I have learned that Friendship is Magic.
As the father of a seven-year-old daughter, my last few years have been dominated by episodes of My Little Pony on Netflix. I, by association, now hold dual citizenship in the mythical land of Equestria and feel as if the ponies are truly part of me (more literally than figuratively, thanks to the multiple ponies and accessories I have stepped on while walking around my house).
My daughter has adopted Rainbow Dash as her alternate playtime identity, using her super speed to outrun kids in the neighborhood. I don’t really identify with any of the ponies as there is no beer or writing Cutie Mark – the coming of age insignia that defines your true talent. If, by magic, a cartoonish icon ever did appear on my rear flank it would likely be a typewriter. Or a pillow, which would represent my true talent of sleeping through nearly anything.
There are plenty of unicorns in Equestria, but no ninjas. The main characters have fought evil in nearly every form, but never the mystical Japanese warrior. Maybe a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / My Little Pony crossover could remedy that, but that pairing is unlikely as different companies own the intellectual and merchandising rights.
Until those universes collide, only Pipeworks Brewing can truly tell us what happens when a ninja and unicorn meet.
It’s an intense beer, bursting with mango and tropical fruit.”
The Chicago brewer sits right on the border of the city’s Hermosa and Logan Square neighborhoods and the back of its brewhouse butts up against Off Color Brewing’s facility. Pipeworks has sold beer since 2010, but made its retail debut in 2012 with Ninja vs. Unicorn, an unfiltered double India Pale Ale. Their beer is well-regarded in local circles and, through Pipeworks’ growth, has expanded to shelves in Colorado, Connecticut, and New York.
Ninja vs. Unicorn is a double IPA tipping in at 8% alcohol by volume and the alcohol is present both in the nose and on the palate. Cracking the can open for the first time, I could not help but lean in for a quick sniff at what was about to be poured. It’s an intense beer, bursting with mango and tropical fruit. No expense was spared in hopping this ale.
A slow pour yielded a translucent yellow beer with a fingerwide head on top that faded into soap suds and a sticky, lacy edging that lasted to the bitter end.
One would expect hops to smash your palate on the first sip. One would be wrong. It opens with a malt sweetness that sets the stage for the hop-powered onslaught of bitter and candied orange. Flavors of pineapple and grapefruit also present themselves. Malts return as you swallow, balancing the hops and leaving behind a citrusy aftertaste. The body is medium and mouthfeel is moderate. Overall it’s a joy to drink.
Every brewery has their calling card; the beer that announces its presence and lets you know it has arrived. Pipeworks picked Ninja vs. Unicorn to can first and leads into each new market with it. After all, when ninjas and unicorns collide, casualties be damned, it is a spectacle to behold and enjoy.