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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.

82 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 82
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 4.69
pDev: 7.25%
Wants: 435
Gots: 9 | 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 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 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 TheBungyo
5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A massive thank you to Skyhand for opening this in my presence.

I was ready to classify the body of this one as black and move on but Skyhand urged me to look closer. Holding it to the light brings forth a seductive ruby hue, almost like blood but in this case this liquid is probably more precious to many of us beergeeks.

Notes of dried cherries, vanilla, caramel, raisins and plum skins waft from the glass. It's so easy to smell I don't even need to lower my head anywhere near the glass.

As the first drop hits the tongue flavors coax the tastebuds ... caramel, boysenberry, vanilla, toffee, leather, fleeting coconut, plums and the faintest hint of roastiness in the finish.

This coats the mouth pleasantly. it does so in such a way that even minutes later the flavors stay with the drinker.

Definitely without question one of the finest liquids I've tasted. The only people I would not recommend this beer to are those that suffer from Stendhal Syndrome. This work of art in a glass just might send such people over the edge.

TheBungyo, Feb 25, 2008
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 juzy
4.53/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Being that there is no more of this, we didn't want to crack one of the twelve in our cellar so we headed out to Cafe Amsterdam where we knew there to be a few bottles left. We last sampled this in September or October and I remember that I thought it still needed more time aging.

Bottled in May of 2005, it's almost a year old.

We bought the bottle for $15 at Cafe Amsterdam (I think we paid $10 a bottle at the brewery back last May).

It pours a dark, opaque, deep brown with a tan rim of big bubbles. The legs would rival any fine wine. Dotted lace clings to the wine glass it was served in.

It has a very port-like nose; dark fruit, vanilla, bourbon, oak - lovely to take in.

The taste has mellowed since the last sampling of this. Starting to lose it's "green" taste. Figs, prunes, molasses, a long, sweet, finish loaded with dark fruit and bourbon. Just a touch of hop bitterness to tame the overwhelming malt sweetness.

Some dribbled down the sides of my glass, very sticky on the fingers.

Drinkablity, well for this style, I think I could drink another glass. It's definitely more drinkable now than it was a year ago.

The mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, light carbonation, not as full-bodied as I thought it should be, but overall it's coming along quite well. We'll have to try it again at it's one year anniversary.

juzy, Feb 17, 2006
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 grumpy
4.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

One word: "WOW!!!" Just a great beer. I promised myself I wouldn't hand out scores of 5 when I started submitting reviews here, but then I considered that a 5 is defined as "exceptional." This certainly is an exceptional beer in style and taste. There is nothing I can add to the previous reviewers' tasting notes.

If you like American style Barley Wine and Belgian Strong Dark Ale, you will love this beer. Unfortunately, it's a limited edition. I wish I had more than a couple of bottles of this stashed away. It should age well.

Edit: I see that the aforementioned previous reviews have disappeared. Makes my reference look a little silly. Oh, well, no choice but to go have a beer....

grumpy, Aug 12, 2005
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M Belgian-Style Barleywine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 82 ratings.