Reaper Vs. Unicorn | Pipeworks Brewing Company

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Reaper Vs. UnicornReaper Vs. Unicorn

Brewed by:
Pipeworks Brewing Company
Illinois, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
The unicorn may have finally met its match in Death Incarnate. But hold your horned horses, because the unicorn lives to rye another day! What a sickle joke! We aren't tricking you, this barleywine is a real treat, with a rich malt skeleton and a more than paranormal amount of hops. If you're going to harvest soul-y one beer this season, don't fear the Reaper...

Added by KFBR392 on 10-10-2013

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Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 202
Photo of superspak
4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 9/23/2016. Pours slightly hazy deep ruby red/light copper color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of big grapefruit, tangerine, peach, pineapple, apricot, mango, melon, papaya, passion fruit, raisin, berries, plum, cherry, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, toasted bread, spicy rye, light nuttiness/pine, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of citrus/tropical hops, dark/bready malt, and light fruity yeast notes; with great strength. A bit of booze appears as it warms. Taste of huge grapefruit, tangerine, peach, pineapple, apricot, mango, melon, papaya, passion fruit, raisin, berries, plum, cherry, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, toasted bread, spicy rye, light nuttiness/pine, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate pine/herbal/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, tangerine, peach, pineapple, apricot, mango, melon, papaya, passion fruit, raisin, berries, plum, cherry, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, toasted bread, spicy rye, pine, herbal, and floral/grassy earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/tropical hops, dark/bready malt, and light fruity yeast flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance, and zero cloying/astringent flavors after the finish. Light dryness from bitterness, increasing through the glass. Medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a very smooth, creamy/grainy, fairly sticky, and lightly slick/resinous balanced mouthfeel that is awesome. Alcohol is very well hidden; a light warmth lingering after the finish, with minimal booziness. Overall this is an outstanding American barleywine! All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/tropical hops, dark/bready malt, and light fruity yeast flavors; very smooth and easy to sip on for the big ABV. Insane amounts of juicy hops and balancing malt sweetness; not overly bitter or drying like many in the style tend to be. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of emerge077
3.79/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Thomas for sharing this one!
Dark saturated amber orange, spotty lace and thin wispy surface skim, bright clarity with a reddish highlight.

Aroma is fairly hoppy with a buttery note. Floral and fruity cantaloupe.

Resiny hop flavor, some cantaloupe and pine resin, bready malt and some peripheral buttery diacetyl. Burly and big bodied, rich and malty. Chewy texture, booze is noticeable. Along with the diacetyl, it's a little distracting. Best shared, likely not one i'd revisit.

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Photo of JustinCider
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 13 oz. tulip.

A: Reddish brown in color with a light tan head.

S: Aromas of dates, spicy rye, sweet malts, orange and earthy hops.

T: Stone fruit (dates and figs), sweet malt, dank hops, spicy rye and some boozy heat on the finish. Long lasting bitter, drying on the tongue.

F: Lightly carbonated with a somewhat thick mouthfeel.

Tastes even better as it warms slightly. A great balance of malt, rye and hops. Well done.

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Photo of Tonyjenlasc
3.64/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look - Dark amber color, pretty much opaque, not to much head to speak of. Almost looks like blood in the glass. Cool looking stuff
Smell - Malt sweetness, oakiness, wood, dark fruits, hints of grapefruity type citrus notes
Taste - Sweetness up front, dark fruits like raisins/cherries, booze, hop bitterness, pine, oak/wood

Overall - A decent beer. Not sure if I'd drink again though. Def a winter brew.

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Photo of snaotheus
3.73/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle split between a pair of chalices. Bottle traveled here in my wife's suitcase on her way home from Chicago. If there's a date on the bottle, I can't find it, and it's a barleywine, so I don't really care that much.

Pours very dark amber or a light brown, with a smallish clumpy head. Moderate carbonation. Smell is wood, spicy rye, light fruit, mostly wood, I think.

Taste is heavy rye, heavy toast, very light booze, moderate oak/wood.

Mouthfeel is moderate. Overall, tasty beer, but not particularly special. Of course, I'd be interested to try it again after it had cellared for a year or two.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Deep rusted bronze body, moderately clear as well. Super creamy light tan head out of the bottle, easily making two fingers which is whipped up like frosting. Settles slowly to a thin top, and real creamy fine collar.

Solid aroma. Nice mix of malt and hop angles. Soft caramel with a hint of pine and wood. Small touch of grapefruit, even some strange dill pickle like sense in the mix of herbality.

Real unexpected palate. Mild sweetness but also a real fruited crispy brown sugared mid palate. Diverse fruit palate that jumps from raisin, tropical mango and papaya, figs, even some almost exotic fruit as well. Clean finish but also a bit prickly on first sip for the feel, and a lighter than expected body. Toasty caramel notes, and mild soft hop bitterness in the aftertaste to wash down.

Pretty solid and impressive hopped barleywine from these guys. Nicely done.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.44/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Deep rich auburn, thin head. Rye, sweet malts. Unbelievable how smooth it is. I'm not a fan of Valentine but this is a winner. Slight toffee and cordial cherries

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Photo of SomethingClever
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle poured into Spiegelau glass

A: rich caramel in color with a khaki colored head with a creamy appearance to it very good clarity for a Barleywine.

S: soft metallic smell with a little bit of orange

T: very soft with a nice deep orange taste with a lot of richness bordering on bitter but lets up in the end the malts are there and they are big but expertly balance by the hops without the tongue buckling bitterness

M: smooth insanely so with a medium creamy feel quite impressive

O: This is the softest barleywine I have ever drank. Most barkeywines are searingly hoppy or malty this beer is so smooth and light it is unreal. It is so balanced which is not something you associate with a barleywine.

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Photo of darktronica
4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

September 2015 batch. Pours a deep russet in color with light head and modest lacing. Smells heavily of tropical, juicy hops, with massive aromas of passion fruit, lychee, mango, and guava; so far, this is veering heavily into DIPA territory. Tasting does not contradict that direction, as might be expected from Pipeworks, but the flavors get better and better with each sip. Still fruity and bitter on the tongue, the fresh batch never quite brings out the malt profile common to barleywines, but it comes across as pushing the boundaries of stylistic guidelines without crossing any lines. The characteristic rye spiciness is in evidence, particularly in the moderately long finish, but it never overwhelms or tries to steal the show.

Reaper vs Unicorn simply emphasizes different qualities than most American barleywines; this is lovely and worth seeking out as an interesting adventure.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours really dark amber, almost brown-ish, with a small off-white head that lingers a bit, surprisingly.
Rich smell of peach jam/compote, with a thick gloop of caramel too. Really sticky and fruity, with preserved fig, white raisin, cherry plum, hints of melon, gooseberry, all with a splash of slightly warm brandy, far from boozy. A light spicy edge to it, too.
Lots of fruit up front, really sweet and jammy, but not sugary, with a bit emphasis on chewy orchard stone fruit (peach, apricot, yellow cherries, Chinese plum) and hints of persimmon, raisin, papaya, faint mango. There's a swift flash of bitterness early on, with a rich grassy hoppiness. Slides into piney notes, a bit rougher, keeping nice caramel malts, but adding a nice clear spicy Russian rye bread feel. Hint of nut, even, and some faint woody spices (pepper, faint cinnamon stick, cardamom).
Aftertaste is the sum of all the above, spicy, sweet-ish with overripe fruit and caramel, a bit hoppy bitter. Alcohol nowhere to be found. Medium body, medium carbonation, quite sticky, even more so as it warms.
A greatly balanced American barleywine, sweet and sticky, but also dry and spicy. A nice taste bud trip, great complexity.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this on 2015-02-21 in Columbia, PA

A - Somewhat hazy dark amber with a 2-finger tan head and great lacing.

S - Toffee, caramel, orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, clove and some hop bud.

T - Blast of malt and gardenia perfume. Medium-heavy roasted grain, caramel, toffee, pepper, alcohol heat. Bitterness has a candied orange peel flavor that lingers.

M - Thick body and light carbonation. Substantial, sticky.

O - A very fine American Barleywine. I'm enjoying the difference between this and the Santa vs Unicorn; with this Reaper coming out on top.

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Photo of maximum12
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to the ridiculous brewinc for this bottle. I mean, really? Guy does me a favor by dropping an ’11 BCS on me to fill out a vertical, doesn’t want anything in return, then brings an extra. OFF MY WANTS. WHILE DOING ME A FAVOR. Some people’s children. 22 oz. bottle with Monster Manual artwork split with my wife, batch 525/526.

The pour looks like the picture of an Oud Bruin that I keep stored in my head, a murky reddish paint mix . Middling carbonation that deflates faster than a Patriot’s football. Nose is a nice/odd mix of piney hops, peppery rye, & gooey caramel sweetness. Each time I think of one, that’s what I smell. OK, now thinking of smelling a Powerball win.

Reaper vs. Unicorn is a style I like: anything mixed with rye. This is a fundamentally balanced beer, just like the nose. Caramel, spicy rye, mountain pine hops all come at the throat in roughly equal increments. In the mid-section there’s a bit of citrus & stone fruit, neither of which made their way up my nose. Alcohol shows in the end, along with a growing dose of pine that slowly morphs into palate-frying bitterness. Bigfootesque, but better tasting. Blood thick, I think I’ve cranked down most of my glass in the last six plus minutes; perhaps this is finally the session barleywine to answer my prayers.

This is my fourth Pipeworks beer & only behind Ninja vs. Unicorn (which was fantastic) on the spray graph. That does it. Only Pipeworks brews with mythical horned mammals from now on. The rye & hops & big malts really work here. Very good & trying to ease a nose into excellent territory.

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Photo of larryarms847
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly cloudy, rusty amber red with a thin layer of beige foam.

Lots of rye, tobacco, dark fruit, citrus, and pine.

Candied and caramel malt forward with some citrus, spice, and pine on the finish.

Mouthfeel is heavy and very carbonated.

Overall, I wouldn't consider myself a fan of American barleywines, but this one I dug.

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Photo of mschrei
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Originally rated two years ago at 4.25 (back when we didn't have to give a number for every category). Poured into Ninja vs Unicorn snifter. Dark reddish brown with good foam and leasing. So cloudy I can't tell if there's carbonation. Mild malty notes on the smell, very slight sweet hippiness. Taste is sweet and malty with a slight tang and alcohol burn.

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Photo of vic21234
3.94/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. Batch number 525/526.

A- Looks very much like a barleywine, pouring a hazy ruby/ dark amber color with a good amunt of off-white head which hangs around awhile. Some sticky lacing is seen along the sides of the glass as well.

S- Caramel toffee like malts along with some pine from the hops.

T- Up front is tons of rye and overall malt character. Then come the hops, mostly leaving a piney resin taste.

M- Medium bodied, well carbonated, bitter for a barleywine, drinks fairly hot fresh.

Another nice offering from Pipeworks, and I was lucky to grab a few more bottles to see how it does with some age.

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Photo of brentk56
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 221/222/223

Appearance: Out from the bottle, a hard pour releases an inch or so of foam that covers the cola colored liquid; not much staying power in the head and it swiftly fades to a ringlet/archipelago; plenty of splashy lacing, though

Smell: Mellowed toffee aroma mixed together piney hops

Taste: The toffee tones in the aroma jut forward but are quickly subsumed by the piney and spicy bitterness; between the pine and the spicy rye tones, the malt struggles to remain relevant though it does linger somewhat into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with low to moderate carbonation

Overall: This beer may have a year of age, but the bitterness that is still around means this beer must have been hellaciously bitter in its youth; I just wish there was more malt to balance out the bitterness as it is a bit thin for the style

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Photo of KTCamm
3.3/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

22 ounce bomber poured into a perfect pint glass. 2/5

Pours dark dirty brown, sediment rich and murky. Unfiltered. No foam, pours like syrup. Light malty nose, some rye flickers in. Taste opens with a strong rye, twists into an astringent bitter, then closes with an alcohol burn. Rougher pour generates more bubbles. Tough beerm the rye is nice, but really have to like the barleywine style,. Its not my favorite.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love every opportunity to try something new from its “Unicorn versus” series! Pours murky dark amber with a frothy head that lasts well with decent retention throughout. This brew has a pronounced hop aroma on the nose along with caramel malts, juicy citrus, tangerine, and earthy toffee. The palate is greeted by some bitterness which attempted to combat the massive rich malt and spicy rye undertones, and then finishes off with modest sweetness from the bready and caramel malts. This beer seems to fit the right profile for the rye barleywine style while giving off that classic Pipeworks flavor which is some of that sweet and delicious forward malt and hop profile.

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Photo of offthelevel_bytheplumb
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Pours a slightly hazy ruby color with a finger of off-white head that dissipates rather quickly. Really juicy aroma that smacks you in the face. It reminded me of Fruit Gushers. Grapes and cherries pop out with some molasses, wheat, and resin in the background. Taste is very resiny and juicy at first, but gets more sweet and chewy as it warms up. The aftertaste was a mix of tropical fruits and toffee. This bad boy was a very big, slow sipper.

Overall: Another winner from Pipeworks. The boatload of hops were aromatic and fruity, but it still had a toffee like sweetness and these flavors worked well together. I also want to point out that the rye doesn't make much of an appearance to me.

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Photo of joeseppy
4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Batch 221

Pours a caramel body (no, really it looked like pouring liquified caramel) with red hues and a decent mocha head.

Aroma is straight forward piney hop and sweet malt.

Now this is where the rubber meets the road. Hop heaven delight with resinous pine. Sweetened malt supports hop in spectacular fashion as the rye sparkles in this sipper. Picking up on dates and raisins.

Mouthfeel is, can I say light on the heavy side. Just enough alcohol lingering in the cranium. Some stickiness.

Pours like caramel and tastes like a hop heads dream. Signature Pipeworks on the hop profile. This takes me back to what an American Barleywine should be. I read a lot of people gripe about these big beers and the price, but you know what, for $10, I got more enjoyment from this than any six pack of BMC could ever deliver. Hometown brewery, fine ingredients and quality delivered-I'm in.

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Photo of kevanb
3.77/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

650ml bottle, Batch labeled 221/222/223, poured into a Pipeworks snifter.

The beer pours a nice dark amber color, hues of burgundy, dark leathery brown with a bit of garnet when struck by the light, very opaque with a little clarity around the edges. Atop the beer rests a solid finger and a half of khaki head that has very nice retention and leaves a great network of soapy lace behind. The aroma is definitely on the hoppy side, true to style, lots of piney hop, quite bitter and earthy that really showcases the rye, reminds me a lot of Hop Rod Rye in many respects, although Hop Rod Rye has a beautiful showcasing of citrus that doesn't appear in RvU. Behind the hops comes a huge surge of rich dark malts, brown sugar and a bit of molasses with just a touch of astringency from the alcohol. I have to say, this is one of the least booze forward high gravity ales from Pipeworks I've had, which I really appreciate. The flavors tell a slightly different story unfortunately, lot's rye straight away with sugary sweet malt, almost like candied brown sugar, some richness to the grain is definitely apparent as well. A bit of stone fruit shows from the sweetness before the hops pick up steam with bitter pine, earthy, sappy and resinous. Alcohol is almost an afterthought, again, much appreciated, but the balance is a little out of whack here and the intensity of the candied sugar is a bit needless. The mouthfeel is nice, low carbonation that has a bit of a lively kick, although this beer is super smooth, rich but not overly decadent and finishes very easily although it does have a pretty dry kick to it.

Verdict: A very solid offering from Pipeworks and definitely one of the better beers I've tried from them. The rye is integrated and showcased very well, and the hop profile is actually very enjoyable. I'd go so far to say that this is also one of the better American Barleywines, as it blends the malts and hops nicely. It's not a style I'm sold on, but this is a beer I could enjoy again.

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Photo of Florida9
4.21/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark brown in color. Forms a smallish, creamy, dark tan colored head. Decent lacing.

S: Aroma is a blend of earthy hops and alcohol. Mild pine notes, maybe a touch of citrus. Something akin to tobacco, but not quite. Earthy. That's the best description.

T: Taste is similar to the aroma. Earthy. Dirty. Lots of dark caramel malts. Pine and pine resin. Moderate alcoholic heat on the back end.

M: Medium bodied. Rather appreciable bitterness approaching tannic. Lower carbonation.

O: A good beer. I certainly enjoyed it. Can't say its a barleywine, but I can't say it's a DIPA or anything-else, so I guess barleywine is good enough descriptor for me.

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Photo of Qbdoo
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I love Pipeworks and admire their willingness to innovate. This barleywine is a very good beer but a bit of a puzzle to me. It's an appetizing murky brown color that makes you think: cold weather beer. Yet despite its high ABV its mouthfeel and taste are nice but a bit thin for a barleywine. It's fairly hoppy - no problem there - with a strong malt backbone, but doesn't pack the weight I've come to expect from a barleywine. I look for right hooks; this gives you a quick jab. Once again, Pipeworks beers are more subtle and restrained than the image they've crafted.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present. Batch #221/222/223 printed on the label. The newest addition to the Pipeworks family of Unicorn beers. Excited to have this in my grasp; I love Pipeworks and all that they do.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter glass.

A - Pours just under two fingers of creamy tan head on top of a luscious caramel-mahogany colored body. Some ruby highlights when held to the light. Thin bubbly lace. Looks very nice.

S - Smell is of big resinous pine hops, caramel malt, red / amber malt, some earthy wood character, dark candied raisins, & peppery rye spice.

T - Taste follows the nose: resinous pine hops in the front, caramel malt in the middle, and a spicy peppery rye finish. Any actual alcohol heat from the beer's 10.00% abv is hardly noticeable.

M - Feel is creamy, clean, peppery, and dry. Lots of resinous pine clinging to the palate. Medium bodied with nice carbonation.

Overall, another winner from Pipeworks. There isn't a whole lot of complexity to this beer, but the layering and balance is excellent, and highly drinkable for such a high abv. Definitely worth seeking out.

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

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep reddish brine hue. Creamy looking head with a light pinkish tint. Generous spotting.

Pine, floral, and sugary candy date aroma. Hop aromas dominate but there's enough sweet malt to distinguish it as a barleywine.

Delicious. Pine and floral perfume hops. Sweet balance. I even pick up a distinct dark cherry.

Heavy and creamy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Very clean mouthfeel.

One of my favorites from PW to date. Hoppy as hell but still classifiable as a barrleywine.

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Reaper Vs. Unicorn from Pipeworks Brewing Company
4.07 out of 5 based on 202 ratings.
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