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RATINGS: 131   WEIGHTED AVG: 4.23   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 348   ABV: 11.6%
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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.

GAManiac's rating

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
GAManiac (1944) - Atlanta, Georgia, USA - SEP 13, 2012
I want to start off by saying thank you to the generous BA who shared this with a few of us last night. I definitely thought trying this one was beyond my reach. "We are but mere mortals in the presence of M." Indeed. Pours extremely dark for a barleywine, dark mahogany brown, with a small beige head. It looks almost like a Belgian dark in color, almost black. Aroma is outstanding and has clearly held up to the years in the bottle. It’s a good bit fruiter than I was expecting, certainly more than the typical barleywine. Lots of raisins and plums mixed with chocolate and caramel. The oak is present with some light tannins, leather and booze. The taste just doesn’t live up to the aroma though it’s still extremely good. This is clearly where the age is beginning to catch up to M, with hints of oxidation creeping in. The booze soaked dark fruits are in the forefront, but with a chocolate-covered character to the whole thing. The finish is a mixture of port, oak and the oxidized notes. The mouthfeel is creamy, smooth, and softly carbonated. Hides the alcohol exceptionally well . This is one of the more complex barleywines I’ve ever had and the nose really stands up to anything I’ve ever smelled in the style. I have to imagine that this would have been one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted if I had it 2-3 years ago. As it is, I feel lucky to have been able to try it and it has held up much better than could be expected.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
fletchfighters (1216) - AUSTRALIA - OCT 18, 2014
Thanks to Hallinghansen for the bottle. Much, much appreciated. Dark brown color, light tan head that falls away quickly to a thin layer. Thick ABV legs on the sides of the glass. Nose starts off oxidized but falls off to prunes, cherries, figs, brown sugar, red grape and Belgian chocolate. After the oxidation this nose is top notch. No hints of bourbon or oak though. Taste is very complex. Belgian chocolate, red grape, red cherries, figs, plumbs, brown sugar, and red wine. Very vinous. At the end it did get bourbon, coconut and vanilla. Long lasting in the palate. Sweet and sticky. Big mouth on this. The long lasting feel is what set this apart from anything else I have had. Has it dropped off?? Probably but still world class in a massive way. Few fresh ones can come close to this. Worth what gave up to get this. Only a couple of none BA versions come close to this beer. Must have been a beast a few years ago.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Beerman6686 (5158) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - JUL 23, 2014
4200th rating! Thanks to cheapbeerbuzz for trading this one I feel that drinking this on the same night as completing the top 50. This marks an end to a very long fun journey to seek the best and drink the best. I will still continue to tick, but try to focus my efforts more towards local quality and sharing with friends, rather than saving and trading for the next best thing. Anyways, on to the rating. Poured an intimidating very dark brown to black with a miniscule beige head. Aroma was Bourbon soaked dark fruits, digs, prunes, caramel, toffee and light oxidation Flavor was incredibly balanced, figs, berries light roast, vbourbon, toasted caramel, light vanilla, and only mild booze. Incredible how this has held up after 9 years. I really wish I could have tried this new. Glad to have shared this with Artmcd8, Lithy, Charule, and hornydevil, and hope to share many more in the future. Cheers!

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
Art (2121) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - JUL 21, 2014
Bottle split with beerman6686 in a trade. Thanks for setting this trade up, Dan. Glad I could have my close beer friends in attendance to share this beer. I feel like there should be a cool story associated with searching for this beer but there isn’t. It sorta just fell in my lap and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The beer is 9 years old at this point but the bottle looked brand new. It pours a thick dark brown, nearly black without a head. Some bubbles rise to the surface. The aroma is of oxidation, must, caramel, butterscotch, dust, slight chocolate, dark fruits like candied raisins. The taste is sweet, tastes like liquid caramel and raisins. It is almost like a lighter JW Lee’s. The beer was definitely built to last for awhile. The mouthfeel is medium thick even with the lack of much carbonation. It was a wonderful way to kick off a great night of drinking with friends.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
charule (1518) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - JUL 19, 2014
Bottle super thanks to Beerman. Poured blackish with no head. No carb med bod. Aroma of alcohol soaked raisins. Prune booze taste with some barrel. Excellent

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
biggsbowler (482) - Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA - MAY 18, 2014
Bottle - pours dark, thick black w/ some viscosity. Wine, grapes, caramel, oak and dark fruit aroma. The flavor is very rich and smooth. Dark fruit, winey, malty and damn good!!!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
BoBoChamp (5758) - Gent, BELGIUM - MAR 9, 2014
65cl, retired exclusive American brew, thx alot to Antonio for shipping this over!, very complex brew, malty/sweet and slightly fruity/alcoholic, yet not too heavy, very balanced, cloudy, small head, world class!, yet very expensive!, ’To celebrate my 5000th beer rating; this awesome sample aged very well! Wondering how this would have tasted a few years ago...’

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 20/20
gEUS (1388) - Linden, BELGIUM - FEB 25, 2014
One of the most special bottles I have had the honour to taste. Thanks to Jeffo! I am quite critical when it comes to hypes, but this one lives up to it, and beyond... With some background in wine tasting, the M is one of the few beers where all of the individual aroma and taste components have beautifully merged into a "bouquet"’, just like wine. One of the richest aromas ever experienced in beer: a perfect fruitiness (raisins, lots of raisins, figs, dates, dark prunes, plums and Belgian syrup aka "poepspijs") balanced in the most perfect way with sourness and sweetness. This is so much more than a beer... this is nothing less than divine.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
brystmar (1308) - Dallas, Texas, USA - FEB 7, 2014
UPDATED: FEB 8, 2014 Been after this one for years! Thanks to Mac for helping me land this beast. Pours nearly pitch black with handsome tan head & lace. Liquified Belgian candi sugar dominates the aroma. Some roastyness and bourbon, oak, hints of smoke too. Smells pretty nice, but the taste is where this baby shines. Torrents of flavor pummel my taste buds, imparting liquified candi sugar, sticky caramel, mild licorice, miles of complexity. Boozy warmth at the end doesn’t bite like others do. Low carb = fantastic. Jesus this is good. One of the very best liquids I’ve ever consumed.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20
cpetrone84 (1658) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - FEB 2, 2014
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.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
MrChopin (3575) - Baltimore, Maryland, USA - DEC 22, 2013
Planned this review a week in advance. Expected an analytical comparison with added details on each of the 10+ barleywines we picked as background. But it hissed upon opening, we smiled, and then drank up.

M is achievement, a moment, the end of a long search in a hobby of "what’s next?" Our bottle celebrated friendship, years of joint efforts, trips, tastings, and thousands of miles. Today it was a 6hr project to buy, transport, build, and then use a ping pong table long into the night. M is still really good just no longer great. But that’s not why you go after it.
Thank you Chris.
Thank you Jeremy.

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