Killer Penguin Barleywine | Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub

331 Reviews
Read the review
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 331 | Ratings: 728
Photo of Shade1951
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
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 +4.2%
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 -1.7%
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 +10.9%
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 -18.5%
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 -6.4%
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 +12.6%
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 +16.2%
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 +4.5%
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 -4.8%
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 +8.4%
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 +4.8%
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 +11.8%
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 +8.4%
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%
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

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.

 667 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.17/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Hazy red colored beer with a small tan colored head.

Smells sweet and of melon. Mild toffee scent. That is about it not real aromatic beer.

Starts out Bittersweet with a strong tea finish. Flavor of melon. Toffee flavor.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Overall a mild but not real exciting Barleywine.

 294 characters

Photo of Fatehunter
3.2/5  rDev -10.4%

Pours a finger of head on a clear dark straw body.
The aroma is raisins, caramel, lemon and dark ripe fruits.
The taste has brown sugar sweetness and mild bitterness. A short profile.
The texture is crisp.
It's flavor is on the lighter/milder side for a barleywine, still tasty though.

 285 characters

Photo of NSXAG
4/5  rDev +12%

Boulder Beer - Killer Penguin [Barleywine Ale] (22 oz ---> Stemless wine glass : 10% ABV)

Holy shit, that plastic "Makers Mark" style top made this beer far too hard to open, that was annoying as fuck - THEN, FINALLY I POURED MY BEER INTO A FUCKIN' GLASS... It was a beautiful ruby/copper color with an ivory head that faded reasonably quickly, but still had decent retention... Though quite a faint nose, wheat and soft cherry aromas do peek out from time to time, bringing with them, some slight hop notes... Taste is fruit forward, with soft cherry, red apple, and even hints of bubblegum immediately their to greet your taste buds... The malts supply some grain flavor, while the hops donate a dry bitterness... The latter coming through in the second half, offering great stability to the aforementioned sweetness... This whole while, the alcohol hides itself niftily throughout each sip... Mouthfeel on this brew is super solid... Light and somewhat bubbly on the forefront and solid and full on the way down, but never being too light or too full in any aspect... Somewhat of a roller coaster of a beer... But shit - WHO DON'T LOVE ROLLER COASTERS?! Not what I expected, but a sucker-punch collection of well crafted ale that I would love to enjoy again... Another good brew - Cheers!!

 1,294 characters

Photo of SPThirtyThree
2.85/5  rDev -20.2%

A: Killer penguin pours hazy copper with no head, but sticky booze clings to the goblet. 2

S: The nose is a blast of spicy and sweet dark fruits: plum, raisin, cherry, backed with sticky resinous pine hops. Some sweet toffee malt hides behind the spices. 4

T: Hot all the way down, but the 4 years of aging seems to have mellowed and subdued some of the elments. A tinge of metallic flavor follows a sweet malty body. Maybe less aging would have been better here. 3.5

M: Thin, watery, hot on the tongue.

O: Meh. Wish I'd shared this camping this weekend instead of drinking it alone. Mostly hot and sweet and boozey.

 620 characters

Photo of tone77
3.61/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a very dark amber color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of dark fruits, malts. Taste is alcohol, grapes, malts, dark fruits, a bit more alcohol. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is an enjoyable beer, but one of these per session is plenty.

 289 characters

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.25/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

appearance: Quite clear copper/red. Nice off white/pinkish head on the pour. Good looking brew.
smell: Smells like a Dipa or maybe an Imperial Red :). Malt and citrus hops. Has that bit of a grapefruity hop sting balanced by malty sweetness. Very nice.
taste: Much like the nose. Guess we don't need a new category but this is Imperial Red nonetheless.
overall: Very pleasantly surprised. ratings have this guy as mediocre i guess (and 80 as i review). Maybe i'm a philistine but this beer deserves better imo.

 511 characters

Photo of Tone
3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear, dark brown color. 1/3 inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of sweet malt, alcohol, slight roasted malt, yeast, hops, and a hint of spice. Fits the style of an American Barleywine. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, hops, yeast, strong alcohol, hint of spice, and slight roasted malt. Overall, good appearance, aroma, body, and blend. A good Barleywine, but the only distinction is the hint of spice that enhances the body and aroma.

 537 characters

Photo of TruePerception
3.67/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Very nice, deep red in color. Clear. Bright yellow, with a slight greenish tinge, in the dimple. Not much head. Some nice lacing, but it doesn't hold much.

S: Thick, sweet molasses/tree sap smell dominates. Some barnyard funk/hay.

T/MF: Feels every so slightly thick on the tongue. Starts without much flavor, but immediately gives way to very sweet molasses notes all over the mouth, once swallowed! Some stick/branch like notes. Flavor sticks around quite a while, and kicks back in whenever I swallow or salivate. Slight wintergreen and green pine needle notes towards the front. Not up my alley, flavorwise, but very easy drinking.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle (wax topped :argh:), into a Belgian tulip glass.

 718 characters

Photo of PorterLambic
4.16/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage bomber opened May, 2014.

Pours a clear, bright, rusty, copper color with a big (from the lousy pour) tan head. Retention is quite good as is the lacing left behind. Dissipation is even and gentle, leaving a thick film eventually.
Smell is malt, seasoned wood, fruits (grapes, pears, figs). Great balance. Caramel and nut notes as the temperature rises. Good complexity.
Taste is malt, wood, fruit (apple, grapes, pear), alcohol (no surprise), light smoke. Extremely nice balance and complexity. Same nut and caramel notes develop as the temp comes up. Always a good idea to let a big beer like this warm up from fridge temp.
Almost full bodied, light-ish effervescence, warming, quite smooth especially considering the 10% ABV. Aftertaste is woody and there is a light drying aspect to it.
I gotta think The Bros. got a bad bottle. This is a really good brew and I would recommend it to anyone. I wish I had bought more than one. C'est la vie.

 957 characters

Killer Penguin Barleywine from Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
3.57 out of 5 based on 728 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.