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 Sammy
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A most drinkable barleywine. Nicely balanced with the caramel malting and the normal barleywine taste,some dates, this one will transition people to barleywines. Brownish colour with good head. Above average mouthfeel, although above average carbonation.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to holden303 for sending me this one as part of the N00B BIF 6!

Pours a slightly murky honey orange with a 1 inch puffy light tan head that settles to a thin cap. A foamy curtain of lace coats the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, toffee, and lots of citrus zest. Taste is of malt, brown sugar, and somewhat strong citrus zest flavors. A slight apricot flavor on the aftertaste. There is a medium amount of bitterness that lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a higher level of carbonation with a crisp and bubbly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good barleywine but it's a bit out of balance for my tastes. I wish there was more malty sweetness to go along with the hoppy flavors.

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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 brentk56
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a caramel color with a foamy head that settles to a film while leaving some lace behind

Smell: Caramel aroma with hints of alcohol and hop

Taste: Toast and caramel up front, with a bitter hop and alcohol burn developing by mid-palate; after the swallow, the burnt flavor dominates, with the caramel resuming on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation; warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: Middle of the road barleywine that lacks complexity; balanced and easy to drink

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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 mactrail
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice amber appearance in the chalice. Fine head and lacing. Touch of roasted malt in the aroma. Very sweet and rich. More acidic than most barley wines. Nutty and taste of golden raisins and apple pie. Not much bitterness but some hops do come through. Long nose of caramel.

Really fizzy in the mouth for a barley wine. Carbonation lasts and lasts in the glass. Still it's easy to drink especially if you think of it as an improved product from Champale. Or maybe I'm confusing it with Manischewitz Almonetta.

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Photo of russpowell
4.09/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Could've swore I reviewed this before, but old age might be tricking me,,, 22 OZ bomber

Pours an effervescent reddish caramel with 2 fingers+ of brownish sandy colored head. Superior lacing & head retention

S: Bready with hints of brown sugar

T: Bready & fruitty (dates) with a little too much boozeyness up front. Some slight chocolate & herbal hops. Oaky dryness & breadyness dominate the finish, with a little fruittyness (dates, spiced apples & some pears) thrown in for good measure & little more dryness & alcohol burn, plus a wee bit of maple syrup sweetness

MF: Chewy with medium carbonation, pretty rich & sticky

Drinks great for the ABV. Skews to an English style BW IMO, fans of those will love this. A little more finesse with the malt & or alcohol taste than this offers or some more hops to get this to the upper ecehelons of BWs. Still way better than the 1st time I had it, but snow is falling, maybe it's all about the weather??

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.02/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up this bottle last year and have been sitting on it for what seemed like forever. I decided to open this one up last night. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 11/25/2008.

The pour was nice enough. Rich dark amber in color with a smooth look to it. Nice cloudiness to it. Some carbonation could be seen streaming up from the bottom of the glass, with a nice amount odd white head sitting on top of it. Smooth settle, left behind only trace amounts of side lacing. The aroma was rich, light notes of alcohol and a ton of bready malts. Hints of pine resin hops and a nice, touch of grain mingling in throughout the profile. The flavor was smooth as could be, a very mellow barley wine with hints of caramel and a muted hop note. Interesting balance here, with the alcohol mostly hidden in amongst the profile. Easy to sip, the carbonation was spot on.

Overall an enjoyable barley wine that I am glad I had the chance to try. I would say this would be worth another look.

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

Shared this bottle with a few friends, received in trade from RickSawyer, thanks for the opportunity.

This bottle had about a year's aging on it at the time of review.

Pours a medium dark amber with a fluffy off white head that dissipates quickly. Smells of sweet malts, lots of caramel some toffee, slight citrus hops. Taste is a bit citrus and caramel not a whole lot of depth here. Certainly tasty but kind of one dimensional. Body is a little thin for the style, carbonation is medium, mouthfeel is creamy/syrupy. Alcohol is certainly well hidden. Nothing offensive here, certainly tasty, but there are much better Barleywines out there.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not sure exactly what happened here. Feels uneven as far as taste goes and it lacks a smooth flavor. Feel is decent, but there isn't much going on here that is really saving the experience. Maybe it wasn’t the best bottle, though I probably won't ever know. I can’t say there is any hope that I would try it again.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Chicken Killer Barleywine, Santa Fe Brewing, New Mexico's First Microbrewery.
Interesting: "Chicken Killer Barleywine Is a revolutionary beer that will someday define America's unique barley wine style." Really? Rather a bold statement! "...the potency of Chicken Killer gives us the remarkable spectrum of flavors that can be found in no other beer, in no other city." You don't say! Well, let's try it and see...

Clouded, rich, hazy, garnet hue. huge, creamy head.
Wood, brandy, and cherry in the aroma. Leather and soft spices, with a whiff of green apple, Funky fruit unfolds.

Heat hits right off with the first taste. Highly hopped, but mellow soon enough. Richness and bold flavor hangs long in the mouth. Booze is felt, too, abundant flavor is appeciated, but, despite the boasts, it doesn't go anywhere new, really, nowhere Bigfoot hasn't been. Feels a bit like some British barleywines, not as much of the full hop force of the American style.

This is a fully flavored beast, though, and should be savored at just the right temperature, just the right occasion, sipped slowly, and shared with friends.

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Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/20/07- Purchased at Sun Devil Liquors in Mesa, AZ.

Presentation- 22oz botle with no freshness info on the bottle. Poured into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance- Mid to deep golden color with a full one inch head upon pour. Fades fairly quickly with just a very light rim remaining. Leaves nice lace trails behind though.

Smell- Seems like more sweet roasted caramel malt than hops. Although, hops are both pine and grapefruit in nature and come through as well in the nose.

Taste- At first it seems like the perfect balanced barleywine. Then after a few sips the hops kick in with avengence. Fairly smooth toasted caramel candied malt combines with a pretty potent hit of grapefruit bittering hops. This one is simple and straight forward.

Mouthfeel- Smooth, fuller mouthfeel with a lingering hoppy flavor remaining.

Drinkability- Simple recipe...hops and malt, both frolicking together hand in hand. They make a great team in this beer. Nothing over the top incredible, but pretty damn good nonetheless.

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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 Mebuzzard
3.29/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

first try from Santa Fe. Looks purty. Creamy golden/reddish hints in the body. Nice dense, white head and the lacing is great. Head returns with a just a quick swirl.

Aroma is lackluster, I think. Heavy on malt sweetness, but lack of breadiness or roast. A touch of resin, or maybe that's the alcohol.

Malty. Not the hop bomb like many other ABWs. Takes some getting used to. The flavors aren't bad, just a bit pedestrian. Malt, lightly roasted. Some soft stone fruit...maybe apricot?

Feels a bit flat, too. Nothing really stands out here. For the abv, it's easy drinking. I just got a bit bored with it.

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Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to mhewes for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a nice cloudy golden brown color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy tan head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, a nice touch of hops, some slight spices. The taste is slighlty sweet, malty, hoppy, and a touch of spice. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a very nice Barleywine.

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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 Mora2000
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a hazy brown color with a white head. The aroma is brown sugar, molasses, dark fruit and alcohol. The flavor is heavy on the brown sugar and dark fruit. I also get some caramel malt and a little bit of piney hops. There is also quite a bit of alcohol warming in the beer. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A nice barleywine.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I acquired this in a trade from turbine2475. Thanks for the chance to try it. Pours dark orange with some ruby highlights. The head fades a bit but settles to a thin cap for the life of the beer. Smells a bit sweet, and a bit hot, a tiny bit bready, and with some spiced pear on the finish. The taste is not nearly so hot and the flavors are more integrated than is indicated by the nose. Some tangy, spicy malt, earthy hops, caramel, pear, honey , and a dry finish that caps it off nicely. Fairly dry and smooth and integrated in the mouthfeel. Pleasant to drink, but you can definitely feel the alcohol creeping up on you.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours with quite a murky, muddy amber color. It is topped by a frothy, bright amber-tinged, tan colored head that starts out almost three-fingers in height. The aroma is quite rich and concentrated; notes of candied orange peel, brown sugar encrusted rustic bread crust, sweet orange spice cake, lychee, and murky caramelized malt (if that last makes sense). This beer really has a pronounced, sweet, candied orange aroma to it. The hops definitely are the dominant character, but there is a ton of malt underneath that just add to a very rich, chewy smelling aroma.

Quite sweet tasting and the sweet orange peel notes play quite a prominent role in the flavor as well. Thick, though not overly so; it certainly sticks to the palate, coating my mouth with caramelized malt sugars and orange zest, which slowly fades after the beer has left my mouth. The malt character here is quite rich; redolent of the afore-mentioned caramel, toasted grain, brown sugar notes and a real meaty malt character. This beer has a nice solid bitterness to it, but it is amazingly smooth; the bitterness is quite clean in the finish. Towards the finish the hops contribute a flavor that is menthol-like, resinous, not quite pine, but definitely a bit green.

This is an enjoyable brew, somehow it is not quite integrated though. At times it can be a touch disjointed; this doesn't keep it from being tasty, but I could certainly see how this could be quite a bit better. All it really may need is a little age; perhaps six months to two years may just be what this beer needs to achieve new heights.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received from stopbarking in our recent trade... Thanks Daniel!! Poured into my Chimay goblet.

3/4" head dies back fairly quickly... spotty lacing... brew is hazy orange.

Caramel and citric hops with some spicy alcohol notes... a little bit of yeasty fruitiness.

Flavor has more of a fruitiness than the nose... more floral hops than citric on the palate.. still a fair amount of caramel and maybe even some brown sugar.. again some spicy EtOH... Body is deceivingly light... and the carbonation is pretty much perfect.. Strikes me alot more of an English BW... fruitiness is sorta like a lite apricot or pear as it warms.

Thanks Daniel... I have one more of these that is about a year old and will probably age it for another 6 months or so... I'm glad I got to try a fresh version... but this guy could use some time in the bottle to mesh the flavors... it seems like a little of a mash-up right now.

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Photo of Zorro
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A chill hazed red colored beer with a fair sized tan colored head. The head has some staying power.

The smell is sweet and quite spicy with a citrus hop scent. Under that there is an aroma of melon. Melon with salt and pepper on it describes the aroma perfectly.

The taste starts out strongly of cantaloupe melon and mint. Mildly bitter aftertaste and strong pine flavor. Malt becomes enhanced after this warms, mostly melon juice.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Something here I don't like but I can't exactly put my finger on it. Might need to age some more and get less hoppy.

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Photo of weeare138
3.62/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Much thanks to witbier for picking this one up while in Texas...
Appears a hazy, semi-transparent, dark amber with a small, off white head. Scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of cherries, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and mild citrusy hops.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a sweet caramel flavor that stands out among the mix of flavors dancing along the palate.
Mouthfeel is sweet, medium bodied, with doughy yeast hanging on through the finish.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one pours from 22oz bottle a clear deep amber with a medium sized head of foam. A couple of minutes in to the session, it shrinks to just a few islands in the middle and it has some lacing.

The smell has a big nose of caramel malt with some hop notes floating in the background.

The taste on first sip is also big on caramel malt but it is not overly sweet. A few more sips in and I'm getting some dark fruit flavours, and some hop bittererness...but not much. I'm also getting some roasted malt, some grain and a bit of an alcohol burn when it goes down but it's not objectionable in my opinion. This is a good BWSA.

Bottom line: I picked this one up on my last trip to Ft Collins and it's a good example of the style. I'd buy it again.

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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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