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M Belgian-Style Barleywine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

M Belgian-Style BarleywineM Belgian-Style Barleywine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

78 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 78
Reviews: 36
rAvg: 4.7
pDev: 7.23%


Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.60% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

On this 10-year mark, Midnight Sun Brewing Company proudly releases its 1000th batch of beer - a larger-than-life Belgian-style Barley Wine (if such a style exists) simply called M - in commemoration of the enduring spirit that founded and sustains this little brewery in the extreme Northwest. Making M required a massive grain bill - seven seductive malts - boosted by strength-inducing Belgian candi sugar. Once original gravity hit 37 Plato, a frenzied fermentation ensued: four completely fabulous yeast strains, two of Belgian origin, transformed this sweet concoction into all that is beer. But not just any beer. A beer of madcap magnitude - 11.6% ABV. Character and complexity increased exponentialy while M meddled and mellowed for several months in all-American bourbon oak barrels. Blending the aged beer before bottling ascertained smoothness. M is mesmerizing, pouring dark and silky. Caramel and spice waft up from the glass; bourbon, molasses, leather and vanilla follow. The first taste proffers tobacco, burnt sugar and raisin with a sublime port-like finish, but bourbon - smooth, sensuous, brooding bourdon - is ever-present. The finish, a bit edgy like an American take on barley wine, provides the necessary leap toward overall balance. M is a precious gift to ourselves as well as you, seekers of beer-that-is-beyond-beer adventures... We are but mere mortals in the presence of M.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2005)
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Ratings: 78 | Reviews: 36 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Jeffo
Jeffo

Netherlands

4.43/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Many years in the making and finally I was able to find a trade for this one, which has probably been my top want for several years now. Very happy to give this one a shot, finally. Big cheers goes out to the beer crew here for coming over to my place to help me drink it. Always a good time gents.

From a bomber into a mini snifter
Bottled 5 May 2005
Drank along side a recent vintage of Arctic Devil and some Flossmoor b-wines.

APPEARANCE: Pours out quite dark for the style, yielding a half finger, light tan head with decent retention. Same color as Arctic Devil and darker than Wooden Hell, sitting a deep maroon red in color with no carbonation evident. A splotchy wisp and ring remain leaving some falling dots of lacing down the glass. Definitely darker than the average barleywine.

SMELL: Lots of raisins and dark fruits on the nose. Some plumbs, dates, figs and dark caramel malts as well, but this is raisins and more raisins. Very nice, but also very different.

TASTE: Like a Belgian strong dark ale in many ways. Dark caramel malt sweetness with dark fruits, plumbs, figs, and lots of raisins up front. Red wine and grapes with light oak notes as well. A big finish of red wine, plumbs, figs, dark fruits and raisin sweetness with some slight oak flavors as well. A touch of vanilla sweetness there as well from the barrel aging, but this is really raisin and dark fruit heavy, with the barrel aging coming out as more red wine than oak bourbon per se. Really tasty and unique for sure.

PALATE: Medium-full body and medium levels of carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes a touch drier than expected. No real heat. Definitely thicker and fuller than Arctic Devil.

OVERALL: This was really wonderful and extremely enjoyable to drink. I didn't detect any oxidization or other signs of age on this bottle either. Definitely unique in the style, with a lot of dark fruit and red wine qualities here, especially flavors of raisins and grapes. One of my friends called it a raisin bomb, which might just put it close to some Belgian strong dark ales we are familiar with over here. This one also showed very little of the oak bourbon barrels it was aged in, which also made it stand out in the lineup we put together. It's hard to say whether a beer like this has lived up to its billing, but suffice it to say that it certainly didn't disappoint and I am very glad I kept at it and finally found one. We all enjoyed this beer immensely. Till we meet again.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2014 20:56:50 | More by Jeffo
Photo of cpetrone84
cpetrone84

Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Wonderful moment with two great friends, cheers to Kevin and Jeremy. Pour is black with light brown head. Nose is salty, soy, and date. A fair amount of berry fruit sweetness behind. Taste is a bit less soy, sweet berry, dates and figs. Some caky rum soaked raisin or date. Really soft body, full an gentle at the same time with very soft carbonation and extremely inviting. Overall, not really any oxidation, a really well put together beer, lots of sweetness but not sugary, nothing mind blowing but very solid.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2014 17:17:15 | More by cpetrone84
Photo of BucketBoy
BucketBoy

Pennsylvania

4.66/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. I've opened a couple bottles of this, courtesy of the uber-generous Doc! I can't thank you enough, my friend. The bottle being reviewed here was opened at Ryan's Labor Day tasting 2011 (another bottle I opened the following March was almost identical to this one).

L - Glimmering, shimmering dark deep walnut, wispy clouds of fuzz - just beautiful.

S - Sweet booze (sherry/port), chocolate fudge, dark fruits (mostly raisins), touch of oak, and still a micro amount of balancing hops.

T - Dark chocolate, fudge, toffee, dark raisins, figs, plums, sweet apple,bourbon, touch of allspice, vanilla, hint of oak. Regardless of the age, this is a real treat - just delicious stuff.

M - So smooth, creamy, perfect body, slight slickness. An exemplar of perfection for the style.

O - Phenomenal! Although I never had it before fall 2011, it did not seem to have lost anything I would have expected. The bottle I opened in 2012 was just as awesome. Glad I still have another bottle to play with.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2013 17:00:38 | More by BucketBoy
Photo of jegross2
jegross2

Illinois

4.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing the infamous and elusive M Begian-Style Barleywine from the Midnight Sun Brewing Company out of Anchorage, Alaska. This is Midnight Sun's 10th anniversary beer and 1,000th batch produced. This barleywine has a massive malt bill, used four different strains of yeast to ferment (two were of Belgian origin, hence the "Belgian-Style"), and was aged in bourbon barrels.

Score: 96

May 2005 vintage bottle served in a snifter glass and enjoyed at Dark Lord Day 2013 on 04/27/13. HUGE thanks to Shawn Raymond, the generosity king of all kings, for this glorious hookup! This is likely going to be the biggest whale I ever slay, and I cannot begin to thank you enough for the opportunity. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours a traditional toffee brown barleywine color with a wispy coating and thick ring of tan-beige head. Good lacing and retention for the pour size. 4/5

Smell: Surprised to find no real oxidation here. The dark fruit presence is greater than anticipated, with ample caramel to boot. Bourbon-oak, vanilla, and molasses too. Incredibly enticing; an interesting medley of flavors. 4.75/5

Taste: Taste follows the nose, but the vanilla character seems more prominent. Incredibly smooth, perfectly balanced. Just a hint of positive fruity oxidation, which plays nicely into the dark fruit character. There is a little bit of raw chocolate or cocoa powder-like flavor too. Some non-sweet molasses flavor as well. I do not detect any oak, and the bourbon quality was pretty subtle overall save for the vanilla. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: I felt the viscocity and carbonation were appropriate, but one of the trade offs of analyzing a small pour is the mouthfeel. If you want to get a few good tastes, you cannot take a single sip large enough to get any solid impression about the mouthfeel. The flavor balance was excellent, and I did not find this barleywine to be too fruity or sweet even with eight years of age. 4/5

Overall: An excellent beer, and one of the top barleywines that I have had the opportunity to tick. However, that said, this beer is not one of the ten best overall beers I had ever had and it certainly is not worth the $1,500 the last one sold for on eBay.

Cost: $10 or $15 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle at the brewery at the time of the release, the most recently sold bottle that I know of sold for over $1,500.

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2013 23:58:43 | More by jegross2
Photo of cosmicevan
cosmicevan

New York

4.84/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

big thanks goes out to GrumpyOldTroll, jbuddle, Sean9689, SpeedwayJim, AgentZero, dtmets84 for sharing in the greatest day of beer that i have ever been a part of. huge thanks to mike for providing this bit of unobtainium.

notes from 1/12/2013

consumed from a midnight sun tulip.

a - looks just like dave (that i saved for some side by side comparisons)...deep purple, but has a thin head and spotty lacing.

s - smells like purple grapes. i definitely get some belgian sweetness. plum, dark fruit...like a barleywine crossed with a belgian strong dark.

t - flavor is simply awesome. nutmeg and chocolate. dark fruit glazed in some booziness, but extremely balanced and just truly excellent. i have heard that there is a lot of bottle variation and many people that i'm sharing this bottle with have had M before and they are all saying that this is the best bottle they've tried so far.

m - SUPER easy drinking. light carbonation, but a great feel.

o - overall, i really didn't think that this beer could possibly live up to the hype and i have been heard the tales of the age and oxidation and bottle variation, but this bottle was spectacular. i was blown away by this beer mostly because it exceeded my expectations and really lived up to the hype. one of the true highlights of a day where it was hard for a beer to stick out as a highlight.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2013 05:58:48 | More by cosmicevan
Photo of gford217
gford217

Georgia

4.6/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I want to start off by saying thank you to the generous BA who shared this with a few of us last night. I definitely thought trying this one was beyond my reach. "We are but mere mortals in the presence of M." Indeed.

Pours extremely dark for a barleywine, dark mahogany brown, with a small beige head. It looks almost like a Belgian dark in color, almost black.

Aroma is outstanding and has clearly held up to the years in the bottle. It's a good bit fruiter than I was expecting, certainly more than the typical barleywine. Lots of raisins and plums mixed with chocolate and caramel. The oak is present with some light tannins, leather and booze.

The taste just doesn't live up to the aroma though it's still extremely good. This is clearly where the age is beginning to catch up to M, with hints of oxidation creeping in. The booze soaked dark fruits are in the forefront, but with a chocolate-covered character to the whole thing. The finish is a mixture of port, oak and the oxidized notes. It's a tough call between 4 and 4.5 on the taste but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt....

The mouthfeel is creamy, smooth, and softly carbonated. Hides the alcohol exceptionally well
.
This is one of the more complex barleywines I've ever had and the nose really stands up to anything I've ever smelled in the style. I have to imagine that this would have been one of the best beers I've ever tasted if I had it 2-3 years ago. As it is, I feel lucky to have been able to try it and it has held up much better than could be expected.

Serving type: bottle

09-13-2012 15:32:14 | More by gford217
Photo of coreyfmcdonald
coreyfmcdonald

Georgia

4.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle split a few ways into a snifter

A: Pours very dark brown, nearly black, with a half finger of off white head. Retention is decent.

S: Extremely complex - one of the most complex aromas I've ever encountered. Tons of dark fruit - prunes and raisins up front. Just behind that I get quite a bit of vinous qualities and a hint of bourbon. Burnt sugars are also very apparent along with a bit of dark and milk chocolate. There is a bit of oxidation, but it's pleasant.

T: Like the aroma, lots of dark fruits up front. Just behind that I get some burnt sugars and dark chocolate as well. Wine and bourbon are present, but subdued. I get some moderate oxidation notes here - wish I had this a few years ago. Balanced and complex, this beer never becomes too sweet despite the wide array of sweet flavors adding to the complexity of the beer.

M: Low carbonation with medium thickness - quite creamy.

O: Well, I never thought I'd be able to try this beer. The aroma is the best I've come across in a barleywine. The flavor is a bit oxidized, but certainly quite nice. Very balanced and complex, I'm impressed.

Serving type: bottle

09-13-2012 13:21:27 | More by coreyfmcdonald
Photo of Thorpe429
Thorpe429

Illinois

4.43/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Huge, huge thanks to Scott for opening this bottle and giving me the opportunity to try some. Served in a Midnight Sun goblet.

Pours a very dark brown with a thin light tan head that recedes fairly-quickly, leaving behind a few spots of lacing as it falls to a thin collar. The nose has loads of dark fruits with plum and raisin being prominent. The background is a bit of caramel and toffee with very mild esters. Some barrel character is there, though it's in the background.

The flavor adds in a touch of port character along with a very mild oak and vanilla presence. Not the most complex that I've had, but quite good. Body is medium with low carbonation and a slight viscosity. Smooth with no noticeable alcohol.

Overall, a very delicious beer that I would have at any time. However, at this point, I'd say that things like King Henry and perhaps Kuhnhenn BB4D are equal or better. Still, what a damn fine experience.

Serving type: bottle

05-30-2012 12:00:40 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of drabmuh
drabmuh

Maryland

4.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A generous pour shared by Scott the other day in Waldorf, MD. Year of the whale continues. Served in a Midnight Sun glass because I would never have the opportunity to do that again.

Beer is brown, dark brown with a thin head on it, tan bubbles, no lacing, moderate retention, low carbonation.

Aroma is really nice. Probably the highlight of the beer is the depth of the aroma. Obvious things like caramel, raisins, a mild plum presence, other things like figs, chocolate, roast, mild yeast, vanilla. A very nice aroma.

Beer is strong and medium in body, sweet up front, a mild roastiness, subtle bitterness, figs and plums on the body, no hints of oxidation, no paper, nothing at all. A nice finish with the flavor carrying through to the end.

While this beer was good, approaching great, sometimes the point of climbing that mountain isn't to get the top because there is a treasure there, it is just to get to the top. This beer didn't change my life or open up what I thought a beer could be. It wasn't the platonic ideal of a barleywine, King Henry is a better beer in my opinion, but I got to drink this beer with a few friends, reflect on the evening and really tease apart the flavors and variables at work here. I'll never get to have it again, but it would be too difficult to rebuild that day anyway. Some things, once is enough.

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2012 18:06:40 | More by drabmuh
Photo of Huhzubendah
Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

4.63/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow...bottle shared by scraff. Thanks a lot, Scott!

The beer appears a dark, chestnut brown color and displays a small, oily, beige head. Only sparse lacing is left behind as well as an oily, filmy layer that coats the snifter.

The aroma shows a bit of age and a myriad of scents, to include figs, raisins, plums, oak, booze, maple, brandy, toffee, caramels.

The beer is rich and luxurious, yet light on the palate somehow. Smooth and velvety, a silky feel. The flavor resembles a fine tawny port or sherry. Dark fruits coated with brown sugar. A delicate sweetness is present throughout. A light, warming booze presence, but unobtrusive. This beer goes down effortlessly. What an experience.

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2012 17:15:20 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of callmemickey
callmemickey

Pennsylvania

4.78/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark chocolate brown body with a thin to moderate sized khaki head. Light amount of lacing left behind.

S: Tootsie rolls, brownies, slight burnt brown sugar, the slightest hints of sherry and booze.

T: Chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, sherry, toffee, slight booze, oak, and a hint of vanilla.

M: The highlight of the beer. Sublimely smooth with a light to medium level of carbonation. Decadent, silky-sweet finish. Not cloying in the slightest. Perfect.

O: This is closer to a 4.75 here, but the nose could have been a "tad" better. Well worth the hunt... I am lucky I didn't have to do the hunting. Thanks, Joe.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2011 15:48:52 | More by callmemickey
Photo of kayalla
kayalla

California

4.08/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A huge thanks to Nate for this. I feel almost guilty having this handed to me at our MS tasting. Anyway, looks dark brown with a thin head in the snifter. Aroma was nice, old tobacco, sherry, dark chocolate, spice and oak. The flavor was rich dark chocolate, brown sugar, sherry, with a kind of long bitterness that I wondered about. Alcohol heat or some creeping oxidation? We drank this next to "similar" beers in Sloth, Berserker, and Bar Fly, and this really was more oxidized, kind of an alchol heat bitterness on the tongue. Pretty thick in the body. This has some great things going on, pretty old and elegant tasting, but I would venture it was better 3-4 years back. Sorry gang, Sloth and Bar Fly were both better than this, but Nate, I owe you still.

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2011 02:52:06 | More by kayalla
Photo of mikey711
mikey711

New Jersey

4.78/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A major thanks to Jon for bringing this surprise beer. I can't get over your generosity my friend!

A: A thin layer of head sits a top a murky toffee colored beer, with some mild lacing.

S: Loads of dark fruit upfront, some port notes, a bit of sherry as well, a mild leathery and woody smokiness, some vanilla notes and a nice bourbon alcohol note. With all this going on, it may seem overwhelming, but the subtlety of this beer is unreal.

T: The first ship provided one of those Zen-like moments where you just get it. I could only mutter the words "Oh Yeah" because i was taken aback by the extreme precision of balance that all of these beers came together to create. Having tried many of the most sought after bourbon barrel wines, i have no problem saying this one is the best and most balanced one I have tried. Tons of toffee and caramel notes with some bracing dark fruit and sherry notes which are accentuated nicely by the wood and bourbon from the barrel

M: Silky smooth, the abv is very deceiving and there is nothing cloyingly sweet about this beer.

D: I will forever be grateful for having the chance to try this beer. In terms of flavor, balance and complexity this has it all. Again, a big thanks to Jon for providing this brew

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2011 14:00:34 | More by mikey711
Photo of SpeedwayJim
SpeedwayJim

New York

4.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can't even believe I'm reviewing this one right now. A huge thanks to capra12 (Jon) for pulling this one out as a surprise. Never say never I guess. Reviewed from notes at a tasting on 6/4/11. 4oz. pour from a 22oz. bottle into a Hill Farmstead snifter.

A: Pours a .25 finger light caramel head with great retention. Beer has spotty lacing with little cling but great legs that really coat the glass. Beer itself is a clear, dark brown color.

S: Nose is sublime. Caramel, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, and a woodiness in the background mixed with the slightest touch of alcohol. Super rich but incredibly mellow at the same time. Very impressive.

T: Opens caramel, brown sugar, toffee, and candied sugar. Plums in the middle with crystalized brown sugar and some raisin. Finish is rich brown sugar that's silky smooth and almost no aftertaste save for a bit of toffee sweetness. Unbelievably balanced and subtle.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. Super smooth and rich in the mouth and goes down silky and a bit oily. Finish is rather clean with no aftertaste. An 11.6% beer that drinks like it could be 6-7%.

O: I'm not sure I'm drinking the same beers as the reviewers that are saying this is going downhill. The most balanced, subtle, and well executed barleywine that I've ever had by a mile... really blows everything else I've had in the style out of the water completely. I'm not normally one to buy into the hype but this beer is really incredible in almost every way.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2011 12:18:01 | More by SpeedwayJim
Photo of Sean9689
Sean9689

Illinois

4.8/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Mega Tasting III. 22oz bottle, wow...really? I'm reviewing this beer? Pinch me. Huge thanks to Derek for this one!

A - Pours a very dark brown, almost black, small ring around the glass, no head or lacking to speak of.

S - Huge sweetness, caramel, molasses, slight dark fruit, ultra-smooth alcohol. Just an excellent combo of sweetness and booze. Lots of chocolate in there as well...wow. The oak is a perfect touch to round things out.

T - Burnt sugars, caramels, chocolate, touch of oak, dark fruits. This is like a decadent chocolate truffle mixed with sweet caramel and dark fruit. Seriously amazing. Lots going on...just excellent. A barleywine and imperial stout hybrid of some sort, IMO.

M - Full, rich and smooth, light carbonation, creamy finish.

O - Uh, wow. This is just phenomenal. Almost like a BA stout in some ways. The chocolate sweetness and dark fruits are just stellar along with the oak. Jeez...really impressive. I would have really liked to have tired this fresh to see what it was like, but really, I enjoyed this so much at the state it's in now. My #1 Barleywine, believe the hype.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2011 19:34:13 | More by Sean9689
Photo of grub
grub

Ontario (Canada)

4.5/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

lantern corps beer summit 2010 - day 1, oct 8/2010. xmarcnolanx contributed this one. thanks marc!

22oz bottle with a tag describing the beer.

pours nearly clear brown, showing great ruby highlights when held to the light. a thin ring of fine tan bubbles forms around the edge of the glass but leaves no lace.

aroma is great. caramel and toffee. whole wheat bread and biscuit. light alcohol. lots of complex dark fruit - date, raisin, fig. hint of oxidation.

taste is great. caramel and toffee again. whole wheat bread and biscuit. light alcohol. just under medium bitterness level. the complex dark fruit from the aroma is joined by a nice dark and milk chocolate component, lending a chocolate covered raisin slant. light orange and tangerine. big and sweet.

mouthfeel is great. medium-large body. medium-low carbonation level.

drinkability is great. great balance. i think that to some degree it's been overshadowed by the beers drank just before it, but for me at least it still manages to hold its own. not as big as the last ones, with more balance too. good stuff!

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2011 05:34:08 | More by grub
Photo of MasterSki
MasterSki

Illinois

4.8/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to Derek for pulling this out of the cellar this weekend, and graciously welcoming me into his home for the most obscene collection of beers I've ever seen. Served in a tasting snifter. Bottled May 5th, 2005.

A - Pours with a small tan head that dissipates to a thin collar and some light haze, with minimal lacing. The body is a very, very, dark brown with no hints of transparency. This looks quite a bit different from the other barleywines in the line-up.

S - Caramel, dark fruits, port, raspberry puree, vanilla, chocolate truffle, tobacco, leather, and notes of sherry-like oxidation. There isn't a ton of obvious bourbon from the barrel-aging process - perhaps that has mellowed out over the intervening years. This is quite unique and doesn't really fit the traditional barleywine mold - more of a mix of a Belgian Dark Strong and English Barleywine, with hints of candi sugar and estery yeast.. It's wonderful, but didn't really jump out of the glass the way some of the other beers did, even when it was warm.

T - The taste is actually quite a bit better, as the oxidation is less present and better integrated into the flavor profile. Mid-palate a spot-on chocolate raspberry port flavor emerges. The aftertaste is lightly tannic and oaky but lingers nearly indefinitely.

M - Soft, smooth, chewy, medium-full body. There's minimal alcohol heat, low carbonation, and a dry tannic finish. There's some light residual stickiness as well, but this never gets cloying or syrupy.

D - This was the one of the easiest drinking high-gravity brews I've had the pleasure of trying. My 4-5oz went down really easy, even though I tried to savor it. Compared to Wooden Hell, and especially The Perfect Storm, this was significantly mellower and suited for indefinite sipping.

So it's time to answer the $600 (or more) question. While this was excellent, it was probably the 4th or 5th best beer I had at the tasting. Considering you could buy three cases of The Perfect Storm, a plane ticket to Europe, or God-knows-what-else, there are probably better ways to use your disposable income.

Judging from some of the other reviews it seems like the oxidation is starting to be deleterious instead of complementary - hopefully this will loosen some of the bottles being hoarded in various cellars. I think it's time for Midnight Sun to fire up the mash tun and give everyone the privilege of trying this fresh.

Thanks again Derek, for sharing a very good beer that I was beginning to think I'd never get the chance to try.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2010 20:58:02 | More by MasterSki
Photo of NittanyBeerFan
NittanyBeerFan

Pennsylvania

5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A big thanks to the ever-generous treyrab for providing what was to be the centerpiece of "The Most Epic Fuckin Tasting You Wish You Were A Part Of." As Kyle crept out of the cellar with this beer in hand, I nearly fell out of my chair. The time had arrived. Consumed as beer number 3 on day 2, my palate had a nice chance to warm up to enjoy a beer that I only ever imagined gawking at the ISO threads that concerned it. Down to business...

Poured into my tasting glass and then quickly transferred into a tulip so that I could gaze, swirl, and bury my nose in its goodness.

A nearly opaque dark brown to black...at least at first glance. As I reluctantly watch and taste the beer disappear from the glass, M reveals that it is actually a deep garnet color with ruby hues around the edges. Even almost 5 years after its birth, this beer still exhibits a nice creamy ring of foam around its upper edge. A quick swirl leaves spots of foam that slink back into the glass along with a residue of liquid that creates little legs as it slips back into the body of the beer.

As I bury my nose in the mouth of my tulip glass, I am greeted with a veritable dessert smorgasbord of aromas. What Shady Maple is to breakfast buffets, M is to barleywine aromas. Toffee and chocolate spring from the depths of my glass, accompanied by a mellow aroma of Belgian yeast and the spiced character that it imparts. The spiciness escorts in a mild and mellow booziness that warms my stomach. There is also the sweet and syrupy aroma that is a signature of barleywines.

The palate follows suit, bringing the toffee and chocolate flavors that I found in the aroma. The barrel aging is evident here, as a nice oakey vanilla and light, well-balanced bourbon flavor that only enhances the inherent flavors of the beer. Also full of dark fruit - raisins and dates - and brown sugar, this beer is definitely drinking at its peak.

Incredibly smooth, the syrupy thickness that I am used to in barelywines hardly even factors into the equation here. Instead, the slight carbonation noted in the swirl enhances a thick texture in a slightly viscous body. I expect to never find a more balanced barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2010 01:25:52 | More by NittanyBeerFan
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randawakes

Alaska

5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Jaws dropped at the Philly Tasting of Ages 3-28-2010. Big thanks to treyrab and the rest of the great crew at the tasting. Lived in AK for 1.5 years frequented the loft at MSB, and this was a fitting going away present the day following my departure of the state.

REVIEW :
appearance: darker than expected. Dark brown toffee finish and very thin looking.

Smell: wee heavy honey barley oat aroma. Light bourbon and sugar noted.

Taste: toffee and caramels that never bite, shock, or overwhelm, simplymaintain it's immaculate balance. Maple sugar glaze with chocolate malts accompanying the palate. the aged bbls are so mellow yet persistance there is no flaw in it's 4.9-year aging.

Drinkability: most impressive of any barleywine hands down. Smooth beyond belief, slick, light, faintly coating and lasting. Most impressive of any beer tasted to date, flat out perfect. This benchmarks a 5.0. Heaven in a single bottle. Fin.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2010 17:28:38 | More by randawakes
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CoolJosh

Pennsylvania

4.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

WOW!! Brought out at the 'Most Epic F'ing tasting ever!' Most generously shared by Trey 'Mr. Generous' Rab. We all shook with excitement as we were poured our allotment.

The appearance - exactly what you should expect from a 5 year old barleywine. A beautiful, seductive, silky black with some brown edges. No head, nor should there be.

The smell is out-of-this-world phenomenal. First thing that hits the nose is an utterly sweet chocolate. The caramel and toasted toffee are Re-Dic-U-Lous. There is a really nice sweet raisin scent that pops up. A lovely vanilla compliments the barrel aging. I want to keep my nose in this glass for the rest of my life, but it's time to take a sip...

OH-MY-GEEE!!!! It doesn't get much better than this. By far the most intricate in terms of complexity. The chocolate, the sweet caramel, the toasted pecan, the slightly burnt toffee, the raisin, the vanilla and hints of oak, the light bourbon flavoring, the assortment of spices, and finally the belgian yeast that brings it all home. I'm having a really hard time accepting the fact that I am drinking this beer right now. Unreal, man. Unreal. I have to dock the drinkability as I will never have the pleasure of drinking this again.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2010 17:15:07 | More by CoolJosh
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treyrab

California

5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An unbelievable thank you goes out to my MO friend for sending me this. I split it with six good friends at our Philly tasting on 3/28/2010. Here goes nothing...

A: The cap comes off with a slight hiss as the smoke comes out of the bottle. We all stared at the bottle a while before pouring it into seven individual glasses. Pours a dark mahogany with a dark chocolate toffee color with a nice dark khaki head. This looks unbelievable. Looks like a nice, rich syrup with slight carbonation eluding to a slight skim of head.

S: The most complex smell for a beer I have ever encountered. The deep, rich chocolate is unbelievable. Deep, rich bitter toffee with a perfect blend of bourbon. Tons of figs, prunes, raisins, chocolate and caramel covered dark fruits.

T: Note: This taste review will NOT do this beer justice. It is just too complex to capture everything this beer has to offer. Amazing bitter toffee and semi-sweet chocolate leads into a perfect amount of bourbon and some Belgian spices. The chocolate covered dark fruits are unbelievable with figs and raisins. Everything blends incredibly into a cornucopia of awesomeness.

M/D: Perfect carbonation. Smooth and incredibly creamy. Unbeliveable.

Overall, this is the best beer I have had to date. Hype aside, this beer is a true masterpiece and the flavors that this beer imparts are unparalleled.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2010 17:13:36 | More by treyrab
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tpd975

Florida

4.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I am proud to say I was lucky enough to have this beer twice in a two month period. First bottle provided by matta. Second bottle bonused in a trade by a wonderful BA in the great white north, and shared with the tampa, orlando, and miami crew.

A: Pours a nice deep shade of brown with tinges of angry maroon showing through. The head is rather small with little retention or lace.

S: Wonderful malty sweetness. Tons of sweet molasses, chocolate, caramel, and over ripe dark fruit.

T: This one has gloriously aged. Tons of wonderful malt sweetness. Molasses, caramel, and rich nutty toffee. Dark fruit is there with mild chocolate, mild woody notes and a dash of vanilla.

M: On the fuller side of body, rich, bold, smooth, sweet, tasty, with a bit of booze in the finish

D: Wonderful, a masterpiece that is not only rare, it is great. One of the best aged beers I have ever had. Wish I had been drinking good stuff to have tried this one fresh as well.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2010 13:39:00 | More by tpd975
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BigMcLargeHuge

Arizona

5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a striking mahogany with thin tan head. The aroma is caramel covered graham cracker and black strap molasses as well as musty aged figs, dates and plums. It smells of smooth yum and is very inviting. The taste is smooth rich creamy goodness with aged minced raisins fully populating a thick slice of pumpernickel and then moving into sweet black strap molasses, creamy caramel and then rich smooth blended notes of prunes, figs and dates. It evens out into the finish a bit with soft notes of chocolate and burnt molasses. This tastes fantastic and doesn't overwhelm with syrupiness by ending with a high degree of drinkabilty. In fact, I can see myself drinking a little of this every night.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2009 21:54:17 | More by BigMcLargeHuge
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HopHead84

California

4.97/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was brought to our tasting on 7/25/09-7/26/09 by a very generous Stephen.

M appears very dark in my snifter, nearly black. The creamy one finger toffee head lingers atop the liquid for a long time. The retention is good, and when the head finally recedes it leaves creamy swirls in my glass of various shades of brown. Some scattered lacing sticks to my glass.

The aroma is truly remarkable. I stuck my nose in the snifter and kept it there for 10 minutes before finally taking a sip. The aroma opens up with a complex interaction between sweet Belgian candied sugar, bourbon, and chocolate. The candied sugar is permeating, at all time lending a perfect level of sweetness to the beer. Beautiful notes of caramel dance across my olfactory with vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon following close behind. Molasses is present, as well as tobacco and a leathery quality that goes hand in hand with the earthiness of the beer. The alcohol is almost completely hidden. Fruit notes are evident in the form of dates and figs.

The flavor of this beer was a difficult one for me to describe. There was so much going on I couldn't possibly capture it all with a mere pen and paper, and for a split second frustration washed over me when I came to that realization. I took small sips with a blank note pad before me for many minutes before I finally began writing everything I was experiencing.

The flavor is initially of sweet Belgian candied sugar and brown sugar, with some strong oak and chocolate notes. The chocolate falls somewhere between dark and milk. It's too dark to be milky and too milky to be dark. It's just like this beer to simulate a chocolate flavor I can't adequately describe. The spices I smelled are present in the flavor, playing off the oak, along with a lesser vanilla character. Earthiness accompanies leather, rich toffee, and caramel. Bourbon is ubiquitous, and I taste a touch of soy sauce as well as a hint of tobacco. The fruit component of the beer is of the dark persuasion, simulating raisins, plums, figs, dates, and grapes. I see the bottle says 11.6% ABV, but I taste no alcohol. The finish is rich and seems to sum up all the flavors I've experienced on my journey through M, finally choosing to linger on my palate for a long time until I take my next sip.

M is full bodied with a complimenting low level of carbonation. The mouthfeel is soft and smooth on the palate, almost silky at times. Other times it's chewy, creamy, and sticky.

This beer far exceeded my expectations. This is in my top 5 of all time. At 4 years, this beer is remarkable and shows no signs of going downhill any time soon. Get your hands on this at all costs! This is near perfection.

The doubt as to whether or not this beer would be in the lineup, and the anticipation that it might be plagued me for over a month. First it wasn't going to be there, then it was, then it might be, then it wasn't, then it was again, then we heard nothing two hours into the tasting, and then it finally showed up at my door. I can't thank you enough Stephen. It's safe to say I would have never tried this beer if not for your generosity. For me, this was the highlight of the tasting.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2009 00:06:40 | More by HopHead84
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DefenCorps

Oregon

4.97/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stephen really took the You Bring the Cheese to the next level with bottles of this and the 2005 Berserker. Thank you, Stephen, this is one of those I never thought I'd see.

A: Very dark brown, rather surprisingly so for a barleywine with a thin beige head. Brownish highlights. Retention isn't great, but this is an attractive beer nonetheless.

S: Insane depth and complexity. Oak and bourbon apparent at first with a lot of brown sugar, toffee, cocoa, slightly charred caramel and vanilla. Mildly nutty, with a skin-like bitterness, mild oxidation, just beautiful. The Belgian yeast character is noticeable (but not whelming) with a mild spiciness, with nutmeg being the dominant component to my nose. By far the most complex beer I've had.

T: 600+ reviews in, this is the first time I', having a hard time describing a beer. Most of my reviews deconstruct a beer into 3 or 4 segments - opening flavors, what follows, a mid-palate and a finish. This beer doesn't fit that mold, and gives me a very hard time.

Needless to say, the immense depth on the nose was only a sign of things to come. Very, very complex, but also incredibly well integrated. A complex blend of sugar, honey, toffee and a mild coconut, bourbon, vanilla and oak dance around the palate, with cocoa and more toffee. The finish is outstanding, incredibly long and flavorful. Truly exceptional

M: Big in body without being syrupy, soft carbonation that enhances the velvet-like character of the beer and an incredible finish with a complex blend of brown sugar, toffee, bourbon and tannins. This is the second beer that I'd give a 6 for the mouthfeel (after Pliny the Younger)

D: This is one of the most drinkable beer out there. I would trade a kidney for this. Worth it's weight in gold. Stephen, I can't thank you enough for a truly religious beer experience

** March 28 2010. I got to try this again at the Most Epic Fucking Tasting You Wish You Were A Part Of. Thank you, Trey. **
I'm going to have to up the appearance, it looks great with nice lacing and great head retention.
The nose is as excellent as I remember it being. The spicy alcohol character is present, brown sugar and bourbon being a little more forward. A touch of oxidation is also present, with raisins and dates. More molasses, is present.
The palate opens with plenty of molasses, dark brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, buckwheat honey. The spice character is excellent, I'm getting a little nutmeg and mace, and that complements the alcohol really well. This beer is perfect right now, if you've got one, drink it now.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2009 17:13:56 | More by DefenCorps
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M Belgian-Style Barleywine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 78 ratings.