Big John - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Big JohnBig John

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

440 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 440
Hads: 1,516
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 6.02%
Wants: 167
Gots: 586 | FT: 46
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 440 | Hads: 1,516
Reviews by Ryan011235:
Photo of Ryan011235
2.7/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter on 5/16/11

Bottled 3/25/11

Deep brown color that is all but jet-black in the glass. No light gets through this one. Determined to get a decent head, I pulled the classic slow drizzle card (no dropped bottles; you're welcome). I was pleased enough with the resulting cap: one thumb of toasted brown foam. Of course, retention is thin though a skim and some bubbles remain. A few globby strands of lace have held thus far.

Undergoing shifting aromas and upheaval, the nose is suspect. Calling it unpleasant is a half-hearted gift. Weird things are going on here. Once in the glass, the first thing I smell? Tomato Paste. No lie. What the hell is this, Hop Henge IPA? Bare Tree Weiss Wine 2007? Get right out of town. A few minutes later, it starts smelling like a proper imperial stout. Roasted chocolate, dusty cocoa powder, and undertones of tangy dark fruit. Reminds me of Hersey's powder chocolate milk mix. Guess what? Yep, the tomato comes back, this time with leafy hop friends. It goes back and forth in this manner. At least it doesn't smell boozy. Yeesh.

Once set to sipping, the beer tastes far more enjoyable than it smells; not a hard feat to accomplish. That said, it isn't spectacular. The powdered aspects of the cocoa nibs flow along in a stream of semi-sweet, burnt dark chocolate. At times it seems rather sweet; other times not so much. As the temperature nears room, the sugars start to crowd the burnt notions and things start to get messy. While some alcohol heat was had on the first sip, it wasn't too much. However, in conjunction with the burnt sweetness the booze moves toward obnoxiousness. Finishes with char, sticky sweetness and some mildly numbing heat.

Full bodied with a moderate, viscous resistance. Make no mistake, Big John is still a heavy imperial stout in a world filled with heavy imperial stouts (a notion room temperature ascertains). Ah, who am I kidding? It's like cake batter once it warms up. While it was still cold, the cocoa nibs translated to a powdery, granular feel. As the beer warms, that granular feel wanes. Carbonation is appropriate, doing its best to hoist this critter. The latter half is slick and coating.

The John Hancock Center is my favorite skyscraper. Alas, for an imperial stout, Big John doesn't even come close. (2,310 characters)

More User Reviews:
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.71/5  rDev +18%
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 kylehay2004
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
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 +0.3%

Photo of DanGeo
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of jono0101
5/5  rDev +25.3%

Photo of weatherdog
3.75/5  rDev -6%
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 +12.8%

Photo of RebeccaMB
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of sabitu
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of danthehopslamman
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of DaftPatrick
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of csmartin6
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of DWolf
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of beckard13
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of mverity
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
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 +0.3%

Photo of mctizzz
4.75/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Lgrec8
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
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%

Photo of Shankopotamus
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of BrandonDZ
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of bsp77
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter. Bottled on March 25, 2011.

Appearance: Pitch black with large initial brown head that leaves some light lacing.

Smell: Molasses, soy sauce and booze. Chocolate is pretty light.

Taste: Chocolate is certainly more noticeable in the taste, but this is still driven by molasses, soy sauce and booze. Light indiscriminate hops at the finish. Little one dimensional.

Feel: Velvety smooth and creamy, but the finish is a little off. Very warming.

Overall: Nice and smooth Imperial Stout, but a little disappointing considering what Goose Island is capable of. (605 characters)

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Big John from Goose Island Beer Co.
89 out of 100 based on 440 ratings.