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Pepe Nero | Goose Island Beer Co.

very good
496 Reviews
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Pepe NeroPepe Nero

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

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.40%

Availability: Year-round

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

Added by adamette on 03-30-2010

User Reviews
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Reviews: 496 | Ratings: 1,763
Photo of FriedSlug
3.71/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Nice dark reddish tinted beer. The thick yeah head leaves moderate lacing. Smells of some apple, roasted malt, pepper. Tastes like raisins and black pepper with a bit of apple and a touch of vinegar. Not a bad beer.

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Photo of stevoj
4.16/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a 2012 batch, bottled April 16, 2012 #0947. I haven’t had a saison this dark before, color and aroma recalls a stout. Thin beige head, bottle required a swirl at the end to suspend the sediments. Aroma is chocolate, molasses, dried fruit, oak barrel. Taste has the semi-sweet chocolate at the forefront, mild bitterness lingers on the palate. Very nice, enjoyed as a sipper, a good integration for me coming back to the States.

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Photo of jhartley
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a single at my local ABCFW&S. Bottled on March 20, 2013.
Poured into a tulip from a 12 oz. bottle. Dark reddish brown body, a huge head 2 finger head. Slowly dissipated and leaves no lacing.
Fruity aromas of pears and apples and spicy black pepper. Slight amount of funkiness.
Definitely getting more of that pear juice and slight yeast funk. Nice black pepper spice on the end.
Light mouth feel with a strong black pepper finish, particularly after it warms up.
Overall, a very interesting beer; I didn't do much research before picking it up just saw the overall BA score and put it in the mix-a-six carrier. Completely shocked by the color and even more so with the taste. I love black pepper so this was a win for me as the floral, sweetness black peppercorns have really comes through.

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Photo of gregy55902
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Andy's Marketplace in Rochester, MN is selling bombers of this for $3. Couldn't pass it up, so here we are. Bottled 5/22/2012.

A - the deepest, darkest reddish purple I have ever seen. Small off-white head that quickly recedes.

S - Tartness. Cherries? Lemons? Belgian yeasts, candy sugar.

T - sour cherries, belgian candy, black pepper

M - decent thickness for the style

O - surprised more people aren't commenting on the sourness. Unexpected, but it was kept in check. This is my 2nd time having this beer and I like it more than the first time. Definitely unique!

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.43/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 12oz bottle with a bottled on date of 6.13.12.

L - Pitch black, with 3 fingers of head! Sticky lacing left all over the glass

S - Belgian candy yeast, slight alcohol aroma. Great aroma

T - Dried fruit, raisons, brown sugar. Tasty

F - Medium body, well carbonated

O - An awesome dark belgian ale. Tasty and drinkable

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Photo of bmeehan
3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I did not expect such a dark beer upon pouring. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste after seeing just how dark it is, because I feared it would be drowned in a coffee taste or something more bitter more typically associated with beers this dark, but it wasn't like that. The coffee notes were subtle, and worked nicely. Nothing really stood out beyond that, and it wasn't quite as smooth as I like, but it is a good beer. Is it worth the hefty price tag (something like $20 for a 750ml bottle)? No, I don't think it is.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

(2012, slightly over 3 years old) Pepe Nero pours a very dark amber color with a huge fizzy lacing head. There is a big dark sweet and dry fruit aroma. The taste has a subtle sweetness, and a dry fruit like flavor, with some spiced flavors.

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Photo of jzlyo
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Smell is rather spicy, the appearance is dark brown/amber and cloudy. The taste is rather unique, dark malt mixed with Belgian yeast mixed with rather spicy hops. Very good ale overall.

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Photo of JayQue
4.02/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This does not taste anything like a traditional Saison, but I usually don't rate beers low when they are not "spot-on" regarding style style when they also happen to be very tasty!!!!! Poured into a pint glass. Shows a dark brown dense color with just a bit of reddish light showing at the bottom of the glass. Huge light tan head with thick filmy lacing coating the glass. The lacing breaks up into thick patches. Head retention is very good. Strong aroma of dark fruit, some chocolate a little mustiness and maybe a little port wine. Flavor is more of the same with a rich slightly sweet malty background. This tastes a LOT more like a stout or porter than a Saison. Mouthfeel is very rich with a nice mix of flavors to savor on the tongue. Alcohol presence is minimal. This is more of a colder weather drink than a lemony, yeasaty funky summertime thirst quencher. Not enough yeastiness or funk to be a top-notch Saison. Still a rich and flavorful beer that I would have again.

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Photo of FFreak
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into willi glasses and paired with barbequed salmon dinner. A very dark brown, almost stout color, but with light making its way through. Tan head about 3 fingers high that sticks around pretty long, with massive lace covering the glass. Smell is mostly of roast malt, but with some bread and yeast and a tiny bit of spice. Taste is also roasty and bready, but with an excellent creamy mouth feel and lingering carbonation. Overall, an enjoyable dark farmhouse ale.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, 2013 vintage, bottled March 20, 2013. Acquired a single bottle of this stuff from a local bottle shop.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - It pours a somewhat unexpected deep dark cola color, nearly black in body, with about two fingers of creamy foamy chocolate-tan head that falls to a ring. Leaves nice thick scattered lacing. Looks very nice, even after 2 years in the bottle.

S - The aroma is musty, chocolatey, roasty, with mild spice & notes of black pepper there as well. A 'creamy' aroma. Not terribly impressive, but unique.

T - The taste is again, chocolatey & roasty for the most part. Light Belgian yeast & black pepper spice is also noticeable. Not the greatest flavor pairing in my opinion, but it's not bad by any means. Roasty, malty, & chocolatey overall.

M - The feel is crisp & spritzy. Lively active carbonation that has held up well even after 2 years in the bottle.

Overall, an interesting farmhouse style ale from Goose Island. Not likely a beer I would seek out again, but I definitely recommend trying it if bottles of this are available to you.

Goose Island Pepe Nero -----4/5.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: It pours chestnut to black under a finely bubbled 2” tan foam collar that grips the side of the glass.
S: Yeasty fruit aromas, spicy grain, toast, pepper.
T: Citrus to banana flavors seasoned with light chocolate and caramel with a dab of rye spice. Has an underlying sweetness.
F: It has a very rich, creamy texture with a medium to medium light body and a medium high carbonation.
O: A creamy, easy to drink dark saison.

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Photo of dmgeng
4.21/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Tried this one at the Bourbon Beer Bacon Festival in Fort Wayne, IN.

A - Rich brown color that is ruby in the light only slightly cloudy. Medium white head with fine bubbles with some staying power.

S - Rich smell with typical Belgian yeast spice character (phenolic) and a very pleasant dark fruit character like raisin or prune. Just underneath that are the strong malt and caramel tones. More like a Dubbel or Quad than just a saison.

T - Very similar to the smell; the Belgian character holds true but there is a strong raisin/plum taste. There is a lot of sweetness from the malt but the spice and fruit helps and it's a complex beer.

M - Medium to light mouth-feel. Light carbonation. For a lower ABV it has some nice mouth feel.

Overall, a very delicious beer. Not the best beer I've had but the amplitude of the dark fruit character in compliment to the Belgian character is very flavorful. I would recommend this beer to anyone that likes Belgian beers or if you enjoy the dark fruit tones but without bigger mouth feel or higher ABV.

Glass- 4oz tasting glass.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

3 year old bottle served in a time glass

Appearance: dark brown and very bubbly, thin head

Nose: malty and complex, dried stone fruit, cherries, slightly funky, small pepper smell
, has the smell of a Munich lager

Taste: caramel, malty, complex, chocolate, fruity with a very dry finish, no pepper, tobacco or mild smokey flavor.

Overall: I have a few more of these in the cellar. The bottles say that they can be aged for up to 5 years. I'm going to keep some around for at least that long. I really like this take on a Belgian ale. The pepper is very subtle but there.

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Photo of bushbeer75
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22 oz brown bottle - dated 2/25/11 with a note on the label that the ale develops in the bottle for up to 5-years as it contains live yeast.

Goose Island Pepe Nero Belgian Style ale poured a black hue with a slight red cast on the edges. Atop sat a generous 2-finger tan head that held very well. The head subsided to a hit-and-miss lacing in my tulip glass. The nose was dominated by roasted malt, dark fruit [raisins] and chocolate . The taste is very similar to the nose with the flavors of dark bread, nuts and caramel added. Also, a little spice [maybe] peppercorns and a light bitter finish. Mouth feel is medium bodied with an active carbonation.

Overall, Pepe Nero is a different Saison/Farmhouse style ale than I am accustom to. This "black Saison/Farmhouse" ale I feel is best enjoyed in the cooler months of Fall and Winter. If you are looking for a different take on the style it is worth a try. I for one prefer a more traditional Saison/Farmhouse ale

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Goose Island "Pepe Nero"
22 oz. brown glass bottle, "BOTTLED: 04/16/12 1018"
$9.49 @ Wegmans, Malvern, PA

Appearance: Deep brown-black body with glimmering highlights of ruby (slightly hazy). Frothy, massive head of dark khaki. Excellent head retention, clearly bolstered by the effervescent carbonation beneath. Long splashes was well as peaks and valleys are left behind in the lacing.

Aroma: Toasty, caramelish, mildly nutty-toffee-like, and gently spicy. Phenolic. Some light clove. A hint of plastic. Some alcohol. Dull, dark skinned fruit. Subtly chocolatey/roasty.

Flavor: Initially more caramelish and chocolatey, as it warms and the carbonation softens the spiciness (clove, white pepper) and fruit (prune, apple/pear, raisin) appear more clearly, transforming it. It's somehow almost woody, like cedar or soft oak, probably coming from a combination of spiciness and some of the darker malts; and I think that may lead, along with the edge of roastiness, to the impression of a kind of smokiness. Some higher alcohols are present, which is interesting given that it's just 6% (according to the label).

It's fairly full in flavor, and there are some nuances to it, but in general it remains quite the same from beginning to end. The finish is of course dryer, but it's not particularly spicy or fruity (there is an added hint of licorice), and some residual malt leaves it 'similar' to what you've just experienced from the get go.

Mouthfeel: Effervescent, yet malty. Bristling, then slightly foamy, then creamy as it warms.

Overall: I can only assume that (almost) three years in the bottle has softened this beer quite a bit. I remember it having more of a peppery note, and a bit more edge. It's components stood out more. It's quite rounded at this point, and I'm not sure that that really works. I would imagine that early last year was probably its "sweet spot", so if you've got any in the cellar now would be a good time to start finishing them off.

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Photo of Foxybrau
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Cool beer. 2013 vintage. Pours like a stout, thick and black, but with a big rocky Belgian head. Pepper, leather, and yeast on the nose, but the taste is floral and bright like the saisons with the pepper present. There's a lot interesting about this beer, from the powerful label to the juxtaposed color and flavor. I'll drink it again for sure. Goose Island continues to impress me.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
3.07/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

22 oz bottle, 2011 edition, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a finger and a half of off-white-colored head that slowly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Unfortunately, not a lot of aroma, which disappoints. I get some faint notes of roasted malt and Belgian yeast, but not much of those and nothing of any other aromas.

Taste: Good flavors of roasted malt, followed by some funky Belgian yeast, and slight notes, but nothing overpowering of funky sourness. There are also some nice flavors of licorice, brown sugar-like sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very smooth, as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 6.0%, there is no presence of alcohol on the palate.

Overall: Good beer, even though it’s more than a little old (2011). Good flavors combined with a good mouthfeel. I really liked it. I’ll have to try some fresher bottles to see how different they are.

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Photo of flipper2gv
4.23/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is a 2012 bottle.

A: It's a Belgian style beer, of course it looks good. Pure black color with a beige colored foamy head with tons of lacing. Retention is medium though. The head quickly fades to a small crown.

S: This makes me think of it really much like a Belgian porter, if there were such a thing. You get a strong malty, British like base with notes of nuts, vanilla, honey, pepper, leather and even smoke. But, on the back, you get the Belgian yeast flavors with notes of cinnamon and very slight funk. Very very good smelling beer.

T: Again, this is very porter-ish. It seems to me that they used a very typical British porter malt recipe and used saison like yeast and maybe additional grains. This has strong vanilla, smoke, light dark chocolate, leather, pepper, oak, everything. Also, at the same time, you get a light amount of spicyness with cinnamon and some very light funk. Super dry, and (sadly) a tiny bit of oregano in this, which is the only "problem" with this beer.

M: Super light and fluffy. It might be the aging, but this is typical Belgian yeast mouthfeel.

O: Well this is really good. Don't know if it's just the aging this beer had, but this is a strong strong beer and I still scratch my head looking at the scores people gave this. Anyway, imagine a drier porter with some light Belgian elements, and you get this beer. Great stuff, highly recommended.

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Photo of Hipgezus
4.25/5  rDev +13%

Ages very well. I recently drank a 2013. It was massively better than i remembered it being. I'm aging 2 more from the same year to see how they develop.

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Photo of AirBob
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes from 10/15/14. Bottle date 5/2012.

A - Almost four fingers of bubbly khaki brown head. Dark, dark brown body, almost black. OK retention.

S - Belgian yeast. Raisins. Dark fruit. A little brown sugar and pepper.

T - Follows the nose but predominated by sweeter fruits. Leather and earth in the finish.

M - Low carbonation. Swells on the tongue. A little sticky.

O - I'd like to see if this mellows out even more and thickens a bit with age. Aroma is awesome but taste was a little sweet for me.

Update - 6/17/15 - Same batch

Significantly drier finish makes this a lot more drinkable. More leather and earth. Excellent retention and lacing. Low carbonation.

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Photo of Charliethebrit
4/5  rDev +6.4%

Over 2 years old, the bottle that is being sampled for this review. Sampled using a Sam Adams special beer glass. Pours with big head that goes down quickly and becomes thin, Nose is not significant. Has brown ale overtones. Balance leans more to the acidic side than sweet. More of an Italian style dark than a Belgian. Definitely malty, Does have a few raisin, molasses flavors. A bit peppery. Does not have much length to it. This would probably have been better after one year of aging. It has the thin qualities of a two year old Belgian. That is why I give it a higher rating than it deserves, due to the age of the bottle sampled. OK with cheeses and spicy foods.

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Photo of farrago
3.86/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Solid finger plus of tan microfoam, miniscule bubbles forming a very even surface, the lacing is a broad sheet, no streaks, head lasts well enough before becoming a thin coating across the surface. The liquid is a deep brown with yellowish rims, lots of particulate floating inside, still you can see the fat bubbles with ease. The nose is sweet, highlighting cola, cocoa, malted milk balls, vanilla and green apple to peach and cherry fruit scents, perhaps bready but not very yeasty and no citrus nor herbal/earthy notes. Full-bodied and lays thickly on the tongue, the carbonation adds initial prickle and then little much thereafter. Equally sweet here with chocolate, caramel, cola flavors, kind of like drinking an alcoholic Dr. Pepper. The fruit here more cherry to red berry in nature. Maybe, just maybe a little minerally earthiness at the end where it is also on the dry side. This beer provides pleasure, it simply leaves you a bit confused as to what its goal is.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.72/5  rDev -1.1%

Short story: dark saison that's not particularly roasty; somewhat smoky with a dry peppery finish. Depending on age and temperature you may get a decent amount of phenolics, vague burnt plastic and band aids. Some bananas, cloves, prunes, raisins. Nice looking beer with a custardy, creamy head that has strong retention.

Decent beer but I can't imagine many drinkers will be going back to the well too often for this one. The body is medium and the carbonation dances a fine line between lovely and smooth, feel overall is pleasant and creamy and easy to drink. Better than many "black saisons" on the market these days but still, this wouldn't be a staple in my fridge.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.25/5  rDev +13%

Bottled in December 2011.

A- Pitch-black liquid with trickles of carbonation. Light but frothy 3-4 fingers of head and streaks of lace. 4.25

S- Sweet malt and dark fruit. Very faint aromas. 3

T- Licorice notes, dark fruit and floral yeast. Sweet malt flavor is heavy on the finish with a slight caramel, almost molasses flavor. 4.25

M- Effervescent throughout, with a smooth, creamy body. It's pleasantly sweet and I don't detect any bitterness. 4.25

This aged very well. It drank smoothly and retained a good amount of flavor. 4.25

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Pepe Nero from Goose Island Beer Co.
85 out of 100 based on 496 ratings.