The city is lousy with new breweries (Finch’s, 5 Rabbit) and breweries in progress (Doubleheart, New Chicago), but I’m still carrying a torch for the mad beer scientists at Pipeworks. I’ve been following Beejay Oslon and Gerrit Lewis’s attempts to start brewing commercially since early 2010, when I encountered their magnificent imperial stout, Abduction, at Goose Island’s Stout Fest. A Kickstarter campaign this winter raised $40,075, and investors contributed matching funds. As a result, they’ve bought most of their brewing equipment, and Oslon says they’re looking at a space near North and Western, which they hope to open this fall. Pipeworks will sell their beer mostly through a bottle shop attached to their brewery—growler fills and bombers for $7 to $15, plus other possibilities like 12-ounce bottles or eight-ounce nips. They’re also planning on draft releases at local bars.
Pipeworks’ regular lineup will include Abduction, a wee heavy called Last Kiss, a Belgian witbier, an English summer ale, Belgian and imperial IPAs, a Berliner weisse, and a smoked porter. But because they’re a small operation, they’ll be able to respond quickly to customer demand—and to their own whims, which can get pretty whimsical. They showed off their experimental bent recently with Small Animal Big Machine, a collaboration with Half Acre and Urbain Coutteau of De Struise, the Belgian brewery where Oslon and Lewis apprenticed in early 2009. It’s a dark Belgian ale brewed with traditional “sour mash” methods, Coutteau’s Belgian yeast, and loads of red currants and cherries. When Half Acre released it two weeks ago it sold out in hours—reason enough to look forward to these guys running their own shop and stocking their own shelves full-time. —Philip Montoro