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Arctic Devil Barley Wine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

964 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 964
Reviews: 335
rAvg: 4.38
pDev: 8.22%
Wants: 936
Gots: 256 | FT: 36
Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  13.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
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 added by: Todd on 03-24-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 964 | Reviews: 335 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ArrogantB
4.22/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been sitting on this bottle for the last three months and decided today is a good day to drink it. It is very dark, brown with ruby edges. The smell is sweet with alcohol tinges. The taste is very sweet malts, delicious but thick and syrupy with an almost cognac-like flavor. There is a slight vanilla flavor which I assume is from the barrels. This beer is definitely an English style barleywine, very malt-forward. The alcohol leaves a burn.

12/21/08 2007 vintage

still very malty sweet, good english barleywine, pricey but will probably age very well, also much stronger than 10%...

ArrogantB, Feb 24, 2008
Photo of kirok1999
4.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Mcallister for bringing this one over for a tasting. 7 barleywines went down and this one was the best IMO.
Beautiful hazy orange in the glass, nice slightly off white head that fades quickly.
Smells moderately sweet, a nice balance between hops and malt.
Taste is mainly malts, sweet and earthy, dark, robust hops of slight grapefruit and grass. This is so well balanced that it treads a fine line between English and American barleywines. This balance really helps it out as it's not on the extreme end of either style.
Feels smooth, light, and slightly carbonated, smooth and thick.
Really easy to drink. Great sipper on a too cold Saturday night.

kirok1999, Jan 29, 2008
Photo of charlesw
3.23/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A really interesting barleywine. WAY overpriced. Like, wow. Like... Wow and wow wow overpriced. I'm pissed that I paid so much for it without really noticing. Oh well. Oh. I guess that says how much I liked it, doesn't it? 'Cause, well, I didn't really like it. It's syrupy sweet with little to no bitterness and that alone... Yeah. Only, it's weird. It's not the syrup of a Lee's - it's more like a chocolate syrup. Weird. Only, not really in a good way. Not thrilled with it. Nice and thick. Not opaque enough but really nice head. Too sweet and thick without the bitterness. Well, like an English barleywine. Yawn.

charlesw, Jan 25, 2008
Photo of LittleBreeze
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma of caramel, vanilla, dark fruits....plums, raisins....woody/earthy.

Taste - A lot of fruit and toffee. Sweet. A bit of floral and citrus in there. Richness compliments the slight alcohol burn.
This may be the best barleywine I've ever tasted. Warming.

This is of course a sipper. It is a special occasion selection imo. It is very easy to keep drinking more.

This barleywine is glorious now. I can't wait to taste it with a little age.

LittleBreeze, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of jdhilt
3.95/5  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.

jdhilt, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of fartingdog
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Hazy brown w/ a small tan head that quickly dissipates to a thin ring around the edge.

S- Caramel, bourbon, straw.

T- Caramel, tobacco, dark fruit- date? Hints of bourbon. Boozy, hot. Big, full bodied and rich.

M- thick and viscous, alcohol warming (almost a burn, really) on the throat.

D- Definite sipper, but damn fine. I can see how this does so well at the Toronado BW fest.

I am eager to see how this does with some age.

fartingdog, Jan 02, 2008
Photo of Bierguy5
4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

Bierguy5, Dec 31, 2007
Photo of tayner
4/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks to AKBelgianBeast for sending this my way in a recent trade. 2007 bottling.

This poured a hazy dark brown with a foamy 1 inch head.. very pretty in my san tan brewing pint glass.

It smelled of dark fruit with a nose of floral hops.

This was sweet, dark sugars, dark fruits... very large alcohol presence.. all 10% can be tasted very well. The alcohol burn isnt astringent, just hot.. dries the palate and warms the chest, but doesnt affect the drinkability at all.

Thick and heavy, for me certainly a sipper. I think this one will do nothing but get better with age.. i am glad i have a couple more to tuck away for a few years, i envision this one being spectacular with a few years on it to mellow the abv a little bit.

definitely one to seek out.

tayner, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of Vancer
4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Time to finish the year with a highly rated brew, sent to me by beerbeing in the BA annv club – many thanks again.

The 2005 brew poured a murky caramel brown, capped with a fair amount of tan head and lace – this with a 10% alcohol lurking within.

Nice aroma of caramel, plums, raisons and the BW malt. All these aspects fire up in the taste, along with a bit of an alcohol burn in the finish – after almost 3 years??

Still overall it remains smooth and sweet – perfect fit for an English BW. Yum, a real treat, Happy New Year!

Vancer, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.88/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Arctic devil 2007 vintage. Pours hazy brown, settling in the glass dark almond brown with light haze at the top. Thin ring of head with swirling light carbonation in the center. smell comes of a kind of toasted caramel with slight alcohol tones. Tastes very luxurious and sippable. leaves a sugary residue on the lips, not as strong as JW. Lees but much more syrupy than your average craft brew. taste is very warm and sugary, and not nearly as hoppy as most american brewed barley wines. Goes down smooth, with the exception of a slight alcohol twinge at the finish(very bearable twinge, not like samichlaus or anything) but I suspect the alcohol finish will disappear with age and some of the dark fruit flavors present will increase, with a few years I could see this as one of the top barley wines in america. Reminds me of a darker version of john barleycorn, only more syrupy and sweeter. Great buy!

AKBelgianBeast, Dec 14, 2007
Photo of irishevans
4.2/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

drinking the 07 vintage shortly after it's release. the apperaance is dark at the bottom however the top is hazey caramel colored, with a thin fiml of a head, that sticks just enough to leave that sweet taste on your lip. the smell is warm and caramelish, and the taste is also full of caramel along with some liquor taste on the finish, the mouthfeel is exceptoinal crisp and bitey, however with that heavy liquor taste makes the drinkability(right now) a little rough, but it should improve(and by that i mean mellow) with age

irishevans, Dec 14, 2007
Photo of mcallister
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a damn fine looking barleywine sitting in front of me. Deep russett color with orange red hues. Head pours to a half inch and is an amazing color of tannish yellow. Hangs around for awhile and fades into a nice ring around the glass.

Complex aromas of fruit, malt, and hop arise from my snifter. You first recognize a thick gooey sweet fig paste aroma full of dates and almonds with a hint of prune and cherry. Following is a blast a toffee rising from the ashes and making its arrival with a blundering announcement. On the end a somewhat piney, somewhat citrus hop aroma adds a little sparkle and gives a layered feeling of substance to the aroma.

This is what a barley wine is all about in my opinion. Huge dried fruit flavors with blasts of toffee and caramel, and a nice alcohol bite at the finish. Hops help tame the sweet malt slightly but aren't over accenuated and making things seem more like a DIPA which always irks me. Viscous and thick toffee with a hint of milk chocolate and vanilla lead way into fig paste, prune, nuts, dried berries, maple syrup, and brown sugar. The slight floral, pine hop comes into the mid palate for a second and than finishes quickly into a alcohol burn in the chest.

Thick and gooey mouthfeel lets you rest you mind and entices the senses on the long finish. Perfect for a cold Ohio night or better yet an Alaskan one.

mcallister, Oct 30, 2007
Photo of flexabull
4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of beersabound. Thanks again!

Bottled November 2005. Been looking for a reason to open this one... with the Phillies (my favorite baseball team) beating the Mets for the NL East, this seems like a good reason to crack this one open.

Beer pours a deep dark amber color, with a nice white head.

Aromas are really strong. Very spicy with bright fruit notes... this also has a very whiskey like smell to it. Quite pungent...

First thing of notice on the sip, is the complexity. What an intense beer. Very bready, dark fruit like, spicy, tart, and with a distinct whiskey, malty, booze like taste. It's a bit sweet, but with a nice alcohol warmth on the finish. Top notch barley wine. And certainly fits well with the English style. Not overly hoppy, just a touch of bitterness, with some pine flavors on the finish.

Mouthfeel is great. Very full, creamy, smooth, yet still bold and thick.

Drinkability is great. This is really 10% ABV? Could have fooled me... a classic barley wine. Exceptionally crafted. Smooth, tasty, and with a wonderful warmth while going down the throat. Seek this beer out! It's that good.

flexabull, Oct 01, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.85/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hugely tarnished copper (like an old penny) with raspberry cordial highlights. I'll take it as a good sign that Arctic Devil is incredibly murky to the point of opacity, a much different look than the gemstone-like lucency of most barleywines. The caramel colored cap looked good right after the pour and looks good as it slowly recedes. Too bad the ABV is a lace killer.

The nose is fantastic! I loved what reached me on the pour and I love it just as much up close. As the style dictates, there isn't a whole lot of hoppiness. That's okay because the aroma is incredible without it. Rich caramel, earthy leather and cherry pipe tobacco lead the way.

As I was pretty sure it would be, Arctic Devil is tremendous beer. My first mouthful told me that it's the best English barleywine that has ever entered my glass. Nothing else even comes close. I need more hoppiness than this for perfection to be a consideration, but this beautifully aged ale is very nearly there. I'm not sure if it's just over two years old or just over three.

What a delicious concoction. The brewery must have used a few tons of caramel malt and included 'who know what else' to get the beer to taste this rich and complex. My description of the nose applies on the palate as well, so I think I'll use it again. Stickysweet and bitter and earthy weave around one another like three strands of a supple barleywine rope. Start it out barely cool, like I did, and your tongue just might explode from sensory overload.

I've changed my mind. When a beer nails a style with this degree of precision, when I'd rather sit and savor it than finish the review, that beer deserves the ultimate compliment of a perfect flavor score. I wish I knew what the oak barrels that were used to age this masterpiece previously contained. Midnight Sun says that there are one of three possibilities for each batch: port, wine or whiskey.

Given the sweet, caramelized sugar that is oozing all over my taste buds, I'll go with bourbon whiskey. Then again, there's a fruity vinousness that suggests port. It really doesn't matter in the end. Whatever was used, I hope my next bottle is placed in the same sort of barrel.

I've had bigger mouthfeels, but I don't know that I've had a more silky smooth big mouthfeel than this one. Lucious doesn't quite capture it. How about superduperfreakinamazinglucious? Every other brewer of barleywines should drink this beer and take copious notes.

I must admit, I expected good to great things from Arctic Devil Barley Wine, but I didn't expect the magnum opus that is currently occupying my snifter. If you love great beer, do yourself a favor and do anything it takes to acquire a bomber of this outstanding elixir. This is my new gold standard for the English barleywine style.

BuckeyeNation, May 22, 2007
Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

sometimes everything comes to a head just right and you wind up with the chance to try a rare beer - and it's amazing. Yup, this is one of those. thanks to beerbeing for this via trade! This was a Nov 05 vintage.
A - A pfft of carbonation with the pop of the cap - good so far. Pours a thick dark burgandy color with less than a trace of off-white head whcih disappears rapidly. A trickle of bubbles come up indicating it's not flat.
S - Rich dark ripe fruit / raisins, caramel malt sweetness.
T - Similar to the smell but complexly layered and rich but not cloying.
M - full bodied, sweet but not cloying. Nicely balanced for such a rich beer.
D - A beer to savor as an experience. The complexity of the malts and the balance in this beer are impressive.

Get one if you can! Well worth the effort!

barleywinebrewer, May 21, 2007
Photo of John_M
3.75/5  rDev -14.4%
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.

John_M, Mar 18, 2007
Photo of Ego
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

obtained online last year from liquidsolutions.com, after a day of sitting in hell-acious traffic off the BQE I deserve this damn beer! this is marked as brewed November 2005.

eyes...
deep ruby tone, small head fades into an O-Ring, plenty of legs on this 10% beeotch, carbonation is active for a barleywine, a good looking brew, especially the hue

nose...
roasted sweetness ? if there is such a thing. This is a classic barleywine aroma, if you want to know what a BW should smell like, get your grubby little sausages on this one, big raisins, cranberries soaked in booze, very assertive and powerful nose here. it hints at so much under the raisin barrage... whiffs of cocoa and chocolate and grain. fantastic.

taste etc...
near perfect body for a barley, alcohol is strong, very boozy but yet smooth, this certainly gets your attention... this beer is so bad it should be in detention, carbonation carries it just enough and then BAM that super barleywine flavor explodes in your mouth, in the aftermath is some lingering bitterness and sweetness, this stuff sticks to your lips. this is almost as thick as some cough syrups... This is very sweet but not in an off putting way like say some tripels and other barleywines.

verdict?
hands down one of the best barleywines I have had.. getting through this bomber will wax me, but hell, I need to get to bed anyway...

Ego, Feb 06, 2007
Photo of hoppymeal
4.03/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aggressive pour shows a small yellowy creamy head that dissipates quickly. Some decent chunkiness and floaties from bottle conditioning. Aroma is a big rich sugary caramel and apple brandy alcohol. Also some dry red wine fruitiness, rich port like aromas. Taste follows with a nice rich maltiness, some coconut alcohol flavor, some nice balancing hop bitterness and a good sized alcohol warmth in the finish. Taste also showed some raisin and caramel in the maltiness. Nice and thick to start, the alcohol seems to become more apparent in the mouthfeel as I get into it. A nice spiciness on the tongue and a sharp bite at the back of the throat. A very nice barleywine, I would definitely say this is much more of an american style than english as it is classified here, easy to drink for its strength, I'd love to have a few of these for the cellar. Thanks Mark.

hoppymeal, Jan 31, 2007
Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.78/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to beerbeing for a bottle as a gift. I am splitting this bottle with blitheringidiot. This is fantastic. It is classified as an English barley but it is close to an American in taste. Just a little head & is very malty and thick with a hint of sweetness. This is a great sipper. Wow this is good.

Thanks again, Alex!

SkinnyElvis, Dec 16, 2006
Photo of ppoitras
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

ppoitras, Oct 25, 2006
Photo of blitheringidiot
4.63/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

blitheringidiot, Aug 16, 2006
Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber shared over lunch. Dark brown, bubbly initial head. Although the alcohol isn't very apparent, this is strong and calls for food, It's a sipper. Cinammon and spice and nutty barleywine. Full mouthfeel. Flavorful winter warmer crossover, very good.

Sammy, Jun 04, 2006
Photo of warriorsoul
4.65/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to beernut7 for this one....not sure of the year, but I believe it is an '04.
Dark rust in color with less than 1/4 finger of off-white head...disappears rapidly and produces no lacing.
Huge raisins in the nose, caramel malt sweetness, mild alcohol.
The taste is insanely flavorful and rich...huge fig/raisin profile with a malty sweetness that is balanced with a bittering hop profile...finishes bittersweet with no lingering aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is thick as any I've tried in the style and the carbonation is sublime.
A definite sipper at 10%, but so fun to consume it is silly.
So glad to get to try this one, as I have never really seeked it out...I just may have to after this experience.

warriorsoul, May 27, 2006
Photo of jabocu
4.7/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 edition 22 oz. bottle.

Pours a deep mahogany with reddish hues, A thin one finger tan cap that dissipated into thin lacings. Aroma is sweet caramel and molasses, estery figs, some citrus and floral hops, and a little alcohol. vinous aroma. Explosive rich flavor of figs and molasses, a little tropical fruit, toasted buttery cashews, whiskey, vinous quality, very nice subtle floral and tangerine hop bitterness, undertones of spice and pepper. Alcohol is noticeable with a deep warming effect. Mouthfeel is viscous with a full body, with med-high carbonation, and finishes dry. Exceptional and half-way done with bomber and already feeling good!!! Glad I have a couple more of these cellared.

jabocu, May 21, 2006
Photo of meathookjones
4.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle that was bottled on November 05. Deep brownish amber with a good sized tan head. Light lacing and good head retention. Aroma is full of sweet ripe dark fruits with some caramel. Molasses and milder notes of baker’s chocolate lingering in the back. The flavor starts with more of the ripe fruit notes with sweet caramel. Caramel, toffee and molasses are noted as well. Some earthiness and a nice bitter touch to keep the sweetness in check. Very rich and full flavored. No real signs of alcohol just some warmth as it goes down. Pretty damn thick and smooth as well. Perfectly drinkable to me, big flavor with no harshness at all. Amazing stuff that I wish were available locally.

meathookjones, Apr 07, 2006
Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 964 ratings.