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Ninja Vs. Unicorn | Pipeworks Brewing Company

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Ninja Vs. UnicornNinja Vs. Unicorn

Brewed by:
Pipeworks Brewing Company
Illinois, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Ninja vs. Unicorn celebrates the epic battle between two of the biggest hop-heads of lore. Brewed with over five pounds of hops per barrel, this unfiltered double IPA is sure to please the most discerning hop lover. Whether you’re rooting for the mythical horned horse or the deadly assassin of the east, we hope you’ll enjoy Ninja vs. Unicorn.

Added by MasterSki on 01-23-2012

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Reviews: 324 | Ratings: 2,152
Photo of bashiba
2.63/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured a cloudy amber/orange with a light thin off white head.

The smell was very buttery diacetyly with a big shot of green pine and juniper.

The flavor is diacetyl laden as well, big buttery and slick with most of the hops being bittering hops, has a strong juniper bitter finish, with a bit of sweet caramel malt sneaking through a bit. A very strange blend.

The mouthfeel was slick and resiny.

Not a good double IPA, very flawed, couldn't even finish.

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Photo of huysmans
2.71/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle from late December consumed during the Superbowl, so approximately a month old. My cousin picked this up for me on a roadtrip to Chicago. It was warm for about two weeks and then in the fridge for two weeks before drinking. I let it sit out about 30 minutes before opening/pouring and then another 15 minutes after pouring. It had very little fizz when I popped the cap. It poured with almost no head. Color was deep and somewhat cloudy. It had a nice grapefruit smell, which was encouraging. The taste was very mild. It was very malty, but a certain stale/"where have the hops gone" maltiness that I find unappealing. It was quite boozy, but not hot. Very little bitterness. Very little hop presence - basically none. Low carbonation with a more syrupy mouthfeel. There was some decent lacing on the glass, but hardly consolation. I was very excited to try and share this. In the end, I was disappointed and embarrassed to have shared. Pipeworks and this beer in particular are often lauded, so I had high hopes. I don't deem a month a ridiculous amount of time to let an IPA sit. For reference, Enjoy By and Zombie Dust are both incredible at the 4 week mark - to name two beers I have had recently at a similar age point. Perhaps this is a great beer when very fresh, but it was not a great beer last night.

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Photo of paco1029384756
2.81/5  rDev -34%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

Scent of sugar, pine, sap and some caramel. Flavors of sugar, a little bit of citrus, caramel, pine and resin. A bit of alcohol becomes apparent as it warms. It smells and tastes expired, but it's fresh.

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Photo of corby112
3.14/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy dark copper color with bright golden orange edges and a one finger, frothy white head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Very good retention, taking a while to settle and leaving large streaks of soapy lacing on the way down.

Earthy floral hop aroma with fresh cut grass and a strong resinous pine needle character countered by a sweet malt backbone. Hints of spruce tip and earthy soil followed by caramel malt, toast, nut and toffee. Surprisingly one dimensional hop profile. Lacking in sweetness and has too strong of a malt presence in the nose for my preference.

Medium body with a blast of dry, earthy bitterness that lingers over a strong malt backbone into a very dry finish. Very earthy/soil-y with bitter, grassy hops and pine sap countered by sweet caramel malt, toffee, biscuit, toast and a touch of oak. There's some slight boozy sweetness toward the finish but the high ABV is well masked. Overall, this beer was a bit of a disappointment for me. The malt flavors are too prominent and the hop profile is very one dimensional. Not a bad beer, just boring.

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Photo of sbxx
3.32/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Appearance - Pours a clear golden yellow. I hate to say it, but it looks just like piss, haha. But ironically, that's a good thing in this case! Nice, clear, golden honey color. One finger of head. Nice lacing. Very inviting.

Smell - Bready, citrusy hops.

Taste - Boom! Big bitter hop flavor with a solid backbone. Some background pine. A bit of alcohol vapor on the breath. As it gets warmer, it gets harder to swallow. Alcohol bite, Hello.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Very light carbonation, almost like the bare minimum. Clean, wet finish.

Overall - For $10 a bomber, I'm gonna pass on this one next time. It started off great while cold, but as it warmed, the taste lost a whole rating point, maybe more, in my opinion. Not something I like to see. Overall, I think this is a decent brew, but I will personally be sticking with other IPAs/DIPAs.

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Photo of Brew_Betty
3.35/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Sadly, the cans aren't the same recipe as the formerly awesome NvU bombers.

Aroma - Initially, the most prominent characteristic is creosote. It smells like a freshly paved asphalt road. Behind it are some more desirable aromas that are difficult to appreciate on account of the creosote until half the beer and creosote have disappeared. Then it becomes ambiguously hoppy in an aromatic sense. So it starts out rough and ends like meh.

Taste - much better than the aroma. Basically, lemon, orange and grapefruit with a little earth in the finish. Medium bitterness. Clean booze. Generic malt.

Overall - it appears the Pipeworks strategy is to brew delicious hop bombs in $11 bombers and acquire high ratings, then reduce ingredients to package in cans at a similar profit margin and hope no one notices the difference. Well, I noticed.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.47/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pounder into an oversized tulip. 3/15/16 canned date.

Looking good on the appearance. Hazy golden liquid although not anywhere near the NE haze. Tons of suds and foam. Lace aplenty. Good persistence to the head.

Aroma is what it seems you're going to get out of any IPA these days, a tropical fruit blend. But there's a floral, melon-y aroma that I always love in brews and a light sweet malt presence. We're still looking damn good.

The flavor and feel don't quite deliver here. Flavor is more about that grapefruit life but in a tired sort of way. It becomes fainter the more I drink and becomes a bit of a lightly malty and sweet flavored-beer with a bitter and zesty finish. There's way more feel than flavor.

A bit of a dud for me and as it's only a month old, I guess I should drink this a fresh as possible to get the deliciousness others have experienced.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had during the 2nd Annual Redneck Racin’ & Tastin’ while tailgating at the dirt track race! Big thanks goes out to marine1975 for this one! Served from bottle into a NoDa snifter. Poured a golden yellow half finger white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, wheat, citrus, citrus hop, and fruit. The flavor was of sweet malt, citrus, citrus hop, fruit, earth, and spice. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. I went into this one really wanting to be wowed, but found it to be a little bit of a letdown. It was just a little too middle of the row for this style. The citrus aspect was definitely welcomed as it kept it out of the middle of the pack slightly, but I would have loved to see something completely different to make it stand out from the rest.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.57/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Bright hazy orange body. Nice white head. Some lacing.

Smell - Orange hop aroma. Deep toasty malt. Some booze.

Taste - Orange and grapefruit. Toasty malt again. Pithy bitterness. Harsh bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - There's an abrasive character about all Pipeworks DIPAs. This is no exception. Better than some of the other Ninjas, though. Mediu. Body. Boozy, although that seems ridiculous.

Overall - I don't get why people love this brewery. This is one of the better ones I've had from them, but still not great.

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Photo of BeerBrose
3.59/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured out of a 16oz can into a miniature snifter.

Look: Golden and clear, easy to see through with a frothy white head. sticky lacing left on the glass.

Smell: Pine and floral grapefruit, slight sweet malt.

Taste: Pine, Grapefruit, Rind, and a slight malt sweetness.

Feel: Medium bodied, and a very real lingering biterness & alcohol bite.

Overall: Very solid Double IPA and all the more worth our time now that its in 4pk Cans.

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Photo of Wolberjs
3.59/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Unfiltered cloudy amber. Pours with a finger head that dissipates.

S - Not alot going on here. Some sour orangey citrus with some pine notes and malt.

T - Not alot going on here either. Some hoppy bitterness on the finish. Malty taste. Not bad, but not outstanding.

M - Good mouthfeel for an IPA. Silky smooth at first with a tingly finish.

O - Solid IPA but not a standout. Maybe my bottle was not fresh. Will review again if I have a chance.

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Photo of brentk56
3.61/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with three fingers of foam; the persistance is excellent, leaving squiggles of lace behind on the pint glass

Smell: Very piney, but there is also an unusual green onion and sage tone

Taste: A hint of sugar cookie malt and then the hops take over very aggressively; piney to an extreme, but there are other elements that are harder to define, as well - I'll put them in the green onion and sage category for lack of a more precise descriptor; this unusual flavor dominates the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation but mouth-puckering dryness, in the aftertaste

Overall: I don't think I have ever had my mouth dry out from the hops quite like this before; in the hop profile, others are finding tropical flavors but that doesn't capture what is happening on my palate; I'm really curious about the hops that were used but cannot find any reference to that anywhere; I wonder whether the name of the beer offers a clue; perhaps Ninja refers to West Coast "C" hops and the Unicorn refers to European Noble hops battling it out

Thanks to hoppymeal for making this possible

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Photo of popery
3.62/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright orange gold. It's quite hazy. The head is about medium sized and pure white. Seems fairly sticky. Aroma is big on tangerine rind and pine resin. It gets a touch acetone-ish, some sort of harsh hop note that comes up in DIPAs, at times. Pineapple, a bit floral. Mildly grassy. Just a touch of malt sweetness and booze. Unfortunately, the taste is harsher and loses a lot of what delicacy was present in the aroma. It's relatively dry - there's still a good dose of simple malt sweetness in there. Lots of pine resin and citrus rind. A dose of booze. The bitterness is pretty high and drowns out the hop flavor too much for my liking. Mouthfeel is fairly harsh. Pretty light for the abv. Some definite hop oiliness and body from the malt. It's a pretty good DIPA, but it feels somewhat dated. This beer doesn't have the massive wave of complex hoppiness in the taste, and while the aroma is enjoyable, it's still not juicy like the top examples of the style. There's nothing really wrong with the beer, given the abv, but I was expecting more. Still, I'm quite happy to try it.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.65/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A good simple off white head is produced with lots of staying power. Foamy, mish mash of bubble sizes, sitting on top of what looks like an unfiltered frozen amber orange body.

Nose is a fairly nice hop blast sort of one dimensional, but gets into faint apricot and zesty orange. A dry biscuit aroma creeps out later.

Palate doesn't come with much richness, but a controlled slightly wet sense. Mouthfeel seems to hint at a little bit of fizz, but luckily not very much present. Orange hop bitter sense creeps in mid way, but loses a bit on the finish. Dry pine action comes in with a nice astringency, but is almost medicinal. Sugar malt bent or hit of biscuit from the nose is non existent on the palate.

Overall it's not bad, fairly drinkable with something to enjoy but can't say I am really drawn to this one.

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Photo of RaulMondesi
3.65/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pipeworks and Raul started off so well with one another. Unicorns Revenge was off the heazy, while Something Hoppy This Way Comes was like P90X for Raul's taste buds. That being said, Centennial Ninja and now Ninja vs. Unicorn... Ay wey.

Don't light up the BBQ with this thing near, because with the amount of kerosene that this thang is brewed with, you might have a problem. Now, Raulsky may be a little too harsh, the beer is ok, but there definitely is a lil too much Dale Earnhart Jr. action going on here.

It's got tha hops, the malt, the bitterness... But the diesel full, ay mami!

Wild, but sometimes wild ain't all that good. Ya feel me, my children?

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Photo of kevanb
3.66/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.5

650ml bottle, batch #599-600, poured into a Pipeworks Brewing Ninja teku. 9.0% ABV listed on the bottle.

The beer pours a fairly clear amber color, hues of orange and copper that is essentially lifeless though a nice two fingers of soapy white head rises from the beer that has excellent retention and yields some swatches of soapy lace. The aroma is pungent, plenty of piney and grassy hops, some pineapple and mango juiciness with assertive grapefruit peel though an aggressive caramel malt profile adds some richness and sweetness while the 9.0% abv also pokes its nose out. The flavors are in line, pleasant fruity hoppiness, juicy tropical fruits with bitter grapefruit peel with earthy and grassy hop notes as well but again the malt profile is really prominent, amber and caramel malts that are sticky, sweet and sugary though the alcohol is well hidden relative to the nose. The mouthfeel is sticky, a bit juicy, full bodied and rich with lower carbonation that has just enough liveliness and a dry finish.

Verdict: A decent DIPA from Pipeworks, but a bit too aggressive on all fronts for me, assertive malts with a bit of a darker and earthier hop bill just doesn't really excite my taste buds. Balance is left by the wayside for this, and while the two components fight for supremacy, I don't think anyone is winning.

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Photo of Justin_Neff
3.67/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 22oz bomber labeled batch #87 into a boulevard smokestack glass.

A: Pours a dark 24 karat gold that almost appears as amber at initial pour. The bright white head gushes to the top of the glass and retains amazingly, all while sticking to the glass and slowly fading.

S: Definitely hop forward. Some sweet malts underlying wafts of mangos and sweet orange juice. Doesn't smell overly complex.

T: Strong pine and citrus bitterness. A pretty hefty malt character actually outshines the hop profile. Sweetness that comes off almost like grapefruit juice or orange juice.

M: Medium-Full body. Oily. High carbonation. A little boozy.

O: Not my favorite from Pipeworks. The sweet malty character outshined the hops a little too much. Definitely not a bad brew, just not on the same playing field as some of the others.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.7/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to queens1130 for sharing this one at drewone's tasting.

Pours a hazy orange with a foamy bone colored head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, and citrus zest. Taste is much the same with a medium hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but I think it smells better than it tastes.

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Photo of floridadrift
3.75/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

CAN. Really nice beer, super floral with great hop notes all through it. Im no critic but this was easy to drink and a great palate cleanser. Light body with big head, golden ale with nice malty backbone.

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Photo of PatrickCT
3.75/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

16 ounce can poured into a DFH IPA glass.

a: A vibrant, matte gold body. A bit hazy. 3 finger white soapy head. Very nice looking beer.

s: Citrus rind and a floral grassiness. Faint malts up front.

t: Crisp malts, citrus rind, grapefruit, floral grassiness, with a spicy bitter hop finish.

mf: Medium light body with good carbonation. Nice crispness and balancing bitter finish.

o: Ninja vs Unicorn was very nice and extremely drinkable. Alcohol is well hidden.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.76/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle (2012)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, DLFarris!

Unfiltered golden orange with a large, moonscape near-white head that lasts and lasts, eventually leaving some irregular lacing down the glass.

A sweet and somewhat simple aroma, and probably this beer's weak spot, if it has one. There's mild citrus and simple syrup aromas combining pleasantly.

Moderately bitter, decent pine and citrus presence, orange syrup, and just a hint of alcohol presence.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Lingering citrus flavor. Very nice.

Very nice, though it was better at colder temperatures.

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Photo of jokemon
3.77/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

ninja vs unicorn heeeyaaa!!!

Personally I think the ninja would win in this fight but you never know the unicorn is a magical being so it may have some tricks up it's sleeve, or hoof, or whatever....

Anyway on to the beer

Poured from a bomber into a snifter. Small amounts of foam What is there is bright white and forms some cool soapy bubbles.

The smell is very hoppy and sweet. It smells like bubblegum candy to me.

Taste is hoppy as expected. The first taste I notice is again the sweetness, I would say that it is a malty sweetness. Next up is the hops, not as overpowering as I though they would be. I don't get much else except a grapefruit taste.

Overall a decent beer, I kind of like the sweetness its growing on me.

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Photo of mothman
3.78/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

White head. Lace left. Golden yellow color.

Earthy and piney. Some citrus flavors. Mango. Bitter with some resin stickiness.

Decent but nothing I am crazy about.

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Photo of jashiu
3.78/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I guess the review will be flawed by the can age but that's the problem with some beers that reach Europe. This one was 4 months old and I can only guess how hoppy it was in the beginning.

Pours hazy yellow with a moderate creamy white head that stays a while and leaves medium amount of lacing.

The first aromas are citrus and resin but after a couple of seconds the smell is dominated by pine, and a bit of caramel with grapefruit and citrus scents pushed to the background.

Taste is malty and fruity (mostly mango) with a strong hoppy bitter punch. Feels creamy for a IIPA, carbonation is rather low.

Overall I did enjoy this one very much, though I would love to drink it fresh. I guess the first extremely citrus scents could then have lasted a while longer than the first seconds...

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Photo of C20Percent
3.8/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Just bought in Chicago from Binny's -- no freshness date.

A: Pours a pale gold with a small white bubbly head. I poured hard and still got little head. Semi-hazy -- no issues there. Lacing is sparse. Just above average overall.

S: Nice blend of pine and citrus sweetness. Caramel malts. Bits of tropical notes in the aroma as well. Some resin.

T: Taste malt forward to me. Slightly boozy finish in the beginning, which disappears in the beer-drinking experience. Not especially bitter. Not a huge flavor profile. I would say this is a rather mild DIPA.

M: Worst part of the brew. Carbonation is butt. Body is forgettable. Slightly biting at first -- smooths out over time. This should have been much better.

O: Just above an average DIPA. My expectations were expectedly high for this Pipeworks brew, and they were not met. This is the second underwhelming Pipeworks beer I've had. Again, there is no freshness date on the bottle, so this could be an age issue. I don't know. I want a bigger flavor profile and it's just not here. I guess it doesn't help that I've been drinking On the Wings nonstop since early May. I would wager this would be better on draft.

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Ninja Vs. Unicorn from Pipeworks Brewing Company
4.26 out of 5 based on 2,152 ratings.
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