Beejay Oslon and Garritt Lewis, founders of Pipework’s Brewing Co, met while working at West Lakeview Liquors in Chicago. There were both homebrewers who received their education at De Struise Brewery in Belgium. When they began discussing starting their own larger scale brewery, they decided they wanted to do something exciting. They vowed to only create unique, small batch brews that were “one-and-done.” This is where the idea of Pipework’s Brewing began. Since then—with the addition of Kate Brankin (brewer extraordinaire)—Pipeworks has established itself as one of Chicago’s premiere breweries.
In early 2017, the folks at Pipeworks approached their friends at Longman & Eagle—one of the city’s best cocktail bars—and asked if they’d be interested in collaborating on a new beer. They had the idea of a cocktail-inspired brew. Old-Fashioned-inspired beer has been done before so, being two institutions that pride themselves on bucking conventions and trends, they set out to make a Manhattan-inspired beer.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: For those who don’t know, a Manhattan is a whiskey-based cocktail. Its recipe is: 2 parts whiskey; 1 part sweet vermouth; 1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters; orange or lemon peel to garnish; maraschino cherry to garnish.)
Creating this beer isn’t as easy as dumping a bunch of pre-mixed Manhattans into a fermentation tank; it also isn’t just a matter of adding a few dashes of Angostura bitters per three ounces of beer. The process is actually very labor-intensive and required a lot of creative thinking to get the ingredients and outcome just right. You can read all of the details about this process on Longman & Eagle’s blog.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping Brown and Stirred, from Pipeworks Brewing Company in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
style: Strong Rye Ale
color: Dark Brown
stemware: Rocks Glass (over ice, with a twist of lemon)
I cupped Brown and Stirred two ways—once “neat,” and once over rocks; both times in a rocks glass. Obviously it’s not conventional to drink beer with ice, nor is it conventional to drink beer out of a rocks glass; but this is an unconventional beer, so I’m just going with it. (If you want to stick with tradition, I’d probably recommend drinking out of a Tulip.) Personally, I preferred it neat but, I must admit, it was pretty damn tasty on the rocks, too (though it didn’t have as full a flavor).
The beer pours a dark brown with deep red hues around the edges, and is topped by a thin layer of khaki-colored foam that quickly dissipates save for a thin ring around the edge. The aroma is thick and pungent, with notes of cherry, citrus, oak, cinnamon, lightly roasted grain, and an herbal presence, similar to bitters (these scents are enhanced over ice). Much like a Manhattan, it’s sweet and spicy at the same time.
After I took my first sip of the beer, I smacked my lips a few times, staring off into the distance with squinted eyes. I really didn’t know what to make of it. After my second sip, however… My eyes lit up and I exclaimed (to no one), “Holy shit that’s incredible.” This is a pretty heavy beer—on the fuller side of a medium-bodiedness—and it possesses a thick, supple, syrupy mouthfeel and a relatively low amount of carbonation. It’s very sweet up front, with flavors of cherry, dark fruit, vermouth, and a light caramelized sugar on the finish. Hints of lemon zest run from the first to last sip. As it warms up to room temperature, its booziness starts to come through, along with charred grains and malts; I’m also picking up on a light bittersweet dark chocolate flavor in the background. (These flavors don’t really come through on the rocks, however—that’s why I preferred drinking it neat).
Coming in at 10.5%, it is a beer to be enjoyed. And enjoy it, you will. This unique brew deserves a special place in the fridge as a special occasion sipper. It’s the perfect treat at the end of a long, hard day, when you’re undecided between a cocktail and a beer (although, ideally, you should have an appreciation for a good Manhattan to enjoy this).
Full credit goes to Pipeworks Brewing and Longman & Eagle to perfectly extract a Manhattan experience from a rye ale. Brown and Stirred became an instant favorite, and will more than likely be appearing on my Table again before long.
*content courtesy of Longman and Eagle
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