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Killer Penguin Barleywine | Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub

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BA SCORE
81
good
330 Reviews
THE BROS
51
awful
Read the review
Killer Penguin BarleywineKiller Penguin Barleywine
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
330
Ratings:
722
Avg:
3.57
pDev:
22.41%
 
 
Wants:
14
Gots:
129
For Trade:
4
User Reviews
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Reviews: 330 | Ratings: 722
Photo of Sammy
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A hopped up barleywine, with some malt. Style bender. Great bubbly head on dark dark brown body.Citrus, fruit, alcohol, active carbonation. Different sweetness but not an exemplary barleywine. Wasn't the night for it to shine, and I do not know if I will give it another chance.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.39/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

2014 vintage.

Pours a clear dark crimson-orange with a foamy tan head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy patches of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toast, caramel, and candied fruit aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel, candied fruit, earth, and metallic flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an above average beer with nice aromas, but there is a metallic quality in the taste that diminishes the drinkability for me.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.8/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: no head really on a clear deep amber body.

S: rich caramel and toasted malts, toffee, hint of chocolate and only a little boozy.

T: this one is pretty sour off the bat. Usually the beers of this genre start boozy and sharp for me. Overall pretty mellow for the style. A little fruity with some earthy hop character.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: certainly more drinkable from the start than your average barelwine with the ABV well hidden. Although drinkablitly improves because of these characteristics, this one comes across a bit watery.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a very drinkable barleywine in my book. 2012 vintage enjoyed in a snifter. the pour is mostly clear copper color with lazy but hearty off white lacing. the nose is quite fruity, dried cherries stand out, but red apple and plum may also be present. lots of alcohol, as well as light vanilla and oak notes tickle the nose. points off for it being a little too boozy, but it smells decadent all the same. the flavor is fruit first, with the cherries again being the main player. toffee and english caramalt round out an otherwise caustic alcohol sting, and a little whiskey sweetness lingers on after the swallow. the alcohol becomes even more of an issue as it warms, stopping short of cleaning solvent, especially in the nose. feel is fine, rather light in body for the style, but not thin or watery at all, just not as heavily clad with malty heft as these usually are. gentle carbonation does not detract from the flavor experience. overall a cool holiday barleywine, i enjoyed the fruit forward side of this, but a few years in the cellar might help get the booze under control. an easy bomber to split with a loved one some night when you plan to stay in.

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Photo of Knapp85
2.64/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Not my favorite barley wine... This beer is an opaque brown color with a solid head on it. The lacing is very nice too.the problem I have with this is the mixture of sweetness and spice. It's not very well balanced. I had a difficult time even drinking the 6oz. Sampler I had. I don't plan on having this one again anytime soon.

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Photo of metter98
3.54/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is crystal clear deep amber in color and has a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high beige colored head that gradually died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface, a thin collar around the edge, and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of caramel malts and alcohol are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, except that there are also some hints of spices and the alcohol seems to be a little more subdued in the taste—except for prominence in the finish. No stickiness is detectable.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation with some warming from the alcohol.
O: This beer doesn't do a very good job at masking the alcohol from the smell and taste and is a slow sipper. The aromas and flavors also lack the complexities exhibited by the top beers in the style.

Note: 2013 Vintage

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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 biboergosum
3.59/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

22oz, red wax-capped bottle, 2013 vintage. Muchas gracias to doktorzee for procuring this for me on his recent foray into that particular part of those United States. Cool, Robot Chicken-evocative label imagery.

This beer pours (after an easier to remove than is the norm cap) a clear, medium orange brick amber hue, with a fistful of puffy, frothy, and widely bubbly beige head, which leaves a ribbon of pockmarked lace around the glass as it slowly and evenly recedes.

It smells of rather sweet caramel/toffee malt, rum-soaked plump raisins, a touch of treacle, somewhat metallic and muddled citrus rind, Pine-Sol, reduced, but weirdly watered-down brown sugar, and herbal, leafy, and somewhat perfumed hops, the bristling alcohol manifesting as such. The taste is more candy-forward biscuity caramel malt, besotted black fruit (plums, raisins, and maybe some figs), singed brown sugar, kind of stale and overripe orange and grapefruit flesh notes, wet pine, thinned-out nougat, and a continuing blended floral, leafy, and boozy hop astringency.

The bubbles are pretty sedate, and generally hard to pinpoint at times, the body a sturdy enough medium weight, and touch and go as far as smoothness goes, those heretofore timid hops starting to break out of their shell. It finishes well off-dry, the caramel/toffee/treacle malt not about to give up the ghost just yet, given its persistent sauced to the gills fruitiness, and the hot mess that is the remaining hop contingent.

While not a bad tipple overall, this one seems to have a bit of a problem choosing sides in the whole 'is it or isn't it' barleywine heritage debate, instead deciding to go off on a weak-ass side project of its own, i.e. dumb everything down, just a bit. I swear, I get a bit of malt liquor (pick yer favourite bottom shelf purveyor) essence when I close my eyes and turn my brain off. Maybe that's more telling than anything I have and will still yet consider about this particular offering. Huh.

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Photo of brentk56
3.94/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage, sampled in Oct 07

Appearance: Pours a cloudy caramel color with a modest head that doesn't retain particularly well but dots the glass with lace

Smell: What a nice caramel malt aroma! Rich with deep burnt sugar tones, figs and dates

Taste: OPens with a rich caramel flavor that delivers some of the dried fruit from the aroma, as well as some powdery chocolate; after the swallow, it all disappears like a chimera into a watery mess; some residual piney bitterness on the finish, however

Mouthfeel: Medium body but way too watery for a barleywine; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Despite its flaws, this barleywine is drinking nicely now; just wish the flavor matched the aroma

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.78/5  rDev -22.1%
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 zeff80
3.23/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Poured out a clear, copper color with amber highlights. It had a two-finger, off-white head of foam that had some big bubbles and left some lacing.

S - It smelled malty and boozy. There was a floral presence.

T - It tasted malty and sweet with a fruity presence. There was a mild bitterness.

M - It was fairly crisp and sharp. A medium to full bodied beer with a strong alcohol warmth.

D - It was too sweet and just seemed "messy". I was not a fan of this one.

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Photo of nickfl
4.09/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with one and a half fingers of off white foam on top of a clear, amber brown body. The head settles pretty quickly and leads nice rings of lace on the glass.

S - An aroma of caramel, molasses, and spicy mustard like hops.

T - Sweet, moderately dark malt up front with some caramel and dark bread. Brown sugar and light molasses in the middle, it finishes with light, peppery hops a bit of bitterness, and lingering cola notes.

M - Medium thick body, moderately low carbonation, and a fairly sweet finish.

D - Not bad, it has a really promising aroma, but doesn't have the same level of hop character in the flavor profile. Still drinkable and smooth, this one was over a year old and seems to have aged favorably.

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Photo of oberon
4.18/5  rDev +17.1%
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 jlindros
3.45/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light fizzy head, semi clear reddish copper color.

Nose has sweet malts, caramel, toffee, reddish toasty malts, hint of earthy hops, syrups, basic barleywine like.

Taste is malty, chewy earthy malts, reddish malts almost syrupy, toasty malts, hint of earthy hops, syrupy caramel and malts, slight bitter and fruity. Plenty of warming booze.

Mout is med to heavier bodied, syrupy, decent carb, plenty of warming booze.

Overall kinda meh, not too bad but sweeter and very syrupy, decent malts but not great, hops are there but meh.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 1/31/2010. Pours lightly cloudy deep ruby red color with a 1 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big caramel, toast, toffee, biscuit, raisin, plum, pear, apple, floral, light pine, brown sugar, light nuttiness, and toasted/yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good complexity and balance of dark/toasted malt and dark fruit notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, toffee, biscuit, raisin, pear, plum, apple, nuttiness, floral, light pine, brown sugar, and toasted/yeast earthiness. Slight pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, toffee, biscuit, raisin, pear, plum, apple, nuttiness, floral, light pine, brown sugar, and toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of dark/toasted malt and dark fruit flavors; with a great malt/fruitiness balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and full bodied; with a creamy, slick, and slightly sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice barleywine style. All around good complexity and balance of malt and dark fruit flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Prologue: I hate waxed caps. It's just gimmicky. If your caps aren't working, wax isn't going to save you from oxidation. It just makes it harder for me to get to my beer - I want my beer now, bitch! Dammit! ...And I hate sometimes getting pieces of wax into the beer; but I do like the cute little year marker though (2008), it reminds me of something like "Hello Kitty". So cute!!!

OK, goofy rant completed, I was kind of surprised that this beer is filtered clean, but OK... It pours a clear, deep-copper body with a ruby accent that almost strays into stained cherry, or even light mahogany. The head is creamy and off-white, with good persistence and some very nice lacing.

The aroma is all malt backed by hops! It's loaded with grainy and caramelish malt, yeasty fruitiness (mainly berries and apple, but also a bit of pear), and mild notes of citrusy and leafy/herbal hops.

Not surprisingly, as most of what we taste is actually olfactory, the flavor remains the same. The malt is soft and smooth with a rich graininess. The caramel is balanced just to the threshold of where it might teeter over into being just a bit too much. The yeasty fruitiness comes through as well, and it's also gently hoppy with a bit of leafiness and some very subtle pine or mint. The bitterness is clearly present, but it underlies the malt, and creates a firm base to display it upon. Interestingly, the alcohol is not so apparent. It's kept in check, which gains points in my book. Sure, you know it's there, but it doesn't stand out; and, in fact, I think it helps to round it out and then balance what sweetness is left in the finish.

Boulder is kind of known for a robust display of malt in their beers, or at the very least, a solid malty base, and a barleywine is perhaps the greatest style to showcase that. They've done a wonderful job! It's grainy, caramelish, and slightly honeyish - but with a great fruitiness, and a refining bitterness topped by leafy and subtly piney/grassy/citrusy/spicy/floral hops! Such a combination, and with such balance!

Superbly done, I'd consider the Killer Penguin to be one of the best American examples of the English barleywine stye. It's approahable, supple, and satisfying. Certainly worth seeking out!

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Photo of mactrail
3.2/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Coppery reddish brown in the little Mort Subite globe. Decent foam but very little lacing in the glass. Canned peaches in the nose. Quite sharp and verges on the acidic.

An anorexic and overheated sort of Barleywine. Slightly woody. An odd candy flavor with some sweet vermouth, but all rather dry. The sugar seems to have been fermented most of the way out. If this was a Belgian quad I'd say it had some wild yeast and a couple glugs of Oud Bruin in the mix. Quite dry and bitter finish. A mineral taste, like an astoundingly strong and dry Saison. This is certainly an unusual variety of Barleywine, and the brewers have been making it since 2002, so they must like it that way.

From the 22 oz bottle, 2011 vintage, so this one's going on a year old. From Grapevine Liquors in Denver.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.08/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 release acquired from COBeerBuff courtesy of the 666-3 BIF, so a big “Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains fruit, caramelized malts and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, brown sugar and some fruit. The malt character is hearty and on-target for the style. The hops presence is complementary but toned down a bit presumably from the two years of age on it. Nonetheless, the balance is right where it should be for this type of beer. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, as a self-proclaimed “Hophead” I prefer my ABW’s with more hops bitterness, but this beer is either proof of the common thought that ABW’s peak at around two-years-old or I just like it more than most people.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.66/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark garnet-hued body with a small, frothed, off-white head.

Smell: Caramelly crystal malt nose. Cherry fruitiness. Fresh-brewed ice tea. Touch of spruce. Blast of ethanol.

Taste: Caramel with a dash of southern iced tea and a bulky crystal malt sweetness. Topped with two, maybe three maraschino cherries. Spruce hints. Citrusy hops with a moderate bitterness. Bittersweet, boozed up finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: A little hot, a little harsh when first released, I've got some bottles of the '06 in the cellar which will soon be joined by the '07 vintage for a long, quiet, much needed rest.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.08/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Particulate-laden reddish copper with sunset orange highlights. The solidly creamy cap of toasted tan foam descends at a near-glacial pace and leaves the inside of the glass spattered with an attractive array of pocked lace.

The aroma emanating from my glass is not the aroma that I was expecting from a strong ale. It's so much more hoppy than malty that it smells like an IPA or even a DIPA. Chunks of orange and lemon rind crusted with light brown sugar is a fair approximation. I like the nose very much, although it could be stronger.

Now this is more like it! The first thing that I notice when the beer hits my mouth is the mouthfeel. Killer Penguin is a full, sweet, almost syrupy beer that is impressive as hell from the word 'go'. The honeyish, cake-like malt backbone is as solid as a rock with sweet caramel and toffee flavors bursting over the tongue and sliding down like heavy silk.

Bitter, grapefruit pithy hops are present in substantial quantities and give the beer a balanced flavor profile with both sides of the scale weighted down fairly heavily. The more I drink, the more it's obvious that this beer is a barleywine much more than it's a strong ale.

The mouthfeel, again, is luxurious with nary a trace of carbonation. The finish is long and lingering, allowing the drinker to continue to enjoy the flavor well after the beer has met its inevitable fate. It's amazing how well the myriad flavors have melded. That may have something to do with the fact that this bottle has been in my cellar for nearly a year. Far from being harmed by the long wait, my suspicion is that it has benefitted immensely.

Killer Penguin is a great name and the label ensures that the empty bomber will be a keeper. The beer is pretty damn good too. I hope that rumors of the Penguin's demise have been exaggerated (its absence on the brewery's website is not encouraging) because it'd be a shame if this is both my first and last bottle of this quality beer.

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Photo of russpowell
4.29/5  rDev +20.2%
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 woodychandler
2.81/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Transcribed from undated notes.

This was presented with a small off-tan head with low retention. Nose had a sharp alcohol scent underlain by a malty sweetness. Mouthfeel was medium with a bit of an alcohol burn on the tongue. As it warmed, I got pine-y notes of hops along with a general malty sweetness. The finish was softly sweet. The Bros. calling it "a barleywine on Mute" was spot on. C'mon, Boulder, crank it up to 11!

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Photo of tdm168
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - dark amber with a soft, off white head

S - candy sugar, caramel

T - caramel, brown sugar, bread, baseball card bubblegum, alcohol

M - full bodied, well carbonated, warm

All the flavors here are pretty faint, and it's a bit boozy. What flavor does get past the alcohol is good, but I'm looking for much more from a Barleywine. I'll look elsewhere.

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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 feloniousmonk
4.1/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wax-dipped 22 ounce bomber, baleful bird glares from the label.

Clear crimson color, with a thinnnish, cola toned head, that gently deteriorates.

Bright, bold, dark fruit beams in the nose. Cherries and berries melded with a mildly cognac-y feel.

Smooth and rich on the palate, sweet and luscious. Despite being a 10% biggie, it's not loud, nor brash. Velvety slick. Thick malt, mellow hops, hefty body, dreamy mouthfeel. Soft, solid finish, dries off gallantly.

A very convivial brew, a delight in the mouth.
This menacing bird turns out to be a pussycat, but a very tasty one. I like it, though it doesn't resemble my favorite barleywines, it's a resfreshing change, and one still stocked with character. I'll enjoy this all night long.

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Killer Penguin Barleywine from Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
3.57 out of 5 based on 722 ratings.
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