Chicken Killer Barley Wine - Santa Fe Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Chicken Killer Barley WineChicken Killer Barley Wine

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309 Ratings

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Ratings: 309
Reviews: 160
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 14.21%
Wants: 25
Gots: 28 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Santa Fe Brewing Company visit their website
New Mexico, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Chicken Killer Barley Wine is the revolutionary beer that will someday define America's unique Barley Wine style. It is brewed with twice the ingredients of the Santa Fe Brewing Company's other beers, and only half the usual amount of liquid is extracted from these ingredients. This makes one substantial beer. At over ten percent alcohol, Chicken Killer is actually as substantial as wine, but this is not to say that it is difficult to drink. On the contrary; be careful with this one. The flavors of the beer are at first as overwhelming as the intense Santa Fe sun. But in the same way our sun gives us the unrivaled brilliant colors of Santa Fe, the potency of Chicken Killer gives us the remarkable spectrum of flavors that can be found in no other beer, in no other city. If you did not have the opportunity to try last year's vintage, come try this year's!

(Beer added by: amicar on 03-07-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 309 | Reviews: 160 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Phelps
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at the Arizona Society of Homebrewers Oktoberfest, this barelwyine’s been aged at least a year. Poured into a shaker pint.

Murky maple-orange with highlights of gold. Half a finger of velvety tan head becomes a silky top layer. Murky, almost opaque.

Tons of overripe orange, toasted biscuits and caramel in the nose. What orange peel-y hops were once here have become soft whispers. Hint of honey-like oxidation in the background.

Chicken Killer is a malt monster, but the hops are bigger in the flavor. I get tons of toasted biscuit covered with orange marmalade and caramel, along with some herbal qualities — basil? Burnt sugar is here as well, blending with sticky alcohol. It begins sweet, but finishes impressively dry. Pretty damn complex after a year old maturity.

Moderate, pokey carbonation flashes then fades as the creamy medium body moves about. Good viscosity, not too thick. A bit of booze comes through the nose, but it's pretty well hidden overall.

I'd say aged is the best way to have this beer — if it were fresh, the malt wouldn't be big enough to combat the hops.

Photo of bpfrush
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of ithinkimasofa
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of thebouch01
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of Exiled
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of portia99
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of lackenhauser
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bronze color though somewhat murky. Not a lot of head though some decent lacing. Malty and caramel aroma right upfront. A very faint whiff of smoke-probably more perceived then actually there. Toffee and buttery flavor. Mildly astringent hop bite. A hair out of balance with the hops. Mildly boozey though not overly so and not in a detrimental way. Sticky and gummy mouthfeel. The upfront sweetness quickly becomes dry. Enjoyable all in. Have wanted to try this for ages. A touch rough in spots but a damn nice US barleywine.

Photo of DavidST
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter.

This pours a nice murky brown color with a decent off white head which quickly dissipates. The smells are of malt and alcohol. The feel is good and somewhat thick. The taste is a little disappointing, I get plenty of the malts, but low bitterness and hops to offset it (i'm too used to the over hopped American barley wines which this isn't) and there is plenty of alcohol heat not well hidden at all.

Photo of chugalug06
3.08/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A - Nice foamy/soapy off-white head. Brew is cloudy orangish-red. Medium body.

S - A fowl homebrew scent. Lots of weird grape scents. No heat or sugar.

T - Very watery. Not too much going on with this one.

M - Nice carbonation, zero bitterness (weak for a B-Wine).

O - Not impressed by this well-named offering from SFB... CKBW doesn't keep up with their canned series. This brew is not highly recommended, but worth trying with a group of friends....

Photo of chocosushi
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage
6oz->Duvel Tulip
A ~ Pours a murky brown color akin to burnt caramel. The silky eggshell head is sufficient & eventually settles into a constantly morphing cap/ring. Lacing is 100% solid.

S ~ Dark wheat, bread pudding, tree bark, granola, buttered toast, fig, & a touch of Wassail. Touch of yellow apple.

T ~ Fantastic. Toast & Buttered Bread notes follow through in a fantastic way. Prune, Cooked Apples, Cinnamon stick, & Berry Jam all make an appearance in the complex flavor profile.
Hop profile is all but diminished, but sappy/organic notes remain. Splash of brandy & vanilla bean that becomes more present upon warming. Great melody of flavor.
The nose is great, but does not do the taste justice!

M ~ Fantastic carbonation that is very smooth throughout & wicks away unwanted lingering flavors. Hops have faded in aroma (for the better) but still contribute bitterness. This is almost better when it looses carbonation (less astringent), but both have their advantages in flavor.

D ~ Better than the OG. The booze has mellowed out quite a bit over the course of two years, which is a very good thing. Very glad I have a few more to see how it's doing, but it's really at a sweet spot right now. Seek out this vintage.

Photo of TheWhiskerReview
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

100th review! Make that 1% less liver function!!

Pours a mahogany brown with a dense 1-finger head. Retention and lace are minimal, as expected.

The nose, naturally, is all about the malt with caramel, bran flake and coffee aromas mixed in with dark estery notes of raisin, ripe fig, baked apple and fresh apricot. Touch of peppery booze too.

The full-bodied palate has an immeasurably long presentation- waves and waves of complex, rich and chewy malt are joined first by a little peppery booze, then the moderate bitterness before a return to the dry bran-like malt on the finish. Flavors up front include bran, nut oils, ripe fig and light roast coffee, while the finish sees little beads of toffee-like sweetness surrounding the boozy spice and final hints of cherry tucked into a lingering caramel.

Overall, needs some smoothing out around the edges (touch too boozy) but still rather wonderful now. I would love to see a year or two of age on this one. And I particularly like how it manages to be incredibly malty, but not syrupy and never too sweet. Very drinkable and enjoyable.

Photo of Snorlax
4.28/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into vintage Jax mug. This is a stout, delicious and fairly complex beer. I am a fan of barleywines and must say this is probably the most balanced one I have ever had. Pours a beautiful amber red with a quickly dissolving 3 finger head. Pretty nice lacing. Tastes of honey and cherries with a biting but not unpleasant aftertaste of pure alcohol. Great mouth feel, almost a nectar. Smells mostly of cherries. This is one of the easiest to drink barleywines I've ever come across. About as close to a session beer as this style could ever be, not that that's saying much. Excellent, would buy again, cook with and even save a spot in the cellar for.

Photo of drpimento
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty good beer. I let it warm a bit from the fridge. Poured with a small to medium size, thick, creamy, light tan head that lasts a long time and a little lace. Color is a clear cherry orange amber and some bubble trails. Aroma is a pronounced blend of malt, caramel, toffee, hops, fruit, yeast. Flavor is similar to nose and has a very good balance between sweet, bitter, and tang. Body is also very good, full and round with a few high points while carbonation is perhaps just a tad light. Finish is like flavor, has good length, and has some alcohol. A slow sipping brew over the course of a bomber or two.

Photo of lordofthewiens
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice barley wine.

Bomber poured into a tulip. Cherry amber color with a medium-sized off white head. Pretty color.

Sweet caramel aroma, dark fruit, hops. A whiff of alcohol.

Taste followed form. Caramel malts, raisins, late citrus hops. Didn't notice the alcohol that I thought I smelled.

Nicely hopped, nicely balanced.

Enjoyed this a lot.

Photo of allforbetterbeer
2.65/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

22 oz bomber picked up at Coaltrain liquors in Colorado Springs for the very reasonable price of ~$6.00.

Pours with a fine one finger cap of slightly off white head that lasts like the best of them. The body is cloudy and murky, and is riding the line exactly between orange and amber.

Smells delicious, with the prominent smell of American hops tempered by significant amounts of grain and higher alcohol. Grapefruit and especially pineapple are most notable. I am really getting a high dose of sweet pineapple in the nose.

The flavor is somewhat of a letdown initially. There is an unpleasant medicinal/burning plastic flavor that shows up from the very beginning and it is a glaring flaw in this flavor. Wow, thus ends my review, I can't get around this unpleasant flavor. Maybe brett gone way wrong? Someone burned a fermenting bucket and let it drip into the tanks?

Conclusion: I will seek this out again and see if another bottle shows the same flaws, or if this isn't a tasty beer.

Photo of Beer4Baltimore
3.13/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

- from the notes, a bomber, and a tasting session
A - red/orange brown with a short head.
S - distinct barley malts with an alcoholic hoppy background.
T - Alcohol makes a significant appearance. ABV is just overwhelming the barley and hops.
M - decent carbonation but the alcohol is just too much evident for a heavier bodied beer.
D - can't handle too much of this one.

Photo of Jazzcrop
3.05/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tastes are chalk, seaweed, sweet malt, barley, flaked wheat, grains, booze, wood, yeast, cloth, strong beer with a little bit of age on them, stuff and hops. Smells are toffee, chalk, mixed drinks, pills, credit cards, aluminum and tin. Mmmmm.... not a sensation, just alright.

Photo of alleykatking
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bottle.

A- Pours a light hazed darker amber color. Two finger light tan head shows great retention. Lacing on the glass was a mix between ring style and sheet style.

S- The aroma was interesting to say the least. Caramel malts in the front are a little cloying. Darker fruits come in next with raisin and light fig. This is the first time I smelled the medicinal alcohol. There is some light faded hops in the backing with caramel malts.

T- Darker fruits show off raisin and fig in the front of the beer itself with light caramel malts lingering right behind it. Middle of the beer has a stronger caramel malt body to it with hints of medicinal alcohol. Darker fruits show off the same caramel malts base once again but this time the alcohol comes out a lot more which I think used to be covered by a almost completely faded hop presence.

M- Medium light mouthfeel. Carbonation was good for the style. Caramel malts and darker fruits are left on the palate. Aftertaste is hints of caramel and raisins with a blast of medicinal alcohol. Flavors were a little off balanced but I think the alcohol played a good part in that. No off flavors at all with the beer while drinking. High alcohol drying on the palate with each sip.

O- I don't think this beer was all too bad. The alcohol seemed to be a little overpowering at times but I think I might have kept my bottle a little too long. I do have another bottle which I will crack open again just to see.

Photo of mactrail
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice amber appearance in the chalice. Fine head and lacing. Touch of roasted malt in the aroma. Very sweet and rich. More acidic than most barley wines. Nutty and taste of golden raisins and apple pie. Not much bitterness but some hops do come through. Long nose of caramel.

Really fizzy in the mouth for a barley wine. Carbonation lasts and lasts in the glass. Still it's easy to drink especially if you think of it as an improved product from Champale. Or maybe I'm confusing it with Manischewitz Almonetta.

Photo of OakedCanuck
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter

This beer pours a reddish mahogany with a very nice off white to light yellow head. Minor bubbles and good lacing. Smell of candied sugars, hot caramel, plums, raisins and cinnamon. Taste is pretty sweet of caramel and toffee malts. The dark fruits are picked up along with some cherries and bitter orange peel. Mouth is medium, sticky and bit hot. Overall a bit unbalanced and hot but I enjoyed this one and would have it again, maybe with a year or two on it.

Photo of Mora2000
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a hazy brown color with a white head. The aroma is brown sugar, molasses, dark fruit and alcohol. The flavor is heavy on the brown sugar and dark fruit. I also get some caramel malt and a little bit of piney hops. There is also quite a bit of alcohol warming in the beer. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A nice barleywine.

Photo of SFLpunk
3.05/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to thekevlarkid for hauling this back for me! 22oz brown glass pry-top bottle. No freshness date.

Pours a mostly clear orange brown with some thin cream-colored head that leaves no lacing. Nose smells a little aged. Pale caramel, wet sand, and aged orange peels.

Palate is a bit shaky. Some citrus rind up front followed by medium caramel, chocolate/caramel chews, and old hops. Super sharp from the booze.

Notes: It seems to me that this bottle might be past it's prime, or that the alcohol burn is way out of whack. A light American style or perhaps English style barley wine. Not the greatest, but a so-so attempt.

Photo of Domingo
3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bronze color with reddish highlights. A surprising amount of head for a usually mildly carbonated style.
The flavor profile is pretty straight forward. Big boozy malt/caramel flavors with hops really only around for balance. Dried fruit notes pop up here and there, but that malt flavor dominates. While sometimes that's exactly what I want, this one has some weird off flavors (from the yeast I think) that remind me a little of a homebrew. There's also pretty obvious alcohol fire, too.
Not too bad, and I appreciate the direction...but it's only so-so. This is a fresh bottle from this year, FYI. I had this a few years ago and recall liking it more. Like a lot of beers of this type I'm sure mileage may vary depending on the batch, age, year, etc.
Still, if you like malt-centric beers this is probably worth trying.

Photo of Urbancaver
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky orange with some reddish tints. A nice bit of off-white head. Smells a bit hoppy and sweet. Lots of nice malt on the nose. Tastes very sweet and malty. The hops are very minimal... Overall not very impressive. Definitely had much barleywines

Photo of Daniellobo
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fair barley wine, a bit raw around the alcohol profile.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped bottle. Light blue label with thin yellow framing, center rhomboid seal with a cartoonish illustration of a dog with smoking guns in the desert. Side narrative offers an over the top bragging description, main brewing intent and procedure, and a claim for uniqueness. Shows 10% Alc. by Vol. and an illegible batch code on the neck. Served in a tulip glass.

A - Lightly hazy medium to deep amber pour with a 1/3" frothy head, fair retention

S - Soft notes of caramel, with hint of hoppy fruitiness, and alcohol with paint thinner notes.

T - Malty with plenty of caramel, fruity sense of hops, woven with an alcohol fusel note.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, smooth ride with a biting finish spiked by the fusel booze, a bit raw as it ends.

O - It is not bad, but the way it comes together it is far from a lasting memory. Not sure if some aging would smooth a bit that crash ending.

Notes: Nothing remarkable here, at least not for me, and something that I would rather not recommend, neither for those in love with fresh American versions of the style, or those preferring deeper maltier takes, let alone offering this as an entry point for barley wines, sorry. And the overblown bragging on the label dressing the bottle does not help. I'll be game to try it again in the future though, aged or under a different incarnation.

Chicken Killer Barley Wine from Santa Fe Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 309 ratings.