M Belgian-Style Barleywine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
99
world-class

40 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 40
Hads: 88
rAvg: 4.69
pDev: 5.76%
Wants: 441
Gots: 10 | FT: 2
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2005

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.
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Reviews: 40 | Hads: 88
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.32/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

Release date: 5/5/05.

Pours a murky reddish-brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, caramel, toffee, dark fruit, and raisin aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, caramel, toffee, dark fruit, raisin, and slight cardboard flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer that is showing a bit of oxidation in the taste, but the flavors are still fantastic to me.

Serving type: bottle. (744 characters)

Photo of GRG1313
4.39/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Admittedly I tried this for the first time 10 years after its release, the bottle having been cellared the past several years in a 53-55 degree walk in cellar. Sometimes cellaring works - this time it did. This beer is aged; it's old and it's past its prime. However, it remains a beer to be reckoned with.

Deep ruby or pomegranate brown with an assertive spiced coffee, malty, raising and cooked chocolate nose. The texture of the beer (the mouthfeel) is like velvet. This one was a huge surprise all around. I finally opened it since I found it in the back of my cellar and I just "knew" that it would be old and funky and just needed to be opened. Well, it was wonderful! Oxidized? Yeah...a bit, but the flavor profile was all there and truth is, it was part of a blind tasting so no one was influenced by what it was! We were all very surprised and delighted. (876 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.42/5  rDev -5.8%
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. (929 characters)

Photo of ygtbsm94
4.67/5  rDev -0.4%
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. (618 characters)

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. (958 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.77/5  rDev +1.7%
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. (2,536 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
4.47/5  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. (1,345 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.62/5  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. (696 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.07/5  rDev -13.2%
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. (495 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
4.97/5  rDev +6%
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. (3,189 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
4.97/5  rDev +6%
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. (2,579 characters)

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. (513 characters)

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. (1,397 characters)

Photo of cosmicevan
4.81/5  rDev +2.6%
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. (1,352 characters)

Photo of gford217
4.62/5  rDev -1.5%
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. (1,537 characters)

Photo of tpd975
4.94/5  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. (957 characters)

Photo of hopdog
4.67/5  rDev -0.4%
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 (705 characters)

Photo of Sean9689
4.77/5  rDev +1.7%
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. (1,114 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
4.42/5  rDev -5.8%
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. (2,509 characters)

Photo of Floydster
5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review #1,000!

It has been a long but quite fun journey to this special review. My palate has changed dramatically since then and I went from frowning upon barelywines to thoroughly enjoying them. I did not know what to drink for this milestone until I realized this was Midnight Sun's one thousand batch and it just seemed fitting since they are one of my favorite breweries.

I want to give a huge thanks to DarkElf who traded me this bottle. You are a generous guy Stephen and a great part of the beer world. We actually traded in person at Lost Abbey on my birthday, which was also very cool. This beer seemed impossible to track down for the last few years, but you came through for me. I also want to thank my friends Nathan, Wiley, and Bob for coming over and enjoying this brew with me. Although it did not take much persuasion on my part to get you guys to my house last night.

M was brewed on May 5, 2005 during Midnight Sun's tenth year of operation, which makes it nearly three and a half years old. I have heard it has only gotten better with age and think that will be the case for its future. I honestly think this has room for another five years in the cellar.

The eight to ten ounces that I poured for myself were savored for close to two hours and I was sad when my glass was empty. I put the bottle in the refrigerator for about forty minutes prior. I did not want this to be too cold because I wanted to taste all of its true character. I popped the cap off and let it sit for ten minutes before I poured it into my Dogfish Head snifter. Everybody at the table looked at each other after the first sip and agreed it was fantastic.

The appearance of this beer is one that I will never forget. This is one of the darker barleywines I have ever laid my eyes on and I could barely see through it. It was a deep dark brown with some mahogany and dark reds toward the top depending on what shade of light you looked at in. There was a one inch bubbly and fluffy beige head. A simple swirl would cause the foam to rise back up again. The head lasted about ten minutes on its own though. It had great retention and nice lacing as a result. There was some serious legs with some nice residue towards the top. It sat like a pillow and was enjoyable to look at.

The aromas from this beer were one of its best qualities. I am not joking when I say that each time we took a whiff, there was a different scent. It had a big caramel smell, intense malts, and spice presence up front. It was followed by bourbon, oak, and vanilla from its barrel aging. There was also some mild tart in there that seemed like it could be from wild yeast. Then, there was numerous dark fruits with raisins, blackberries, mild coconut, dates, red delicious apples, dark grapes, and bananas. There was also a big grain backbone that was mixed with brown sugar and Belgian yeast. Rounding out the smell was cocoa, butter, sweet cream, toffee, roasted almonds, rum, and angelfood cake.

M's flavor is right on par with the smell but had a few more flavors I could not detect in the aroma. They consited of smoky accents, acai berry, teriyaki sauce, and honey. Each sip was more complex and different than the preceeding. There was not as much oxidation as I thought there would be thankfully. This stuff tasted phenomenal and is piece of art in the form of a beer.

The mouthfeel of M was also incredible. It was silky smooth and intense at the same time. It was sweet with all of its fruit characteristics but not overly done. Its fullness and ability to be both chewy and spicy makes this unparalleled. It had a medium body but nice thickness for its age and the fact that it spent some time in barrels before being bottled. The taste lingers for five minutes after each sip. The carbonation is perfect and has a nice popping sensation but quickly tames. Its thick syrupy feel at times coats the mouth and provides a fulfilling warmth. The sensation is a like a dessert that is to be sipped on and slowly enjoyed.

The drinkability of this beer separates it from any other barleywine I have ever tasted. There is no way this over eleven percent. It seems more like eight or nine if that. I could have drank a couple bombers myself in addition to the glass I had. This is not heavy on the stomach at all and is smooth as can be. It goes down way too easy and I found myself struggling to pace myself. I was full after dinner when we opened it and it still seemed light. That should say something about how light and invitng it is for its strength. The booze are hidden pretty well too and they are most prominent in the aroma. This easiest drinking beer over ten percent that I have ever had. I want more as I type this.

"M" is truly magnificent! (4,737 characters)

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! (1,077 characters)

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. (2,358 characters)

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.7/5  rDev +0.2%
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. (1,491 characters)

Photo of brewandbbq
4.47/5  rDev -4.7%
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. (1,081 characters)

Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.54/5  rDev -3.2%
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. (1,118 characters)

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M Belgian-Style Barleywine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
99 out of 100 based on 40 ratings.