Close Encounter | Pipeworks Brewing Company

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Close EncounterClose Encounter

Brewed by:
Pipeworks Brewing Company
Illinois, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

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…

Added by MasterSki on 03-14-2012

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Reviews: 71 | Ratings: 402
Photo of deebo
2.81/5  rDev -29.4%
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.

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Photo of brystmar
3.08/5  rDev -22.6%
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.

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Photo of Cresant
3.19/5  rDev -19.8%
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.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
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.

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Photo of Hopheadjeffery
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
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.

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
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

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.59/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black with a frothy pillow of tan head. Scent of roasted malts, black licorice, fresh grain, resin and some chocolate. Taste of bitter roasted mats, resin, black licorice, grass, dark chocolate, and a bit of coffee. This is definitely a Stout with a good dosage of hops, something it would be nice to see more brewers embracing.

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Photo of Etan
3.63/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Libbey tall tulip.

A: Pours a deep black with a huge, chocolate-colored head. The head is sticky and spongy, retains well, and leaves some monster lacing.

S: Big hoppy nose on this one. Grapefruit, pine, coffee, chocolate.

T: Bitter dark chocolate, some roasted coffee, and piney hop resin on the end. Not nearly as hoppy as the nose, but they're definitely there. Slight hop bitterness throughout.

M: Nice thick mouthfeel, but almost no carbonation on this one. Odd.

O: This had the makings of a great hoppy stout or black IPA, but the hops seem weak in the taste, and the lack of carbonation is detrimental. Still tasty, but not great.

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Photo of jaypaul522
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours very dark with a lot of thick head. No strong aroma, but hints of malts and hops. Taste was good, quite strong of malts, and then a mildly hoppy finish. The feel was medium to light, which wasn't stout-like. Overall a good tasting beer, with lighter than expected body.

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Photo of thepenguin
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

L: Pours a lighter shade of black with a small creamy tan head. Good foam retention and a decent amount of lacing.

S: Coming awful close to a Black IPA. Resinous hop notes of pine with some grapefruit, paired with some dark roasted malts.

T: On the drier side with very assertive piney hops and some dry roastiness. Has a long bitter finish with resinous hops giving way to .

F: Medium-light body with medium-plus carbonation.

Thoughts: Not a terrible beer but it really comes too close to a Black IPA without offering much nuance. It’s a bit too dry and light, and all around one-dimensional.

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Photo of snaotheus
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

16oz can served in a tumbler. I think the canned on date is 3/7/16.

Pours black with a light brown head that flashes up high and then fades at a medium pace to a thick, chunky ring. Smell is coffee and a little yeast.

Taste is coffee and hops and strong roasty malts. Strange, not entirely successful combination. Not bad, but strange. It has a bit of dark fruity sweetness which makes it whisper "porter" in your ear.

Mouthfeel is surprrisingly light and slightly oily. Overall, a pretty good, but not great beer.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.78/5  rDev -5%
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.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Oil black colored pour, thin coffee colored head, lots of legs on the sides of the glass.

S - Earthy chocolate with light citrus.

T - Earthy, chocolate, and with a sweet bitter citrus finish.

M - Medium body, wet finish, slippery texture.

A - This is a confusing beer.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.84/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

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Photo of ksimons
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A-almost black in color with a fingers worth of dark tan head that leaves a thin layer of lacing around the top

S-roasted malt and piney hop bitterness

T-taste is similar to the smell with a roasted malt backbone, dark chocolate, and a strong pine hop finish

M-medium body, moderate carbonation

Overall this reminds me much more of a Black IPA than a true stout. Wish there was a bit more sweetness to this one, but overall not bad.

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Photo of brentk56
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 19

Appearance: Pours an obsidian color with a creamy tan head that displays great retention and a patchwork of lacing

Smell: Waves of roasty chocolate and pithy grapefruit alternate

Taste: The hops don't even wait a millisecond for the malts to establish a presence, dominating the flavors, up front, with a bitter, piney character; though the dark chocolate flavors in the malt profile add depth by mid-palate, the hops dominate this beer from start to finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: As great as it smells, I was slightly disappointed by the flavor profile and would have liked to see a more rounded approach to the hop presence in this beer; I think this is a different beer from the Cascadian IPA as the malt bill is much more stout-like so I would agree that it is a very hoppy double stout

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Photo of BKBassist
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Photo of shodrod
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(poured into a snifter)
This beer pours a dark, cola-like color with a lovely coffee-colored head that holds its shape nicely. The nose is met with plenty of hops and a hint of coffee. The coffee is the real player on this one; lots up front and the finish. Has the mouthfeel of a porter. Overall a tasty brew but from their description I was expecting a bit more hop profile.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Blackish brown with a tan, foamy head.

Roasty and milky aromas up front, with minty hops and lots of roasted coffee aromas following up.

Nicely roasty and milky flavors at first, with bitter spice of pine coming in second, providing a very dry finish. After a short while it becomes very apparent that this really is exceptionally roasty. With all the hopped-up elements, the level of roasted flavors is big enough to keep this in stout territory.

Very frothy mouthfeel.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16 fl oz. can, canned 10/19/2015 printed on the bottom of the can. 'Hopped up stout' Released in 4 packs of cans. They've revamped the recipe, and subsequently lowered the abv from 8.50% to 7.00% abv for the can release.

Poured into a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter.

A - Pours a dark black body, one finger of dark mocha head with good staying power. Leaves excellent sticky spotty lacing behind.

S - A creamy milk chocolate malt aroma. Lots of bright earthy, bitter, resinous hops to go along with it. Smells like a lot of other breweries' attempts at crafting a Black IPA.

T - Extremely dark, bitter, roasty, & charred. Tons of burnt roasted malts dominate over any hop presence in the taste. Charred / burnt roasty black malts mixed with a backbone of bitter, piney, resinous hops. Again, is this a Black IPA or is it a hopped up stout? Is there much of a difference to begin with?

Looking forward to the regular release of this, however.

Pipeworks Close Encounter -----4/5.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
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

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Photo of pkalix
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

definitely Black IPA meets stout kind of brew.... awesomely beautiful chocolate-y head. a little more weirdly bitter than i prefer, but overall a decent brew and always glad to try the stuff out of my "distribution reach".....

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.98/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Close Encounter from Pipeworks Brewing Company
3.98 out of 5 based on 402 ratings.
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