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Killer Penguin Barleywine | Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub

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330 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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 330 | Ratings: 722
Photo of cambabeer
3.3/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Nice amber ruby body with a centimeters worth of creamy off white head. Small but fast moving carbonation swishing around a very little bit of yeast that sits at the bottom. It looks good.

Huge caramelized figs and dates in the nose. Pow with the fruity toasty malt. Brown sugary and a little vanilla. Alcohol in the nose with bigger wafts. Smells nice.

I was hoping the middle would be a little more balanced as far as the sweetness that was eminent in the nose. It wasn't, this brew is seriously sweet. It keeps the fig and date and brown sugar theme going, with a little burnt caramel taste left over. What little bitterness there is comes right at the end and seems to be only from the toasted maltiness. The alcohol is pretty noticeable, especially at the end.

Mouthfeel is silky and smooth, light carbonation.

Ok, I really can't put my finger on this one. To me, it's certainly not terrible, but it's just a little too sweet and I'd like to see more of the malt character and less of the fruitiness come through. A little more hop flavor to balance (there's not much whatsoever) would also be nice. Too sweet for my palate, but definitely not a drain poor either. I think if I would come back to this in the winter as a dessert beer I might like it more. Interesting....

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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
3.66/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2013 emblem embedded in red wax...neat.
Poured into 22oz snifter; looks like a barleywine. Deep garnet/brown with a moderate yellow/tan head that fades into some sticky lacing and foam on top of the beer.
Smells like a good american-style one; piney hops are present on top of nutty caramel malt, hints of candied fruit.
Taste is not as big as you'd expect, but is still barleywine. Nutty bready malt, crisp hops and light dark fruit. I see what one of the Bros meant with their comment about this being a "barleywine with the mute button on."
Mouthfeel is full and clean.
Overall, a not bad barleywine but could use more depth of flavor.

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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 mverity
3.78/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear red-amber with a fair amount of tan head. Fair lacing and good legs. Head didn't hold all that well though. Aroma is of sweet toffee malts, earthy hops, and a bit of oak-like wood. High carbonation and medium body give it a pretty enjoyable mouthfeel. Taste follows aroma very closely.

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Photo of IronLover
3.55/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reddish orange in color (the bottle says garnet, which is a perfect description - but it would be cheesy to copy the description off the bottle label) with perfect clarity. Poured with a fluffy, rich, white foam with nice retention that left lots of sticky lacings on the glass. Sweet caramel malt aroma with boozy notes.   the thicker side of medium bodied with slightly subdued carbonation and a slick, oily feel. Sweet, caramel malt flavor with light hop bitterness through the middle, boozy notes toward the end, and a sweet, sticky, finish. A very malt forward ale with little hop character.

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Photo of cbutova
3.57/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A- Deep red hue to a beer poured from a 12oz bottle to a large bulbed tulip glass. A thick and creamy off-white head forms to about two fingers. Head retention is above average for the style as the foam eventually dies to a thick, frothy ring. Lacing is a mix of spotty and thick pillows all around the glass.

S- Rich but not quite as strong as some other examples of the style. A few distinct things do come to mind though. The yeast brings some spicy dark fruit esters that are presented with malty notes of toasted nuts, caramel and slight sweets. Hops come alive with some citrus after warming up.

T- Opens up quite a bit compared to the aroma. The yeast and fruity esters intensify with spicy raisin, apple (not acetylaldehyde) and vinous notes. Malts have a fresh cracked grain, caramel toasty and nutty feel and are fairly rich; just a bit of roast too. Moderately-low sweetness. Also has hints of cocoa, brown sugar, molasses and a bit of citrus hops in the finish.

MF- Thick bodied and pretty chewy creaminess lending a nice overall texture. Carbonation is moderately high for the style but works well with what flavors are present. Finishes with a medium warmth and bitterness coating the palate.

Interesting flavors but the overall finished product just doesn't really stand out compared to other Barleywines. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to someone but it also isn't a great example of the style. The yeast fruit is just a bit too strong in the end.

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Photo of glass_house
3.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter

Deep mahogany with a tinge of ruby, nice to look at. About 2 fingers of dense head that is fairly persistent with some lacing. Smell is mostly candied fruit and caramel with a little booze.

Medium-bodied with a slightly creamy and sticky feel, carbonation on the light side of medium. The taste is predictable--what you smell is what you get. A lot of caramel malt accompanied by dark candied fruit and brown sugar. Very little hops to speak of. It's kind of a rush of sweetness, with a somewhat dry finish.

Overall, I like it. But I seem to remember liking it more the first time I tried it. I guess the worst I can say is that it is best enjoyed by splitting a bottle with a friend. The sweetness becomes a bit too much as I near the last few ounces. I feel it could be better with a little stronger hop profile. That being said, I will be buying it again next winter.

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Photo of RickS95
3.28/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

The look you expect with a thickish, murky brown color. Appropriate amount of haze, cloudiness. The head is a finger and a half thick of offwhite/faded yellow colored bubbles. Retains fairly well, leaving a fine lace stuck to the snifter.

Smell fits the bill as well. Full of caramel malts, with a bit of booze to keep it company. Has an earthy scent. The flavors are somewhat dull, however, keeping the score down a bit.

I'm surprised a bit by the taste. Caramel malt is more than accounted for, with a slight alcohol finish, but there's no complexity and it really doesn't taste like a Barleywine, unless you're talking English Barleywine, but not really an American. It's simply caramel malts with little else to back it up.

It's very sweet. Full of malts, it makes sense, but the sweetness never evolves into anything else. There's no punch of hoppy bitterness and only faint heat from the booze. Medium bodied at best with no complexity. Almost a loose watery finish.

While it's not a bad beer, it's not much of an American Barleywine. It's too sweet and never penalizes your palate. Dare I say a 10% ABV Barleywine is a bit girly?

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Photo of run4john
3.71/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - A nice amber hue with a light haze. Head is a thick finger of frothy light-tan foam that held very well.

S - rich and malty with caramel, toffee, candied sugars, orange peel and apple.

T - Comes off malty and lots of green apple. Raisins really stand out in the middle with a nice brown sugar finish

M - Body is medium, malts settle nicely with a soft cream finish.

Overall: Really nice beer to have now, I can see this settling nice in about 6 months. Light acidity on it and kind of nice feel of tannins. Good beer

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Photo of Pintofbrown
3.46/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a snifter. 2013 vintage.

Starting with the bottle, I really like the red wax cap with embedded wood coin displaying the vintage, neat idea and cool look. Artwork is weird but hey, you can't win 'em all.

The barleywine itself is not so bad looking itself. A nice ruby-garnet body with a thick and lasting eggshell colored cap.

The scents comprise some citrus, pine, and herbal hops. A crystal, caramel malt profile, some brown sugar, and booze. It definitely does not hide the fact it is ten percent ABV. However, the profiles are not very big, and I do not especially like the water downed combo of these hops and malts, maybe if the malts were a little sweeter?

The flavors hitting the palate are, indeed, very similar to the nose. Again with that sort of aggravating crystal-y and earthy malt that begins to lean into caramel malts, but will not push all the way. Also, the hops are too mellow for a fresh barleywine. I do not necessarily mind this as I am not liking the more herbal tea and pine profile mixing with these malts. Some sort of tinny flavor coming from mid-palate, only goes away slightly as the beer warms. And my goodness the booze! This one is pretty hot.

The feel is more watery than sticky, but has a nice medium body. It just is not heavy enough for how much booze this carries. Sticky would be very appreciated.

Killer Penguin was pretty good. It just does not have what it takes to be something I would ever seek out again. I am glad I let my curiosity get the best of me to try it. However, the muted barleywine flavors, and the way they all come together just do not work. And I do not think any amount of aging will help this beer.

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

Dark, cloudy caramel color. Clingy crescent of retention around my glass like the Molokin island of Hawaii. Vibrant bottle with a sexy red wax seal. 2011 edition.

Typical barleywine candied fruit and caramel aroma. Tastes pretty much the same. The fruit really explodes on the palette, particularly tart green apple. No heat whatsoever. The hops are still hanging around, any more aging and this barleywine would take on an English accent. So 2 years seems about right.

One of those nothing special or remarkable but done really, really well.

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Photo of BB1313
2.51/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.25

2013 vintage. 12 oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours a dark auburn with slight hazy and nice clarity. Fluffy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves great lacing and retention. The aromas are pretty subtle. Lots of malt, grain, and mineral notes. Very subtle hints of sweet caramel. Flavors are weird. It somewhat has a metallic thing going on. There are hints of cherries. Some caramel and toffee. Some dark fruits. Tons of grains. Very earthy. Some black pepper. Slightly spicy. Finishes dry. Not much alcohol flavor, just some. It's not hot or boozy at all though. Mouthfeel is full-bodied; thin with active carbonation. Ehh..

I'm not really feeling this one at all. Very disappointing. It has a weak nose and off flavors. Not really worth checking out, in my opinion.

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

This barleywine is a thickish dark orange, almost veering into lighter shades of red but generally what I expect. There's a constant bubbling keeping up a creamy cap of head what I suppose is what "ecru" looks like. It starts off pretty well too, though, just more than one finger and fairly billowy, fading slowly and leaving strong patching all the way.
The smell is interesting; I had something of an idea of what to expect and was still caught off guard just a little. It's just not as strong as it should be, the alcoholic sting is a little too harsh, and it's unusually dry. It has the general aspects I regard as belonging to a Barleywine: it's malty with a certain earthiness and a fruity sort of sweetness underlying and some citrus zest. For an American version, it should absolutely have a stronger hops presence. If that happens, and the alcohol is more effectively integrated, and the dryness backs off to remain but not add so much chalky, aspirin-like notes, then it's good. As such, it's really not bad overall.
The flavor actually seems to take some of that into consideration; it doesn't do it perfectly, but it evens out the harsh notes to take the edge off. Some floral hops along with an herbal/earthy note and some citrus pith and grapefruit add a stronger hops bite, though it's still a little too malt-forward for the style. The dryness is still incorporated, which is a good thing, and it's not too chalky. Malts bring out a honey sweetness with some caramel.
The body is medium with a sturdy carbonation. It's a little too easygoing, I would say, though it has a firm crispness and it flows pretty smoothly.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: medium amber hue with a light haze and a pretty strong effervescence. head is a thick finger of frothy light-tan foam. Quite attractive.

Smell: rich and malty with a nice caramel character and a little bit of an alcoholic bite. Not a lot of complexity, but clean and well-executed.

Taste: very malty with a nice raisin and date character right up front. There's definitely an alcoholic fruitiness here, but it's not so hot as to be over the top. Hops are earthy perhaps a little fruity; it's no citrus bomb, though. Bitterness is high but quite smooth in character. I find myself quite liking it.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a decent carbonation and creaminess. A little bit lighter body than I would expect in the style, but not disastrously so.

Overall: I'm really enjoying this beer; I particularly like the smooth, fruity nature of the Penguin. I feel like I could accidentally get into a lot of trouble drinking this, based on how easily it goes down.

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Photo of SeanDonahue
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I decided to open my 2011 Killer Penguin to try it out and to also give my first review of a barleywine since I don't frequent any too often.

The aroma on this beer gives off a ton of sweet notes. I'm getting big fruity notes mixed in with caramel.

The appearance on this beer looks auburn in color. When poured into a tulip glass, it didn't produce that much of a head.

The taste is very sweet. I don't think that this beer has much of a body to it but the sweetness in this barleywine really comes out. Big hints of malt come into play while a hint of cherry also comes out in the middle of the mouth.

Overall, this is a solid barleywine that is great for aging. I've never opened a Killer Penguin yet right after purchasing it but if you have the patience to age it for a year or two, I'd recommend it.

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Photo of dbossman
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is the 2009 vintage:

A: Cherry-caramel hue with a large steady, cream-colored head and decent lacing

S: So much dark fruits at play here: cherries, raisins, etc. but also sweet candi sugars and subtle boozy--almost whiskey characteristics; so much sweet fruity, bready undertones--I am excited because this smells amazing

T: Burnt sugars, roasted bready malts; some subtle fruity qualities--but much more bready and malt forward flavors than the aromas indicated; just not as balanced and boozy and awesome as the aromas hinted toward

F: Fairly creamy with a medium body; a little thin on the back end

O: A decent barleywine that I'm assuming has mellowed in its 3 years; I need to try it fresh but I sure wish it tasted as good as it smells

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Photo of Phelps
3.36/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed at the Boulder tap room at the Denver airport. Enjoyed in a small mug.

Colored like a year-old penny -- tarnished copper with just a bit of haze. One finger of silky tan film sticks around a long time and grips the walls in full blankets.

Big caramel, a touch of roast, orange, toffee, sherry. Hops are fairly mild, just a little orange peel.

Smooth and a little sweet. Lots of sugars -- caramel and alcohol. A bit of toasty bread rolls as well. Long-lingering notes of slightly overripe orange.

Small body for a barleywine, a medium light. Very fizzy, but mildly carbonated. Spike of alcohol at the swallow, big bitterness on the sides of the tongue.

Very middle of the road. Balanced and inoffensive.

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Photo of SHODriver
3.75/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: pours a slightly hazed reddish brown with a half finger of off white head that fades to a collar around the snifter
S: smells smells of caramel, toffee, and herbal hops. very sweet with a bit of fruity alcohol on the nose
T: herbal and slightly piney hops with a syrupy caramel flavor. surprisingly sweet and not a lot of hops. a bit herbal toward the end and the swallow brings a lot of warming alcohol, some fig flavor and a bit more caramel and brown sugar
M: full bodied and slightly syrupy. carbonation is light but slightly prickly. dry finish
O: Not bad but not great. for a fresh american barleywine it's pretty light on hop flavor. the alcohol is there for sure and the malts are pretty solid. a bit more english than american in my opinion

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Photo of BeerDawgs
3.93/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 22oz bomber with a vintage 2011 sticker glued into the wax covering of the bottle top.

A - A dirty cloudy red amber with a finger of head and lots of lace left on the glass. Plenty of sediment floating around in the glass. Impressive appearance

S - Big fruity dank hops with lots of caramel and burnt brown sugar. Great aroma!

T - Very sweet, with huge malt backbone. Grapefruit, sugar. Very good, but not quite as good as the aroma.

M - Well balanced, medium carbonation.

O - A good brew no doubt. Much better than the Bros rating would leave you to believe.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.62/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours out a color that I will describe as copper, amber, mild red and brown. Beige head, not substantial, but what gets there does leave above average lacing and holds down its retention with the best of 'em.

Nose is fairly toffee-esque with plenty of earthy notes to it. Some old aged oak and vanilla going on. Mild citrus tinge.

Taste yields itself to a good amount of earthy and sweet malt, with a good amount of hopping to it. Alcohol was hid pretty well on this beer. The dark bread breadiness was a nice touch, caramel running throughout it. Nothing real exotic going on, this is a straight up middle of the road barleywine. The hops aren't massive, the body isn't massive, the flavor isn't massive. With all that said, I think its well done and above average for a barleywine. Right in the middle in terms of whether this could be classified as an American or English barleywine. Straddles that line quite nicely. Love the chewiness. Bitterness seemed just right, as was the carbonation.

Tend to enjoy this one more in the winter.

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Photo of draheim
3.24/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz (2011) into a snifter. Pours a clear amber w/ moderate carbonation and a 1-finger head of foam that sticks around for a bit.

Aroma is nicely floral and malty-sweet. Caramel and brown sugar. A little subdued.

Taste is pretty harsh up front. Alcohol burn, followed by thin caramel malt and bitter hops. Not very complex.

Mouthfeel is, again, pretty thin, almost watery. Not right for a barleywine.

Overall a disappointment. Closer to an American strong ale than a barleywine. Too many really good ones out there to pick up this one again.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.59/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1746th Review on BA
Bottle to Woodshop snifter

Purchased @Famous Liquors

App- A deeper orange with a bit of wood stain browns and gold’s intermixed in behind it. The head was a smaller ½” with a little bit of bubbles as it fell. The cling really wasn’t there but the density of the center made up for it.

Smell- A very straightforward barleywine to me. Had a good amount of citrus and floral fruits with a thicker malt balance on the aromatics. A solid amount of candy like sugars and the 10% really comes out as well.

Taste- Opens on the palate with a good amount of thicker citrus flavors. The orange, grapefruit flavors dominate and then move into a bit of grassy flavors. As the flavors warm a little bit some creamy sugars come out with a bit of caramel.

Mouth- Solid medium body with a nice medium carbonation level to it. A bit thick on the palate but was still really nice IMO. The residual flavors are those of deeper citrus and thicker caramel malts. Drank again like the Serendipity like a bit of cough syrup, just orange and caramel flavored.

Drink- A pretty good barleywine with a lot of flavors that blended well and were fairly citrus forward. I have liked the few Boulder beers I have had and then this was no different. The booze wasn’t that over bearing. Would like an aged bottle to try.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.73/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a balloon glass.

The beer is a ruby amber. A cream head recedes to big bubbles. Soapy lacing.

Aroma is oaky, sweet and malty with hints of toffee.

Tastes sweet with honey and toffee up front, then a woody body, faint hops.

Mouthfeel is sticky.

Overall, not bad for 10% ABV.

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Photo of kaseydad
3.84/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

First time seeing this locally so had to purchase and consume. 2013 Vintage. And I did not get a wax top! Boo!

Pours a very clear tan/light burgandy pour with a big off-white colored foamy head. Teeny bit of lacing. Definitely a unique pour. Wasn't expecting the see-through appearance. Kinda cool though.

The smell is candied sugar, rubber, plums and moderate booze. Nothing overly complex here. Could be a little early in the bottle process.

Gots some hops in this BW. Decent amount of hops in the taste and also booze comes through immediately. Really get some alcohol soaked fruits as well. Big burn sensation on the swallow. Definitely a tummy warmer during these cold days. Pretty flavorful. And smooth too....if that makes any sense.

Mouthfeel is big and full. Chewy and almost heavy. For a clear liquid, this packs some punch.

Overall I dug this. Based on the reviews I wasn't sure how this would be going in, but I enjoyed my session. It's big and bold and different. Will look to purchase again and set the bird down for a year or so. The 10% is evident but enjoyable.

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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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