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 lordofthewiens
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice barley wine.

Bomber poured into a tulip. Cherry amber color with a medium-sized off white head. Pretty color.

Sweet caramel aroma, dark fruit, hops. A whiff of alcohol.

Taste followed form. Caramel malts, raisins, late citrus hops. Didn't notice the alcohol that I thought I smelled.

Nicely hopped, nicely balanced.

Enjoyed this a lot.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
2.75/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

22 oz bomber picked up at Coaltrain liquors in Colorado Springs for the very reasonable price of ~$6.00.

Pours with a fine one finger cap of slightly off white head that lasts like the best of them. The body is cloudy and murky, and is riding the line exactly between orange and amber.

Smells delicious, with the prominent smell of American hops tempered by significant amounts of grain and higher alcohol. Grapefruit and especially pineapple are most notable. I am really getting a high dose of sweet pineapple in the nose.

The flavor is somewhat of a letdown initially. There is an unpleasant medicinal/burning plastic flavor that shows up from the very beginning and it is a glaring flaw in this flavor. Wow, thus ends my review, I can't get around this unpleasant flavor. Maybe brett gone way wrong? Someone burned a fermenting bucket and let it drip into the tanks?

Conclusion: I will seek this out again and see if another bottle shows the same flaws, or if this isn't a tasty beer.

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Photo of Beer4Baltimore
3.15/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

- from the notes, a bomber, and a tasting session
A - red/orange brown with a short head.
S - distinct barley malts with an alcoholic hoppy background.
T - Alcohol makes a significant appearance. ABV is just overwhelming the barley and hops.
M - decent carbonation but the alcohol is just too much evident for a heavier bodied beer.
D - can't handle too much of this one.

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Photo of Jazzcrop
3.01/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tastes are chalk, seaweed, sweet malt, barley, flaked wheat, grains, booze, wood, yeast, cloth, strong beer with a little bit of age on them, stuff and hops. Smells are toffee, chalk, mixed drinks, pills, credit cards, aluminum and tin. Mmmmm.... not a sensation, just alright.

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Photo of alleykatking
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bottle.

A- Pours a light hazed darker amber color. Two finger light tan head shows great retention. Lacing on the glass was a mix between ring style and sheet style.

S- The aroma was interesting to say the least. Caramel malts in the front are a little cloying. Darker fruits come in next with raisin and light fig. This is the first time I smelled the medicinal alcohol. There is some light faded hops in the backing with caramel malts.

T- Darker fruits show off raisin and fig in the front of the beer itself with light caramel malts lingering right behind it. Middle of the beer has a stronger caramel malt body to it with hints of medicinal alcohol. Darker fruits show off the same caramel malts base once again but this time the alcohol comes out a lot more which I think used to be covered by a almost completely faded hop presence.

M- Medium light mouthfeel. Carbonation was good for the style. Caramel malts and darker fruits are left on the palate. Aftertaste is hints of caramel and raisins with a blast of medicinal alcohol. Flavors were a little off balanced but I think the alcohol played a good part in that. No off flavors at all with the beer while drinking. High alcohol drying on the palate with each sip.

O- I don't think this beer was all too bad. The alcohol seemed to be a little overpowering at times but I think I might have kept my bottle a little too long. I do have another bottle which I will crack open again just to see.

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

22oz bottle poured into snifter

This beer pours a reddish mahogany with a very nice off white to light yellow head. Minor bubbles and good lacing. Smell of candied sugars, hot caramel, plums, raisins and cinnamon. Taste is pretty sweet of caramel and toffee malts. The dark fruits are picked up along with some cherries and bitter orange peel. Mouth is medium, sticky and bit hot. Overall a bit unbalanced and hot but I enjoyed this one and would have it again, maybe with a year or two on it.

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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 SFLpunk
3.06/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to thekevlarkid for hauling this back for me! 22oz brown glass pry-top bottle. No freshness date.

Pours a mostly clear orange brown with some thin cream-colored head that leaves no lacing. Nose smells a little aged. Pale caramel, wet sand, and aged orange peels.

Palate is a bit shaky. Some citrus rind up front followed by medium caramel, chocolate/caramel chews, and old hops. Super sharp from the booze.

Notes: It seems to me that this bottle might be past it's prime, or that the alcohol burn is way out of whack. A light American style or perhaps English style barley wine. Not the greatest, but a so-so attempt.

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Photo of Domingo
3.46/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bronze color with reddish highlights. A surprising amount of head for a usually mildly carbonated style.
The flavor profile is pretty straight forward. Big boozy malt/caramel flavors with hops really only around for balance. Dried fruit notes pop up here and there, but that malt flavor dominates. While sometimes that's exactly what I want, this one has some weird off flavors (from the yeast I think) that remind me a little of a homebrew. There's also pretty obvious alcohol fire, too.
Not too bad, and I appreciate the direction...but it's only so-so. This is a fresh bottle from this year, FYI. I had this a few years ago and recall liking it more. Like a lot of beers of this type I'm sure mileage may vary depending on the batch, age, year, etc.
Still, if you like malt-centric beers this is probably worth trying.

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

Pours a murky orange with some reddish tints. A nice bit of off-white head. Smells a bit hoppy and sweet. Lots of nice malt on the nose. Tastes very sweet and malty. The hops are very minimal... Overall not very impressive. Definitely had much barleywines

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

Fair barley wine, a bit raw around the alcohol profile.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped bottle. Light blue label with thin yellow framing, center rhomboid seal with a cartoonish illustration of a dog with smoking guns in the desert. Side narrative offers an over the top bragging description, main brewing intent and procedure, and a claim for uniqueness. Shows 10% Alc. by Vol. and an illegible batch code on the neck. Served in a tulip glass.

A - Lightly hazy medium to deep amber pour with a 1/3" frothy head, fair retention

S - Soft notes of caramel, with hint of hoppy fruitiness, and alcohol with paint thinner notes.

T - Malty with plenty of caramel, fruity sense of hops, woven with an alcohol fusel note.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, smooth ride with a biting finish spiked by the fusel booze, a bit raw as it ends.

O - It is not bad, but the way it comes together it is far from a lasting memory. Not sure if some aging would smooth a bit that crash ending.

Notes: Nothing remarkable here, at least not for me, and something that I would rather not recommend, neither for those in love with fresh American versions of the style, or those preferring deeper maltier takes, let alone offering this as an entry point for barley wines, sorry. And the overblown bragging on the label dressing the bottle does not help. I'll be game to try it again in the future though, aged or under a different incarnation.

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Photo of emmasdad
4.1/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Ratman for bringing this one over to the house last weekend. 2007 vintage. Poured a slightly hazy caramel color, with a short white head. Aromas of prunes, caramel and dark fruits. Full bodied and very smooth, with caramel, dark fruits and sherry.

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Photo of youradhere
2.76/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours rusty orange, thin white head. Smells of wheat, sort of like a bock. Floral and metallic aromas. Taste is, metallic, hoppy florals, phenolic, medicinal. Thin mouthfeel, high carbonation. Pretty disappointing, I had high hopes for this one. Glad to have tried it though.

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Photo of bmwats
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 650 ml bottle into a snifter.

A: Dark amber. Pours a pretty large, foamy, brown-white head. Settles very slowly. Substantial beer ring lacing remains.

S: Syrupy malt, raisin, a little molasses, and nutmeg.

T: Very woody, with just a slight sweet tinge. A little peaty, but more pungent. Raisin and licorice in there.

M:Thick, syrupy feel. High alcohol, sweet in the front, dry finish.

D: Sip and savor.

Atmosphere is pretty solid. Deep amber color, great foamy head, and very nice lacing. Nose is a little malt, with great sweet tones. Flavor is hearty, woody, and a little sweet. Great balance and body. Overall, this is a really good quaff.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is another gift sent to me by GabrielM in the Secret Santa 2010 BIF. Thanks Gabe.

Chicken Killer Barleywine pours a bright brown color with a tan head. The head has solid retention and leaves a little bit of lacing behind.

The aroma has a good bit of alcohol in it, but it also has a lot of rich malts, fruit and some hops.

Heat from the alcohol is noticeable immediately, and hangs around throughout most of the drink. This beer is dominated, however, by a good malt base. Chewy caramel and toffee are both rich and sweet, and they combine to make this taste more like an English barleywine than the American versions. Light fruitiness lurks beneath the malt, and the finish has a brief blast of bitterness and citrus from the hops.

Good mouthfeel, thick and full.

I split this bottle with a couple of buddies and drank it with dessert, and think that made the drinkability on this very nice.

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Photo of katan
3.61/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz into a pint

A - Pours a deep dark brown color, very opaque. A few amber highlights. Lightly bubbling, but a decent head is formed. 3/16" tall, well retained. Pearl in color.

S - Strong malty nose, hints off toffee and caramel. Perhaps even something sweet like cherries. Some alcohol hits the nose at times - at times perhaps a little too solvent like.

T - Starts off smooth and malty, boatloads of 2 row and some of those crystal and caramel toffee notes. Like a hydrated rolo. mid-stream does get some light hop flavors, but it has no chance against the sweetness - not bitter at all. Alcohol jumps on it in the finish, lots of warmth.

M - Moderate beer body, moderate carbonation. A good job of lightening the body in a beer that probably is made of a load of unfermentables. The alcohol hotness is hard to look past.

D - Moderate to low drinkability. ABV is strong, will remove your head, and probably is just too noticeable. Not at all filling, another testament to its creative design.

Seems more like an English Barleywine to me. An alright beer for a cold night.

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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 prototypic
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to csmiley for this one. A Barleywine from New Mexico? Who knew?

Chicken Killer pours a reddish copper color. It's a little hazy, and has quite a few yeast particles swimming around. Interesting. A vanilla head caps it off and stands over two and a half fingers tall. It's slow to recede, and leaves a thick, sticky coat of lace lining the glass.

The nose is good. It starts out with a strong caramel/toffee scent. Nevertheless, it doesn't smell overly sweet. Dark fruit is rather prominent. Raisin and plum add nice depth and work well with the malts. There's also a hint of apple. Interesting mix, but it works. I've had this bottle for quite a while, so the lack of hops doesn't surprise me. Hard to tell if there was ever much. Alcohol is masked well for 10%.

The flavor is likewise pretty good. This is pretty impressive stuff. It has a nice, strong caramel malt base. It's sweeter than it smells. Raisin and plum flavors are prominent, and add a really nice, slightly tangy flavor to the mix. There is a bit of golden fruit, as well (mostly just apple). The mix of dark and golden fruits, while novel, works well. I like the flavor quite a bit. There's not much going on in the hop department. Perhaps I sat on this bottle too long. Perhaps they were never here. Their presence is missed. Alcohol is noted, but isn't overly strong.

Chicken Killer has a medium body that feels thicker with a little warming. Carbonation is relatively light, and it is smooth. Drinkability is good. The flavor is surprisingly nice, and it goes down relatively smooth and easy for a big beer.

I'm pretty impressed with what I believe is my first beer from New Mexico. Chicken Killer is quite a flavorful American Barleywine that's mild mannered, and relatively balanced. I would prefer a little more in the hop department, but that's my preference for the style. For those who like their American Barleywines more balanced, check out Chicken Killer. You'll likely enjoy it.

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

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue V:

Bright and clear reddish-amber color, looks like a sunset off of the East Coast during late summer. The head leaves a nice drop of lacing down the glass, sticky lace at that. Sweet malty aroma with a solid tone of caramel wraps itself around the faint alcoholic ester and hop nose. Stodgy, thick body, creamy and a little slick in the mouthfeel as the malt flexes. Bam! This is such a malt bomb! Caramel, Portuguese sweet bread and honey covered biscuits come to mind. Not overly sweet with the hop flavor, some hop bitterness and a bit peppery alcohol help to balance. The end is sweet and bready but with some lingering hop flavor and alcoholic bite.

Awesome, an American Barleywine that is not hopped to the hilt. Refreshing to see a balanced Barleywine that does not have to rely on extremes. Hooray for balance! A pleasure to sip.

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Photo of charmcityboh
3.9/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.
Nice medium sized head, faded a little quick for my liking. Perfect color for the style albeit a little light. Fills the nose up, bread like qualities, nice sweet aromas, but a touch too much alcohol in the nose. Taste is the strong point here. Everything I need in an american barleywine is perfectly balanced. Nice layering of the malt, hops, then back to malt with each sip. Good mouthfeel as well. A beer you can chew, as fits the style. Nice job with this one.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
2.47/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - Caramel brown hue, with a generous khaki head and some decent lace.

S - Bad nose of corn and husky grain.

T - Husky grain. Vanilla and booze are also present. Much better and more integrated as it warms. Still, that is not very good.

M - Big and sticky. Barleywine.

D - I won't drink this again.

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Photo of StoneBrewFanatic
3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Has a dark copper color with about an inch of foam when poured into a class

S - Plenty of hops, malt and alcohol, a barleywine for sure!

T - Tastes heavily of malt, with subtle notes of spice and honey, and of course the alcohol

M - Very syrupy, lingers with a full feeling throughout the mouth

D - This is not my favorite barleywine, but I certainly would not be opposed to drinking it again some time

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Photo of NewGeneric
2.89/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into my Delirium tremens tulip.

A: Pours a clear, rusty-copper color with 2 fingers of light beige head. Foam takes its sweet time dissipating, leaving plenty of sticky lacing all over the glass. Looks incredible.

S: Smells slightly stale, with heavy malts that deliver some nutty, toffee aromas. Mild hop presence as well. Nothing special.

T: Taste is well defined by the nose. Again nothing special.

M: Pretty thick, with some very solvent-like heat from the alcohol. This would be a fairly decent score otherwise.

D: I'd drink it over some other stuff, but probably won't buy it again.

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Photo of scootny
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Some chill haze at first but it clears up and reveals an amber liquid with a light white head. Not much sticking to the glass. Smell is rich and full sweet alcohol and toffee. Taste is kind of the same with a good balance of firmly bitter grapefruit hops. A bit of warm fresh brown bread. Some notes of leather, tobacco, and wood in the finish with touch of vanilla. While not hidden, the alcohol is well integrated into the taste. Feel is somewhat slick and syrupy with a gentle carbonation. Some warming from the alcohol as well. Goes down nicely.

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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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