1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

1,031 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,031
Reviews: 337
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.47%
Wants: 935
Gots: 260 | FT: 35
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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,031 | Reviews: 337 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

2007 Vintage.

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Before I review I must say beware of this devil it f*ckin will bite you!Just newly bottled on November 5th this bad boy poured a deep amber with a thin off white head,incredible complexities in the aroma vanilla,oak and kentucky whiskey really hits and hits hard really waking up the senses and quite appetizing.Now I really liked the flavors of this beer but whoo they hit ya,very woody and whiskish (if thats a word) with vanilla and caramel standing out as well.The alcohol burn steals the show it actually burned my nose going down.This beer weighs in at 14% alc although the label says 10% that according to the head brewer at Midnight Sun and it feels like more than that.A very good very complex barley wine but these need to be laid down for awhile thats for sure.

Photo of largadeer
4.8/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Photo of emerge077
3.5/5  rDev -19.9%

Photo of TMoney2591
4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a clear plastic cup.

High five to yeahnatenelson for sharing this 2008 vintage bottle during DLD!

Now that I think about it, though, I'm pretty sure I gave that high five away before this was cracked. Meh, worth it regardless. It (the beer, o' course) pours a cloudy sunset russet-amber topped by a half-finger of dark sandy foam. The nose comprises caramel, vanilla, toffee, mild maple syrup, and butterscotch. The taste holds notes of toffee, chocolate, oak, vanilla, light orange peel, light mandarin orange syrup, and butterscotch. The body is a hefty-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a kinda dry finish. Overall, a very tasty b-wine, one that a few years seems to have done wonders for.

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.38/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 22 oz brown bottle; packaged November 2004.

The Arctic Devil is a devil to be sure! This little nip will sneak up on you quick!

It pours a clear, dark-chestnut body with a reddish-cast and glowing crimson and orange highlights. What head comes up initially is a yellow tan; but it doesn't hold for long and leaves only a few spots of lace here and there (which can sometimes happen with stronger beers).

The nose is malty, caramelish, toffee-ish, and lightly hoppy with a leafy side.

The body is full, and it moves across the tongue with a light zest from its exceptionally fine, moderate carbonation (and perhaps some alcohol sting as well!) before warming to become more dextrinous.

Toffee and molasses dominate the flavor, backed by dark sweet fruit (prune, raisin, red grape, some fig), a rub of leafy hops, and a spritz of spicy alcohol. It's rich and malty, but not overly sweet due to it's solid bitterness and alcohol. It finishes with some residual maltiness entwined in drying alcohol that fades to reveal some even longer lingering dull-bitterness.

A better head retention, a touch more complexity, and a little less alcohol would bring this up into world class status! Very nice!

Photo of nickfl
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Kegatron
4.15/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle into a couple of snifters. 2007 vintage. 10% ABV.

Pours a ruddy brown, with a thin sudsy head of light mocha foam. This whips up a rich cascade up onto the sides of the glass, leaving back thick swathes of lacing. The aroma is quite dense and flavorful with notes of cocoa, molasses, oak, vanilla, and then some tea-like qualities that alternate between being tannic and herbal feeling in the nose.

The taste is equally robust, with heavy flavors of brown sugar, chocolate, molasses, green tannins, and then notes of roast and some dark fruit on the back. There is some heavy oxidation going on with this, which combos with the more woody character that is present to leave this VERY dry on the finish. Honestly, one of the driest that I’ve felt on a beer in a long time. The mouthfeel is full bodied and sharp up front which then gives way to more of a chewy creaminess along the back. This is hugely smooth for the size, with the alcohol contributing some added sweetness and spice to the profiles but not any real heat.

This was nice and aged very well, with that oxidation that was present mostly complimenting the other flavors and only got to be mildly distracting in spots. This was very rich and smooth overall though and I was glad that I finally found a proper time to open this guy. Now I just need to find a fresh bottle to compare…

Photo of russpowell
4.8/5  rDev +9.8%
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)

Photo of oline73
4.08/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tasting snifter. I had this during our BA Barleywine tasting. The bottle is from 2010.

Pours a dark reddish amber. This beer had more of a bitter note to it than many of the other beers opened that night. There is a strong sweet presence to balance things out, but I would have liked the bitterness to be a bit milder. I'm getting some booze, but it's still quite smooth. There is a nice caramel note in the background. The body is thick with smooth carbonation and a dry finish.

Photo of XmnwildX12
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of MasterSki
4.38/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage, supplied by Joe1510. Served in a mini-pint NotLA taster glass.

A - A half-finger of light tan foam that leaves some spotty lace and a thin ring. Body is a hazy raisin brown color. Looks like a typical barleywine.

S - Burnt sugar, raisins, caramel & toffee, tart apples, dark fruits, and light alcohol. Very excellent example of the style.

T - Super smooth combination of brown sugar, caramel, and molasses. The booze has really mellowed out over the last few years. Lots of sweet flavors, but never verges on cloying somehow - perhaps there is some residual hop bitterness that keeps things in check.

M - Medium-full body, smooth, sticky, low carbonation, and minimal heat. All the things I like in this style of beer.

D - Surprisingly easy to drink for 13.2%, although my resolve started to fade after about 6oz or so. Still, I wish this were available more places, as it'd be one of my go-to barleywines.

Photo of mendvicdog
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of drabmuh
4.38/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage. Served in a tulip. Beer is dark brown and hazy. Forms a thin off white head that leaves no lacing on the glass. Head falls away and breaks, gravitates toward the glass.

Aroma is strong, sweet, boozy, and malty.

Medium body, some carbonation in the mouth, really sweet up front, lots of flavor. Some liquor like components, raisins, plums, sweetness, lots of fruit. Finishes a little dry. Its a big beer and I'm doing my best to slay it but at 22 ounces and 13.2 % its an uphill battle. It is quite heavy but it hides the alcohol well. The fruitiness of the body makes this a great drinking beer but it is better split two ways. Good barleywine though, probably improve after 2 or 3 years.

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

10% abv, according to the label.
the words "survive" and "subzero" hover in the corners of the label art, while what seems like a crazed wolverine snarls at the viewer front and center. I'm keeping safe distance...but plan to get comfy with this bottle, off goes the cap, and away we go...
dark russet color, with deep ruby at the corners, sizeable, light tan head.
Gorgeous nose at first sniff, bright cherries, big, cognac-y alcoholic feel, rosey, port-wine feel...slick, thick, viscous, ..leather and molasses, on a bed of berries and grapes.
Big, bold, imperial flavor, massive mouthfeel, sticky and lip-smacking. Same flavors in the aroma rebound in the taste, but don't hang as hard, sort of dwindles...nicely rounded, very harmonic...I can't keep quacking about barleywines not being as big as they ought to be, when, in this case, it contains itself very nicely, has an abundance of character, yet isn't too loud or hot. Mellow for a barleywine, but very classy.
Pity I didn't had this around when it was colder...I have to drink this damned thing in the dawning of spring...but it does the job!
Nice one, Midnight Sun!...further into the bottle, prunes are the predominant flavor...not tasted earlier...

Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev -8.5%

Photo of beernads
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of MarkyMOD
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of DrunkinYogi
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of mdfb79
4.47/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 08/21/11 notes. Huge thanks to Thorpe429 for saving me some of this one, and to BManning for sharing the bottle. 2009 vintage poured into my SAVOR tasting snifter.

a - Pours a dark mahogany brown color with a few light tan bubbles and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, bready malts, light bourbon, oak, vanilla, light fruit, and light brown sugar. A little sweet smelling and not a ton if bourbon, but still really nice and complex.

t - Tastes of caramel malts, bourbon, oak, toffee, vanilla, sweet dark fruit, sugar, and alcohol. More bourbon in the taste than the nose had, and still a lot of caramel/toffee. A step up from the nose, and really great.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation, very smooth body. Not too hot and very easy to drink for over 13% ABV.

o - Overall I thought this was a fantastic barrel aged barleywine. I personally would have liked a little more bourbon in the nose but the taste was amazing, and I loved the toffee/caramel that came through. Super smooth body, would love to try this again sometime.

Photo of drewone
3.75/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4.85/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Holy god what a beer!

The definition of a traditional barleywine that plays the malt card to its fullest.

Tawny amber in appearence. A one fingered off-white head.

Smell is absolutely heavenly. I finally figured out what this smells like — those penny candy chews called squirrel nut zippers (no not the band which as actaully named after the candy)! If you've ever had one you know what I'm talking about. Molasses, toffee, brown sugar, torrified malt. Perfect.

Taste is more of the same. Honey, molasses, glorious malt. Alcohol is always present but so many other sugary flavors going on that you hardly notice the reputed 14%! Fruits abound: brandied cherries, pineapple, dates, figs, plums hell even appricots. Subtily hopped. Again all about the malt.

Mouthfeel is lush and viscous — like any great beer that has this much malt in it.

Drinkability is fantastic for the high alcohol content and the young age of the bottle: Nov. 2005. Make no mistake though, if you drink this one on your own you will be feeling no pain!

Additionally, I taste and smell a little Sam Adams triple bock oaky/maple syrup thing going on here but without the soy sauce element

Hands down my favorite malty barleywine. Get some.

Photo of InspectorBob
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev -8.5%
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

Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 1,031 ratings.