Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Killer Penguin Barleywine - Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub

Not Rated.
Killer Penguin BarleywineKiller Penguin Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

316 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 316
Hads: 675
Avg: 3.56
pDev: 22.47%
Wants: 13
Gots: 121 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-12-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Killer Penguin Barleywine Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 316 | Hads: 675
Photo of Kadonny
3.88/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a wax sealed bottle with a "2008" printed on it.

A: A sort of medium brownish color with almost no head. Yes, this a 7 year old beer, but it still holds carbonation some. Nice glass lacing.

S: Dark fruits. Raisins, caramel, some brown sugar and maybe nutty?

T: loads of dark ripe fruits, raisins, dates, figs, some toffee and praline, a decent amount of sweetness, but not overly so. No signs of oxidation, that's what wax does, nice. Not much alcohol on this 7 year old bottle, but it is warming. Not a bad beer just not super complex.

M: Full, coating, very little carbonation and actually drinkable believe it or not.

O: Not the best barleywine I ever had, but I enjoyed it. For a 7 year old bottle I loved that there was no oxidation. I've had younger bottles of other beers that have oxidized, so that's a testament to this beer. I enjoyed it, maybe I am in the minority, so be it.

 920 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.06/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No other style welcomes in colder weather than the barleywine. And with a focus on the barley part, Boulder brewers give the beer an Americanized edge with a healthy, heaping dose of pacific northwest hops. The balance within this beer means that this penguin is ready to play.

Above its bright and deep garnet hues, a rich lather of froth emerges. Capping the session with great resilience, the beer is stately and welcoming to the eye. Its lavish hop bouquet casts aspirations of citrus and pine with a floral note to float above its toasted caramel base.

As the lavishly malted ale unfolds, its cakey smooth center is of toasted rum-cake, toffee and molasses but with a toasted pecan and praline character. With fruit flavors of plum, cherry, raisin and grape pulling from the malts, the ester chemistry of the beer gives it a fruitcake finish. Bitter citrus peel and fragrant pine finish the balance with an even-keel but large portrayal for the palate.

Though full bodied, the enormous flavors of the ale trends malty-dry and with a sticky resinous bittering power supplied by hops. The warmth of rum and peppercorn heats the throat and comforts the soul. With the bitterness outlasting the sweetness, both linger extensively into the next sip.

 1,252 characters

Photo of SitkaSteve
2.52/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

This was poured into a chalice.
The appearance was a hazy muddy brown/burnt caramel color with a thin little white head that dissipated immediately. There was barely any lacing.
The smell was weird, (did I have this too old), hmmm...faded grassy hops (wants to let the caramel malts come forward) but an almost tannic to metallic dark fruitiness. But to me, there's a bit too much of the metallic part as it almost becomes overbearing.
The taste was mostly sweet with barely any "tobacco" flavored hops to embitter and balance as I had hoped for. Long metallic caramel aftertaste leads into the same sort of finish.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a syrupy stickiness over my tongue. Carbonation was barely felt (trying not to sound too harsh since I am aware that this is an old bottle).
Overall, uh...well, I tried it, would I have this again? I say only fresh as time didn't do this any justice.

 909 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.96/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2014 vintage, let's see how well this one aged. Some of the hoppiness is still floating around, though any pretenses of hop flavor are gone - replaced by a healthy tobacco bitterness. If I really focus, I can find some hints of dark fruits, but I'm primarily picking up notes of caramel and leather. Nothing really pops out spectacularly, nor does it improve much after sitting for a while. The hoppiness from the nose is less prominent on the taste buds - instead, this puppy opens up with some caramel sweetness. I said the hoppiness is less prominent; it isn't nonexistent, as it finishes with a gentle pine flavor. There's also an odd finishing musty note I'm not a fan of. This beer's booziness can be tasted more than felt, and I do enjoy the estery character to a degree. It's very full bodied yet dry enough where it's not a chore to drink. It hits many of the basics of the style okay (apart from overt mustiness), it just does absolutely nothing to stand out from the pack - even with over a year on it. While I could take it or leave it, this does become better once it hits room temperature...take the hint, drinkers of this beer!

2.96/5: This penguin has a bite, just a muddled and generally uninteresting one

 1,223 characters

Photo of ClavisAurea
2.97/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

2014 vintage served at cellar temps in a tulip glass. 22oz bottle

Appearance: nice bottle. I like the red wax seal on top and the inlaid year marker, a stamped dime sized wound of wood with 2014 on it, classy. The beer pours an exceptionally clear light copper with a substantial tan head that stuck around.

Nose: fruity, some hop character, sticky sweet smelling, muted dark fruits.

Taste: slight initial alcohol burn from the 10%, weird alcoholic medicinal flavor right up front, not very complex or interesting, some dark fruits but the flavors are pretty much muddled and not well integrated.

Overall: This was a disappointment. I thought this was going to be a winner from the looks of the bottle (bad assumption, I know). I think the hot alcohols need some time to mellow and integrate more into the beer. I probably wont buy this one again.

 851 characters

Photo of ZachHodgson
2.1/5  rDev -41%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Oye! Such a long wait for such a disappointing beer. There are far better barleywines out there for similar prices. Stick with those.

2012 Release

Looks like a barleywine
Smells like a barleywine
Tastes like maple syrup infused with essence of old sock.


There are far better barleywines out there for abut the same price.

 333 characters

Photo of Schimms
3.63/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a snifter

L: Deep copper red with thin white head. Retains lacing very well.

S: A little flat for what I was expecting - not the strong raisiny smell I expect/want. Smells a little...grainy? Slight sour.

T: Grainy? -Not in a good way. Mild sour, with minimal dried fruit flavor. Alcohol is present, but not overwhelming.

F: Very (underwhelmingly) average. Too watery.

O: Disappointed with my high expectations (love Mojo, Mojo Risin', Flashback), and I'm also a fan of Barleywine - especially Bell's Third Coast Old Ale (drink that instead). This is drinkable, but not one that I will look for...on purpose. It's just missing that "oomph" you get with good/great barleywines.

 710 characters

Photo of mrn1ceguy
3.3/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This was not a good beer, tons of bad flavors with nothing good to counter-act. Each taste lingered for a long time in an unpleasant way. Ended up being a drain-pour.

 169 characters

Photo of jfugeman
2.64/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Really boozy, bit of a solvent-like aroma and taste. Not much character or balance in this beer and a bit hard to drink. There are too many other incredible barleywines to spend money on this. Unfortunately I have yet to have a good beer from this brewer.

 255 characters

Photo of sisterofba
3.35/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Not bad, but I greatly prefer Dogfish Head's offerings in this category. Wouldn't pay for it again in the bottle-- might be willing to give it a shot on draft, if that exists.

 175 characters

Photo of Shade1951
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

This barley wine reminds me a bit of Blithering Idiot, though I think it falls a bit short of that beer. I like that it's not very hoppy. I like hops, but I prefer that they are not "in your face" in a barley wine.

Color is okay. Not especially appealing. Brown. Maybe some people would call it "copper." The scent is a bit wine-like, which I happen to like. The flavor offers a bit of -- I guess the best way I can describe it is "sour sweetness." I enjoy the taste, though I wouldn't call it complex. Also, it doesn't drink like a 10% ABV beer. To me, the feel is a little on the watery side.

I probably wouldn't go out of my way to get this again, but it is certainly drinkable.

 684 characters

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.72/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Dark but transparent mahogany with medium bubbles, head is white with a slight orange tinted head (maybe 3/4" off the body).

Smell: Light wine scent, smells to me like a real lighter version of merlot and wood notes.

Taste: Nice conplex taste but the heavy rubbing alcohol feel tells me there's some tweaking to be done.

Mouth: medium bodied, very sticky. But the bitterness and sourness at the end might not appeal to everyone. The jury is still out.

Overall: Good brew, has some pros and cons that would either make your or break you.

 585 characters

Photo of GrimGuzzler
3.51/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle conditioned in my larder for five months. Served in a glass pint.

A: Pours a crisp amber with dense, three-finger head. Subtle effervescence bubble up through the foam and lacing sticks to glass throughout the drink.

S: An underwhelming smell of roasted malts and dry fruits leaves more wanting

T: Malty nectar pierces the creamy head upon sipping, but flattens out on the pallet. Notes of ester and spice roll to the back of the mouth. Leaves a hint of hops on the tongue.

M: Feels like ambrosia, syrupy nectar of the gods. Small bubbles and a solid head are satisfying in the mouth. Oily and sweet.

Overall disappointed - especially considering the time I'd given the beer to mature. It's a swell brew, however, for a barley wine with a name as such it fell short. The complexity of a barley wine leaves a lot of room for creativity. In this case, the name trumps the drink.

 888 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
3.96/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce wax capped bottle, 2013 vintage. Served in a DFH snifter, the beer pours a hazy ruby red/copper color with about an inch and a half frothy tan head that stuck around a long time. There's also a good amount of lacing. The brew smells like caramel, dark fruit, bready/grainy malt, candied fruit, and some apples. I think the taste is similar to the aroma, but there's the addition of toffee, citrusy hops and some booziness. Nice mix between the malty and bitter hoppy flavors. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's a bit syrupy and slick with moderate carbonation. I think this is a good barleywine, I'm glad I tried this one!

 639 characters

Photo of JebBeerFish
2.91/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Barley wines are one of my favorite styles. This one was just too timid, neither hoppy nor sweet, lacking in flavor depth and feel depth. just kinda there. Boulder needs to go a lot bigger on this barley wine.

 209 characters

Photo of ordybill
3.34/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass.
Aroma- Malt and fruit, has a sweet smell.
Appearance- This is an amber colored beer with medium sized off-white head.
Taste- Malt, toffee and alcohol; not a bad mix.
Palate- A medium to heavy bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Has a strong alcohol aftertaste.
Overall- Not a bad barleywine, my first beer from Boulder Beer. I will drink this again and try their other labels.

 427 characters

Photo of Thirstygoat
4.02/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled 1/31/12 Happy Birthday

Pours hazy bronze with tan head that fades quickly.
Some lacing that also fades.
Smell of prunes maybe figs and malt.
Taste, much malt bit of alcohol ,butterscotch not as hoppy as most American barleywine ( I tend to like English barleywines more)
Not chewy thick, but some substance.
I was intrigued by the dreadful rating an early batch received. Methinks revisiting that may be warranted

 425 characters

Photo of Jeffo
4.15/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Doopie brought this one over for beer night a couple weeks back. Cheers man!

From a bomber into a snifter
Vintage: 2013

APPEARANCE: Pours a three finger, slightly foamy, off-white head with excellent retention. Clear burnt umber with higher levels of carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full wisp and coats the sides of the glass. A film remains until the end leaving lots of lacing down the glass as it empties. Looks great!

SMELL: Bold nose of toffee, caramel, dried fruits, apple notes and some mango. Really bold, fruity and tempting.

TASTE: Lots of flavor here, with toffee and dried fruits up front and then some spicy alcohol at the swallow. Bold finish of more sweet toffee and caramel, mango, dried fruits, berries, spicy alcohol and piney hop bitterness lingers on the palate. Flavorful and well balanced.

PALATE: Fuller body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes slightly dry for a barleywine. Some heat and alcohol linger.

OVERALL: Really good overall. Definitely underrated, which is probably because it’s not 15% and barrel aged. This is a flavorful, enjoyable barleywine with plenty of character, and it drinks away far too easily. Perhaps a little more residual sweetness would help put this over the edge in this category, but as it is, I enjoyed it very much and would gladly drink it again. Thanks again Doops!

 1,399 characters

Photo of dacrza1
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

DATE TASTED: January 26, 2015... GLASSWARE: Duvel oversized snifter... OCCASION: still waiting for Superstorm Iola to hit... APPEARANCE: starts well with an imposing label; intimidating dark garnet body that sports a frothy off-white head that laces with a brazen two-finger strength; lacing is spectral and substantial... AROMA: BIG apple, pear and sour fruit; powerful cherries--a nice mix of a beefy malty base and a kriek... PALATE: full-bodied, warming and hearty--yet smoothly sippable; a balanced barleywine, though it lacks a dry finish...TASTE: cherries are front and center; soft brown ale elements play on the sugary fruits; oddly not as winy as a barley purports to be...OVERALL:as I recalled from years past, a beer worthy of a blizzard watch; the price is about right for its heft; within its genre, not a standout, with enough imperfections to seek out better-rated beers...

 889 characters

Photo of ThickNStout
3.4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Red wax capped 22oz bottle from Luekens (Dunedin, FL). 6.99. 2012 vintage. Served in my Phish snifter.

Pours a turbid, nearly opaque orange-hued tea brown with a one and a half finger manilla cap. Maintains a fairly healthy layer of head and produces several spots of lace.

Aromas of pine, toffee, carmelized sugar and vague grains.

Taste has a bit more going on than does the nose. Carmelized sugar, toffee, candied citrus peel, piney bitterness, some bready malts, grain some alcohol. It comes accross as just tad hot for "only" 10% (I've had several higher abv brews that hid their alcohol much better than this does) but nothing is out if place and this is still pretty easy to drink.

Fairly full, syrupy feel with moderate carbonation. Aftertaste contains plenty more alcohol with notes of burnt caramel and candied citrus peel.

Killer Penguin may not have anything special to elevate it but it's quite affordable and at least this particular aged bottle is a solid representation of the style.

 1,009 characters

Photo of ksimons
3.87/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2013 Vintage
A-amber color with visible carbonation bubbles and a thin layer of khaki head

S-caramel malt, rum soaked dark fruits, some hop bitterness

T-dark fruits, caramel malt, light hop bitterness, and alcohol warming

M-medium body, moderate carbonation

Overall a good barleywine, nice sweetness and not too much alcohol in the taste

 341 characters

Photo of pat61
3.74/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bread and leafy and floral hop aromas with traces of fruit, hint of sherry. Pours brilliant ruby to reddish amber with a ½” finely bubbled foam collar that produces excellent lacing. The palate is a little sweet, mainly malt and some caramel with hints of sherry and some moderate bitterness joined by alcohol on the finish for balance. A little on the thin side body wise for a barley wine and slightly hot. Medium carbonation.

 431 characters

Photo of Jeffreysan
3.99/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage 12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very pretty, cloudy, amber color, speckled with reddish/orange highlights and a quarter of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved away into a thin halo of foam that gripped the edge of the glass.

Aroma: Strong aromas of toasted malt imparting notes of freshly baked dark bread or raisin bran muffins, brown sugar and some citrus notes, of orange and a touch of lemon. I also get notes of black pepper, coriander and floral notes of clover and a touch of hops.

Taste: Delicious flavors of toasted malt, dried stone fruit, such as raisins and prunes, candied sugar, orange peel and a touch of hops

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and extremely smooth, as there is practically no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 10%, there is a very pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: This is an extremely good barley wine. It has great flavors of toasted malt, dried stone fruit and candied sugar. Delicious!

 997 characters

Photo of Greywulfken
3.87/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: wax-sealed bottle contains clear deep ruby brown ale with a finger of tan bubbled foam atop; left some trails down the glass

S: shellac and toffee - pine and earthy aromas lean toward something herbal or medicinal; brown sugar syrup sweetness beneath

T: reminds me of an old ale or Scotch ale - something pub-like and English about it, too - clear resin and candied fruits; subdued hop action brings malts forward, but only so far - a very mild-tasting ale. I'd say it works as an ale, but not particularly an American-styled barleywine.

M: slick and slim, slightly sticky; some herbal aftertaste, negligible carbonation

O: not a typical American barleywine - not as dense or heavy, very clear body, lots of pine resin shellac and English toffee. 10% abv for less than $10 makes a good case for the beer - drinks more like an A Fuller's vintage ale than most barleywines I've had.

 887 characters

Photo of jpd026
4.14/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

so they said to write a review even though i use this for my own private catalogue and their new rating system sucks. that said highly delightfyl barleywine, no idea why the bros hate it so much, i loved it and will get it again.

 229 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Killer Penguin Barleywine from Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
81 out of 100 based on 316 ratings.