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: 69 | Ratings: 390
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 Dustin_Sallitt
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Really balanced and well done hopped up stout. Nice citrus hops on the nose with a wave of roastyness going on. The taste is similar with a lemony orange citrus entering with slight roast before slight hop bitterness and an increased level of roast hitting you. This is what a hoppy stout should be.

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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 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 Mehinaman
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

If Pipeworks had called this a Black IPA no one would have blinked. Regardless of the classification, it's an extremely tastey beer. Very strong taste of dark chocolate and especially coffee mixed with IPA hoppiness. An impressive beer all around

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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 napdynmite
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a can. Smells like a roasty black IPA. Burnt pineapple, some apricot. The initial sip is pure DIPA with an orange candy and dark fruit side but plenty of citrus. But then things turn stoutward. Roasty and chocolate on the finish with plenty of bitter hops to close. I thought this was a complex and delicious offering.

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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 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 Chaney
4.28/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

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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 Fcolle2
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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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 ThickNStout
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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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 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 KFBR392
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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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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Photo of taez555
4.3/5  rDev +8%
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.

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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 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 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 Sarlacc83
4.01/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of DrinkingDuck
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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Close Encounter from Pipeworks Brewing Company
3.98 out of 5 based on 390 ratings.
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