Chicken Killer Barley Wine | Santa Fe Brewing Company

171 Reviews
Chicken Killer Barley WineChicken Killer Barley Wine

Brewed by:
Santa Fe Brewing Company
New Mexico, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

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

Added by amicar on 03-07-2006

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Reviews: 171 | Ratings: 361
Photo of Myotus
4.42/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured at 46°F from a 22oz bottle (indecipherable bottle date, but I did have this collared for about five months) into a snifter. Allowed to warm up to 50°F before reviewing. Consumed on 28Jun16.
LOOK: Looks like a Barleywine.
SMELL: Strong aromas of molasses and fig intertwine with mild tree nut, leather, oak, and sweet orange marmalade. Subtle apricot and sweet peach aromas along with hints of bitter hops add an additional whisper of bittersweetness. 4.25
TASTE: The taste profile opens up sweet and strong with molasses and fig. Large waves of sweet orange marmalade immediately trail and amplify the sweetness. The sweetness is met and balanced by mild flavors of leather and oak as the orange marmalade flavors grows slightly stronger and develop a subtle and pleasing tartness. More profile balance is established as mild tree nut flavors come in mid-palate. Like in the aroma, subtle flavors of sweet peaches and apricots along with hints of bitter hops add the right amount of bittersweetness as all prior flavors persist.
FEEL: Feels like a Barleywine with a dryness that isn't too bad compared to others of its style.
NOTE: This was an outstanding American Barleywine. What took me a while to notice was the fact that I could not smell nor taste any of the alcohol. I've never had a brew that completely masked 10% ABV. Unique to this specific beer, was the tart and tangy orange marmalade flavors that bombarded my taste buds. This is another aspect that I have not experienced in this style. I see that this has been deemed as mediocre by others, but perhaps cellaring it for a few months might develop the the balancing sweet profile that I loved and experienced.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.27/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Glass: Karl Strauss 26th anniversary tulip glass
From: Trader Joe’s in (Uptown) Albuquerque, N.M.
Price: $4.99
Purchased: May 7, 2016
Consumed: May 20, 2016
Misc.: No BOD on the bottle

Didn’t really know anything about this when I picked it up on a work trip to Albuquerque, but saw it was a boozy beer and $4.99. Count me in. Not expecting much, even with me not really liking too many American Barleywines.

Poured an auburn, caramel, clear color with 2-to-3 fingers of khaki-white, frothy head. Lots of streaming bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. Excellent, layered, foamy lacing. Excellent retention. (Sight - 4.50)

Smelled a nice whiff of hops and malts, getting toffee, caramel, brown sugar, sticky maple syrup, citrus zest (Citra hops?), floral perfume, nectarine, light molasses and toasted grain. Liking it, not smelling too boozy, especially 10 percent. (Smell - 4.25)

Taste was more maltier than I would have expected, then getting that booze. Tasting sugary caramel, brown sugar, toffee, molasses, boozy maple syrup, dates, raisins, woody malts, bitter pine and some dark fruits. (Taste - 4.25)

Medium body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, warming, slightly bitter finish. (Feel - 4.25)

This was a really good American Barleywine. Very surprised. Would recommend it for sure, especially for the $4.99 price point. (Overall - 4.25)

4.27 | 95 | A

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Photo of Weixiaobao
4.02/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Unique name, good logo. Beautiful copper mahogany color in the glass. Solid head. Pretty ridiculous that this cellarable style of brew has no born on date or even year brewed displayed.

S: Somewhat muted for a barleywine. Some booze, some smoke surprisingly.

T: All the candied, dark fruits associated with quads and barleywines. I'm not getting the overwhelming sweetness others on here have noted. Pretty nicely balanced.

F: Delightful. 10% is rush to the head

O: I picked a couple of these up at local liquor store for clearance price of $2.78 for 651 ml bottles. Incredible value on that. Tried one, one went to cellar, going back for two or three more for drinking and cellaring. Always great to find an irrational price discrepancy like this to take advantage of. Am going to assume that the bottles I'm buying are a year plus old.

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Photo of stevoj
3.07/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Best attribute of this beer is the fact that the ABV is hidden, goes down smoothly. Murky dark amber body with initial high fluffy head. Malty aroma with a hint of mustiness. Taste is more sweet malt, some toffee, but abrupt finish. Not picking up the metallic notes of previous reviewers. Good, but not great.

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Photo of tigg924
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Taste is caramel,toasted malt, light amounts of dark cherry and coffee roast, as well as a bit of barky hops at the end. Think this drinks more like an English barleywine. Above average for the style, but I have others I prefer. Worth a try.

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Photo of rangerman21
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A- Ruby amber, fine white head, good lacing
S- Fruity with a hint of alcohol
T- Malty and complex, great bitter finish
F- bright with very fine bubbles
O- Interesting and good. At 10% it's not overwhelming

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Photo of sjdevel
4.57/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Upon pouring out of the bomber, there was decent 2-3 finger head soon diminished but was left with some continuing lacing. This brew displays a very nice amber glow that is quite hazy but still lets some rays of light through.

Smell: First waft is of caramel with notes of fruit. With this brew being 10% ABV, I expected to pick up on more of a piercing alcohol smell, but not the case here. There are just some slight floral notes, but not very aromatic for a Barley Wine.

Feel: There is a nice medium-full bodied mouthfeel with this one. It is quite effervescent on the tongue. It is a tad on the dry side but still very smooth.

Taste: There is an immediate tartness, but not overly bitter (as in not being overpowered with hop bitterness). The tartness is soon offset by some malt sweetness and not a high level of hoppiness as you would expect kicking in at the end.

Overall: This Barley Wine is very pleasing to the tongue / palette. This is a well rounded Barley Wine that has a near perfect balance of bitterness and malts, but I am left wanting a little more hop flavor. I have not been displeased with a Santa Fe creation yet and I would purchase Chicken Killer again.

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Photo of stakem
3.14/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Bomber into a snifter. Im not sure which exact vintage this is but it was acquired via trade and has been in my cellar for minimum 3 years. Since im clearing inventory, its time to scope this out. It pours copper in color with an off-white head that fades leaving spotty lace.

The smell is toasty grain with some fruity aspects of alcohol overtop a mild oxidative aspect like paper. More smells reveal a trace of herbal hops. The taste is that of raison upfront and then cardboard oxidation. Some alcohol and bitterness still lingers.

This is medium bodied and lightly carbonated. I did this beer a disservice by holding on to it this long. Im sure it was better when fresher...if you have one of these, drink it within a year or 2, dont hold on to it too long.

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Photo of tone77
3.91/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 22 oz. bottle. Has a dark amber color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of dark fruits, malts. Taste is malty, alcohol, dark fruits, easy drinking considering the abv. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a quality beer.

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Photo of Phocion
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bomber pours into a snifter with a very thick and dark mahogony body. Small beige head which falls fairly quickly into thin, but resilient sheets of lacing.

Aroma is rich caramel malts. Brown sugar and molasses. Bready and a generic "malty" scent. Quite a few dark fruity esters, like rum-soaked dates.

Flavor follows the nose. Malt-forward but with a slight bitter touch. Fairly well-balanced, actually, and not overwhelmingly sweet. Toffee and alcohol, and just a touch bready.

Full-bodied and low carbbonation. Not as chewy as many barleywines, but still somewhat thick. A bit of alcohol warmth but not too hot.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable barleywine, but nothing particularly stands out about it. Good balance, good mouthfeel. Not overwhelming in any way.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.66/5  rDev +28%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Santa Fe Chicken Killer Barley Wine has a medium-to-thick cream-colored head, a murky, highly bubbly, rust-orange appearance, with low-level lacing left on the glass. The aroma is of sweet & sour sauce, sourness, light fruits, sharp hop resin, and lots of barley malts. Taste is of those same elements, with noticeable bitterness to offset the malt sweetness. Very bready. Mouthfeel is heavy and chewy, and Santa Fe Chicken Killer finishes between wet & dry.


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Photo of avwrite
3.4/5  rDev -6.6%

Strong stuff. It has a dark ale flavor, and has that familiar molasses taste. Was a little frothy, and the bitterness hits you like a wall after a few sips.

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Photo of SHODriver
3.75/5  rDev +3%

A: poured into a DFH snifter to a deep copper with a one finger dense light tan head that is slow to fade and leaves decent lacing
S: smells of caramel and bitter hops
T: taste is toasted malt, caramel, and hop bitterness with some pine. swallow is a little alcohol, caramel, and some floral hops
M: this sits surprisingly light for the style with slightly prickly carbonation and a drying finish
O: Decent but not remarkable. better than some attempts but the hops seem to have faded awful quickly. probably would have been very drinkable fresh

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%

Undated bomber at 40 degrees into standard pint glass
Aroma of malt and caramel
Head large (5 cm), light brown, creamy, slowly diminishing to a 3 mm layer
Lacing poor – rare small island of small bubbles
Body dark amber, slight chill haze which disappears as the temperature rises
Flavor of caramel, moderately sweet with alcohol in the background; no hops, no diacetyl
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation

Aroma 3, Appearance 3.5, Flavor 3.5, Mouthfeel 3.5, Overall 3.375 Final: 3.375
I’m not a barleywine fan but this isn’t half bad. It loses points on both taste and aroma because I can detect no hops. Otherwise, it meets the criteria for an American-style barleywine.

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Photo of EGreen
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Malty. Breads, citrus, with some mild spice in the nose. Toffee, lots of toffee, plum, berries, slightly citrus, bready, very smooth. A nice barleywine. Not extraordinary but solid. Specific issues with the cloudy-ish look of the beer.. not very appetizing.

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Photo of StaveHooks
3.04/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

22oz bottle served in a Prairie teku

A - Dark reddish brown with 2 fingers of yellowish tan head. Good retention with average lacing.

S - Doughy and bready caramel, mild apples, and some citrus notes,

T - Scorched caramel malts, very yeasty and biscuity, citrus honey tea. Bitterness comes more in the form of peppery notes, not sure if it's from the hops or the alcohol. Sweet upfront but dries out on the finish. Toffee and caramel malts really unfold once warm with some strawberry fruit as well. There's an odd vegetable flavor in there that I can't pin down and don't really love. The finish seems lackluster.

M - Moderate stingy carbonation bites the palate, medium to full body, dry finish.

Smells good and the malts dominate the hops. This is the 2nd time I've had this beer and I didn't love it the first time and I still don't. There is some weird flavor going on that I can't figure out but it seems to ruin it for me.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.94/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the brewery in early February 2014. Served in a snifter at an 8 ounce pour.

A good appearance to start things off. There's a finger thick, frothy head that I'd call very foamy. Beneath is an opaque, dark amber and brown liquid.

The nose is citrusy hops, orange peel, sweet malt and floral hops. I like what I smell.

I get a bit of an offtaste on the tongue at first, something metallic, but then the taste improves dramatically. Citrusy hops come in, followed by sweet creamy malt, then the floral hops show up and complement the citrus. A good mix. As the beer warms a bit I detect notes of vanilla and caramel too.

Aside from the metallic taste that is a bit harsh on the tongue initially, I found this beer to be smooth, sweet and creamy. If not for that offtaste, I'd absolutely love this beer.

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Photo of TownDunkel
3.77/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Santa fe got to love a local brew... By local one of the closests in west Texas. Hops are prevalant but in this barleywine it shares the light with the malt well. Pipes dark to medium brown with milk chocolate head. Smell is of noble hops and taste is a decent mix between malt and hops. The aftertaste is clean and subtle ipa like. Overall a good local big beer

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Photo of PHBoiler
2.46/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Burnt orange to amber colored body with a thin offwhite head. Little to no nose. There is a hint of sweetness. The taste is pure alcohol. Just tastes like grain alcohol and acetone. This beer is way off. Nothing wrong with the bottle and purchased recently as well. No bottle dating. Nothing positive about this beer. I got a light sweetness up front that is destroyed by the grain alcohol/acetone taste.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from a nondescript liquor store in southwest Denver. I wonder if I ever saw Walter White drinking any of this brewery's products?

This beer pours a mostly clear, dark red brick amber hue, with a fistful of fingers of rising puffy, densely foamy, and somewhat creamy beige head, which leaves some spectral sudsy lace around the glass as things sink away.

It smells of heady bready, biscuity caramel malt, a hint of crystallized toffee, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, earthy, leafy hops, and a mild twinge of sweet alcohol. The taste is still pretty sweet, and complexly so, with more biscuity caramel malt, baba cakes, dry molasses, gritty demarara sugar, a bit of fresh black grapes, laid-back earthy, leafy hops, and a slight booze warming.

The bubbles are generally quite understated, just a dull hum throughout, the body a sturdy medium weight, and so-so in its smoothness, a needling prickliness hovering about. It finishes off-dry, not as sweet as one might have been expecting, as the biscuity character takes center stage, the earthy, leafy hops loitering as well.

A decently understated American barleywine, if we're to take their word for it. I think this tastes exactly what an Imperial ESB might want to taste like, so that would default to English all around in my book. Anyways, well-made, and definitely not too heavy, other than in the ABV, which is conspicuous only in its general absence. Wait for it, I know.

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Photo of TheHammer
2.92/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: The body is an opaque reddish brow with decent signs of carbonation. It poured with a finger and a half of head. It did retain admirably but produced minimal lacing.

Smell: A walloping hit of malt with a sandy background. It's fairly clear that it has a high alcohol content. Warming brought it out a bit more, but it really didn't need help.

Taste: Overwhelming malt with touches of grapes and plum. It finishes with notes of piney and earthy hops. The entire beer however doesn't hide it's alcohol content at all.

Mouthfeel: The biggest problem is the solvent note because the alcohol and the carbonation is a bit low. Apart from that though, it seems to carry a nice malt and mixed yeasty fruit aftertaste.

Drinkability: There is way to much undisguised alcohol content, and the overwhelming malt grows tired. Not a fan at how it sits down in my stomach either.

Final Thoughts: As my second barleywine, this doesn't appear to be a style that does it for me. It's like a high ABV Belgian gone wrong. I'll pass, but that doesn't mean you should.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.84/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass.

Thanks to twiggamortis420 for this bottle!

I've heard too much about bachelorette parties; now, gimme a beer, dammit! This stuff pours a murky sunset auburn topped by a finger of khaki foam. The nose comprises rye-ish biscuit, light toffee, mild tobacco-like greens, a twinge of candied orange peel, and a hint of celery. The taste continues the trend, with a spicy biscuit backbone riding high in the saddle, surrounded by mixed greens that don't pack much of a bitter wallop, but still serve as a minor balance to the malt. There's a slight twang of booze, but nothing that distracts from the main attractions. The body is a hefty-leaning medium, with a rather light moderate carbonation and a smooth feel. Overall, a nice, surprisingly easygoing barleywine, one that showcases a balance and a restraint you don't normally find stateside. Good times.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.57/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Real nice in the glass, auburn and clear, great head and substantial lacing.

Smell is primarily malt with some caramel and a little bit of spicy, earthy notes.

Flavor is pretty malty, with toffee, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and a little plum/sweet fruit. Hops are present but not especially notable.

Mouthfeel is thick and full, sweet on the finish, a bit slick, and definitely warming from ETOH.

It's a tasty barleywine, not my favorite but worth a try for barleywine lovers.

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Photo of zeff80
3.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Poured out a clear, burgundy color with a one-finger, off-white head of bubbly foam. It left some sticky rings of lace.

S - It smelled malty with notes of toffee and caramel.

T - Very malty and sweet. Caramel and toffee flavors dominate with some spicy bitterness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale.

O - This isn't a bad barleywine, but its not a great one either. Good.

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Photo of beergoot
4.22/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep mahogany red body with a very thick, very creamy off-white head. Dark fruit, malty nose; slightly licorice, slightly sugary; hint of cinnamon and coriander. Smooth and delightful mouthfeel; silk and glass; semi-treacly and medium-heavy body. Flavors run from sweet, heavy, fruit-like notes to a slightly spicy and decently boozy combination that melds nicely with an interesting spicy bitterness midway through the finish.

A fine heavy yet intriguingly tasty malted beverage. Your palate gets treated to a variety of malt, hop, and boozy flavors that mix well together, always providing nuanced taste treats when allowed to coat the palate. Yes, a damn fine beer...

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Chicken Killer Barley Wine from Santa Fe Brewing Company
3.64 out of 5 based on 361 ratings.
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