Pipeworks Brewing debuted this week to the drinker's equivalent of a standing ovation.
Its first release, a double India pale ale called Ninja vs. Unicorn, hit streets Tuesday and sold out in days (a few stray bottles might be lurking, but you'd be lucky to find them). On Beer Advocate, every beer nerd's favorite website (in addition to that Dungeons and Dragons message board), it garnered uniformly positive reviews.
If you missed out on Ninja vs. Unicorn, don't fret. More might be released next week and a second batch will be released in a month or so, brewery co-founder Gerrit Lewis said.
But here's the better news: there's plenty more Pipeworks to come. Going forward, the brewery plans to release a new beer every week or so. Next up, on Tuesday, is End of Days, a milk stout brewed with cacao nibs, cinnamon and ancho chiles.
Like most Pipeworks beers, about 1,400 bottles of End of Days will be available at 15 or so stores, including Printers Row Wine Shop, Before You Go Liquors, Maria's, City Provisions, West Lakeview Liquors and the Chicago Binny's locations.
I tried those first two beers this afternoon and gladly report that Ninja vs. Unicorn is close to perfect: a remarkably fresh and verdant double IPA that explodes with pine and resin. The smell alone made me say, "Wow" — literally. Ninja vs. Unicorn walks that tricky, but wonderful line of rich, but smoothly drinkable. Find this beer.
End of Days is a wholly different beast that probably won't remind you of much else you've had. Pitch black with a thin body (probably because it is a mere six percent alcohol), it's a bit heavy on the chile. Though cinnamon is strong in the nose, chile owns the palate. A defter mingling of ingredients would have gone far. But End of Days is cleanly executed and interesting — two factors that make any beer worth investigating.
In next Wednesday's Good Eating section, we will have much more information about Pipeworks, the philosophy behind the brewery and what we can expect from the city's latest craft beer upstarts.
In the meantime, good luck finding a bottle of Ninja vs. Unicorn. And you might consider getting in line now for End of Days.