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Arctic Devil Barley Wine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

355 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 355
Hads: 1,205
Avg: 4.35
pDev: 15.17%
Wants: 976
Gots: 298 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 355 | Hads: 1,205
Photo of Tilley4
3.79/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a CBS snifter, this elixir from Midnight Sun offers little in the way of carbonation... Wispy and faint.... Lovely aromas of raisins and pineapple.... Very nice...

Absolutely no trace of booze whatsoever.... at 13.20%, that's pretty damn impressive... Very sweet... perhaps a little too much so... almost syrupy at times.... not necessarily cloying but... very sweet... for sure a sipper although not due to the booze... it's the sweetness... feels big in that aspect... not getting any of the bourbon that other reviewers have encountered... there is some oak present though...

World class? In the realm of Sucaba or BCBW? Nope.... it's good... just not, "F@%K, that's delicious!" good... That being said, I am very glad I got to knock this one off of my Wants list. It had been on there for a while and I finally procured this one thanks to a recent trade...(Thanks, Michael!)

Man... very sweet bordering on cloying now after warming some... Not sure what vintage this is but I'm guessing this one is not recent... Good beer though.... Not disappointed, just wish I had shared this one.... It's going to be tough to finish this entire thing....

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.8/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage
Poured from bomber into a tulip glass. Pours a dark red hue along with a thin white head that dissipated too quickly for my liking. Aromas of whiskey, subdued oak and toffee. The flavor carried some caramel, dried fruits, brown sugar candied fruits, vanilla and hints of oak and bourbon. I could just barely detect those traits though just like I had to do with the aroma. Perhaps it is because of the complexity of the beer? The mouthfeel was a tad thin and sticky. I was a little disappointed with this vintage as it had a cardboard smell on nose and less flavor than I had hoped for – mostly flattish.

2011 Vintage
Also poured from bomber into a tulip glass. Pours a darker red copper color along with another disappearing head though the lacing was stuck on throughout. Same aromatics and flavors as the 2008 vintage but more enhanced probably due to the freshness of the brew. Improved carbonation and mouthfeel. A much better vintage – seems as if the fresher it is the better? I’d probably not cellar this one any more than a couple years if I had multiple bottles.

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Photo of davod23
3.81/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Bruery tulip. I believe this bottle is about a year or so old.

Poured a very clear, rusty copper color with a thin, sandstone head that quickly dissipated (unsurprising, in a brew of this strength). When swirled, the beer sticks to the sides of the tulip nicely, a couple spots of lace remaining for a few moments before disappearing into the ether. Nice looking beer.

Aroma is relatively nondescript, surprisingly. There's some caramel and toffee sweet aromas present, malt, but the strongest component is alcohol heat. This beer burns my nostrils.

For all the heat I found in the nose, there's not a lot in the taste. Surprisingly, it's not that boozy even at 13% alcohol. That's to the brewer's credit. That said, this is good but not great. There's an astringency in the finish of this beer that I'm not that fond of. Caramel, fig, English toffee, booze, and something I can't put my finger on... it's a vinous taste... a hint of port, perhaps? A bit sweet, but not cloyingly so.

Mouthfeel is very nice. Thick-ish, sticky, with slight carbonation. Very nice.

Drinkability. Eh... it's good, all things considered. Hell, this beer sits at over 13%, so the drinkability is pretty great when you take that into consideration. That said, this bomber is going down pretty slowly - I wouldn't want more than one. I might like this even more if it was in a 12 oz bottle.

This is a good beer. I can think of a number of English barleywines that are better, though. Perhaps if I set it aside for a few years, the astringency would dissipate... worth a shot.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.82/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a perfect pint. 2008 vintage.

4.0 A: Clear darker amber color. Aggressive pour yielded just one finger of light brown creamy/frothy head. Retention is okay given the ABV and a short ring of lacing is left.

4.5 S: Nose on this is divine. Perfect mix between the barrel and the beer. Bourbon is fruity, leathery, and lightly earthy. Oak and vanilla with no tannic astringency. The base offers a ton of caramel, moderate toffee, tobacco, raisin, dates, prunes, sugar plums, and apple. Sweet sugary maltiness, molasses, and some toastiness. Alcohol is non-existent.

3.5 T: Taste is a bit of a let down after experiencing the nose. Don't get me wrong, it's still tasty, but the mouthfeel is a bit too thin, which causes issues in the taste. Basically, the taste isn't as potent as I'd like. Same flavors as in the nose, just less intensity. Leathery bourbon, earthiness, and light fruits. Caramel, toffee, tobacco, raisin are strongest. Prunes, sugar plum, molasses, and toastiness next. Apple underneath. Moderately sweet with just a light booziness. Borderline 4.0.

3.0 M: Lighter medium to medium body. Good moderate carbonation, especially for a beer this old. Missing creaminess and body. If this were a bit thicker, the taste would be better too.

4.0 D: It's a good beer that just has one fatal flaw. Great flavors, but I need more maltiness when I'm drinking a barleywine. I'll have to try this fresh sometime.

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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.

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Photo of vkv822
3.87/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into tulip snifter.
2011 vintage.

Pours clear, dark red with a bubbly, light toffee head.

Deep oak, caramel, toffee, very light vanilla.

Taste is caramel toffee malts with prominent bourbon notes, slightly boozy harshness.

Medium body, with prickly carbonation, light alcohol burn.

A well done English barleywine. Definitely one of the top-tier in the example, though I felt the booziness became just a bit harsh at times.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.88/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

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Photo of Hop_God
3.89/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: cloudy ruby brown hazy

S: booze oak brown sugar sour grapes. Raisins.

T: booze. High alcohol taste. Dates. Burnt sugar. Oak. Slightly unfinished.

F: higher carbonation then expected. Lots of raw alcohol Coates the mouth bitter punch

O: surprising how unfinished and alcoholic heat there is Not as impressed as the hype seems to give this.

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Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.91/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage
Thanks norm

Pours a clear reddish brown. Some nice whie head.
Smells earthy and odd. Norm says celery seed and im inclined to agree.
Tastes smooth and boozy. Hot from a looot of barrel hitting hard. Bourbon, malt, earthiness. Weird... Im not sure what i think
Well carbonted. Hot but good mouthfeel
Overall interesting but man.. Ouch

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


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.

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Photo of mikeyv35
3.92/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Date: 05/31/2010
Type: 22oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2008
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

Poured a brown mahoghany in color w/ a skim coat light brown head w/ little to no lacing. Nose was of toffee, caramel, dark fruits, and light tobacco. Taste was the same as the nose w/ a great bitter hop backbone that balances out the brew nicely. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and the tobacco and flavors really hung on the palate. Drinkability was my only drawback on this brew, as the booziness really started to get to me before I was finished w/ my snifter. If the ABV was kicked down a notch or two, I would have rated this brew as world class. Overall, great flavors and aromas, but pretty disappointed at how hot it was at even two years of age.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.94/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Unsure of the vintage but this one is labeled as 10% ABV. Thanks to ipa247 (Jeff) for this one. Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a Darkness snifter.

A: Gentle pour yields just a thin ring of frothy lacing around the edge of the glass. Beer is a semi-cloudy clay-brown. Lacing is stringy and thick with moderate cling. Pretty average.

S: Nose is outstandingly aromatic. Toffee, caramel, brown sugar, and some plum and raisin notes. Alcohol is prominent but not enough to cover the robust flavors. Nice.

T: Opens toffee, caramel, and molasses. Brown sugar, honey, plums, and raisin towards the middle along with a sharp alcohol twinge. More toffee and caramel at the end. Alcohol becomes warming and subtle. Finish is molasses and anise with brown sugar in the aftertaste. Super rich and hearty. Great complexity.

M: Full bodied with low carbonation. Oily and filmy in the mouth with good viscosity. Goes down smooth and warm. Finish is messy with a lingering aftertaste. A bit too thick but incredibly rich and smooth.

O: A monster of a beer, Arctic Devil is a meal in a glass. Incredibly robust and complex with a ton of subtle flavors. However, what keeps it from the top tiers is the huge body and alcohol bite towards the middle and end. Age would probably do wonders to this one. Definitely worth trying and older vintages are likely worth their weight in gold!

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Photo of jdhilt
3.94/5  rDev -9.4%
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.

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Photo of arguemaniac
3.95/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to timmcd64 for getting this one to me!

Pours a hazy, dark brown color with just a hint of copper. The rich, creamy, but poorly sustaining head is a brown-tinged white, and leaves a very thin lace. The aroma is a robust and sugary blend of dark fruits, roasty characteristics, and alcohol. The flavor has a lot of the same features, but is richer and far more complex; there a notes of rum, raisins, prunes, dates, various roasted flavors, and a sharp alcohol bite. The pleasantly long finish is sweet and roasty. The mouthfeel is fairly thick and very creamy with a subtle carbonation tang.

This is one rich beer, almost overpoweringly so, and is dominated by dark fruit flavors. The finish is impressive too. My only complaint is that the sweetness is a bit too much; this brew would be a little more drinkable if the sweetness were a milder. Still, highly recommended.

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Photo of bgold86
3.95/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter glass, pours a nice lightish brown/darkish orange. Sweet dark fruit nose, very typical of an english barley wine. Not a ton of bourbon/vanilla sweetness in the taste, but it's there, dark dried fruits etc. For the price, really not worth it, many bba barley wines meet or exceed this one.

After trying 3 of Midnight Suns top BBA beers, it's apparent that this brewery is a product of hype, their beers are simple mid range, nothing special or of note, but most importantly, the high price (18-19 a bomber) is just not worth it.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.95/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage. Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a 8 oz snifter.

A- pours a dark amber, near brown, with a 1 finger light tan head. Small blotches and bubbles on the glass.

S- brown sugar, maple, vanilla, green apple, bourbon

T- sweet toffee, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, tart apple, some vino notes.

M- medium body and carbonation. Not as thick or syrupy as other top tier Bab barleywines.

O- good BA Barleywine but nothing outstanding. If you get a chance definitely worth a try but don't trade your first born for it.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.95/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes.

The beer itself is a full brown color, although it is somewhat transparent. A small off-white head fades to a ring and a swirl of a thin film on top.

The aroma has a bit of ethyl alcohol that is noticeable right away. Brown sugar, caramel, toffee, and a bit of earthy spice come into the nose.

Arctic Devil is definitely sweet up front, but ends up being nicely balanced. Brown sugar is the most prominent sweet flavor. Sweet caramel is also noticeable, and there is some full grainy notes. A bit of peat and spice come in the middle, with a light general bitterness that accompanies a bit of an alcohol presence at the end.

Surprisingly, this has kind of a light body for the style and feels a little watery. The carbonation is on the light side and is a little creamy.

This clearly does not drink like 13.4%, but there is an ethyl alcohol presence that is a bit unappealing at this point. Some age might improve this. The light mouthfeel will most likely not change.

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Photo of tayner
4/5  rDev -8%
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.

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

From a 2010 vintage. Pours into a snifter a clear dark brown with some red, and larger than expected bubbles. Aroma is some sweet bourbon, plums, a light bitter hop. Flavor is sweet plums and raisins, a nice hot bourbon in the finish, not too big. A touch of a hop throughout thats just out of place. Enjoyed this less than some of the older years, but still pretty good!

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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

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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.

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

Big thanks to Jon for sharing this one. Newest batch.

Beer pours a reddish-brown with a thin white head and nice lacing. Smell is a nice nutty/toffee aroma with a little bit of booze in the background. Flavor is a nicely balanced mix of toffee malts and a little bit of hops with some oak in there. Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied. Overall, this beer is good, but it's not nearly as good as some of the past vintages I've had. Maybe this beer needs some age to be truly great.

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

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

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

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

M: Mouthfeel is big bodied, lower carbonation

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

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Photo of Reagan1984
4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Beerness for providing this beer. Really wanted to try it and am very happy to have done so.

Thin tan head about an 1/8 inch thick. Fades quickly. Brown/amber color. Deep in color good clarity.
No lace

Aroma is of rum, brown sugar and is really deep

The flavor is somewhat buttery, I still think rum and there is a lot of brown sugar. Its good, but frankly its not in the same class of some of the other monster Barleywines. I get a touch of coconut, but very subtle.

Fairly bold body with a bit of a rough edge to it. A bit warming.

Very good overall. Not quite the epic level of some others in the category.

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Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 355 ratings.