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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: 437
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:
Photo of leschkie
2.5/5  rDev -46.7%

leschkie, Jun 22, 2013
Photo of kayalla
4.08/5  rDev -13%
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.

kayalla, Aug 25, 2011
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 cpetrone84
4.1/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

cpetrone84, Feb 02, 2014
Photo of CityofBals
4.25/5  rDev -9.4%

CityofBals, Sep 12, 2013
Photo of jampics2
4.25/5  rDev -9.4%

jampics2, Jun 13, 2014
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 Jeffo
4.43/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

Jeffo, Mar 02, 2014
Photo of brewandbbq
4.45/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown and nearly opaque, with traces of ruby in the hips of the tulip glass.
A tan head of humble proportions struggled to reveal itself, with a stretch of a pour.
The quarter-inch of foam dissapated quickly, leaving a partial coverage at best.
Susequent swirls of the glass rose up continued frothing easily.
Remarkable in the nose. Heavily laced with thick malt, dried figs, charred oak, bourbon, and port.
Layers of richness continue with shades of leather, sherry, dark rum, toffee, and vanilla.
Mouthfeel is thick and chewy. Quite sticky and somewhat syrupy.
The pallet is rich and decadent.
Caramelized sugars, chewy malt, vineous port, and burnt chocolate bits.
Beneath the massive malt bill and unfermentables lies a cherry-like oxidation and bourbon.
Bitterness and any hopping is negligable, and the vineous nature leans the brew into an "Old ale" stance.
Finishes sweetish with lingering dark rum, port, smoked leather, and caramlized brown sugar.

A totally unique beer, with liquer overtones.

Big props to Tim for hooking me up with this remarkable brew.

brewandbbq, Jan 07, 2008
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 drabmuh
4.48/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

drabmuh, May 29, 2012
Photo of jaminjohnson
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

jaminjohnson, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of Preismj
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Preismj, May 02, 2013
Photo of KevSal
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

KevSal, Nov 03, 2013
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 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 brian4beer
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

brian4beer, Dec 14, 2013
Photo of monitorpop
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

monitorpop, May 16, 2013
Photo of DoubleJ
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

DoubleJ, Oct 29, 2012
Photo of dtmets84
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

dtmets84, Jan 22, 2013
Photo of zestar
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

zestar, Jul 19, 2014
Photo of yourefragile
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

yourefragile, Jan 26, 2013
Photo of jophish17
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

jophish17, Jun 15, 2014
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 02, 2013
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M Belgian-Style Barleywine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 82 ratings.