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Pepe Nero - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Pepe NeroPepe Nero

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

494 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 494
Hads: 1,731
Avg: 3.76
pDev: 21.54%
Wants: 40
Gots: 305 | FT: 9
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:
Beer added by: adamette on 03-30-2010

Mahogany color, black pepper aroma, roasted malt and spice flavor, creamy body.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 494 | Hads: 1,731
Photo of RaulMondesi
3.46/5  rDev -8%
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.

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Photo of jwhancher
3.37/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.26/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

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Photo of reebtaerG
3.69/5  rDev -1.9%
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

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Photo of fourstringer
3.61/5  rDev -4%
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!


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Photo of babaracas
3.38/5  rDev -10.1%
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.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.62/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.34/5  rDev +15.4%
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.

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Photo of tastybeer
3.86/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

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Photo of a0lbudman
4.13/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

bottled on 1-15-13 Poured into pint glass
A-brown with a mohogany color when you hold it up to a light. Has a large tan head that laces the glass as it goes down
S-some fruit with strong black pepper and some roasted malt
T- it is like a blend of fruit, roasted malt and black pepper that turns into a pepper aftertaste
M-creamy with high carbonation
O- this beer was interesting from the look to the aftertaste

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Photo of brewskifan55
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a snifter

A: Blackish brown with a tan half finger head that dissipates to foam. Thready lacing.

S: Belgian yeast, leather, licorice, lemons and cherries.

T: Wow! Tart, then dark fruits slide in. Black currants, dates, figs, cherries. Honey sweet. Yeasty. Are you sure this isn't a Belgian Dark Ale?

M: Medium to heavy with foamy carbonation.

O: I was expecting citrus and got a dark fruit concoction that bordered on a sour. Different yet delectable. I really like the Goose Island upper crust collection.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.35/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 9/25/13

Note: 12oz bottle apparently from 2011

Appearance: Dark, dark brown, borderline black - pours with a large, creamy, tan head, definitely Belgian inspired - nice head retention, leaves some nice spots of lacing

Smell: Waiter, there is pepper in my beer - peppery yeast and the aroma of black peppercorns - other yeasty aromas, including some clove and banana - some funky, damp, very earthy notes - some pale but mostly roasty, burnt malts - some chocolate, some dirt

Taste: Big pepper notes and some Belgian weirdness - very yeasty, with a lot of pepper, clove, and banana - some dark fruits - very earthy and dirty - big peppercorn notes - some chocolate, roasted malts, and burnt malts

Mouthfeel: On the full side of medium, nice carbonation, smooth, earthy finish

Overall: Pepper, black

Some saisons are peppery. In this beer, they put peppercorns in a peppery beer. It's interesting, but not necessarily great. I'm glad I only have a 12oz bottle.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.82/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle brewed Feb 12, 2013 poured in to teku glass.

A - Dark brown during the pour and black once it settled with a thin layer of light brown head.

S - Roast and chocolate aromas dominate with a wine-like aroma also present. Lighter Belgian yeast, spice and clove notes.

T - Roast and chocolate are dominant with lighter Belgian yeast, peppery spice and clove notes also present. The saison flavours get largely masked behind the roast and chocolate flavours.

M - Medium body. Creamy. Light carbonation.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.59/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle into a glass. It's over one and a half years old, so fingers crossed it's held up.

A: Pours a hazy chestnut color with tons of evident carbonation. The head is a two finger mocha shade. Very airy in texture, it retains itself quite well - fantastically, even. Leave it sitting long enough, and excellent lacing will be left on the glass.

S: A one-two-three punch of caramel, chocolate, and nuts really come through once this warms up. Before that, the aroma mainly consists of bready Belgian yeast and just a touch of black pepper spice. Not really getting how this is even a dark saison - this smells like a Belgian brown ale with some spiciness. Pleasant nonetheless.

T: The flavors seem to reveal more in the way of roasted coffee notes, especially around the midtaste. It opens with bready yeast flavors, developing a faint fruit quality (apples, pears, white grapes) right before the roast takes over. Chocolate, caramel, and sliiight (emphasis on all the i's, it's faint) cherry esters come out on the aftertaste. I'm beginning to wonder if the pepper notes have died down with age, because I'm not picking them up on the flavor profile. Overall, there's a modicum of complexity, but none of the funk notes I like in my saisons.

M: Wow, this is strongly carbonated. It can be a bit much at times, but it also has the positive effect of drying the beer out very well. The lightness of body helps all that carbonation come through even more vividly. Okay, now I'm more inclined to believe that this is a dark saison - the mouthfeel is (nearly) dead on, helping to accentuate the coffee notes quite well.

O: Dark saison or really dry, fizzy Belgian brown? I don't care, this is damn good. It lacks some of the fine-tuned sophistication to make it a true great of the style (...whatever that style is), but considering I got this on clearance, that's really a moot point. Put it this way, I'd gladly get this again at regular price.

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Photo of alaimoa
3.3/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: black color with big light brown head leaving brownish lacing on the glass
S: earthy, nutty, spicy with faint orange and lemon peel
T: coffee/caramel malt forward, toasted nuts with a slight peppery spiciness. Hop bitterness lingers and my first sip had a bit of metallic flavor which doesn't kill the rating but slightly unpleasant
M: well carbonated slightly thin mouthfeel in a watery way and a lingering bitterness
Overall it's decent, didn't love or hate it. Likely wouldn't seek it out as a must buy but wouldn't be sad if I had it at a restaurant

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Photo of rand
2.83/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

From 22 oz bomber to oversized wine glass

A: Dark brown in color, approaching black. Apparently there's a lot of carbonation and a medium-to-light body, because the wispy head quickly recedes leaving little lacing, a lot like soda.

S: The nose is unexpectedly nutty and spicy, with a distinct note of molasses. I'm picking up little funk or yeasty esters typical of the style. And the aromas are strangely subdued, it takes a little work to breath in the entire bouquet.

T: The malt-forward flavors bring notes of toasty bread, molasses. The palate dries mid-sip with spices and a slight hop astringency. Oaky, a little metallic. Yeah, metallic, and not in a good way. Toward the end, there a slightly peaty undertone, closing with a strangely short and sweet finish.

M: Light bodied for the style, and over-carbonated. The brew is foaming in my mouth.

A rare miss from one of my favorite Midwest brewers. Not terrible by any means, it's fairly drinkable, but the beer doesn't go anywhere. The label says "Belgian Ale", BA has it tagged as a Saison, but it really just tastes like a unremarkable brown ale with some spicy nuances.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served on-tap at Iron Monkey in Jersey City, NJ

A: Pours a clear but opaque very dark brown (almost black) in color with light amounts of visible carbonation near the surface and some dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a two finger tall foamy sudsy dark tan head that slowly reduces to a large patch of thick film surrounded by some very thin film covering the remainder of the surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of dark malts, saison yeast, and black pepper spiciness.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of dark malts with some light to moderate notes of black pepper and peppercorn spiciness. There is a light, almost subtle flavor of saison yeast. Hints of bitterness are present in the finish and linger for quite a while.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Light amounts of dryness are present.

O: While the peppercorns do not overwhelm the beer, they do reduce the complexity of the flavors and aromas of a saison making a little one note for me. Still an enjoyable beer, the addition of the peppercorns make this one more of a sipper than an easy drinker. I guess I would call this one a Black Saison.

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Photo of bmwats
3.72/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint.

A: Dark brown. Pours a cascading, frothy, brown white head. Settles very slowly. Craters unevenly leaving peaks and valleys and lots of dry sticky residue behind as it does. Some persistent spider web lacing.

S: Sourdough and lemon citrus.

T: Roasted coffee, dark unsweetened chocolate flavored with a slight hint of raspberry.

M: Roasty, and hearty. Very earthy. Slighty bitter finish. Well balanced.

D: Sip and enjoy.

Atmosphere is really nice. Large frothy head, plenty of lacing. Nose is bready with a citrus. Flavor is completely different.... roasted coffee, accentuated with dark chocolate and hints of raspberry. Overall, this is a really good quaff.

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Photo of soju6
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown color with a good tan head that fades to nice lacing.

S: Aroma of roasted malt, dark fruit, some chocolate and spice.

T: Taste of roasted malt, some dark chocolate with dark fruit, spice and just a bit of smoke. Has a mild bitterness and a dry finish.

F: Fairly full body, smooth with a creamy texture. Well balanced with a robust feel to it.

O: Good beer to kick back and relax with.

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Photo of scott451
3.64/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured at cellar temperature into a pint glass. A one finger bubbly light brown head on a very dark brown – almost black. The head soon diminished to a ring. Minor lacing.

Smell of ripe fruit – almost a Belgian Double smell. After a bit the promised pepper reveals (but not in the taste). Ripe fruit again in the taste. Toasted malts and a hint of chocolate (this is a Saison?)

Extremely smooth. Almost velvety. Medium body. Pretty low carbonation. A very nice drink overall. Alcohol is well hidden. Not really a Saison though. More of a cross between a Belgian Strong dark and an English Dark. Nevertheless a couple of my favorite styles so I will go with it.

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Photo of oberon
4.07/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 bottle.I gotta say I have never seen a saison/farmhouse Belgian this dark in color,it's a deep mahogany with a great looking fluffy one and a half finger light beige head atop that spits and billows as settles oh so slowly in my chalice.Aromas of candied sugar and hard toffee,a light peppery spice is detected.Dark fruit and toffee flavors with a smack of pepper in the finish wich I like,dark fruits as required are there.Although the bottle may say farmouse this isn't a farmhouse beer,it's a Belgian dark with peppercorns and it's pretty damn good.

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Photo of chilidog
3.81/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Going off notes, poured into a tulip, it's very dark. Black like with no light thru. The well maintained tan head did lace well with mild carbonation.

Aroma of toasted malts, biscuit with dark jam and nut.

Taste carries that toasty-ness with an almond background. Dark fruit like plum and fig show with a mild hop to balance.

The mouth dries slightly while left with a cold coffee aftertaste.

Overall worth a try. The body is not real heavy so any time of year works well for this dark brew.

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Photo of Groomsy
3.69/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip. Bottled on 02/11/2013.

For a supposed Belgian style ale, Pepe Nero doesn't play its part – it pours a pitch black with a sturdy khaki head, emulating a porter or stout. No light passing through at all with admirable lace left behind. Certainly an unorthodox start, but I like it!

Looks are deceiving, but on the nose, this definitely plays the role of Saison. Big spicy/phenol notes of clove, spice, and a hint of banana. There is a slight bubblegum/band-aid aroma – whether that can be considered defective or not is up to the individual. Per the appearance, there is a roasty, nutty quality – more roasted grain than coffee or chocolate. Definitely a weird one, but even a little one-dimensional.

The flavor is just as intriguing as other aspects of this beer. Most noticeable is the roast quality, slightly nutty and grainy. There's maybe just a hint of the coffee/chocolate flavors typical of roasted malt. Toward the middle of the palate though, the profile shifts drastically: The Saison profile takes over with big flavors of spice, bread, and some earthy/phenolic funk. Flavors of clove and coriander abound with a firm bready foundation are washed away by a yeasty, typical Saison tartness. For all its complexity and intrigue, I can't say whether the beer is really “together”; as I'm drinking it, I feel the front and back of the palate are disjointed. While some unifying dark fruit notes emerge as the beer warms, it still seems “torn.” I commend GI's efforts in making this interesting fusion, and while it tastes good, I don't know if I can say that it works, per se.

The mouthfeel, predictably for a Belgian style, is light and spritzy, but still slightly creamy and dry on the finish with the roast flavors mentioned earlier and maybe just a hint of pipe tobacco. This isn't nearly as puckering as Matilda or Sofie, but it still has some signature Belgian funk on the finish. Fairly drinkable though.

Definitely in its own league, Pepe Nero is polarizing. I think GI had noble intentions in making this beer, and while it has nice flavor, there's note a lot of unity here, and that's what harms its drinkability. Worth checking out, I suppose, if you're feeling on the adventurous side.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark cola brown with two fingers of khaki head. Decent head retention.

Malty nose with notes of brown bread, Belgian chocolate, plum, toasted nuts, moldy lemon, dried grape, black pepper, and a dry saison yeast.

Tastes malty and yeasty. Toasted almond, lemon rind, raisin, dark bread, cardamom, plum, bitter pear, and peppercorn spices. Not super-duper dry, but pretty damn dry. Light hints of both Belgian chocolate and black cherry, but again, very dry. This beer is just shy of an abbey ale. But, not short on complexity.

Has a medium mouthful with a delightfully spicy carbonation that really tingles. The carb probably doesn't really exceed medium, or maybe barely, but it makes all the difference.

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Photo of Samp01
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy chestnut brown with a large long lasting tan head, good lacing. Aroma and Taste of dark roasted malt, dark fruit, molasses, brown sugar and yeast, along with some sweet spices and bitter hops fill the senses. A medium to full body, slightly sticky with good carbonation on the palate. Finish is sweet dark roasted caramel malt, yeast, dark fruit, molasses, some sweet spicy notes and good bitter hops for balance. A very good, flavorful and well balanced brew.

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Pepe Nero from Goose Island Beer Co.
85 out of 100 based on 494 ratings.