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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 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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Photo of Phelps
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at the Arizona Society of Homebrewers Oktoberfest, this barelwyine’s been aged at least a year. Poured into a shaker pint.

Murky maple-orange with highlights of gold. Half a finger of velvety tan head becomes a silky top layer. Murky, almost opaque.

Tons of overripe orange, toasted biscuits and caramel in the nose. What orange peel-y hops were once here have become soft whispers. Hint of honey-like oxidation in the background.

Chicken Killer is a malt monster, but the hops are bigger in the flavor. I get tons of toasted biscuit covered with orange marmalade and caramel, along with some herbal qualities — basil? Burnt sugar is here as well, blending with sticky alcohol. It begins sweet, but finishes impressively dry. Pretty damn complex after a year old maturity.

Moderate, pokey carbonation flashes then fades as the creamy medium body moves about. Good viscosity, not too thick. A bit of booze comes through the nose, but it's pretty well hidden overall.

I'd say aged is the best way to have this beer — if it were fresh, the malt wouldn't be big enough to combat the hops.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bronze color though somewhat murky. Not a lot of head though some decent lacing. Malty and caramel aroma right upfront. A very faint whiff of smoke-probably more perceived then actually there. Toffee and buttery flavor. Mildly astringent hop bite. A hair out of balance with the hops. Mildly boozey though not overly so and not in a detrimental way. Sticky and gummy mouthfeel. The upfront sweetness quickly becomes dry. Enjoyable all in. Have wanted to try this for ages. A touch rough in spots but a damn nice US barleywine.

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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 WhatsNewinBooze
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice well balanced barley wine. This ale pours a golden amber color with some reddish highlights and thin white fizzy head. On the nose I find you get a good amount of barley mixed with some hops with notes caramel, vanilla, red berry fruit, and citrus. The palate shows a nice sweetness from the barley up front but balances out with the bitterness of the hops as you progress.

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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 glid02
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
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 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 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 jjayjaye
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy iced tea color with a shallow fizzy orange tan colored head that fades quickly, leaving little lacing evidence. Quite a bit more suspended goodness as you progress to the inevitable bottom of the container. The smell is also unique. I get a rich malty corn starch caramel and baked vanilla character. The presence of alcohol is more pronounced as this beverage warms up. Full bodied and adequately carbonated, the mouth feel is significantly influenced by the boozy side of the 10% ABV. I find the taste quite enjoyable..exactly what the doctor ordered tonight. Had this one on the WANTs list for some time now. Really glad that i found it at Whole Foods in Arlington,TX. Recommend taking it for a ride around the block.

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.81/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This 22 oz. (651ml) bottle was purchased at AJ's in Tucson, AZ in late November, 2007, and has rested in the cellar ever since. Poured to a pint glass after dinner.

Label claims (rather boastfully) that Chicken Killer "is a revolutionary beer that will someday define America's unique Barley Wine style". OK, we'll see if I agree...

A: Perfectly clear amber-orange, with a dozen or so miniscule streams of carbonation wriggling to the top. Capped by about 1-finger of light tan froth, the head drops to a 1/4" covering of denser cream. Could hardly ask for a prettier barleywine...

S: Aroma is not robust, but sweet and a little flowery (honeysuckle?), with soft sugared citrus fruit and toffee. Vague earthy/green hops.

T: If there were huge hops in this one, they have mellowed nicely. The result of months of waiting (procrastinating) on this is a balance of grassy/herbal hops and a slightly tangy orange-citrus; the two blend wonderfully and dance on the tongue. Grainy toffee and a slight mint, slightly tart fruit (cherry, apricot???) are present. Oh yeah, there's some vanilla...

M: Creamy, almost velvety/smooth, texture. Medium mouthfeel, well-balanced hops vs. malts.

D: After a 'ho-hum' review by BA Metalmonk (who I sent a bottle to), I decided to give it a while longer resting in the cellar; apparently that did some good as it showed up as a drinkable, although not overly exciting, barleywine. Sippable and modeerately worth savoring. Flavors don't 'wow' but have a nice layering, a balanced warmth, and are complex enough to give this a 'thumbs up'. Good effort by Santa Fe Brewing and, officially, my first New Mexican brew (47th to the Union, 39th on my own list of all 50 US states).

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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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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 rye726
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

cloudy amber color with a weak tan head.

Floral hops, candy malts, faint alcohol and some spicy Belgian yeast.

A hybrid of a Belgian double and a barley wine. Malty with some faint hops flavors and again Belgian pepper.

Full body and good carbonation. A nice barley wine, but like most, it needs a fews years to come together.

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Photo of Malina
3.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - gorgeous copper, almost red. A nice healthy head.

S - sweet and a somewhat floral citrus.

T - Slightly sweet, almost fruity, with a delicious floral hoppiness.

M - A little tingly, and incredibly light for a barleywine.

D - Scrumptious! The alcohol content precludes drinking too many, but it is very tasty.

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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 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 NitroGen
3.77/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

P: 1 Pint 6 oz. 10% Alc./Vol. Pours a cloudy reddish amber with a nice foamy head that slowly dissipates with lacing.

S: Deep caramel grains and yeast

T: Piney astringent bite of hops that turns to a slight sweet taste of raw sugar sweetness and alcohol finish.

M: Starts out great on the tongue but a bit thin on the palate with a slight sweet and oily finish. I wanted to really love this beer, but feel that reaching a 10% Alc/Vol. was done at the expense of taste and mouthfeel. I had wished it would have with a slightly sweet and a bit oily finish.

D: Defiantly not a session beer. Would try this again and recommend to others to see if their tastes differ than mine. Have a few to see if some of the rough edges smooth out with some time.

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Photo of wcudwight
3.76/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Enola for sharing.
Nice ruby/amber in color with some orange hues when held up to the light. This is what I imagine a Santa Fe sunset may look like. 1/2" lightly tanned head slowly recedes to a thick lace on top of the beer.
Smell is huge malt sweetness. Brown sugar.
Big on the malts in the flavor with out overdoing it. Caramel and brown sugar again. There is just enough balance to keep it from being cloying.
Mouthfeel is thick, chewy, and filling. Typical for the style.
A sipper for sure but a good beer to drink.

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Photo of belgbeerdrinker
3.76/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: hazy amber color, good-size head settles to veil, good lacing
s: heavy sweetness like syrup
t: sweet sweet malts and dark fruit flavors with a soft hop finish
m: creamy mouthfeel with good carbonation
d: very enjoyable and one easy-to-drink barleywine given the subtle hops. nice output from our new mexican neighbors

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Photo of KodyBrannon
3.76/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured this beer into a pint glass. It poured a dark amber, almost brown color that had a very thick white head that left good laceing all the way down the glass. Unfortunatly this is where the excitement ended on this beer. The smell was of malts and a hint of fruity hops. But the first taste ended all enjoyment of this beer for me. It was very very strong on alcohol, that eventually gave way to some malt and hop aftertaste. The mouthfeel was light, but with the alcohol taste, it warms your palate too much.Overall this beer was not my favorite of this style. It is worth a try, but it may not be for you.

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

Thanks to the beerfly I found this brewpub and beer for my business trip. I happen to be a big fan of english style barleywines and this one was definitely in that vein! Kudos to the brewers for being this far west and resisting the urge to out hop the west coast brewers!

A - rich ruby red, draft carbonated head 1/2" which quickly dissipated. light lace on the glass.

S - rich wonderful malty smell. reminds me in some ways of having a youngs old nick in England at the brewery.

T - Very good. Lighter on the malt that the smell indicated. Well balanced with enough hops to keep this from being sweet, but not so much that it takes away from the wonderful malty / toffee flavor. at 10% ABV, it hides the alcohol very well.

M - Medium bodied brew. very smooth!

D - Easy to drink and deceptively strong. I enjoyed it enough that I am bringing a growler home to New Hampshire to share with friends.

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Photo of jbphoto88
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz brown bottle. The beer is a hazy amber brown with a thick creamy head that sticks to everything it touches. The khaki head dissipates to almost nothing but a ring that moves with the beer as you drink.

Smell is weakest part of the beer. There is a lot going on here and the nose is conflicted by it. I get floral sweetness, a slight spiciness and big malts. Its all dominated by a metallic alcohol scent thats a little harsh.

Taste is also a little confusing. It starts with a warm sweetness that has a caramelized maltiness and an orange blossom floral flavor. A spicy hop throb moves through that metallic alcohol flavor breaking it up a little. The aftertaste is bittersweet with a nice malt backbone and a warmth from the ABV that isn't bad.

I don't know if its the warming of the beer or the 10% ABV but this one grows on you. I started out thinking it was a little harsh but about halfway through the beer comes together nicely. Add that to a creamy mouthfeel, a nice bite from the carbonation and spicy hops and this is a easy drinker with some character.

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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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