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Pepe Nero - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Pepe NeroPepe Nero

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,497 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,497
Reviews: 470
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 11.76%
Wants: 35
Gots: 209 | FT: 7
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,497 | Reviews: 470 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of scruffwhor


4/5  rDev +7%

Black with brown highlights underneath a dark tan head of three fingers after the pour. The head retains to a thick foam throughout my 22 oz. bomber.

The aroma is sweet malt with white and green crushed peppercorns. Toasted pimpernickel bread, a little dry vanilla powder, and some pepercorns add a little spice to the nose.

The taste has malt and some peppercorns that don't play as integral a roll as I would have expected. I get simple, heavily toasted, and medium roasted bread grains with white peppercorns. Pretty pleasant and enjoyable brew. Nothing extravagant, but something I would buy again.

05-17-2011 02:52:05 | More by scruffwhor
Photo of dogfishandi

New York

4.22/5  rDev +12.8%

22oz bottle a little above fridge temp poured into a snifter. bottled on 1/07/11.

pours out nearly pitch black, reveals a bit of ruby brown on the edges in the light. big thick frothy biege head. some very nice retention and lace. looks almost like an imperial stout.

in the aroma, some lightly roasted, toasted malts mix with a phenolic belgian yeast and some dark fruits. a bit of nuts, and a hint of pepper.

i didnt think too highly of the taste, but as it warmed, it really took on some nice flavors and won me over. a very nice balance of caramely, slightly roasted malts, cocoa, peppercorns, dark fruits, plums, and a phenolicy yeast. the pepper and creamy malts really take hold of your palate in the finish.

light mouthfeel, very creamy on the palate, lingering spice on the tongue. a bright carbonation that settles quickly. easy to drink. fairly dry finish, the pepper adds to this. the slightest bit of acidity is noticable.

overall, a very interesting take on this popular style. the peppercorn and dark malts go with the saison yeast very well. i can see homebrewing something like this in the near future...

05-16-2011 22:21:17 | More by dogfishandi
Photo of rfgetz

New Jersey

3.78/5  rDev +1.1%

Pours a dark bown with mahogany highlights, decent cap of bubbly khaki head, decent lacing. Scent contains notes of dark yeasty bread, carmelized sugars, touch of roast with dark fruit and peppery spice. Taste follows scent but with a musty and earthyness (a saison/farmhous i see). Medium bodied, quite bubbly and prickly. A nice beer which benefits from the darker malts and the earthyness brought about from the yeasts.

05-16-2011 13:25:17 | More by rfgetz
Photo of corby112


3.98/5  rDev +6.4%

12oz, 2011 vintage received as an extra in a recent trade with lurchingbeast. Thanks again Frank!

Pours a very dark chestnut brown color that appears near black in the glass and completely opaque with a one finger frothy yellowish beige head. Very good retention, only slowly fading into a lasting cap that streaks the glass with rings and splotches of soapy lacing.

Slightly earthy vinous aroma with an interesting combination of roasted malt, dark fruit and zesty spice. A touch funky with a slight vegetal character as well as hints of grape, raisin and plum. Maybe some candy sugar along with some zesty pepper. A bit of chocolate and chili in the nose.

Medium bodied and a bit creamier/fuller than expected with some tight carbonation up front that fades toward the end of the swallow. The spicy/peppery presence from the aroma is very powerful and dominates the flavor, lingering throughout into a spicy dry finish. In addition to black pepper I'm picking up some chilies that give the beer some heat in the finish. It's also slightly earthy and funky but not as much as the aroma suggests. A good balance of roasted malt, dark fruit and spice. Hints of roasted chocolate, toast, grape, fig, raisin and plum. Slightly sweet and vinous but the dark malt notes and spicy peppers even things out. It could be to heavy on the spice for some but I enjoyed it.

05-15-2011 07:49:33 | More by corby112
Photo of jlindros


3.98/5  rDev +6.4%

Pours a huge 2+ finger darker colored head fairly fluffy with a bit of lacing, over almost black colored beer and no real light coming through.

Nose has a nice combination of a Belgian saison, light straw and golden malts for the lighter side, but a bit of darker crystal and hint of black roasty malts for the darker side, some light Belgian yeast fruit, with that comes a slight hint of mild hops.

Taste starts a bit creamy actually, some malts with a bit of crystal and darker malts, then with some light straw and light golden malts, a bit of a Belgian malt taste, some fruits from the Belgian yeast, a light barnyard funk barely comes through and gives it just a touch of tartness with the funk, some spicy dry saison yeast as well, a touch of cocoa powder, and some light earthy grassy mild hops. It gets a bit bitter on the finish as it dries out quite a bit, a bit of lingering malt flavors, and bit of creamy malts and touch of fruit all lingering a bit.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied, slightly creamy, and decent but a bit lower carbonation, low for a saison at least.

Overall really interesting, pretty good, nice saison flavors blended with a bit of darker malts, touch of cocoa and some creamy malts, bit of funk and tartness, and fruits, nice.

05-14-2011 23:24:44 | More by jlindros
Photo of socon67

New York

4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

A - Pours dark brown with a red hue on the foamy head.

S - Smells of belgian yeast, and dark fruit. Has a little of that hay smell comsistnet with saisons.

T - Has a very interesting taste. The dark malt flavors combine with the belgian yeast which then ends in a peppery spicyness. Very cool, and like no other saison I can recall.

M - Easy drinker, moderate body, and minimal carbonation. Hangs on the tongue with the spice.

O - Can't remember a dark saison I've had befroe this. Definitely worth trying again.

05-14-2011 22:58:37 | More by socon67
Photo of WesWes

New York

4.33/5  rDev +15.8%

The beer pours a pitch black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has your typical saison peppery scent along with a touch of roasted character and Belgian yeast spiciness. It's quite dry and earthy with a pretty solid Belgian yeast nose. The taste is outstanding! It has such a complex array of flavors. It has a really nice roasted/chocolate malt character that does mute some of the traditional Saison character, but it also seems to enhance the experience. It still packs in a serious amount of esters as well as a bone dry finish. The black-ness really adds a layer of depth that contributes to a more well rounded malt character. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a very good beer. I haven't had much experience with this style, but I sure do enjoy this one.

05-14-2011 21:38:45 | More by WesWes
Photo of Spica66


3.95/5  rDev +5.6%

Enjoyed this with gwuilliums at camp while rejuvenating St. Francis.

A: Dark brown/red pour. Good head formation and retention. Some lacing.

S: Medium dark fruit and some definite Belgian yeast funkiness. Slightly spicy as it warmed up.

T: Figgy fruit and very nice caramel malt with yeast funk. Reminds me of a Unibroue brew or two that I have had. The finish gives a little pepper mixed in.

M: A little lighter than I expected, but still a good, medium-bodied brew with decent carbonation.

O: Very easy to drink with lots of flavor. I would buy this for a treat if I find it again.

05-12-2011 23:57:31 | More by Spica66
Photo of BretSikkink


3.85/5  rDev +2.9%

Quite dark in color, with a whipped tan head of more than an inch. The head lifts high up in the glass and sticks with remarkable aplomb. Earthy nose with peppercorn up front. Otherwise fairly nondescript...slightly spicy yeast byproduct. Could be more expressive.

The flavor is a little bit roasted, a little bit pepper, and plenty of standard issue saison. Slightly woody, with lemongrass and earth notes. The roast is well restrained but noticeable, sweetness never drops in, and bitterness is the order of the day. Dry, medium bodied, and well carbonated. Interesting beer, I enjoyed this bottle.

05-12-2011 04:21:57 | More by BretSikkink
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev +9.1%

Pepe Nero is a saison-style beer with enough dark malts added to turn it black - hence, it being referred to as a "black saison". Of course, the black part is plainly evident; the beer is opaque and darker even than a few stouts I could name. Its head reached Belgian heights but fizzled out pretty fast. Yeast sediment garnishes the glass on the second pour.

There's a good chunk of Belgium contained in this aroma; a blend of farmhouse funk and fruit orchard, this highly aromatic bouquet has a prevailing spiciness that rattles the nostrils like Plinko discs ricocheting peg to peg down the board. It eventually lands in the olfactory slot marked "phenolic", meaning a zesty, peppery by-product of fermentation.

Giving this beer's ingredients, however, that piquancy may actually stem from a combination of, not only the bona fide farmhouse yeast, but also Saaz hops, rye malts and, oh, actual black peppercorns! It's an interesting profile, to say the least. The mouthfeel is dominated by the pepper spice, but also savory, herbaceous notes and a faint citrusy tang too.

Colour has been added without astringency; the black malt contributes nothing like the burnt or roasty flavours you'd find in a stout. In fact, it's the rye malt that really shines through (more so even than the peppercorns). A conspicuous rye flavour is appreciated, one that is very wholesome and nutty, and distinct from what you find in an all-barley malt beer.

Goose Island is a brewery that rather than embrace traditional style guidelines, they hold them at arm’s length. Pepe Nero is a very unique creation that has elements of a Belgian Saison, a German Roggenbier and also the other few North American ales I've had that were brewed with peppercorns. Labeling it any style is out of context; it's an exceptionally well-crafted, ingeniously thought out, and delightfully drinkable ale. That's all there is to it.

05-10-2011 18:43:38 | More by biegaman
Photo of JizackFH

New York

3.98/5  rDev +6.4%

A - This beer pours a slightly hazy dark brown color. It has a small short-lived light tan head. It leaves just a little bit of lacing on the glass.

S - It smells sweet and a bit spicy. There are notes of dark fruits, black pepper, belgian yeast, and a bit of barnyard funk.

T - It has nice light fruity flavors such as banana, fig, and green apple. There is a big black pepper presence that shines through and holds onto the palate. There is also some clove, belgian yeast, caramel, and barnyard hay and grass in the background throughout. The finish has some lingering pepper, funk, and earthiness.

M - This has a medium body with lighter carbonation. It goes down smooth and is quite refreshing. There is some spiciness as well as some lingering earthiness.

O - This has good drinkability. I was a little worried about this when I saw how dark it was, but it proved to be nice and refreshing. Overall, I thought this was a very nice saison, and I recommend giving it a try. I would buy this again.

05-09-2011 10:51:25 | More by JizackFH
Photo of EgadBananas


3.33/5  rDev -11%

Dark brown. Head was a very light brown, creamy, and lingering. Left a nice froth down the glass.

Aroma was malty, spicy, bready, sweet, and overall unique.

Taste was malty sweet, yeasty, bready, caramel, nutty.

Light-medium bodied, low carbonation, creamy.

Overall, not bad, but I'd prefer a normal saison over this. Interesting enough though.

05-07-2011 05:15:35 | More by EgadBananas
Photo of BeerNemesis

New York

4.22/5  rDev +12.8%

Pepe Nero | 650 ml. | 6.0% ABV | 2011 vintage

Brewer: Goose Island Beer Co.
Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
Glass: Duvel tulip

Black body with mahogany streaks, and a sparkling khaki head that refuses to settle down.

It has that rare smell that is as full and alluring as you'd hope it would taste: banana bread, roasted chestnuts, cloves, hints of chocolate, estery and phenolic notes.

Peppery hops and earthy malts open up first. Then the mid-sip is dominated by pear-flavored fruitiness, cloves, and hints of chocolate. The finish is very clean, with lingering bits of pepper and chalky dark chocolate.

It has a very smooth feel even though the carbonation is quite prickly. Medium-bodied.

It's very well balanced between the sugary malts and fruity notes of pears and apples. The dark malts give it a fuller and more flavorful character than most saisons, although incorporating them also reduces the peppiness and refreshment of a traditional saison.

Would I get it again?:
Yes. It's a solid beer, and though not the pinacle of its style, a welcome alternative to traditional saisons.

Bottled: February 25, 2011
Served: May 6, 2011

Price = $8.99 at Whole Foods (NYC)

Additional notes:
- International Bitterness Units: 30
- Malt: Pilsner, Rye, Crystal Rye, Black Malt
- Hops: Pilgrim, Saaz

05-06-2011 20:53:52 | More by BeerNemesis
Photo of Halcyondays


4.08/5  rDev +9.1%

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours black with a medium off-white head, good retention, limited lace.

S: Dark malt, with some big dark fruit, prunes and the requisite peppper.

T: Dark chocolate and molasses, prunes, big character. The peppercorns come in in the finish adding some green and herbal tastes along with their regular flavours.

M: Medium to full-bodied, smooth, creamy, soft to medium carbonation.

O: Just a really good beer, it's at its best over 60F for sure. No matter what is going on with GI and AB, there's no denying this is well made.

05-06-2011 05:30:14 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +7%

22 oz bottle, thanks to bobsy for bringing this one over.

Pours a clear dark reddish black, dark away from the light, ruby hues, thick light tan head forms and slowly settles to a medium ring around the glass, thin layer, some lace spots stick, looks neat.

Smell is nice, sweet and malty, lightly sugary, some caramel, a lot of biscuit and toast, lightly funky, orange peel, a touch of spice, lightly peppery, some horse blanket, a bit of lemon and wood, not bad, very faint roast/chocolate.

Taste is similar, sweet up front, a bit of fruity sweetness, strawberries and cherries, sweet orange peel, lightly spiced, a bit of oak, biscuit, light chocolate and a bit of funk in the finish, a bit peppery.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation. A nice black saison, like mine but less funky. Good stuff, thanks Rob!

05-04-2011 16:43:45 | More by Viggo
Photo of GilGarp


3.65/5  rDev -2.4%

2011 vintage. Bottled 3/4/11 to be specific.

Bomber served cellar temperature into an etched-bottom New Belgium goblet.

Pepe Nero is not strictly nero in color, actually a very dark brown with good clarity seen on the pour. It forms a nice thick crown of head that settles very slowly. Heavy lace is left all the way down the glass.

The aroma of this beer doesn't say farmhouse or saison as stated on the bottle. It's more of a Belgian dark ale with nice rich malt character and slight roasty quality. The yeast imparts a pleasant clove-y spice.

The taste makes the designation start to make more sense. Strong black pepper, smoke, and roasted malts. Very little sweetness and almost completely dominated by the strong flavors mentioned above. It could use a little more balance.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated. Alcohol is subtle but spices are not.

Overall a beer that, from first impressions, seems like a winner. However, with each sip, my mouth grows more tired of the heavy-handed pepper. Worth a try if you're into such beers.

05-04-2011 02:11:54 | More by GilGarp
Photo of 100floods


3.63/5  rDev -2.9%

Very dark for a saison. Molases brown with a smokey head. Notes of yeast, a little fruit, a little bit of pepper, brown sugar. Dry, but balanced. First sip yields to a burst of sweet, fruit flavored bubble gum and then quickly turns over to a dry finish with a good amount of pepper. The start and finish of each sip are very contrasting. The sweetness of the malt carries over towards the back end of the beer and covers up part of the pepper flavor, which seems to work to this beer's advantage. The pepper adds a nice dynamic, perhaps even better if this were a paler beer (it still, however, works nicely in the nose).

05-03-2011 21:42:30 | More by 100floods
Photo of Sam21


3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

22oz bottle purchased for ~$7. Bottled in January of 2011.

Appearance – Very dark brown body with a light brown head. Retention is lacking. Good lacing.

Smell – The nose is both nutty, roasty, and sweet showing hints of chocolate, wheat bread, and bubblegum.

Taste – Sweet up front with a dry earthy finish. Up front you get a mixture of black licorice, dark bitter chocolate, and bubblegum. The characteristics from the yeast are subtle and not very pronounced. The roasted notes are present, but somewhat subtle in comparison to the earthy qualities. Finish is a mixture of herbs, earthy bitterness and black pepper. Decent lingering notes of earthy roasted malts and a bit of smoke.

Mouthfeel – Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Very soft and not slick in the least bit.

Drinkability – A black saison of sorts. An interesting beer with nice earthy, roasty, and herbal characteristics. Unique and a decent beer.

05-03-2011 00:50:31 | More by Sam21
Photo of NicholasCasber


4.05/5  rDev +8.3%

A - This beer poured dark but nothing out of the ordinary. Definitely something that I'd expect from a saison. The head was very minimal, however I didn't really have a straight pour.

S - Smelled of brown sugar and citrus.

T - The brown sugar citrus smell continued on through the taste, however, the aftertaste was surprisingly mellow for me.

M - Good bodied, and not too watery.

O - Overall, a good beer and worth the try!


05-02-2011 00:52:41 | More by NicholasCasber
Photo of ocelot2500


3.9/5  rDev +4.3%

Pours a deep mahogany color with a fizzy, light brown head that leaves a nice sheet of lacing.

Smells of toasted bread, yeast spice, and a touch of fruit.

Tastes of the toasted malts with some yeast additions. Malts have a slightly burnt bread feel with some fruit notes of apple and pear. Yeast adds a peppery spice to it. A bit of grassy hops add in the end and finishes dry.

Mouthfeel is medium with a crisp amount of carbonation.

Overall, one of these new fangled black saisons that I am not familiar with, but this leaves a good impression.

05-01-2011 00:20:42 | More by ocelot2500
Photo of emmasdad


3.35/5  rDev -10.4%

22 ounce bottle, bottled 3/4/2011. Poured a dark brown color with a largeish light brown head. Aromas of roasted malt, bananas and brown sugar, but really none of the promised peppercorns. On the palate, this one is fairly light bodied and tart, with a little funk, roasted malt and spices.

04-30-2011 04:14:34 | More by emmasdad
Photo of krisandajt


3.95/5  rDev +5.6%

Picked up a couple of bottles of this at the NEPA's latest beer split.

Appearance: Poured from the bottle into my Poperings Hommel Bier glass, this brew is a rich, dark brown color. There's a good inch+ worth of dirty-white colored, frothy head. Retention is pretty good, lacing is runny with just a bit of schtick.

Smell: A slightly smoky, roasty, peppery, earthy sort of smell...interesting, not at all what I expected but good nonetheless.

Taste: A peppery bite is the first thing I notice, but there's also some subtle funkiness with an overall sort of dry, yeasty quality. An interesting beer, certainly, but I think it's growing on me.

Mouthfeel: Nice medium body, perhaps a wee bit over-carbonated for my tastes.

Overall (Drinkability): Not what I expected from this beer. The bottle says Belgian Style Ale, the style on BA says Saison. Ignoring labels, the beer is pretty good. It's got a unique array of flavors that I don't come across too often, and they come together nicely. I've got one more bottle of this that I'll enjoy, and I can see myself grabbing another bottle or two if I see it in my travels. Cheers!

04-30-2011 01:34:15 | More by krisandajt
Photo of DaveHS


4.05/5  rDev +8.3%

A-Pepe Nero pours deep mahogany, with a small, creamy tan head that reduces quickly, leaving traces of sticky lacing.

S-The nose is reminiscent of a Belgian Dubbel, with notes of caramel and fig at the forefront. Dried apricot and roasted walnut aromas are noticeable once you take a nice big whiff. The peppercorn is in there somewhere, but doesn’t present itself prominently in the nose.

T/M- On the first sip, black pepper is right up front, providing a bracing sharp flavor that lingers from beginning to end. The flavor profile is, for the most part, typical of any good saison, with moderate amounts of earthy barnyard funk and grassy dryness. The difference is in the details. Touches of old leather, musty wood and smoked pork come through on the tip of the tongue, delivered by bright, peppery carbonation. The finish is marked by a mélange of dried fruit flavors, most notably fig and banana.

O- A great beer for those times when you want something light, but not too light.

04-29-2011 03:22:48 | More by DaveHS
Photo of mactrail


3.8/5  rDev +1.6%

Dry black beer.

Very dark in the snifter. Beautiful head with nice carbonation in the mouth. Not much aroma. Subtle flavors. A faint fruity flavor, like guavas, hint of jam. Lemony and tart. Light body. Roasted malt seems to be main flavor. Hops leave some bitter traces and a slight rasp. Some meaty, funky tastes give it some Belgian character. All the flavors fade.

This would be easy to drink. Interesting without being strange.

04-28-2011 04:52:55 | More by mactrail
Photo of Pellinore1


4/5  rDev +7%

Pours deep, warm brown, producing about a finger of light tan head. As this settles, it leaves just a bit of lacing.

This has that classic yeasty farmhouse aroma, with some nice earthy and spicy notes coming through as well. I quite enjoy the smell of this brew.

The flavor, like the smell, is defined by the yeast. It is just a little funky, with some spice and dark malt adding to the mix.

Light to medium bodied, with a good level of carbonation, the mouthfeel is right on.

Overall, an interesting and enjoyable take on the farmhouse ale. I'd happily have it again.

04-27-2011 01:45:06 | More by Pellinore1
Pepe Nero from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,497 ratings.