Santa Vs. Unicorn
Pipeworks Brewing Company

Santa Vs. UnicornSanta Vs. Unicorn
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Pipeworks Brewing Company
Illinois, United States
Barleywine - American
3.99 | pDev: 10.03%
Sep 08, 2019
Dec 15, 2012
Very Good
Santa Vs. UnicornSanta Vs. Unicorn
Notes: 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...
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Ratings by ONovoMexicano:
Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.72/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by ONovoMexicano from New Mexico

Dec 30, 2016
More User Ratings:
Photo of GuyFawkes
3/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
by GuyFawkes from Illinois

Unknown vintage; drank 6/14/14 @ Yuss Haus.

Dark orange rust murkiness.

Off-white head; thick lace.

Pine hops in the nose; hints of caramel.

Thick mouthfeel.

Caramel, citrus, pine & booze battle for supremacy; the result is a mess with no cohesion.

Not good.

Sep 08, 2019
Photo of PatrickCT
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by PatrickCT from Connecticut

Thanks for the beer, Matt!

Rich copper body, cloudy but not turbid. Beige head disappears as I pour leaving a thick ring around the glass.
Caramel malts, grapefruit and pine hop aroma.
The taste is toasted malts, caramel and toffee. This barely wine has a good dose of hops. Citrus rind and and fresh pine.
Medium bodied. Lighter than I would have expected. Smooth over all but with an alcohol presence in the finish along with a good spicy bite from the hops. Highly carbonated for the style.

Winsome, like most Pipeworks.

Dec 25, 2018
4 by hopkrid from Florida on Jul 22, 2018
3.59 by edthehead from New York on Jun 29, 2018
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

Bottle: Poured a copper color ale with a medium size off-white foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of caramelized malt with some light green hoppy notes is quite enticing. Taste is a nice mix of caramelized malt notes with some light dry green hoppy notes, small residual sugar notes with a somewhat dry finish. Body is about average with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. I prefer English style barleywine but this version is well balanced with hops and quite enjoyable.

May 14, 2018
4.25 by Beerhemoth from Illinois on Jan 15, 2018
4 by hoosier222002 from Illinois on Jan 07, 2018
Photo of michaelsmith11
4.02/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by michaelsmith11 from Illinois

Not sure what this is. I was expecting a barley wine but it's more like and ale. That's not to say it not good, just not what I expected. Way more hoppy than I expected with a medium mouth feel and a dry finish.

Dec 24, 2017
3.62 by PBRmeasap1980 from Indiana on Aug 17, 2017
Photo of stortore
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by stortore from Illinois

22 ounce bottle into a tulip snifter. Bottled 11/18/16, had 2/14/17.

Pours a medium amber/garnet, mostly clear, with a one and a half inch foamy head and a good amount of foamy lacing. The smell is pine, resin, some grapefruit, floral hops, yeast, malt, toffee. The taste is more substantial. Grapefruit, pine, malt, caramel, light yeast. A little bready. A good amount of hop bitterness throughout, a sweet spot midway. The malt takes over when fully warmed. Smooth, good level of carbonation, a good, medium body, but a touch light for the style.

Very good flavor and good aroma. No dark fruits here, seemed more like a DIPA or amber/red than barleywine at times. Reaper kicks Santa's butt, if you compare. Worth a try, though. It's still pretty good.

Jun 23, 2017
4.27 by jvillefan from California on Jan 05, 2017
4.18 by TheEpeeist from Maryland on Dec 31, 2016
4 by kylemckinnis from Colorado on Dec 30, 2016
3.45 by Chuckdiesel24 from Illinois on Dec 24, 2016
Photo of bnes09
3.67/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by bnes09 from Illinois

A little too bitter and unbalanced.

Dec 18, 2016
3.75 by Winston3737 from Michigan on Dec 18, 2016
3.5 by fosters9 from New York on Dec 11, 2016
3.6 by mdaschaf from Indiana on Sep 24, 2016
4.25 by jtransel from Illinois on Sep 10, 2016
3.91 by scruffwhor from Illinois on Aug 31, 2016
4.25 by myuncle from Illinois on Jul 30, 2016
4 by calcnerd from Pennsylvania on Jun 03, 2016
3.26 by Fargrow from Michigan on Apr 25, 2016
3.95 by JNPIII127 from New York on Apr 24, 2016
3.75 by CharlesK from Pennsylvania on Feb 29, 2016
4 by Zekenyce from New Jersey on Feb 24, 2016
Photo of tigg924
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75
by tigg924 from Massachusetts

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.

Feb 20, 2016
Photo of BEERchitect
4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by BEERchitect from Kentucky

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.

Feb 19, 2016
4.24 by Jkolls from Ohio on Feb 11, 2016
3.47 by Brzezniak88 from Missouri on Feb 07, 2016
Photo of Beaver13
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by Beaver13 from Colorado

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.

Feb 02, 2016
4.3 by hoponit from New York on Jan 25, 2016
4.34 by Sweffin from Wisconsin on Jan 22, 2016
3.81 by orangesol from Pennsylvania on Jan 11, 2016
3.84 by tappangordo from New York on Jan 09, 2016
Photo of Atlas1
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
by Atlas1 from Texas

This bomber was a gift from my sister and her husband for Xmas. Thanks, guys. We don't get Pipeworks in TX so this is a treat.

Pours a beautiful light mahogany color with hues of golden amber and copper mixed in. The perfect color of fall. If Autumn was a beer, it would look like this. Two finger head leaves good lace. The nose is dense. Notes of herbal pine, cherry, fig, various spices. Nice enough, but not astounding. The taste is quite nice. High ABV beers are often too boozy in flavor, but this one is able to mask the alcohol content fairly well. Not completely, but well enough. Flavors of dark fruit, pine, mild citrus, apples. Finishes nice and hoppy. Mouthfeel is firm and slightly chewy.

I like this beer. A good holiday brew for sure. It has a ridiculous name and label, but I can appreciate that. So glad I got to try this one. Merry Christmas indeed.

Jan 06, 2016
3.97 by smithj4 from New York on Jan 05, 2016
Photo of Jugs_McGhee
2.59/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75
by Jugs_McGhee from Texas

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.


Jan 02, 2016
4.16 by mindfuldave from New Jersey on Dec 30, 2015
Santa Vs. Unicorn from Pipeworks Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 261 ratings