Dismiss Notice
Microbrew Invitational
Join us June 3 + 4 in Boston and help us drink 300+ beers, ciders, kombuchas, meads, sakes and more!

TICKETS: beeradvocate.com/micro/

Arctic Devil Barley Wine | Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
96
world-class
364 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
BEER STATS
Reviews:
364
Ratings:
1,285
Avg:
4.35
pDev:
15.17%
 
 
Wants:
990
Gots:
301
For Trade:
34
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.20%

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

Added by Todd on 03-24-2005

User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 364 | Ratings: 1,285
Photo of OakedCanuck
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a tulip. From notes, 2010 vintage

A - This beer pours a deep brown with reddish amber accents and orange edging. Slightly off white head was around briefly but did leave a few rings. Deep rich colour, nice

S - Dark fruits, candy sugars, woody, some pine and citric hops

T - Yikes, so many layers to this one it is hard to pinpoint. Lots of fruits, purple grapes, plums, cherries. There is a perfectly complementing whiskey oak backbone. Now the best part, the aftertaste/late palate. It is a super rich butterscotch, the most I have ever tasted, all butterscotch.

M - Syrupy, slight heat from the alcohol, smooth, medium-heavy

O - This is an incredible beer, even while so young. The depth of flavours and variance leaves you wondering how that is even possible. Due to its youth, it is still a touch hot, but in a year or two this beer will be even more mind-blowing. Sure glad I have more...

 922 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 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 mhksuccess
4.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 poured from a 22oz bottle into ballast pt snifter
pours a reddish dark brown color with little or no head
slightly sweet smell kind of nice and get the smell of barrel aging
taste of this barrel is unique
overall kind of sweet taste of toffee
the alcohol is hid very well and it is smooth and easy to drink
definitely will get again

 339 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 Stoneman78
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Purchased online, poured into a Duvel tulip

Appearance is dense brown-black hue, huge tan pillowy head sticks around like a marshmallow, watery lacing

Smell is delicious, dark fruits and sweet malts dominate, heavy presence of bourbon wood accents harkens to an Angel's Share aroma, molasses, vanilla, anise, caramel, and alcohol round out this impressive profile

Taste is equally enjoyable, initially dominated by sweet malts, raisins/figs, and bourbon, transitions quickly to vanilla and milk chocolate sweetness, some caramel and anise in the background, finishes with light bitterness

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, velvety creamy texture coats the whole mouth in pillowy goodness, balanced carbonation

Drinkability is moderate, the alcohol presence is hard to avoid in a strong b-wine like this but the flavors and complexity make up for the high abv, nice post-dinner drink that you will want to enjoy slowly and probably wouldn't drink all night long

 961 characters

Photo of Auracom
4.34/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

5-6 oz. poured into a CBS snifter on May 18th, 2012. Thanks to Gregg for sending this bottle!

A - It pours quite similar to Abacus but perhaps a tad thinner (which means too thin, really). Very little carbonation, retention, or lacing. Rather uneventful.

S - Red wine grapeskins. Whiskey-bourbon. A tandem of oak here. More subtle notes of caramel, spices, and alcohol.

T - Many barrel blessings to this brew. Wine grape astringency, port/cherry-fruit quality, Rear-palate highlights the whiskey oak element. Underneath toffee malts, raisin bread, and figs.

M - Medium-heavy body (heavier than it looked), good smoothness. Very fine carbonation and a semi-sweet finish.

D - Overall I really enjoy the freshness and mix of barrels. It creates this multiplicity across the nose and palate that is really unique for the style. Midnight Sun's grasp on this blend is pretty excellent.

 887 characters

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

22oz bottle purchased on my last trip to Oregon. Was incredibly stoked to see this sitting on the shelf!

A - Pours dark mahogany/brown. Nice off-white head on pour quickly dies down.
S - Caramel, raisins, figs with a hint of bourbon. Dark fruits are very prominent. Sweet.
T - Malty sweetness. Dark fruits are in the forefront. Have to strain to get the oak/barrel, but it comes out more as it warms.
M - Thick, heavy, full body. A bit boozy. May need another year to mellow out some more.
O - Hmm. I found this got much better as I let it warm. A sipper for sure, and the high ABV really shows.

 601 characters

Photo of nickapalooza86
4.93/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to KangarooAdam59 for this one!

Pours a deep murky brownish amber

Smell is toffee, caramel, bourbon, vanilla, oak, figs, raisons, dark fruit, black licorice, slight earthy hop character which is very light.

Taste is incredible sweet toffee, dark fruit plum and fig most prevelant, caramel, oak, light earthy hop bitterness, char, vanilla, bourbon, light chocolate note, black licorice, roasty malt character, finishes sweet but not overly so.

Mouthfeel is full, light to medium carbonation, slightly drying on the finish.

Holy cow, how have I never heard of this beer mentioned when people are talking about the best of the best in Barrel Barleywines, I think this may be it. I rated Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine a perfect 5 and go through at least a case of it a year. But this is just as good if not better holy cow I am truly thankful for the opportunity to try this beer.

 904 characters

Photo of CosmoHopHead
4.42/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this in a trade a few months back. Been sitting in my fridge for the right moment. Easter Sunday seemed right. No idea on the vintage. Can't find a date anywhere on the label.

A: pours very dark reddish brown with very little head and hardly any lacing to speak of

S: burned sugar, raisins, wood, vanilla, dark sour fruits, molasses and faint alcohol. complex to say the least

T: first couple drinks were sugar sweet and boozy as it warmed up the flavors started to show up more. again, molasses, caramel, raisins, dark tart fruits, oak, not much hops that I can notice, typical English style.

M: feels thick, syrupy and chewy but oddly light on the tongue and palate. (if that makes any sense)

D: a little to sweet at first but developed very nicely as it warmed up. the flavors really came through and the alcohol burn mellowed considerably.

Overall and very wonderful English style barley wine.

Side note: bottle I'm drinking says 10% abv but is listed at 13.2% on the site. Definitely tastes like the higher side but can't really say for sure.

 1,061 characters

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

2008. drank from champagne flutes.
oh we are fancy men, indeed. to celebrate a successfully brewed monstrous stout a bit early, it was time to ride the snake. we were quickly enveloped in a fire of vanilla, toffee, and caramel. slight whiskey kick, little bit of fruits. it's like floating on a rolling flame over the minions crying below. no hop presence, all malt and sin. really quite outstanding, glad to have shared it with some good men, happy there are a few more bottles of that left. so sumptuous, thick but without too much sweetness, damn nice.

 555 characters

Photo of glazeman
4.59/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split with airohead2001.

A: The beer pouts a dark brown with some great reddish amber hues, with a ½ finger off white head that quickly fades into a crown and leaves some small lacing.

S: Lots of caramel on the nose with a little bit of apple as well at the start. Some brown sugar in the middle and a tad bit of raisin at the finish. Overall an amazing smelling beer.

T: Unfortunately the taste wasn't quite as good as the smell, but was still pretty good. There's a lot more roasty flavor that the smell indicated, and a bit of etoh burn at the finish. The beer also isn't nearly as sweet as I had anticipated based on the smell. There's a lot of nuttiness and some oakiness in here as well even though I don't think

M: Great viscosity and carbonation, a little too much etoh on the aftertaste to let this one sit on the palate perfectly.

O: Overall an amazing barleywine that I'd love to have again.

 909 characters

Photo of irishevans
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%

drinking the 07 vintage shortly after it's release. the apperaance is dark at the bottom however the top is hazey caramel colored, with a thin fiml of a head, that sticks just enough to leave that sweet taste on your lip. the smell is warm and caramelish, and the taste is also full of caramel along with some liquor taste on the finish, the mouthfeel is exceptoinal crisp and bitey, however with that heavy liquor taste makes the drinkability(right now) a little rough, but it should improve(and by that i mean mellow) with age

 528 characters

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

thanks to AKBelgianBeast for sending this my way in a recent trade. 2007 bottling.

This poured a hazy dark brown with a foamy 1 inch head.. very pretty in my san tan brewing pint glass.

It smelled of dark fruit with a nose of floral hops.

This was sweet, dark sugars, dark fruits... very large alcohol presence.. all 10% can be tasted very well. The alcohol burn isnt astringent, just hot.. dries the palate and warms the chest, but doesnt affect the drinkability at all.

Thick and heavy, for me certainly a sipper. I think this one will do nothing but get better with age.. i am glad i have a couple more to tuck away for a few years, i envision this one being spectacular with a few years on it to mellow the abv a little bit.

definitely one to seek out.

 765 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

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 PerHops
4.58/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- reddish brown color with a thin head and visible carbonation.

S- Alcohol right off the bat. Doesn't by any means shock me at 13 percent, but the other times I've had this it hasn't been as evident. Oak, bourbon, cherries, chocolate, tobacco, leather.

T- Maple syrup, chocolate, dark fruits, hops. Almost no alcohol noticeable when cold. Such a wonderful depth of flavors. I can't think of a better beer for a cold winter night.

M- Medium high carbonation, but it has a nice overall feel

O- This is the best barley wine I've tried. Fantastic.

 550 characters

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

Midnight Sun Arctic Devil 2008 13.2%

A: Poured into a tulip a dark, ruddy amber. Tan head that fades relatively quickly, but can be roused with a vigorous swirl of the glass.

S: A barrage of aromas greet the nose: dark fruit, caramel, whiskey, oak/vanilla. "Clean/fresh" malt character to it as well.

T: Sweet, rich malt. Dark fruit, somewhat reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding. Whiskey works its way in mid-palate, and becomes more intense into the aftertaste. Lightly tannic finish with rounded oak character.

M: Rich, velvetty mouthfeel with low-medium carbonation. Perfect for this beer.

D: This definitely drinks smoother than the listing on the label advertises. While it is a great barleywine, I believe I would prefer CWBBBW and TPS/MoAS over this. Now I'm interested in how this would be fresh...

 814 characters

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

Thanks to exitmusic00 for cracking this bottle open for our blind barleywine tasting. 2011 bottle. From notes.

A- Pours a translucent ruby red with a thin off white head that leaves adequate lacing behind.

S- Very fruity upfront with notes of raspberries, cherry, plumb, fig and raisins. Brown sugar emerges with oak and burnt caramel following.

T- Oak and vanilla upfront with plumb, raisins, cherries and fig and caramel following with some toasted marshmallow at the finish.

M- Medium carbonation and full smooth body with the high abv being hidden very well.

O- One of my favorite barleywines at the tasting, behind King Henry of course. Would love to grab a few more of these to set down for a bit. Very impressed.

 728 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 jethrodium
4.22/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

650 ml bottle. 2011 vintage. Pours a golden copper with a small tan head that settles to a ring and leaves a decent amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma is big coconut, some brandy and red wine, bourbon, vanilla, and caramel. The initial taste is sweet with coconut and caramel. There is also brandy, oak, bourbon, and toffee. The finish has some light alcohol. Full bodied but not syrupy. Low carbonation. Great beer. Lots of flavors going on and everything comes together quite nicely.

 491 characters

Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.75/5  rDev +9.2%
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!

 326 characters

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

Split a 22 3 ways. Poured into red wine glasses. Reviewed 9/9/10. 2008 vintage.

Ap: Smooth whiskey and oak, caramel and toffee, strong alcohol, smooth citrus oriented fruit, dark hints, candy sweetness, *perfumey alcohol, mild pineapple, *restrained cinnamon, brown sugar

Ap: Tan medium head good retention, fine haze pink amber, legs, light lace

T: Rich malt, caramel, whiskey, oak, smooth full malt, sweet but good, malt not too complex, pleasant woodiness, date, esters, mild earthy spice, GREAT CARAMEL, mild pineapple, *candy, *cookie dough, toasty, *rye bread, *restrained cinnamon, raisins, prunes, mild chocolate

M: Warming alcohol, burn hints, heavy body, low carb, alcohol increases with warmth but balances beer

O: Excellent example of an english barleywine, alcohol is appropriate, hard to drink a lot of, *no oxidation, *whiskey character melds great with the beer, a sipping beer, *increadible

* = ideas form fellow tasters

 943 characters

Photo of abuliarose
4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark ruby body with thin creamy head that devolves into a ring fed by lacy bubbles. Enjoying this one out of my Rock Art tulip. Smells like candied fig (fig molasses, anyone?) with a little burnt caramel and some decent alcohol presence. In effect, smells like dessert!

Tastes sweet and smooth with fine, tingly carbonation. Medium to heavy-bodied in a grade B maple syrup way. Lots of dried dark fruit presence. Caramel malts come out nicely. A lot of sherry likeness, maybe even a little bourbon. I guess that's the aging process coming through. Some wine character in the aftertaste. Many flavors; this brew has a nice depth to it. Very slippery on the tongue. Quite warming. Not what I would consider to be highly drinkable... though I find it highly sip-able. Carbonation lightens it a fair amount, but not enough to cut through the syrupiness. Would like to try this on french toast.

My only wish: for it to come in smaller bottles. Or with a hinge cap. Otherwise, it's quite yummy.

 998 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

Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 364 ratings.