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
96
world-class

348 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 348
Hads: 1,161
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 4.37%
Wants: 973
Gots: 289 | FT: 39
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: 1,161
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 randawakes
4.63/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

After trying a few 6 oz samplers up on the Loft on opening night at the new location of the Midnight Sun brewery, I decided to take a few 22's home..including this one. Not a bad choice. Favorite barley wine to date.

Appearance: primarily golden with ruby red and golden elexir with rose reflection.

Smell: Toasty caramel with brown sugar notes. If there was anything I wished to be more pronounced in this beer it would be this.

Taste: Perfectly described below in its resemblance to creme brulee. Sweet syrupy tones with raison flavor. Sugary caramels with very slight hints of plane nuts.

Mouthfeel: soothing with very light carbonation. Goes down smoother with each sip and maintains its sweetness on the edges of the upper mouth.

Drinkability: exceptional, deserty feel that says drink me faster and faster. (817 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 slaintemhor
4.72/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tried an '08 of this last night, that i had been sitting on since January '09. The color was a garnet brown with just a smidge of head. The nose was sweet with burnt caramel and dark amber syrup. On the palate, a small burst of carbonation followed by sweetness, caramel, burnt toffee, dark fruits, Christmas pudding, treacle, unsulphured molasses, brown sugar and gently cloying long finish. This is a delightful English style barley wine that I look forward to every year! (474 characters)

Photo of juzy
4.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

6 oz. pour at "The Loft" (Midnight Sun's new location offers a tasting area where you can purchase up to 36 oz. of whatever they have on tap, in 6 or 12 oz. pours)

2008 vintage

Apperance: deep and dark with ruby highlights when held up to a light. Small, just off-white creamy head.

Smell: vanilla, heavy, deep caramel on the nose, like smelling creme brulee as you are torching the sugar, but just before the sugar scorches. Brown sugar and dark dried fruits.

Taste: Pretty much tastes like it smells. like biting into a piece of rich, boozy, dark, dried fruit fruit-cake (think figs, prunes, raisins, sour cherries, then top it off with molasses, vanilla and brown sugar)

Mouthfeel: the body is rich and full with just the right amount of carbonation to help the flavors dance on your tongue.

Drinkability: This always stumps me, I could drink lots of this just for taste and aroma alone, but at 13% I really wouldn't want to.

Awesome beer, fresh or aged. (964 characters)

Photo of scottoale
4.7/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber with month & week bottled: J 2&5 notched on the label. I'm pretty sure this is the latest vintage in any case. It pours a dark mahogany (brown coppery-red) with decent viscosity and ample carbonation. The head rises up to almost 1/2" in a Duvel tulip with an orange tint of beige and good retention, but no clingy lace.

The aroma is of sweet and rich caramel maltiness. Dark caramel, toffee, shortbread, brown sugar, plum, hazelnut and vanilla for the most part. It smells malty and oak mellowed with a bit of alcohol as it warms.

The taste is just that much better, with loads of the afore mentioned and more. Rich and chewy kind of flavor if you will, filled with toffee and caramel, butterscotch, brown sugar and molasses, oak, vanilla, fig, plum and hazelnut. The flavor is divine and really reminds me alot of the Angel's Share. Truly awesome flavor that I can't get enough of.

Good full body with ideal carbonation that's silky smooth and creamish. Good dose of alcohol that never gets in the way and really adds to the delivery of the flavor. This is one barleywine that is as drinkable as they come...it's great now and becomes even greater with some age on it, a must try if you love B-wines! (1,217 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.28/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Okay, so I was a bit hasty. I was just so eager to finally crack open the bottle of Arctic Devil that I made no note of its production year. Now, this beer was received in a trade waaay back in early 2008 (mid-February, IIRC). So, if we suppose it was, at the time, a current bottle, it was from the November 2007 release, making it a 2007 vintage. Let's roll with that!

2007 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours a delicately hazy, deep, russet-hued body with a thin, wispy, ecru-colored head.

Smell: Strong, sweet-smelling malt aroma with plenty of dark caramel, toasted toffee, and brown sugar. While there is a ripe plum and dried fig fruit character, it's simply bursting at the seems with a rich cherry fruitiness. There's even room enough for vanilla, damp oaken barrels, and some nose-tingling alcoholic wafts.

Taste: Thickly sweet and oh-so delectable dark caramel ice cream topping flavor garnished with a pinch of hearty cinnamon and brown sugar. Plenty of fruitiness, and, as with the nose, it's big on the cherries! Drizzle of Grade A maple syrup straight from Vermont. Touches of vanilla and lightly tannic oak wood. An earthy bitterness melds in well with the rest of the brew. Now, mind you, there's an ample amount of alcohol warmth coursing through this brew, but, thanks to the assertive maltiness, it prevents it from coming across as overly hot. Finishes long with plenty of drying alcohol and an enduring maltiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is both silky and smooth.

Drinkability: Another skillful release from Midnight Sun. Barleywines are addicting enough on their own, but Arctic Devil takes it to a whole new level of hedonistic indulgence. Overall, an exemplary brew! (1,727 characters)

Photo of younger35
4.69/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Received this brew from gclarkage in a recent trade for a bunch of goodies. I've been looking to land this brew for quite some time but didn't want to pay the shipping costs to Alaska. Glad it's in the lower 48 now. Drank from my Ithaca Excelsior tulip.

Appearance- Pours a hazy reddish orange with a soft dirty tan foamy head that dissipates fairly slowly. When it's gone though, it's gone basically leaving no cap and a ultra thin collar.
Smell- The nose is slightly sweet with a big burst of toffee that could be the most intense I've smelled in a Barleywine. Some woody oak and plenty of vanilla mix well with the sweetness and the occasional waft of alcohol. Some light over ripened raisin adds a bit of fruitiness but this one tends to stick toward the brown sugar side of things. The hops are lightly fruity and vibrant but the nose is dominated by the malt and wood.
Taste- Not as sweet as the nose led me to believe but a nice bit of brown sugar and light molasses shine. Some light wood and vanilla really come out strong once the beer warms as does a bit of fruit. Prunes, raisins and dark cherries all are fairly prevalent as is a bit of alcohol. For 10% though it's hidden extremely well. Finishes with a bit of lingering cherry and toffee.
Mouthfeel- Thick and rich with a super creamy feel and ultra light carbonation.
Drinkability- Reminds me of homemade grain alcohol cut with burnt sugar and cherries that I had at a bachelor party one time (170 proof and tasted like cherry syrup, dangerous stuff). Except this actually tastes good. Extremely smooth, extremely drinkable and probably the best Barleywine I've had since Old Ruffian. Crazy good stuff, mucho recommended. Thanks Chris! (1,702 characters)

Photo of Bung
4.55/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. Cloudy orange/amber pour. Nearly no head, just some swirling cream bubbles. Sticks to the glass. Just looking at this one you know it's going to be full of malty goodness. Brown sugar, malt, toffee, raisin and a fair amount of booze in the aroma. Also hints of piney hops. Taste has an abundance of malt, caramel, vanilla, yellow raisins. Little hop presence, but it is faintly there. Solid sticky body. Gets a little warm as it warms, but the flavors also pop as it warms. This is a meal, not sure how much of this I want to drink, but you could polish off the bomber before you realize it. Top notch Barleywine that has some hints of Old Ale. Unfortunate that so many are going to the hop bomb American style, this is a must try for those who like a barleywine the old English way. (790 characters)

Photo of IBUnit63
4.39/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This bomber is courtesy of googzoid10 - I have sat on this one wayyy too long but it's time. I think the Portsmouth snifter is the proper vessel for this deal.

There's a ginger head that's about 1/2 finger and goes quickly. The body is flat milk chocolate/turbid coffee brown. Color is a little like a cherrywood-ish dunkel.

This is a classic maltbomb barleywine going on. It is pure vanilla sticky sweet with some booziness and some earthy caramel malt - the heavy stuff. Very much a peanut brittle texture. Hop profile is on deep background and I fault nobody for this - it's a creamy old-school barleywine. Wicked solid.

I don't really encounter beers made this way anymore and that's my fault, but this one reminds me of a more robust version of backburner, which I enjoy immensely...but this one is without the apple (fault?) texture. Lots of vanilla and oak...maybe some hop pine but the star is some incredible rich, sweet and comforting velvety dark caramel maltiness. The booze on this reminds me of a couple of bourbon barrels - the color morphs into a dark bourbon after a while...it mixes into the whole effort and doesn't offend.

Palate feel matches nose and palate on this one. It's deep, dark and malty but it doesn't overpower. The oak in here actually soothes the booziness nicely and relaxes the palate after a while. It brings a bit of bourbon to the game to make it interesting.

This sips much nicer than your average bear in the weight class. It has bench strength and depth. Enough hops to intrigue. Excellent. (1,537 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.79/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage. Hazy amber-brown in color with a small tan head. Rich malty aroma, woody with light resin and sherry-like oxidation. Figs, raisins, huge caramel sweetness. Similar on the palate; dark dried fruit, oak, tannins, toffee. Massive body, remarkably viscous. Deep resiny hops in the finish, noticeably faded with age but still packing a punch, and quite tannic too. (373 characters)

Photo of grub
4.67/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Viggo shared this one. big thanks eric!

22oz bottle. sampled may 9/09.

pours deep red-brown with a bit of haze. a thin layer of very fine dark tan head forms, dropping fast and leaving spotty lace.

aroma is excellent. light alcohol. bit of american hop bite - pine, grapefruit. tons of dark fruit - raisin, date, fig. dark caramel and toffee. lightly toasted multi-grain bread. brandy, calvados, vanilla. really complex and interesting.

taste is great. rich caramel and toffee. lightly toasted multi-grain bread. biscuit. bit of cracker. lots of rich dark fruit - date, fig, raisin. bit of earthy character. vanilla and raw oak. hints of dark chocolate. loads of depth and complexity. while the aroma gave me a bit of an american impression, this is decidedly english now.

mouthfeel is great. nice big body. medium-low carbonation level.

drinkability is great. well balanced. great depth and complexity. the alcohol is still a bit warm, but goddamn i love it anyway. i'll be looking for more of this! (1,006 characters)

Photo of Viggo
4.62/5  rDev +6.2%
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! (804 characters)

Photo of Lothore
4.41/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a muddy dark brown hue with little to no head.

S- Hints of fig, plum, raisin, brown sugar, and light hints of alcohol.

T- Light citrus notes (orange and tangerine), pine, deep fig and brown sugar notes that have a sharp start, full middle and very dry finish.

M- Thick with medium carbonation.

D- This is a great barleywine to sip on on a cold day. (361 characters)

Photo of rye726
4.88/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours an earthy rosewood with a silky tan head. Fantastic nose of nutty malts, oaky bourbon, dark pitted fruits, vanilla, sweet alcohol and subtle hops. Taste is equally imressive. Again powered by big bready malts, cherries, figs, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, peppery alcohol and light floral hops. Smooth creamy body is delicately carbonated. Fantastic stuff, right up there with the best. (394 characters)

Photo of mikeale
4.7/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks TexasStout for this one.
Served in a snifter.

A. opaque dark rust ruby body, caramel head fades quick.

S. Caramel, toffey, citrus hops are faint

T. toffey, creamy vanilla, alcohol, leather notes.

M. wow! this is almost chewey, mouth coating, rich,

D. I started this on Saturaday 11:00 A.M. still enjoying over an hour later. Well balanced, I did'nt find the alcohol overpowering.

Yummalisus! (407 characters)

Photo of Overlord
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Looking forward to trying a Midnight Sun beer for a long time. Yay!

Pours a ruddy dark brown. Big tan foam head that settled down to a tan crust. Decent looking, though, to be honest, I hate brown beers.

Smells like rich malt caramel malt, some piney, grapefruity hops, and boozy dark fruits. Taste is incredibly rich. I think it makes my teeth hurt. Just boozy plums, with a caramel malt and raison base, and there is definitely a balancing, bitter hop content. But, it's a very muted citrus component.

Nice sticky, thick mouthfeel. Impressive. (550 characters)

Photo of biegaman
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
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! (3,193 characters)

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

2007 bomber into a Stone Old Guardian tulip. BIG thanks to hopsleeroy for bringing this my way...been wanting to try it for a while.

Pours a deep sienna hue with hints of mahogany at the edges. Dark custard head composed of tightly packed bubbles that retains well and builds quickly with a swirl of the glass. Intricate, intoxicating aroma of maple syrup, caramel, toffee, and a pungent, boozy alcohol note. All in perfect syncopation with one another (aka, great balance).

Taste matches the aroma well, with lots of complex toffee malts and a flavorful boozy liquor presence of brandy and rum. Bread and biscuits lurk in the background with a pinch of earthen hops. Body is smooth to no end (not creamy), with a near-perfect carbonation level and a medium-thick mouthfeel. I really enjoyed this beer, not only a fantastic introduction to Midnight Sun, but a great barleywine as well! Highly recommended. (907 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 mykie73
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

a) Burgandy caramel, burnt amber color with small lacing

s) Complex. red apples, cherries, hint of figs, vanilla, toffee

t) delicious; tastes like it smells but with more toffee. lingering after taste. reminds me of eating a twix bar in away. can not taste the alcohol at all.

f) so smooth, does not coat mouth, great feel.

d) very drinkable. A spendy beer at $15 a pop so something you bring out for a special treat. Very happy that this beer is very available in Oregon. Tremendous Barley Wine. (500 characters)

Photo of paco1029384756
4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a ruby brown color with a small off white head.

Scent of grass, earth, molasses, caramel, tobacco, and fruit. balanced and complex, alcohol is masked very well.

Taste of maple, sugars, tea, tobacco, and a hint of mint. Strong and tasty Barleywine.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and rich with some carbonation. (315 characters)

Photo of Grabbin2nd
3.85/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Notes: 12/28/08
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Arctic Devil B-wine

Big shout out to my mom, who hooked this up for Christmas. How awesome is that?

Appearance=Very dark brownish/black beer. Vigorous pour into pub glass (I know, I know...)yields a slow rising off white, 1 finger head that dissipates rather quickly.

Smell= Honestly, not much. I'm kinda sick. I get the sweet caramel malt smell, along with the hops and alcohol.

Taste= Good. A little on the sweeter side I'd say, compared to Avery Hog Heaven

Mouthfeel= Good mouth on it. Full bodied.

Drinkability= @ 10%, along with the sweetish thick mouthfeel, does not make the drinkability that high. With that being said, I finished this beer no problem. (712 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev -8%
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 (2,643 characters)

Photo of orcasteve
4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into my duvel tulip glass, poured a rich thick borwn that cant be seen through, a rich creamy five finger head rises to the top and stays awhile, the smell is rich grain and alchoal with a sweet fig overtone, the flavor is figs, hazelnuts, molasses, honney, sweet malt, a hint of folaral hops then malt for days. this hides the alochal well and is a beer that i would love to get more of (394 characters)

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