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Arctic Devil Barley Wine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

1,094 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,094
Reviews: 346
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 959
Gots: 276 | 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: 1,094 | Reviews: 346
Photo of imperialking
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of duceswild
4/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of orangesol
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of GClarkage
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev -8.5%
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

Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

3000th review! 22 ounce bottle into snifter; 2014 vintage, bottled in late 2013. Pours hazy dark ruby red color with a 1 finger fairly dense khaki head with solid retention, that reduces to a small spotty lace cap that lingers. Slight spotty lacing on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, plum, fig, caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, coconut, vanilla, bourbon, oak, leather, light chocolate, and oak/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/toasted malt, fruity yeast, and bourbon barrel notes; with good strength. Light-moderate booziness as it warms, but not too bad. Taste of big raisin, plum, fig, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, toast, coconut, brown sugar, molasses, brown bread, bourbon, oak, vanilla, leather, light chocolate, and oak/toasted earthiness. Light oaky bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, fig, caramel, butterscotch, molasses, toffee, toast, coconut, vanilla, brown sugar, bourbon, oak, leather, light chocolate, and oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and bourbon barrel flavors; with an awesome malt/yeast/barrel balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy, fairly slick, and slightly syrupy/sticky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a light-moderate warming lingering after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic barrel aged English barelywine style. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and bourbon barrel flavors; and smooth to sip on for the huge ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Photo of wrightst
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Halcyondays
3.62/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

Photo of stakem
4.07/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Paper notes from quite awhile back. Thanks go to Kegatron for sharing this 2007 vintage with a couple of us. Bomber into a tulip, the brew appears a deep ruby amber with a tan head that fades leaving a ring around the perimeter of the glass. When held to the light, it shows some green and yellowish clarity around the edges. A light swirl brings a half finger of yellowish stained cap back to the surface.

The smell of this brew included some orange citrus character mixed with a fruity alcohol inclusion that hints towards raisins and a floral component. More sniffs bring out a citrus element that contrasts the maltiness that smells of toffee and molasses. There is a faint hint of cardboard-like oxidation which is no distracting but it adds an interesting layer of complexity.

The taste is boozy for 5 years old. Flavors of raisin and toffee get a significant accent of alcohol esters. Just like the aroma indicated, there is a mild presence of oxidation across the backend that blends nicely into an aftertaste of fruity and floral mixed with a bit of biscuit to bready grain.

This is a medium bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. It is a bold boozy sipper that is quite enjoyable. I am very appreciative to have the chance to sit down and enjoy a significantly sized pour of this aged beauty. However, just like my initial thoughts of this brew when i had a small sampling some time ago, it lacks just a bit in body. I found the aromatics to be much more complex than the flavor as well. Thanks again Heath!

Photo of mothman
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Very solid ba bwine. Tons of barrel flavors. Coconut, vanilla, bourbon, oak, caramel, chocolate. Lots of great flavors here.

Photo of yourefragile
4.72/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz 2009 bottle.

Pours a dark, cloudy amber brown color with a thin tan head. Aroma is a decadent blend of roast, oak, bourbon, vanilla, plum, raisin, brown sugar, caramel, and cherry. Extremely creamy and smooth body with a rich flavor similar to the nose; maple, cherry, raisin, plum, vanilla, bourbon and oak dominate the flavor. An all around, smooth, well balanced and complex barleywine.

Photo of Gonzoillini
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of mdaschaf
3.71/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared a bottle of this with Matt today. Thanks!

2008 vintage

A: Dark brown with crimson hues appearance and a one inch head. Initially, there is a sheet of lacing, but it fades after a few moments.

S: The aroma is fantastic. Sweet malts with dark fruits. No heat in the aroma. 13.4%?!?

T: Fabulous taste! Wow. This is my new favorite English Barleywine.
Very complex, with dark fruits and delicious malts.

M: 13.4% alcohol is completely hidden. Not sure how they did that.

D: Awesome. Highly drinkable. Best barleywine I've had to date.

Photo of BARFLYB
4/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of corby112
4.35/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to shadowane for sharing! 2011 vintage.

Pours a dark amber, almost chestnut brown color with mahogany edges and a 1.5 finger, creamy off-while head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Spotty lacing.

Sweet, slightly boozy aroma with subtly integrated barrel presence.  Hints of toasted oak and spicy whiskey along with some vanilla and coconut.  Underneath characteristics of the base beer are evident with leathery malt, sweet toffee, dark fruit and caramel.

On the fuller end of medium-bodied with a well integrated barrel character that doesn't overpower the elements of the base beer.  Some nice dry oak along with spicy/sweet whiskey, vanilla and coconut. Soft carbonation adds to the palate and the sweet and leathery notes from the base beer really come through. Hints of toffee, dark fruit, caramel and leathery malts with a slightly dry finish.  Subtle warmth in finish but overall the ABV is very well masked.  Lots of boozy flavor but not a lot of heat.  Can't believe that it's 13.5%!  Really nice. A bit heavy on the barrel/whiskey presence but the characteristics of the base beer come through nicely.

Photo of DoubleJ
4.62/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Closing it out at Beachwood BBQ with a 13% ABV barleywine...from 2010...aged in whiskey barrels....and a 12 ounce pour for $7 (Happy Hour price!). That's smart. On to the beer:

It's shiny brown polish with hues of violet. The head stays up for awhile considering its strength, and it leaves a little of its residue on the glass. One whiff for the nose delivers happiness. Pure happiness. If you like timber, vanilla, toasted marshmallow, and an element of alcohol, it's a very difficult thing to top. It smells so damn good!

The taste is huge as well. The vanilla and wood combo are deadly. You can vaguely taste the spirit that was once aged in the barrels used to age this beer. Brown sugar and molasses make their stamp. For its size the 13% alcohol is hidden well, though that doesn't mean you won't feel a little of its wrath as you drink it. It does provide an orange cough syrup flavor, which could go either way. This beer is full bodied, chewy, and just a little boozy. All things considering, this beer has a good balance and great integration of flavors and elements.

Easy recommendation.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
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!

Photo of ShanePB
4/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of smakawhat
4.86/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass. I assume vintage 2013.

Out of the bottle it pours like thick mocha coffee, transparent and clear. Hits the body and makes a huge dark walnut brown body, and matching creamy tan head. Collar is always populated with a solid whispy top and has some nice dark red edges. Very nice.

Spicy on the nose. Spicy whiskey character, and dried fruits almost fig like a Belgian Dark Fruit and spicy character match nicely, almost burnt spruce and barrel charred. Dark red fruits seem to come out matching the currants, vanilla touching softness also. Very nice, reminds me more of rye forward barrel aged than bourbon, lovely either way.

Extremely diverse palate. Wonderful caramel smoothness and silky palate with a hint of fizz and playful carbonation. Big spicy character comes through matching the nose. Lots of toasty wood and barrel notes. The palate has a spicy malt character that's hard to describe and it melds nicely with the caramel sensing and gives of salt which is a wonderful combination. Doesn't even feel that big either in terms of boozy quality making for easy drinking. Big licorice notes as the beer warms up also.

Diverse, great aromatics, memorable. Fantastic.

Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Batch(yep, marked 11/05 on side of bottle, 1st bottled):
A: Poured a golden copper color hybrid with almost a small white cap.

S: Nose is toffee, some bourbon, toffee and caramel

T: Earthy and woody with light caramel and toffee. I felt some of the darker fruits faded, booze was still a bit sharp

M: Mouthfeel is big bodied, lower carbonation

O: Good
///
2007 Batch:
Poured a sluggish copper color with almost no head at all. Nose is caramel, dried fruits, brown sugar candied fruits, vanilla and a very light hint of oak and bourbon. Yeah..all of this from the nose. Taste followed suit. Taste is biiig malts up front. Lots of brown sugar, candied fruit, fruits, with vanilla, oak and bourbon on the finish. Mouthfeel is nice, thick and coating. Sooo drinkable and the mouthfeel is great.
///
2010 batch. Not amongst the best. Demoted this year due to thinner mouthfeel, cardboard smell on nose and less flavor than I recall.

Photo of brandoman63
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of rab53
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of BillRoth
4.54/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can't speak to previous batches. Have heard of this BW for years, but finally have a chance to try thanks to Paul 510a.
Poured out a rich amber ruby pour with a full shipped cream head. Head dissipated as expected but not quickly and left a notable lace in the glass. Impression was this one was well made.
So far so good.
Aroma was good. Some caramel and nougat like aromas. Hint of dried fruit, but more a hint of syrup. Hint of vanilla.Hops very subdued. Difficult to identify. but not piney or citrusy. Suggested European hops...Kent? Goldings?. Shouldn't be surprised if an English BW.
At this point I knew I had a good beer, but still looking for the "wow.
OK...Wow! The flavor is just spectacular, and it just kept getting better as it warmed. Huge hits of caramel, toffee and dark cane syrup. Mild hop bitterness just kept the beer from being a sugar bomb. Craftfully blended and matured. As the beer warmed the oak and vanilla took over, and the beer reached another level. it was just sublime.
The mouth feel was full and creamy. Thicker than your typical English BW, but pleasant not overwhelming. It seemed perfectly aligned with the big beer it was. The alcohol while big, was not too big. No harshness, just warming. It just seemed exactly the right level.
Overall, started as a very good beer, but ended as a beer just about perfect for its style and claims.
I'm going hope I get more from this batch, but will look forward to more regardless of year.
Well done!

Photo of Zaphog
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

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Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 1,094 ratings.