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Big John - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Big JohnBig John

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,384 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,384
Reviews: 434
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 11.06%
Wants: 159
Gots: 599 | FT: 51
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:
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 added by: aasher on 03-13-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,384 | Reviews: 434 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of t0rin0


3.75/5  rDev -7.9%

10-07-2012 02:59:26 | More by t0rin0
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.55/5  rDev -12.8%

Bottled on 3/25/11.

Pours an opaque black with a small 1/2 inch head that fades to an oily cap. Small legs of lace drip back down into the remaining beer. Smells of chocolate syrup, vanilla, dark malt, and interestingly enough I get a distinct banana aroma. Taste is of sweet chocolate syrup, vanilla notes, and roasted malts. The sweetness is extremely cloying. Very low carbonation with a very thick and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but it's extremely sweet and sticky.

06-19-2011 08:41:14 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of djrn2

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -14%

12-29-2011 19:07:59 | More by djrn2
Photo of Thorpe429


3.63/5  rDev -10.8%

Thanks to a generous BA for sharing this at the Rosso release. Served in a SAVOR snifter.

Pours a very, very dark brown color with a thin light mocha head and a bit of lacing. The nose has roasted malt plus chocolate and some mild coffee. Chocolate is the most prevalent, definitely notice the cocoa. Flavor is a bit of a letdown. There's a bit too much booze and the chocolate doesn't come through as well. Mild roast and also some dark fruit aspects that I didn't particularly care for. Body is medium to full with good carbonation. Pretty good overall, but doesn't live up to their other stouts.

04-20-2011 12:01:06 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of nmann08

District of Columbia

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

01-19-2013 22:56:29 | More by nmann08
Photo of metter98

New York

4.05/5  rDev -0.5%

A: The beer is nearly jet black in color—some traces of amber are visible near the edges of the glass when it is held up to the light. It poured with a finger high tan head that slowly died down but did not completely fade away.
S: Sweet aromas of roasted malts are present in the nose along with notes of chocolate and raisins.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell, although the strength of the flavors is slightly stronger. Raisins stand out in particular; there are some hints of bitterness towards the finish.
M: It feels very full-bodied, somewhat smooth and has a light to moderate amount of carbonation. A bit of dryness is present in the finish.
O: The beer is very drinkable considering its strength because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste. There’s no way that I could drink more than one of these in a night because it’s filling and the alcohol will soon catch up with you.

05-06-2011 04:45:40 | More by metter98
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

2.63/5  rDev -35.4%

Appearance: A very hard pour could only raise a smidgen of head and that quickly faded away; the liquid was pitch black and left a lot of dotty legs behind

Smell: An overdose of blackstrap molasses and soy sauce mask the expected roasty chocolate and coffee elements; rather boozy

Taste: Starts out well, with a wallop of dark chocolate but by mid-palate the citrusy hops start to battle with the sweet molasses and soy flavors, a battle which is unresolved in the finish; the lingering sweetness becomes cloying in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation; cloying sweetness and considerable heat from the alcohol

Overall: I had high expectations for this beer as I am a fan of this brewery but it is a real palate wrecker and, ultimately, I had to surrender

10-24-2011 00:45:31 | More by brentk56
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

shared with calton after work in hobo tasting number 9, i really enjoyed this on tremendously, poured into a pint glass.

Pitch black as night with a light tan head of maybe an inch and a half across the top. This faded down to about a quarter inch but never got any lower then that. Lots of side glass lacing all over the sides as it went down. The aroma was a touch boozy, with tons of chocolate and roasted malts coming through. Almost a licorice like smell as it warms, incredible. As I take my first sip I am floored, rich vanilla and cocoa taste with a large dose of roasted malts. Tons of flavor here, with bourbon notes really coming through on this one. I am literally drooling as I write this that I dont have any left. The finish was soo smooth, and chocolate filled, it was a dessert beer to the extreme. For 11.5% you would think there would be a ton of alcohol swimming in this one,but it was as smooth as could be.

overall really nicely done, dont know why its getting hate i think they have done a very good job with this.

05-27-2011 01:02:22 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of BEERchitect


4.47/5  rDev +9.8%

A lush and savory stout with intense chocolate flavor, rich heavy body, and dense malty richness. A most desert-like beer.

The beer creeps from the bottle and into the snifter with a high viscocity that coats the glass like motor oil. Very froathy and rich, the beer's head falls underneath the enormous weight of the beer. No lace but brandy-like legging is evident with each swirl- the black film coats the sides of the glass and is nearly intimidating. Dense, dark brown, the beer carries a complete opaqness.

Chocolate, roast, burnt molasass, walnuts, and malted milk round out the nose that favors the power of a few key aromas over complexity. Alcohols give a warm tingle to the nose in a very rum-like way.

Rich chocolates, roasted grains, espresso coffee, and over caramelized sugars all add to the rich molasass and malted milk flavor. Robust and with a multitude of depth, the beer teases with rum boozy taste, and with walnut bitterness and oils. The cocoa nibs give a genuine cocoa taste and without the refinement of milk chocolates.

The cocoa additions further build the body of the beer towards a very thick and chewy beer. Beers don't really get more lush, viscous, or creamy. Finishing warm, but the brunt of 11.5% abv is never really felt; tempered well by the malty richness and velvety smooth simmer.

Delicious throughout, the sheer weight and richness of the beer make it both a delicacy and limit its drinkability. The full force of chocolate and sweetness, sometimes aspirtame-like, scream about the focus of the beer while balance and complexity are underscored.

04-21-2011 16:32:34 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of acurtis

New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -7.9%

03-08-2012 03:32:25 | More by acurtis
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

4.71/5  rDev +15.7%

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.

11-12-2013 21:12:00 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of womencantsail


3.9/5  rDev -4.2%

Thanks to Brad for sharing this beer.

A: The pour is pretty much black in color with a finger or so of tan head.

S: There is an almost chocolate liqueur aroma to this beer. Lots of cocoa with some coffee and dark, roasted malts. A bit of licorice and molasses notes with some overripe plums.

T: Intense chocolate flavor to the beer as well. Lots of dark chocolate, cocoa, and some milk chocolate. The same sort of chocolate liqueur character is there along with the roast and mild coffee.

M: Medium in body, but not as thick and rich as I expected. Medium in carbonation.

O: This was a good beer, but it didn't leave the same kind of impression on me like some of the other Goose Island stouts.

07-12-2011 22:53:03 | More by womencantsail
Photo of kjkinsey


4/5  rDev -1.7%

12-05-2011 18:22:41 | More by kjkinsey
Photo of zestar


4/5  rDev -1.7%

08-01-2014 05:41:08 | More by zestar
Photo of Texasfan549


4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

11-15-2011 03:36:42 | More by Texasfan549
Photo of spycow


3.75/5  rDev -7.9%

01-17-2013 16:55:22 | More by spycow
Photo of jaydoc


4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

08-27-2013 01:29:39 | More by jaydoc
Photo of GRG1313


4/5  rDev -1.7%

12-10-2011 18:21:42 | More by GRG1313
Photo of kylehay2004


4.45/5  rDev +9.3%

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.

01-13-2012 03:13:48 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of Knapp85


4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

07-23-2013 02:47:20 | More by Knapp85
Photo of TMoney2591


3.98/5  rDev -2.2%

Served in a Three Floyds tulip pint glass.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

Finally gonna be able to make up my mind about this beer after hearing all sorts o' chatter surrounding it. It pours a deeply dark black-brown topped by a finger of dirty cream foam. The nose comprises roasted malts, toasted oak, molasses, and rich chocolate. The taste holds plenty of roasted malts and chocolate (both dark and syrup), molasses, light oak, brown sugar, and light coffee. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a chewy feel. Overall, a solid stout indeed. I would not really call it great, but I would not turn down another bottle were it offered me.

04-25-2011 00:01:06 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr


4/5  rDev -1.7%

11-14-2011 18:31:04 | More by westcoastbeerlvr
Photo of emerge077


4.22/5  rDev +3.7%

Pours placidly into a tulip, mahogany tones glinting in the light.
A thin quarter inch of dark tan mocha foam dissipates soon after a couple minutes, receding to a ring around the edge. Spotty bits of froth slide down the glass after a sip is taken, but no lace forms.

Fried plantains in caramel syrup, sticky molasses, brown sugar, deep roastiness, dark chocolate. Rich and complex aroma.

Intense dark chocolate flavor, mellow bittersweetness, rich roastiness, woody tobacco and coffee candies. The roast character is soft and not acrid whatsoever. Sweet as expected with so much chocolate content, with a low level bitterness from the roast. Effortlessly smooth and silky, chewy with a lasting dry chocolate aftertaste, sticky on the lips. Alcohol really isn't perceptible at all. The cacao nibs take centerstage here, while the big roasted malts acting as the supporting cast.

Very enjoyable, a rich treat that is easy to finish, sipping for over an hour of course.
Well balanced for such a big stout.

04-28-2011 02:11:34 | More by emerge077
Photo of JAHMUR


4/5  rDev -1.7%

11-23-2011 05:14:33 | More by JAHMUR
Photo of zeff80


4.2/5  rDev +3.2%

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a one finger, light brown head of bubbly foam. It left thin trails of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of cocoa and some roasted malt. Subtle vanilla notes.

T - It tasted of chocolate, vanilla and sweet roasted malt. The cocoa flavors are really strong.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is pretty nice Imperial Stout with a great cocoa flavor.

06-09-2011 02:40:21 | More by zeff80
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Big John from Goose Island Beer Co.
91 out of 100 based on 1,384 ratings.