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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no score

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Reviews: 348
Hads: 1,164
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 7.82%
Wants: 973
Gots: 288 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 348 | Hads: 1,164
Photo of abfraser
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to waltonc for sharing this

A: Nice dark brown amber with a decent sized tan head. This one looks like its going to be thick.

S: Amazing. Pure sweet caramel malt. By smell alone, you know this is going to be a fantastic one.

T/M: This is all high alcohol caramel malt, with a nice fruit flavor in the background. I prefer these English-style barleywine's more than the "American" variety because of this strong malt profile. A lot of other barleywines are dominated by hoppy bitterness, which I'm not a fan of as much in these types of beers. Mouth is a little thick. But this is hardly syrupy or cloying.

D: I could drink this as much as I was physically capable. Great stuff. (688 characters)

Photo of waltonc
4.64/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Carmel, amber color without much head.

S: One of the better smelling beers I can recall having. Strong sweet caramel, toffee, and dark fruit.

T: Very strong flavor here, the beer is likely stuffed with calories, which translates to an outstanding sweet caramel and dark fruit taste. Unlike some barleywines, I didn't experience any burn with this. Seems similar to some old ales, such as Fourth Dementia.

M: Thick, and on the edge of syrupy, but not.

D: In spite of the high ABV, I had no difficulty with this one. A truly exceptional barleywine in my view. Hop lovers may be disappointed. This is the antithesis of a "San Diego" beer. (643 characters)

Photo of BeerTruth
3.52/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Got this one from mashmaster on RB.

22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter. Month and week bottled notched on the side of the glass.

Pours a murky deep brown with a fast one finger khaki colored head that disappears into almost nothing. Mediocre spotty lacing clings to the sides of the glass. Smell is dominated by the malts. Mostly dark fruits in the nose; dates, raisins, fig, and overripe cherries. Leather and pipe tobacco leaves add an interesting aroma as well. A good dose of booze can be detected in each whiff too. Taste starts off with a strong alcohol sting followed by syrupy caramel malts and earth. Midway, more booze with licorice, molasses, and brown sugar. The finish burns the back of my throat with spice and rich nutty flavors. Malt monster from start to finish lacking the bitterness to balance it out. Big body and a strong sting from, what else, but the alcohol along with a flowing carbonation. The 10% is clearly there, and if I didn't know ahead of time, I would have guessed it was upwards of 15%. Ugh, I gotta go run and get a Zantac... (1,064 characters)

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

Thanks to my buddy Onslow for this brew. I did a blind tasting on this one and I couldn't guess the style. I guessed a doppelbock. "A doppel, ass clown?" says Onslow. I suck...lol

Aged for 1 year....

pours up a brown color with amber edges and a small tan head. the nose is lots of malts (the malts smell foreign, maybe German?), mollasses, powdered chocolate. Wooo! A nice big beer! I taste chocolate powder, subtle caramel, very earthy, yeasty, subtle fruit, sweet. Full bodied, low carbo, very smoothe. I do love me some Midnight Sun! (539 characters)

Photo of rhinos00
4.64/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

First things first. Huge thanks to Jeff (Faro) for giving me the opportunity to try this beer. Secondly, I would like to thank Frank (AKBelgianBeast), whose recommendations forced me to open this bottle prematurely ;)

Vintage 2006 - Poured into a snifter.

A- A dark, dull amber. Half finger of tan head formed and dissipated quickly upon consumption. As a side note, I love the artwork on this bottle.

S- I could sum this up in one word. Glorious. Initially there was a nice smell of caramel and malts. Infused with this was a compilation of dark fruits that offered a very distinct aroma. To add to the complexity, just barely detectable, was a subtle sweetness of cherries and other fruits that just lingered in the background.

T- As the beer warmed, the taste became more pronounced and bold. Pretty much follows the nose. Caramel malts bring a nice flavor to the palate and are then capped off by a distinct sweet, fruit flavor that just warms the body as it's consumed.

M- Absolutely perfect. Thick, but smooth. Little carbonation. Really enjoyed the sugary residue that stuck to my lips.

D- This beer would probably be better if it was shared with two people. However, it is so good that one can't help but keep it for themself. At 10% ABV this is definitely a sipper, but every second is so worth it.

Overall, I am extremely gracious that I had the gumption to open this bottle. I have been wanting to try it, but was just afraid of opening it up. Drinking this makes me want to move out west, immediately. Highly recommended. (1,542 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 hopdog
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled date of November '04.

Poured a dark and cloudy brown color with a small off white head. Aromas of vanilla, dark fruits and wood. Tastes of vanilla, dark fruits, brown sugar, and molasses. Sweet. Light alcohol in the finish. Overall a very tasty Barley Wine.

Notes from 4/15/05 (287 characters)

Photo of edmedina
4.67/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours with about 1 fingers worth of head. The color is a nice dark brown color. Definitely no light coming through it. The smell is a nice sweet licorice. The taste is pretty over powering. You start out with the same licorice taste and then it becomes more sweet almost a brown sugar sweetness taste. There is some bite to the taste showing the alcohol content here. It does leave the brown sugar as an after taste. I really enjoy this particular barleywine and have managed to store another away to age for a little while. I am sure the taste will settle down some more. (575 characters)

Photo of Sixpoint
3.92/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Hmmm....

I remember having this beer several years ago and it tasted much better then. However, my sample this time around was nothing to sneeze at...

Yet this beer must be restrained for its absolute brute strength. You can practically feel the alcohol vaporizing off this bad-azz mutha.

And she's got a body of a sumo wrestler. Bear hugs you and takes you down for a death crawl.

Definitely a sipper by the fireside. (424 characters)

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

Pours a clear red-brown liquid with minimal tan head. Smells cleanish alcohol, brown sugar, soured caramel (from aged oxidation), and dark esters such as raisin.

Tastes wet sweet, nice caramel and buttery with some sherry-like (soured caramel) oxidation. dark fruits heavy in the mouth (fig and brown raisin). Touch of scorch to the toffee. Thick dextrinous mouthfeel, yet dries in the finish. Modest carbonation at best. Yummy. (429 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
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! (525 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 alexgash
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle served at 45 degrees F.

Pours a slightly opaque maple syrup brown. Lighter edges. Small, tight, wispy, khaki brown head. Nose of rich caramel, sherry, Madeira, more caramel, vinous tannins, brandied fruits, and a whiff of chocolate pudding. Complex and very impressive.

Warming reach of brandy-soaked dark fruits up front. Develops some caramel malt sweetness with a vinous edge. Hints of vanilla, sherry, and oak. Rich cookie and caramel malt settle in mid-palate before giving way to warming alcohol and mildly herbal bitter hops. Long finish with lingering caramel, toffee, and fruit. Full-bodied with a thick, lush, creamy feel. Very nice! (660 characters)

Photo of trill
4.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a very dark brown, nearly opaque, with a Guinness-like sticky tan head. The aroma is remarkably refined for a young English-style barleywine. Loads of brown sugar, raisins, toffee, dark bread, and just a trace of pungent hops, without any harsh alcohol fumes. The flavor is equally smooth and equally rich; I picked up vanilla, rum, oatmeal raisin cookies, molasses, and a touch of smokiness. The carbonation level is more active than I expected, but this beer finishes smoother than any I've had in the style, which includes some ten-year-old JW Lees.

I thought about trading this one, but I'm glad I didn't. Definitely worth the trouble of acquiring. (669 characters)

Photo of DIM
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This was a pretty, dark mahogany color that was slightly hazy. It poured with a smallish light tan head that didn't last long.

s: Big dark fruit aromas of cherries and plums leap out of the glass. Mildly sweet elements of peaty vanilla as well. There are some mildly alcoholic flowery hops to round out a very appealing nose.

t: Up front this had sweet flavors of malty cherries with a hint of vanilla. These turned a bit prickly and sour before a dry, floral finish. Some perfumed alcoholic warmth emerges as this breathes.

m: This had a very nice, silky, velvety texture. It was relatively still, but I think that worked pretty well here.

d: This might be the best English barleywine I've tried. $16 a bomber means this will probably be my only bottle, but I don't regret the purchase. (795 characters)

Photo of mnapier
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Service Temperature, 55 degrees. Service Glassware, 12 ounce Tulip.

A dark pool with little or no light escaping that pours a mild khaki head that leaves no lace behind.
The nose is a strong alcohol nose that wafts along with some brown sugar, raisins, and a slight bit of cherry.
The mouth is mostly brown sugar with some raisins, figs, and a slight berry zest. Mouthfeel is medium to strong but not overwhelming.

I like this beer but will have to wait till the winter period to fully appreciate it.

Cheers (511 characters)

Photo of CrellMoset
4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (1,102 characters)

Photo of gford217
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, deep copper with a two-finger buttery head which linger throughout and leaves sporadic lacing. Aroma is big on dark fruits, figs and raisins mainly, and caramel malts. Alcohol burn really comes out as it warms. Taste is big and roasty, with dark fruits dominating. Toffee and caramel malts are present throughout with a definite alcohol burn and a hint of oak in the finish. Mouthfeel is incredible and silky smooth with strong carbonation. This is definitely a sipper and a fantastic barleywine. (510 characters)

Photo of illidurit
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

05 bottle sampled at the RBSG 08 Grand Tasting. Big thanks to whoever brought it. Pours golden brown with a tan head that leaves wet spotty lacing. Deep caramel aroma with some leafiness. Tobacco? Hops? Flavor is toffee based, with notes of prune, molasses, berries, and wood. Finish is earthy with some vanilla. Full bodied with a very smooth mouthfeel. (354 characters)

Photo of ncvbc
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A copper brown, rusty in color. Shades of red and brown. Somewhat murky. Medium to thin head with decent retention considering this brew.

Smell is so great. Malty, sweet, potent. Caramel, toffee, toasted bread, fig, raisin, cherry, hints of chocolate, pineapple. Apple skin. Touch of booze. Very complex brew.

Taste is also quite great. Pretty damn malty, I'd say. Not syrupy thick by any means, though. Rich, bold, full of flavor. Yummy. Big caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and again fruit. Definitely the cherry...quite noticeable. Hints of fig and pear. Light apple skin at times. Umm...some vanilla and wood/oak...is this aged in some barrel or just so deep it's beyond me? Also, hints of chocolate. This is big, bad, and complex. Just great.

Mouthfeel is so lush. Light heat from the booze, great near syrupy full body with adequate carbonation. Goes down quite easily to say the least.

I actually had this bomber to myself...it was a special occasion to say the least. For now, I'm saying this is almost too easy to drink. It is a champion and a standout in its class.

Let's see...Joel sent me this in a trade...he never told me it was bottled in 11/05...wow, quite a special beer to say the least here. Glad to have finally tried this to begin with, much less such a special release of this brew. This one has been aged going on three years and is still a champ. I'd like to try the fresh version to compare but as for now, I think I have a good idea as to what this is all about.

Thanks to jtrcockchalk...quite possibly one of BA's top 5 finest traders? You are the man, that's the least that can be said! (1,621 characters)

Photo of SPLITGRIN
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A foam brick of three fingers of rich tan carmel head rises to the top of the glass. Body is of the deepest brown as it settles into the glass almost black. Nose is absolutely delecious in itself with rich toffee malt tones. Carmel honey and vanilla twirl together very well, I could sniff all day. Massive richness soaks the tongue with firest sip. Toasted and almost burnt malts mix with some spiceyness on the front of the palate. A solid dose of carmalized thickness is no surprise. As you continue to drink, you get some dark fruit and crisp apple feel. A dry powdery thick bitterness develops the mouthfeel. Overall I would put this in the catagory of delecious sipper. (675 characters)

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

3:30am and I'm sober and awake...Why not open Artic Devil?

Pours a nice Caramel Brown into my giant snifter.

Smell: Alcohol, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Raisins, Sweet and Boozy.

Taste: Sweet Caramel, Dark Fruits, Vanilla, Toffee, and Booze. Very Thick and Syrupy.

Do I really need to say it? Thanks Frank! (306 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.45/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy deep amber/ brown-ish color with a small tannish head. In the aroma, dark fruit, raison, fig, and licorice. In the taste, big licorice and fig, with a small bitterness in the end. A smooth and medium mouthfeel, with a dry syrupy and dark fruit aftertaste. Hides the alcohol in flavor, but can feel the burn, yet a bit syrupy. (340 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.37/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked this one up in the Barley wine BIF recently and needless to say I was thrilled to get it. I had been looking for this one forever so when I finally had it, did not take long for me to get it chilled down and into a glass. Served at cellar temperature in a Terrapin snifter while watching cloverfield last night.

Appearance - This one poured a very nice, and very dark brown. Very thick looking on the pour with a minimum amount of head coming up through it. A bout a half inch of off white foam rose up through it, but then quickly settled down into a thin film, which itself then faded into nothing after a minute. Touch of side glass lacing could be seen.

Smell - The aroma was loaded down with bourbon. This shocked me a bit at first, in a good way, but nonetheless. Lots of spices in the nose here as well. Hints of raisins and figs, light earthy, roasted malts and a good touch of alcohol. Very complex nose, and unique for the style.

Taste - The flavor was a wonderful surprise. Rich tastes of oak and vanilla, hints of roasted malts and caramel. Lots of bourbon like flavors swirling around. Very tight and nicely done. A bit of alcohol, just enough to thicken it up a bit. A really nice and very full barley wine. Finish was strong, with a healthy dose of bourbon and spice lingering in the mouth for what seemed like forever.

Mouthfeel - A super full Mouthfeel, much bigger then most barley wines out there. Creamy with ample carbonation, this was just absolutely wonderful. A really fantastically put together beer.

Drinkability - The quintessential sipper, I thoroughly enjoyed going on with this one for a good long while. An interesting take on the style, but highly shippable and most of the 10% was extremely well hidden.

Overall I thought this was an outstanding selection from MS. Really a top notch beer here. Not so much a barley wine as it was a bit bigger then that. Very good though and something that I will look to buy a few to cellar. (1,972 characters)

Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.67/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Nice dark mahogany brown beer with a glimpse of head that did a Houdini and disappeared quickly. No appearance of any carbination what-so-ever.

S- The smell is wonderful. Fruity, malty, spicy, sweet caramel. The smell is very big and complex, but the different above smells seem to do a great job trading in and out with each other.

T- Caramel and roasted malts if very present at first then the 10% ABV takes over and stings the tongue. Second taste yeilded a fruiter hoppier taste with the malt finish. There is a fruity date taste that is present as well. Very complex in the taste and is more of a bittersweet taste then sweet. Unlike Old School by DFH which is very sweet. This almost seems like a combination of European and West Coast Barley Wine styles. Gives a nice warming sensation from the inside out.

M- The beer is very thick. The alcohol definitely stings the tongue. But it doesn't dry out the tongue which is nice.

D- I think this is an easy beer to drink. The ABV seems to be quite potent in this brew. Or perhaps I should have just eaten more for lunch. (1,080 characters)

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