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

914 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 914
Reviews: 333
rAvg: 4.38
pDev: 8.22%
Wants: 934
Gots: 253 | FT: 38
Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  13.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 914 | Reviews: 333 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of largadeer
largadeer

California

4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2009 21:20:22 | More by largadeer
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled

Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev 0%
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!

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2005 22:27:30 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
westcoastbeerlvr

California

4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

11-15-2011 01:10:11 | More by westcoastbeerlvr
Photo of nickfl
nickfl

Florida

4.25/5  rDev -3%

05-29-2014 23:45:08 | More by nickfl
Photo of MasterSki
MasterSki

Illinois

4.38/5  rDev 0%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2010 05:49:25 | More by MasterSki
Photo of feloniousmonk
feloniousmonk

Minnesota

4.33/5  rDev -1.1%
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...

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2005 06:02:30 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of drabmuh
drabmuh

Maryland

4.38/5  rDev 0%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2010 04:02:55 | More by drabmuh
Photo of russpowell
russpowell

Oklahoma

4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
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)

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2008 05:16:27 | More by russpowell
Photo of Kegatron
Kegatron

Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
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…

Serving type: bottle

05-16-2012 14:26:42 | More by Kegatron
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -8.7%

01-26-2014 00:40:14 | More by Rifugium
Photo of SocalKicks
SocalKicks

California

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

07-29-2013 00:20:15 | More by SocalKicks
Photo of mdfb79
mdfb79

New York

4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-23-2011 15:15:35 | More by mdfb79
Photo of oline73
oline73

Maryland

4.08/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2013 05:08:06 | More by oline73
Photo of Gueuzedude
Gueuzedude

Arizona

4/5  rDev -8.7%
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

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2009 01:11:38 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of Rochefort10nh
Rochefort10nh

New Hampshire

4.85/5  rDev +10.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2006 14:40:45 | More by Rochefort10nh
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays

California

3.58/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On-tap at Beachwood I, 2010 vintage

A: Pours a light mahogany, good lace with a long lasting off-white head.

S: Great nose. Full of vanilla bean and oak, brown sugar.

T: Lots of malt flavour, the IBUs being 20 I expect it. Vanilla, wood tannin, toffee, light berry. Bit of an unappetizing sugar character to this, but the other flavours are quite good.

M: Full-bodied, rich, definitely cloying at places, a sipper.

O: This is a barleywine that's still incredibly young, this certainly needs 2-3 years to dry out and possibly become really good. Right now it's just adequate.

Serving type: on-tap

04-06-2012 19:07:30 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of mendvicdog
mendvicdog

Maryland

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

08-28-2012 20:56:14 | More by mendvicdog
Photo of GClarkage
GClarkage

California

4.75/5  rDev +8.4%

07-09-2014 17:05:03 | More by GClarkage
Photo of beernads
beernads

Florida

4.25/5  rDev -3%

07-30-2013 17:17:25 | More by beernads
Photo of corby112
corby112

Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to shadowane for sharing! 2011 vintage.

Pours a dark amber, almost chestnut brown color with mahogany edges and a 1.5 finger, creamy off-while head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Spotty lacing.

Sweet, slightly boozy aroma with subtly integrated barrel presence.  Hints of toasted oak and spicy whiskey along with some vanilla and coconut.  Underneath characteristics of the base beer are evident with leathery malt, sweet toffee, dark fruit and caramel.

On the fuller end of medium-bodied with a well integrated barrel character that doesn't overpower the elements of the base beer.  Some nice dry oak along with spicy/sweet whiskey, vanilla and coconut. Soft carbonation adds to the palate and the sweet and leathery notes from the base beer really come through. Hints of toffee, dark fruit, caramel and leathery malts with a slightly dry finish.  Subtle warmth in finish but overall the ABV is very well masked.  Lots of boozy flavor but not a lot of heat.  Can't believe that it's 13.5%!  Really nice. A bit heavy on the barrel/whiskey presence but the characteristics of the base beer come through nicely.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2012 22:55:36 | More by corby112
Photo of imperialking
imperialking

Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%

12-19-2011 04:48:42 | More by imperialking
Photo of MarkyMOD
MarkyMOD

Colorado

4.25/5  rDev -3%

06-21-2014 19:57:42 | More by MarkyMOD
Photo of yourefragile
yourefragile

District of Columbia

4.7/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz 2009 bottle.

Pours a dark, cloudy amber brown color with a thin tan head. Aroma is a decadent blend of roast, oak, bourbon, vanilla, plum, raisin, brown sugar, caramel, and cherry. Extremely creamy and smooth body with a rich flavor similar to the nose; maple, cherry, raisin, plum, vanilla, bourbon and oak dominate the flavor. An all around, smooth, well balanced and complex barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2012 21:09:47 | More by yourefragile
Photo of barleywinefiend
barleywinefiend

Washington

4/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2012 16:19:57 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of akorsak
akorsak

Pennsylvania

4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to beerbeing for this 650 mL bomber (a long ago trade).

A: The barleywine is a dark red-brown collaboration, murky with ruddy creek water hues. Of course it is opaque. A small head, never more than a 1/3 of a finger, left a pretty impressive patch of lace behind.

S: Crazy malty! This one just smells thick. A delicious blend of bread and dark fruits. There is some evidence of a barrel, a touch of oak and vanilla. Stunning aroma.

T: Oak is lingering around the front of each sip, sturdy and woody. Behind it, the barleywine comes through with a vengeance. Hints of cinnamon mix with an excess of booze, a sweet nightcap. The barleywine is malt-driven but a heavy dose of hops and the barrel aging really take the edge off. Yeah, this is really, really good.

M: The mouthfeel is full, starting off with the oak and finishing with the super malts. The barrel especially stands out for the smoothness that it adds.

D: At 10% (or thereabouts), this is a sipping beer at best. One and done for this sleepytime cowboy.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2010 01:49:28 | More by akorsak
Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 914 ratings.