The Viking
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

The VikingThe Viking
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Belgian Strong Dark Ale
4.22 | pDev: 7.82%
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
The VikingThe Viking
Notes: To commemorate the life of a huge-hearted and long-time friend from the homebrewing community, Midnight Sun Brewing Company brewed a very special beer in honor of David Yanoshek, who was fondly known as “Yano”.

This big strong beer celebrates the abundant life of an incredible man with an enormous yet ever engaging laugh. Yano pursued life with a Viking spirit, endless love and boundless energy for family, friends, scouts…and beer.

A big strong beer for a big strong guy, The Viking Belgian-style Dark Strong Ale boasts a beautiful balance of character and complexity. Dark roasted malts, Belgian yeast, star anise and sweet-ripened raisins come together in an amazing ale that can be enjoyed now and cellared for later celebrations.

As you lock horns with this commemorative ale, toast to Yano. With his incredibly stoic spirit and his irrepressible laugh, Yano was the gentle giant who will forever touch our lives. Pröst!

23 IBU
Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 32 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of AgentMunky
4.17/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a footed glass. From notes. Reviewed 2 November 2013.

Red-dark with little black tint. Sweet-strong booze on the nose. This beer is amazingly sweet and fruity. I like what's going on here. The after taste is lingering and excellent. I was lucky to get to try this beer, and I'd recommend trying some if you have the chance.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks, dunt!

A - Pours black, tan-colored head, spotty lace, thin collar.

S - Dark fruit, wood, caramel, toasted sugary spice, smooth booze. This is how a Belgian Strong should smell...really hard to find anything wrong with this beer. Perfectly balanced with the sweetness, light yeast, and alcohol.

T - More of the same amount of awesomeness on the palate. Plums, raisins, dates, candied sugar, light yeast, smooth booze, caramel, and wood. The 12% alcohol is dangerously hidden. The finish is dark fruity sweetness with a smooth booze kick.

M - Full body, rich and smooth, sweet creamy finish.

O - MS continues to kill it and this beer is one of those that when you have this style again, it will be hard to beat. Not sure if I'll ever have this one again, but I really hope so. Thanks again to dunt for sharing this! Recommend.

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Photo of Treebs
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle served in a Portsmouth tulip. Huge thanks to Tnudish for the rare Midnight Sun tick.

A: Pours a dark brown color with some darker plum like hues around the edges. A light tan head forms on the pour and recedes a thin ring that leaves some splotchy lace behind.

S: The slightest cardboard smell rises up from the glass, but it's quikly overshadowed by roasted chocolate malts, prunes, pit fruit and a malt sweetness.

T: The taste is more of the same. The slightest wet paper taste is present, but it more dark prunes and figs with some cherry pit, sweet cherry flesh, and some chocolate malts.

M: Medium to heavy bodied. Smooth and oily in the mouth. The carbonation is at a minimum, but it's well received in a beer like this.

O: This beer has held up very well and I was fortunate enough to try it. If you are still hanging on to one I would suggest drinking it now as the oxidation is still in its infant stage and I can't see this getting any better.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

771st Review on BA
Bottle to snifter
22 oz

@Woodshop Classix
I am not sure your name but THANK YOU for sharing!!

App- A very traditional dark brown BSDA appearance with a great 1-1/2” to 2” head. When it fell left a muddled pond top head to it. Good cling as a BSDA would.

Smell- This was a smaller BSDA and had the same notes just tame and inviting. A dark fruit note comes in 1st and then the aromatics moves to the soft yeast and the bubbly spice last.

Taste- This was very good. I liked it with some age to and not so over the top on the dark fruits and the yeast. Showed a real tameness and restraint to craft a balance between fickle flavors. The dark fruits were balanced against a bit of bubble activity to be really inviting.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonated. Left that nice bubbly feel with some yeast behind. A playful drinking beer.

Drink- I was very excited to see this one sitting on the table. I had to ask for a sip as BSDA are a favorite of mine. I never knew Dave but I think he would be mighty proud of this one.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

So happy to try this. Thanks for sharing it, Todd!

A: The beer pours a dark brown with a large brown head and excellent retention.

S: Surprisingly roasty, but it works well. Lots of dark chocolate and some coffee notes, as well as a hint of licorice. Sweet malts, dark fruits (raisins, currants, black cherries), and toffee.

T: Really a rich flavor. Tons of the dark fruit character you expect for the style but a bit more aggressive on the roasted malt. Lots of caramel and toffee with a hint of vanilla and coffee. Some booze, but it works well enough.

M: Definitely full bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

O: One of the best Midnight Sun beers out there. Too bad this one is so hard to come by as I'd be happy to have it again.

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Photo of aerozeppl
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Oh you did not know. dmeadows.

A: Dark in color with a touch of red around the edges. Finger and a half of cola colored head. Spot on for the style.

S: Nice sweetness. Dark candi sugar. Little bit of dark fruit.

T: Tons of dark malt and fruit. They really work together quite well. A really solid Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Quite a bit of sweetness.

M: Very well carbonated. On the heavy side of medium bodied. Prickly carbonation.

D: Easy drinking. The carbonation did cut it down a little bit. This beer was good the problem was everything else we had that day was excellent. I would love to have this again.

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Photo of tpd975
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Gillard.

A: Pours a nice shade of dark brown with a tall tan head. Excellent retention and lace.

S: Lots of sweet candy malts. Chocolate, caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. The is a nice booze blast as well.

T: Malty sweetness in the flavor as well. Lots of booze soaked dark fruit, earth, and light hops in the finish.

M: On the fuller side of medium, rich, sweet, and smooth.

D: Good I heart midnight sun.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.26/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Joe1510 for sharing this rarity. Served in a Unibroue tulip on New Beer Sunday.

A - Damn this is a good lucking beer. Huge dark tan foam that leaves sheets of lacing as it slowly recedes. Pitch black body with not hints of color or light. Not sure how this could be better.

S - Belgian Dark Pale Ale doesn't accurately describe this - it's more of a stout brewing with Belgian yeast. Roasted malts, dark fruits and raisins, nuttiness, dark chocolate, anise, and rye or pumpernickel bread. There's a slight aged quality to this, even though it's just over a year old.

T - I actually like the taste a bit better, as it's much smoother. Lots of chocolate, bread, dark fruits, and nuts, and a late-appearing bitterness that persists long into the aftertaste. The high ABV is better hidden in the taste than in the smell.

M - The carbonation is moderate, with a medium body that might be a little undersized for the 12%. I can feel myself getting a little buzzed from this one and there's some nice warming going on. Still it's quite smooth and goes down easily. Finish is sticky, but not overly dry.

D - This is an excellent beer, without a doubt, but it's not something I'd reach for on a regular basis (if I could!). It's very intense and a slow sipper for sure. Sharing the bomber with Joe was a sufficient serving size and it took a while to work my way through it. Still, this is highly recommended!

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

Decided to cap off the night with one I had been holding onto for quite a while. A cellar selection was due here and I had been eyeing this one for a year now. Served at a healthy 55 degrees and poured into a snifter, this one was consumed on 12/23/2009.
The pour was wonderful, rich dark brown with a towering head of tan on top. Rich lacing that just would not quit, this thing looked like a monster. Even 5 minutes after the pour it was still huge, dark and foreboding, it was almost fearful going into this. Aroma was light at first but came around as it warmed up. Rich chocolate malts, lots of prune and fig like notes especially as it warms up. I could tell the direction this one was going to go now as I reach in for the first sip. Rich, velvet like feel coats the tongue on the initial pass through. Fine bubbles of carbonation carrying a plum like flavor hit me first, and this dissolves seamlessly into a thick roasted, almost chocolate like flavor that now dominates the taste. Even warming leaves this rich, dessert like taste on the palate. So mellow, it was killing me as it was just drinkable beyond words. The final sips seemed to invoke a touch of leather as well as it faded away, leading a dry, hoppy and well defined flavor that lasted long after it was finished.
A fantastic example here of the style. Just rich, decadent and extremely well done. I would love to have this again and it seemed to go over very well with everyone in attendance.

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Photo of khiasmus
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one had been waiting about in the cellar for nigh on two years. Many, many thanks, as always, to Frank (AKBelgianBeast). Popped open at a tasting with a couple of BA buddies.

The Viking rides a dark ship, a very dark ship, a very dark ship with big, thick burlap sails that flop in the wind and linger around, they linger around forever, flopping in the wind and making that CRACKing noise when it whips very hard... like liquid, like a beautiful head on a beautiful dark beer as he rides in the face of the storm.
The aromas of the provisions, only the finest will do. Only a few things one can take when venturing into the harsh north, to fight or settle, the aromas from the cabin: Sweet black bread, of course, milk chocolate, raisins and prunes, molasses, and the requisite spicy alcohol to keep him warm and going, going he knows not where, but to explore, perhaps to conquest.
The darkness is falling like a sheet, and it is time to sup, so he does just that. The fire burns his toast, so he covers it with molasses and toffee, and it simply tastes like those three, but a hint of burnt grain on the way down, and he drops a couple raisins on for good measure, as his back muscles strain to keep him upright on the rocky, harsh sea. He raises his tankard to his lips and there's that hint of old metallic, such a comforting and warm flavour to combine with his toffee-molasses-raisin-grain-burnt-black-bread.
The liquid is syrupy and thick, with high carbonation and a sticky but dry finish. "The most drinkable Belgian Strong Dark Ale I've ever had," He thinks to himself. It's going to be a long, cold night, the wind whipping through the sails that one can still see even at the end of this glass... a long cold night, but he is for freedom, he is for the conquest of the unknown.

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Photo of sprucetip
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes. In memory of Yano. I did not know ye for a long time, but I sure enoyed your company on the Kenai brewery bus tour, and at the brew club meetings.

Enourmous tan head, bubbly underneath with fluffy, pillowy top. 1/3 of the goblet with a gentle pour. Long lasting hed. Very dark with ruby highlights when backlit. Very active, thick lacing. SMELL is of dark fruit, nutty, spicy and a hint of booze up front. Not especially strong. Later some sweet maltyness and Belgian yeast character emerge. Very pleasant, even if it takes some work to find. ...gets stronger throughout the sample...TASTE licorice (star anise?), molasses, dark fruit, chocolate briefly, modest booze, with some rising bitterness emerging late and becoming prominent in the finish. FEEL rich, full body, sharp alcoholic bite and warming before drying finish. OVERALL intended to be a sipper, indeed it is. Very complex and interesting. Like Yano, big and bold, but warm and gentle. Would probably have aged well, but I was lucky to have one bottle hand delivered from Los Anchorage to my remote little drinkin' village (thanks keri).

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Photo of HopHead84
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with an enormous light brown head. The retention is excellent. The nose is of raisins, plums, and dark chocolate, with a touch of coffee. The malt is bready and slightly toasted. The flavor is also of the same dark fruits that I perceived in the nose, with that same touch of coffee. There's a moderate level of bitterness with no real hop flavor, as the rich malt drowns it out. Sweetness is at a low level. A nice Belgian Dark Strong.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 received in my most recent trade with AkBelgianBeast... shared at a small tasting a few weeks ago.... Huge thanks Frank.. this one was a hit for sure.

Poured into my small La Trappe glass... lite tan head stuck around for quite a while with good lace... very dark brown brew... good clarity... but you have to hold it to a light to really get the picture.

Nose is very rich and very malty... toasted malts and some figgy esters... brown sugar comes to mind and some caramel... some notes of pepper.

Flavor has more pronounced esters.. with dried cherries and brown figs... malts come in waves and are just beautiful... more small bubble carbonation than expected with a fairly full body makes the brew pretty creamy on the palate.

I feel pretty honored to be able to try this special brew that was for, what I read, a pretty special man... Out of all the badass brews Frank has shipped to me over the last coupla years... This is the one that I was most excited to see and most excited to share with a few of my Boise peeps.

Edit: I wish I would have taken better notes.... this brew is much better than my feeble review notates.

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Photo of gford217
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Tim and Brian for sharing this.

Pours dark, dark brown out of the bottle but is black in the glass with no light getting through anywhere. The head is a huge and billowy tan layer that takes forever to settle down and leaves huge clumps of lacing.

Plenty of dark fruit sweetness in the nose as well as some molasses and a bit of chocolate malts. The licorice is subtle, but definitely present. As it warms I get a hint of spices as well.

The flavor is absolutely massive and I was not prepared for all the flavor that hit my palate. There is an initial blast of licorice, though less prevalent than the aroma, and a hint of hops up front, but a huge molasses and chocolate malt sweetness takes over. All kinds of dark fruits from start to finish and plenty of spiciness that lingers in the finish. The alcohol makes its presence know pretty aggressively with a strong boozy burn in the throat.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with tons of carbonation and spot-on for the style.

Another fantastic Belgian-style beer from Midnight Sun and a massive one at that. It's got so much flavor yet seems to go down extremely easily considering the ABV. The hits keep on coming for the guys from MSBC. Pröst!

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Photo of Reswald
4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle at Cafe Amsterdam in Anchorage.

Very, very dark brown, with a large tan head that subsided fairly quickly. Strong aroma of dark fruit (figs, plums) and a bit of licorice from the star anise. Amazing taste, with various flavors jostling for attention, yet nothing overdone. Great mouthfeel. Hides the high alcohol content very well, making it much more drinkable than many beers of this ABV.

A fantastic beer in the Belgian Strong Dark Ale style and a fitting tribute to Dave Yanoshek.

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to AKBelgianbeast for this one.

A- There is a lot of head, super fluffy and tan. But it subsided fairly quickly. The beer itself is a very dark dark brown, and slightly thick.

S- My initial smell was chocolate and lots of it. Then came the fruits of fig and dates, which is common for this type of beer. But the one thing that is strangely floating around in the smell is the slight smell of star anise, or what some of you call black licorice.

T- The taste is different. There is a lots of roasted/dark malty taste, and a slight coffee flavor. The Anise taste is great, I like the addition of this to the beer, it is more pronounced in the aftertaste. The taste is good, roasty malty with a bit of a kick.

M- I do think the carbination is a bit on the heavy side of things. A little less would be superb.

D- Easy to drink, nice and tasty.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle at 55 degrees.

Pours mostly opaque black with dark mahogany tinging around the edges. A massive four-plus inch head of dense, spongy tan foam reluctantly retreats to a rocky, thick coating on the surface. Ripped sheets of smeared lacework aplenty. A real beaut.

Aromatics are ripe with raisins, plums, black licorice, and candied schezuan peppercorns.
The anise becomes more apparent as the beer breaths and warms, as well as hints of nutmeg, cardamon, molasses, and ginger.

On the full side of medium bodied. Mildly chewy and plenty tacky, with a somewhat creamy mouthfeel.

Roasted malt, burnt sugars, dark rum, raisins, and spice lead off the palate. Peppery and bold with plenty of lush malt and warmth.
Peppercorns, anise, and cardamon step forward along with hints of roasted coffee beans, grape jam, and spiced rum.

Finishes with a building spicy warmth, burnt sugars, and an afterthought of bitter chocolate.

This one is big, brash and bold right now. A year or two in the cellar will help the spices layer together and some of the heat to tone down. Some light acridity in the finish should fade also.

Mad mega-props to Tim in AK for another badass wildale!

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Photo of juzy
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was developed to honor the life of a huge-hearted and long-time friend of the Alaska homebrewing community. Midnight Sun brewed a very special beer in honor of Dave Yanoshek, who was fondly known as "Yano". Yano was on a rafting trip with his engineering company on the Kenai River. He was thrown overboard after his raft hit a submerged rock in the rain-fueled high river water. Dave, a veteran rafter on the Kenai, was not wearing a life vest. After stopping for lunch on the river bank, they left and he noticed that his son did not have his vest on. He had left it back on the river bank. Dave gave his vest to his son, as any dad would do. The rest is history... This big beer celebrates the life of an incredible man with an enormous, infectious laugh. Dave, we miss you!

For more on this man, that so many of us adored, please check out Dr. Fermento's blog at this link.

He wrote a great piece that will give you more on "Yano", the man who's life inspired The Viking.

All the proceeds from this brew will be donated to the Yanoshek family. The brewery plans to sell it out in one or two days (Sept 12 & 13). Many people have already put in their orders for cases. Don't expect to see this outside of Alaska unless someone is willing to trade.

So now, the beer:

Appearance is a deep chocolate brown with a thin tan head that leaves very little lacing on my glass. It has a dark ruby tint when held to the light.

The nose is rich, malty, slightly alcoholic, with jus a hint of star anise. Roasty with dried dark fruit notes. Smells a touch sweet.

The taste...where to start...a little molasses, a little espresso, some raisin notes, hop bitterness on the finish, but pleasant not in your face. Alcohol is present but not overwhelming. The star anise is very subtle, but you can definitely finds it's charm.

The mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth, not much carbonation, but that is expected of a beer at 12%abv.

Enjoy this now or cellar for many years. Think of Dave each time you have one, celebrate this big, bold man with the big, bold beer that was created in his honor.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Midnight Sun's one day release in memory of David (Yano) Yanoshek.

A BSDA brewed with raisins and star anise.

" This big strong beer celebrates the abundant life of an incredible man with an enormous yet ever engaging laugh. Yano pursued life with a Viking spirit, endless love and boundless energy for family, friends, scouts and beer. As you lock horns with this commemorative ale, toast to Yano: the gentle giant who will forever touch or lives. Pröst!"

Pours a very nice dark color with some albeit few ruby highlights. Nearly impenetrable. A good off white head rides on top of this brew and leaves nice jackson pollock lacing. The nose is filled with rich dark fruit flavor and some clear spice. A bit of fig.

Taste follows with rich dark fruit flavor, figs, dried plum, star anise, raisin, some spice and belgian yeast. Slight alcohol. A nice rich flavor. The anise is recognizable here, but not overpowering at all. It really adds to the dark fruit complexity of the beer.

The mouthfeel seems thin at first, but as the brew warms, this one comes right into where it should be. Nice and viscous. Could use a touch more carbonation, IMO, but other than that spot on.

Drinkability on this brew is something to be marveled at. This is no question the easiest drinking 12% beer I have ever had. Dangerously, very dangerously drinkable. The alcohol flavors are there, but I honestly would not have predicted this to be over 8%. Incredibly smooth for the abv. couldnt imagine better drinkability for a beer of this magnitude.

Overall a very pleasant offering that is great now, and should do quite well with some extensive aging. I really like the unique flavor that the anise adds to this beer. A very good beer with great flavor, and one I am thankful to have access to.

I raise my glass to Yano, and all of those who knew him. May his Viking spirit live on as we enjoy this wonderful beer for years to come. Pröst!

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The Viking from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 32 ratings