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Santa Vs. Unicorn - Pipeworks Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Santa Vs. UnicornSanta Vs. Unicorn

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

39 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 39
Hads: 233
Avg: 3.96
pDev: 25.25%
Wants: 49
Gots: 45 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Pipeworks Brewing Company
Illinois, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Barleywine | 10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: emerge077 on 12-15-2012

Father Christmas, Head Beardo, St. Nicholas Cage, a man of many names he may be, yet he has but one true foe... This Holiday Season, the Unicorn is back bearing his mantle of rainbowed chaos, and this time, it’s seasonal bitches. An Imperial Red Ale, American Style Barleywine or Red Double IPA call it what you will, grab one and get your Jollies while the holiday fight is on...
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Reviews: 39 | Hads: 233
Photo of novamat
4.61/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer is criminally underrated (as of the date of this review). Bottled and bought within the last 30 days. Hop forward in the aroma and palette with very interesting notes, which altogether provide a very well balanced beer. Probably not a traditional barleywine in the strictest sense, but goddamn is this drinkable. Will definitely buy again.

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Photo of mschrei
4.48/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Pipeworks NvU snifter. Dirty brown, big time sediment. Get the usual Pipeworks ale smell and base taste, but much more malt than hop. Slight spice, full mouth tang,
Tasty beer.

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Photo of chitownfish
4.32/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pipeworks tulip glass

A:Dark amber with a thin head

S:Tons of hops with notes of toffee.Very good smell

T:Bitter hop taste,it hides the alcohol

M:A little thin in my opinion ,But fills your month with hops

O:Another great beer from Pipeworks! Taste more like a IPA

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.31/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours brown in color with a thin deep tan head that retains nicely.

Smell is good there is a big amount of sweet toffee and rich malt aroma on the front end along with some dark fruit aromas of dates and fig. Butterscotch yeast aroma works well to blend the super sweet malt and fruit aroma.

Taste is good. There is a big malty sweetness accompanied by a semi sharp husky flavor and moderate bitterness. More faint flavors of dark fruit are near the end.

Mouthfeel is good. Thick, sticky , sweet, slightly dry and bitter. Big feel for a big beer

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Photo of MasterSki
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle appropriately shared on Christmas Day. Served in a wine glass.

A - Ample tan foam settles to a thick cap and splotchy lacework. Hazed brown body.

S - It's a hoppy barleywine! Big doses of citrus and caramel, as well as some pine and grapefruit zest as it warms up a bit. Perhaps a touch of floral hopping in the background as well. Hits the right balance for this style in my book, with well-concealed booze and not overly herbal hopping.

T - Taste is similar, with an onslaught of pine and citrus zest hops before yielding to a mix of brown sugar, toffee, caramel, and citrus flesh mid-palate. Moderate bitterness and minimal alcohol presence.

M - Smooth medium-full body, with pleasant lower carbonation. Some burnt sugars give a mixed dry and sticky finish. Again, not much in the way of alcohol burn.

D - I really enjoyed this one, as it hits my desired balance for this style dead on. One of Pipeworks' strongest beers and something that should develop nicely between now and next Christmas. Hope they make this one more than once a year.

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Photo of Sparty1224
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter. Batch 567-8, no date on the website yet, though very fresh.

A: Pours a dark, murky red. Small, cream colored head lingers around the glass.

S: Lots of hops. Pineapple, mango, tangerine. Definitely smells more DIPA than barleywine.

T: Big aggressive hops and tropical fruits up front. Pineapple, tangerine. Finish is rather malty and smooth. Lots of sweet bread notes.

M: Big, full mouthfeel. Sticks to the tongue.

O: So the description text on the bottle nails it, talking about how this could be a DIPA, double red, or American-style BW. Either way, this is big, true to PW style. Very reminiscent of Sam vs. Unicorn (same beer?). I like this quite a bit. Very hoppy and fresh, but not a bruising aftertaste. Goes down very smooth for a 10% beer. Nicely balanced. One of the better PW offerings, and surely one of my favorite seasonals from them. Happy Holidays!

Recommendation: Worth seeking out for the casual PW fan.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a rich, dark red with a thin, white head. No carbonation that can be seen. Just a generally sweet malt smell. A wonderful malt taste with toffee, carmel and malt notes in which the hop shows up in the end. An extremely smooth drinker. This is a wonderful hoppy barleywine. Pipeworks, you keep winning me over and look forward toward paying you a visit shortly.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.24/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle, batch number 79, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours a deep ruby red color, topped with a finger of creamy tan head, leaves spotty lacing.

S- Lots of citric and piney hops, fruit, caramel malt and light booze in the background.

T- Really exemplifies the hoppy-US-barleywine style, with lots of citrusy and piney hops, lots of orange, grapefruit and resin. Followed by some malty caramel sweetness and fruity, woody alcohol flavors.

M- Medium to full bodied, has a smooth, creamy feel, the booze is pretty invisible, I really wouldn't guess it's 10%.

O- A really nice American barleywine, it's very hop forward so drink this one now.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle. Pours a dark brown color with very little head. Lots of lacing. The aroma is really hoppy, surprisingly. Lots of sweet citrus and pine. Caramel malts and sweet grapefruit. The taste is lots of caramel malts and piney hops. Earthy and sweet. Bread crust with piney and citrus hops. Dry mouthfeel with a medium amount of carbonation. This one tastes almost like a blend of an Imperial Red and a Barleywine. Weird beer, but I really dig it. Overall, I'd like to try this with some age on it but I think it'd work best fresh since it's so hoppy.

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Photo of emyers
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch # 64 served in a Founders tulip

Appearance: Dark amber with a very thin off-white head dissipating quickly. Leaves a very thin lacing.

Smell: Served cold, this once is dominated by the hops. Strong grapefruit and pine aroma with caramel malt barely coming through. As the beer warms, the malt takes over with smells of caramel and toffee, with some pine lingering in the background from the hops.

Taste: Caramel malt dominates here. Big toffee flavor up front. The hops are definitely there, with pine and a little bit of citrus, but not quite as prominent as in the nose. I really like the hop profile on this one. Nice punch of bittering hops on the finish, with a little bit of spiciness.

Mouthfeel: Pretty heavy mouthfeel, with a very nice smoothness. Hops on the finish dry out the palate leaving you craving another sip.

Overall: This really should be labeled an imperial red as opposed to a barleywine, but hey, delicious beer is delicious beer. And this definitely qualifies as a delicious beer.

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Photo of emerge077
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reddish tawny brown color, nice reverse cascading head initially, a finger or so of foam settles after a few minutes. A ring of bubbles cling to the edges and spotty sea spray sticks to the walls of the glass.

Melon rind, pine needles, sandalwood spice in the aroma. Slight whiff of alcohol as it warms, but still fairly subtle.

Light crystal malt sweetness up front, resiny hop bitterness follows quickly after, lingering long into the aftertaste. More pine and bitter citrus peel, earthy and dry in the finish. Smooth feel with light carbonation.

Rating overall/mouthfeel more as drinkability, as this is a very smooth BW with an expertly hidden 10% abv. Would drink this fresh to enjoy the hop character, wouldn't bother cellaring personally.

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Photo of StoneTSR
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Batch #64

APPEARANCE: A darker shade of mahogany than many other Barleywines, it has a slight haze and an eighth of an inch of head when it is poured. That head slips away within 30 seconds, leaving behind a patch of big bubbles covering about 20% of the surface. Some lighter brown lights come through the murky beer when held up to the light. Lacing is nearly nonexistent.

SMELL: Banana bread stands out upon first sniff. A little spice dances around the bread while some of the bigger malt flavors that are typical of a Barleywine linger in the background. There is not as much of the brown sugary smell that I typically get. Instead, there seems to be more hop aroma in the form of grapefruit and pine.

TASTE: Deer God there are a lot of hops in here. While some malt leads the way an absolute hop explosion occurs somewhere in the middle and finishes strong. The hops are piney, grassy and citrusy with grapefruit standing out. Seriously, this is a real hoppy beer. The finish also seems to have some good strong rye flavors to it. I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but that is what I am getting. Obviously, the hops were the featured ingredient here, but the malt does provide some balance, particularly up front. Caramel and a touch of the banana bread from the nose serve to keep this beer somewhere within a stone’s throw of a true Barleywine.

MOUTHFEEL: Rich and creamy, yet still very dry for a Barleywine. The hops are so strong towards the back end that the first few sips might be accompanied by a little pucker. That said, there is enough balance to prevent this beer from going off the deep end. The carbonation provides a light tickle and when that it combined with the dry finish it feels like someone is rubbing a wet hop cone on your tongue.

OVERALL: Santa vs. Unicorn is certainly a hop lovers Barleywine, however, it seems to somehow be at the other end of the hoppy Barleywine spectrum from Avery’s Hog Heaven (granted, that is a pretty narrow spectrum). It is richer, more full and of course, much more red. I will be very curious to see how this drink a year or two from now. It may be amazing, or it may have simply lost what made it so good when fresh.

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Photo of Billolick
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle, w/o freshness/vintage/bottling date info to be had...

Pours murky darker amber, limited cap, leaves a fine film, thin colar and minor fine lacing.

Caramel malted up nose

More caramel, toffee, malty goodness, some smoke and quite a dry hoppy finish....thick, richly flavorful and well worth a try. Quality winter night capper

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.09/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Hazed and rusty reddish brown body with a sizable light tan-yellow head.

The aroma has a sharp pine hop bite, resin, and orange juice. Malt is sweet.

No doubt, it's a hoppy one. Primarily pine and to a lesser extent, citrus. The malt is brown sugar. It has a long, boozy finish.

Mouthfeel is suprisingly smooth and creamy with ample carbonation.

Another fantastic beer by Pipeworks. They're just cranking out good beer after good beer.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.09/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on 2015-02-01 in Columbia, PA. Batch 567-568 (gifted for Christmas, 2014).

A - Lightly hazy, medium ruby-brown with a 1/2-finger tan head that fades quickly leaving mild lace.

S - Lightly roasted grain, hop spice and floral/perfume (like a bath soap). Mild-moderate intensity.

T - Mmmm. Rich flavors of caramel, toffee, dark bread, pine, woody, citrus flesh and earthy spice. Finishes with caramel/grain sweetness and a good bit of pine and citrus zest bitterness. Good balance and surprisingly dry, which encourages the next sip. Very tasty.

M - Medium-heavy body and light-medium carbonation. Thick, syrupy feel, which I quite like.

O - A really good barley wine; definitely leaning to a West Coast style (Sierra Nevada Bigfoot) but with its own spice/pine twist. Nice.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present. Batch #266 67 68 69 printed on the label, this is the 2013 release of this beer. I had it last year, but this is the first time I've had the entire bomber to myself. Definitely glad to see that this seasonal release from Pipeworks is back.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a deep dark ruddy mahogany / caramel colored body with just over a finger of fluffy creamy tan foam for a head.

S - Smell is big, beautiful, and hoppy. Citrus, pine needles, amber malt, brown bread, and that creaminess that I seem to pick up on in a lot of Pipeworks beers.

T - Taste follows the nose: big juicy citric grapefruit hops, pine needles, lemon, green apples, and then comes the caramel malt, cream, mild peppery rye, dirty herbal earthiness, and some alcohol warmth.

M - Feel is smooth and creamy, with a dry bitter hoppy finish. Sticky grapefruit, pine, and green apple lingering all over the place with this beast. Full bodied with perfect carbonation.

Overall, a wonderful winter seasonal from Pipeworks; I will definitely continue to look forward to this beer every year. Supremely drinkable for being a 10.00% abv beer. Highly recommended.

Pipeworks Santa Vs. Unicorn ---4/5.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

An epic battle, indeed. This stuff pours a clear ruby topped by a finger of khaki foam. The nose comprises pine resin, caramelized toffee, ruby red grapefruit zest, and a touch of toasted biscuit. (On a side note, this stuff smelled goddamn fantastic when I dropped a different bottle (sorry, Vav), and even better somehow when some lemony cleaner was added to the mix.) The taste brings in more of the same, with the initial emphasis on some ruby red grapefruit zest, while the pine and toast come in shortly thereafter. And, boy-howdy, it's fairly strong-feeling as well. The body is a lithe medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a very nice b-wine, one that's strong and dangerously hoppy without going too far somehow. Color me impressed.

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Photo of Florida9
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark red chestnut brown. Pours from the bottle with a visibly viscosity and obviously low carbonation. Forms a small, creamy, and fairly stable bit of off-white colored head that eventually reduces to a very thin surface coating. Leaves some light lacing.

S: Aroma is mostly caramel malts. Earthy with a bit of citrus and fusel spice.

T: Caramel malts, orange rind, slight note of pine, some resin, and a hint of brown sugar. Mild malty sweetness. Turns earthy, with a distinct woody flavor on the back end. A bit of alcoholic heat on the surprisingly short finish.

M: On the heavier side of medium. Incredibly smooth and voluptuous in the mouth. Mild bitterness. Lower carbonation.

O: I'll admit, this beer isn't much of a barleywine in the traditional sense, but the bottle describes it as a barleywine or an Imperial Red or whatever. And I've got to agree, it straddles the lines of many styles. But in the end, I still liked this beer for what it is. A hoppy strong ale with a very smooth body.

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Photo of Treebs
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle served in a Pipeworks snifter. Batch #64

A: Pours a deep scarlett color with some off white head forming on the pour. It recedes slowly leaving behind sticky cobwebs of lace.

S: A ton of caramel malt, some pine and some resinous hop bite. Slight hints of citrus zest on the backend as well.

T: Solid bitterness throughout. This is balanced by a nice caramel sweetness from the malts. Light citrus zest like the nose with some underlying pine and resin.

M: Medium to heavy bodied. Sligtly syrupy with a sticky mouthfeel and a medium low carbonation.

O: This was a nice drinking...something. Definitely a hybrid sort of beer. Part barleywine, part imperial red all, but all delicious.

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Photo of jdhende
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch #64 served in a Firestone walker Proprietors tulip

A: Pours a deep copper color with a one finger head. Very tiny bits of lacing sit on top of the head.

S:Tons of toffee and chewy caramel on the nose with dank hop notes on the end.

T: Alcohol is hidden pretty well by the sweetness of the toffee. Also has a nice hop profile. Leaves a nice sweet and slightly bitter taste on my tongue.

M:Heavier, but still quite smooth on the tongue. Just the right amount of thickness in my opinion

Overall: A nice offering from Pipeworks I am glad to have them on the scene in Chicago. To me though this beer strikes me more as strong ale.

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Photo of Beaver13
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. Pours hazy copper brown with a medium creamy light tan head that retains well and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is sweet caramel malts with fruity resiny hops and some alcohol and nuttiness.

The flavor is sweet caramel malts with fruity resiny hops and some sharp alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, nice balance of malt and fruity resiny hops. A bit sharp on the alcohol.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #64
(Served in a tulip glass)
A- This beer pours a deep dense brown body with a garnet red glow at the base. The sticky beige head last as a thin meniscus, sticking to the glass in sheets with each sip. There is a slow carbonation of bubbles working their way to the surface.

S- The big green slightly herbal pine hops is full from the time I pop the cap. There is some woody notes to the hops in the finish.

T- The dry toasted malt flavor has some toasted biscuit malt and pale malt flavors underneath. There is a green woody dry hops finish with a slightly spicy hops taste lingering after the finish.

M- The medium-light mouthfeel has a gentle fizz and an alcohol warmth that grows as he beer opens.

O- This is a very dry beer to the point of almost making the malt a bit harsh, and the hops are very dry aswell. The redeeming quality is that everything is very fresh and that gives the malt and hops a great taste. I don’t think it has any of the luscious malt flavors of a barleywine but it is a very nice red ale hop bomb.

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Photo of rlee1390
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Clear deep amber orange, one finger head.

S-Caramel, toffee, almonds? vanilla, rather sweet, some hops.

T-Rather sweet, vanilla, caramel, toffee, dirt, mild hop notes.

M-Medium bodied with some carbonation.

O-A decent American Barleywine, that could come together a little more.

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Photo of Jaycase
3.99/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 79

a: darkcopper. thin head. lacing fades rather quicky

s: carmel malts, light booze, piney hops, toffee,

t: sweet caramel maltiness pervades. Some pine hops but definitely more muted here than as the aroma. Finishes with a bit of spiciness.

m: Heavy mouthfeel. sticky, low to medium carbonation. slightly dry

o: Overall a nice barleywine. Very drinkable. Not sure what some age would do here but I'm glad I chose fresh.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.99/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy mahogany in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and moderate ruby red + cola brown highlights. The beer has a two finger tall sudsy foamy tan head that reduces to a large patch of thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of citrus/grapefruit and pine hops with slightly lighter aromas of caramel + toasted malts.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of toasted + caramel malts with a light to moderate amount of caramel sweetness. That is followed by moderate to strong flavors of citrus/grapefruit and pine hops which impart a moderate amount of lingering bitterness.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Hints of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: I might classify this as a Hoppy Imperial Red IPA than an American Barleywine but it definitely has a very enjoyable hop aroma and flavor and lacks the cloying sweetness I associate with barleywines. Enjoyable and easy to drink with well hidden alcohol.

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Santa Vs. Unicorn from Pipeworks Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 39 ratings.