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RATINGS: 137   WEIGHTED AVG: 4.28/5   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 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 (3238) - 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 (1759) - 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!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
ryan (3186) - Beltsville, Maryland, USA - MAY 31, 2008
Courtesy of Mr. Kotter himself, Stine. Dark brown/black body with medium sized tan head. Thereís a lot of nutty bourbon in the nose, but itís very soft and not the least bit aggressive. Along with the bourbon is some nice dark fruit and toffee character as well as light molasses and a touch of alcohol. Flavor is sweet, but not overbearing, lots of prunes and toffee, some bourbon and caramelized raisins. Very port-like. Full bodied, extremely soft texture with light carbonation. Long, sugary finish with a touch of bitterness. I usually donít go for sweet beers, but this one works. Thanks Eben.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
emacgee (4611) - Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA - MAY 28, 2008
Huge thanks to oldgrowth for sharing this at the Carolina Gathering. Pours a dark brown with a thin brown head, looks great. The nose is sweet, earthy, caramel, citrusy, very nice nose, not too much alcohol. The flavor is very nice, sweet, molasses and some brown sugar, plum, fruity, nice malt, soothing warmth. Nice full mouthfeel with a slight warmth finishes sweet and earhty.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
TURDFERGUSON (4045) - Durham, North Carolina, USA - MAY 26, 2008
Holy shit. I canít believe Tom brought this to the gathering. Pours dark brown with a small bubbled head. Nose is rich with brown sugar, caramel, belgian yeast, spices, toffee. Its sweet, without being the least bit cloying. Its rich, oaky and vinous, without being too tannic. Mouthfeel is full, silky and smooth. This is easily the most drinkable barleywines I have ever had. And one of the best beers too. Chewy and smooth. Now I know why so many people want this beer. Thanks so much for sharing Tom!!

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
JCB (3999) - Durham, North Carolina, USA - MAY 25, 2008
Huge, huge thanks to Oldgrowth for cracking open this amazing wonder of a beer at the Carolina crew gathering at Turdís place. Now three years old, this is probably at itís peak and it rockets right to my top spot overall. I just canít deny it its proper scores, and it was a pure delight to drink it. The aroma is just heavenly, wafting out from the dark, but evidently crisp body with heavy notes of malts and nuts initially and a slight fruit tang that promises complexity. But man, once it warmed up it went to another level. Vinous without being overpowering, and toffee notes that suggest an English barleywine or old ale but with a multi-leveled texture that comes courtesy of some bright fruits, hops, and the aforementioned wine qualities. Very full and silky mouthfeel, with tobacco and molasses emerging strongly, ending up like a top-notch port. So many different qualities in a beer that goes to so many different places, all while retaining a singular and unique identity of its own. Amazing. Thanks, Tom!!!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
BrianK (200) - Livingston, New Jersey, USA - MAY 12, 2008
Very sweet. Thick and chewy, pours a very dark color. Well masked abv. Nice flavors of oak, vanilla, caramel, and mild bourbon. Pretty nice.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
Rciesla (5500) - Exit 15W, New Jersey, USA - MAY 6, 2008
Thanks to BrianK for sharing this on the 3 year anniversary of its release, 5/5/08. Bottle. Pours dark ruby brown. Little to no head. Aromatic character is dark fruit plum, fig, chocolate, candy sugar. Mouthfeel is smooth and thick. sweet plumy, chocolate, and refreshing from etoh. Chewy, very chewy mouth coating leaves you wanting more quickly. Wow tobacco, bourbon in the finish, i want more again. WOW!

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