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M Belgian-Style Barleywine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
M Belgian-Style BarleywineM Belgian-Style Barleywine

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

82 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 82
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 4.69
pDev: 7.25%
Wants: 436
Gots: 8 | FT: 1
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 82 | Reviews: 37 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by CoolJosh:
Photo of CoolJosh
4.9/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

CoolJosh, Mar 28, 2010
More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.97/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This one came out of the bottle a deep, almost black color with a thick, easy brown head.

Smell – The thick, rich yeast is music to my olfactory bulb. It is so rich and buttery that it literally made my mouth water. There’s some strong alcohol in here but it’s so smooth.

Between the rich malts, creamy butter, massive but enticing alcohol, and gooey malts you can almost taste this ale with your nose. There is some toasty notes mixed in with the bread and maybe even a hint of white wine, but overall it just sits on that butter yeast.

Taste – The flavor comes right up to the smell. The big, rich yeast and luscious butter are perfect. It tastes like a perfectly toasted, buttered piece of bread.

Mouthfeel – This ale is full-bodied in the mouth and leaves the sensation of drinking the finest of liquors. It is tingly and fluffy on the tongue and is great to hold in between the cheeks.

Drinkability – I almost feel like I’m jipping the review. It’s not a lot to write for an ale that almost scored an overall perfect 5.0. The ale was just that good, though. I’m hard pressed to remember the last time I enjoyed drinking something this much.

Comments – Big cheers to skyhand for popping this beauty shop at her Bobbing for Beers Ball on Halloween night. The scariest thing of the night is when we all realized that the Midnight Sun M bottle was empty.

RoyalT, Nov 05, 2005
Photo of badbeer
4.97/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I want to start out with a huge thank you to hoppymeal for trading his only other bottle of M!

Looks black or very dark brown from a distance, but when held to light has some very dark red colors to it. Excellent clarity on the beer. The head is tan colored and hangs around well leaving a decent lacing. Aroma jumps out of the glass with burnt sugar, molasses, sour cherries, mint, rum, bourbon, oak, plum, raisins, and Christmas cookies. Intense and complex smell, but everything smells so delicious. Taste is full of brown sugar, molasses, huge amount of caramel, cherries, bourbon, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full, but so damn smooth, not cloying at all. Low carbonation and full body cause this to slide over the tongue delivering deliciousness to every taste bud possible. A beautiful beer to drink, I could sip on this beer all day, but sadly I don't ever think I'll see a bottle again.

As much as I had built this beer up in my mind after finding out everything I could about it, I didn't think it would be able to live up to what I believed it to be. Somehow, M knew my expectations and instead of breaking under the pressure, it stood strongly and proudly saying take it or leave it. Take it, I will. Simply M-mazing!

badbeer, Jun 15, 2009
Photo of jaminjohnson
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

jaminjohnson, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

SpeedwayJim, Jun 05, 2011
Photo of leschkie
2.5/5  rDev -46.7%

leschkie, Jun 22, 2013
Photo of mikey711
4.78/5  rDev +1.9%
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

mikey711, Jun 06, 2011
Photo of Gonzoillini
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Gonzoillini, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of Alieniloquium
4.09/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Dark body. Nearly black. Small khaki head.

Smell - Sherry and a bit of cardboard oxidation. Sweet brown sugar and caramel. Mild dark roasted malts.

Taste - Sweet. Sherry flavored oxidation. Caramel. Some roasted malts. Dates. Not any barrel, really. Lots of raisin fruitiness.

Mouthfeel - Thick bodied. Sweet, but not overly so. Alcohol is still prevalent.

Overall - Well, I'm underwhelmed. It's really good, but it's not earth-shattering.

Alieniloquium, May 19, 2014
Photo of SpdKilz
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

SpdKilz, Dec 08, 2013
Photo of Preismj
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Preismj, May 02, 2013
Photo of jegross2
4.48/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

jegross2, Apr 29, 2013
Photo of largadeer
4.97/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: M sits in the glass with a dark but clear chestnut colored body and a finger of tan head that slowly settles into a thin disc. An unusually beautiful barleywine.

Aroma: Spicy oak, cinnamon and nutmeg upon first smell. Caramel, tobacco and leather come out more as it breathes, along with a hint of earth and soy sauce-like oxidation. Rich and complex but not terribly sweet.

Taste/mouthfeel: Big oak flavors up front; spicy and leathery with a nice tannic backbone. Plenty of sweetness in the form of brown sugar, figs, dark chocolate and vanilla. No heat, no trace of alcohol whatsoever in fact. For such an incredibly complex beer, this is neither too rich nor heavy; the balance is impeccable. Finishes earthy, woody, chocolatey and semi-sweet. At over 4 years old, oxidation is present but very subtle, lending a hint of soy sauce and sherry. I can see this beer aging gracefully for many more years. Thanks for sharing the bottle, Stephen.

largadeer, Jul 26, 2009
Photo of NittanyBeerFan
5/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

NittanyBeerFan, Mar 31, 2010
Photo of KevSal
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

KevSal, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of Reswald
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Reswald, Jan 21, 2013
Photo of ChrisPro
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

ChrisPro, Jan 16, 2013
Photo of ygtbsm94
4.7/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Joe for sharing this outstanding brew! 22oz bomber pours a dark brown, opaque, with slight ruby hue in the glass. It has a very port-like nose of dark fruit, vanilla, bourbon, oak gooey malts you can almost taste through your nose. The mouth feel is smooth as silk with very light carbonation. The taste is rich and buttery with molasses, a long sweet finish loaded with dark fruit and bourbon; gotta love this taste. This brew is still very drinkable with the alcohol in the stealth mode; an outstanding finish, kind of like drinking a glass of port wine. Would love to have this superb brew again some day.

ygtbsm94, Sep 18, 2008
Photo of Thorpe429
4.43/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

Thorpe429, May 30, 2012
Photo of grub
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%
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!

grub, Feb 04, 2011
Photo of hopdog
4.65/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle acquired in trade with DarkElf (thanks!).

Poured a dark mahogany color with a smaller sized tan head. Aromas of dark fruits, chocolate, caramel, light roast, smoke, brown sugar, bourbon (not overpowering) and wood. The woodiness came out more and more in the aroma as the beer aired out. Aromas were very complex and I kept getting more as I smelled each time. Tastes of dark fruits (raisins and plums), caramel, earthy / peaty, woody, candi & brown sugar, and vanilla. Very sweet, not cloying, but any sweeter and it would be. Alcohol completely hidden. Creamy body.

The barrel aging was done very well; it complimented both the aromas and tastes nicely.

Notes from and tasted on 3/20/07

hopdog, Nov 05, 2008
Photo of AgentZero
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

AgentZero, Jun 23, 2012
Photo of AleWatcher
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

AleWatcher, May 07, 2013
Photo of BucketBoy
4.66/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

BucketBoy, Jul 07, 2013
Photo of funkyaudio
5/5  rDev +6.6%

funkyaudio, Nov 24, 2013
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M Belgian-Style Barleywine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 82 ratings.