Craft Beer Means Local Beer, Part I: Pipeworks Brewing Co.

Craft Beer Means Local Beer, Part I: Pipeworks Brewing Co.

On September 26th, Prestige Liquor in Westmont, IL held a tasting event in which three breweries – Pipeworks Brewing (Chicago), Arcade Brewery (Chicago), and Urban Legend Brewing (Westmont) — and bacon sausage makers, Big Fork (Chicago), attended. This mini-series of blog posts will detail those breweries, the sausage, Prestige Liquor, and the connection between local beer (local craft breweries) and the family owned, neighborhood liquor store.

Part I: Pipeworks Brewing Co. | Part II: Arcade Brewery

Part III: Urban Legend Brewing | Part IV: Prestige Liquors

Part I: Pipeworks Brewing Company

A while back, I did a post titled, “No Taproom, No Problem.” Pipeworks is one of those type of breweries; they have no tasting room and no real means of providing beer to its customer other than through canning and limited drafts. From their own FAQ page, it says:

  • “We are just a production facility”
  • “We do not have a bottle shop at this time and can only sell beer to retailers, no growler fills either, sorry.”
  • “We self distribute our beer throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, and have a small amount of distribution beginning in New York City.”
  •  “Large format bottles and limited draft is all we produce at this time.”

In other words, this is a brewery that relies solely on the taste of its beer, word-of-mouth, and other local businesses to carry their product.  For Pipeworks, a brewery that has only been open since  January of 2012, good beer and word-of-mouth manifested itself by receiving Rate Beer’s “Best New Brewery” award in January, 2013.

Of course, the result is that it becomes far easier to convince local liquor stores, bars, and restaurants to sell Pipeworks. In turn, the local businesses, such as Prestige, benefit by having an excellent product with which to sell. That is the essence of local businesses helping local businesses. And that is one of the main reasons craft beer, along with farmers markets, local distilleries, and places like Big Fork, continues to thrive.

Pipeworks doesn’t only produce great beer, they have a very unique brewing strategy. Their stated goal at the onset involved brewing a new beer each week.  If you are one that likes innovation and special releases,  this is the brewery for you. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to check out their amazing list of beers.


One of my favorite brews — and it was one of their originals — is their Ninja vs Unicorn Double IPA.  Tons of citrusy hops produces an amazing aroma. It is a smooth and silky brew. The hops, although prominent from the nose to the finish, never overpower. It’s impeccably balanced. The aftertaste leaves you with a nice bitterness. It’s truly a great, staple beer for Pipeworks.

ReaperUnicornWhile at the Prestige event, I picked up a Reaper vs Unicorn Rye Barleywine Style Ale.  I tried it at the event and fell in love with it. I’m truly enamoured with Ryes lately, and this one made it easy to purchase. It is easy to pick up on the caramel, spicy rye, and somewhat piney hops with every taste — the balance is sublime and comes in equally with each sip. At 10% ABV it is pretty boosy, but its hidden well in this well crafted rye. If you are real beer geek, you will love these ingredients: ABV: 10.0%,; Malts: 2-row, munich, caramel 80, special roast, flaked rye, caramel rye; Hops: Falconer’s flight, Australian summer, nelson sauvin; Adjuncts: dextrose. It’s a beer that a real craft brew geek can love, but it is so tasty and perfect in its simplicity, that even a beer drinker who doesn’t know hops from malt can enjoy.

And it just happens to pair well with Chicago’s very own Big Fork sausage. They were also at the Prestige event, a true marriage of local businesses working together — Chicago-made sausage with a Chicago brew, bought from a family owned suburban Chicago liquor store, and then consumed at my dinner table.

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