M Belgian-Style Barleywine
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

M Belgian-Style BarleywineM Belgian-Style Barleywine
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Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States
American Barleywine
4.67 | pDev: 7.07%
Mar 24, 2022
Jun 16, 2005
M Belgian-Style BarleywineM Belgian-Style Barleywine
Notes: 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.
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Ratings by rodmanfor3:
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Reviewed by rodmanfor3 from Vermont

4.48/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Truthfully, the beer is now way past its prime, and way too "thin" for the thicc-loving youths of the BiL lifestyle. Seek this bottle out only if you want to gain an appreciation for how far ahead Gabe's vision for beer was back in 2005. This is the precursor to ADWTD b3, the greatest barleywine ever made. It is the original Brew 1000, the beer that sailed a half-dozen Anabasis bottlings and the inspiration behind BW legends like Great and Aaron.

Gabe is the great tastemaker of the BiL tradition. A taste of M will give you an idea of how far ahead he saw into the future of craft beer.
Mar 24, 2022
More User Ratings:
Rated: 4.46 by Ristaccia from Nebraska

Aug 06, 2019
Rated: 5 by Adamostella from Washington

Jun 18, 2019
Rated: 4.71 by CTJman from Connecticut

Jul 31, 2018
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Reviewed by unclekeith from Alaska

4.65/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
750 into a Teku at Anchorage brewing with the brewer

L: Unassuming, but dark with a small head and nice collar - holding up extremely well for 11 years in a bottle
S: Dark fruit, figs plums, Belgian yeasty esters
T: Following the nose, very smooth, fruity, some bourbon and red wine
F: No heat, great mouthfeel
O: A triumph - a world class beer - very different than a decade ago but still going strong
Oct 22, 2016
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Reviewed by Fux from France

4.86/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
Sampled at the Tasting to Sink all Sea Shepherds with things like MMM or Dave alongside.
A: Very dark brown, almost black with a small creamy off-white head which doesn't last very long.
S: Smell of dark fruits, fudge, vanilla and roasted malts. Signs of oxydation (light). No way this is a Belgian style barleywine. Deep, complex and balanced. Wonderful.
T: Taste follows the nose with great chocolate flavors dominating. Some very nice tartness, faint but which makes the beer even more drinkable (reminding me a little bit of the flavor profile of the Kate the Great). Then come vanilla, leather, dark fruits and liquorice. As deep and complex as foreseen from the nose. No oxydation from the taste. Marvelous.
M: Medium to high body. Sweetness is really low for the style, which is great! Alcohol is also well hidden. Smooth, velvety palate but not sticky. Just perfect mouthfeel.
O: Awesome beer, actually quite unusual for the style. It could have been a perfect 5 with a little bit less of age on it. It still is the best barlewine I've been given the chance to try. I loved it and I hope I will see this again!
Oct 15, 2016
Rated: 4.65 by HaveUSeenMyCellar from California

Aug 14, 2016
Rated: 4.64 by halo3one from Georgia

Mar 28, 2016
Rated: 4.4 by SocalKicks from California

Oct 28, 2015
Rated: 5 by Cobratrooper from Virginia

Aug 23, 2015
Rated: 4.79 by blisscent from Rhode Island

Aug 20, 2015
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Reviewed by GRG1313 from California

4.39/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Admittedly I tried this for the first time 10 years after its release, the bottle having been cellared the past several years in a 53-55 degree walk in cellar. Sometimes cellaring works - this time it did. This beer is aged; it's old and it's past its prime. However, it remains a beer to be reckoned with.

Deep ruby or pomegranate brown with an assertive spiced coffee, malty, raising and cooked chocolate nose. The texture of the beer (the mouthfeel) is like velvet. This one was a huge surprise all around. I finally opened it since I found it in the back of my cellar and I just "knew" that it would be old and funky and just needed to be opened. Well, it was wonderful! Oxidized? Yeah...a bit, but the flavor profile was all there and truth is, it was part of a blind tasting so no one was influenced by what it was! We were all very surprised and delighted.
Aug 01, 2015
Rated: 4.12 by BDeibs from Colorado

Jul 30, 2015
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Reviewed by UCLABrewN84 from California

4.32/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

Release date: 5/5/05.

Pours a murky reddish-brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, caramel, toffee, dark fruit, and raisin aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, caramel, toffee, dark fruit, raisin, and slight cardboard flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer that is showing a bit of oxidation in the taste, but the flavors are still fantastic to me.

Serving type: bottle.
Jul 28, 2015
Rated: 4.2 by vissai from California

Jul 27, 2015
Rated: 4.5 by drewone from California

Jul 27, 2015
Photo of Retsinis
Reviewed by Retsinis from Arizona

4.64/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
Ruby Porterish color. Medium carbed head retention. Semi oxidized, notes of caramel, cola, spice, malt, touch of rye. Wow. Admittedly past prime, but thank you Richard. What a treat to taste.
Jul 27, 2015
Rated: 4.5 by zestar from California

Jul 19, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by jophish17 from Georgia

Jun 15, 2014
Rated: 4.25 by jampics2 from Ohio

Jun 13, 2014
Photo of Alieniloquium
Reviewed by Alieniloquium from Florida

4.07/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Dark body. Nearly black. Small khaki head.

Smell - Sherry and a bit of cardboard oxidation. Sweet brown sugar and caramel. Mild dark roasted malts.

Taste - Sweet. Sherry flavored oxidation. Caramel. Some roasted malts. Dates. Not any barrel, really. Lots of raisin fruitiness.

Mouthfeel - Thick bodied. Sweet, but not overly so. Alcohol is still prevalent.

Overall - Well, I'm underwhelmed. It's really good, but it's not earth-shattering.
May 19, 2014
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Reviewed by Jeffo from Netherlands

4.42/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Many years in the making and finally I was able to find a trade for this one, which has probably been my top want for several years now. Very happy to give this one a shot, finally. Big cheers goes out to the beer crew here for coming over to my place to help me drink it. Always a good time gents.

From a bomber into a mini snifter
Bottled 5 May 2005
Drank along side a recent vintage of Arctic Devil and some Flossmoor b-wines.

APPEARANCE: Pours out quite dark for the style, yielding a half finger, light tan head with decent retention. Same color as Arctic Devil and darker than Wooden Hell, sitting a deep maroon red in color with no carbonation evident. A splotchy wisp and ring remain leaving some falling dots of lacing down the glass. Definitely darker than the average barleywine.

SMELL: Lots of raisins and dark fruits on the nose. Some plumbs, dates, figs and dark caramel malts as well, but this is raisins and more raisins. Very nice, but also very different.

TASTE: Like a Belgian strong dark ale in many ways. Dark caramel malt sweetness with dark fruits, plumbs, figs, and lots of raisins up front. Red wine and grapes with light oak notes as well. A big finish of red wine, plumbs, figs, dark fruits and raisin sweetness with some slight oak flavors as well. A touch of vanilla sweetness there as well from the barrel aging, but this is really raisin and dark fruit heavy, with the barrel aging coming out as more red wine than oak bourbon per se. Really tasty and unique for sure.

PALATE: Medium-full body and medium levels of carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes a touch drier than expected. No real heat. Definitely thicker and fuller than Arctic Devil.

OVERALL: This was really wonderful and extremely enjoyable to drink. I didn't detect any oxidization or other signs of age on this bottle either. Definitely unique in the style, with a lot of dark fruit and red wine qualities here, especially flavors of raisins and grapes. One of my friends called it a raisin bomb, which might just put it close to some Belgian strong dark ales we are familiar with over here. This one also showed very little of the oak bourbon barrels it was aged in, which also made it stand out in the lineup we put together. It's hard to say whether a beer like this has lived up to its billing, but suffice it to say that it certainly didn't disappoint and I am very glad I kept at it and finally found one. We all enjoyed this beer immensely. Till we meet again.
Mar 02, 2014
Photo of cpetrone84
Reviewed by cpetrone84 from Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4
Wonderful moment with two great friends, cheers to Kevin and Jeremy. Pour is black with light brown head. Nose is salty, soy, and date. A fair amount of berry fruit sweetness behind. Taste is a bit less soy, sweet berry, dates and figs. Some caky rum soaked raisin or date. Really soft body, full an gentle at the same time with very soft carbonation and extremely inviting. Overall, not really any oxidation, a really well put together beer, lots of sweetness but not sugary, nothing mind blowing but very solid.
Feb 02, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by brian4beer from Indiana

Dec 14, 2013
Rated: 4.75 by SpdKilz from Illinois

Dec 08, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by jaminjohnson from Canada (YT)

Nov 27, 2013
Rated: 4.75 by Gonzoillini from Illinois

Nov 27, 2013
Rated: 5 by funkyaudio from Illinois

Nov 24, 2013
Rated: 4.75 by geuze_gone_wild from California

Nov 03, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by KevSal from California

Nov 03, 2013
Rated: 4.75 by CheapBeerBuzz from California

Nov 02, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by westcoastbeerlvr from California

Nov 02, 2013
Rated: 4.75 by Mopps from Virginia

Oct 15, 2013
Rated: 4.25 by CityofBals from Illinois

Sep 12, 2013
Rated: 5 by totoropanda from New Jersey

Aug 02, 2013
Rated: 5 by bauermj from Illinois

Jul 14, 2013
Photo of BucketBoy
Reviewed by BucketBoy from Pennsylvania

4.65/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5
Review from notes. I've opened a couple bottles of this, courtesy of the uber-generous Doc! I can't thank you enough, my friend. The bottle being reviewed here was opened at Ryan's Labor Day tasting 2011 (another bottle I opened the following March was almost identical to this one).

L - Glimmering, shimmering dark deep walnut, wispy clouds of fuzz - just beautiful.

S - Sweet booze (sherry/port), chocolate fudge, dark fruits (mostly raisins), touch of oak, and still a micro amount of balancing hops.

T - Dark chocolate, fudge, toffee, dark raisins, figs, plums, sweet apple,bourbon, touch of allspice, vanilla, hint of oak. Regardless of the age, this is a real treat - just delicious stuff.

M - So smooth, creamy, perfect body, slight slickness. An exemplar of perfection for the style.

O - Phenomenal! Although I never had it before fall 2011, it did not seem to have lost anything I would have expected. The bottle I opened in 2012 was just as awesome. Glad I still have another bottle to play with.
Jul 07, 2013
Rated: 2.5 by leschkie from California

Jun 22, 2013
Rated: 4.75 by hannydawg from Illinois

May 22, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by monitorpop from Michigan

May 16, 2013
M Belgian-Style Barleywine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 99 ratings