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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 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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of tpd975
4.58/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a rustic brown color with tints of red shining thru. The head is huge, brown, and puffy. The retention is wonderful and some lace is noted.

S: Whoa boy this is one boozy monster. Tons of bourbon and oak in the nose. Beneath the booze hides caramel malt, toffee, a hint of hops and spice.

T: Wow what a suprise. Not boozy at all considering the ABV. The nose makes you think this one is going to be booze booze booze, but its not. This one is wonderful. The sweet malts really come out and shine here. Lots of caramel and toffee. A bit of butter rum candy and a splash of spice. There were some citrus hops in there for balance, but overall this one is packed with malty goodness.

M: THICK... almost syrup like.

D: Extremely good for the style and ABV. I could have enjoyed an entire bomber myself.

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

2008 vintage

a - pours a deep deep brown with a garnet hue, modest cream colored head, retention around the edges, not much by way of lacing, quite cloudy

s - rum-soaked raisins and plums with a healthy dose of caramel, unexpected dose of bitter, piney hop aroma on the nose as well

t - big sweet caramel malt flavors up front, rum-soaked raisin and plum on the midpalate with more caramel, some light piney hop bitterness balances out the sweetness a little on the finish, alcohol fumes present on the finish as well with the lingering dark fruit component

m - full-bodied, moderate carbonation, well balanced on the finish, strong alcohol warming effect

d - definitely a sipper of a barleywine, but par for the style, alcohol and sweetness aren't as overwhelming as I expected

Overall, a very good English Barleywine. This isn't my favorite style - I lean more toward hoppier American Barleywines - but I found this quite enjoyable. I imagine this would age quite well, but it's drinking quite nicely right now.

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Photo of Stoneman78
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Purchased online, poured into a Duvel tulip

Appearance is dense brown-black hue, huge tan pillowy head sticks around like a marshmallow, watery lacing

Smell is delicious, dark fruits and sweet malts dominate, heavy presence of bourbon wood accents harkens to an Angel's Share aroma, molasses, vanilla, anise, caramel, and alcohol round out this impressive profile

Taste is equally enjoyable, initially dominated by sweet malts, raisins/figs, and bourbon, transitions quickly to vanilla and milk chocolate sweetness, some caramel and anise in the background, finishes with light bitterness

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, velvety creamy texture coats the whole mouth in pillowy goodness, balanced carbonation

Drinkability is moderate, the alcohol presence is hard to avoid in a strong b-wine like this but the flavors and complexity make up for the high abv, nice post-dinner drink that you will want to enjoy slowly and probably wouldn't drink all night long

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Photo of JonathanL7890
4.34/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber courtesy of HopsLeeroy at BA tasting.
Poured into 8 oz snifter. Moderate Head
Smell is toffee, caramel .
Taste is strong toffee caramel, some raisin, a bit boozy.
Mouthfeel is thick , syrupy.
Drinkability is ok. The taste is wonderful but I couldn't finish an entire bomber by myself.

A very solid barleywine. One of my favs.

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Photo of russpowell
4.76/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Purchased from bottletrek $16, plus delivery. Here's hoping it lives up to the hype!

Pours an effervescent ruby tinged chestnut with 2+ fingers of fluffy sand colored head. Average lacing & head retention for the style, nice viscous look

S: Oaky, vanilla notes along with other bourbon notes, plus figs

T: Rich dark fruit, singed dark sugar, molasses, & a bit of booze warmth/burn up front. English Christmas pudding, a bit of chocolate, dryness & subtle leafy/herbal hoppyness as this warms some more. Finishes dry, with tons of dark fruit, leafy hops, & more Christmas pudding, if I could give this an A++ I would

MF: Gooey, with near zero carbonation, luscious!

Drinks great for the style & this is a great English Barley wine with a bit of a twist, this devil will get to you before you get to him! Great offering, better than this rating! But very few beers/wines or liquors are worth this price (unless bootlegged)

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Photo of JDV
3.75/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

$18 for the '08 22-oz bottle. Pours a rich burgandy color with a short lived tan head. Smell is malty, molassesy, with lots of rich chewy, sweet and sticky dried fruits and nuts, along with a noticeable alcohol presence as well. Taste is similarly malty with a dark sweet fruity and nutty flavor. Somewhat prailine like. Really nice flavor aside from the somewhat strong alcohol presence which by the 2nd glass definitely detracts from the beer. Moderate body, to perhaps a bit sticky and syrupy but definitely not overly so. I really loved the unique nutty fruity malty flavor in this and would like it even more if the alcohol tamed down with age. Unique and really nice, but hard to justify the price I paid.

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Photo of ccrida
4.81/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22oz. bomber (this years release, cellared ~3.5 months) into my Midnight Sun cervoise, Arctic Devil is a very dark, murky garnet with a 2 finger tan head that faily quickly settles down to a thick collar, leaving no lace.

Smell is really big, sweet malt, fruity, with wonderfully dominating barrel aged notes of vanilla and coconut. Wow, fantastic.

Taste equally strong and rich, huge caramel maltiness and fruit esters, and again, loads of vanilla and coconut. I love the complex flavors from the barrel aging, they really make this beer. Hints of wassil spices, fig, nuts, anise, a noticeable alcohol character that keeps it spicy without adding many fusels. This is one of my all-time favorite barleywines, though I haven't had it since the '07 Hard Liver Barleywine fest at Brower's in Seattle....they had that years, and a 3-5 year old version that absolutely blew my mind, it was the best in show out of a good 50 great brews. Which is why I ponied up $15 a bomber for a bunch of these so I can let 'em run in the cellar for as long as I can hold out!

Mouthfeel is pretty thick and chewy, though booze keeps it dry and helps thin it out some.

Drinkability is way to good for a beer I want to forget I have for a couple of years!!! I'm glued to the couch watching the Elite 8 right now after an epic spring powder dump at Mt. Hood today, and can't think of a better choice for melting away my extreme soreness from floating the 2+ ft of freshies. If you like big, fruity English BWs, this is an absolute must try.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.05/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks again to msubulldog25 for another NW barleywine. This one's about as Northwest as it gets too--Alaska's Midnight Sun. Love the creature on the label, sort of a wolverine-ish looking guy...he's completely wigged out, probably due to a few too many of these bad boys.

Poured into the snifter a cloudy, milky caramel color. Thin head slims down to a thin ring with a quickness.

Big aroma of alcohol, dark fruits, vanilla, citrus rind, milk chocolate.

Flavor delivers a barleywine that's on the chocolate/malt side of the spectrum...big burly sweetness that's not overdone, very dessert-like. Alcohol nip is pretty big, and even though I like the warming sippability of it, I'd rather the more intense part of its personality came from hops (like Bigfoot, another northern devil). Hops are here, but diminished in presence by the gooey candy-like malts and sherry-like alcohol warmth. Good bitterness lays on the tongue in the finish, a welcome melange of green grass, unripe fruit and hops.

Mouthfeel is wonderful, a little gooey, a little sticky, but carbonated enough to give it some lift and action. Really nice.

There are hardly better beers to drink in the cold winter months than Barleywines or Russian Imperial Stouts...Midnight Sun are doing right by Alaskans in brewing this sucker.

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

Thanks goes out to msubulldog25 for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

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

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
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%...

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Photo of kirok1999
4.35/5  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.

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Photo of charlesw
3.25/5  rDev -25.3%
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.

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Photo of LittleBreeze
4.35/5  rDev 0%
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.

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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 fartingdog
4.32/5  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.

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.12/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

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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 Vancer
4.55/5  rDev +4.6%
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!

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