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Pepe Nero - Goose Island Beer Co.

Pepe NeroPepe Nero

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,324 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1324
Reviews: 461
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 12.03%

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  6.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Mahogany color, black pepper aroma, roasted malt and spice flavor, creamy body.

(Beer added by: adamette on 03-30-2010)
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Ratings: 1,324 | Reviews: 461 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of thehyperduck

Ontario (Canada)

4.15/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

765 mL bottle from the LCBO; bottled May 28 2013. Served slightly chilled, and poured into a wine glass.

Pours a dark, brownish-garnet colour, topped with nearly two fingers of fluffy, light beige-coloured head. Excellent retention; it slowly seeps away over a period of many minutes, leaving behind a dense, creamy cap flanked by a generous swath of lacing. Darker than any saison I've ever seen, but a fine-looking beer nonetheless. The aroma is equally unique, with notes of spicy pepper and coriander accompanied by lemon zest, raisins, toasted malts, and a slight yeasty funk.

Appealing flavour; nice mix of nutty, toasted dark malts and Belgian nuances. Notes of banana, toffee and bubble gum are accompanied by some raisin and phenolic vibes. Highlights toward the finish include cracked peppercorn and coriander, with a touch of clove. Earthy finish, with some lingering yeastiness and astringency that fades into a roasted nut flavour late into the aftertaste (almost chocolate-like). This saison tastes lighter than it looks, and it's of normal heft for the style - medium-bodied, with appropriately brisk carbonation levels. Surprisingly drinkable, though not the most refreshing or funky example of the style I've ever tried.

Final Grade: 4.15, an impressive A-. Goose Island's Pepe Nero makes for a tasty spring or summertime treat, offering up an interesting marriage between dark, toasted malt notes and more traditional Belgian ale tropes. A bit more peppercorn would bump this up into world-class territory. A great beer that I would consider purchasing again, but I think I still prefer Sofie's lighter flavour (and lower price).

Serving type: bottle

04-11-2014 19:23:56 | More by thehyperduck
Photo of 312HopBomb


3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep ruddy brown with smallish head with no lacing to speak of.

nose consists of Belgian phenolics and spicy pepper.

Taste has a twang with Belgian flavor and some alcohol bite with the spicy pepper flavor midway through. some tart and then drying. Some earthy hop note and more rye like spice.

Mouthfeel is light and some light/med carbonation.

I enjoy this take on the Belgian style with some interesting flavors pairing with the peppercorns.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2014 02:51:11 | More by 312HopBomb
Photo of Sludgeman

District of Columbia

4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottled on 2/11/13. Purchased in a bottle shop in Wichita and poured into a high ball glass in my hotel room.

Unimpressed with the appearance and aroma, a good representation of the style but not distinctive 4.0

A – Pours a clear cola color, opaque in the glass with a one and a half finger mousey beige head, zero lacing 3.5

S – Funk, yeasty, a bit of spice 3.5

T – Peppery – more than the aroma would lead you to believe 4.25

MF – Medium-light body with a dry finish, a little chewy 4.25

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2014 12:55:44 | More by Sludgeman
Photo of buzzardman


4.29/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Aroma: Light funk, slightly fruity.

Appearance: Nice head that drops to layer covering, dark brown light hint of red body.

Flavor: Sweet funky, light fruitness, raisin, light pepper and banana.

Mouth: Medium, tart.

Overall: Nice balanced slightly tart, a little different than most saison's but in a good way. Would buy again. $7.99 22oz

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2014 19:06:57 | More by buzzardman
Photo of MattTastrophee


4.35/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in April of 2012
Opened in March of 2014

Appearance: Copious amounts of foam. Looks like a big old root beer float after letting it settle a while. Dark garnet in color.

Smell: Fruitiness from the yeast and a pleasant amount of malt comes through.

Taste: Big mouth full of fruit, not to mention the malt. Dark cherry with a toasty finish. Really interesting flavor profile. Tartness and toffee flavors all wrapped up together.

Mouthfeel: A drinkable medium body.

Overall: I'll get this beer again, it was a fun adventure. Quite an interesting brew. Makes me want to pick up Monk's Stout, see how that stacks up.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2014 23:59:51 | More by MattTastrophee
Photo of DaveBar

Ontario (Canada)

4.15/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Purchased at the LCBO for approx. $14.00. Served at 10deg C in a tulip glass.

A- Opened well. Poured with a ton of foam. Super brown foam with nice lacing after 3-4mins.

S- Lots here. Yeast. Roasted malt, coriander, clove

T- See S!! Also Foam to the extreme!

M- Very good. Very smooth very tasty

O- Very good. Not the thing you would see anywhere but someone that has a vision. Try it. It is interesting to say the very least.

Food Pairing

This unusual Saison paired very well with... Curried Goat


Serving type: bottle

02-17-2014 23:29:47 | More by DaveBar
Photo of BierStein711


3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into wine goblet, three finger beige head, and dark brown to red hue in the body. Almost zero carbonation, the mouthfeel is smooth and thick. Light brown lacing covers the walls of the glass well.

Smells of peppers and coriander

Taste: Peppers, chocolate, bananas, and Belgian yeast at the finish.

Overall, I believe I'd have this again. There are three beers left in the pack- I shan't be buying this again though. This isn't for me.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2014 05:16:21 | More by BierStein711
Photo of PaulyB83


3.4/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a 2011 bottle, poured into a stemless wine glass.

A- Pours like a dark brown ale with a very light brown head that dissipated quickly. Barely can see some light coming through on the edges.

S- Roasts and that unique saison aroma of fusial esters, fruityness.

T- Roasts, banana and some light clove. Not really digging the yeast and dark roast combination.

M- A bit thin and a bit too much carbonation.

O- This is the first black saison I've had and it didn't really work for me.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2014 02:41:17 | More by PaulyB83
Photo of 1000lbgrizzly


3.76/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Surprisingly dark- like dark molasses, with ruby tinges near the surface (this is a saison?). Big soapy brown head, decent lacing on the glass. Not much carbonation visible.

S: Raisins, faint chocolate, slight tartness/sweetness, even maple syrup. Smells nice, but barely in the style from my understanding of it, and somewhat faint.

T: Mostly raisins, with the addition of some earthy notes. Well balanced sweetness and bitterness. Nice, but not overly complex.

M: A little course, full bodied. Carbonation level certainly fits a saison.

O: I'm a little confused by this one. Doesn't fit the style very well, and beyond that it seems to lack the complexity of other Goose Island craft beers. It's good, but nothing to go out of your way to try.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2014 07:34:24 | More by 1000lbgrizzly
Photo of BierJager89


4.4/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark ruby red around the edges, but otherwise black with a foamy light mocha head.

S: Sweet coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, black peppercorn and a little bit of dark fruit in the nose.

T: Roasted malt, coffee dark chocolate, but not bitter. Some lemon, light citrus, and maybe a bit of dark fruit.

M: Smooth and full bodied, but also a bit foamy.

O: I really liked this beer a lot.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2014 22:09:21 | More by BierJager89
Photo of avalon07

South Carolina

3.19/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a thick consistency. There was a large, off white, foamy, long-lasting head. Very good lacing. Doesn't necessarily look like a saison, but is nonetheless a decent-looking beer.

S: A strange (given the style) aroma of roasted malt, pepper, and a smoky quality.

T: Like the aroma, the flavor was not what I expected: The smokiness was evident throughout, along with malt, pepper, and other mild spices. Definitely not your typical saison flavor. A bit thin. Almost tasted like a weak porter.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a smooth, creamy finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Aside from its diversion from the characteristics of the style, this beer just did not have an interesting flavor. Could have been more powerful than it was.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2014 17:15:00 | More by avalon07
Photo of Mike_Moe


4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark color with very thick light brown head.
Aroma: Very spicy & malty, with a light coffee smell.
Flavor: The beer is heavy on the spices with a light coffee flavor. This brew is full bodied, and highly carbonated.
Overall: A descent tasting beer, however, in a blind taste test, its not styled like a Saison. Its appearance, complex spicy, malty, mild coffee flavor is that of a good Porter. I’m confused!!

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2014 07:58:28 | More by Mike_Moe
Photo of jjboesen


4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pepe Nero was my last beer of the year 2013. First of all, the initial pour literally fills the glass, a tulip, with a beige foam, chunky and billowing; after about 10 minutes, it subsides enough to allow for quaffing. The body is an impervious mahogony color.

There is a pleasant nose of plum and chestnut. The taste is a subtle balance of semi-sweetness and toasty malts with a quick pepper finish. This is a rather light beer, at 6.4% abv, there is lightness to the mouthfeel. Complex beer is this one.

Goose Island classifies this as a "vintage" beer what with it being bottle fermented and all that. While I was never a big farmhouse fan, this one does make for a decent sessional any time of the year.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2014 04:57:08 | More by jjboesen
Photo of mvanaskie13


3.43/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a skinny chalice, color is dark brown, opaque, head is tan, light lacing and thin leftover top.

Smell is subdued, light roast, some pepper is present, some phenols. Roast is inviting, pepper and phenols are lighter than expected.

Taste is mild roast, light sweetness and then drying; flavors are roast, chocolate, then light phenol maybe some yeast spice. This is a nice tasting stout or a mild saison to me.

Mouthfeel is a little sweet in its presence, there some drying but again not as much as expected.

Overall, a nice tasting brew but it seems to be between styles, maybe the yeast in the bottle needs time to develop? I guess I was expecting a dryer, spicier saison presence over the stout sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2013 00:07:38 | More by mvanaskie13
Photo of Bitterbill


3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I'm getting a nice kick out of the aroma...big wheat and Belgian yeast and dark fruits. The smell kind of indicates that I'm going to enjoy drinking it.

Wheat and yeasty flavours there, pretty much dominated by a strong peppery flavour. The pepper doesn't add a whole lot of heat at all and the flavours do not mesh all that well, imho. I guess it's spicy for spicy sakes and not much to it. It gets a bit trying on my palate after several sips. The abv is reasonably low so it isn't THAT hard to drink. I wish is was a bit more complex, in a good way.

Nice and smooth mouthfeel. Again, I think it's what, too one dimensional? If that makes any sense. This is not a brew I'd bIt pours a very dark brown, has reddish hues, a small head of foam that shrinks quickly but leaves some good lacing behind.
uy again but I've said that about brews from most of the breweries I've had the chance to try. No slant on Goose Island intended.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2013 17:02:17 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of HuskyinPDX


4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 11.27.13
Bottled on 21/MAR/13

A - Pours a dark brown with huge foamy tan head wtih great retention.

S - Spices, roasted malt, toast.

T - Spices, roasted malt, toast, saison yeast. Nice.

D - Good carbonation with a light body.

O - Nice roasted and light saison. I would drink this one again.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2013 06:10:23 | More by HuskyinPDX
Photo of RaulMondesi


3.46/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought because the liquor store made me if I wanted to procure a single 12 once of BCBCS. That being said...

Ok, a dark saison... That's kind of like turning on the lights while doing the "thang thang" and noticing that your counterpart has armpit hair. You pause, but continue on.

So it looked different, but ok enough. And the aroma... not much. Not bad, but not much. Taste? Like if armpit hair girl chewed a lil sweet peppered caramel before you rolled around the sheets with her. It wasn't the best caramel, but it was ok.

Doable, but I don't think that I'm calling her back.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2013 03:32:08 | More by RaulMondesi
Photo of jwhancher


3.33/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bought a single bottle at Pinnoccio's in Media on Thanksgiving day. Bottled on date 9/20/13. Poured into snifter for review.

A: pours dark brown with ruby highlights, almost black. Large tan head. Good carbonation.

S: smells peppery with Belgian yeast phenolics & dark fruit esters. Spicy rye notes evident. Dark fruit like raisins & cherries. Some toffee & light cocoa. Peppercorn don't seem overwhelming in nose as they seem subtle but but more noticeable as it warms.

T: peppers and banana esters. Belgian yeast seems to clash with the dark malts. Interesting & complex. There seems to be a little too much phenolic band aid flavors that overcomes some of the other complex flavors. Some licorice & coffee notes. Earthy hops, maybe a little woody. Bitterness nice and firm.

M: dry and bitter. Crisp with some astingency from use of darker malts. Medium bodied. Alcohol seems well in check.

O: an interesting beer that seems like it wants to be too much. I dig the saison with peppercorns but think the use of dark malts clash with the other characteristics of this beer. Glad to have tried but will likely stick with some of GI's other Belgian offerings.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2013 18:59:51 | More by jwhancher
Photo of magictacosinus


3.24/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into an oversized wine glass. Bottling date is "04/17/12," so over a year old at this point.

Pours a pretty nice saison, if a bit unconventional - near pitch black when held against the light, with only some light reddish tones showing through. Pours a massive four fingers worth of an off-grey head that leaves minimal stickiness and lacing at the finish. Slightly viscous, in spite of its low ABV, and every additional swirl produces a fizziness similar to soda that attempts to maintain the otherwise decent head retention.

Smells good, with plenty of notes of dark fruit, pepper, and some spices. Vinegar is right at the front of the nose, with figs, raisins, and light dates soon following. Some black pepper, with big flavors consisting caramel, clove, leather, and toffee at the finish. Nothing too funky here, but definitely makes itself noticeably old as it is. Light, yet refined.

The flavor, on the other hand, takes a ridiculous nose dive in terms of maintaining itself. While the flavor was light on the pepper, each sip is a black pepper bomb that is coated with an enormous amount of astringency and tannins that distract from the dark fruit flavors. While trying to work out the flavors of raisins and figs, as well as hazelnut and clove, each sip gets progressively overpowered by the pepper, and worst yet, produces a tobacco or black tea-like tannic astringency that makes this quite difficult to drink in the long run. There's a roasted, baker's chocolate finish that decreases the enjoyability factor. The graininess becomes more apparent as this becomes flatter, and, combined with the surprising amount of thinness, reduces the flavor profile tenfold. While it's not a bad offering per se, it's still horribly inconsistent.

I was happy to find this at such an old age, but this has not aged well in my opinion. The nose is very nice, and exactly what I'd expect given the yeast and malt profile, but it seems that the peppercorns have taken over whatever may have made this more appealing. To me, this faults the most with the overly tannic, astringent, thin body of the beer - it makes it difficult to drink and I had to pair this with fatty food to cut it down a bit. By the end, however, I had to pass it on to someone else to finish for me. Here's hoping I get more out of any future GI experiments I get to try.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2013 08:27:08 | More by magictacosinus
Photo of reebtaerG


3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle on 2/11/13

A-pours with a chocolate brown with a tan head that dissipates quickly
S-a dark fruit and roasted malt hint of cocoa
T-flavorable taste of roasted malt, a bit of caramel and a hint a smoke
M-cream roast and smooth carbonated being well balanced saison

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2013 02:26:10 | More by reebtaerG
Photo of fourstringer


3.61/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle in to a Brewer's Art goblet with a moderate hand. Solid pop of the cap. Bottled 05/22/12 11:30. I had this fresh last year, not terribly impressed. Trying again after a year in the cellar.

A: Dark brown, essentially black when poured. 1/2 finger of light caramel head that rapidly faded to a film. Minimal lacing.

S: Belgian yeast. Dried fruit. Tart cherry. Subtle chocolate notes. No distinct pepper for me, unfortunately.

T: Lightly sweet roasted malt and chocolate notes. A mild to moderate hop bitterness arises and ends in an abrupt, dry finish. Nose was noticeably more fruity than the taste, which delivers heavier chocolate/roasted elements. Flavors are good, but somewhat subdued. Increased robustness and complexity as it warms.

M: High carbonation with prickly mouthfeel. Hurts drinkability. Body is a bit light for the flavor profile.

O: This beer is a confusing picture. The smell/mouthfeel says, "I'm a saison" and the appearance/flavor says, "I'm a [insert darker beer style here]". It definitely improved as it warmed and when I decided to judge it more as a saison (without peppercorns!) than what I expected when I poured it into the glass. The clashing nature of the brew detracts, but it's certainly not bad. I actually was warming up to it by the end of the bottle. More pepper and less roasted malt next time!


Serving type: bottle

11-21-2013 21:57:00 | More by fourstringer
Photo of babaracas


3.39/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Pours a surprisingly clear, dark-ish brown, red edges in the glass, with big tan colored head. Settles quickly to a quarter inch, spray of lace down the glass. Smell: mild roast, caramel, a little cocoa, grainy. Taste: oddly dunkel-y, coffee and chocolate notes, grain twang. Wet, sugary finish. What yeast did they use in this? This is not a black farmhouse ale, this is a joke.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2013 05:22:25 | More by babaracas
Photo of beerthulhu

New Jersey

3.64/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bot. 4/17/12. Consumed 11/8/13. Can be aged up to 5 years.

A: Rich otter brown pour produces a monstrous 3+ inch khaki head with a ptted surface. Holding is very strong, producing a beautiful dark lovely lasting impression. Heavy thick coat of foam lace.

S: Cardamon, cola, peppery sugar grains with a faint coffee roast. Light muskiness.

T: Coffee roast, soft birch, cardamon spicing. Sweet fennel with spicy cypress, woodsy notes. Light musky roast, nuttiness with a soft wet roast fade.

M: Spritzy carbonation, mineral feel, soft frothy texture, lightly bittering of roast.

O: Very smooth flavor, clean and silky drinking experience. very good recommend.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2013 23:39:46 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of Immortale25

North Carolina

4.35/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Due South Brewing Co. snifter. Back label says Bottled On 22/MAR/13

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 1/4 inch dark tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a spotty center patch of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a thick ring behind.

S- Roasted coffee aroma that's a bit sweet and shows some vanilla notes. Very enjoyable.

T- More roast comes through in the flavor but it's very subtle as it allows the Belgian yeast flavor to shine through more than in other black saisons I've had. Some milk chocolate, nuttiness and sweetness keep the flavor profile progressing as the drink goes on.

M- Creamy and soft with medium-low carbonation and a full body.

O- Everyone's been saying this is the black saison to get your hands on and now I totally agree. Probably my favorite Belgian offering by Goose Island thus far.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2013 03:46:28 | More by Immortale25
Photo of tastybeer

North Carolina

3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Deep brown, red where the light shines through around the edges, and a very light brown moderate sized head. Thin retention and not much for lace. Aroma is lightly sweet, a little flowery, and spicy. Figs, molasses, and black cherry. Some banana and bubble gum and slightly phenolic. Smell is creamy with light doughy malt and a darker roasty underbelly. Taste is interestingly basic and easily enjoyable. Malty with some brisk piney hop and soft Belgian saison characteristics. A nice blend and probably a good choice even if you don't really feel like the style. A little roasted malt with some typical Belgian flavors. Mouthfeel is velvety, creamy, and perfectly carbonated with super fine little bubbles. Pretty good beer. Nicely balanced dark Belgian saison.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2013 00:17:13 | More by tastybeer
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Pepe Nero from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,324 ratings.