1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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
100
world-class

82 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 82
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 4.69
pDev: 7.25%
Wants: 438
Gots: 10 | 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:
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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 82 | Reviews: 37 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kscaldef
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of Shmeal
5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of teddyarrowhead
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of Preismj
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of rjacobs6
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of neorunner
5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of baybum
5/5  rDev +6.6%

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.

Photo of yourefragile
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of dtmets84
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of Reswald
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of cosmicevan
4.84/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

Photo of jbuddle
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of ChrisPro
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of MordorMongo
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of spycow
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of Halcyondays
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of DoubleJ
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of BdubleEdubleRUN
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of gford217
4.6/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.53/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

Photo of Butterworth
5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of whartontallboy
5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of AgentZero
4.5/5  rDev -4.1%

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.

M Belgian-Style Barleywine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 82 ratings.