Close Encounter | Pipeworks Brewing Company

very good
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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: 404
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

i cant imagine anyone not liking this. although i think its more black ipa than stout, its awesome beer, rich in flavor and feel, and another example of why pipeworks is so awesome. i see multiple listings here, and the label has changed on the four pack of pint cans this year, but i reckon the beer is the same. i love the beer, it looks like a porter, almost a porter on nitro, with a huge and dense micro bubble grayish tan head with excellent retention and well defined rings when i sip on it. it smells like centennial or some other heavy high alpha northwestern varietal, oils and sap, foresty and huge, and only exacerbated by a bigger dark malt grain base with some burnt coffee and soily notes, like compost and wet organic matter, growing medium, i bet this beer would sprout some seeds pretty well. almost no sugar in the flavor either, the only sweetness there is that honey hop thing, piney and awesome, but more than tempered by the bitterness of the dark malt. raw cocoa and unbrewed coffee grinds on the base, but flush and full, like some oats are involved too. i like these guys a lot, they sort of gender-bend some styles, but all of it is distinct and well done, and i am so glad they have found their way to colorado. this is one of the more interesting and delicious four packs i have procured in awhile. killer beer here!

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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 emerge077
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Bells tulip glass, it's jet black with a layer of creamy mocha foam on the surface. Long lasting foam and rings of tan lace all over the glass.

Grassy, with notes of turned earth and deep roast at first. Smooth and creamy, plenty of coffee, dark chocolate, blackened malt, and a lingering grassy pine bitterness. Starts out dry and barely sweet, also finishing dry with the hoppy aftertaste remaining for quite awhile. Comes across almost like an imperial black ipa of sorts. Uinta Dubhe comes to mind, one of few I enjoy for the style.

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

16 ounce can into snifter, no can dating. Pours fairly pitch black color with a 2 finger fairly dense and fluffy tan head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice dense foamy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, peach, mango, lemon zest, orange peel, pine, dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toasted dark bread, light smoke/char, floral, grass, and roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of citrus/tropical/pine hops and roast/bready malt notes; with great strength. Taste of big grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, peach, mango, lemon zest, orange peel, pine, dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toasted dark bread, light smoke/char, floral, grass, and roasted earthiness. Moderate amount of pine/citrus rind and roast/char bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, peach, mango, lemon/orange peel, pine, dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toasted dark bread, light smoke/char, floral, grass, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/tropical/pine hops and roast/bready malt flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero astringent flavors after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from hop/roast bitterness that increases through the glass. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, moderately sticky/resinous, and lightly creamy/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Black IPA style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/tropical/pine hops and roast/bready malt flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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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 WoodBrew
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
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!!!

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Photo of Billolick
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tall can w/o freshness info...there is a "20" on the bottom of the can...(batch number?)

Anyway this one pours very dark and stout like, dark mocha head that's slow to fade, leaving a thicker collar and respectable low sheeting.

Pungent dark and bitter chocolate, expresso on the nose

Full flavor stout with more chocolate and coffee all over the palate. Aggressive hopping in full effect. Nicely crafted More HQ brew form PW Brewing - well worth a try

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Photo of MasterSki
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at Binny's. Served in a Darkness tulip.

A - A few fingers of tan mocha foam settle to a thick cap, leaving glass-coating lace behind. Body is a very dark near-black color that suggests a much bigger beer.

S - It's hoppy alright - tons of floral and piney hops with a kiss of citrus in there as well. Malt character is largely cocoa powder and caramel, with a light roast character to it. Really nice stuff.

T - Unfortunately the taste isn't quite as good, as there's a bit too much bitter grapefruit and charry roast, and a tad less sweetness than I prefer. This is definitely borderline Black IPA in flavor, but it's got a bit harsher than I prefer and could use a tad more sweetness.

M - Surprisingly zesty carbonation, with a medium-full, chewy and mildly creamy body. Roasty finish, but with some residual stickiness.

D - Reminds me of old-school Storm King, but with more citrus and less pine in the hop bill. In any case, the Pipeworks guy seem to have hoppy beers in their wheelhouse. Might be a challenge to drink a whole bomber, but a glass was quite enjoyable.

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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 TheSevenDuffs
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of biegaman
4.1/5  rDev +3%
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.

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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 rhoadsrage
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear, dark brown in color with one inch head. Taste is pine, roasted malt, cream, and oats. Did not get much hops and only slight roasty bitterness. Did get a nice and layered oaty stout. Very enjoyable and smooth. This is one I would get again.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.01/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz can, date stamped 101815 I believe it says
A - thick pillow of light brown head holds incredible retention leaving thick lacing on the glass as it fades
S - juicy hops meets roasted barley with some dark chocolate
T - heavy roasted malt helps to keep the juicy & piny hops at bay. Bittersweet chocolate, faint coffee, and burnt caramel round out the flavors
M - fuller body, moderate carbonation, finishes dry and very bitter with pine and roast lingering
O - fun to try this "hopped up stout". Not sure it fits into the stout category given its bitterness and hop forwardness, but at least they advertise that it's not your traditional stout - it's definitely more like an American Black Ale. Either way, it was very delicious!

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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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 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 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 CHickman
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a tallboy can, it's pitch black color with a thick 2 finger creamy tan head that was full of bubbles of all sizes allowing those bubbles to pop on the hop of the head which looked like a percolating espresso drink. The head faded extremely slowly and barely moved for a few minutes. Once it receded it left outstanding foamy lacing coating the sides with rings as it went down. The artwork on the can is very cool as well.

Looks like an imperial stout but smells like a fresh hopped IPA initially. Very strong piney and citrus hops up front which I could smell far from the glass, the hops are the dominant aroma with char, roasted grains, coffee grinds and cocoa powder. The can states this is a "Hopped Up Stout" so these guys nailed it on the nose. Not even close to a traditional imperial stout nose, but it smells great.

Tastes pretty much like it smells: like a fresh hopped black IPA that has strong piney, grapefruit and citrus hops up front, smoked malts, char, roasted grains, coffee grinds, ash, bakers chocolate and cocoa powder. Again, not even close to a traditional imperial stout, but it's really tasty and has enough roasted and smoky notes to tame the fresh, juicy hops so it resembles some balance. The aftertaste is more ashy and smoke-like as the hoppy sweetness fades and is swapped out for the char. Gets better and more complex as it warms.

Mouthfeel is thick yet smooth and almost slick across the tongue; this brew is chewy with a heavy body feel, a nice bitterness that resembles both coffee and fresh piney hops, and the finish is ashy, hoppy, bitter, full of smoke and cocoa powder to the point that it almost seems to fade dry and powdery. Very enjoyable.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer but feel it's a black IPA. Regardless, I'd definitely have it again as it was really damn good and a combo of my two favorite styles (DIPA and imperial stout).

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Photo of EgadBananas
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Definitely pours stout dark. Frothy dark brown head, nice lace.

The hopping is definitely aggressive! Big notes of pine and resin, but unlike a lot of hopped up stouts, the big roasty, chocolaty notes punch through the hops.

The taste is definitely a bitter beast. Again though, the bold stout qualities (big roasted notes, chocolate, coffee) are easy to pick up too.

The feel is nice and full, almost chewy.

In a way, this reminds me of McNeils Dark Angel and like it, it's a very well made, hoppy, yet flavorful stout.

Thanks to injuredreserve for sharing!

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Photo of Beaver13
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz can. Pours dark brown black with a medium creamy brown head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet roast and piney hops with a little fruit.

The flavor is roast chocolate malt with lots of piney fruity hops and a little black licorice. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, a nice hoppy stout / black IPA.

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Close Encounter from Pipeworks Brewing Company
3.98 out of 5 based on 404 ratings.
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