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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
Reviews: 316 | Hads: 675
Photo of bjohnson
3.88/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A looking glass series offering from Boulder. Red wax seal with a 2006 logo on the front.

Pours a dark amber color with a huge reddish hint in there. Nice silky pillow like one finger off white head. Thick lacing coats the glass. Excellent thin retention. Big malt notes with a good measure of sweetness to them. Syrupy notes with a touch of honey. Boozyness is present but not too big--sort of kept in check. Spicy hops are present with a bit of fruitiness that comes through after a swirl of the glass.

Quite a dry brew right from the beginning. Pretty decent malt background. Syrupy and thick with a caramel sweetness that's a bit subdued. Hop notes are there and can be detected by the spicyness on the tongue. Well balanced with neither the malts or hops taking command. Bitterness in the finish dries out the tongue. Sweetness in the finish is quite a bit actually. Subtle, but qu9ite powerful at 10%. Sipping beer that'll bite you in the ass if you drink it too fast.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
2.69/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Light red body, good clarity, nice carbonation, topped by a fairly level half-inch of oatmeal colored foam. Soon to be a table top, then an oil spill.

Mild sweet candy aroma with some hints of yeast, though over all a rather subdued nose for a barleywine.

Sweet start lightly slides across the tongue, though not cloying, it lacks depth. Subtle hop blunt the sweetness and add a small zip at the finish and a little tingle in the aftertaste. Very mild warmth from alcohol.

Mouthfeel is thin for a barleywine. Drinkability is too easy.

Nothing bad here, but nothing interesting either. I was expecting a fireplace sipper, but this is just too laid back in every respect. Disappointing after Hazed & Confused and Mojo.

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Photo of homebrewhawk
3.18/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2006 vintage, nice presentation in a 22oz wax dipped bottle.
Served cellar temp in a brandy snifter.
Brilliant reddish copper. Low white head, fine bubbles.
Lots of sweet malt aromas. Hop aroma developed as it warmed. Plenty of citrusy American hops.
Very sweet to start. Not a whole lot of hop bitterness, but a decently dry hop finish.
I think this could have used a little more bitterness to balance out all the malt sweetness. Not a lot of body.
It was decent, definitely worth trying, but there are better Barley Wines out there.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.37/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a two finger, cream head that slowly fades to a thin layer leaving a good lace. Nose is like an oak barrel. Clear deep amber color. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is malty with background hops, sour grapefruit finish. Disappointing barleywine. 2006 vintage, $6.20 for a 22oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

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Photo of AlexJ
3.03/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Chestnut brown with a medium sized head of frothy beige foam. Minimal retention and sparse lacing.

Aroma is very averale; caramel, toasty grain, sweet fruit, and pine and light floral hops.

Flavor is equally ordinary. A moderate caramel and grain malt entry with some light fruit in the middle finishes with orangey citrus, pine, and flowery hops.

Body is a modest medium, with a nice creamy texture and OK drinkability. An easily forgettable Barleywine that just blends into the landscape.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.78/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Beerandblues2: Poured a clear medium amber color ale with a small foamy head with limited retention. Aroma of bitter hops is dominating with some notes of alcohol and sugar. Taste is way too hoppy for my own taste in barleywine with some medium sugar and light alcohol peak. Body is slightly too light with some medium carbonation. Overall, I thought this was too hoppy and bitter and generally lacking some character.

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Photo of oakbluff
3.33/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2006 vintage. Pours a fairly light caramel (for a barleywine anyways). Not much head, although decent lacing. First taste was moderately hoppy with frankly a thinnish malt backbone. It doesn’t seem to have the creamy mouthfeel I’m looking for in this style. That being said, its quite drinkable. Not one of those slow sippers. Finish is dry with some tobacco notes. Overall- decent brew for a cold snowy day like today.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
2.93/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a big thick head that falls into a swirlly cirrus cloud head with almost no lacing. The color is a deep light brown color. The smell is a bit sour, but still has the same characteristics that remind me of a barleywine. The mouthfeel is the best feature, pretty nice. Overall it was good to try.

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Photo of frazbri
3.03/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Killer Penguin Barleywine poured clear, copper-auburn topped by a respectable off-white head. Smells of pine cones, orange peel and apples hit the nose. Flavor had a sweet start, with a clean bitter finish. A little apricot and citrus flavor was in there. Carbonation was in the mid range and the body was in the middle as well.

The key word for this brew is balance. Nothing was dominant. The downside of this was nothing about the Killer Penguin was truly outstanding. There wasn't enough in the nose to draw me in. The body was too light for my tastes. It's a respectable beer, but not a special one.

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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The most overposted beer on BA in the past six months. Overhyped?, great pubilicity?, too fancy?, too ridiculous? All apply in some form. Unfortunatley for this beer it followed the end of a two year old bomber of Smutty Wheat Wine. Bland taste, first and foremost, stale and not definative characteristics to speak of. Nose, decent, slightly fruity and that's it. Went down pretty darn easy for a 10%er.

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Photo of edchicma
4.03/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A good representation of the style. The alcohol i sthere, but not overwhelming, The pour was an excellent dark copper with a good head for the high abv. Lacing was also better than one might expect. Smell is deciving, because the taste differs somewhat. I detected a good amount of floral hoppiness with a light spice undertone. Taste however, was mainly sweetish, malty and with good alcohol notes. Hop flavor was lightly understated. Mouthfeel was syupry, but not cloyingly so. Fairly smooth. For the high abv, drinkability was good as long as it is sipped to appreciate the varied qualities.

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Photo of BlindPig
3.83/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- 1/4" light tan head (had to pour harder to even get this). It lays on top of a dark brown body but when held to light it's a clear deep amber body.
S- It is a medium amount of citrus hops with a pretty big toffee malt. Almost like a burnt aroma too. Maybe burnt fruits? Something just seems strange in the aroma.
T- First thing that hits me is that it is pretty dry even when in mouth. I am pleasently surprised with the taste after the smell (got me kind of worried). A candy cherry flavor is hiding in between a light citrus hop flavor, and a pretty big toffee malt body. It peeps out the cherry flavor only slightly until it slowly builds up a bit more. A bread taste to it also. It seems to be a lot of flavors going on in this but at the same time it just seems like it is regular flavors with a different spin on them. It is pretty weird. Seems like grass hops are also in this. There is a medium warming from alcohol also (but this takes a few sips to come out).
M- Medium body with medium carbonation (which I was surprised about saying I had to pour harder to get a head out of it)
D- It is a very interesting brew. The more I drink I think it grows on me more and more. It is different than your average barley wine. I like the dry taste to most beers but I think this just might be a bit much. Overall it's a good beer and a interesting one at that.

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Photo of kennyo
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

found this bottle on a road trip to Buffalo. 2006 red wax cap 22 oz bottle.

Pours a clear copper/orange color with a nice light tan head. Aroma is a little malt and lots of spice, cinamon and fruit. Very carbonated for the style. Taste hasd a little malt, a little bitterness, some alcohol.

This was a sneaky 10% alcohol brew that ereally wasn't a great barley wine, not a bad beer tho".

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Photo of BeerNinja007
4.23/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 edition, 22oz bottle sealed with red wax, poured into a

This beer has one of the most impressive heads I've ever seen. A minute or two after pouring into the glass, bubbles are still streaming heavily from the bottom and contributing to a big chunky off-white head. It has finally settled down and reveals a reddish copper brew. Beautiful beer to look at.

Smell is mainly piney hops. But in the background there's a hint of something sweet, maybe caramel or apricot (or both!), hard to nail down. Taste is similar- lots of hops that leave a pine flavor in the finish that's very noticable when breathing in through the mouth. Also a faint note of caramel. Taste is very good, but not quite as impressive as this beer's other aspects.

Mouthfeel is pleasant. The rampant carbonation present when pouring dissipates significantly and an appropriate amount remains. The 10% ABV isn't apparent in the taste but it makes itself known in other ways, i.e. by making its way through my bloodstream to my head, haha. I should probably put my keys away for the night after drinking one of these (22oz bottle).

Overall it's just about exactly what I remember of the '05. Amazing head and overall appearance, good taste and smell, and the alcohol will sneak up on you if you're not ready for it. Damn good barleywine.

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Photo of mcallister
3.28/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2005 Vintage.

Deep,clean garnet, with shades of bricking. Off white bordering on tan head has good retention and leaves a thin lace behind.

Sweet floral hop aromas, caramel, and a dose of toffee malt and a distinctive fig aroma with hints of raisin.

Very one dimensional & weak. Caramel, and toffee with a underlying of herbacious, floral hops. Phenol alcohol is very pornounced in the finish. Fig and rasing are also present but not nearly as much as in the nose.

Thin & watery for a Barley. I'd like too try this fresh.

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Photo of tempest
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm going to agree with some of the other reviews and say this beer was good, but weak-tasting for a barley wine. It was very drinkable and mellow for the style. It had a sweet, punch-like aroma and tasted of sweet fruity malts with some citrusy hops like an American barleywine should.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.91/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage

Presentation: A Christmas Gift, all wrapped up and nowhere to go, guess Santa left my presents in the fridge this year, top bloke that St. Nick, I don’t care what the Elves say about him and his drunken abusive nature. Standard 22 ounce brown glass Bomber that looks taller than most. The top 2” – 3” of the neck is coated in a rich thick dark blood rivuleted red wax that would not be amiss on a 17th Century legal manuscript, indeed, inset into this wax collar is a small ¾” diameter light wooden token that has a Fred Perry style symbol inset with the year 2006 burnt into it. Single main label wraps around 300+ degrees of the bottles torso like a corset. An evil looking red-eyed Penguin head is set between the words ‘Killer Penguin’ in a pastel yellow text edged by a blood red border. Listed as a ‘Barleywine Ale” and 10% alcohol by volume. The left hand side of the label reveals some background to the brew; most notably that it is a part of the ‘Looking Glass Series” and aged for 6 months.

Appearance: Big beige head with some tones that look like yellow tobacco stained walls from a young Belgium Brown Café. Perfectly lucid body has a dark amber projection and a myriad of shades from hot ruddy sunsets mingling with crimson-orange flashes when backlit. Devoid of streamers, a soft flick of the wrist produces a swirling cascade of fair sized bubbles that quickly rejoin the underside of the ¼” thick capped tan colored covering. Lacing tends to runs its own race quickly and die away, sliding back down into the glass or just being re-dissolved back into the body with each mouthful. Firm conditioning a decent poise, the frequent “topping-up” into my half pint handled Mug is an old trick to keep this one looking great and fresh in the glass with a big frothy head.

Nose: A little under-par for the strength, I confess to expecting more, much more. What is here is fine, but it’s not the big-hitting aroma I would lay good money on chatting up early on a night from a double digit beauty. Toasted malts, hints of pine, riddling toffee, feint walnuts and little leather. Deeply inhaled it is still hard to get the aromas into a situation when you can play with them and enjoy dissecting their component entities.

Taste: Bitter start litters the tongue with thinning pine oils. The middle builds with some gentle Devon toffee swathes. In and amongst the toasted malt mounds and valleys of caramel coated plum stuffed fruits are a healthy citrus pull which morphs into a refreshingly tart grapefruit finish. The complexity is simple, the profile has many Barleywine traits but none of the vintage intricacies that you would associate with one that has been aged for 6 months and is 10%, this confuses and puzzles me in a way, why not?

Mouthfeel: You know, my first honest ‘straight from the gut’ thought was, “is this *really* 10%??” Clean drinking with a middling Mouthfeel, the texture is of a well attenuated brew with little residual sweetness, or complexity. The cadaver is more of a fresh corpse than one that died a while ago.

Drinkability: The plus points of the Killer Penguin; namely its clean, uncomplicated profile and thinnish texture, outweigh the minus points; the lack of complexity and thick heavy Mouthfeel. This assists in making this strong 10% Barleywine a brew that can be enjoyed with relative ease.

Overall: The label states that this ‘Killer Penguin’ Barleywine, quote: “…uses over twice the malt as other winter beers…….is aged for 6 months…..doesn’t ferment, it hibernates, and wakes up with an attitude.” As much as I enjoyed this brew, its biggest weakness is actually its name and marketing I feel. It’s a good beer, no issues with that, BUT it seemed to be tame when compared to its “image”, its background and perhaps even its price* (I didn’t buy this though so I don’t know). To say this used double the malt and was aged for six months, it seems to play below its possible potential to me. For example, Thomas Hardy Ale is only a degree or so stronger but sooo much different, and I’ll wager a small 8.5 oz bottle probably costs the same as this 22 oz bottle did, maybe less. Faced with a decision between the two I’d have to go with the THA. This is a B-minus beer, good stuff, but when it comes from a potential straight A-student it’s a disappointment, and that’s my angle. When I drink a 10% Barleywine I would expect more kick and much more complexity. Perhaps age will improve this but it feels too thin to start with for that to seem like a credible possibility here.

*A Big Festive Holiday Thanks, as always, to my own Secret Santa, the Champion Receiver of Beers, Lord Giver of Libations, but never a Pimp – always the real Beer Drinker; Sir J of the BigHuge, for allowing me to try this Barleywine. The journey is always far more interesting than the destination, and we’ve only covered the first few miles. Here’s to the next beer swap and 2007.

Cheers and Holiday Beers Joe!!

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Photo of russpowell
4.29/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 version, a huge bargain at $4.75 a bomber IMO. Poured into an Orval chalice. I will tell you getting through that wax seal was a huge pain! This was a nice suprise

Pours caramel with a thin head. Above average lacing & a healthy film

S: Sweet sticky malt & oakyness

T: Treacle & dryness up front. I catch hints of oak, caramel & vanilla next. Cherry notes & warming alcohol also come through. I catch a hint of herbal/piney hops. Finishes strong with piney hops, dryyness, praline notes& warming goodness

MF: Chewy & yet slick with low carbonation

Drinks pretty good with for the abv/style. I enjoyed this way more than last years! This strikes a great balance between english & american style IMO. This really warms you up! Will lay a bottle down for later.

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Photo of cbl2
3.01/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12/19/2006 $5.99 22 oz. 10.00% No best by date. 2006 wooden coin pressed into wax seal.


Pours a lovely, crystal clear claret/orange with a thin film of tannish head that settles rapidly.


Molasses, ripe currants, and an odd offputting aroma of welch's grapejuice.


Rather thin for a barleywine. Flavors mimic the smell, with too much of the welch's character coming through, and almost wrecking this one for me (I hated Welch's as a child). Alcohol burn is apparent in the finish. I really cannot recommend this one, as it falls short of what I've come to expect out of a barleywine. There are better examples out there, seek those, avoid this.

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Photo of peabody
3.71/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice reddish tan like dark Ice tea.
Slight lacing.
You can really smell the alcohol and some caramel but not much else.
Taste is sweet and mellow with lots of sugar and the alcohol.
Mouthfeel is clean but leaves an alcohol and sugar residue.
With a 10% abv one shouldn't drink more than one of these bad bombers.

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

This offering from Boulder Beer pours a dark caramel, ruby clear body, with just a touch of carbonated bubbles that leave a thin head spotchy and thin. The aroma is sweet caramel, toffee, bready, marshmellow. The taste starts smooth, nutty, tangy, sweet, with a barely a notice of that 10% abv it is touting. The finish is nice again you get a toffee, slightly herbal hoppy finish, that warms you up and can cap the night off as a great digestif.

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Photo of oberon
4.18/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Let me start by saying its a nice looking bottle with the red wax and 2006 embossed in it but damn its a pain in the arss to get into.Poured into a snifter a deep clear amber with a tight formed slight off white head that stuck like glue to the glass leaving a thick sheet of lace as it settled very slowly.Big complex aromas hit ya up front juicy fruity malt and a big piney hop presence but it fades quickly keeping me from giving it a higher score its great but fades to quickly.I have seen other reviews and expected a big sweet malty bomb but its not at all that nice fruitiness and brown sugar melds into hefty dry resiny piney hoppiness that lingers in the finish.As it warms I get a roasted nut presence upfront more but the hops come thru nicely,sure it might be a bit thin but damn it goes down easy,this has quite a hop profile and its quite brash,damn tasty and better than expected.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
3.4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

22oz consumed at cellar temp from a petrus sniftah

clear ruby with the glass etching creating a nice thoroughfare of bubbles up through the center of the bulb. spidery wisps of dead carb speckle the surface whimsically. dots of lace, like stars, rest peacefully above the beer plains. spicy sweet-hop aroma with a bit of sweet potato pie. senior malt strength also apparent, in line with a ten-percenter. ribbons of caramel scent mingle with the other dessert sniffs.

first two things i notice are thinness and abruptly bright, sweet fruitiness. not bad, just disappointing. drinkability is increased as the abv is absent in its litvinenko-like deception... but let's face it, who wants a barleywine that sips like a pale ale? i get a very dry hop presence which refrains from turning bitter.. it's an barely-ripe strawberry ester combined with a handful of honeysuckles and some tangy hop resin. the malt seems to go limp, leaving traces of weak raisin and nilla wafer lingering on the palate.

i mean, it's not awful by any means. but for something dressed up in such a snazzy red-and-wood suit, you'd expect luxury. what you get is a quick, palatable buzz with no showpower.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle purchased from Julio's, Westboro, MA. 2006 vintage, as indicated by the small wooden disc embedded in the bottle neck's red wax coating.

Poured into a large glass chalice, formed 1/4" tan head over the clear deep dark copper brew. Head lasts pretty well, esp for the style, with ample, slow-falling lacing. Aroma is thick and fruity sweet, reminds me of cough medicine, but with nice flavoring. Taste starts with fruity malt sweetness, becomes almost cloying, and then the alcohol takes over. Mouthfeel is okay, a bit too much burn perhaps, and drinkability is limited by same. 22oz of this is quite a commitment, maybe 12ozers would work better.

PS - Just noticed I gave the same scores to last year's version. Guess they've got consistency down pretty well!

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Photo of Vancer
3.11/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I hate to start off a review with a negative, but this brew really disappointed me. Just an average brew, to say the least, not one to go after again. Well, maybe one more and cellar it for a year.

Pour was fine – clear oak brown with a small tan head. Aroma of aromatic pine and barley kinda set me back. The bottle says this was conditioned for 6 months, but it was still very green. Pine and citrus dominates, and a phenolic finish dampened my enthusiasm for this lil’ birdy.

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Killer Penguin Barleywine from Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
81 out of 100 based on 316 ratings.