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Monday, March 18, 2013

Pipeworks Brewing Co.'s Hyper Dog Milk Stout

  • Style: Milk Stout
  • ABV: 7.50%
  • Season: Late Winter (rotating, so get it while you can!)
  • Ease to locate: Some liquor stores and bottle shops in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.  If you live elsewhere, make a friend who lives here.  Here's their beer finder
  • Color: Dark brown chocolate color
  • Head: Very little.  Probably not even a half a finger
  • Aroma: wonderful scents of milk chocolate, coco nibs, mocha and roasted malts.  There was a slight bit of vanilla there too.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium.  Not too creamy but easily drinkable
  • Finish: Medium.  It begins with the chocolate notes and smoothly slides to a mild hoppy finish.  Nicely done.
  • Food friendly: As much as a mild stout can be.  It's not extremely creamy, so it could work with something like a mildly seasoned roast beef.  You could also pair it with a desert like vanilla  ice cream topped with strawberries.

Cool is as cool does.  Most people give up a good portion of their waking hours in an effort trying to be cool.  Fitting or blending into the scene isn't enough.  Cool people have an unique, effortless style that makes everyone around them  take a breath and whisper "Man, that is soooo cool."  But there are two problem inherent with this desire.  First, the definition of cool is always changing.  What's "in" one day, is seldom still popular the next (hello Kim Kardasian!)  And secondly, people who try really, really hard to be considered cool, very rarely ever are (hello Rob Kardasian!)  It's the individuals who just spend their time being 100% themselves that are the real cool ones.  Jennifer Lawrence.   Steve McQueen.  Neil Gaiman. The Black Keys.  Wynton Marsalis. These folks don't give a damn what you think of them.  They do their thing and let the chips fall where they may.  And that's cool.

                                                                                                 The single coolest line from a TV show to date

Pipeworks Brewing Company is sort of the Steve McQueen of the Chicago brewery scene.  Most breweries set up shop the old fashioned way.  Find investors, build a facility and then brew some "cool" yet very commercial beers to turn a profit.  Instead, Gerrit Lewis and Beejay Oslon (Pipeworks' alter egos) kind of just said, "Aw, screw it.  We want to know what a pastrami spiced beer would taste like."  They began brewing small batches of unique (some say insane) beers in 2007 as gypsy brewers, but after a successful Kickstart campaign, finally opened a small brewery in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago.   Lots of breweries try to find that one amazing beer that will define them and grant them a place at the ever expanding craft beer table.  Pipeworks takes great pride in producing as many different styles and flavors of beer as they can.  The fact that you might walk in to your local bottle shop and find a bottle of Citra Ninja one week, only to have it fade into a distant memory the next and replaced with something called Unicorn's Revenge Imperial IPA  is what makes them so interesting.  These guys don't just throw some pasta at the wall to see what sticks.  They scatter the whole freaking menu of Spago against the wall.  And more often than not, it's a sticky, gorgeously insane, tasty mess. 
I'd like to think that Pipeworks purposely created a milk stout with a small head.  Just to see if they could

My bottle of Hyper Dog Milk Stout poured rich, solid, chocolate brown.  Very little head formed on the top of the beer, barely a half a finger's worth of foam.   There was no lacing to speak of really.   I was initially disappointed that the beer didn't have your typical 1 & 1/2 to 2 finger head, but don't worry, I got over it.  The aromas of sweet milk chocolate, earthy coco and roasted coffee were present on the nose.  I could pick up some roasted grains and vanilla scents as well.  It smelled like a straight forward milk stout to me and a very good once indeed.    Tasted like one too.  The sweet chocolate and milk were balanced by the bitterness of the cold pressed coffee.  I couldn't really taste an abundance of vanilla, but I think that the brewers used the vanilla as a baker might, to enhance the more prominent chocolate flavors.  The beer had a bitter hop quality on the tail end of the sip, nicely balancing the over all sweetness.  The mouthfeel was only medium.  After the disappointing head (I feel like a judge on America's Next Top Model.  "I liked the body, but found the head extremely lacking in quality!" )  I wasn't really expecting an abundance of creaminess on the body anyway.  There was a mild amount of carbonation present, making it extremely easy to drink.  The finish was moderate, but really enjoable for this sort of style.  The sip began with the mocha ,chocolatey sweetness and very smoothly slid into a dry, slightly hoppy finish.  Really, really cool.
This proves that the beer initially had a bit of head at least
Of course, it didn't stick around very long

Milk stouts are difficult to pair with food.  The sweetness of the milk sugars, the chocolate nature of the grains and the creaminess of the body all work against most meals.  I think that because Pipeworks' Hyper Dog is so well balanced and lacks a heavy creamy mouthfeel, it might end up being a bit of an exception to the rule.  I enjoyed this with a simple roast beef sandwich and could see it pairing nicely with other simply prepared roasted meats (skip the horseradish infused balsamic glaze.)   Better yet, serve this beer as a desert option with a bowl of homemade ice cream and feel free to pile on the toppings.
Like a limited edition who's time becomes even more limited when you pour it into a glass

Pipeworks takes pride in brewing an ever changing variety of small batches (their motto is Big Beer, Small Batches.)  They hand label each bottle with a batch number and, as you can see, my batch was #80.  The brewery began brewing Hyper Dog on a rotating schedule as of last year.  It's actually a coffee variation on their other popular milk stout, Jones Dog.   Maybe this wasn't the most exciting milk stout that I've ever had.  And maybe it wasn't amazingly complex or insanely flavored with goji berries or some other trendy, of the moment ingredient.  But Pipeworks has never tried to be trendy or concerned about meeting anyone's expectations except their own.  If you look over their ever expanding portfolio of beers, one common element will leap out at you like Steve McQueen's car did on the hills of San Fransisco in the movie Bullet.  All of the small batch beers that they brew are just what Pipeworks, and Pipeworks alone, want them to be.  And that's exactly what makes them so damn cool.