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Pepe Nero - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Pepe NeroPepe Nero

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,594 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,594
Reviews: 479
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 11.76%
Wants: 36
Gots: 230 | 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: 1,594 | Reviews: 479 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DocDownUnder
5/5  rDev +33.7%

DocDownUnder, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of MrTopher
3.43/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bottle of this for the wife, and she was kind of enough to share a little with me.

A – Nice chestnut color maybe closer to a dark roasted coffee color, nice little light brown head than has some decent retention. But leaves little lacing.

S – Dark fruits, some banana and some interesting yeast notes.

T – Similar to the nose, there are some dark fruits, some bananas, and then the yeast. The malt adds a little roast flavor. Interesting balanced of roast and yeast.

M – Medium and decent carbonation.

O – Worth trying once, would I buy it again, I doubt it. Surprised that it made the Draft top 25 of 2011 list, but also this could an introduction of the “newest” style, black saison.

MrTopher, Nov 13, 2011
Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: 1" light brown head that left a nice lacing over cola coloured liquid.

S: Yeast and malt.

T: Malt, raisins, figs and yeast. Seemed more like a dubbel than a saison to me...

M: Medium viscosity and a high level of fine carbonation.

O: An enjoyable interpretation of a Belgian, although I do prefer Unibroue's offerings.

DaftCaskBC, Nov 13, 2011
Photo of rlee1390
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Deep brown, clearish, looks black in the glass, one finger tan head but it goes flat after a while.

S-Dark, fruits, raisins, plums.

T-Similar to the nose, sweet, lots of dark fruits, raisins, plums, slight bitterness, some cinnamon/spice flavors as well.

M-Light bodied, very carbonated but the carbonation dies down as time passes.

O-Darker than I expected for a Saison but still tasty. They say you can age it for up to five years and now I'm kinda curious what that would end up like.

rlee1390, Nov 13, 2011
Photo of OleJohnnieAle
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Looks like I just poured some cokle in my glass. Rich tan head.

S- Nothing overpouring, You really need to get your nose close in order to detect what is going on. Slight roast but more sweet scents, hard to detect as it is very faint.

T- WOW, taste is much more prevalent than the scent. A sweet beer which I was not expecting from such a dark beer. Sweet start and a peppery spicyness to finish.

M- Smooth and very light for such a dark body.

O- For as dark of beer as this was, I personally was not too sure on it but WOW, I was suprised with the taste. Great sweet and light flavor. I wish I could have smelt that, I am thinking of picking up a couple more bottles to cellar, has anyone else aged this?

Serving type: bottle

OleJohnnieAle, Nov 07, 2011
Photo of TCgoalie
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours very dark with a foamy off-white head that lingers. It is pretty much black and can't been seen through when held up to the light.

Notes of coffee, chocolate, candy, and brown sugar in the smell.

A blend of coffee, dark malts, and candy come through in the taste. I'm not getting much of the peppercorns but they may exist in a way that I am not detecting.

There is a lot of bite and carbonation in the feel that seems to take away from the flavors. Other than that, it feels medium in the mouth.

This is an interesting take on a saison with the most noticeable difference being the dark characteristics. It is ok but a bit overpriced in my opinion.

TCgoalie, Nov 06, 2011
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a black color ale with a medium brown foamy head with average retention and light lacing. Aroma of light spicy yeast notes with some Belgian malt with light notes of spices. Taste is an interesting mix between some solid Belgian rustic malt notes with some peppery notes and some spicy yeast. Body is about average with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very solid offering with an interesting mix between the rye malt and the spicy yeast strain.

Phyl21ca, Nov 04, 2011
Photo of wisrarebeer
3.08/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled on 7 January 2011.

A: black, opaque, with dense creamy tan head
S: mild to medium nose, more spritzy carbonation than anything, slight roasted malt evident
T: decent black saison, definite bubblegum and yeast taste, not as clean as I'd like, somewhat metallic-sharp taste in body, almost reminds me of an average tasting extract homebrew
M: medium bodied, good roasted malt but sharp, metallic bitter finish that makes it slightly unbalanced in taste
O: not what I'd expect from Goose Island for balance and representation of the style

wisrarebeer, Nov 04, 2011
Photo of trevorjn06
3.45/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottled 3/4/11
Pours a dark mahogany/brown with a large, tan head. Head persists and leaves some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is light roasted malts, some sweetness, light bubblegum, a hint of pepper, some alcohol.

Taste is sweet upfront with esters (fruity, bubblegum), light roast flavors and light green pepper. Midway through some hop bitterness shows ap and more roast is noticeable. The finish leaves some acidic bite, very light malt/roast and a hint of black pepper on the tongue. Dry finish.

Mouthfeel is medium/light bodied with medium/high carbonation. Some astringency and bite.

Overall a pretty blah beer, a few good things going for it but it doesn't come together to make anything interesting.

trevorjn06, Nov 01, 2011
Photo of gopens44
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Incredibly and surprisingly dark with a big tan head with excellent lacing and good duration.

S - Good but a little one dimensional. Belgian yeast overpowers most anything else.

T - There is a certain smoky quality at first that unfolds into a sweetness that holds the Belgian yeast quality before it rolls into a more bitter and slightly medicinal taste.

M - Highly carbonated and fairly thin with a good amount of bitterness hanging on the tongue.

O - I haven't had a ton of experience with the style, but it comes across to me as a fairly underdeveloped dubbel

gopens44, Oct 29, 2011
Photo of iDrinknewglarus
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark brown, which is very unusual to the saison style. Abundant light tan head that leaves alright lacing. Strange, but beautiful and mysterious.

S: Definite belgium yeast with some funk. There is a coffee like scent too. Spicy. Lemon zest and earthy hops.

T: It's got those classic belgium ale qualities up front, but then it turns dark on you and you get coffee and dark chocolate. There is some lingering spice in the aftertaste. Kind of like peppered chocolate.

M: Light and with lots of small bubbled carbonation. It kind of explodes and fills your mouth as you swallow. Slightly creamy as well.

Overall this was a very unusual, but quite well executed saison. It was decently complex and the true flavor comes out in the aftertaste, I would say. It is just a tad flat (flavorwise) in the beginning. The bottle I reviewed was aged for 6 months.

iDrinknewglarus, Oct 25, 2011
Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearancec: The coffee colored liquid pours out and is topped by a massive beige head; the retention is impressive as is the lacing - looks like a true Belgian

Smell: Roasty malt elements along with hints of hazelnuts and the farmhouse

Taste: Pumpernickel bread and hazelnuts, up front, with a quick shift in an herbal Farmhouse direction; by mid-palate, the peppercorns add a bit of hotness; while the Saaz hops add a grassy impact, the peppercorns mask some of the hop elements; a bit of coffee appears in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with spritzy carbonation

Overall: A most interesting beer; the flavor palatte comes at you from all directions

brentk56, Oct 19, 2011
Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3.6/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours a reddish, dark amber and settles into an almost opaque tint. The head is an off-white color and shimmers like it's littered with crystals. It also swells like a storm cloud to the point of overflowing, a prominent trait in very bubbly Belgians.

S: Smells similar to the Matilda in that there are lingering peach and apricot fruits with a spicy, nutmeg spicyness, but this one is accompanied by a darker malt aroma, perhaps some dark crystal or even chocolate malts.

T/M: The dark undertones become immediately apparent in the taste; chocolate, or even roasted barley, malts seize the tongue up front along with a medium to high amount of bubbles. Hints of white grape, plum and coffee bring up the rear, unexpectedly.

There's not much Belgian here after all; this is closer to a porter than a candi sugar endowed brew. Not that it's bad, but it's more of a hybrid. Still a good beer, I'd just rather have another Matilda.


TheBeerAlmanac, Oct 13, 2011
Photo of MattyG85
4.45/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. 2011 bottle. Bottled on 02/24/11.

Appearance: Very dark drown and almost totally black. Pour erupts into a huge six finger tan head that settles into a smaller thick layer. Lots of lacing.

Smell: Belgian yeast with a lot of peppers. Some roasted malts and a solid presence of citrus fruits including pineapple, peach, and tangerine. Also some hints of chocolate and coffee. Quite complex and interesting.

Taste: Starts like a Saison with lots of Belgian yeast and peppercorn. A strong presence of citrus follows with hints of orange, pineapple, pear, peach, and tangerine. The finish is very roasty like a porter with dark malts, chocolate, and coffee. Everything comes together very well.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium to high level of carbonation. Creamy, smooth, and slightly dry.

Overall: A very complex and interesting take on a Saison. Very tasty.

MattyG85, Oct 12, 2011
Photo of smcolw
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark brown color, but some light passes. I'm impressed with several streams of bubbles. The head is modest but very dense and lasting. Leaves a blanket of lace after each sip.

The strongest smell comes from the Belgian style yeast. In the background: dark chocolate, alcohol, and paprika. Overall, quite mild.

The flavor is closer to a Saison than the smell. There's some earthiness. The body is thin and the carbonation is very high--the only true distraction. The swallow features the true farmhouse sour bite. The beer doesn't look like a Saison, but it surely tastes like it.

smcolw, Oct 10, 2011
Photo of UnionMade
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle dated on the label "03/04/11 2023". This label is so stately, and absolutely gorgeous. Presentation-wise, this would fit right in at a four star restaurant.
The bottle opens with a loud hiss and, upon pouring, a khaki head erupts in the glass. There's about an inch of beer, and foam cascading out of the tulip glass I poured this into. The dogs got a little treat licking the spilled beer off the kitchen floor. The froth seems to stop spazzing out after the initial surge, and pours normally afterwards. I managed to fill my glass after about ten minutes. Attractive dark brown color, with about a centimeter of foam that stays atop the beer for quite a while. The head never breaks a solid coating while I take down the bomber, and laces pretty nicely in thick globs. I just wish the foot of the glass wasn't entirely sticky. Boo hoo.
The initial scent is mainly a belgian yeast sweet/spiciness. Phenols are the dominant aroma. I'm not very familiar with the smell of peppercorn on its own, but there is a well-presented peppery note here. Dusty coffee, or something like carob, from the malt.
The flavor opens with sweet chocolately malt straight away. Not much bittersweetness from the roasted malt. It comes across more like powdered cocoa or carob. Sweeter overall, negligible hops, with a lot of woody, oaken flavor and farmhouse yeast character. Is this barrel aged? There's a good bit of that oaky vanilla barrel-aged thing going on, but not enough to for me to be sure this spent any time on wood. Is this peppercorn? All i know about a peppercorn is it's that awful little black thing I accidentally bite into sometimes when my wife makes chicken soup, and my mouth becomes unhappy. I've learned to avoid them. Back to the beer... Pretty dry. Not as much pepper as in the nose, but there's a bit tucked away with spicy, plastic-like phenols in the finish. Since I don't know peppercorn that well, I'm unsure how it presents itself here. Lots of powdery chocolate, oak and phenolic flavors. Feels earthy overall. It's a tasty combination. Unfortunately, I feel like the body is a touch thin, similar to a dry Irish stout, and the carbonation rushes things along too quickly. I think about half the carbonation level would be enough.
I was really in the mood for belgian beer and dark malt, so this fit the bill. I'm not sure if I'd go for it again, but I'm glad I tried it.

UnionMade, Oct 06, 2011
Photo of Fatehunter
3.7/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Bomber
Poured into a Brugse Zot glass. Two thick fingers of tan head. Dark brown, almost black color.
Ripe fruit on the nose; almost overripe peach or nectarine.
Balanced taste at first, moves to malty in the middle to end. There is something spicy at the very end, probably the peppercorns. But they come across very subtle.
Starts soft on the mouth, moves to crisp and bubbly at the end.
Overall good to go. Nothing weird, just a great drinking beer.

Fatehunter, Oct 04, 2011
Photo of TippySelenoid
4.33/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip.

It pours an almost black dark brown witha bit of cream coplored head that quickly dissolves into a thin lace.

It smells super earthy. There is a lot of yeast and some very confident floral aromas.

It has a lot of wood flavors from the peppercorns. It's also got a lot of floral and earthy flavors from its saison roots. It's a bit roasty but not significantly.

Its got a crisp mouthfeel with a medium body.

I freaking love this beer. It's one of my new favorites. Its earthniess and woodiness work wonderfully together. This beer is remarkable.

TippySelenoid, Oct 04, 2011
Photo of pokesbeerdude
2.88/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle from Supermarket Liquors in Fort Collins, CO around $6 IIRC. Into an old school NB Globe. Batch from 03/04/11 bottle #1902.

A: Pours a nice cola color, definitely dark for a saisAon, way dark, light tan colored head about an inch that quickly recedes to a cap of bubbles that sticks around nicely. A few spots of lacing, but nothing remarkable. Pretty interesting. Looks a lot like a porter though?

S: Smell is definitely a saison though. Strong yeast esters, fruity and slightly funky, but definitely not a bret esque funk, just a nice saison yeast profile. As the color would lead on, there are some slight notes of coffee and roasted barley.

T: An interesting mix of coffee and fruity funky yeast esters. A beer with an identity crisis from the first taste. Porter and saison, strong roasted barley mixes with some strong yeast characters. Slight bit of bitterness on the finish with a lot of roasted malt. I just don't know what to think here, over attenuated porter or roasty saison? Just really not my bag.

M: Dry finish, thin body, a touch strong on the carbonation but it works alright.

O: Meh, just doesn't do anything for me. Too many flavors that I like to see at the opposite end of the spectrum, not mixed together. I could see how people would like it (my girlfriend likes it), but this just isn't my thing. I understand the gray areas and the Belgian concept of style, and I appreciate it, however taking this approach to it in this situation does not work for me.

pokesbeerdude, Sep 30, 2011
Photo of TheHoppiest
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Goose Island labels this as a "Belgian Style Ale". However, tilt the bottle sideways, and you'll see they describe it as a "Belgian style farmhouse ale brewed with peppercorns". Bottled on January 3, 2011, the brewer claims it will cellar for up to five years. Rather that test that assertion, I decided instead to give it a try tonight.

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass, I'm immediately struck by how dark this beer is. This ale is dark, like porter-dark. Almost impenetrable, there are ruby glints as you hold this up to the light. A three finger tan head comprised of tiny bubbles threatened to overflow the glass before settling down to a 1/8" head.

Plenty of cocoa funk in here; malty in aroma, with coffee, herbs, and sweet fruit, there's a lot going on in the nose. One smell that does not come through is the smell of the peppercorns mentioned on the label.

Starts sweet, almost like a port, before opening up to hints of roasted coffee and cocoa nibs. Mid-way through the sip the Belgian yeast makes its presence known, with hints of cherry and raspberry, before ending with a bare minimum of spice and bitter.

Much lighter in body than you would think, this is a light to medium bodied beer, that is quite smooth in feel with a sweet, dry and slightly spicy finish.

Tasty and enjoyable, this is simply unlike any farmhouse ale I've had before. Not much spice or herbiness to it, it reminds me more of a Belgian style porter with hints of dark fruit. Whatever label you want to give this though, I'd recommend grabbing one, warming it to a comfortable 50 degrees, and giving it a pour in your favorite chalice, goblet or tulip glass.

TheHoppiest, Sep 29, 2011
Photo of Forb
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the Great Nebraska BeerFest 2011 - Papillion, NE

Appearance: Pitch black body for a saison is a bit unexpected with a mild tan head.

Smell: Roasted malts, smoky aura, bready, and peppr.

Taste: Dark fruits, brown sugar, roasted malt.

Mouthfeel: Creamy body with a mild carbonation.

Overall: A unique and interesting beer.

Forb, Sep 27, 2011
Photo of Zorro
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A mild shock when I poured this, didn't expect a BLACK Saison!

Black colored beer that is really just extremely dark brown if you hold it up to a strong light. Small tan colored head.

Smells of patent malt and a little smoke. Light floral scents. Very lightly scented for a Saison.

Starts out fruity and slightly sweet with a little smoke in the aftertaste. The taste is best summed up as flowers and fruit with a light smoking. This has a strong peach flavor. Fainter flavors of coffee, chocolate and carrot.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall good but a little strange. Black Saison? It IS creative but I'm not so sure the Saison needs patent malt added to it.

Zorro, Sep 26, 2011
Photo of notchucknorris
4.03/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pretty much black in color with a 2 finger foamy tan head that had great retention and nice lacing down the glass.

S: At first, I got some bread, yeast, white pepper, roasted malt and coffee, but the more it warms, the more a sort of hef smell starts to emerge. Dark fruit and banana.

T: Dark fruit and yeast alongside roasted malt. A slight hint of chocolate and plum. I never picked up any pepper flavor and the beer doesn't really remind me of a saison in any way (almost like a quad-lite), but I like this beer, whatever style it may actually be.

notchucknorris, Sep 21, 2011
Photo of Tone
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a black color. 1/4 inch head of an off-tan color. Great retention and decent lacing. Smells of roasted malt, sweet malt, alcohol, yeast, and dark/tart citrus. Fits the style of a Saison / Farmhouse Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of slight alcohol, sweet malt, yeast, tart citrus, slight liquor, and slight roasted malt. Overall, a much different saison, than I am used too. Never had such a dark roasted saison, but it was still really good.

Tone, Sep 21, 2011
Photo of yemenmocha
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown, almost black , with enormous head on initial pour. Nose is surprisingly light with figs, dark fruit, and cocoa powder. Black pepper is all over the palate, especially once it warms considerably. Dark fruits again, some sourness, and plenty of carbonation. Surprisingly light for the dark appearance.

yemenmocha, Sep 20, 2011
Pepe Nero from Goose Island Beer Co.
85 out of 100 based on 1,594 ratings.