Chicken Killer Barley Wine | Santa Fe Brewing Company

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Chicken Killer Barley WineChicken Killer Barley Wine
366 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 366 |  Reviews: 172
Photo of northaustin
3.68/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

poured into a schnifter. pours a semi hazy dark reddish with alot of thick off white head that hangs around for a very long time and leaves a very solid and thick lacing.

smell: classic barleywine, lots of hops, thick malt, and alchohol. i love it.

taste: matches the smell. not much too it besides syrupy sweet malts, an asston of hops, and a very strong alchohol bite.

mouthfeel: very sticky and syrupy back in your throat.

drinkability: this is a nice example of a barleywine. not sure about it being a "revolutionary beer that will someday define americas barleywine style" but it is very drinkable for fans of the bigger cheaper beers.

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Photo of maximum12
3.25/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thanks for stumac for sending this one my way almost a year ago. It has been sitting patiently in the cellar/fridge ever since, awaiting the night it would be summoned for duty. The Twins forced a playoff game against Detroit tonight - this is my celebration beer!

Pretty brew, very coppery, similar in appearance to an amber with some visible bubbles. Almost no head on this 10%er. Smell is all about the dark fruit & alcohol twang.

Chicken Killer might have been great. Might have made the big leagues. But, as others have noted, there's a bottle-cap, metallic jingle to this one, like somebody dropped a bag full of pennies in the mash, that is distracting & unpleasant, especially for those of us with metal fillings. There's some good malts, fruits, & warming alcohol, all wrapped up in candied sweetness, but it's offset by the Metallica. Causes the drinkability to suffer as well - any more of that & it'd be a drain pour. As is, it goes from potential A to A- territory downward, fast.

Too bad. Still a decent enough beer, but something happened to the Chicken Killer that derailed it from its intended path. Love to try this on tap, or without the funk. I bet it's much better.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.38/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Acquired this in a trade with stephens101. Thanks Lane!

Poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Looks opaque and cloudy at first, but once held to light the beer is perfectly clear and bright candy apple caramel in color. I can even see very light streams of carbonation rising through the body. The head is small, foamy, and khaki-colored. Moderate retention; hot much lacing. I should note that the beer becomes cloudy once the yeasty sediment at the bottom is poured in.

Smell: Caramel, pine, and much milder candied fruits. A touch of alcohol toward the end. A little too faint in my opinion, and what's there ain't anything special anyway.

Taste: Sweet red berries, raisins, caramel, sage, and light pine. I even get a bit of pilsener malt. Odd. Hops come in toward the finish; they're flowery and mildly bitter. Not my favorite b-wine, but it's certainly interesting.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy and sticky, but not all that messy. The finish is actually a bit effervescent. Dryness builds in the aftertaste. Body isn't too heavy. Aftertaste could be stronger.

Drinkability: This was an good, but I wasn't wowed by any of the aspects the beer had to offer. Good all-around. Yeah, that's about it.

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Photo of burnerfinger
3.62/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

opened up this one watching week one of the NFL 2009. (Sept 13, 2009)

A: poured from the 22 ounce bomber into my tumbler. Miminum one finger head settles Fast.
Brew is honey colored - and decidedly Cloudy.

S: Pleasing Fruity aroma: malty too. Nothing at all bitter or hoppy to the nose.

T: Fruity Alcohol: with a malt base. comes up front with the complex fruitiness, then the alcohol hits you as an aftertaste.

M. A bit lighter than the taste implies, but certainly not light. A real complex depth here.

D: NO on the drinkability. Tarty fruuityness plus the boozeahol are a bit much. this one is really more of a wine than a beer. (as the name and the style implies.)

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Photo of brownbeer
2.91/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reddish amber with a tall off-white head that rises and falls quickly leaving lacind.

Malty without many hops,rotten veggies.

Sweet, full bodied with brown sugar and too sweet, sugary. Not a lot going here.

Overall, this is a barleywine that's not worth buying.Unless...

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Photo of webbcreative
2.85/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured dark amber color, red brown with more brown, and 2 finger white head. A= smells semi-sweet, and a little bit of floral hops but not a lot. T= has some sweetness from the malt, and has a touch of bitterness from the hops, but overall this is weak for a barleywine, come one! M= thin, and weak, not enough body.

Overall as a big beer, its pretty decent, but as an american barley wine it misses the mark. Needs to be sweeter, hoppier, and needs more body. meh.

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.68/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a gem clear, dark amber, to new penny copper beer, with a solid two fingers of fine almond froth on top. The carbonation steadily streams upward, while the lacing coats the snifter glass. The viscosity of this beer, lays down a film that washes the lacing with each sip.

Chicken killer's weapon of choice seems to be the hop, with a strong pine resin aroma mixed with orange, spice, and a hint of soap, followed by cherries and licorice. As it warms, saltwater taffy is revealed.

Hmm, this is less off- balance, than suggested by the nose, but still firmly on the hop side of the equation. The alcohol heats to the point of numbing the pallet rather quickly. The hop aromas were a decoy. Before losing grip, the tongue is able to discern strong spice and a sustained acidic finish.

This offering from Santa Fe has a medium body, with lively carbonation, and bone dry. But the alcohol is the real theme, far to present, it almost resembles moonshine in its ability to peal paint.

Chicken Killer is clearly a sipper, probably best with a strong cheese to match its bite. I'm enjoying mine, while listening to a live harp performance. Perhaps the soothing resonance of the harp has mellowed my opinions, and perhaps the alcohol has raced to my veins, but this is still a decent beer.

Oh, and for the record, I have known a few chicken killers, and can vouch, they take no hostages, find no nourishment, and seek only to decimate the flock. Santa Fe may have been aiming for this with the alcohol, but a true chicken killer is significantly more rabid.

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Photo of charlesw
2.64/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Beautiful brown/light brown/amber with a decent-sized head that lasts a couple of minutes. A touch light on the color and I wish the bubbles would last longer.

Smells of left coast hops - light, fruity, citrus. Hints of earthy, sugary tones. I'd be happier with more confrontation and definitely more to the malt nose.

Oh. Bummer. It's so not a barleywine. No body, no bitterness, no sweetness. Bummer. With all they say they put into it (twice the ingredients for half the extraction sounds to me like four times the concentration) they could have done so much more. In particular it needs to be sweeter and more bitter. It also needs more body. This is like drinking Andygator. Not so bad in and of itself, I guess, or as a Belgian something or other but not to style and not interesting.

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Photo of jneiswender
2.58/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured out of a 20+oz bottle into a "coke" glass.

A-cloudy amber/garnet body and a nice, dense beige head.

S-floral, sweet malt smell

T-flat flavor, malt...check, hops...check, alcohol...check


D-This just didn't do it for me. Very one dimesional. I hate to catergorize a barley wine as weak, but this is it.

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Photo of jpaltan
3.28/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

No date on bottle. Ruby red, with thick frothy head after a vigorous pour. minimal head after that. Smell is pear and apple, seems to lack that patented brown sugar smell, so many other bw's have, it's there but has no back bone. taste is dark fruits, some brown sugar, the pear and apple from the nose. bitterness is there in the finish, but not a good hoppy finish. it's rather metallic, coppery. the metal flavor is more pronounced as it warms. Mouthfeel is chewy, sticky, nicely carbed. Drinkability is low. the alcohol content and the strange metallic taste made finishing the bomber a real struggle.

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Photo of joepais
4.45/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to JVD for sending this along
Bottle over a year old poured into a few snifters produced a tan colored head that settled out to nothing. The color of the brew was a nice caramel or copper depending who you ask.

The aroma was nice and sweet the caramel malts are in the forefront now with some brown sugar thrown in for good measure. The flavor was great nice and sweet a true sipper and a great desert brew. Caramel candy came to mind, with some butterscotch flavor as well every one in a while. The mouthfeel was great as well, nice and syrupy with little carbonation, just the way I like my barleywine's.

I was impressed by the brew. I will assume the age did nothing but help it in my scores as well. There were no hops present in this thing at all and the alcohol was hidden extremely well by the flavors and aromas. I enjoyed every drop of my glass. I even saw a craft beer Noob grab the bottle to wring the last few drops from it. I guess we have a convert

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Photo of brentk56
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
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 gford217
3.6/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Ding at the Brick Store.

Pours a hazy caramel with a small soapy tan head that dissipates quickly leaving no lacing.

The aroma is sweet and is a combination of sweet caramel malts, brown sugar and light fruits. There is also an alcohol burn in the nose and a hint of hops as well.

The taste has a quick hop kick up front before the sweetness takes over. The taste is buttery overall with lots of caramel, toffee and brown sugar. The alcohol is very present in the finish.

The mouthfeel is slick and lightly carbonated.

This is a pretty drinkable BW that doesn't really stand out in any way. Not bad but nothing memorable.

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Photo of glid02
3.83/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this courtesy of Ding - much obliged!

Pours a hazy brownish copper color with a one-finger off-white head. The head dissipates into a patchy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of caramelized malt with sugar-coated pears and hints of citrus aromas. There's also a small amount of booze aroma wafting out.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Caramelized malt flavors up front are soon joined by pear flavors and hints of toffee. The ending is solidly bitter and the alcohol plays a bit more of a role in the flavors than it does in the smell.

Mouthfeel is good. It's just a bit on the thin side but with solid carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I finished my glass fairly quickly and could have a few more.

Overall this is a solid barleywine that's somewhere in between an American and English. Worth a shot.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.66/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a dark dense brown body that glows showing of a strong carbonation of tiny bubbles supporting a thick light tan head that slides down the glass with each sip.

S- The strong aroma of plastic has some fusel notes to it. As the beer warms the smell of plastic grows but a hint of hops does poke through in the finish.

T- The slightly sweet malt flavor has some caramel notes and a soft buttery quality. When the beer warms the finish of minty pine hop cones grows in pine flavor and a bit of bitterness finishes the beer.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a soft alcohol heat in the finish.

D- The flavors are a bit soft and one dimensional and the plastic aroma covers up most other smells. I finished the bottle but it was a but drab to get through.

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Photo of djeucalyptus
3.45/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a beautiful rich amber hue not far from scotch, with a caramel colored head of a solid finger with fair retention that leaves just a bit of spotty lacing.

aroma is sweet and malty with some fruit notes. apples, pear, plum, raisin. hints of yeast and dark fruit. almost reminds me of a belgian strong dark. kind of funky. I like it.

taste is malty with some definite caramel notes. earthy hops balance the malt nicely without being overly hoppy. some sour fruit and bittersweet cocoa. a healthy dose of alcohol, with some slightly funky, almost floral etoh that leaves an odd aftertaste. a tinge of chemicals intermingle with green hops and brown sugar. The alcohol flavors are almost overwhelming and give an odd tinge to the flavors.

mouthfeel is a smidgen thin for a 10% abv bw, but after a few sips I'm hooked. it's not cloyingly thick like many, and smooths many of the flavors. definitely interesting, and the steady stream of light carbonation actually makes it somewhat clean and crsip.

All in all, an interesting barleywine but finishing even part of the bomber is a bit of a chore. the alcohol strength is overhwelming at times... possibly just too fresh and hot? Maybe a year would do wonders? the alcohol just creates a bit of a funky flavor profile that doesn't quite jive with me... making it one that I'd hesitate to try again. Maybe it's just an off bottle? I'll definitely give it another try in the future, but for the moment, not a standout by any means.

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Photo of tronester
3.68/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark, hazy reddish amber, with a super creamy light tan head. Smell is very malty and of alcohol. Taste is super sweet, a lot of maltose here, as well as Carmel and biscuits. Bitterness is only to balance, as the super malt flavor overwhelms, but in a good way. There is also an interesting hop flavor as well. Mouthfeel is super creamy, nice smooth carbonation. Not very drinkable though, half of a 22oz bomber is plenty, the super sweet taste is good, but gets cloying after about 10oz. The alcohol starts to bite at that point too. I would definitely drink this again though, as it is nice to have a non-super hoppy barleywine for once.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.83/5  rDev +4.1%
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 JohnGalt1
3.7/5  rDev +0.5%
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 coldmeat23
3.64/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Pours a beautiful ruby red, with a slight hint of copper. Two-fingers of loose off-white foam sits on top. Retention is decent and lacing is quite good.

Good caramel malt presence. Hints of brown sugar and dark fruits. Good spicey hop presence.
All-in-all, the nose is somewhat light.

Big notes of wheat are swirled with notes of caramel. Mild flavors of ripe, dark fruits. Hints of bread with brown sugar. Light hops spice, in the finish.
For an american barleywine, this is actually pretty good. Surprise! They haven't tried to kill the brew by throwing 12 metric tons of hops into every bottle.

On the upper end of medium bodied. Nice and creamy, yet still remains light enough to not overpower.

Despite the fact that I think it needs a little more body, this is a pretty darn drinkable bottle of barleywine style ale.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.42/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a very clear orange-garnet color with a very small head of tan bubbles after a pretty aggressive pour. There was a good off-gas when the bottle was opened, but surprisingly little head. It must be in the beer since it is 34F right now...pretty cold for a Barley Wine.

Aroma: The initial aroma was pretty reserved with a pretty decent amount of American hops leading the way. It is a nice mix of floral and citrus in the hop schedule. The malt is there, but reserved when it is this cold. I don't pick up the 10% alcohol in the nose at all.

Taste: The malt is a whole lot bigger player in the flavor than it was in the aroma. The beer overall is rather reserved for the style is somehow comes across my palate kindof watery...even with its 10%ABV. There is some warming on the back of the throat that lets you know that this is a potent beer, but there isn't a whole lot of spiciness from the alcohol in the actual flavor. The warming is complimented by the bitterness of the hops and it lingers forever. This is unusual...the flavor is mild and you hardly notice it like a shot of tequila, it comes back and stays on your throat forever.

Opinion: I am not sure that I really like the sensation associated with drinking this beer. It is odd how it goes down...but it is not a bad beer. I will be letting it warm up over quite some time, so it is changes significantly I may go back and amend this review. This was an alright beer, but I would sure take a number of other Barley Wines over this one.

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Photo of Durge
3.13/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From the bomber into the pint glass at room temperature, this one pours a cloudy deep copper color with a meager off-white cover and solid lacing. The aroma is very weak, just a hint of wheat and malt, maybe a touch of alcohol. The taste is a fairly high octane grape with wheaty mild malt, ham and pepper. It grows on you a bit but it is not very well balanced. Medium bodied with lively fine carbonation. Not very drinkable in my book. The flavor is too scant and non-descript to sustain the alcohol harshness. Some butterscotch and licorice. Worth a try but keep it room temperature and give it a chance to mellow on the taste buds.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
2.7/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bottle.

Pours with a large, tight, peach hued head. Despite the large head, beer is quite flat. Clear deep copper color. Aroma is light, like fresh baked bread with brown sugar and ethanol. First sip is of alcohol. Middle is like alcohol. And some brown sugar. End is like alcohol. Tastes strongly of alcohol. Some hint of raisins and bitterness in finish. Along with alcohol. Did I mention the alcohol? Seems a lot stronger than 10%.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.26/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle. Pours a murky brown with a thick light tan head. Aroma of sweet malt and light fruits (mostly pear, but also some apple). Flavor of lots of pear and caramel malt. Some alcohol burn. This is ok, but kind of harsh in the mouthfeel. Meh, this isn't jiving with me.
6/4/7/3/13 (3.3)

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Photo of brewandbbq
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2007, 22oz undated bottle at 50 degrees.

Pours clear, dark burgundy, with a dense two-inch head of beige. Ultra-fine bubbles keep a solid skim coat afloat for the duration, and plenty of ripped sheets of lacework.

Aromatics lead off with red fruits, ripe malt, and caramel-drizzled figs. Melons, plumped raisins, and toffee step forward.

On the full side of medium bodied with a chewy, sticky mouthfeel.

Malt-forward on the palate with plenty of clean fruit underneath. Bitterness is low and alcohol is slow to warm.
Mild citrus with resin-drizzled raisins in the middle.
Heavy caramel and toffee bits follow through.

Finishes with lingering juicy malt, a mild but persistant bitterness, and fading ripe fruit.

Tasting quite clean and English-style. Low hopping rates with well hidden alcohol. Zero oxidation.
Not far off from being a Strong ale.

Big "way-back" props out to BA gbontrag for the hookup.

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Chicken Killer Barley Wine from Santa Fe Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.68 out of 5 with 366 ratings