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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

1,092 Ratings
THE BROS
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,092
Reviews: 346
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 959
Gots: 276 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,092 | Reviews: 346
Photo of akorsak
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to beerbeing for this 650 mL bomber (a long ago trade).

A: The barleywine is a dark red-brown collaboration, murky with ruddy creek water hues. Of course it is opaque. A small head, never more than a 1/3 of a finger, left a pretty impressive patch of lace behind.

S: Crazy malty! This one just smells thick. A delicious blend of bread and dark fruits. There is some evidence of a barrel, a touch of oak and vanilla. Stunning aroma.

T: Oak is lingering around the front of each sip, sturdy and woody. Behind it, the barleywine comes through with a vengeance. Hints of cinnamon mix with an excess of booze, a sweet nightcap. The barleywine is malt-driven but a heavy dose of hops and the barrel aging really take the edge off. Yeah, this is really, really good.

M: The mouthfeel is full, starting off with the oak and finishing with the super malts. The barrel especially stands out for the smoothness that it adds.

D: At 10% (or thereabouts), this is a sipping beer at best. One and done for this sleepytime cowboy.

Photo of Cynic-ale
4/5  rDev -8.5%

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

Pours a two finger light tan head that fades slowly leaving no lace. Cloudy amber/brown color. Light carbonation and heavy bodied. Caramel/alcohol nose. Flavor starts sweet, malty, but the higher ABV (10%) is in your face - leaves an alcohol burn. The difference between this and Avery's Mephistopheles Stout (at 16%) is like night and day. I should have let this age for a few years. Pricey at $15.99 for a 500ml bottle from John's Marketplace Portland, OR.

Photo of HopHead84
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11/6/2011

2010 batch, thanks Jonny!

A: Dark crown with a crimson tinge. The head is a finger of beige foam.

S: Strong dark toffee presence with notes of whiskey and caramel. Earth and pine waft from the glass. Oak is pronounced.

T: Big toffee notes blend with caramel and green wood. There's a moderate earthy, piney bitterness. I get light grape notes and a dash of whiskey. Alcohol is well hidden.

M: Upper medium body with moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel I dry and sticky.

Overall: Great stuff. This is always a pleasure to drink.

Photo of KAF
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of billab914
4.46/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage picked up from liquid Solutions. Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter glass. Pours a caramel brown color with a small off-white covering. The head mostly clung to the sides of the glass and left a little lacing as I drank it.

Aroma is malty and sweet with some caramel and dark fruit. It also shows the vanilla, wood and whiskey from the barrel aging. There is a little alcohol present in the nose as well. It's a complex aroma that has a lot of things going on but they meld together pretty well.

The taste starts out with some caramel sweetness but finishes with the oak, vanilla and whiskey character. it has a little alcohol spiciness to it in the finish but not overpowering.

Mouthfeel is on the heavier side with low carbonation. Drinkability is good. It's a pleasure to drink but at aver 13% you just can't drink too much of it.

Overall this was a fantastic beer, it really displayed the barrel aged characteristics well without being too overwhelming. The maltiness of it came through very well and was complemented by the barrel aging, unlike some I try where it tastes like a shot of bourbon was added to the beer. Really enjoyed this one but now I have to take a nap after drinking the bottle myself.

Photo of Kelp
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of John_M
3.71/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

Photo of biegaman
4.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Candy-apple red dusted in a heavy clay soil. The colour isn't easy to capture with words, it combines various tones spread across an incredibly murky and convoluted complexion. It is dark and concealed but allows lucid glimpses of colour when up to the light. The head was initially quite prominent for a beer its strength. Since, however, its top has regressed to the flat and utterly bare surface you might expect from a beer of this potent volume.

The brewery advertises this as an English-style barleywine, stressing that it is "malt-inclined". If you're looking for face-smacking, tongue-blistering hops look a little further south on America's West Coast. This offers the virtues of subtlety and elegance. You don't have to sniff hard to find what it offers but doing so will certainly make you appreciate it more. Be sure to take big, long inhalations to appreciate all the complexity.

The brewery divulges that the beer was oak-aged but the previous contents of these vessels is left up for speculation. The only clue being that some barrels may have previously contained port, wine or whiskey leaves also the supposition that some may not have contained anything at all, or something completely different. By smell alone I've the faintest clue - there is simply too much going on.

In some ways, this combination of wood, malts, esters and alcohols is like a bunch of musicians all playing off-key individually. If this brewer is talented then he will group them together like a true orchestra leader... and, upon my first few sips, it seems he has.

Where to begin? Like a good meal, a barleywine in any style should offer a complexity of flavour with an interaction between a number of varietal characters. Indeed, this does. The malts are sugary and sickeningly sweet. They begin to resemble dried and over-ripened fruits, including especially raisins, plums, cherry. They also impart toasted grains and a caramel-like richness with hints of nuts, nougat, chocolate and coffee.

The certain consequence of such flavours is decadent richness. The beer is sweet, it is indulgently flavourful and above all it is mighty strong. The barrel's previous contents (which I'm becoming sure must have been bourbon) contribute a dangerous level of alcohol. Although I can't see any flames shooting from my nostrils, I can occasionally feel them. Midnight Sun surely keeps Alaskans' heating bills down.

Arctic Devil is supposedly named after some ferocious northern wolverine but I'd say, to steel an analogy, it more resembles a horse. Its strength and maltiness lends it the sturdy, strong qualities of a plow horse. The barrel aging has lent it the elegant virtues of a showmanship thoroughbred. It is what breeders would call a half-breed.

It's not always about how a beer looks or tastes, it's how you engage with it. Like the mighty stallion, this is something recognizably bigger than ourselves, to whom we treat with gentle praise and respect. You approach and interact with the beer in slow, respectful sips. You both acknowledge and appreciate its power. And, in this case, I must also acknowledge and appreciate the generous BuckeyeNation for providing me with the sample!

Photo of iL0VEbeer
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Wasatch
4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to msubulldog25 for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Poured into a chalice a nice semi-cloudy dark brown color, some carbonation, nice little fizzy tan head, which leaves som oil slicks and sticky lacing. The nose is malty, some hops, licorice, toffee, some vanilla, alcohol, and caramel. The taste is sweet at first sip, big malts/toffee/alcohol, tones of vanilla and caramel. Medium body, very nice brew, might be a tad too much on the alcohol though, but still very tasty, could turn some people off. Very drinkable, this is the best MS brew for me so far, a very tasty EBWSA. Thanks Brian.

Photo of Dicers
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.14/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle at City Beer. Poured into a snifter. 2010 bottle.

Appearance - No head. Murky brown with some reddish flecks. Ring of foam around the surface.

Smell - Oak is prominent. Bourbon and vanilla. Low barrel character next to other barreled barley wines, but it's nice. Slightly oxidized, but it's beneficial. Earthy hops join the caramel.

Taste - Even less barrel, but it's still nice. Caramel mostly, but oak and vanilla are close behind. Bourbon and oxidation blend in. Earthy finish. A little bitter.

Mouthfeel - Boozy, but I wouldn't guess 13.4%. Low carbonation. Bitter. Maybe even a bit thin and watery as the flavors drop off.

Overall - Excellent flavors. The oxidation is nice. The only downfall is the mouthfeel. Too thin in the finish.

Photo of sendbeer
5/5  rDev +14.4%

Photo of ppoitras
4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle from weefisheads via trade. Thanks for the opportunity. Bottled Nov05.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" light brown head above the clear burgundy brew. Head holds on nicely, with heavy, slow-to-fall lace. Aroma is sweetness, dark fruit, and alcohol, all well proportioned. Taste is creamy maltiness upfront, dark fruit and touch of tanned leather in the middle, and massaging alcohol warmth to close. Mouthfeel is wow smooth, and drinkability is scary dangerous for the abv. Seek this one out.

Photo of Lare453
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of chippo33
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of johnnnniee
4.21/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Review from notes 2007 Bottle Shared by MrBarleywine.
Pours a deep copper color with a decent sized off white head that shows moderate retention. Aromas of dark caramelized sugar, dark pitted fruits, bits of wood, hints of rum and bourbon, light alcohol, no hop aromas. The flavor is sweet with dark sugars, light oak, light fruits, a solid hit of warming alcohol and a touch of earth. Medium to thick body with a moderate to light level of carbonation and a sweet almost sticky mouthfeel. One of my favorite barley wines, I only wish it were a little easier to obtain.

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.47/5  rDev -20.6%
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.

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.35/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottling picked up tonight at Brewforia in Meridian.. Label says 13.40% abv ... shared with the wife... but the Lion's share goes into my small CC goblet.. no real head or lacing.. the brew is a crystal clear deep amber.

Aromas show thick malt .... raisin and dark plum.. figgy and tons of boozy deep wood.... vinous and thick "Mall caramel" ... damn.. tons of vanilla and hefty malts...

Palate is soooo thick and wonderful.. big plum and fig.. dark fruits melt into caramel and figgy jam... slight citrus zest hoppy notes help balance.. dark raisins linger forever on the finish.

Thick and viscous... pretty much perfect right out of the bottle..

I've enjoyed Arctic Devil quite a few times fresh .... but actually prefer to let it age gracefully.

4.5/4.5/4.5/4/4

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.88/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured medium to dark brown with some off-white head.

S - Whiskey and oak up front with a fairly big caramel aroma. There is also a somewhat odd aroma that I can't put my finger on. Not off-putting at all, just unexpected and odd.

T - Whiskey and oak followed by sweet caramel, toffee and a light raisin flavour.

M - Medium to full body. Light carbonation.

O - Tasting this side-by-side with King Henry and MOAS didn't do this one justice at all. That said, it is yet another solid beer from Midnight Sun.

Photo of tobelerone
4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage.

Pours a coppery brown, with a cap of lighter brown foam and patchy lacing here and there. Complex aroma; toffee and brown sugar; a hint of maple; whiskey and wood; lots of dark fruit like plums, raisins, and figs.

The flavor is equally complex. The most surprising and memorable note was that of maple; there also a good deal of brown sugar/toffee flavor and caramel, more fruit, and plenty of bourbon boozines. Alcohol present but not overly aggressive in the flavor; more noticed as a pleasant warmth in the belly after the swallow.

Medium bodied, perhaps a little thinner than anticipated. Would benefit from a bit more heft, in my estimation. Medium carbonation, quite smooth and silky.

A very nice barrel-aged barleywine that falls perhaps a hair short of the best in class. Wish I had been able to try past vintages; also wish I had more than the single bottle to so I could sock a few away for aging.

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.44/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from 11/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a deep red amber, minimal off-white head and no lacing. Aroma of caramel, whiskey, malt and fruit. Starts with malt, whiskey and caramel, finishing with dark fruits, a touch of oak, more whiskey and alcohol. Very complex and rich. Nice heavy body. Would score higher without the big alcohol punch. Hopefully this will mellow with age. Excellent barley wine.

Photo of Derek
3.69/5  rDev -15.6%
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.

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

Big thanks to googzoid10 for sending this my way a while back.

Pours a lightly cloudy rusted red, some dark brown highlights as well, thick tan head forms, settles down to a thick ring, some lacing on the glass, real neat. Smell is insane good, sherry and port, toffee, some alcohol, tons of raisin and date, brown sugar, treacle, dark fruit, plums, very rich, very complex. Taste is similar, very intense sweet caramel and raisin, brown sugar, prunes, some alcohol, very earthy, lots of fruit, dates, port, lightly grapey, nicely balanced in the finish, incredibly complex and drinkable. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation, some warmth going down. Wow is this stuff good, like a more complex Hardy's, almost as good as the J.W Lee's 97. Amazing, need to get some more! Thanks Greg!

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Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 1,092 ratings.