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Santa Vs. Unicorn | Pipeworks Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
88
very good
41 Reviews
THE BROS
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
41
Ratings:
239
Avg:
3.96
pDev:
25%
 
 
Wants:
48
Gots:
49
For Trade:
6
Santa Vs. UnicornSanta Vs. Unicorn
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Pipeworks Brewing Company
Illinois, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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...

Added by emerge077 on 12-15-2012

View: Beers | Events
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Reviews: 41 | Ratings: 239
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.74/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

a good one from pipeworks. huge barleywine here, very american in nature, almost drinks more like a red double ipa, as there is quite a bit of amber malt sweetness running through it, and then a huge dose of bittering hops that come on all at the end. it looks amazing in the glass from the tap, shiny amber color, elegant creamy white head an inch high on top, and holding on for a long time for the style. smells like booze, almost hot and harsh on the nose, but once i get past that, i get citrus from the hops, grass too, and then a bunch of layers of sweet grain that lead the way in terms of flavor. caramel and nut brittle and toffee and butterscotch and bran muffins and molasses and honey all seem to be in there, a really really cool malt flavor to this. i dont know why i expected it to be spiced, maybe the santa thing, but it isnt, and i almost miss it there in the middle. a little ginger and orange peel or something would add depth and seasonal appeal, but instead its all hops. those work too, but they are pretty bitter, and with all the alcohol bursting out of this one, its an awfully intense drink all up. it was a trudge though even a small pour, and it gets tougher and tougher as it warms up. super alcoholic, but tasty and layered, and worth trying this season.

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Photo of metter98
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy very dark amber in color (dark brown when viewed from afar). It poured with a short beige colored head that consistently remained on the surface.
S: Light to moderate aromas of piney hops are present in the nose along with notes of caramel malts.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has flavors of pine resin hops along with notes of caramel malts and toffee. The hops lend a moderate amount of bitterness. No alcohol is perceptible.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The alcohol lends some warming to the back end of the mouthfeel.
O: This beer is quite hoppy for a barleywine, and the bitterness really cuts through the underlying malts, masking any sweetness in the taste and stickiness in the mouthfeel.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.06/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ringing in the holiday season, Pipework's does Christmas without the threat of added spice which plagues most of the genre. Instead, the toasty, hoppy flavors that greet the palate are caught right smack-dab between American barleywine and imperial IPA.

Deep amber in color, the ale's rusty presentation is capped with a rich ecru lather. Billowing scents of citrus and pine mingle upward to the nose while its initial taste is boldly caramelized with seared toffee, bread crust and an overall nutty character.

Underneath it all, its bready-sweet maltiness lays a malty foundation with toasted sweetness, peanut skins and savory grilled bread. As its honey-like taste drifts, the hops waltz in, bringing their sharp grapefruit and orange-laced citrusy power and its gripping bitter pine resins to finish.

Lightening its body just enough to suggest the dryness of imperial IPA, the medium-full ale is malty-dry on the late palate with simmering bitterness of dried citrus peel and torn pine needles for a Christmas ale that's off the beaten spicy path.

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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 kojevergas
2.59/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Bottle into tulip:

HEAD: 3 inches wide. Off-white colour.

BODY: Glowing amber. Nontransparent. No yeast is visible within.

Looks decent for a barleywine.

AROMA: Heavily hopped. Amber malts, bready malts, grapefruit, bitter rind, and light pine.

Aromatic intensity is above average.

Suggests an overhopped barleywine with no unique or special features.

TASTE: Candi, caramel, amber malts, bitter melon rind, grapefruit bite, floral notes, and pale malts. Imbalanced. Subpar build.

Not gestalt, nor very cohesive.

Its low quality and relative simplicity renders it difficult to elaborate on.

TEXTURE: Irritatingly coarse, medium to full-bodied, thick, and unrefreshing. Poor execution. Overcarbonated.

OVERALL: A disappointment coming from the well regarded Pipeworks Brewing. Not strong work, nor is it noteworthy. I'd caution against buying it.

C-

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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 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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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 Alieniloquium
2.79/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Copper body. A bit of haze. Nice collar and surface foam.

Smell - Lots of grapefruit and lemon hops. A little bit of chemical. Strong malt. Strong caramel malt presence.

Taste - Hoppy. Grapefruit. A ton of malt. Kinda tastes like an old double IPA. Eh. Bitter finish with lingering citrus hop.

Mouthfeel - Well carbonated. Bitter finish.

Overall - I'm so unenthused by this. Old IPA is a snifter an apt description.

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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 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 HuskyinPDX
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle opened on 1.27.14
Batch # 266 67 68 69

A - Pours a very dark amber red with a pretty bubble tan head that just sits atop.

S - Hoppy pine and citrus.

T - Hoppy pine and citrus, then a bitter sweet malt backbone.

D - Good carbonation with a nice medium body.

O - Hop forward with a big barley wine background. Decent.

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Photo of tigg924
3.86/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours clear, bright reddish-brown in color with 1/3 inch head. Taste is caramel, toffee, grapefruit rind, and piney hops. Bitter, but not overly so. Sticky heavy body. I like other American barleywines more, but this is very tasty.

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Photo of ArrogantB
2.86/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle, I think it was $8.99. I have enjoyed the pipeworks beers I've had thus far and this was the first to disappoint. Dark red, not much head. Aroma was malty, hoppy, ok. Flavor had a slight tinge of buttered popcorn that bothered me enough that it distracted me from the rest of the beer. I would nto buy this one again.

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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 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 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 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 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 inlimbo77
3.79/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz, Batch 79 (January '13)
Kennett Winterfest plastic cup

A: Pours a deep amber color. Light off white/tan head. Sticks around a while. Sticky lacing. Good carbonation it appears.

S: Piney hops. Lots of nuttiness. Caramel. Toasty malts. Good hop aroma though. Smells more like an imperial red ale than a barleywine.

T: Hop bitterness on tip of tongue. Pine and earth. Then that malt bill comes in. Nuttiness. Caramel. Finish is dry. Lingering hops.

M: Big medium. Sticky malts.

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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 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 Hugonaut13
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into snifter

A - Pours a thick reddish brown with a light tan head. Lacing is very sticky and the head hands around for a bit.

S - hops and toffee. LOTS of hops and toffee. The smell is definitely telling you what's next.

T - Starts off with some sweet caramel malt, but the sweetness is definitely subdued. That blends well with the piney hops that comes in the back. The sweet malt and hops definitely play well together here, with neither overpowering the other.

M - Great creaminess and good carbonation. The 10% is apparent but not overwhelming.

O - Good example of an american barleywine and a great first crack at it by Pipeworks. I look forward to seeing what they do with this next year.

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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 kawilliams81
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a Pipeworks snifter.

A- pours a dark amber, near brown with a 1 finger tan head. Blotches and leopard spotting remains on the glass.

S- brown sugar, lots of citrus (oranges, grapefruit)

T- sweet amber malts, brown sugar, candied oranges and some bitter citrus rind.

M- medium body and carbonation. Drinks very well at 10%.

O- closer to a strong ale or imperial red. Reminds me of Brownshugga, but sweeter and with more citrus.

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Santa Vs. Unicorn from Pipeworks Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 41 ratings.