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Close Encounter - Pipeworks Brewing Company

Close EncounterClose Encounter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

178 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 178
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 9.92%

Brewed by:
Pipeworks Brewing Company visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Close Encounter is a bold venture into depths unknown. The best of both worlds co-exist between a rich roasted malt er’n character and an aggressive hop presence that will probe your taste buds like +thing you have experienced before. Don’t fear the unknown, embrace it! You never know who or what you may encounter…

(Beer added by: MasterSki on 03-14-2012)
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Ratings: 178 | Reviews: 37 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Agold


4.13/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this at the (disappointing) Chicag Beer Fest. I will say that pipeworks was the only brewery that really brought out some awesome stuff (aside from GI bringing BCS '10 and Marisol which was pretty nice). Everyone else brought regulars, mostly stuff I could find off the shelf but the standout star of the night was pipeworks.

Poured much like a stout with very dark body and khaki head which receded to a ring around the glass. Aroma struck me much more like an IPA than a stout. Very similar to Ninja vs. Unicorn with regards to the hop profile. Very nice piney citrus aroma complemented by a nice amount of roast. Flavor had a similar IPA character with a bit more roast and cocoa than the aroma. There is a lot of piney flavors along with a bit of mild roast and cocoa. the mouthfeel is a bit light, but this plays more into the idea of a dark IIPA than the idea of a hoppy impy stout for me, which is probably how I would rather think of this beer.

I am not a huge fan of the black IPA movement, but I will say that despite the BA (and pipeworks) classification as an impy stout, this beer is by far the best cascadian ale I have come across. The darkness is not just a color, but a flavor which (to me) oddly complements the piney, resiney, mildly citrus hop character. Though they bill it as a hopped up Impy stout, it would be much better thought of as a dark IIPA.

Serving type: on-tap

04-01-2012 06:44:09 | More by Agold
Photo of deebo


2.73/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

A bomber given by a generous IL guy at Darkness Day eve. Batch 127.

A-Poured into a snifter, a thin finger of mocha head that laces the glass as it breaks down. Black as night.

S-Umm, very nice. I get a hint of grassy, earthy, slightly fruity hops with a very chocolatey malt quality. Other notes of rich roasted barley definite as well.

T-Unfortunately the taste doesn't hold up to the aroma. The rich dark malt overtakes everything in the taste. The hops add another level of bitterness beyond the burnt malt notes. Finishes a bit boozy. Kind of a mess.

M-A bit light in the body department. High carbonation.

O-Kind of a hot mess. Nice aroma, could use a better body and less bitter/astringent bite. A rough drink for 22 oz.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2014 02:54:19 | More by deebo
Photo of Cresant


3.2/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Reviewed from notes. Poured this 22 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams glass. No batch # present. The body was potting soil black and had a head that was creamy & tan.

The smell was spicy. Root-beer like?

The taste was of bitter chocolate. There was minimal sweetness but there was a prickly alcohol burn.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied with a fine carbonation. Not my favorite Pipeworks beer but enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2013 15:30:55 | More by Cresant
Photo of Chaney

District of Columbia

4.28/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

My lovely wife picked this up at a Binny's in Chicago when she went to visit family this past summer.

Served in a DC Brau tulip.

A: Poured thick, black, intense, and infinitely sticky. What more could one want?

S: I could literally smell this thing from several feet away. Is this a Black IPA or stout? Sorta reminds me of FFF Black Sun in that regard. Infinitely bright, fruity, and candy-like, but with a good bit of grainy char thrown in for safe measure.

T: Actually, the char hit the palate first, but then the semi-sweet goodness fill the mouth shortly after. Still, this is almost a black and tan: big stout infused with an East Coast IPA. However, it had this overall black cherry quality that was flat out awesome.

M: Thick and gooey, just the way I like it. RIDICULOUS lacing, and the carbonation was nice and low.

O: This blew me away. Obviously, a lot of the reviews on here didn't have the same beer I had.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2013 05:16:21 | More by Chaney
Photo of Nugganooch


3.54/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber – Batch#57 into my Stone IRS Snifter glass
Notes taken on 10/13/13

Received in trade – Thanks Paul!

A: Pours a dark inky black body with the slightest crimson edge on it. Virtually pitch with no visibility. Produces about a half finger width of dark khaki foam with decent stay. Eventually falls out to a swirl leaving minimal dots of stick down the glass.

S: Smells of dark roasted malts with some cooked caramel sweetness, molasses, dark fruits, and a hint of black licorice spice. I am getting some wafts of alcohol as well. Very roasty with a touch of smoky char. Nice and stouty. Not particularly hoppy in the aroma.

T: Blackened malts with some coffee grounds, bitter dark chocolate, and an astringent sour charcoal ash. It is a little off-putting to say the least coupled with a high amount of hop bitterness. More spice and earthy hops, but mostly unremarkable in flavor. Finishes with a hint of dark berries with plum and just a touch of alcohol noted. This could have been really nice but the acrid char is a bit overbearing.

M: Thick body with a nice frothy smooth texture and high amount of drying lending to a much lighter finish. There is big astringent bite and some light alcohol warmth. Finishes with a rather clean coat.

D: I am down for a hoppy stout but this one didn’t quite work for me. A little heavy handed on the roast barley. Gets a bit harsh with the ashy char. Other than that it is a fairly decent brew that I am stoked to have had.
Love the concept, love the label artwork, didn’t quite love the execution.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2013 23:45:21 | More by Nugganooch
Photo of Fcolle2


4.04/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours thick far black with a thin dark tan head. Very thick consistency and some really nice lacing.

Smell is hop forward with lots of tropical like fruity hops overlaying some nice chared malt and some more complex dark fruit notes.

Taste follows the nose with topical fruit hops and some piney hop flavors. This is followed by a rich charred.

Mouthfeel is great, lots of bitterness both from the hops and roasted malt. Very thick and smooth.

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2013 23:42:34 | More by Fcolle2
Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead


4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into nonic pint glass; inky black with a nice foamy thick brown head that leaves sticky delicate lacing as it fades slowly into a nice puck of foam. Smells of dark roasted malt, hint of smoke, slight coffee/chocolate, and some bitter hops with a scent I can't quite identify. Sort of herbal/minty maybe, bit of pine or citrus rind. Taste is big roasted malt, bitter and a little smoky; dark bitter coffee with a bit of baking chocolate. Then a small wave of alcohol comes in, carrying some spicy herbal hop flavors that bring out the bitterness in the malt. Mouthfeel is medium and creamy.
Overall it's quite different; it's separate both from a cascadian dark ale and a stout. It's somewhere in between, and it's also entirely something else. Not something I could drink all the time, but it's a neat beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2013 04:33:10 | More by BurgeoningBrewhead
Photo of BKBassist

New York

3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Batch 127, bottled 4/30/13. Enjoyed 8/8/13, from a tulip.

A - Looks like a stout. Rich and black. Big frothy head with a medium brown hue to it. Reasonable retention.

S - Chocolate milk, some roasted qualities.

T - A fairly strong hop presence for a stout. Maybe not quite into Black IPA territory, but there is a not of some tropical backbone. More roast in the body than the nose. A bit of rye like spice character.

M - Something between your darker black IPAs (Wookey Jack comes to mind) and a lighter stout. Not super heavy, light pleasant carbonation.

O - My first beer from Pipeworks, I like this quite a bit. I'm not bowled over with amazing, but I would definitely drink this again. It straddles the line between a roasty black IPA and a fairly hoppy stout quite well, not really settling into either world. Perhaps fresher it leans more into the IPA world.

Serving type: bottle

08-08-2013 04:33:01 | More by BKBassist
Photo of ThickNStout


4.06/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle from Beer Temple (Chicago, IL). 8.99. Batch 93, 2012. Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Pours black with a two finger cap of thick lingering tan head. The head eventually fades to a thin wisp that grows easily when swirled and leaves good sized sheets of lace.

Smells piney and roasty with a hint of citrus and chocolate.

Taste is a nice mixture of pine, bitter dark chocolate, citrus rind, French roast coffee, oranges, wet grass, burnt caramel and a bit of alcohol. Plenty bitter and plenty roasty with very little alcohol presence.

Simultaneously creamy and slick with a medium full body and fairly high carbonation. Roasty and hoppy bittersweet finish.

Stradling a line somewhere between the hoppy double stout that it claims to be and highly roasty malty American black ale. This is an enjoyable brew with strong roots in both the roasty/ malty camp and the piney/ hoppy camp. If you are a fan of American black ales (I'm no fan of the term black IPA) or hoppy stouts this one is deserves your attention.

Serving type: bottle

07-17-2013 06:38:39 | More by ThickNStout
Photo of cosmicevan

New York

4.18/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

bottle picked up locally the other day while in Chicago. says batch number 93. enjoyed from a pipeworks snifter.

brew poured a watery black with a thin foamy mocha head. decent lacing and the creamy dessert like head stuck around for a while. as advertised the smell was roasted malts with an aggressive hop. taste was more of the same but lead with the hop. Hopper than darkness, but very nice. Reminds me of hoppy stout from a local fav, greenport harbor brewing. very enjoyable and hitting the spot right now.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2013 21:55:49 | More by cosmicevan
Photo of WoodBrew


4.44/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am so jonsing right now....just the other day a co-worker and I were talking Chicago beweries and he mentions Pipeworks....I never heard of them....Check out the local Binny's....BAM....Close Encounters...WHAT? A hopped up Double Stout....I'm in. This beer is really good....follows a black IPA, but has more coffee stout taste. The beer poured an opaque black with a tan thin head that is lacing. The smell has a nice mix of coffee stout with fresh hops mixed in. The taste follows the scent. With the coffee and hops there is a subtle caramel hints. The mouthfeel is full bodies with smooth carbonation. Overall this is a great beer. I can't wait to find more from PIPEWORKS!!!

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2013 00:05:48 | More by WoodBrew
Photo of KFBR392


4.24/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Great stout look. Pour with a medium bodied texture. A very dark brown color coming out, pitch black in the glass. Got almost a finger of head on the pour, which quick dissipated.

Smell: A lot of roasted malt with an interesting bright hop character. Chewy hops really make this an unique aroma. A lot of depth here which really makes it a treat.

Taste: Really follows the aroma well. The front is some mature malt which an oak texture. Yields to a very sticky heavy hop character which is incredible balanced. The aftertaste is a perfect mixture of all the flavors. The palette is beaten up by the hops but a dark fruit texture is very prevalent.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, oh yeah just awesome.

Overall: Pipeworks continues to hit it out of the park. A wonderful double stout which is very impressive from a small brewery. Nothing lacking in the body which mature and complex flavors.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2013 05:53:54 | More by KFBR392
Photo of inlimbo77


3.98/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz, Batch 57 1/14/13
Riedel unmarked tulip

A: Pitch black color. Poured out really deep brown. Got a nice full finger layer if tan head. Leaving sticking lacing sheeting. Some alcohol feet.

S: Nice roast character right away. Definitely a hoppy stout, nice pine aroma akin to a BIPA. Some coffee roast. Some dark chocolate.

T: Certainly a hoppy stout! Big pine hop bitterness up front, BIG. That pine really lingers, leading into a nice roast and chocolate flavor from the malts. Finish is fairly dry from hops. They linger.

M: Big medium. The lack of fluff and help from carbonation make it lighter than planned.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2013 15:31:24 | More by inlimbo77
Photo of taez555


4.33/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hand numbered, batch #57

Beer pours a thick black body with an off-white head.

Nose throws you off at first since it hits with a strong resin hop smell. As it warms the background chocolate notes start to peak through the forest. It's a very yin yang type of nose. One sniff is double IPA, the next sniff is imperial stout. I like it. :-)

Taste is thick and full bodied. Unlike the nose, the taste is all about the stout. BIg rich waves of chocolate and espresso. Nothing over the top, but enough to balance well with the high ABV. Hops tastes aren't as upfront either, with the bitterness kept mostly to the background for balance. I wish I could say more about this beer, but it's just, right. It's a perfectly balance well done big double stout. Tasty as hell and you could drink it all day long.

This is the second Pipeworks beer I picked up while visiting IL over the Christmas break, and gotta say I'm really impressed. This is a world class double/imperial stout. Kudos guys. I'd love to try more.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2012 22:35:18 | More by taez555
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep pitch-black color ale with a large dirty brown color head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma consists of a powerful hops punch with some citrus notes and some herbal hops notes which are offset by some dry roasted malt notes. Taste is a powerful mix between some huge dry roasted malt offset by citrus and grapefruit hosp notes with an herbal finish. Body is full with somewhat of a creamy texture and good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Well brewed with huge flavour and not necessarily something I would feel like drinking on a regular basis but glad I tasted it.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2012 13:57:25 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Lakeview Liquors in August trip, so fairly fresh. Very roasty aroma and taste. Dry, some chocolate and light coffee. Dark black colour, some white head. Pretty smooth and drinkable, though still not the best In a great style. Nice bitterness, mild citrus.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2012 00:18:26 | More by Sammy
Photo of TheSevenDuffs

Ontario (Canada)

4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Robbie for this bottle! Batch #10.
Poured in to CBS snifter.

A - Black. Completely dark as night. One finger of light brown head.

S - A big fresh hop aroma up front with some citrus and lighter pine notes coming through. Roast and hints of chocolate in the background.

T - Bitter hop punch up front with some big citrus flavours present. A big roast profile hits the tongue next complimented by hints of cocoa and molasses. Bitter, dry finish.

M - Medium body with a great chew. Silky smooth. Light carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2012 00:53:35 | More by TheSevenDuffs
Photo of writerLJBerg


4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle courtesy of grachdar. Thanks! Consumed 10/3, reviewed from notes.

A: Pure black with some fizz around the glass. Thick mocha head that settles to about a quarter inch.

N: Coffee and licorice. Roasted malt/malted milk. Dark chocolate, oats and grains. Some hop bitterness. Not bad.

T: Lots of dark-roast coffee. The licorice isn't as predominant in the body as the nose. Hints of baker's chocolate. Some pine and earth. This heavily leans towards the coffee, which is pretty nice seeing as there's no indication it's made with any. Alcohol is mostly non-existent.

M: Full mouthfeel and a pleasant level of carbonation.

O: A very good double stout. Rather than attacking the palate like an RIS, it fulfills the role between dry stout and its elder brother. Would definitely have again.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2012 02:55:53 | More by writerLJBerg
Photo of DrinkingDuck


4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A dark Black pour with a 3 finger cocoa brown head quickly dissipating to form a light ring of foam over the beer leaving light lacing around the glass as it is consumed

Smell: Roasted chocolate and hops along with a light hint of grapefruit aroma giving this brew an overall pleasant aroma.

Taste: Rich hop forward flavor with roast coffee and chocolate flavors ultimately combining for a pleasant finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied mouthfeel with light carbonation and no alcohol warmth detected.

Overall: This is overall an enjoyably flavorful Double Stout with the right amount of hoppiness to appeal to BOTH WORLDS of hop lovers.

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2012 02:55:19 | More by DrinkingDuck
Photo of brystmar


3.08/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


Standardish stout appearance, great retention on the lace. Smells dry, hoppy, and oxidized.

Hoppy & bitter through and through. Surprising how much bitterness there is here. Roasted malts need more spotlight. Imbalanced, way too hoppy for a stout. Bleh.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2012 03:03:18 | More by brystmar
Photo of UCLABrewN84


4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to DrAwkward82 for sharing this one at AndrewK’s tasting.

Batch # 10.

Pours an opaque black with a dark khaki 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 dark roasted malt, cocoa, and some herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with a medium amount of hop bitterness. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer and a nice version of a hoppy stout.

Serving type: bottle

06-26-2012 01:02:55 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of rhoadsrage


4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a nonic)

A- This beer pours a jet black body wit a thick creamy cocoa head that takes up 1/2 the glass. As it fades it sticks in lumps to the glass and is supported by a sea of microbubbles.

S- The chocolate roasted malt is soft with a finish of resin hops that grows a bit stronger as it opens but is never really full in aroma.

T- The roasted black malt has nice chocolate notes and some cream flavor to it. The green pine hopes blend in the finish and the soft hop bitterness and roasted bitterness gently linger.

M- This beer has a nice medium mouthfeel with a gentle fizz and no alcohol heat noticed.

O- This beer has a nice balance of roasted malt and hops with the hops growing a bit as the beer opens. The flavors are softer than the artwork on the bottle but it is still very tasty.

Serving type: bottle

06-25-2012 13:37:34 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of Arbitrator


3.2/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass, from lurchingbeast. Thanks, Frank!

A: Pours an opaque, brown body capped with an inch of mocha-colored head. Retention is surprisingly good for a stout, leaving a hefty collar, a nice, swirly film on top of the beer, and even a few tendrils of lace during sips.

S: Hops on the nose: pine with a light floral scent. Chocolate and roast follow behind.

T: There's no mistaking that this is a hoppy beer: it leads with pine and grapefruit, closing with mint and floral exhalation. Very interesting. The mid-taste is where the stout part shines, bringing chocolate, roast, and mild elements of char. Bitterness is pronounced and sticky.

M: On the foamier side than I like; not a deal-breaker, but it is definitely a ding. Medium-full body.

O: This is solid, but nothing to write home about.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2012 05:10:48 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of homebrew311


3.58/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: opaque brown with dark brown head, decent level Of lacing

S: deep earthy pine hop character, roasted pine needles and wood chAracter, a bit of dark chocolate present

T: dry and bitter up front, almost no malt sweetness , plenty of bitterness, notes of tobacco

Mf: not as heavy as it looks, high carbonation

O: lots of flavor, heavy on bitterness and earthy quality, worth a try

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2012 00:21:13 | More by homebrew311
Photo of TMoney2591


3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

Finally getting around to this bottle, something I picked up before the Expo last week. It pours an inky black-brown topped by a slightly fluffy finger of brown foam. The nose comprises minty greens, cocoa powder, roasted malts, molasses, and a small pinprick of grapefruit peel. The taste holds notes of grapefruit zest, dark chocolate powder, light roasted malts, light molasses, light pine, earthy greens, and a touch of mild char buried deep in the background. Some toasted pine needles linger on deep into the night, erasing much of the stout characteristics from my tongue, leaving me wanting more. The body is a light hefty, with a very light moderate carbonation and a fairly silky-leaning feel. Overall, a pretty solid hoppy stout. I'd've liked to see the balance between thick roast/chocolate and hops hang on through the finish, rather than have the stout take a dive and the hops dance about for a bit, but it's still tasty regardless.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2012 21:45:05 | More by TMoney2591
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Close Encounter from Pipeworks Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 178 ratings.