Arctic Devil Barley Wine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

348 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 348
Hads: 1,164
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 7.82%
Wants: 973
Gots: 288 | FT: 38
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
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Reviews: 348 | Hads: 1,164
Photo of harrymel
2.5/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottled 31JAN13
Pours really dark- like nearly stout. Tan foam and spotty lace
Smells sweet, boozy, nougat, vanilla...actually, this beer is a mess
Taste is sweet booze, vanillas, raisin, marshmallows. Full body with moderate on low carved and a dry, peeling finish. I wasn't happy last time and I'm less impressed now.

Review 08MAR12
3.5/4.5/3.5/2.5/3.5-3.6
Vintage 2011, ABV 13.4%
Pours a dark amber body with fleeting tan head, leaving a sheet of the same. Caramel, vanilla, oak, bourbon, Brandy(?), seafoam, hints of leather and sherry oxidation. Flavor is similar to the nose, but less impressive and there is an alcoholic tinge to the finish. Thin bodied and low carb, the booze is evident on this one and leaves a burn. This is a good beer, but my favorite was the '08, sadly I didn't review back then, but I recall a fuller body and more refined character in the beer. As it stands, I would advise trying this beer, but not really seeking it out particularly hard, unless you're ChadQuest or other peeps that really dig the BA BW's. (1,043 characters)

Photo of tai4ji2x
3.13/5  rDev -28%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

from liquidsolutions or bottletrek (i forget), by way of stevemcqueenjr.

22oz bomber. there is a notching scheme, marked for january, but is also double-notched for both the 2nd and 5th weeks. no year?

tasted in late april/early may 2009. poured into tulip.

dark brown amber. nearly clear, ruby tones under the light. large, yellowish tan head soon fades to wisps and ring. lacing never sticks.

aroma: caramel, apple and dates, w rum and brandy tones, but also fusels and alcohol. some earthy, faintly fruity hop. diacetyl? more fusel?

taste: rich caramel maltiness with again apple, fig and brandy tones. moderate english hopping with moderate bitterness. but that fusel/diacetyl/whatever note, along with booziness, really cuts into you...

almost viscous and syrupy, with light astringency towards the end. again that weird fusel/chemical/whatever character juts in and distracts. mild to moderate carbonation is neutral in effect.

huh? what is this doing in the top 100, let alone the #1 english BW? or maybe i got a bad bottle? (1,038 characters)

Photo of charlesw
3.25/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A really interesting barleywine. WAY overpriced. Like, wow. Like... Wow and wow wow overpriced. I'm pissed that I paid so much for it without really noticing. Oh well. Oh. I guess that says how much I liked it, doesn't it? 'Cause, well, I didn't really like it. It's syrupy sweet with little to no bitterness and that alone... Yeah. Only, it's weird. It's not the syrup of a Lee's - it's more like a chocolate syrup. Weird. Only, not really in a good way. Not thrilled with it. Nice and thick. Not opaque enough but really nice head. Too sweet and thick without the bitterness. Well, like an English barleywine. Yawn. (617 characters)

Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
3.42/5  rDev -21.4%
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 (882 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.45/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy deep amber/ brown-ish color with a small tannish head. In the aroma, dark fruit, raison, fig, and licorice. In the taste, big licorice and fig, with a small bitterness in the end. A smooth and medium mouthfeel, with a dry syrupy and dark fruit aftertaste. Hides the alcohol in flavor, but can feel the burn, yet a bit syrupy. (340 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
3.46/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got this one from Stupac in a recent trade. Thanks for doing the dirty work!

From a bomber into a snifter
Vintage: 2011
Aged in American oak whisky barrels

APPEARANCE: Pours a two finger, medium-thick, creamy looking, off-white head with good retention. Dark maroon red in color, clear, with higher levels of carbonation evident. Head eventually fades to a nice full wisp with carbonation ploughing through the top. A good wisp remains until the end and leaves some nice lacing down the glass. Good looking.

SMELL: Caramel malts, dark fruits, like rasins and dates, as well as some spicy and peppery yeast notes. Light hints of whisky and oak from the barrels, but not much. More fruit and light spices. Only medium strength.

TASTE: Caramel and dark fruits with peppery spices up front. Some nice rasins and dates at the swallow, with notes of oak and some boozy whisky as well. Alcohol is very well hidden. Mild but lingering aftertaste of spicy alcohol, oak, and caramel, fruity sweetness. Medium strength flavors and the ABV is well hidden. Quite nice really.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Creamy on the palate, goes down fine with a little scratch at the back and finishes slightly sticky. Decent feel. A hint of heat lingers, but minimal.

OVERALL: A solid beer that's easy enough to drink, but somewhat lack luster compared to others in the style. The base beer is a little mild, and the barrel aging a little too restrained perhaps. Something worth checking out if you see it, but nothing earth shattering enough to go out of your way for. I'd have it again, but would most likely pick something else first. Thanks again for the trade Stupac. Much appreciated. (1,691 characters)

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.47/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 22oz bomber to Portsmouth glass on 3/10/12
*From notes

-- Thanks as always, John --

Vintage 2008

A: Splatter-ass brown in color. To call this beer ugly is a bit of an understatement. A gentle pour yields an ivory .25 finger head that fades quickly. A small white collar rims the glass.

S: Graham cracker and malt. I'm not getting a whole lot of bourbon or spirit quality on the bouquet.

T: Mellow is a good way of putting it. Again, there's not a whole lot of wood, tannin or any type of spirit quality to this properly cellared barleywine. Instead, I get a generous amount of oatmeal cookie and earth. About as low key as you could expect out of a bigger beer like this.

M: Meh. It's doesn't feel bad, per se, it's just not really memorable, either. The carbonation is surprisingly lively for it's old age, and helps to add a bit of complexity to the beer.

O: I don't feel that age has helped Midnight Sun's Arctic Devil, as I can't imagine this is what the brewer intended. If it is, then I must question the hype, as this is about as middle of the road a barleywine as I've ever come across. (1,106 characters)

Photo of sgaloob
3.47/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured refrigerator cold into a Midnight Sun pint glass.

A - Molasses color with amber hues. Clear, in terms of few particles. No head whatsoever.

S - Very malty, smells like sorghum. Light berry aroma. Not particularly flowery/hoppy.

T - Like molasses. Little or no hoppiness. Well balanced considering the high ABV. Slightly bitter finish.

M -Syrupy and thick. This is a meal in a glass. Little carbonation, heavy finish.

D - No more than one pint of this in one sitting.

Bottom line - I'm not very experienced with barleywines, but I'm not crazy about. I would prefer it to be less syrupy, and have the alcohol more present instead. Guaranteed to get you laid, 100% of the time, every time. (699 characters)

Photo of kbeals
3.48/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Huge thanks to rhinos00 for getting me this at DLD!!

A- Vigorous pour yields a murky brown brew with a half inch of tan head. Head dissipates down to a crown leaving a small amount of lacing.

S- Vanilla, lots of caramel malts with even a touch of bitterness detectable in the smell. Slight licorice aroma comes into play in the background as well.

T- Licorice seems to dominate up front followed by huge doses of caramel, vanilla and even some chocolate. A bit boozy IMO, not sure of what vintage this is.

M- Nice heavy body with little carbonation. Pretty much what I expected.

D- Well, the booziness and sweetness of this beer got to me after a while. A good beer but there are better examples of the style out there.

Thanks again for this one Alex! (759 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 coreyfmcdonald
3.52/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours nearly pitch black with a finger of off white head. This is an extremely dark Barleywine - if given this beer not knowing what it was, I'd think it was a stout based on look. Poor retention, terrible lacing.

S: Strong bourbon, caramel, prunes, and a bit of soy sauce. Burnt sugars are also present. As the beer opens up, I get more and more Quad characteristics. Prunes become more prominent with a bit of orange bitters. Maybe a tad muddled, but this is extremely complex.

T: Woah, booze. This beer is extremely boozy. Also not nearly as sweet as the aroma would suggest. Bourbon is fairly strong here, supported by toffee and a touch of malted milk ball. This is really subdued next to the aroma. This definitely needs some time.

M: Medium thickness with fairly high carbonation.

O: The aroma on this was extremely nice. The taste was not bad, but definitely needs some time. This is extremely boozy and the flavors don't quite meld together. I'm going to let the rest of the bottles sit for a while. (1,043 characters)

Photo of AleWatcher
3.55/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shared by Dunt. 2008 vintage.
reviewed from notes.

pours a nice rustic burgendy color. toffee colored head is loose and lazy. some decent lacing.
nose is deep rich malts. just a plethora of sweet toffee, caramel, some crystal malt perhaps... The hops have practivcally all faded at this point. No real bitterness to speak of. The beer is really sweet, but comes across pretty nice.
Certainly one that is fun to drink-- a nice little treat from the cellar!
The body is thick and full with ample carbonation.
Quite tasty.
Is this a go-to barleywine? nah.
But will I enjoy this glass? hell yeah. (596 characters)

Photo of bunnyhustle
3.6/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I'm very confused first of all because my bottle says its 10% abv and here its 13%. Probably just different years I'm guessing. Pours virtually black but upon closer inspection its more of a deep, deep, deep mahogany color. Light tan head, 2 finger, with good retention and lacing. Smell is rich of caramel, vanilla, sweet syrup and cream. A bit of booze too. Taste is similar. Very rich flavors of cream, caramel, sweet syrup, vanilla, some light coffee. Very thick and full, you could probably use a spoon with this stuff. Velvety and creamy as it goes down, strong warming sensation too. Overalll a good and complex beer. A little sweeter than I prefer. I think if there were a little more hops present, which I detected none of, this would be a great beer. But for now I'll just say its good. (796 characters)

Photo of rvdoorn
3.62/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage. Bought from crackedkettle.
Look: Pours an amber-brown color with a almost no head, leaving a messy lacing.
Smell: Brown sugar, caramel, toffee, dark fruits, orange zest, some bourbon and alcohol. This smells promising.
Taste: Toffee, brown sugar, caramel, dark fruits and sharp alcohol. Some bitter hoppy aftertaste with some hints of anise. This beer is nice, but a bit too unbalanced, it burns….
Mouthfeel: low carbonation, medium-thick body
Overall: Nice beer, bit to sharp and unbalanced though. (517 characters)

Photo of Halcyondays
3.62/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On-tap at Beachwood I, 2010 vintage

A: Pours a light mahogany, good lace with a long lasting off-white head.

S: Great nose. Full of vanilla bean and oak, brown sugar.

T: Lots of malt flavour, the IBUs being 20 I expect it. Vanilla, wood tannin, toffee, light berry. Bit of an unappetizing sugar character to this, but the other flavours are quite good.

M: Full-bodied, rich, definitely cloying at places, a sipper.

O: This is a barleywine that's still incredibly young, this certainly needs 2-3 years to dry out and possibly become really good. Right now it's just adequate. (579 characters)

Photo of maximum12
3.67/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to WriterLJBerg for hooking me up with this barleywine in a great summertime trade. Now that the weather is, at least theoretically, turning colder here on the Frigid Plain, time to bust this one out. Although I'd happily have barleywines in June, too. Opened, poured, & split with my lovely wife.

Poured into our wide-screen Free The Hops snifters, looks like red-tinged Mississippi River mud (minus the condom wrappers & empty Mountain Dew bottles). Smell is as expected, good chits of bourbon, malts, caramel, a little oak & fruits. Nice.

Artic Devil follows the path blazed by the odors. Big caramel's been hitting the gym, with the whiskey spotting it. Malts lend an otherworldly sweetness underneath. There's vanilla, oak, raisin brand crunch. Terrifically thick & chewy, like a big piece of beer-soaked oak. But there's an earthiness to the finish that limits how high this one goes for me, washing out the flavors & making them less sharp, distinct.

Overall? Like this, good beer. Without the dirtiness, this one would rise to a whole 'nuther level for me. So close. (1,087 characters)

Photo of tjthresh
3.68/5  rDev -15.4%
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. (254 characters)

Photo of tewaris
3.68/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Arctic Devil (2011 vintage)
Poured into a snifter. Thanks Dan.

Dark and rusty with good head. Ripe fruit, burnt sugar and dark caramel. Great barrel notes in the taste, dried fruits and chocolate. Good mouthfeel too. Very smooth with a good barrel character and a good beer overall. However, it seems to more about barrels and less about the base. Didn't really stack up to other barleywines at the tasting.

4, 3.5, 3.5, 4, 4 (428 characters)

Photo of Derek
3.69/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Turbid chestnut brown with a light tan head, tiny ring of retention has a little leg.

S: Dark raisins, figs, sponge-toffee, marmalade, sherry, beer nuts and a light spicing.

T: Alcohol forward; a little overly boozy. Figs, dark raisins, prunes, maraschino cherries, brown sugar, sponge toffee, marmalade, roasted nuts, hints of cocao, resiny bitterness, a little over-the-top for an English Barleywine.

M: Full body has some residual sweetness, modest carbonation.

D: A bold sipper.

Over-rated. (502 characters)

Photo of kingcrowing
3.7/5  rDev -14.9%
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. (282 characters)

Photo of mdaschaf
3.71/5  rDev -14.7%
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. (681 characters)

Photo of John_M
3.71/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had the 2006 version of this beer at the 2007 Hard Liver festival at Brower's.

This was the first time I had this beer on tap, having previously tried it out of the bottle. Usually I prefer draft versions of beer, but this one might be better out of the bottle. No matter, it was still an excellent beer.

I believe this beer received honorable mention from the judges at this festival.

This beer was much darker then the other beers, and had something of smokey quality that none of the other beers had. Muted nose, but on the palate one got flavors of cola, caramel, and smoke. The beer was fairly viscuous, and was quite sweet. It ended with a long, smooth finish, with a hint of bitterness at the end. A good beer, but not as fine as I remembered. (759 characters)

Photo of RedDiamond
3.72/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The label indicates a bottling date of November, 2004, making my Arctic Devil 16 months old at the time I drank it. I noted a strong ETOH aroma intermixed with warm fruitiness. The diminished carbonation yielded virtually no head or lace. The body was dark russet brown and placid.

Taste is comparable to sherry wine with a warm alcoholic flush to the tongue and belly. The sweet aperitif contours with fruity complexity were a pleasure to indulge. The alcohol at first comes across as slightly intrusive, even after 16 months. But this effect tends to fade before long (or is that just me getting hammered?)

Overall, a fine sipping beer with strong character though not a heavy hitter. (695 characters)

Photo of JDV
3.75/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

$18 for the '08 22-oz bottle. Pours a rich burgandy color with a short lived tan head. Smell is malty, molassesy, with lots of rich chewy, sweet and sticky dried fruits and nuts, along with a noticeable alcohol presence as well. Taste is similarly malty with a dark sweet fruity and nutty flavor. Somewhat prailine like. Really nice flavor aside from the somewhat strong alcohol presence which by the 2nd glass definitely detracts from the beer. Moderate body, to perhaps a bit sticky and syrupy but definitely not overly so. I really loved the unique nutty fruity malty flavor in this and would like it even more if the alcohol tamed down with age. Unique and really nice, but hard to justify the price I paid. (711 characters)

Photo of thetomG
3.78/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep orange/reddish/amber color.

Thin layer of dense white foam for head.

Primarily dark fruits, malts and some earthy notes in the nose.

Good solid bitterness in the flavor, with a solid amount of heat from the alcohol in the finish.

Well carbonated, but full bodied and smooth mouthfeel.

The warmth from the alcohol and its overall intense flavors make this one a bit of a sipper for me, but I would try it again anytime. (428 characters)

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Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 348 ratings.