/08
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Arctic Devil B-wine

Big shout out to my mom, who hooked this up for Christmas. How awesome is that?

Appearance=Very dark brownish/black beer. Vigorous pour into pub glass (I know, I know...)yields a slow rising off white, 1 finger head that dissipates rather quickly.

Smell= Honestly, not much. I'm kinda sick. I get the sweet caramel malt smell, along with the hops and alcohol.

Taste= Good. A little on the sweeter side I'd say, compared to Avery Hog Heaven

Mouthfeel= Good mouth on it. Full bodied.

Drinkability= @ 10%, along with the sweetish thick mouthfeel, does not make the drinkability that high. With that being said, I finished this beer no problem.

 712 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 release; Sampled January 2009
Served at around 60°F / 15.6°C. The beer pours into my 25cl tulip glass with a three-finger thick, amber tinged, full tan colored head. The beer is a dark, concentrated amber color that shows a brilliantly clear, deep cranberry hue when held up to the light. The aroma first hits with sticky hop aromatics but is soon backed by a solid malt note. Up front there are notes of grapefruit zest and pine needles, but the sticky, candied malt character seems to slowly win out over the hop character. Malt aromatics of brown-sugar crusted raisins, toasted-toffee-glazed pastries, perhaps a hint of cherry notes and a light, toasted nut note that because of the sweet malt reminds me of candied nuts. The hop character is never totally subsumed by the malt, it seems to add a sort of green, sort of herbal vegetation type thing to the nose.

Very sweet and rich feeling, up front there is a solid herbal hop note as well as a reasonable bitterness in the finish, but this beer is really about the malt. Rich notes of toffee, brown sugar and a touch of cocoa along with a deep, toasted malt note make this quite the chewy beer. The finish has a bit of warm alcohol to it that along with the sweet malts reminds me a bit of a dark rum; the alcohol warmth is brought out by some spicy oak notes and there also seems to be a touch of vanillin noticeable underneath the sweet malt. There is a touch of toasted, not quite roasted grain here, it adds a touch of almost bitterness that couples with the astringency from the tannic oak, both of which provide some balance to the dominant sweet malt.

After noticing the oak in the flavor, I can now pick it up in the aroma; it adds a soft spiciness and probably exacerbates the green hop notes a bit as well. The hop character though seems to completely fade into the background after this has breathed for a bit; much of the sharp, un-integrated character was likely from the barrel, and it still is a bit jarring. Somehow, despite not being the most well integrated beer, this just oozes potential. Part of the charm of this beer for me is the fact that I can just see this aging so well.

I am disappointed in myself for not getting two bottles of this. The hop character in this fresh example are really a distraction, despite how slight they are (though they are magnified a bit by the sharp oak character), I want this beer to be all about the malt and I have the feeling that a bit of age will make this beer fantastic; the hops, and even the oak character should round out considerably and the beer should turn into heaven in a glass.

Purchased: Liquid Solutions

 2,643 characters

Photo of orcasteve
4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into my duvel tulip glass, poured a rich thick borwn that cant be seen through, a rich creamy five finger head rises to the top and stays awhile, the smell is rich grain and alchoal with a sweet fig overtone, the flavor is figs, hazelnuts, molasses, honney, sweet malt, a hint of folaral hops then malt for days. this hides the alochal well and is a beer that i would love to get more of

 394 characters

Photo of abfraser
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to waltonc for sharing this

A: Nice dark brown amber with a decent sized tan head. This one looks like its going to be thick.

S: Amazing. Pure sweet caramel malt. By smell alone, you know this is going to be a fantastic one.

T/M: This is all high alcohol caramel malt, with a nice fruit flavor in the background. I prefer these English-style barleywine's more than the "American" variety because of this strong malt profile. A lot of other barleywines are dominated by hoppy bitterness, which I'm not a fan of as much in these types of beers. Mouth is a little thick. But this is hardly syrupy or cloying.

D: I could drink this as much as I was physically capable. Great stuff.

 688 characters

Photo of waltonc
4.64/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Carmel, amber color without much head.

S: One of the better smelling beers I can recall having. Strong sweet caramel, toffee, and dark fruit.

T: Very strong flavor here, the beer is likely stuffed with calories, which translates to an outstanding sweet caramel and dark fruit taste. Unlike some barleywines, I didn't experience any burn with this. Seems similar to some old ales, such as Fourth Dementia.

M: Thick, and on the edge of syrupy, but not.

D: In spite of the high ABV, I had no difficulty with this one. A truly exceptional barleywine in my view. Hop lovers may be disappointed. This is the antithesis of a "San Diego" beer.

 643 characters

Photo of BeerTruth
3.52/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Got this one from mashmaster on RB.

22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter. Month and week bottled notched on the side of the glass.

Pours a murky deep brown with a fast one finger khaki colored head that disappears into almost nothing. Mediocre spotty lacing clings to the sides of the glass. Smell is dominated by the malts. Mostly dark fruits in the nose; dates, raisins, fig, and overripe cherries. Leather and pipe tobacco leaves add an interesting aroma as well. A good dose of booze can be detected in each whiff too. Taste starts off with a strong alcohol sting followed by syrupy caramel malts and earth. Midway, more booze with licorice, molasses, and brown sugar. The finish burns the back of my throat with spice and rich nutty flavors. Malt monster from start to finish lacking the bitterness to balance it out. Big body and a strong sting from, what else, but the alcohol along with a flowing carbonation. The 10% is clearly there, and if I didn't know ahead of time, I would have guessed it was upwards of 15%. Ugh, I gotta go run and get a Zantac...

 1,064 characters

Photo of stumac
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my buddy Onslow for this brew. I did a blind tasting on this one and I couldn't guess the style. I guessed a doppelbock. "A doppel, ass clown?" says Onslow. I suck...lol

Aged for 1 year....

pours up a brown color with amber edges and a small tan head. the nose is lots of malts (the malts smell foreign, maybe German?), mollasses, powdered chocolate. Wooo! A nice big beer! I taste chocolate powder, subtle caramel, very earthy, yeasty, subtle fruit, sweet. Full bodied, low carbo, very smoothe. I do love me some Midnight Sun!

 539 characters

Photo of rhinos00
4.64/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

First things first. Huge thanks to Jeff (Faro) for giving me the opportunity to try this beer. Secondly, I would like to thank Frank (AKBelgianBeast), whose recommendations forced me to open this bottle prematurely ;)

Vintage 2006 - Poured into a snifter.

A- A dark, dull amber. Half finger of tan head formed and dissipated quickly upon consumption. As a side note, I love the artwork on this bottle.

S- I could sum this up in one word. Glorious. Initially there was a nice smell of caramel and malts. Infused with this was a compilation of dark fruits that offered a very distinct aroma. To add to the complexity, just barely detectable, was a subtle sweetness of cherries and other fruits that just lingered in the background.

T- As the beer warmed, the taste became more pronounced and bold. Pretty much follows the nose. Caramel malts bring a nice flavor to the palate and are then capped off by a distinct sweet, fruit flavor that just warms the body as it's consumed.

M- Absolutely perfect. Thick, but smooth. Little carbonation. Really enjoyed the sugary residue that stuck to my lips.

D- This beer would probably be better if it was shared with two people. However, it is so good that one can't help but keep it for themself. At 10% ABV this is definitely a sipper, but every second is so worth it.

Overall, I am extremely gracious that I had the gumption to open this bottle. I have been wanting to try it, but was just afraid of opening it up. Drinking this makes me want to move out west, immediately. Highly recommended.

 1,542 characters

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

07/09/08. - - Courtesy of tpd975. Pours amber with tan head. The aroma is big and inviting with caramel and rich dark fruity esters of grapes, plums and sweet berries before it heats up a bit. The taste is rich and yummy but does have some alcohol welling up. I get creamy caramel candy and some nutty roasty malts. Then the big dark fruitiness comes in and rides into the finish along with a warming alcohol sensation. Leaves a sweet lip smacking feeling behind. <br /><br /> Sampled at the O-Town throwdown. This beer has a nearly opaque copper color with thin tan head. The aroma is pretty big with lots of dark fruitiness and with hints of caramel and sweet malts. There also seems to be some whisky and alcohol in the background. The flavor is delicious barleywine dark and shriveled fruit flavors with a whisky and sweet caramel under currents. It ends sweet, syrupy and rather nice.

 901 characters

Photo of hopdog
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled date of November '04.

Poured a dark and cloudy brown color with a small off white head. Aromas of vanilla, dark fruits and wood. Tastes of vanilla, dark fruits, brown sugar, and molasses. Sweet. Light alcohol in the finish. Overall a very tasty Barley Wine.

Notes from 4/15/05

 287 characters

Photo of edmedina
4.67/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours with about 1 fingers worth of head. The color is a nice dark brown color. Definitely no light coming through it. The smell is a nice sweet licorice. The taste is pretty over powering. You start out with the same licorice taste and then it becomes more sweet almost a brown sugar sweetness taste. There is some bite to the taste showing the alcohol content here. It does leave the brown sugar as an after taste. I really enjoy this particular barleywine and have managed to store another away to age for a little while. I am sure the taste will settle down some more.

 575 characters

Photo of Sixpoint
3.92/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5


I remember having this beer several years ago and it tasted much better then. However, my sample this time around was nothing to sneeze at...

Yet this beer must be restrained for its absolute brute strength. You can practically feel the alcohol vaporizing off this bad-azz mutha.

And she's got a body of a sumo wrestler. Bear hugs you and takes you down for a death crawl.

Definitely a sipper by the fireside.

 424 characters

Photo of mentor
4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear red-brown liquid with minimal tan head. Smells cleanish alcohol, brown sugar, soured caramel (from aged oxidation), and dark esters such as raisin.

Tastes wet sweet, nice caramel and buttery with some sherry-like (soured caramel) oxidation. dark fruits heavy in the mouth (fig and brown raisin). Touch of scorch to the toffee. Thick dextrinous mouthfeel, yet dries in the finish. Modest carbonation at best. Yummy.

 429 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick, viscous , hazy, dark chestnut with a thin swirly head that disappears to a thin ring. Smells rich, malty, winey, and syrupy with some spicebox notes and yeasty fruitiness. The taste is huge and thick and spicy. Quite sweet up-front, but spicy, tannic, and dry at the finish. Big pine spiciness, some rich cellared fruit, alcohol heat, sweet mat, and a big tannic bitterness. This is a huge, over-the-top beer- and I love it! Mouthfeel is rich and viscous and tannic and hot. Can't drink too much of this stuff!

 525 characters

Photo of boralyl
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to AKBelgianBeast for this one. The bottle is dated Jan 2008.

A - Pours about 1/2 finger of tan head that settles quickly leaving a ring. The beer is a very dark amber color that almost looks purple. It's dark enough that not much light comes through.

S - The aroma is nice and complex, brown sugar, sherry, dark fruits and a definite alcohol smell.

M - A full-bodied beer with a thick syrupy feel to it. It is nicely carbonated for the style.

T - A large array of flavors in this complex beast. It begins with some sweet malts, followed by a brandy alcohol flavor. Next up are a small amount of hops to help balance the malts. A warm alcohol feel works it's way down and the after taste is of sweet brown sugar.

A very unique brew for sure. This is my first English Barley Wine and I have to say it certainly hasn't let me down. With that being said I don't think this is really my type of beer, more of those every once and a while brews. It's huge at around 14%, so after the bomber is done you've got a nice little buzz on. I'd definitely recommend sipping on this one to take the time to enjoy it's flavors.

 1,124 characters

Photo of alexgash
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle served at 45 degrees F.

Pours a slightly opaque maple syrup brown. Lighter edges. Small, tight, wispy, khaki brown head. Nose of rich caramel, sherry, Madeira, more caramel, vinous tannins, brandied fruits, and a whiff of chocolate pudding. Complex and very impressive.

Warming reach of brandy-soaked dark fruits up front. Develops some caramel malt sweetness with a vinous edge. Hints of vanilla, sherry, and oak. Rich cookie and caramel malt settle in mid-palate before giving way to warming alcohol and mildly herbal bitter hops. Long finish with lingering caramel, toffee, and fruit. Full-bodied with a thick, lush, creamy feel. Very nice!

 660 characters

Photo of trill
4.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a very dark brown, nearly opaque, with a Guinness-like sticky tan head. The aroma is remarkably refined for a young English-style barleywine. Loads of brown sugar, raisins, toffee, dark bread, and just a trace of pungent hops, without any harsh alcohol fumes. The flavor is equally smooth and equally rich; I picked up vanilla, rum, oatmeal raisin cookies, molasses, and a touch of smokiness. The carbonation level is more active than I expected, but this beer finishes smoother than any I've had in the style, which includes some ten-year-old JW Lees.

I thought about trading this one, but I'm glad I didn't. Definitely worth the trouble of acquiring.

 669 characters

Photo of DIM
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This was a pretty, dark mahogany color that was slightly hazy. It poured with a smallish light tan head that didn't last long.

s: Big dark fruit aromas of cherries and plums leap out of the glass. Mildly sweet elements of peaty vanilla as well. There are some mildly alcoholic flowery hops to round out a very appealing nose.

t: Up front this had sweet flavors of malty cherries with a hint of vanilla. These turned a bit prickly and sour before a dry, floral finish. Some perfumed alcoholic warmth emerges as this breathes.

m: This had a very nice, silky, velvety texture. It was relatively still, but I think that worked pretty well here.

d: This might be the best English barleywine I've tried. $16 a bomber means this will probably be my only bottle, but I don't regret the purchase.

 795 characters

Photo of mnapier
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Service Temperature, 55 degrees. Service Glassware, 12 ounce Tulip.

A dark pool with little or no light escaping that pours a mild khaki head that leaves no lace behind.
The nose is a strong alcohol nose that wafts along with some brown sugar, raisins, and a slight bit of cherry.
The mouth is mostly brown sugar with some raisins, figs, and a slight berry zest. Mouthfeel is medium to strong but not overwhelming.

I like this beer but will have to wait till the winter period to fully appreciate it.


 511 characters

Photo of CrellMoset
4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared with gford217 - another phenomenally generous crack. Poured into a Terrapin snifter.

Appearance: Hazy, orange red brown - tons of colors, insane - with a great-looking tan head with a very fine, even bubble structure and great retention. Iridescent and oily looking under the light.

Aroma: Tons of alcohol, even more dark fruit and fruity esters - figs, raisins, very vinous and grape-like. There's also smoke and some salty notes, about halfway between cured ham and soy sauce, which become more pronounced as it warms.

Taste: The first thing you notice is how DARK this barleywine is. It's almost part-RIS, part barleywine. Roasted toffee, smoky butterscotch, and other dark, toasted malt notes intermingle with figs, raisins, lighter fruit notes and other sweeter, more traditional barleywine notes. Tons of alcohol, but it's smooth and warm. Crazy, and very interesting.

M: Chewy and thick, oily in places. Amazingly fine-bubbled and even. Very well done.

D: Pungent alcohol on this one, fairly high, but it's very interesting and unique - one of my new favorites of the style.

 1,102 characters

Photo of gford217
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, deep copper with a two-finger buttery head which linger throughout and leaves sporadic lacing. Aroma is big on dark fruits, figs and raisins mainly, and caramel malts. Alcohol burn really comes out as it warms. Taste is big and roasty, with dark fruits dominating. Toffee and caramel malts are present throughout with a definite alcohol burn and a hint of oak in the finish. Mouthfeel is incredible and silky smooth with strong carbonation. This is definitely a sipper and a fantastic barleywine.

 510 characters

Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 355 ratings.