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Arctic Devil Barley Wine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

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Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

1,097 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 1,097
Reviews: 346
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 956
Gots: 278 | FT: 37
Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  13.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

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

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

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

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

20 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,097 | Reviews: 346
Photo of djaeon
4/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of brotherloco
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber. 2011 Vintage. 13.4% ABV.

Pours a deep translucent mahogany. A very small beige head quickly dissipates to a small ring.

Aroma brings on strong dry-bread malt with hints of vanilla and sherry. A touch of sulphur. Noticeable alcohol.

Flavor of the malt is much more toffee-like than the aroma. A lot of oak and vanilla from the barrel aging. Still getting a little of that sulphur. Tobacco notes. Sweet through the middle and then finishes with a dry alcohol note. The heat comes on after a few sips but flavor wise the alcohol is extremely well blended.

Medium-full bodied with a nice moderate amount of carbonation. Slick and very drinkable given the strength.

A great beer at this age and one that you can tell will get even better with age.

Photo of DIPAFAN
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of papat444
4.29/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Boozecamel for my first taste of Midnight Sun!

Poured from a 650ml. bottle.

Appearance: Thick, dark brown pour; gorgeous cascading effect of the dark brown foam. Good retention and minimal lacing.

Smell: Vanilla beans, powerful bourbon, heady aroma, some caramel.

Taste: First flavor is like licking caramel followed by oak, bourbon, vanilla, classic barleywine candy flavor, layers of flavor here.

Mouthfeel: Brash yet melts in your mouth, textured yet deceivingly easy to drink.

Overall: This is an excellent barleywine, very fortunate to have tried this.

Photo of Amalak
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of Lucnifter
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of masterofsparks
4/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of BeerBucks
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of n2185
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of JDV
3.75/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

Photo of UWBadgerFan4Life
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Bierguy5
4.12/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, 10% ABV. Cloudy chestnut color. A thin tan head disappears almost immediately.

Dark fruit, caramel, figs, ripe fruits and pine in the aroma. A lot of complexity. Bourbon, and oak linger. Some vanilla and coconut. Very complex nose, quite enjoyable.

Lots of sweetness, caramel and figs galore. Comes close to being cloying. Bourbon and oak, along with vanilla round tings out. A fair amount of bitterness, but this is certainly malt driven. More dark fruits as it warms.

Medium body, with low carbonation. I wouold suspect that this will age wonderfully. Very nice.

Photo of WeisGuy
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage

a - pours a deep deep brown with a garnet hue, modest cream colored head, retention around the edges, not much by way of lacing, quite cloudy

s - rum-soaked raisins and plums with a healthy dose of caramel, unexpected dose of bitter, piney hop aroma on the nose as well

t - big sweet caramel malt flavors up front, rum-soaked raisin and plum on the midpalate with more caramel, some light piney hop bitterness balances out the sweetness a little on the finish, alcohol fumes present on the finish as well with the lingering dark fruit component

m - full-bodied, moderate carbonation, well balanced on the finish, strong alcohol warming effect

d - definitely a sipper of a barleywine, but par for the style, alcohol and sweetness aren't as overwhelming as I expected

Overall, a very good English Barleywine. This isn't my favorite style - I lean more toward hoppier American Barleywines - but I found this quite enjoyable. I imagine this would age quite well, but it's drinking quite nicely right now.

Photo of thebigredone
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of blitheringidiot
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark russet eggplant hue with a deflated thin cap to a collar.

Deep aroma of dark fruit cornicopia fig and plum followed with a brutal assault of dark grain waffle malt and burnt caramalized molasses.

First swigs: Molasses thick, I mean thick! black cherries, caramelized sugar, sticky pastry dough. Fruit figs and dates extreme with a balance of vanilla and almond. Complex hints of soy.

Feel is full bodied tongue coater, gentle restrained carbonation. Pancake mix dry. Sticky lips stick to the glass.

Last swigs: Unlike ANY barelywine. Almost rauch-like. Eating iceing fom the cake. Thanks AKSmokedPorter!

Beer is good. Happy big bold beering.

Photo of Kopfschuss
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of GrindFatherBob
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of aerozeppl
4.82/5  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.

Photo of CrellMoset
4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
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.

Photo of random846
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of siege06nd
4.03/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. Pours a dark ruby brown color. Really love the crimson hues in this. About a quarter finger of thin, swirly, cream colored head. Moderate spotty lacing. One of the prettier barleywines I have seen.

S. Ripe dark fruit (cherry, fig), leather, caramel, vanilla, traces of chocolate, and some faint earthiness.

T: Caramel, chocolate, oak, bread crust. Very malty, but not quite as sweet and not nearly as much dark fruit presence as I've had in other barleywines. I get some faint toffee and roasted marshmallow as well. A solid beer, but was expecting a sweeter and fruitier flavor profile.

M: Full bodied, light carbonation. A lot of bitterness in the finish, though, that tastes like barrel and isn't quite evened out by the rest of the flavors.

O: I wanted to love this beer, but I think it needs some age. It's big and malty, but it hasn't quite acquired that sweet, ripe fruit flavor that I've come to expect from the style. Good, not great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Dactrius
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Jas45678
4/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of TheBrewo
4.61/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

We crack the top on a 2012 bomber of this beast, pouring a brew of deep ruby mahogany into our large tasting snifters. It offers a one finger head of creamy, ghostly eggnog colored bubbles on a rough pour. This shows nice retention for the style, fading into archipelago lacing, with aggregates and dust across the top of the liquid. The high abv affords legs when the beer is swirled. A chill haze cuts clarity, but no sediment is noted. Carbonation appears to be slow but pervasive. The aroma is rich and deep, with soft and lightly solventy booze fumes of bourbon, bright buttery diacetyls, sweet pales, heavy caramel, and soured English brown malts, salted caramel, dried figs and raisins, warm oaky woodiness, candy corns, coconut and plum fruitiness, bready biscuits, molasses and toffee syrups, cotton candy sugars, and mild floral hop oils. With warmth the ethanol takes on a sweeter, more grapey and wine-like character. Our first impression is that the flavoring is downright fantastic, with heavy, intense complexity, and a suitably chewy feel to the delivery. As we sip, the taste opens up with sugary sweet caramel and toffee cloy, heavily toasted pale and caramel maltiness, sharp coppery metallics, vanilla and almond extracts, hard butterscotch candies, brandy-soaked raisins, fermented sweet red grapes, oily butters, heavily mossed oakiness, and light banana ester sweetness. The middle comes to a peak with melted caramel sauce, coconut flesh and milk, sunflower seediness, bourbon heat, lemon zest, Tootsie Roll chewiness, soy sauce, heavily toasted and roasted caramel and English brown sours, chalky brown sugar sweetness, and light phenolic chemical bite. The end washes with enhanced but cleansing sweetness of apple cider, cooked caramel and salt water taffy, oaked woodiness, maple syrup, vinegar acidity, cane sugar, clean leathers, shoe shine polish, sweet ethanol, clover honey, black tea tannins, and essence of marigold. The aftertaste breathes of cherry, plum, and pear fruitiness, brandy, peaty scotch, and bourbon booziness, light campfire smoke, fusel booziness with warmth, almond oils, banana esters, bitter floral hops, drying oak, sour fermented violet grapes, phenolic plastics, toffee stickiness, figgy muck, musk, and corn husk. The body is full, velvety, and chewy, while carbonation is medium. Each sip gives heavy slurp and smack, with lighter creaminess or froth. Finish to the lips is sticky and infinite. The mouth is coated in oiliness in its entirety, with nice dryness and warmth to slowly sizzle the wetness away. No major astringency is ever palpated. The abv is big, but the beer drinks so, so smoothly.

Overall, the most enjoyable things about this brew were its aroma and flavoring. It is extremely hard to peg a top component for this beer, as everything about it sings beautifully and strictly to style, all while satiating and appeasing the drinker. The aroma is deep, rich, and sweet, and the flavoring follows exactly as it should in those footprints. The booze is heavy but subdued, and neither hot nor harsh at any point. The bourbon is glorious, oaky, and musky, just boasting what a proper barrel aging could do for a beer. The feel is what really takes this beer to other-worldly status, with velvety crush, silky smoothness, and buttery slide across the oropharynx. Even with excessive warmth, the Arctic Devil remains firm to its promises, with the complexity of it all extending this tasting beyond two hours. This is one of the best English barleywines we’ve ever come across, and again, while that is partly due to its impeccable execution of recipe and style, the unique, heavily warming, and rich Alaskan flair makes for an incredible, unforgettable experience that will not soon be forgotten.

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Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 1,097 ratings.