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M Belgian-Style Barleywine | Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
99
world-class
40 Reviews
THE BROS
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M Belgian-Style BarleywineM Belgian-Style Barleywine
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Reviews:
40
Ratings:
92
Avg:
4.68
pDev:
7.26%
 
 
Wants:
451
Gots:
12
For Trade:
3
User Reviews
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Reviews: 40 | Ratings: 92
Photo of NittanyBeerFan
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A big thanks to the ever-generous treyrab for providing what was to be the centerpiece of "The Most Epic Fuckin Tasting You Wish You Were A Part Of." As Kyle crept out of the cellar with this beer in hand, I nearly fell out of my chair. The time had arrived. Consumed as beer number 3 on day 2, my palate had a nice chance to warm up to enjoy a beer that I only ever imagined gawking at the ISO threads that concerned it. Down to business...

Poured into my tasting glass and then quickly transferred into a tulip so that I could gaze, swirl, and bury my nose in its goodness.

A nearly opaque dark brown to black...at least at first glance. As I reluctantly watch and taste the beer disappear from the glass, M reveals that it is actually a deep garnet color with ruby hues around the edges. Even almost 5 years after its birth, this beer still exhibits a nice creamy ring of foam around its upper edge. A quick swirl leaves spots of foam that slink back into the glass along with a residue of liquid that creates little legs as it slips back into the body of the beer.

As I bury my nose in the mouth of my tulip glass, I am greeted with a veritable dessert smorgasbord of aromas. What Shady Maple is to breakfast buffets, M is to barleywine aromas. Toffee and chocolate spring from the depths of my glass, accompanied by a mellow aroma of Belgian yeast and the spiced character that it imparts. The spiciness escorts in a mild and mellow booziness that warms my stomach. There is also the sweet and syrupy aroma that is a signature of barleywines.

The palate follows suit, bringing the toffee and chocolate flavors that I found in the aroma. The barrel aging is evident here, as a nice oakey vanilla and light, well-balanced bourbon flavor that only enhances the inherent flavors of the beer. Also full of dark fruit - raisins and dates - and brown sugar, this beer is definitely drinking at its peak.

Incredibly smooth, the syrupy thickness that I am used to in barelywines hardly even factors into the equation here. Instead, the slight carbonation noted in the swirl enhances a thick texture in a slightly viscous body. I expect to never find a more balanced barleywine.

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Photo of randawakes
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Jaws dropped at the Philly Tasting of Ages 3-28-2010. Big thanks to treyrab and the rest of the great crew at the tasting. Lived in AK for 1.5 years frequented the loft at MSB, and this was a fitting going away present the day following my departure of the state.

REVIEW :
appearance: darker than expected. Dark brown toffee finish and very thin looking.

Smell: wee heavy honey barley oat aroma. Light bourbon and sugar noted.

Taste: toffee and caramels that never bite, shock, or overwhelm, simplymaintain it's immaculate balance. Maple sugar glaze with chocolate malts accompanying the palate. the aged bbls are so mellow yet persistance there is no flaw in it's 4.9-year aging.

Drinkability: most impressive of any barleywine hands down. Smooth beyond belief, slick, light, faintly coating and lasting. Most impressive of any beer tasted to date, flat out perfect. This benchmarks a 5.0. Heaven in a single bottle. Fin.

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Photo of Floydster
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review #1,000!

It has been a long but quite fun journey to this special review. My palate has changed dramatically since then and I went from frowning upon barelywines to thoroughly enjoying them. I did not know what to drink for this milestone until I realized this was Midnight Sun's one thousand batch and it just seemed fitting since they are one of my favorite breweries.

I want to give a huge thanks to DarkElf who traded me this bottle. You are a generous guy Stephen and a great part of the beer world. We actually traded in person at Lost Abbey on my birthday, which was also very cool. This beer seemed impossible to track down for the last few years, but you came through for me. I also want to thank my friends Nathan, Wiley, and Bob for coming over and enjoying this brew with me. Although it did not take much persuasion on my part to get you guys to my house last night.

M was brewed on May 5, 2005 during Midnight Sun's tenth year of operation, which makes it nearly three and a half years old. I have heard it has only gotten better with age and think that will be the case for its future. I honestly think this has room for another five years in the cellar.

The eight to ten ounces that I poured for myself were savored for close to two hours and I was sad when my glass was empty. I put the bottle in the refrigerator for about forty minutes prior. I did not want this to be too cold because I wanted to taste all of its true character. I popped the cap off and let it sit for ten minutes before I poured it into my Dogfish Head snifter. Everybody at the table looked at each other after the first sip and agreed it was fantastic.

The appearance of this beer is one that I will never forget. This is one of the darker barleywines I have ever laid my eyes on and I could barely see through it. It was a deep dark brown with some mahogany and dark reds toward the top depending on what shade of light you looked at in. There was a one inch bubbly and fluffy beige head. A simple swirl would cause the foam to rise back up again. The head lasted about ten minutes on its own though. It had great retention and nice lacing as a result. There was some serious legs with some nice residue towards the top. It sat like a pillow and was enjoyable to look at.

The aromas from this beer were one of its best qualities. I am not joking when I say that each time we took a whiff, there was a different scent. It had a big caramel smell, intense malts, and spice presence up front. It was followed by bourbon, oak, and vanilla from its barrel aging. There was also some mild tart in there that seemed like it could be from wild yeast. Then, there was numerous dark fruits with raisins, blackberries, mild coconut, dates, red delicious apples, dark grapes, and bananas. There was also a big grain backbone that was mixed with brown sugar and Belgian yeast. Rounding out the smell was cocoa, butter, sweet cream, toffee, roasted almonds, rum, and angelfood cake.

M's flavor is right on par with the smell but had a few more flavors I could not detect in the aroma. They consited of smoky accents, acai berry, teriyaki sauce, and honey. Each sip was more complex and different than the preceeding. There was not as much oxidation as I thought there would be thankfully. This stuff tasted phenomenal and is piece of art in the form of a beer.

The mouthfeel of M was also incredible. It was silky smooth and intense at the same time. It was sweet with all of its fruit characteristics but not overly done. Its fullness and ability to be both chewy and spicy makes this unparalleled. It had a medium body but nice thickness for its age and the fact that it spent some time in barrels before being bottled. The taste lingers for five minutes after each sip. The carbonation is perfect and has a nice popping sensation but quickly tames. Its thick syrupy feel at times coats the mouth and provides a fulfilling warmth. The sensation is a like a dessert that is to be sipped on and slowly enjoyed.

The drinkability of this beer separates it from any other barleywine I have ever tasted. There is no way this over eleven percent. It seems more like eight or nine if that. I could have drank a couple bombers myself in addition to the glass I had. This is not heavy on the stomach at all and is smooth as can be. It goes down way too easy and I found myself struggling to pace myself. I was full after dinner when we opened it and it still seemed light. That should say something about how light and invitng it is for its strength. The booze are hidden pretty well too and they are most prominent in the aroma. This easiest drinking beer over ten percent that I have ever had. I want more as I type this.

"M" is truly magnificent!

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a striking mahogany with thin tan head. The aroma is caramel covered graham cracker and black strap molasses as well as musty aged figs, dates and plums. It smells of smooth yum and is very inviting. The taste is smooth rich creamy goodness with aged minced raisins fully populating a thick slice of pumpernickel and then moving into sweet black strap molasses, creamy caramel and then rich smooth blended notes of prunes, figs and dates. It evens out into the finish a bit with soft notes of chocolate and burnt molasses. This tastes fantastic and doesn't overwhelm with syrupiness by ending with a high degree of drinkabilty. In fact, I can see myself drinking a little of this every night.

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Photo of treyrab
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An unbelievable thank you goes out to my MO friend for sending me this. I split it with six good friends at our Philly tasting on 3/28/2010. Here goes nothing...

A: The cap comes off with a slight hiss as the smoke comes out of the bottle. We all stared at the bottle a while before pouring it into seven individual glasses. Pours a dark mahogany with a dark chocolate toffee color with a nice dark khaki head. This looks unbelievable. Looks like a nice, rich syrup with slight carbonation eluding to a slight skim of head.

S: The most complex smell for a beer I have ever encountered. The deep, rich chocolate is unbelievable. Deep, rich bitter toffee with a perfect blend of bourbon. Tons of figs, prunes, raisins, chocolate and caramel covered dark fruits.

T: Note: This taste review will NOT do this beer justice. It is just too complex to capture everything this beer has to offer. Amazing bitter toffee and semi-sweet chocolate leads into a perfect amount of bourbon and some Belgian spices. The chocolate covered dark fruits are unbelievable with figs and raisins. Everything blends incredibly into a cornucopia of awesomeness.

M/D: Perfect carbonation. Smooth and incredibly creamy. Unbeliveable.

Overall, this is the best beer I have had to date. Hype aside, this beer is a true masterpiece and the flavors that this beer imparts are unparalleled.

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Photo of TheBungyo
5/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.97/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

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Photo of badbeer
4.97/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I want to start out with a huge thank you to hoppymeal for trading his only other bottle of M!

Looks black or very dark brown from a distance, but when held to light has some very dark red colors to it. Excellent clarity on the beer. The head is tan colored and hangs around well leaving a decent lacing. Aroma jumps out of the glass with burnt sugar, molasses, sour cherries, mint, rum, bourbon, oak, plum, raisins, and Christmas cookies. Intense and complex smell, but everything smells so delicious. Taste is full of brown sugar, molasses, huge amount of caramel, cherries, bourbon, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full, but so damn smooth, not cloying at all. Low carbonation and full body cause this to slide over the tongue delivering deliciousness to every taste bud possible. A beautiful beer to drink, I could sip on this beer all day, but sadly I don't ever think I'll see a bottle again.

As much as I had built this beer up in my mind after finding out everything I could about it, I didn't think it would be able to live up to what I believed it to be. Somehow, M knew my expectations and instead of breaking under the pressure, it stood strongly and proudly saying take it or leave it. Take it, I will. Simply M-mazing!

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Photo of largadeer
4.97/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: M sits in the glass with a dark but clear chestnut colored body and a finger of tan head that slowly settles into a thin disc. An unusually beautiful barleywine.

Aroma: Spicy oak, cinnamon and nutmeg upon first smell. Caramel, tobacco and leather come out more as it breathes, along with a hint of earth and soy sauce-like oxidation. Rich and complex but not terribly sweet.

Taste/mouthfeel: Big oak flavors up front; spicy and leathery with a nice tannic backbone. Plenty of sweetness in the form of brown sugar, figs, dark chocolate and vanilla. No heat, no trace of alcohol whatsoever in fact. For such an incredibly complex beer, this is neither too rich nor heavy; the balance is impeccable. Finishes earthy, woody, chocolatey and semi-sweet. At over 4 years old, oxidation is present but very subtle, lending a hint of soy sauce and sherry. I can see this beer aging gracefully for many more years. Thanks for sharing the bottle, Stephen.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.97/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Stephen really took the You Bring the Cheese to the next level with bottles of this and the 2005 Berserker. Thank you, Stephen, this is one of those I never thought I'd see.

A: Very dark brown, rather surprisingly so for a barleywine with a thin beige head. Brownish highlights. Retention isn't great, but this is an attractive beer nonetheless.

S: Insane depth and complexity. Oak and bourbon apparent at first with a lot of brown sugar, toffee, cocoa, slightly charred caramel and vanilla. Mildly nutty, with a skin-like bitterness, mild oxidation, just beautiful. The Belgian yeast character is noticeable (but not whelming) with a mild spiciness, with nutmeg being the dominant component to my nose. By far the most complex beer I've had.

T: 600+ reviews in, this is the first time I', having a hard time describing a beer. Most of my reviews deconstruct a beer into 3 or 4 segments - opening flavors, what follows, a mid-palate and a finish. This beer doesn't fit that mold, and gives me a very hard time.

Needless to say, the immense depth on the nose was only a sign of things to come. Very, very complex, but also incredibly well integrated. A complex blend of sugar, honey, toffee and a mild coconut, bourbon, vanilla and oak dance around the palate, with cocoa and more toffee. The finish is outstanding, incredibly long and flavorful. Truly exceptional

M: Big in body without being syrupy, soft carbonation that enhances the velvet-like character of the beer and an incredible finish with a complex blend of brown sugar, toffee, bourbon and tannins. This is the second beer that I'd give a 6 for the mouthfeel (after Pliny the Younger)

D: This is one of the most drinkable beer out there. I would trade a kidney for this. Worth it's weight in gold. Stephen, I can't thank you enough for a truly religious beer experience

** March 28 2010. I got to try this again at the Most Epic Fucking Tasting You Wish You Were A Part Of. Thank you, Trey. **
I'm going to have to up the appearance, it looks great with nice lacing and great head retention.
The nose is as excellent as I remember it being. The spicy alcohol character is present, brown sugar and bourbon being a little more forward. A touch of oxidation is also present, with raisins and dates. More molasses, is present.
The palate opens with plenty of molasses, dark brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, buckwheat honey. The spice character is excellent, I'm getting a little nutmeg and mace, and that complements the alcohol really well. This beer is perfect right now, if you've got one, drink it now.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.97/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was brought to our tasting on 7/25/09-7/26/09 by a very generous Stephen.

M appears very dark in my snifter, nearly black. The creamy one finger toffee head lingers atop the liquid for a long time. The retention is good, and when the head finally recedes it leaves creamy swirls in my glass of various shades of brown. Some scattered lacing sticks to my glass.

The aroma is truly remarkable. I stuck my nose in the snifter and kept it there for 10 minutes before finally taking a sip. The aroma opens up with a complex interaction between sweet Belgian candied sugar, bourbon, and chocolate. The candied sugar is permeating, at all time lending a perfect level of sweetness to the beer. Beautiful notes of caramel dance across my olfactory with vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon following close behind. Molasses is present, as well as tobacco and a leathery quality that goes hand in hand with the earthiness of the beer. The alcohol is almost completely hidden. Fruit notes are evident in the form of dates and figs.

The flavor of this beer was a difficult one for me to describe. There was so much going on I couldn't possibly capture it all with a mere pen and paper, and for a split second frustration washed over me when I came to that realization. I took small sips with a blank note pad before me for many minutes before I finally began writing everything I was experiencing.

The flavor is initially of sweet Belgian candied sugar and brown sugar, with some strong oak and chocolate notes. The chocolate falls somewhere between dark and milk. It's too dark to be milky and too milky to be dark. It's just like this beer to simulate a chocolate flavor I can't adequately describe. The spices I smelled are present in the flavor, playing off the oak, along with a lesser vanilla character. Earthiness accompanies leather, rich toffee, and caramel. Bourbon is ubiquitous, and I taste a touch of soy sauce as well as a hint of tobacco. The fruit component of the beer is of the dark persuasion, simulating raisins, plums, figs, dates, and grapes. I see the bottle says 11.6% ABV, but I taste no alcohol. The finish is rich and seems to sum up all the flavors I've experienced on my journey through M, finally choosing to linger on my palate for a long time until I take my next sip.

M is full bodied with a complimenting low level of carbonation. The mouthfeel is soft and smooth on the palate, almost silky at times. Other times it's chewy, creamy, and sticky.

This beer far exceeded my expectations. This is in my top 5 of all time. At 4 years, this beer is remarkable and shows no signs of going downhill any time soon. Get your hands on this at all costs! This is near perfection.

The doubt as to whether or not this beer would be in the lineup, and the anticipation that it might be plagued me for over a month. First it wasn't going to be there, then it was, then it might be, then it wasn't, then it was again, then we heard nothing two hours into the tasting, and then it finally showed up at my door. I can't thank you enough Stephen. It's safe to say I would have never tried this beer if not for your generosity. For me, this was the highlight of the tasting.

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Photo of tpd975
4.94/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I am proud to say I was lucky enough to have this beer twice in a two month period. First bottle provided by matta. Second bottle bonused in a trade by a wonderful BA in the great white north, and shared with the tampa, orlando, and miami crew.

A: Pours a nice deep shade of brown with tinges of angry maroon showing through. The head is rather small with little retention or lace.

S: Wonderful malty sweetness. Tons of sweet molasses, chocolate, caramel, and over ripe dark fruit.

T: This one has gloriously aged. Tons of wonderful malt sweetness. Molasses, caramel, and rich nutty toffee. Dark fruit is there with mild chocolate, mild woody notes and a dash of vanilla.

M: On the fuller side of body, rich, bold, smooth, sweet, tasty, with a bit of booze in the finish

D: Wonderful, a masterpiece that is not only rare, it is great. One of the best aged beers I have ever had. Wish I had been drinking good stuff to have tried this one fresh as well.

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Photo of seaoflament
4.94/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm not even sure how to start this review...I guess the proper way would be to thank Stephen for his generosity in sharing this amazing beer at the "You Bring the Cheese Tasting" which took part on July 25-26th 2009. To say I was excited to try this would be an understatement; probably ecstatic would be the right word to describe my feelings.

(Hello image...)
The experience began when that dark cola liquid began flowing into my snifter. A thin ring of tan colored foam around the glass and a swirl brought back about a quarter inch of foam that was made up of small, beady, bubbles.

At first encounter I got notes of chocolate, molasses, spicy oak with soft hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, Belgian yeast fruitiness, raisins, toast, and dates. There is no sign of alcohol heat whatsoever. The aroma continued with toasted oak, toasted almonds, a bit of earthiness, and chocolate coco cereal. Amazingly complex. A bit of fruity alcohol way in the back. Butterscotch and hints of sweet soy sauce after it warms up. After taking a few sips and combining the aroma with the taste I just had to bump up the score on aroma.

(You'll fall in love with somebody else tonight...)
The first sip of this beer was just a beer revelation and more intense than the aroma. Chocolate upfront, sweet toast, honey, cocoa, toasted oak and almonds, vanilla, caramel, toffee, molasses, sweet cherries, and brown sugar. There is a nice toffee-candy finish with hints of sweet soy sauce. Nice Belgian dark candy flavors and yeastiness. Smooth carbonation with a sweet and syrupy beginning, creamy midway, and coating finish. Amazing drinkability, would easily drink this whole bottle myself and would still be craving more.

This was one of those beers that you take your first sip of and your first reaction is "WOW!" You lean your head back and think for a few minutes, smiling and laughing to yourself, and just sit there in complete admiration for the beer. Truly one of the best beer experiences I've had. I have only had this type of beer 'revelation' status with about 4 beers over the hundreds I have tried, those would have to be: Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter 06, Lost Abbey- Yellow Bus, a ten year old bottle of Cantillon Classic Gueuze (99), and now Midnight Sun- M.

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Photo of CoolJosh
4.9/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

WOW!! Brought out at the 'Most Epic F'ing tasting ever!' Most generously shared by Trey 'Mr. Generous' Rab. We all shook with excitement as we were poured our allotment.

The appearance - exactly what you should expect from a 5 year old barleywine. A beautiful, seductive, silky black with some brown edges. No head, nor should there be.

The smell is out-of-this-world phenomenal. First thing that hits the nose is an utterly sweet chocolate. The caramel and toasted toffee are Re-Dic-U-Lous. There is a really nice sweet raisin scent that pops up. A lovely vanilla compliments the barrel aging. I want to keep my nose in this glass for the rest of my life, but it's time to take a sip...

OH-MY-GEEE!!!! It doesn't get much better than this. By far the most intricate in terms of complexity. The chocolate, the sweet caramel, the toasted pecan, the slightly burnt toffee, the raisin, the vanilla and hints of oak, the light bourbon flavoring, the assortment of spices, and finally the belgian yeast that brings it all home. I'm having a really hard time accepting the fact that I am drinking this beer right now. Unreal, man. Unreal. I have to dock the drinkability as I will never have the pleasure of drinking this again.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.81/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

big thanks goes out to GrumpyOldTroll, jbuddle, Sean9689, SpeedwayJim, AgentZero, dtmets84 for sharing in the greatest day of beer that i have ever been a part of. huge thanks to mike for providing this bit of unobtainium.

notes from 1/12/2013

consumed from a midnight sun tulip.

a - looks just like dave (that i saved for some side by side comparisons)...deep purple, but has a thin head and spotty lacing.

s - smells like purple grapes. i definitely get some belgian sweetness. plum, dark fruit...like a barleywine crossed with a belgian strong dark.

t - flavor is simply awesome. nutmeg and chocolate. dark fruit glazed in some booziness, but extremely balanced and just truly excellent. i have heard that there is a lot of bottle variation and many people that i'm sharing this bottle with have had M before and they are all saying that this is the best bottle they've tried so far.

m - SUPER easy drinking. light carbonation, but a great feel.

o - overall, i really didn't think that this beer could possibly live up to the hype and i have been heard the tales of the age and oxidation and bottle variation, but this bottle was spectacular. i was blown away by this beer mostly because it exceeded my expectations and really lived up to the hype. one of the true highlights of a day where it was hard for a beer to stick out as a highlight.

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Photo of grumpy
4.8/5  rDev +2.6%
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....

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Photo of Sean9689
4.77/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Mega Tasting III. 22oz bottle, wow...really? I'm reviewing this beer? Pinch me. Huge thanks to Derek for this one!

A - Pours a very dark brown, almost black, small ring around the glass, no head or lacking to speak of.

S - Huge sweetness, caramel, molasses, slight dark fruit, ultra-smooth alcohol. Just an excellent combo of sweetness and booze. Lots of chocolate in there as well...wow. The oak is a perfect touch to round things out.

T - Burnt sugars, caramels, chocolate, touch of oak, dark fruits. This is like a decadent chocolate truffle mixed with sweet caramel and dark fruit. Seriously amazing. Lots going on...just excellent. A barleywine and imperial stout hybrid of some sort, IMO.

M - Full, rich and smooth, light carbonation, creamy finish.

O - Uh, wow. This is just phenomenal. Almost like a BA stout in some ways. The chocolate sweetness and dark fruits are just stellar along with the oak. Jeez...really impressive. I would have really liked to have tired this fresh to see what it was like, but really, I enjoyed this so much at the state it's in now. My #1 Barleywine, believe the hype.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.77/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to Derek for pulling this out of the cellar this weekend, and graciously welcoming me into his home for the most obscene collection of beers I've ever seen. Served in a tasting snifter. Bottled May 5th, 2005.

A - Pours with a small tan head that dissipates to a thin collar and some light haze, with minimal lacing. The body is a very, very, dark brown with no hints of transparency. This looks quite a bit different from the other barleywines in the line-up.

S - Caramel, dark fruits, port, raspberry puree, vanilla, chocolate truffle, tobacco, leather, and notes of sherry-like oxidation. There isn't a ton of obvious bourbon from the barrel-aging process - perhaps that has mellowed out over the intervening years. This is quite unique and doesn't really fit the traditional barleywine mold - more of a mix of a Belgian Dark Strong and English Barleywine, with hints of candi sugar and estery yeast.. It's wonderful, but didn't really jump out of the glass the way some of the other beers did, even when it was warm.

T - The taste is actually quite a bit better, as the oxidation is less present and better integrated into the flavor profile. Mid-palate a spot-on chocolate raspberry port flavor emerges. The aftertaste is lightly tannic and oaky but lingers nearly indefinitely.

M - Soft, smooth, chewy, medium-full body. There's minimal alcohol heat, low carbonation, and a dry tannic finish. There's some light residual stickiness as well, but this never gets cloying or syrupy.

D - This was the one of the easiest drinking high-gravity brews I've had the pleasure of trying. My 4-5oz went down really easy, even though I tried to savor it. Compared to Wooden Hell, and especially The Perfect Storm, this was significantly mellower and suited for indefinite sipping.

So it's time to answer the $600 (or more) question. While this was excellent, it was probably the 4th or 5th best beer I had at the tasting. Considering you could buy three cases of The Perfect Storm, a plane ticket to Europe, or God-knows-what-else, there are probably better ways to use your disposable income.

Judging from some of the other reviews it seems like the oxidation is starting to be deleterious instead of complementary - hopefully this will loosen some of the bottles being hoarded in various cellars. I think it's time for Midnight Sun to fire up the mash tun and give everyone the privilege of trying this fresh.

Thanks again Derek, for sharing a very good beer that I was beginning to think I'd never get the chance to try.

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Photo of callmemickey
4.75/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark chocolate brown body with a thin to moderate sized khaki head. Light amount of lacing left behind.

S: Tootsie rolls, brownies, slight burnt brown sugar, the slightest hints of sherry and booze.

T: Chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, sherry, toffee, slight booze, oak, and a hint of vanilla.

M: The highlight of the beer. Sublimely smooth with a light to medium level of carbonation. Decadent, silky-sweet finish. Not cloying in the slightest. Perfect.

O: This is closer to a 4.75 here, but the nose could have been a "tad" better. Well worth the hunt... I am lucky I didn't have to do the hunting. Thanks, Joe.

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Photo of mikey711
4.74/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A major thanks to Jon for bringing this surprise beer. I can't get over your generosity my friend!

A: A thin layer of head sits a top a murky toffee colored beer, with some mild lacing.

S: Loads of dark fruit upfront, some port notes, a bit of sherry as well, a mild leathery and woody smokiness, some vanilla notes and a nice bourbon alcohol note. With all this going on, it may seem overwhelming, but the subtlety of this beer is unreal.

T: The first ship provided one of those Zen-like moments where you just get it. I could only mutter the words "Oh Yeah" because i was taken aback by the extreme precision of balance that all of these beers came together to create. Having tried many of the most sought after bourbon barrel wines, i have no problem saying this one is the best and most balanced one I have tried. Tons of toffee and caramel notes with some bracing dark fruit and sherry notes which are accentuated nicely by the wood and bourbon from the barrel

M: Silky smooth, the abv is very deceiving and there is nothing cloyingly sweet about this beer.

D: I will forever be grateful for having the chance to try this beer. In terms of flavor, balance and complexity this has it all. Again, a big thanks to Jon for providing this brew

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.7/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can't even believe I'm reviewing this one right now. A huge thanks to capra12 (Jon) for pulling this one out as a surprise. Never say never I guess. Reviewed from notes at a tasting on 6/4/11. 4oz. pour from a 22oz. bottle into a Hill Farmstead snifter.

A: Pours a .25 finger light caramel head with great retention. Beer has spotty lacing with little cling but great legs that really coat the glass. Beer itself is a clear, dark brown color.

S: Nose is sublime. Caramel, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, and a woodiness in the background mixed with the slightest touch of alcohol. Super rich but incredibly mellow at the same time. Very impressive.

T: Opens caramel, brown sugar, toffee, and candied sugar. Plums in the middle with crystalized brown sugar and some raisin. Finish is rich brown sugar that's silky smooth and almost no aftertaste save for a bit of toffee sweetness. Unbelievably balanced and subtle.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. Super smooth and rich in the mouth and goes down silky and a bit oily. Finish is rather clean with no aftertaste. An 11.6% beer that drinks like it could be 6-7%.

O: I'm not sure I'm drinking the same beers as the reviewers that are saying this is going downhill. The most balanced, subtle, and well executed barleywine that I've ever had by a mile... really blows everything else I've had in the style out of the water completely. I'm not normally one to buy into the hype but this beer is really incredible in almost every way.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
4.67/5  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.

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Photo of hopdog
4.67/5  rDev -0.2%
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

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Photo of BucketBoy
4.65/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

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Photo of Retsinis
4.64/5  rDev -0.9%
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.

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M Belgian-Style Barleywine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
99 out of 100 based on 40 ratings.
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