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SaBEERmetrics: Closer Encounters

Jeff Gross, August 28, 2013 -   

After a week off, the brew review is back. Week one took me the west coast. Week two took me the east coast. Week three, I opted to go no coast. Major thanks and shout out to Mike O., who volunteers at Pipeworks, for sharing this soon-to-be-released beer with me.

Reviewing the Closer Encounter from Pipeworks Brewing Company out of Chicago, Illinois. The bottle bills itself as a "hopped up imperial stout," while Mike claims it is more of a triple black IPA.

Batch "190-1." I have no clue how a beer can be batch 190-1. Either you are batch 190, or you are batch 191. Mike had no explanation for this oddity. Served in a Perennial snifter and enjoyed on 08/20/13.

Appearance: Dark chocolate color in appearance. Pours less than half a finger of khaki head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, average retention. 3.75/5

Smell: The aromatics are of a black ale done extremely well. Milk chocolate covered pineapples, piney hops, a little muddles citrus and pretzel-like doughiness. Notes of cake batter too. The hops come through very clean on the nose, and are not dirty/earthy/spicy/floral/oniony at all. This a really lovely smelling beer. 4.5/5

Taste: Bitter bakers chocolate and cocoa followed by bitter piney hops. Juicy pineapple and nondescript and muted tropical citrus backbone with a little maltiness too. Unsalted pretzel flavor in the finish too. Really unique tasting, and I love the bready flavors here. No booziness. This brew hides the double digit ABV very well, though a little palate warmth occurs around room temperature. Really nice mix of stout and clean IPA flavors here. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, low carbonation. Very creamy. Bitter on the palate with a little backbone sweetness for counterbalance and added drinkability. 4.25/5

Overall Impression: Shockingly excellent. Not because of who makes it (Pipeworks makes some great beers), but because of the style. Few black IPA/hoppy stouts are this good. Cheers to another excellent brew in Pipeworks' portfolio!

Cost: $11.99 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

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