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Big John - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Big JohnBig John

Educational use only; do not reuse.

443 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 443
Hads: 1,533
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 20.95%
Wants: 170
Gots: 581 | FT: 42
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: aasher on 03-13-2011

Brewmasters Notes:
Inspired by the epic skyline of Chicago, Goose Island's brewers set out to craft Big John; a tall, bold slugger of a stout that stands out vividly against the little soft beers out there. Epic amounts of roasted malt and an addition of cacoa nibs give Big John a massive chocolate flavor and aroma. With a body as substantial and black as the building to which it pays homage, Big John is sure to inspire a sense of awe with each sip.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 443 | Hads: 1,533
Reviews by GoldenVIKE:
Photo of GoldenVIKE
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- pitch black with a strong 3-finger head that dissipates within a minute or two. If you pour it down the side of the glass you won't get any head at all.

S- not to0 strong of a smell for a strout that advertises that it was aged on cocao nibs, but it's nice. You get a little of the chocolate and maybe some cream and vanilla.

T- basically tastes like it smells. you get a little bitter kick from the cocao nibs. it's a smooth drink; the alcohol doesn't overpower at all.

M- very well carbonated for an imperial stout; good frothy texture in the mouth.

O- a nice stout. not very complex but it's not trying to be.

 619 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of Jeffreysan
4.82/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bottle, 2013 vintage, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a full finger of chocolate-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Very aromatic! Tons of rich, earthy, bready, roasted malt, imparting notes of freshly toasted dark bread and freshly roasted coffee beans, as well as dark chocolate, brown sugar, and a touch of licorice. Rich and inviting.

Taste: Wow! Rich and chewy and delicious! Strong flavors of roasted malt up front, imparting notes of espresso and roasted nuts, followed by tons of chocolate, brown sugar-like sweetness and a touch of lactose-like cream. So delicious!

Mouthfeel: Chewy and rich, and extremely smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 11.5%, there is a pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: This is a delicious, rich, creamy, malty, chocolaty, slightly sweet beer! Great on its own, I’m sure it would be fantastic as a desert beer!

 1,056 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.71/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some great lacing. Aroma of dark chocolate malt with light roasted malt and light residual sugar notes. Taste is a sublime mix between black milk chocolate with some light molasses and liquorice notes with light dry roasted malt notes also perceptible. Body is full with nice thick creamy texture and good carbonation and no alcohol presence is easily identifiable. I really enjoyed this huge beer and I’m glad they were able to maintain such balance and drinkability to match the complexity of this beer.

 607 characters

Photo of HopSynonymous
4.37/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bomber out of my HF chalice. Oldest beer I've ever had at 4.5 years. 3/25/11 bottle date.

L- Pitch black, opaque, small tan ring, no lacing. Viscous when swirled around.
S- Malty and chocolatey. Bit of alcohol heat with a large inhale. I don't know why I get BA quality, but I do.
T- Again, could be a bourbon barrel beer. It's sweet, chocolatey, dark fruits like cherry and plum, vanilla. Delicious.
F- Thick, but with more carb than I expected for a 4 year old beer!
O- Yum. Bomber is a beast to take down by yourself, but it is worth it. Not getting much change as it warm up and sits, which is a bit of a bummer, but this is a fantastic beer. Very nice.

 660 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

single finger dark tan head on a jet black body with no light passing through. Lots of vanilla with dark fruit and chocolate. A very nice dark fruit, vanilla and chocolate mix in the flavor as well. Right amount of sweetness. Slight roasted malt note. thick in body, very smooth and viscous/creamy. light to moderate carbonation. Another excellent beer from goose island. This one is very smooth and flavorful. Strong but not too boozy.

 436 characters

Photo of aszatk01
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of DanGeo
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of jono0101
5/5  rDev +24.7%

Photo of weatherdog
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a Goose Island signature glass. Bottled 3/25/11.

It pours an ever familiar BCS midnight velvety black, a 1 finger seep mocha head rises from the depths and settles down into a ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass. No lacing is present.

The aroma is of sweet sugary malt and alcohol. It isn't as hot as BCS obviously but it's still up there. A very mild bitter roasted chocolate aroma near the backend. It's just so rich and thick.

The taste has an obvious amount of rich sweet chocolate flavored malt but there is a surprising bitterness as well. It's not enough to make this beer balanced but I think it goes a long way to not having it undrinkably sweet. There is just a tiny amount of roasted malt flavor near the end but once again this baby is sweet. An obvious alcohol warmth coats the throat as it goes down.

The only obvious flaw with this beer is the mouthfeel. It's so sweet and dense and rich that without very careful analysis sweetness is all that is detected. I'm not positive, but I'm assuming this is the base beer to BCS. If this is the case I think they made a mistake having such an underattenuated beer. In BCS the bourbon goes a long way to thinning out the beer and making it (relatively) drinkable and not cloying. This beer lacks the thinning sensation and just comes across as a liquid sugar delivery system, not a terrible thing, but certainly not my preference.

Overall it's not a bad beer by any stretch but just lacking that barrel character that GI does so well with and ties the beer together. It's one thick drink and since my wife fell asleep, the one who I was supposed to split the bomber with, I'm gonna attempt to drink the whole thing. Wish me luck.

EDIT: It's about an hour later and the beer was warmed up to room temperature. I'm enjoying it much more this way. The sweetness seems a bit cut down and the individual chocolate flavor seems to pop. This is as much as a sipper as fresh BCS but I'm enjoying the second half of the bomber MUCH more than the first. I've bumped up a few of the scores to match.

 2,085 characters

Photo of delaced21
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

Photo of RebeccaMB
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

Photo of sabitu
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of danthehopslamman
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of DaftPatrick
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of csmartin6
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of DWolf
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of beckard13
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of mverity
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep, rich, hearty black with mocha colored head. Sticky legs but very little lacing. Wisps and thin collar remain when the head faded after 30 seconds or so. Aroma is a nice blend of roasty and earthy malts, and bitter sweet chocolate. Taste is much like the aroma: dark malts and chocolate; rich and quite delicious. This beer coats your mouth and is a little silty. A little bit of alcohol burn though.

 419 characters

Photo of Snikwad1020
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of mctizzz
4.75/5  rDev +18.5%

Photo of Lgrec8
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Pawola22 for sending me this bottle.

The beer pours a very dark brown to black color with a smallish tan head. The aroma is very powerful. I get a ton of chocolate up front, as well as some heavily roasted malts.

The flavor is more of the same. There is a lot of milk chocolate and dry cocoa powder in the aroma, as well as some roasted malts. This beer is definitely all about the chocolate and is very enjoyable. The alcohol is completely hidden and the beer is very easy to drink.

Thick mouthfeel and low carbonation.

 535 characters

Photo of olradetbalder
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of Shankopotamus
4.25/5  rDev +6%

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Big John from Goose Island Beer Co.
90 out of 100 based on 443 ratings.