Style: American Style Barleywine
Special Notes: Bottled in 2009 and 2014, respectively
Hops: Nugget, Willamette, Cascade
Malts: Pale Malt, 70/80 Crystal Malt
ABV: 10.0% at bottling
IBU: 2009 – N/A, 2014 – 60
Availability: These are no longer in production, but the Killer Penguin is released every fall/winter
Established in 1979, Boulder is known as Colorado’s first microbrewery. It was started by two physics professors, Randolf Ware and David Hummer, and their associate, Alvin Nelson. At the time it was established, it was only the 43rd licensed brewery in the United States. For context, there are now at least 41 in just Colorado, according to wikipedia. The company has undergone several name changes, from Boulder Brewing Company to Boulder Beer Company to Rockies Brewing Company and then back to Boulder Beer in 2005.
The Killer Penguin, of which I have two different bottles on the sill today, is their Barleywine Style Ale. It’s a limited small-batch release which, according to Boulder Beer, is a “dark garnet red in color with a candied-fruit like aroma and flavor.” Boulder says it’s big and smooth, and “perfect to share among friends.” It’s one of their most rare and sought-after bottled beers. The 2009 bottle says they only brewed one 50-barrel batch per year. Not sure if that still holds true, though.
The first bottle you see is from 2009, and was gifted to me by great friend of the Windowsill, @one_ill_tom. He bought it on a trip to upstate New York, from a random bottle store that had a cellar sale. Aside from the coloring of the label, you can also see that this Killer Penguin was part of BBC’s Looking Glass Series of more experimental brews.
By the time the 2014 bottle came around, things got different. The label is darker and more menacing, and, frankly, better drawn. You can even see the Penguin’s other eye. The Looking Glass Series label is also gone… guess that branding was no longer being highlighted.
I’m not sure if I am going to open these, or try a little harder to collect more from other years, but whenever I do open them, I’ll definitely do a vertical tasting and let you guys know!
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