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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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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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
41
Ratings:
239
Avg:
3.96
pDev:
25%
 
 
Wants:
48
Gots:
49
For Trade:
6
View: Beers | Events
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Reviews: 41 | Ratings: 239
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 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 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 MaximalC
3.59/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours the color of maple syrup with ruby highlights and a frothy cap of lemon meringue foam. The aroma is hop-forward, with plenty of grapefruit and pine and not much else.

The taste follows the nose, with IPA caliber hoppage including pine resin and grapefruit. Thankfully there is also a healthy dose of sweetness to balance, featuring maple syrup and brown sugar. Vague suggestions of milk chocolate emerge sporadically. The full depth of the malt isn't really appreciable until the finish, once the hop bombardment has subsided. The lingering, delicate, warming finish is the highlight of this beer for me. The body is medium and the mouthfeel is smooth and slick. Residual stickiness lingers on the lips after each sip.

Overall, this is a visually appealing, bold, hopcentric brew. The bitterness is too one-sided for my tastes, but it's not a bad offering if that's your cup of tea.

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Photo of vic21234
3.74/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. Batch number reads 266 67 68 69.

A- Pours a cloudy mahogany color with a half finger worth of khaki head which fades to some lacy froth along the sides of the glass.

S- Sweet malts and citrus hops on the aroma. Much more of a citrus aroma than any other barleywine I've ever had.

T- Sweet caramel malt up front before the strong hop hit. This beer has notes of citrus but mostly a piney resin in terms of the bittering hops.

M- Hoppy, bitter with a dry finish, medium bodied, alcohol is only slightly noticed at 10% ABV.

A nice beer, but I wouldn't really call it a barleywine. This one drinks much more like an imperial red or DIPA, as the blurb on the bottle suggests. It also says "cellar worthy," but I'd go for this one fresh due to the heavy hop character.

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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 KFBR392
3.77/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: A very dark amber color. Super dark when its all collectively in the glass. Thick lacing that crept down the glass. A pleasant head that was present the entire time drinking.

Smell: A sticky syrupy caramel smell is a sweet treat for the nose. There are a lot of hops and booze in this aroma as well. The aromas don't seem to mix very well, each kind of stands off by itself.

Taste: The front is some pronounced alcohol flavors and strong hops. The body has some of the sweet caramel and barley but not as much as I would have hoped. The huge hop presence cleans off the palette and leaves a very dry feeling behind.

Mouthfeel: Like I said above, a real punisher for the palette. Stinging hops bring the drinker to attention. A dry tacky feeling over a more sweetness oriented dryness you'd get from an elite IPA.

Overall: I was really thrown off by this brew. The bottle reads a barley wine but really comes off as an imperial IPA. It does state this in the description on the back but I felt like it should be labeled differently. Still a very solid brew but I probably wouldn't buy this again.

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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 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 kkleu357
3.84/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big grainy smell. Some fruit notes. Hazy red body. Lots of sweet fruit tastes. Little too much alcohol taste to be great. Did get better as the beer warmed up.

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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 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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Photo of Atlas1
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

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.

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