Great Lakes Unicorn Ale - Bourbon Barrel Aged | Great Lakes Brewery

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5 Ratings

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Sammy on 03-13-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5 |  Reviews: 4
Photo of DaPan
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.36/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Project X bottle from the brewery that was lightly waxed with red wax. Stated ABV of 11% and IBU of 140.

Poured in to CBS Snifter.

A - Very murky brown/orange colour; reminiscent of swamp water. . Half a finger of creamy and thick cream coloured head formed on the pour and receded to a few bubbles. Good lacing.

S - Huge bitterness up front with some citrus and pine aromas. The 140 IBU bitterness is dominant and overshadows the faint but still present sweet caramel aroma. The alcohol warming in the background but not distracting at all for the 11% ABV.

T - Massive bitterness up front that is accompanied by pine and citrus flavours. The big malt bill takes a back seat to the bitter hops and offers some sweet caramel, toffee and brown sugar flavours to slightly tame the bitterness. The finish is bitter orange rind and lingers nicely on the tongue.

M - Full body. Somewhat sludgy. Moderate to high carbonation that somewhat hides the full body and is my only (slight) complaint about this beer.

O - An excellent american barley wine. Would love to see a little less carbonation but otherwise, no complaints.

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Photo of Derek
4.53/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Unoaked batch:

A: 4.5 - Deep mahogany with a light tan head, good retention, excellent lacing & leg.

S: 4 - Caramelized raisins, figs, raspberry, earthy mineral, nectarine, fruit cake.

T: 4 - Caramelized raisins, figs, dates, sponge toffee, roasted nut, bitter orange rind, nectarine, slight earthy mineral. The sweetness upfront is overtaken by a bitterness that lingers, some alcohol warmth.

M: 4 - Fairly full body has some residual sweetness, light hop acidity, finish is crisp with some drying alcohol.

D: 4 - A wonderful sipper & all around brew. Big & a little brash, yet it still doesn't seem as strong as it is.

Oaked batch review: May 10, 2011.


The extra conditioning has transformed this brew from quite good to really great. There's a light wood flavour with plenty of vanilla. The earthy bitterness has mellowed and allowed the dark fruit, citrus & pine to really shine through. The first whiff of aroma has more beery essence than an entire bottle of some macro's.

It's not as brash, but still gives the tongue a light whipping to announce that this is indeed a serious barley wine.

The lacing is phenomenal for a brew of this strength. Usually when I drink something this strong it wears on me... but I just keep liking it more!

Well done.

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Photo of liamt07
4.09/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Volo, Great Lakes/Mike Lackey feature. Into a wine glass.

Poured a dark red/mahoghany, with a tight collar of retention and no lace. Nose has some light dark fruits, some bourbon (not overpowering), loads of oak and vanilla. Taste has even more oak, bourbon is well integrated here also. Some dark fruits in the periphery. Bitter hops in the finish, advertised as having something like 100IBU's. Surprisingly doesn't kill the palate or leave a substantial lingering bitterness. Full mouthfeel, and good drink for the alcohol content. Quite smooth frankly. Experiment more with barrels Great Lakes!

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Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a few days later the "other" version, bottle via Stephen Rich. This is an American strong, hoppy, dark appearance, very good malting. Significant roast accompanies the bitterness.Not much oak, still the 100IBu and the booziness. Worth seeking out.

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Great Lakes Unicorn Ale - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Great Lakes Brewery
Beer rating: 4.26 out of 5 with 5 ratings