Killer Penguin Barleywine | Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub

334 Reviews
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Killer Penguin BarleywineKiller Penguin Barleywine

Brewed by:
Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
Colorado, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-12-2003

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Reviews: 334 | Ratings: 734
Photo of ZebulonXZogg
3.24/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: Pours a nice reddish brown with a small khaki colored head that fades to a ring quickly. No lacing.
S: Burnt sugar, toffee, molasses and fruit. And a hint of something I'll just call "bad perfume", which kind of ruins it.
T: This comes across a little sweet, has a malty backbone and a hint of apple cider.
F: Medium thickness, carbonation seems OK for the style.
O: Alcohol is well hidden. There is something in the aroma and the aftertaste that just seems out of place. I don't think it's as bad as the Bros think, but certainly not one I'll pick up again.

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Photo of Sniperbob
4.03/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into frosted pint glass, color is inviting orange. Smell is sweet carmel. Pours about a finger length of head. Taste is exactly what I would expect from a barleywine, sweet, malty and thick, not too much hop flavor to drown out the malt. Very well made beer, I was surprised to see it rated so low. I will need to buy another and see how it ages.

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Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. Bomber

Pours a pretty nice amber color, pretty nice carbonation, with a pretty nice one-finger off-white head, which leaves some sticky lacing behind. The nose is hoppy, malty, with some dark fruits. The taste is hoppy, malty, dark fruits. Full Body, ABV hidden pretty well. Overall, a very nice brew.

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Photo of jp32
3.01/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours ruby in color with a big head. Carbonation looks nice. Toasted caramel malts dominate it's aroma with some stonefruit in the background. It's flavor is grainy with caramel malts, green apple, pine hop resin, plums, and it finishes relatively tart. Some oxidation is present. Decent beer, but nothing that really stands out to me.

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Photo of 81tillinfinity
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not as bad as the scores here show, especially from "the bros." Drink and review the beer again, brewers can change and a review from 2008 that shows awful will turn off potential drinkers. Their old ass reviews are one of the worst parts of this site. Is this beer top class no, but is this beer an affordable introduction to the style yes. Give it a try.

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Photo of Stevem68
3.62/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a copper Amber color. Aroma is mild maltiness with a hint of vanilla and a touch of booziness. Flavor follows the nose but pretty light for a barley wine. Feel is light as well. Overall decent flavor but everything is too light and out of balance.

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Photo of delta490
3.12/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear ruby brown with just a thin ring of head around the glass. It doesn't leave much for lacing as a result. The aroma is not particularly robust but does some hints of dark fruit. The taste is pretty bland, with just some vague malt sweetness and a tinge of alcohol. The body has a nice weight to it but a little too much carbonation, which is odd.

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Photo of zac16125
3.94/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a snifter
2015 Vintage

A: Pours a clear dark amber with reddish hues, 2plu fingers width of tan colored head builds then has good retention before dissipating down. Leaves lots of nice lacing. 4.25

S: Candied sugar, caramel/toffee, fruity esters, subtle booze. Not the strongest aroma but what is there is quite nice. 4

T: Taste is fairly sweet, lots of caramel/toffee, honey-like sweetness on the finish, subtle bitterness and come booze. 3.75

M/D: Fuller side of medium bodied, carbonation appropriate, its quite smooth for the style, ABV is vey well masked and drinkability is very good. 4.25

O: Solid beer. Nothing spectacular, but an enjoyable drink that I would have again. Not sure why this is so poorly reviewed on BA. 4

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Photo of 303beer
3.66/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a beautiful bubbly orange color with about an inch and a half of head. Very light nose. Has a light taste of malt. Actually that's all I taste. It's drinkable for a 10% beer.

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Photo of dschaff
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this beer in the close out section of my local store. The look, smell, taste, and feel were fine, but the best look was the $3.99 price tag. Awesome dollar beer, maybe not my first choice at $3.50 a bottle, then I'll go with some of the Unibroue products.

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Photo of jwc215
3.03/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle - part of a 4-pack:

Pours reddish amber with a lasting foamy white head. Great retention. Lacing sticks. A very nice-looking beer.

The smell is of raw alcohol and (caramelized) grain - in something of a malt liquor way. Vague (cherry-like) fruitiness. Not a particularly pleasant aroma.

The taste is of sweet grain with medium to semi-dark fruit. Raw booze in a sweet finish.

Thinnish malty body barely hangs on.

This is a sweet boozy brew that lacks depth or complexity of other examples of the style. To me it barely gets a "3" (I was even considering slightly lower). Not the most pleasant aftertaste (boozy cough medicine?). Other than the appearance, I wasn't impressed with it (and still have the other three to have at some point - but not rushing to have them). A mediocre brew at best.

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Photo of MLoxxer
3.34/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I purchased this beer in a 22 ounce bomber whose neck had been dipped in red wax. Prior to being dipped a wooden tag noting the year 2015 was tied around it. When poured a very nice cream colored head was produced. This presented nice contrast against the clear, reddish brown liquid. The aroma is quite pleasant, not nearly as hoppy as I had anticipated. There is an almost sangria-like quality to the smell, inviting and unique for this style. The flavor has a good malty start, a middle that is very wine-like, and a clean, slightly bitter finish. At 10% this beer is nowhere near as boozy as I thought that it might be. Although its flavor is much cleaner than what I’ve come to expect from a barleywine I wouldn’t turn this beer away in the future.

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Photo of John_Beeryman
4.31/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This dark ruby red beer pours with a big tan head and tastes like candied plums. It smells good, it tastes good, you should really drink this beer. Interested to see how it ages.

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Photo of ThaneMcC
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a clear deep red with copious khaki head and solid effervescence. Smells piney hops predominant, some dark fruits, toasted malts become more pronounced as it warms. Tastes sweet malt forward, brown sugar/molasses, prune/fig, there’s an herbal quality mid note with a bit of a flat, earthy or woody tang and transitions to a bite of piney hoppyness with a rather clean finish for such a malty beer. Medium bodied – carbonation provides some levity and astringency and a fairly clean finish.

Overall - I rather enjoyed it. Admittedly, I was at one of those big box stores, cart full of toilet paper and bulk items. They have a small craft beer section - offering stuff I'd never heard of at a reasonable price point. Never having had a barleywine ale, I picked this one up (with some stuff from Clown Shoes, Ommegang and Blue Mountain) - good stuff, to my unrefined palate it tasted a bit like an imperial red ale, or a hopped up english barley wine ale. . .

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Photo of Bear1964
4.42/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up a while back and waited till now to crack it, I checked out this when I got it and I try never to do that so my rating is my own...most reviews we not positive....

Poured from a 22 oz Bomber into a stemmed glass showed off the deep Amber hues and a nice 3 fingered tan head which left great lace as I drank on, aroma was rich with dark fruit with some malty biscuit notes and only a slight hint of alcohol. The taste became deeper and released more layers of flavors as it warmed, hops started to peek through and mixed with the pit fruit and a smokey tart finish almost coats the tongue. The 10% ABV is well hidden even as YOU warm a little as you enjoy this and the mouthfeel is medium/Heavy which is fine for the style, it leaves you with wood hint in the bitter aftertaste or dry coated feeling in the problems and no worries as this was solid and drinkable for a good price.

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Photo of Beejay
3.41/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Medium brown in the glass with a touch of amber at the edges. A large tan head on top, with numerous larger bubbles.

S: Booze, and almost burnt caramel.

T: Lots of hops, earthy with touches of pine and citrus. Some caramel, a touch of cherry with a touch of tannin and burnt caramel in the finish. The booze isn't as noticeable as I thought.

M: Medium thick, with moderate carbonation. A bit of bitter cling in the finish.

O: Overall not too bad, I feel like it falls between an American, and an English style. But it's a little assertive in an almost unpleasant way.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

That mix of copper, red, auburn and brown colors. Tan head holds its own in the lacing and retention categories. Toffee, a malt driven woodiness, earthy citrus super mild aroma.

Taste is a mildly sweet malt, hopping seems American barleywine territory. Caramel. Its not a huge barleywine, a good intro to. Not a bad price on it, availability is good. Not bad.

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Photo of JuMa44
4.37/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm drinking a 2012 wax dipped bottle, kind of annoyed trying to open the wax seal. Not the best but not the worst barleywine in my opinion. It's easy drinking kind of on the sweeter side, where a barleywine should be but I prefer blithering idiot by Weyerbacher. Sort of tastes like Brooklyn monster but with more body. I am a big fan of barleywine sand would recommend this to another fan who hasn't tasted it but wouldn't recommend a second buy.

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Photo of Kadonny
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.06/5  rDev +13.7%
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.

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Photo of SitkaSteve
2.52/5  rDev -29.4%
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.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.96/5  rDev -17.1%
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

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Photo of ClavisAurea
2.97/5  rDev -16.8%
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.

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Photo of ZachHodgson
2.1/5  rDev -41.2%
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.

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Photo of Schimms
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Killer Penguin Barleywine from Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
3.57 out of 5 based on 734 ratings.
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