Arctic Devil Barley Wine
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine
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Style:
English Barleywine
Ranked #9
ABV:
13.2%
Score:
97
Ranked #423
Avg:
4.38 | pDev: 7.99%
Reviews:
399
Ratings:
1,390
From:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
 
Alaska, United States
Avail:
Fall
Wants
  984
Gots
  308
SCORE
97
World-Class
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine
Notes: Arctic Devil Barley Wine, aptly named after the ferocious wolverine of the north, is an English-style (meaning malt-inclined) barley wine. Though the recipe and process for Arctic Devil have evolved over the years, it is brewed once a year then aged in oak barrels for several months before the entire batch is blended, bottled and released.

In its youth, Arctic Devil gnarls and snarls its way across the palate. Containing this beast of a beer for long periods in oak barrels--some having previously aged port, wine or whiskey--tames the unleashed malt and fierce hop flavors, melding and mellowing this powerful liquid into an incredible elixir worthy of a brewer's table.

Each annual batch of Arctic Devil Barley Wine represents the brewers' resolve to create an intriguing and sought-after barley wine by precisely brewing to well-designed specifications, carefully selecting the type and combination of barrels to use for aging, and meticulously checking the beer as it ages. Distinct nuance and complexity are contributed by the wood's previous tenants, resulting in unique flavor profiles in each batch that continue to change over time. We invite you to savor Arctic Devil Barley Wine upon its release then cellar some for future enjoyment.

20 IBU
Reviews: 399 | Ratings: 1,390 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Treyliff
4.56/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

taken from notes

2011 22oz bottle poured into a snifter, drank in 2015

Pours deep brown in color with a one-finger creamy off-white head that has short retention. Smells of caramel & toffee, molasses, brown sugar, earthy tobacco, leather, figs, raisins, wet oak, vanilla & bourbon, some sherry-like vinous notes and a hit of herbal tea. Flavors follow the nose with bold caramel and toffee notes, as well as a sherry-like sweetness, earthy tobacco and peppery oak, a variety of dark fruits on the finish with more caramel. Medium body with moderate carbonation, foamy mouthfeel and slightly warming finish. Simply an outstanding English Barleywine

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Photo of DokiDokiLitFam
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an opaque, dark copper brown. No translucence. Appearance is similar to apple cider. A finger of light khaki head. Medium lacing.

Nose is bourbon, caramel, and dark fruit. The bourbon really shines through here. Melding with caramel/toffee notes. Booze as it warms.

Taste is bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, toffee, moderate hoppiness. Starts with bourbon, hop flavor comes in after, then the smooth caramel which slowly fades into the malt finish. A very layered brew. It unravels more than it mixes with each other. It takes time to show each flavor, then it moves on to the next.

Mouthfeel is fullbodied and smooth with mild to medium carbonation.

A smooth delicate brew, with some bite to it. Hop quality and big booziness combined with bourbon and caramel provides a slow sipper to be respected and enjoyed.

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Photo of micada
4.49/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2019 12 oz bottle poured aggressively room temp to a tulip. Head is three finger light tan tight-bubble that burns down to a thin persistent ring. Murky caramel color. Nose is sweet caramel and a faint bourbon if you stick your nose way down in there. First sips are a balanced hoppy/caramel twang up front, lots of booze but on the mid palate, and leaves a lot of flavor on the back. Mouthfeel is medium thick. It’s already warmed, so the profile isn’t changing much. Has a nice leather nose on each sip. Very quick hop to caramel to booze progression in the swallow. Booze is pretty hot, but never passes too much. Malt backbone keeps it solid and balanced. Reading the description, I can pull in the wine barrel vibe way down deep. Good drink!

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Photo of beergoot
4.06/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Dirty, murky amber-brown body topped with a 1/2 finger-thick creamy head. Rich, malty aroma; caramel; phenolic; musty; boozy. Strong oak flavor nearly overpowers the rich caramel and toffee taste; a nudge of vanilla; pecan. Heavy body; thick and chewy; sludgy; warm.

Well, this one is a beast. In many ways, in hindsight, I would like to have tried this aged for at least a year or so. I think the wood barrel notes undercut the rest of the beer's fine points. I see where another reviewer (ref. @Benish, Oct 02, 2017) the beer was aged in bourbon barrels vice oak. I agree. The oak comes across too raw with this, but like I mentioned earlier, perhaps some judicious cellaring might tame the roughness. Well, it still has its high points...

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Photo of PlinyBeMiney
4.74/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Nice representation of the style. I keep looking for that 2013/2015 Great flavor in the English Barleywine style and this is the closet yet. The biggest difference is the mouthfeel. Great has this smoothness that honestly cannot be replicated. Despite that, I think I have found a more regular option to suit my needs in between the 4 year wait for Great.

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Photo of EMH73
4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky reddish brown with a one inch light tan head that settles pretty quickly to a ring and leaves few splotches of lacing. Smells of oak, whiskey, caramel, toffee and vanilla. Taste follows the nose with additional elements of dark fruits, molasses, toasted malts and a mild earthy quality. Full bodied, thick and chewy mouth feel, light carbonation and a dry finish.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Poured into a snifter to a nice reddish brown that's pretty much mahogany topped by a finger of dense and slightly rocky light tan head which fades quickly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing
S: Smells of sticky toffee and oak with some caramel and vanilla. Slight dark fruits as well really drive home the English nature of this Barleywine. Slighty toasted with a hint of roast as well but very faint.
T: Taste is a huge toffee and caramel note with some slight chocolate, oak, and vanilla along with a nice dark fruit note with some hints of plums. There's a little alcohol and booze but it tastes like it belongs. It has those hints of toasted malts as well but the toffee and dark fruits are the star of the show for the most part with the barrel coming in next. On the swallow there's more oak, vanilla, and caramel along with some more toffee and dark fruits with a slight cocoa powder note.
M: This beer is fairly full bodied with a slightly syrupy mouthfeel on the palate. Carbonation is on the low end but still adequate for the style while the beer has a drying finish.
O: Overall this beer is fantastic. Great flavors and some absolutely killer complexity really make this one to be sipped and savored. I've had this bottle since 2013 or 2014 and it's held up amazingly well. Definitely one to try if you can find it and it ages very well.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.24/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a snifter
2014

This beer pours a mahogany color with deep amber highlights. There is a slight haze. It is topped with less than an inch of fleeting tan head that leaves no lacing.

The smell is sweet. I get caramel and vanilla. I also get a little wood and a lot of alcohol aroma.

The taste is toffee and caramel with hints of vanilla and orange marmalade. There is some cocoa with a little oak and alcohol for good measure.

Full bodied with smooth and syrupy mouthfeel

This bottle has ages very well. The taste and smell are great. The warming effect is needed on a cold December night. This is a great beer that I got as an extra in a trade in early 2015.

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Photo of Avitra
4.43/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This one is really like going into a date orchard (or whatever it's called). The color is fantastic, like that of a nice ripe medjoul date, the smell is the same, but most importantly, so is the taste. dates, dates, dates. And then yes, there's a hint of bourbon (more Knob Creek than anything else, i think), but none of the petrol that accomanies that. Just beautiful lingering sweetness. This is truly remarkable

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Photo of larryi86
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Big thank to y2kawakami for this!
22 oz bottle, dated 11/12/15, poured into a tulip

A- A clear deep ruby red with a two finger off white head.

S- Oak, earthy, dark fruits, figs, brown sugar, some bourbon, some molasses.

T- Figs, cherries, bourbon, brown sugar, toffee, oak, touch of molasses, slightly earthy.

M- Smooth, full body.

O- A great Barelywine, sweet and rich, alcohol is very well hidden. Very happy I finally got to try this!!

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Photo of Furlinator
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Vintage 2017.
Pours thick and sticky. Aromas of brown sugar, oak, pipe tobacco and vanilla. Flavors of burnt sugar, fig, oak, toasted bread and a bourbon finish. Outstanding.

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Photo of brewaddict
4.49/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2018 Bottle
L - Pours a hazy toffee color with a thin one finger khaki head.
S - I get notes of sweet toffee, bourbon, oak, chocolate, and vanilla, with a tinge of ethanol.
T - I was a bit surprised by the big bold flavors. Starts off with sweet toffee, bourbon, oak, and vanilla. There is a good amount of Fig and bourbon soaked raisin. The finish is classic barleywine.
F - The mouthfeel is thick, chewy, sticky, and has a dry finish.
O - Enjoyed this very much. As a fan of the style, I'm sorry that I passed it up the last couple of years. I was mostly surprised by how much flavor is packed in there. There is also a balanced sweetness from start to finish. This is fantastic now. It should age really well.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.19/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Got a bomber bottle of this in March of 2016 when I went to Seattle, a few months before the law changed in Ohio and beer over 12% ABV could be legally sold here, so this was quite a find for me at the time. Brought the bomber back with me and aged it in my cellar until tonight. Poured into one of my tulip glasses, this beer pours a very dark copper color with an off-white/slightly tan colored head that's an inch thick when first poured that settles to a nice film layer of foam that covers most of the beer's surface along with a very thick ring lining the inside of the glass. Aromas of some toasted, biscuit caramel malts and toffee sweetness along with molasses and brown sugar and certainly a bit of alcohol. The taste is pretty much the same, with somewhat toasted, biscuit, caramel malt, toffee, caramel, and brown sugar sweetness along with some dark fruit notes of fig and plum. A bit of earthy hops gives the overall flavor profile some semblance of balance, but the sweetness certainly dominates, no question about it. There is of course also the taste of some alcohol, being that this is a 13.4% AVB beer. Has a somewhat crisp and slightly prickly, slightly oily and chewy, slightly smooth, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate to heavy carbonation. Has a slightly astringent and somewhat dry finish and aftertaste. A pretty good beer all around, and glad I got a chance to try it.

Eric

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Photo of boothbeer
4.26/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 Bottle Split 4 ways at about 11:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving with family.

This beer held up surprisingly well. nice toffee notes and sweet caramel. Touch of oxidation which I didnt mind. The booziness was subdued and quite enjoyable.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
2.79/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Pours a chestnut colored brown with an off white head 1/3". Aroma of hot barrel, oak, maris otter. Kind of wondering why this smells "harsh" as I would term it, its making me wonder about fusel alcohols, but its prolly just a big hot beer and that is why it smells like a big hot beer.

Tastes actually like it smells. Old English wet wormwood and oak feels. Maris otter for days still. The damn booze blend from like brandy and port seems up there. It doesn't result in a barrel feel that is specifically discernable, its just a jumbled hot mess of a beer.

Looks like this might be one of those, OMG this beer is so strong, it must be awesome type of reviews. I just don't really understand how something so hot and lacking in basic flavor beyond that can be so loved. Just not my cup of tea.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.01/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: pours light brown with a orange hint to it, no head on the pour. The color reminds me Helldarado.
S: big bourbon smacks me in the face, love it! Then big sharp raisin sweetness and caramel. Smells very fruity/big raisins.
T: like the nose, sharp raisin sweetness, caramel and a bit harsh bourbon. I wish the bourbon was smoother.
F: medium to thin thickness, doesn't coat well, and had a touch of alcohol heat.

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Photo of Benish
4.05/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a hazy brown color with a beige head that disappeared quickly to nothing. The aromas were of baked goods - mainly cinnamon rolls. Also picked up ton of oak, vanilla, and pitted fruits. There were absolutely no hop aroma. Flavors are not quite the same as the aromas. Its very sticky sweet, not so much like a "baked good" but more like liquified sweetened dark fruits. As it warmed up, the alcohol became so potent and obvious. Some trace of oak. Maybe a trace of caramel at the very finish, leaving a note of bourbon. The mouthfeel is is full bodied with a lot of warmth at the end. Overall its a heavy beer thats best to share with others. This is an English Barleywine and by that, they don't mess around. Its sweet, sticky and without any notes of hops. I just think it would be even more spectacular if it sat in bourbon barrels instead of oak.

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Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.21/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2008 Bottle

A: Light toffee and faint brown sugar malts with a touch of oxidation.

A: Deep brown color, super murky, with very little head that immediately dissipates.

T: Light toffee and brown sugar malts, dark stone fruits, with light wood and moderately light oxidation.

M: Full bodied with light carbonation.

O: Solid; This beer has a great brown sugar character and depth in its youth. It's been interesting to see how this beer has evolved over the years. After almost 9 years, the beer still has a solid body and displays interesting toffee malts with a fair amount of dark fruit flavors, though some oxidation is showing.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.49/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance had a fairly dark brown body with a half finger white foamy head that quickly dies to a film coating the top of the body. Lacing is there but a bit messy and all over the place. The smell has a huge sweet aroma of roasted malt intricately combined within a molasses, vanilla, coffee-ish complexity, light caramel and a subdued alcohol note take a secondary place. The taste is sweet through previously mentioned flavors, but yet balances through some bitter coffee notes. Light black licorice seems to come through in the flavoring, black licorice aftertaste but done nicely and not overbearing, dry finish. The palate was a medium to heavy, more of a sipper than drinkability. Carbonation seems to be done very well for an English Barleywine and is pretty good to me. Overall, what a nice English Barleywine that I would have again.

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.97/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: half finger white head, hazy brown-orange body.

Smell: See below.

Taste: Oak, toffee, caramel, cherries and dark fruits.

Feel: Low carbonation, medium-full body. Sweet, warming alcohol.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Glass: AleSmith Barrel-Aged Reserve snifter
From: Bine & Vine Bottle Shop in Normal Heights (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $17.99
Purchased: Jan. 6, 2017
Consumed: April 15, 2017
Reviewed as: English Barleywine
Misc.: Bottled on Nov. 21, 2016

Picked this up with basically a $50 gift certificate for my birthday. Had heard of Midnight Sun and saw on one of the emails that they had a few coming in, so I pounced on this and the Berserker Imperial Stout. $19.99 (Berserker) and $17.99 (AD) seems a bit much but I got them anyway. Gave Berserker an overrated 4.16 (93/A-) back in January. Hoping for this to be better.

Poured a copper/garnet cloudy color with one finger of khaki white frothy head. Some light bubble streams coming up from the bottom of the glass. Good spotty lacing. Good retention. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled pent up bourbon, almost port wine like, dark fruits, plum, tobacco, raisins, sticky toffee, caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, some oaky red wine barrels and earthy basement aromas. Lovely. (Smell - 4.50)

Taste was at least just as good as the nose. Wow. Lots going on. Got smooth bourbon, port wine, sherry red wine, tobacco, unknown lingering spices (rye? maybe pepper?), brown sugar, maple syrup, toffee, plum, dark fruits, raisins, dates, prunes, dark grainy malts, caramel, smooth, but tasting the booze, oak, hints of molasses and sticky sugary chocolate syrup which seems to be muted somewhat by everything else going on. (Taste - 4.25)

Medium body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish. (Feel - 5.00)

This was fantastic. Much better than I thought it was going to be after having Berserker a few months back. Would not pay $18 for this again, but still delicious. (Overall - 4.50)

4.41 | 98 | A

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Photo of bshefftz
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

All-time, world class English Barleywine. Malt, malt, malt, malt, booze, vanilla, oak, malt, malt, malk, whiskey, glacier travel in the summer, northern lights, kick-ass goodness. This raise my eyebrows. This makes me happy every damn time. Not cheap - It's a $9 evening when I drink half the bomber but it's so, sooo worth it. It's artful and delicious and it's seriously one of a handful of reasons (along with cheap real estate and year-round backcountry skiing) that make me think I might just move to Alaska.

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Photo of von_kaiser
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the best barley wines I've had. This is a rich thick glass of candy. Perfect sipper for a bitter cold night. Booze is masked well by the sweetness...def plays a presence, but nowheres near bringing it towards medicinal like qualities. I enjoyed this beer heavily.

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Photo of 72u7h
4.89/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Arctic devil Barley win 13.4 abv. I have 6 (now 5, crap) and it's AMAZING.

Tasting notes:


Sweet, not really boozy. malty. Silky AF. It's got a lot of flavors all over as it warms up, everything from chocolate, to raisins, to some fruit of some sort and everything in between. It's fluffy I guess? It's lighter than I thought it be, and that's good. It's really good. I had another barley wine "Arcadian Ales, Cereal Killer" and that bottle was sort of stupid. It had nothing on Arctic Devil at all, so it can go eat sand. This beer don't give much head, even if you froth it a little with a frother. Some say syrupy, I don't know. Seems it depends, mine is from 2015 and it's 1 year + at this point (it's feb 2017 now). I'd disagree, I don't have any experience with earlier variants or years so I can't compare. However, after going on a barleywine quest for the last couple years this is top notch

Of all the barleywine's I've had THIS is my favorite of them all. I've had 100's of them at this point.

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Photo of silverblaze540
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - poured a murky reddish brown with a small creamy head.

S - Sweet and malty, with a strong prune presence.

T - Dark fruits, prunes, raisins, and some caramel with a sweet and malty start. A hint of bitterness in the aftertaste. Alcohol is not overpowering.

M - Heavy and smooth.

O - Great bear. Strong and smooth, but without an overpowering booziness. A great flavor.

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Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 1390 ratings