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Chicken Killer Barley Wine | Santa Fe Brewing Company

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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: 358
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 DavidST
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter.

This pours a nice murky brown color with a decent off white head which quickly dissipates. The smells are of malt and alcohol. The feel is good and somewhat thick. The taste is a little disappointing, I get plenty of the malts, but low bitterness and hops to offset it (i'm too used to the over hopped American barley wines which this isn't) and there is plenty of alcohol heat not well hidden at all.

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

Rich and hazy reddish maroon colored pour with an attractive but short lived beige head. Smell is plums, and sweet and tart fruity scents. Medium to thin bodied overall. Flavors of fruitiness and slightly sweet with an abrupt finish and almost drying at the end. A bit warming in the chest, but the alcohol is hidden pretty well for 10%. Very drinkable, and a decent barley wine for sure.

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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 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 lonestar1836
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

WOW this is the first barey wine i have ever tried, and its pretty overwhelming. that said it's not altogether unpleasant, it pours a cloudy light brown, smells of deep carmel with woody notes, the taste is very rich but with a wonderful array of flavors; at first there is the very strong malty sweetness, along with fruit, wood and carmal flavors. this isn't a beer you can crack open for a barbeque but it's a very intersting experience.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
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 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 amicar
3.36/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got this one while vacationing in New Mexico. From the website (www.santafebrewing.com):
Availability: year round
Starting Gravity: 22.5 degrees Plato
Ending Gravity: 4.5 degrees Plato
Malts: 2-row pale, 30-37 l. Carastan, 135-165 l. Crystal
Hops: Chinook, Hallertau, Crystal
Yeast: House Ale
Alcohol Content: 10.0%

Looks slightly hazy light brown with orange tinge and slight off white head. Smells a little medicinal with a funny (not bad) spicy candy smell. Taste is with plenty of malt and perhaps a bit too much on the crystal malt side. Nicely bitter, but not overwhelming. The taste is again of spices and a tiny bit of bitter orange. Feels quite full in the mouth, and not too sweet. Not sure I'd want too many of these though. Decent, but I don't think I'd chase this down; I may also have had this a little early as well. A good start for this New Mexico brewer.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.32/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle. Pours a hazy tea color with a creamy light tan head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet caramel malts, cola and some dark fruit and melon. It has some spicy medicinal alcohol notes.

The flavor is sweet caramel and cola with a slightly bitter alcohol finish. It's too sweet, almost cloying, and has a bit of an off aftertaste. It is pretty mild tasting for a barley wine. The mouthfeel is full and creamy with velvety carbonation.

Overall, a strange beer. Excellent appearance and mouthfeel, just off on the nose and flavors.

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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 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 jpaltan
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
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 LilBeerDoctor
3.26/5  rDev -10.4%
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 maximum12
3.25/5  rDev -10.7%
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 searsclone
3.19/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle into 3 snifter glasses.

3 of us were completely all over the place with this beer. 1 of us loved it, 1 of us hated it, and I was in the middle.

A: Murky cloudy color, I would say a mix between orange and brown.

S: Vanilla, Honey, spices and alcohol

T: I picked up some sweetness, mostly honey and to me the overpowering taste of alcohol

M: thick but not heavy, and smooth, almost creamy

D: I liked this better when it was colder, as it warmed I got much more spice and alcohol out of it. Too much alcohol taste and smell for me, but a good beer none the less.

I suggest trying this beer if you are a fan of the high alcohol beers that let you know from the beginning that they are high in alcohol.

I'm glad I tried it, but this one is not for me.

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Photo of IBUnit63
3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Courtesy of mhewes - from bomber to Cab glass...

Apple cider translucent body with bountiful, creamy 2-finger head. Moderate silky lacing.

Astringent/alcoholic scent in forefront - needs warmth. Background aroma of mild white grapes. Almost a leathery tone - otherwise, aroma is quite subtle.

Creamy, cowhide/earthy tasting on palate. Definitely needs to warm up. Mildly astringent on palate - alcohol is mild but perhaps the most dominant taste. At first not a great deal of malt or hop character here; mild earthy caramel malt emerges with warmth.

Mild in mouthfeel - slight pucker from alcohol in forefront. Finish is rather short - no demonstrable aftertaste.

Style is generally for sipping and savoring; this is no exception. Prefer abundance of flavor to provide more bankg for the buck. This is by no means unpleasant but does not deliver desired flavor profile.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.17/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Nice, crisp fruit and sweet, roasted malt fill the nose first. Splash of citrus rounds it out.

Deep amber/honey color. Good clarity. Little head.

Very rich roast malt is chewy and sticky sweet. Pronounced hop bitterness throughout. So viscous.

It’s alright, but nothing special. There are many far-superior Barley Wines out there, at least to my palate. The label talks it up as though it were the greatest thing since the invention of beer. I will be supremely disappointed if this weak brew will someday define America’s unique Barley Wine style – that would be a travesty.

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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 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 alexgash
3.14/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle, that is at least one year old. Served at 50 degrees F.

Pours a clear, clean, copper-tinged garnet. Thick, gauzy, cobwebby, glass-crawling, dirty beige head. Butterscotch malts on the nose, along with metallic, piny hops, and some fruity alcohol. Not very aromatic.

Taste starts with some herbal hops and toasted bread malts. Rummy fruits and caramel follow. Hop bitterness escalates with a piny, herbal, slightly astringent flavor. Finishes bitter with lingering malt sweetness and some moderate booziness and slight astringency. Medium-full body with a creamy feel. Not bad, but either it doesn't age well, or the hops need to be worked on (less astringency).

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Photo of Durge
3.13/5  rDev -14%
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 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 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 Metalmonk
3.04/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

An amusing name and label, if a little tough on the birds (beaks can't do crap against a gun-toting dog). This is my first New Mexico beer; thanks to msubulldog25 for making it happen.

Served at cellar temp. Appearance is very much par for the barleywine course. Rusted ruby with slow bubbles and a small head.

What happened to the aroma? My sniffer is just fine today, so it seems the aromas have up and died with the chickens. There are incredibly small traces of cherry licorice, alcohol and malty sweetness...otherwise not much else to report.

Flavor isn't much better. Best characteristic is a creamy sweetness like that of real vanilla ice cream (half of the credit claimed by the light, velvety texture). There's a heartier, bigger flavor trying to come through, that syrupy, sweet, boozy base you'll get in a good barleywine. But nothing knocks me over the head and reveals this as a killer of anything. And that's what I want in an American Barleywine. Finishes with some cherry/vanilla tart/sweet elements. Again, the mouthfeel is nice: smooth, fluffy and creamy, somewhat reminding of steamed milk.

For all the boasting on the label ("revolutionary", "will someday define America's unique BW style"), this hardly stands a chance against 100 other better US Barleywines. Maybe they mean "someday, when we actually brew a killer barleywine..." Best thing about it is that the 10% alcohol hides with rest of the expected flavors. And the flashes of vanilla ice cream are nice. But considering the style, this is surprisingly, disappointingly Blah.

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Chicken Killer Barley Wine from Santa Fe Brewing Company
3.64 out of 5 based on 358 ratings.
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