Arctic Devil Barley Wine | Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

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Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine
BA SCORE
4.36/5
Outstanding
1,354 Ratings
Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States
midnightsunbrewing.com

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.20%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by Todd on 03-24-2005

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#352
Reviews:
385
Ratings:
1,354
pDev:
8.03%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
979
Gots:
310
Trade:
33
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,354 |  Reviews: 385
Photo of Sparky44
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of Will_Rivera
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of nicole309
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of 1971bernat
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of tom10101
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.01/5  rDev -8%
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 Goblinmunkey7
4.01/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark rich brown bordering on black in the glass. Slightly creamy khaki head. Decent retention. Drops to a small cap and collar with minimal lacing.

Smell: Malt and more malt. Loaded with caramelized malt sugars. Caramel, rich toffee, and even some lingering butterscotch. Slightly earthy with some herbal hop notes. Alcohol on the back. Bourbon and oak are assertive, leaving a woody vanilla aroma. Big and sweet with some alcohol spiciness. nicely roasted with some almost burnt bread crust. A bit doughy.

Taste: Butterscotch bourbon. Seriously cooked and caramelized malts. Deeply bready with some slightly burnt and toasted malts. A touch of marshmallow in the back. Sweet malts run heavy on caramel and toffee. Touches of coconut. Bourbon adds a touch of heat, but the base alcohol adds a slight spiciness and warmth. Some almost jammy fruit as it warms. Really sweet, but not cloying.

Mouthfeel: Creamy medium pushing full body. Smooth with a moderate carbonation. Hits the mark here.

Overall: Better than the yellow suit version.

A nicely complex take. The year of age has mellowed it and made it a worthy investment.

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Photo of Erik-P
4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Coorsy
4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of siege06nd
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. Pours a dark ruby brown color. Really love the crimson hues in this. About a quarter finger of thin, swirly, cream colored head. Moderate spotty lacing. One of the prettier barleywines I have seen.

S. Ripe dark fruit (cherry, fig), leather, caramel, vanilla, traces of chocolate, and some faint earthiness.

T: Caramel, chocolate, oak, bread crust. Very malty, but not quite as sweet and not nearly as much dark fruit presence as I've had in other barleywines. I get some faint toffee and roasted marshmallow as well. A solid beer, but was expecting a sweeter and fruitier flavor profile.

M: Full bodied, light carbonation. A lot of bitterness in the finish, though, that tastes like barrel and isn't quite evened out by the rest of the flavors.

O: I wanted to love this beer, but I think it needs some age. It's big and malty, but it hasn't quite acquired that sweet, ripe fruit flavor that I've come to expect from the style. Good, not great.

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aggressive pour shows a small yellowy creamy head that dissipates quickly. Some decent chunkiness and floaties from bottle conditioning. Aroma is a big rich sugary caramel and apple brandy alcohol. Also some dry red wine fruitiness, rich port like aromas. Taste follows with a nice rich maltiness, some coconut alcohol flavor, some nice balancing hop bitterness and a good sized alcohol warmth in the finish. Taste also showed some raisin and caramel in the maltiness. Nice and thick to start, the alcohol seems to become more apparent in the mouthfeel as I get into it. A nice spiciness on the tongue and a sharp bite at the back of the throat. A very nice barleywine, I would definitely say this is much more of an american style than english as it is classified here, easy to drink for its strength, I'd love to have a few of these for the cellar. Thanks Mark.

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Photo of GeezLynn
4.04/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Arctic Devil 2008 bottle lugged back from the source several years back.

A: Murky dark crimson brown with an expectedly smallish(given its age) white head.
S: Caramel, singed brown sugar, nutty brown malt, brandy. Barrel characters nicely apparent.
T: A little buttery and woody, with some sharp burnt caramel flavors. Still pretty rough with plenty of bitterness balancing any sweetness left at this point. Midway through my snifter as the taste buds adjust to the alcohol singeing, blackberry and plum flavors show up through the heavy bitterness. A trace of vanilla shows a times, but is pretty well covered. Finish is bitter and tannic with noticeable alcohol, somewhat similar to a dry red wine.
M: Medium bodied and slightly sticky, with low carbonation.

Wow. Four years still hasn’t tamed this critter much. I knew from previous experience that this was an aggressive BW and being partial to aged English barleywines, figured with some time to cool off this would be primo stuff. Apparently I need to give the other ones more time. Certainly a quality beer (as always with Midnight Sun), but a bit of a thrash metal mosh pit in the mouth.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks again to msubulldog25 for another NW barleywine. This one's about as Northwest as it gets too--Alaska's Midnight Sun. Love the creature on the label, sort of a wolverine-ish looking guy...he's completely wigged out, probably due to a few too many of these bad boys.

Poured into the snifter a cloudy, milky caramel color. Thin head slims down to a thin ring with a quickness.

Big aroma of alcohol, dark fruits, vanilla, citrus rind, milk chocolate.

Flavor delivers a barleywine that's on the chocolate/malt side of the spectrum...big burly sweetness that's not overdone, very dessert-like. Alcohol nip is pretty big, and even though I like the warming sippability of it, I'd rather the more intense part of its personality came from hops (like Bigfoot, another northern devil). Hops are here, but diminished in presence by the gooey candy-like malts and sherry-like alcohol warmth. Good bitterness lays on the tongue in the finish, a welcome melange of green grass, unripe fruit and hops.

Mouthfeel is wonderful, a little gooey, a little sticky, but carbonated enough to give it some lift and action. Really nice.

There are hardly better beers to drink in the cold winter months than Barleywines or Russian Imperial Stouts...Midnight Sun are doing right by Alaskans in brewing this sucker.

 1,301 characters

Photo of Benish
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
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 Arbitrator
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-review of 2011 vintage.

A: Pours a clear amber body with quickly-receding tan head.

S: Caramelly bourbon with mild vanilla, leather. It has a strong grape nose (wine? brandy?) along with plums. Oak. I sampled two different bottles and found that one was much less pungent than the other.

T: It is evidently aged in multiple barrels, as there is a mild brandy presence along with bourbon. Vanilla, oak, caramel, toffee. That being said, the beer lacks the complexity of previous vintages. Leather and oxidation are missing, and the booze is noticeable. It's good, but it could be more outstanding given what previous vintages have accomplished.

M: The beer suffers a bit here. My notes of the 2008 vintage mention it being viscous. This vintage is more medium-bodied and less substantial on the palate. The booze is also noticeable as a moderate burn. I don't hate it, but it weakens the beer.

O: I was a big fan of the 2008 vintage, which I gave a 4.93. This one feels rushed in comparison, though I admit some of it is that other competitors have come out and raised the bar. I enjoy this substantially more than Abacus / Sucaba, but it is less bold than King Henry.

~~~~

First bottle: 2008 vintage, purchased with ramnuts' help. Thanks Frank.
Re-review off a 2008 bottle. Thanks Ted.

A: Pours a clear amber body in the glass. Its tan head is composed of fine bubbles that vanish quickly into a moderate collar, leaving no lace.

S: Caramel, whiskey, mild oak, leather, tobacco. A small floral nose. When cold, it reminds me of Old Stock, with a dark fruit presence: grape/raisin (perhaps wine barrels?), plums.

T: Very, very tasty. Caramel, toffee, whiskey, soft tannins. It is a little hoppier than expected, with a floral component. Substantial dark fruits entice my palate: raisins/grapes and plums, giving it a vinous component that I really enjoy. I'd liken it to cognac, actually. I get some "old ale" flavors in the finish, namely leather and tobacco, which are surprising but very welcome and interesting.

M: It's very viscous. Chewy and heavy. Just the lightest warmth, which is impressive for the ABV. I am very glad I didn't try to tackle this beer on my own, though.

D: I try not to use superlatives for effect, so I'm being sincere when I say this is among the best English barleywines I've ever had. I'd drink it again anytime.

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Photo of domtronzero
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thank you, Loren, for bringing this one back from Alaska for me!

A - Dark brown with ruby highlites. Clearish with an average sized, lingering tannish white head. Lots of lacing left throughout.

S - Sweet caramel malts, dark raisin-like fruits and a subtle smokiness. Slight alcohol aroma is warm and pleasant. Piny hops in the background.

F/M - Again, sweet bready caramel malts, rich dark fruity esters and a nice, balanaced smokey malt flavor. Moderately firm bitterness with a piny/resinous/spicy hop flavor. Full bodied, slightly oily and slick, with moderately low carbonation - but just enough. Lingering smokey caramel flavor.

D - This is a great (albeit unique) barleywine. Full bodied, tasty and smoky, i could easily finish this bomber by myself.

 761 characters

Photo of Floydster
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle acquired in a trade as an extra from urwatuh8, thanks again Richard, drank with Chelsea and Drake last night, poured into my Dogfish Head snifter, color is a dark brown with some dark reddish edges, two inch foamy beige head that stays around about five minutes, some lacing at first, aroma consists of dark fruits, sweet malts, caramel, toffee, sweet brown sugar, booze and very light hops, flavor starts off with a big caramel flavor with some sweetness, some dark ripened fruits in the middle that were mostly berries, pretty big alcohol burn in the finish, more sweet malts and lots of toffee come out towards the end but there is still a good amount of alcohol present, sweet, boozy, malty, and fruity mouthfeel, medium bodied, moderate carbonation for the style, taste lingers pretty well, could drink this bomber probably but alcohol is there, not too sweet or heavy considering though, my bottles said 10% ABV, so it seems this particular year is lighter than past years, believe this was the 2008 vintage, could probably use more age regardless, taste is still a bit hot but it seems like the cellar will really make this a world class barleywine, it is already well on its way, would drink again, recommended

 1,234 characters

Photo of carps12
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Beerworld-Alex for this generous extra. Poured into my duck rabbit snifter. 2007 Vintage. Pours a murky cherry brown with a thin lacing of head around the edges. Loads of sweet malt, toffee, caramel. Also notice some spice. Awesomely smooth on the tongue with a touch of carbonation. Just a slight bitterness on the finsih which is perfect. Toffee, caramel and mild oak, nutmeg, light cherries on taste. This will warm you up.

 436 characters

Photo of oberon
4.07/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Before I review I must say beware of this devil it f*ckin will bite you!Just newly bottled on November 5th this bad boy poured a deep amber with a thin off white head,incredible complexities in the aroma vanilla,oak and kentucky whiskey really hits and hits hard really waking up the senses and quite appetizing.Now I really liked the flavors of this beer but whoo they hit ya,very woody and whiskish (if thats a word) with vanilla and caramel standing out as well.The alcohol burn steals the show it actually burned my nose going down.This beer weighs in at 14% alc although the label says 10% that according to the head brewer at Midnight Sun and it feels like more than that.A very good very complex barley wine but these need to be laid down for awhile thats for sure.

 772 characters

Photo of stakem
4.07/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Paper notes from quite awhile back. Thanks go to Kegatron for sharing this 2007 vintage with a couple of us. Bomber into a tulip, the brew appears a deep ruby amber with a tan head that fades leaving a ring around the perimeter of the glass. When held to the light, it shows some green and yellowish clarity around the edges. A light swirl brings a half finger of yellowish stained cap back to the surface.

The smell of this brew included some orange citrus character mixed with a fruity alcohol inclusion that hints towards raisins and a floral component. More sniffs bring out a citrus element that contrasts the maltiness that smells of toffee and molasses. There is a faint hint of cardboard-like oxidation which is no distracting but it adds an interesting layer of complexity.

The taste is boozy for 5 years old. Flavors of raisin and toffee get a significant accent of alcohol esters. Just like the aroma indicated, there is a mild presence of oxidation across the backend that blends nicely into an aftertaste of fruity and floral mixed with a bit of biscuit to bready grain.

This is a medium bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. It is a bold boozy sipper that is quite enjoyable. I am very appreciative to have the chance to sit down and enjoy a significantly sized pour of this aged beauty. However, just like my initial thoughts of this brew when i had a small sampling some time ago, it lacks just a bit in body. I found the aromatics to be much more complex than the flavor as well. Thanks again Heath!

 1,528 characters

Photo of snaotheus
4.07/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2015-04-19
22oz bottle split between a pair of snifters. 218 D-1 1153 is the bottle code.

Pours turbid grayish brown with a very small head. Very little carbonation. Smell is mild -- bourbon, yeast, fruit.Not sure what fruit. I seem to get a little pear or apple and a little plum or cherry.

Taste is a blast in the face compared to the aroma. Bourbon and brown sugar, nutty, alcohol. Vanilla. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel is smooth and almost velvety. Overall, the taste is very good, and the rest of the beer doesn't live up to it. Would still definitely drink it again.

---
2016-02-27
Had a 3oz pour of the '13 at Hard Liver Fest. I thought it was probably the best beer there, gave it much higher scores than I did in my original review. Extremely bourbon forward.

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Photo of johnny_chimpo
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of FosterJM
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1647th Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter
22oz

2011 Vintage
Purchased from El Cerrito Liquor, Corona, CA

App- When I poured this out. It was very thick and dense. It was the color of crimson mixed with ambers and golds. A good center was there with some radiating highlights around the edges. A good 1-1/2" head was there and was a bit of a tan/khaki color. A good bit of cling and lace was retained as it slid. A little bit of bubbles remained on the surface as well like a soda would.

Smell- I was expecting a little bit more integration and deep layering on this one. I am learning very quickly that for a barleywine I much prefer bourbon vs. whiskey. The whiskey barrel does add a nice amount of booze and charry oak, but too much prickly aroma behind it. A little bit of a deep malt with a hint of creamy sweetness behind it. A little bitter hops on a strong pull.

Taste- I thought it was good. It was good, it wasnt great. There are a lot of other Barleywines out there that are a bit better. However, most of those are preference because I enjoy bourbon english BW's vs. Whiskey. So with that. This had a good deep malt backbone and the base barleywine did come out well. The barrel added a good depth of flavor with a bit of oak char, a bit of prickly spirit flavor and a strong booze flavor.

Mouth- A very full medium body with a strong medium carbonation. As it warmed from the 55F I poured at it did start a bit thin. A little prickly carbonation. As it time when by it was more lush and creamy and then went into that full carbonation. The more upfront residual flavors were the whiskey and the base malts.

Drink- I enjoyed this. I got a new job yesterday and opened something nice. I was hoping this was some sort of a KH killer that I finally had my hands on. It wasnt. Not to say it wasn't a good beer. Just expected more. Its good, but not great. I think I prefer Abacus to this.

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review numbers from 08 Vintage.

2009 Vintage

A-deep hazy mahogony in color. The head is tan, tight, and creamy with little retention and lace

S-the nose is quite big and has more hops than expected but still favors the malts. Brown sugar, candied fruits, and caramel dominate the aroma. A light hop presence lies in the back with floral hops

T-wow, the taste is huge! Carmelized brown sugar comes in right away. An underlying caramel malt sets in next. Candied fruit and some raisins and plums come in towards the back. The hop presence is faint but floral hops and a touch of bitterness make up the finish

M-this is full bodied and chewy. It is extremely big, one of the biggest barleywine's I have ever had. The texture is so syrupy but still smooth on the palate. The carbonation is just right giving it a light bite and crispness at the back.

D-are you kidding me? The only thing keeping this from a five is some warming in the back from all the booze. The balance is there, malts run wild, sweetness is high but it doesn't put you off. Everything you could want, and did I mention this thing is huge!

****
2008 Vintage drinkin on 6/18/10. Big thanks to Kevin for sharing this one!

A-pretty clear with a dark ruby red, hints of brown with an extremely light tan head.

S-the nose is nice, big but soft. notes of candied sugar, caramel, port wine. still hints of earthy floral hops in the back with just a touch of oak.

T-the taste relieves the hops, huge flavors. tons of caramel and brown sugar, candied sugars, notes of port but very faint. oak towards the back, a good bit of vanilla, very sweet with some heat in the finish.

M-huge full body, quite syrupy with a good bit of carbonation, smooth and creamy on the palate.

D-this is a big beer, lots of flavors. barrel flavors are present but overpowered by a lot of malty sweetness. still the flavors work well.

 1,879 characters

Photo of mfavoino
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks again to Treebs for obtaining this HUGE want to share with me. Poured into a Surly tulip.

Appearance: Deep ruby/light brown with a small head that dissipates to a foamy rim. Really nice looking.

Smell: Caramel malts and subtle whiskey aroma are most of what my nose picks up.

Taste: Rich caramel malts are paired with dark fruits, as well as just the right amount of whiskey flavor. Finishes with touch of light hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel with a warm finish and silky smoothness.

Overall: Glad I got to try this one. Still think Abacus is my favorite English Bwine, but this is not far behind.

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Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.36 out of 5 with 1,354 ratings
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