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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
1,349 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:
#350
Reviews:
382
Ratings:
1,349
pDev:
8.03%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
978
Gots:
311
Trade:
33
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,349 |  Reviews: 382
Photo of tobelerone
4.24/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage.

Pours a coppery brown, with a cap of lighter brown foam and patchy lacing here and there. Complex aroma; toffee and brown sugar; a hint of maple; whiskey and wood; lots of dark fruit like plums, raisins, and figs.

The flavor is equally complex. The most surprising and memorable note was that of maple; there also a good deal of brown sugar/toffee flavor and caramel, more fruit, and plenty of bourbon boozines. Alcohol present but not overly aggressive in the flavor; more noticed as a pleasant warmth in the belly after the swallow.

Medium bodied, perhaps a little thinner than anticipated. Would benefit from a bit more heft, in my estimation. Medium carbonation, quite smooth and silky.

A very nice barrel-aged barleywine that falls perhaps a hair short of the best in class. Wish I had been able to try past vintages; also wish I had more than the single bottle to so I could sock a few away for aging.

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Photo of AngusOg
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.88/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured medium to dark brown with some off-white head.

S - Whiskey and oak up front with a fairly big caramel aroma. There is also a somewhat odd aroma that I can't put my finger on. Not off-putting at all, just unexpected and odd.

T - Whiskey and oak followed by sweet caramel, toffee and a light raisin flavour.

M - Medium to full body. Light carbonation.

O - Tasting this side-by-side with King Henry and MOAS didn't do this one justice at all. That said, it is yet another solid beer from Midnight Sun.

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Photo of StoutSnob40
4.14/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of brandoman63
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of outoffocus
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of Eziel
4.71/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of DoubleJ
4.62/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Closing it out at Beachwood BBQ with a 13% ABV barleywine...from 2010...aged in whiskey barrels....and a 12 ounce pour for $7 (Happy Hour price!). That's smart. On to the beer:

It's shiny brown polish with hues of violet. The head stays up for awhile considering its strength, and it leaves a little of its residue on the glass. One whiff for the nose delivers happiness. Pure happiness. If you like timber, vanilla, toasted marshmallow, and an element of alcohol, it's a very difficult thing to top. It smells so damn good!

The taste is huge as well. The vanilla and wood combo are deadly. You can vaguely taste the spirit that was once aged in the barrels used to age this beer. Brown sugar and molasses make their stamp. For its size the 13% alcohol is hidden well, though that doesn't mean you won't feel a little of its wrath as you drink it. It does provide an orange cough syrup flavor, which could go either way. This beer is full bodied, chewy, and just a little boozy. All things considering, this beer has a good balance and great integration of flavors and elements.

Easy recommendation.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick, viscous , hazy, dark chestnut with a thin swirly head that disappears to a thin ring. Smells rich, malty, winey, and syrupy with some spicebox notes and yeasty fruitiness. The taste is huge and thick and spicy. Quite sweet up-front, but spicy, tannic, and dry at the finish. Big pine spiciness, some rich cellared fruit, alcohol heat, sweet mat, and a big tannic bitterness. This is a huge, over-the-top beer- and I love it! Mouthfeel is rich and viscous and tannic and hot. Can't drink too much of this stuff!

 525 characters

Photo of Derek
3.69/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Turbid chestnut brown with a light tan head, tiny ring of retention has a little leg.

S: Dark raisins, figs, sponge-toffee, marmalade, sherry, beer nuts and a light spicing.

T: Alcohol forward; a little overly boozy. Figs, dark raisins, prunes, maraschino cherries, brown sugar, sponge toffee, marmalade, roasted nuts, hints of cocao, resiny bitterness, a little over-the-top for an English Barleywine.

M: Full body has some residual sweetness, modest carbonation.

D: A bold sipper.

Over-rated.

 502 characters

Photo of dar482
4.72/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

The beer comes in a dark reddish copper brown.

The beer has sweet bourbon, lots of caramel and toffee, a hint of nuttiness, some vanilla. The middle has cherry skin There is some tobacco, oak, woodiness, earthy, and bourbon on the finish.

The mouthfeel is silky smooth without being syrupy. It's chewy and gorgeous. The alcohol is very hidden and tastes more towards at 10% beer.

Absolutely delicious barrel aged barleywine. One of the best I've had.

 453 characters

Photo of lupercmda
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of eawolff99
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of BillRoth
4.54/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can't speak to previous batches. Have heard of this BW for years, but finally have a chance to try thanks to Paul 510a.
Poured out a rich amber ruby pour with a full shipped cream head. Head dissipated as expected but not quickly and left a notable lace in the glass. Impression was this one was well made.
So far so good.
Aroma was good. Some caramel and nougat like aromas. Hint of dried fruit, but more a hint of syrup. Hint of vanilla.Hops very subdued. Difficult to identify. but not piney or citrusy. Suggested European hops...Kent? Goldings?. Shouldn't be surprised if an English BW.
At this point I knew I had a good beer, but still looking for the "wow.
OK...Wow! The flavor is just spectacular, and it just kept getting better as it warmed. Huge hits of caramel, toffee and dark cane syrup. Mild hop bitterness just kept the beer from being a sugar bomb. Craftfully blended and matured. As the beer warmed the oak and vanilla took over, and the beer reached another level. it was just sublime.
The mouth feel was full and creamy. Thicker than your typical English BW, but pleasant not overwhelming. It seemed perfectly aligned with the big beer it was. The alcohol while big, was not too big. No harshness, just warming. It just seemed exactly the right level.
Overall, started as a very good beer, but ended as a beer just about perfect for its style and claims.
I'm going hope I get more from this batch, but will look forward to more regardless of year.
Well done!

 1,477 characters

Photo of jzeilinger
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of CharlesK
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of mrn1ceguy
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Davepoolesque
4.26/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

American BA Barleywine. Definitely has some traditional English Barleywine flavors but less sweet. Toffee, brown sugar, figs, vanilla and white oak. Bitter, dry, long finish. Medium light mouthfeel. Solid brew.

 210 characters

Photo of spinrsx
4.12/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from Total Wine Palm Springs for $16.

44 characters

Photo of fthegiants
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of enelson
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of BARFLYB
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of John_M
3.71/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had the 2006 version of this beer at the 2007 Hard Liver festival at Brower's.

This was the first time I had this beer on tap, having previously tried it out of the bottle. Usually I prefer draft versions of beer, but this one might be better out of the bottle. No matter, it was still an excellent beer.

I believe this beer received honorable mention from the judges at this festival.

This beer was much darker then the other beers, and had something of smokey quality that none of the other beers had. Muted nose, but on the palate one got flavors of cola, caramel, and smoke. The beer was fairly viscuous, and was quite sweet. It ended with a long, smooth finish, with a hint of bitterness at the end. A good beer, but not as fine as I remembered.

 759 characters

Photo of Stevedore
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of biegaman
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Candy-apple red dusted in a heavy clay soil. The colour isn't easy to capture with words, it combines various tones spread across an incredibly murky and convoluted complexion. It is dark and concealed but allows lucid glimpses of colour when up to the light. The head was initially quite prominent for a beer its strength. Since, however, its top has regressed to the flat and utterly bare surface you might expect from a beer of this potent volume.

The brewery advertises this as an English-style barleywine, stressing that it is "malt-inclined". If you're looking for face-smacking, tongue-blistering hops look a little further south on America's West Coast. This offers the virtues of subtlety and elegance. You don't have to sniff hard to find what it offers but doing so will certainly make you appreciate it more. Be sure to take big, long inhalations to appreciate all the complexity.

The brewery divulges that the beer was oak-aged but the previous contents of these vessels is left up for speculation. The only clue being that some barrels may have previously contained port, wine or whiskey leaves also the supposition that some may not have contained anything at all, or something completely different. By smell alone I've the faintest clue - there is simply too much going on.

In some ways, this combination of wood, malts, esters and alcohols is like a bunch of musicians all playing off-key individually. If this brewer is talented then he will group them together like a true orchestra leader... and, upon my first few sips, it seems he has.

Where to begin? Like a good meal, a barleywine in any style should offer a complexity of flavour with an interaction between a number of varietal characters. Indeed, this does. The malts are sugary and sickeningly sweet. They begin to resemble dried and over-ripened fruits, including especially raisins, plums, cherry. They also impart toasted grains and a caramel-like richness with hints of nuts, nougat, chocolate and coffee.

The certain consequence of such flavours is decadent richness. The beer is sweet, it is indulgently flavourful and above all it is mighty strong. The barrel's previous contents (which I'm becoming sure must have been bourbon) contribute a dangerous level of alcohol. Although I can't see any flames shooting from my nostrils, I can occasionally feel them. Midnight Sun surely keeps Alaskans' heating bills down.

Arctic Devil is supposedly named after some ferocious northern wolverine but I'd say, to steel an analogy, it more resembles a horse. Its strength and maltiness lends it the sturdy, strong qualities of a plow horse. The barrel aging has lent it the elegant virtues of a showmanship thoroughbred. It is what breeders would call a half-breed.

It's not always about how a beer looks or tastes, it's how you engage with it. Like the mighty stallion, this is something recognizably bigger than ourselves, to whom we treat with gentle praise and respect. You approach and interact with the beer in slow, respectful sips. You both acknowledge and appreciate its power. And, in this case, I must also acknowledge and appreciate the generous BuckeyeNation for providing me with the sample!

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Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.36 out of 5 with 1,349 ratings
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