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RATINGS: 133   WEIGHTED AVG: 4.27/5   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 348   ABV: 11.6%
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.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
savnac (2391) - Anchorage, Alaska, USA - MAY 12, 2009
22oz bottle, special thanks to Tim at a BA cellar party. I thought I had missed this one and would never get the chance to try it but happened to be in the right place at the right time with some of the coolest people on the planet. Poured into a tulip at cellar temp, about 4 years old at the time of tasting. Deep brown with a tiny head that swirled around the glass like the milky way galaxy. Aroma was very complex, oak, bourbon, prunes, toffee, caramel. The taste was mostly sweet but was cut perfectly by the wood and alcohol flavors. Not syrupy like I imagined it but silky smooth with mild carbonation, age may be thinning this out to perfection. From the others in the room that have had this before, sounds like it just keeps getting better and still hasnít peaked. Maybe, if Iím lucky the beer gods will rain down blessings of ďMĒ again in the future. Some beers rate high because of their limited availability and lore but this is not one of them, to date the best beer Iíve ever had.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
Ofortuna (322) - Grafton, Wisconsin, USA - OCT 23, 2008
From my backlog dated September 6th: 22oz bomber shared by an extremely generous individual.

Dark nearly opaque pour with hardly a drop of head. Nearly devoid of carbonation. Ominous. Aromas of oloroso sherry with bits of vanilla. Deep and absorbing. Bizarre flavour. Triple, barley wine and light bourbon barrel stout all rolled into one. Wow. Finally, someone who managed to pull off integrating various attributes of very different styles of beer. Not only succeeded, but really excelled. Deep vinous character that morphed into various layers of complexity. Very nice mouthfeel that just enhanced the experience. Some additional sherry notes on the end that give away its age. Just such a unique beer with very separate and unique components that somehow manage to balance and compliment each other wonderfully.

Many thanks Jason for sharing such an elusive beer.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
ygtbsm94 (12) - Blacksburg, Virginia, USA - SEP 15, 2008
Thanks to Moejuck 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.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Ughsmash (7508) - Pewaukee, Wisconsin, USA - SEP 6, 2008
Bottled, thanks to someone quite generous! Rating #3,000!

Poured damn near black with a viscous body that absorbed any semblance of head.. still and alluring. The aroma was deep and engaging, showcasing bourbon and vinous port characteristics.. treacle, vanilla, and candi sugar on the 2nd impression.. sweeter chocolates and brown sugar deeper yet.. perfectly integrated! The flavor opened with syrupy molasses, vinous notes, and bourbon backed by sweeter chocolates and candi sugar.. bourbon presence increased toward the back with vanilla, toasted oak, and peppery warmth.. finished with tobacco, lightly sour bourbon, and dry-roasted chocolates. Heavier-bodied with low carbonation on the palate.. rather syrupy feel overall.. sourness worked well.. near-perfect balance. Great one!!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
arjoseph (642) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - AUG 30, 2008
Generously brought to one of our hotel room tastings, GABF 2007. Thanks to whoever did bring it, because it was one of the best beers I had at the fest (I think it might have been cquiroga, as usual bestowing dopeness on the collected beer geeks in his vicinity). Big sudsy taupe head. Smells like buttery vanilla with oakey oily bourbon a well-proportioned accent. Wonderful mouthfeel: silky, full, and smooth. Flavors are so full; DOPE: rich, melted Belgian chocolate is the main thing, fruity bourbon blending perfectly with the rich thick maltiness of chocolate, porty plums, and toffee. Really, this is one of the best uses of bourbon as an accent rather than a mainline that I have ever experienced. All the goodness persists in a clean, malty finish. Wow. Blessed be the dopeness that is M. I hope I get another sip during my lifetime.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
ogglethorp (917) - Ohio, USA - AUG 25, 2008
Bottle, Cleveland tasting, Moejuck! Pours ruby/brown color with a thin tan colored head. Aroma is molasses, brown sugar, caramel malts. Flavor is again molasses, brown sugar, caramel, raisins, hint of alcohol. Palate is full bodied, mild to almost no carbonation, finished chewy and sticky sweet. Wonderful brew, leaves a sticky coating on the lips.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
StoutCat (89) - North Laurel, Maryland, USA - JUL 6, 2008
Dark brown, white-cream colored very thin head. sweet molasses aroma with alcohol bite. Flavors of caramel and vanilla, very smooth and sweet.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
OldGrowth (3209) - the Containment Area, North Carolina, USA - JUN 2, 2008
bottle at Carolina Crew get together, from the hand trade with timmcd64 & juzy while on my Alaskan BW fest trip. Great aroma, so much going on with this, wow, Smoke, chocolate, brown sugar, raisin. Clean brownish black color, small head & lacing. Bitter sweet flavor, Like I said with the aroma and a vanilla bourbon addition. Thick body, creamy mouthfeel, bitter sweet finish. This was a great brew, aged wonderfully. Aroma, flavor this had it all. Incredible balance of things. My words arenít doing this justice.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
kmweaver (3207) - Petaluma, California, USA - JUN 1, 2008
22oz bottle, courtesy of Stine. Thanks, Eben! Pours a very dark, cola-brown color; light tan head with patchy lacing; touch of oiliness. Caramel, dates, and raisins in the aroma; plenty of dried fruits, with a very relaxed bourbon aroma underneath: slight, sticky bourbon and buttery vanilla (very much in the background); impressively balanced. Relaxed carbonation. Medium-to-full mouthfeel: chewy caramel, dried dark fruits (dates, raisins), and nougat; exceptionally balanced and drinkable; velvety mouthfeel: beautifully integrated bourbon notes (toasty rounded liquor, vanilla, soft wooden notes) with a chewy caramel and dried fruits; I wasnít completely submerged by the first sip, but thereís so much here when allowed to open up, and so integrated; remarkably drinkable and soft. Excellent. Lengthy finish: chewy dried fruits, dates, and sweet vanilla / toasty malts; very soft ending.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Stine (1747) - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - MAY 31, 2008
Poured from a 22 oz. bottle. Rich chocolate brown, oak hued pour producing a brimming crown of tan that gathers in a ring around the edge. Sweet, refined aroma of bourbon, caramel and candi sugar, citrus, port wine, oak, and raisin. Smooth, glimmering polish and never a moment of overindulgence or reckless decadence; most notable is the cleanness and calmness of it. Raspberries and pomegranate lend a bit of zingy tartness along an alcohol hit back end. Spirit touched throughout, but more as a silky ribbon of bourbon presence than a sudden iron fisted punch.

Flavor is monstrously rich and juicy; streamlined balance. Dates, red licorice, prunes, belgian chocolate, mousse, caramel. Lush, sensual, contemplative complexity that seems so soft and silky. It isnít a monstrous, confronting sweetness but more a clean, rich cavendish tobacco, rustic campfire dessert sweetness. Full, delicate oak and bourbon tanginess and fleshy, rich red fruits sitting in a wet oatmeal cookie dough. Sugar everywhere and all with a polished dark edge.

Brilliantly reserved full palate. Balanced, syrupy body is firm but never imposing; it seems to taper off into a reticent tannic feel briefly, rather than diving headlong into the ostentatious decadence it seems bound toward, before settling on a calm, creamy maple texture. The restraint and balanced execution at that point are nothing short of stunning. Pungent date flavor finishes.

Having sunk slowly into a soil of rich character and otherworldly sweetness, the potential for this example still seems excitingly bottomless, although this gorgeous point of settled complexity could probably be considered somewhere within its peak. Thanks Tim!

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