Close Encounter
Pipeworks Brewing Company

Close EncounterClose Encounter
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IPA - Black / Cascadian Dark Ale
Ranked #102
Ranked #9,997
3.95 | pDev: 8.1%
Pipeworks Brewing Company
Illinois, United States
Very Good
Close EncounterClose Encounter
Notes: 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…
Reviews: 91 | Ratings: 461 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of VoxRationis
VoxRationis from New York

4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted from a 16 oz (473 ml) can into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass; canned 03/22/20 (first number a little hard to read).
A: Pours a very dark brown, nearly black, with a foamy, one to two, light brown head with fairly long retention and some lacing.
S: Floral initially with medium roast coffee and molasses aromas predominating for the most part.
T: Nearly semisweet. Interesting combination of lemon citrus (initially), black coffee, molasses, pepper and mint. Nicely balanced with bittering hops causing a clean, refreshing finish.
M: Light to medium bodied with solid carbonation. Full, rich mouthfeel.
O: Delicious. A black IPA that drinks like a Schwarzbier. I could see this as "go to."

Jun 02, 2020
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brewme from Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked-up a single can as part of a mixed six-pack at Kappy's in Norwell for $11.99. Canned-on date date of 12/17 (thanks Kappy's). Not my usual style, but decent brew, would like to try fresh.

Oct 19, 2018
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zeff80 from Missouri

3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can. Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a good-sized, light brown head of foam. It smelled of roasted malt, pine and toasted caramel. Piney and bitter with a sweet caramel backbone.

Aug 01, 2018
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metter98 from New York

3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger and a half high tan head that died down a bit but consistently left a short head covering the surface.
S: Light to moderate aromas of dark roasted malts are present in the nose.
T: The taste follows the smell and has a little stronger flavors of dark roasted malts with notes of chocolate and a light to moderate amount of bitterness. The roasted flavors linger into the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied, quite crisp, and a bit dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This Black IPA isn't as bitter and roasty compared to other beers in the style but is very easy to drink.

Serving type: can

Jun 14, 2018
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smcolw from Massachusetts

3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown color where light barely passes through the center. Small head which finishes as rim bubbles. Some minor streaks on the glass for lace.

Mild aroma, almost imperceptible, of alcohol and deeply toasted malts.

The flavor starts off innocuous but by the swallow there's a strong near bitter malt and a definitive bittering hop presence. A positive step up from the smell. The body is appropriately thinner than most beers. Moderate carbonation. Overall, a surprisingly good ending to the taste.

Jun 02, 2018
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flaskman from New York

4.02/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 ounce can into an IPA glass. Looks black with a generous head. Smells like a stout on steroids with decent lacing. My first impression is that it tastes like a very good stout with plenty of hops. It reminds me of Beezlebub by Alchemist. The roasted malts are very present and complimented well by the hops. Aggressive but well balanced. I like it.

May 01, 2018
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NilocRellim from Minnesota

3.84/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a very dark brown/black colour. Smells like chewy molasses and cocoa nibs, bitter, and roasted malts. Big flavoured, quite bitter, heavier body, pine-resin notes, bitterness coats the mouth, earthy spice, baking cocoa, bitter coffee, and burnt malt finish.

Apr 17, 2018
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morimech from Minnesota

3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Dark brown color that is black in the glass. A finger of dense, cocoa colored head forms. Heavy lacing is left down the glass. Aroma that is a combination of herbal pine and cocoa. I can taste the black which is a good thing as some of these Black IPAs you cannot taste the darker malt. This also has a lot of hop flavor. I get pine, herbal with a bit of mint, and maybe even some spruce fruitiness. But this also feels a bit thin. It is a letdown.

Mar 18, 2018
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AdmiralOzone from Minnesota

3.23/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a very dark brown with a huge tan head that leaves great lacing. The aroma is very malt forward with slight cocoa notes. The flavor is burnt roasted coffee up front with a little hop bitterness in back. The feel is fine, well carbonated, but overall not a beer that I would purchase again.

Mar 13, 2018
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johnnnniee from New Hampshire

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

On tap at Redbones
Dark brown bordering on black with an off white head that persists. Earthy resinous pine with a bready caramel and hint of choc and roast. Pretty nice Black IPA.

Feb 25, 2018
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ZAP from Minnesota

4.08/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very roasty with an almost spearmint or peppermint like finish from the roast.

Medium bodied. Not getting a lot of hop impression for an IPA..Love the roasty aroma though. Flavor adds notes of black licorice, anise and a touch of espresso.

Really looks the part with a black/brown color and a creamy chocolate head..

Overall this is an enjoyable black ale. I have no idea why they call it a black IPA on the can.

Feb 23, 2018
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brureview from Massachusetts

4.02/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice pour: 3F head, dark choc-brown color in a Stone Imperial pint glass.

Aroma is good, not very strong. Mostly roasted malt, very clean malt.

Body: medium+ Malty.

Roasted malt taste. Not overdone. Good malt choice.
No fruit as in other Black ales.

The recipe should be revised to put more fruit in the taste and this ale would be greatly improved.

Mild bitter, malty finish.

There has been discussion about what style this beer is. Tastes like a black ale/IPA.
Good beer, but it’s needs more fruit.

Jan 10, 2018
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beergoot from Colorado

3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Near black mahogany colored body topped with a very thick, creamy, light tan head. Spicy, pine-y aroma. Fine malt backbone flavor; chicory and hazel nuts; peppery; soothing hop bitterness. Medium body; crisp and coarse on the palate; mostly dry finish.

Call it a dark IPA, American black ale or Cascadian dark ale, it's all good if it's like this example. This beer has the feel and hop bitterness and sharpness like a classic American IPA with the additional benefit of some dark malt robustness. Nicely balanced and very tasty.

Nov 08, 2017
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Wasatch from Colorado

4.19/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16 oz. Can
Canned: 10/9/17

Poured into a Trillium glass a pretty nice black color, pretty nice carbonation, with a pretty nice thick/creamy one-finger light tan head, which also leaves some small islands and a nice oil slick, and some nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is hoppy, malty, very slight chocolate, slight licorice. The taste is hoppy, malty, nice little touch of chocolate/licorice. Medium body, ABV hidden nicely, with a little dry/bitter finish. Overall, a pretty tasty brew. Been awhile since the last time I had a black IPA.

Nov 04, 2017
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eppCOS from Colorado

4.04/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A very nice beer from PW that doesn't know quite...what to make of itself. It looks black as Death, but has enough hop bite and carbonation to veer towards a pale/IPA style, but as others have noted, stays a bit hollow on the mid-palate. Not watery exactly, but not exactly 'robust' either on the palate. Lacks a little attack, but at 6% it's a nice between-the-styles beer that I will gladly drink again. Just not a Black IPA in a technical sense...

Nov 01, 2017
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papposilenus from New Hampshire

3.81/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 16oz can, dated 03/06/17. Served in an imperial pint pub glass.

Pours opaque mahogany-black with garnet highlights and an untameable four-finger-plus head of whipped mocha pouffiness. Retention is exceptional and leaves fat wads of clumping lacing.

Nose is disappointingly faint. A little bit of charred grain and something metallic.

Tastes of roasted-to-the-point-of-burnt grains, bitter chicory, burnt spilt coffee, toast scrapings and dusty bookbindings. Finishes with a little orange oil and lemon pith and a lot of charred, bitter chicory.

Feel is clean and dry, medium-thin bodied and well carbonated.

Overall, well, I wish I had had this a month or two ago. There was little hop character left here at the three month mark and, in fact, it drank pretty much like a good but rather thin-bodied porter.

Jun 06, 2017
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TheManiacalOne from Rhode Island

4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16oz can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a large foamy beige head that fades very slowly and leaves a very thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains floral hops, roasted malts, coffee and citrus.

T: The taste starts out bready with a hearty roasted malt character up front that is quickly followed by sweet flavors of citrus, chocolate and coffee. The hops presence is strong but not over-powering and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly hoppy.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is solid beer to drink for a while if you’re in the mood for the style.

May 31, 2017
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TheSixthRing from California

4.06/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Canned on date of 03/06/17

Appearance - Pours black with cola brown edging where light can penetrate. Tan, frothy two-finger width head. Good retention, resulting in a thin, consistent layer of film across the surface. Strong lacing, with broken layers of sheeting found around the glass.

Smell - Roasty malt notes with hints of smoke and chocolate, off-set by some leafy, floral and slightly citric hoppiness.

Taste - Roasted malts as found in the nose, though the hops are more earthy, with just a hint of leaf. Hints of chocolate and citrus emerge mid-taste. Finish is slight roast and ash with lingering earth and faint pithy bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with soft carbonation, making for a slightly creamy texture before turning slightly dry in the finish.

Overall - A pretty damn good India Black Ale. Hops could be a little more aggressive, but then this can is nearing the 3 month mark. This is a pretty hard style to master, it seems, so a commendable effort from Pipeworks here. I would definitely like to try it again, especially if I could find one a little more fresh.

May 30, 2017
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ManapuaMan from Massachusetts

3.84/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Roasty, hoppy, smooth. Big fan of beers that have an identity crisis - piney/citrusy stouts and roasty IPAs especially. Picked up a couple tall-boys and enjoyed within six weeks of canning. Beautiful black body with a lumpy khaki head that lingers for a long while; you can scoop it up with spoon if that's your thing. Big roasty, smoky aroma out of the can. Not picking up much pine or citrus on the nose. Taste is nicely roasty and bitter - chocolate, coffee grounds, smoke, burnt toast and light pine on the backend. Creamy mouthfeel with a full body. No alcohol heat. Easy drinker but more stout than IPA.

May 11, 2017
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Franziskaner from Missouri

3.84/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black in color with just a hint of light seeping through. There's a massive and dense brown head on top. Light to moderate lacing. The aroma is of bitter dark malt. I'm tasting plenty of dark malt. In fact I'm really trying to search out the hop aroma and flavor as it says it is a black IPA on the can. I'm picking up a faint grassy to pine flavor at the back of the palate. The mouth is fairly dry and lightly sticky.

Apr 23, 2017
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Kendo from New York

4.02/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the pint-sized can into a Duvel tulip. Body is black - on the pour and in the glass - with a half-finger tan head. Leaves behind some lace.

S: Faint nose. Modest grainy malt, some charcoal, some chocolate malt and piney hops.

T: Roasted barley malt, roasted coffee beans, burnt charcoal and some smoke and ash. Touch of milk chocolate sweetness arrives mid-palate. Finishes with a modest piney hop bitterness that battles with the char/ash flavors for dominance.

M: First impression is that it's on the thin side - Porter-like, I thought - though after a few sips and the palate adjusts, it doesn't seem quite so thin anymore. Carbonation is appropriate; a little subdued.

O: Good. A black IPA that leans toward the charcoal/smoke/ash/roasty side of the equation. Not the perfect version of a black IPA as far as my taste buds are concerned, but solid.

Mar 31, 2017
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Hopheadjeffery from Illinois

3.56/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Tasted in a Spiegelau IPA glass from a 1 pint can on February 4, 2017. Canned on 1/23/17. Look is nearly black with a thick tan head and sticky lacing. Smell and taste is almost all roasted malt and very little hop flavor. Feel is medium in body.

Feb 05, 2017
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

4.26/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage; drank 1/21/15 @ the Yarchives.

Poured from the bottle into a glass.

Black/brown appearance.

A rough pour yielded a nice tan head; a curtain of lace.

Orange citrus & roasted coffee bean notes in the nose.

Creamy, medium thick mouthfeel.

Orange citrus & roasted coffee bean flavors up front; creamy oat notes on the finish. Stout my ass, this is a(n above average) black IPA.

Dec 30, 2016
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biegaman from Canada

4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Close Encounter indeed looks like something from outer space - deep space. The beer is a virtual black hole; not only does this inky liquid emit no light but it snuffs out hue and transparency entirely, even when held directly against IKEA's finest, brightest desk lamp. The closest thing to colour you'll get is the head, a semi-dark mocha brown.

I try not to let my personal tastes affect my reviews. I honestly like all varieties of beer and can appreciate and enjoy well brewed examples of even my least favourite styles. But I'll be open about it: the combination of leafy-green, resinous hops and roasty, espresso-like malt is one of my favourite flavour profiles. Period.

So my scores for Close Encounter - which blends citrus peels, pine and spruce tips with rich tiramisu and chocolate ganache notes - may be slightly inflated. But they are well deserved nonetheless. The brewer obviously spared no expenses when it comes to ingredients; malts and hops were both used with reckless abundance.

This is referred to as a "hopped up stout". No kidding. All the earthy, herbal characteristics of an IPA and all the decadent, roasty, mocha-laden malt of a stout are present, but they're bent and twisted up and put back together in a different order. Chinook blends with caramel and chocolate malt, Falconer's Flight with flaked wheat and roasted barley.

Pipeworks beers have catchy names and absolutely phenomenal artwork, but they aren't all as good as they sound/look. I had a number of their offerings on my 'want' list for years and was really disappointed after finally getting to try them. Mind you, that doesn't apply to Close Encounter - it's every bit as sexy as the busty space alien lady on its label.

Aug 23, 2016
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BlurryVisi0n from New York

3.97/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass from the can.

Appearance: Thin black body with an extra thick head rising at least one fingers length above the body. Drops after two or three sips, with slightly sticky lacing.

Smell: Hoppy scent, citrus skin and quite a bit floral.

Taste: heavy hops and quite bitter, still smooth to a sense but if you pay close attention you feel a light coffee hint to the brew.

Mouth: Medium to heavy carbonation with crisp floral undertone.

Overall: Pipeworks might call this a stout, this my friend is a black IPA. Good brew no matter what just need to

Jun 04, 2016
Close Encounter from Pipeworks Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 461 ratings