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Pepe Nero | Goose Island Beer Co.

very good
496 Reviews
no score
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Pepe NeroPepe Nero

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States | website

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Mahogany color, black pepper aroma, roasted malt and spice flavor, creamy body.

Added by adamette on 03-30-2010

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Reviews: 496 | Ratings: 1,769
Photo of MV_CHI-NS
5/5  rDev +33%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Note: Bottle of 2011 'Pepe Nero'

Appearance: Licorice/bistre head with slight maroon/burgundy shading when held up to the light, with an ecru/chocolate head.

Aroma: Profound notes of raspberries and blackcurrants with a wine-like nose (like a lighter Bermet)

Taste: The taste with this one comes in two stages:

a. The raspberries and blackcurrants come through, making this akin to a lambic.
b. Spicy pepper and roasted chocolate.

The first thing to hit you is the fruit, which is quickly followed by notes of spicy pepper and roasted chocolate which linger on the palate; truly, not what I would expect from a saison - black or not.

Mouthfeel: Light, almost creamy mouthfeel with a 'peppery' tinge resolve.

Overall: As a fan of saisons, I had high expectations of Pepe Nero - particularly because it is a black saison; I can say with certainty, those expectations were exceeded. The aroma and taste threw me off at first because 'fruit' and 'chocolate' are not terms I would associate with a saison, but this has easily become on of my favorites.

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Photo of Snow81
4.78/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Head: Dark tan

Smell: coriander with some malty sweetness

Taste: starts off with a heavy malty grains then coriander comes in slow and light then the black pepper washes over the coriander dimming the coriander slowly

Weight: Nice body, sits around medium

Finish: Coriander is still very subtle with pepper flavors lying on the palate

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Photo of Drone53
4.67/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the best beers to drink with meat, especially BBQ pork. I have had this beer on several occasions, and it is a wonderful Black Saison, with traditional citrus and wheat flavors, but has a smokey/black pepper finish. The smokey peppery finishes really compliments meats very well. Truly a great beer, good on its own, but really compliments food nicely! One of many Goose Island beers that really is made for dining.

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Photo of smcnulty1981
4.63/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: pours with a dark brown color with a red hue when held to the light has a 3 finger light brown rocky head that goes away after a short time with only a small amount of lacing on the glass

S: has a deep hint of malt with slight pepper with a hint of yeast funk however there is a hint of oxidation with the beer

T: strong malt flavor with a nice hint of roasted malts followed by a pepper spiciness on the backend

M: had a full mouth feel followed up with a dry finish

O: had the 2011 version but it s a good take on a farmhouse ale

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Photo of mlazzaro
4.63/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I was really impressed with this brew. I had quite a few at the craft brew fest, and this was by far my favorite. Darker brown, cystal clear with fluffy head that held retention. Maybe with larger sample size, there would be more aroma, it smells good just not hugely pungent. Awesome caramel, coffee, toffee smells and flavors. Right at the end of the sip you get this spiced flavored Belgian yeast. In my head seems like those flavors wouldn't work well, but oh my goodness its tasty. Full body with the silkiest mouthfeel from nitro pour. Highly drinkable, great flavors, I look forward to trying this one again and again.

- I did try this bottled and it was incredibly not as good.

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Photo of malty
4.55/5  rDev +21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 01/03/11

Pours into my stemmed chalice the same color as Hires root beer. There is a dulled mahogany glow on the edges when brought against the sunlight. The vintage white head is loose, but still collected and somewhat dense, and it settles to 1/2" after 3-4 minutes. Thick stringy lace all the way down.

The smell is oh so farmhouse-y. Lemon zest with hearty yeasty funkdafiers working overtime. If I close my eyes and raise the glass under my nose, it really smells like a German Hefeweissen, but just a bit tamer.

Wow, talk about a total role reversal! Everything about the smell of this beer, (tart, zesty and bright) is turned upside down in the flavor. Deep roasty malt notes comfort the palate while the metallic, flinty mineral tartness is in the background, counterweighing the malts quite beautifully. The flavors are intertwined masterfully, from deep & roasty to slightly sour and yeasty. I'm diggin' this.

Mouthfeel is just left of medium bodied with a fine, airy and lifting carbonation. Very clean and quenching flavorful finish.

I do believe I'd enjoy this as a session beer without a doubt. If it weren't for the $9.99 (4-pack) pricetag, I most definitely would. However, the quality is top notch and without compromise. I honestly cannot find anything wrong with this beer. Great job, Goose Island!

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Photo of twosheastl
4.55/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

A: Pours a dark reddish black. Very foamy, almost like Champaign.

S: Very spicy w/ lots of Belgium yeast, hint of cranberry

T: Tastes like a very drinkable farmhouse ale, yet also reminds me of a sweet milk stout. There is a very faint aftertaste of peppercorn. You could tell me there were no peppercorn involved with this beer, and I would believe you. Overall, very refreshing.

M: Very carbonated, and light-bodied. I could drink this beer all day.

O: I really really like this beer. Normally, I'm a little overwhelmed by farmhouse ales. I like them, but cant drink them all night. This beer feels a bit lighter to me. The peppercorn is not very evident.

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Photo of russwbeck
4.5/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: I heard that this was a dark beer, but the pour still surprised me! Black with a few fingers of off white head. Pretty sticky lacing and nice retention.

S: Man the smell is completely like a saison! Yet again shocked me. Bit of a Belgian sweetness, barnyard funk, dark fruits and is that chocolate? Perhaps. Seems like a mix between a saison and a quad.

T: The quad saison mix continues on the taste, but certainly hints more towards saison. Bit of a funky taste with a sweetness from the belgian yeasts. The dark fruits come through at the end and provide a really nice balance that hints towards the sweeter end. It sort of starts saison and ends quad. Confusing and delicious.

MF: The body is medium to full body with a really nice dry finish.

O: I loved this, what a great idea. Really kept the surprises coming. Would recommend this to anyone and plan to age a few.

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Photo of fx20736
4.48/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay chalice, served at room temp.

opal black beer supports a 2 finger cotton candy confection of a tropical khaki,tannish head. lacing is magnificient and enshrouds the glass.

aroma: Belgian yeast, sugar, spices, maybe pepper and cloves.

mouthfeel: soft, creamy, silky

taste: dark roasted malt, pepper, some dark fruit

notes: tasty, imagine a porter with Belgian yeast and a few spices. very unique, quite good.

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Photo of adamette
4.48/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes taken last night while I enjoyed this from tap at Ray's in Kent with my Father in Law, his sister in law Diane and his Brother in Law Floyd. Poured from tap into a Goose Island Matilda wine like glass. I am not sure of the cost but it was at least $4.95.

From what I recall of the menu it was listed as either a "Dark Saison" or a "Black Saison."

A Awesome looking black body with no light coming through under a medium brown creamy head. This is the coolest looking Saison that I have ever seen! The head lingered for a while and there was nice lacing left on the inside of the glass. 5.0

S Malty sweetness, some yeasts and some nice albeit distant sweet chocolate scents. Inviting, interesting. 4.5

T Malt sweetness, Saison like grain in a very good combination of tastes. I don't taste the distant sweet chocolate that I thought that I smelled but instead is a kind of moderate sweetness that really works against the muted saison grains taste. Consider me very impressed. 4.5

M With all of this goodness, there is a nice amount of smoothness, making it go down very easy indeed. 4.0

D Very good indeed. 4.5

Notes: I was very surprised to not find this listed on BA but re-checking with Ray's Place in Kent and then the Goose Island Web site I was assured that the name of the beer is correct. No word on the ABV, unfortunately.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.45/5  rDev +18.4%
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.

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Photo of yesyouam
4.45/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pepe Nero is a brown-black ale with huge brown foam on top. The aroma has notes of stone fruit, plum wine, soft, toasted grain, alcohol and... chocolate? It's pretty full bodied. It turns dry very quickly and vanishes upon the swallow, leaving the teeth a little chalky. Nice, dark, resiny tones mingle, staying fruity but never veering into sweetness. There's a touch of phenol after the swallow. A tangy aftertaste follows. This is just a very tasty ale! I chugged it at room temperature after letting it sit in a glass for a few hours.

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.43/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 12oz bottle with a bottled on date of 6.13.12.

L - Pitch black, with 3 fingers of head! Sticky lacing left all over the glass

S - Belgian candy yeast, slight alcohol aroma. Great aroma

T - Dried fruit, raisons, brown sugar. Tasty

F - Medium body, well carbonated

O - An awesome dark belgian ale. Tasty and drinkable

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Photo of fvernon
4.42/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage poured into a large Ommegang flute at about 55 degrees.

The ale pours out a rich chocolate brown but takes on more of a black color in the glass with a burnt-red edging. The head is the color of mudflap snow, but in a good way. The smell? Belgian yeast and sugar, lemon pepper, candied plums, cinnamon, vanilla, and a hint of oakiness.

Its a very complex flavor - light and billowy on the tongue, it has an aerated feel while bringing to the front plum, pepper, chocolate malt in the middle, and a finish of cloves and white peppercorn. Delicious. Maybe it's running home in the rain, coming in soaked, and grabbing this out of the cellar, but it's really hitting the spot and I can see enjoying it regularly.

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Photo of Peelster
4.4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark brown with a bit of a ruby highlight when held to light. For me, very little head that dissipates quickly.

S - Not a strong smell, but hints of coffee come through for me

T - a bit of a toast and coffee, with strong pepper on the finish. Though a dark beer, it is easy drinking.

M - Not particularly heavy, effervescent

O - This is a beer I really enjoy. Although it indicates it is meant for aging, I prefer it when it is young and a bit more peppery. I have a 6 pack that I am keeping for annual tastings -- I had my first one (after a 1 year wait) recently and did not enjoy it as much as the ones I've had closer to the bottling date. Nonetheless, looking forward to seeing how this fairs over the next few years.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

(2012, slightly over 3 years old) Pepe Nero pours a very dark amber color with a huge fizzy lacing head. There is a big dark sweet and dry fruit aroma. The taste has a subtle sweetness, and a dry fruit like flavor, with some spiced flavors.

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Photo of BierJager89
4.39/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark ruby red around the edges, but otherwise black with a foamy light mocha head.

S: Sweet coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, black peppercorn and a little bit of dark fruit in the nose.

T: Roasted malt, coffee dark chocolate, but not bitter. Some lemon, light citrus, and maybe a bit of dark fruit.

M: Smooth and full bodied, but also a bit foamy.

O: I really liked this beer a lot.

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Photo of MaximalC
4.38/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed 4/28/11 - 13+ months from time of drinking.

Pours seal brown with the faintest of caramel highlights, along with an ample khaki head that gradually simmers down before reaching a respectable equilibrium. This looks nothing like any saison I've seen before. The aroma is more typical of the style, however--fresh and invigorating, with coriander, citrus, pepper, and some crisp hop notes. The first thing that strikes me with regards to flavor is how supremely well balanced this beer is. As you first imbibe, individual elements are difficult discern, but you can tell they're quality. Smooth roasted malt and a mild, grassy bitterness ride a wave of prickly carbonation. Pepper is discernbile as well once the first wave has subsided, which should come as no surprise considering it's the only ingredient Goose Island took the time to mention on the label. I think I'm also catching some apple peel in there somewhere as well. The kicker for me, though, is the hint of smoky, bitter chocolate that creeps in on the back end--now that's a sophisticated finish. This looks nothing like your typical saison, and the aroma does not match the appearance at all, but none of that matters when it comes to sheer enjoyment. There's something here for everyone, from chocolate malt to zesty spice, all expertly balanced. This is one of my favorites among a stellar line-up from the adept team at Goose Island.

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Photo of TheCorkStopsHere
4.35/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Goose Island Pepe Nero is described as a Saison/Farmhouse Ale, and should weigh in at about 6% abv. It's pretty obviously not the Saison I'm used to, and I'm anxious to get the top off this brew. The Pepe Nero pours out an exceptionally dark shade of brownish-red. At first I thought it was black until I tried snapping a couple pictures. The foam was very subtle at first but then came to life and nearly over-flowed my DFH snifter. The foam is full of large bubbles forming a rocky surface with just a slight tint slight red/rusty color.

As the foam dissipates very little lacing is left behind a soft stream of bubbles throughout the duration of my sample bottle. The nose on the Pepe Nero is very, very subtle. I give it a few really good swirls and get my nose as far into the glass as possible. I'm only getting very slight hints of chocolate, cola, and a little roasted malts. The closest thing I can compare this to is sort of like an earthy, rustic version of a Quadrupel.

On the palate, the Pepe Nero is just as complex and equally as subtle. Very soft hints of malty sweets, a little bit of coffee and chocolate here and there, and just a touch of dry bitterness on the finish. I let the Pepe warm completely to room temperature before finishing and the Pepe only gets better! Somewhere between a big belgian quad and a softer style stout, the Pepe Nero is in a class all it's own. I can hardly wait till the Goose Island beers are available regularly here in CT.

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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 MattTastrophee
4.33/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in April of 2012
Opened in March of 2014

Appearance: Copious amounts of foam. Looks like a big old root beer float after letting it settle a while. Dark garnet in color.

Smell: Fruitiness from the yeast and a pleasant amount of malt comes through.

Taste: Big mouth full of fruit, not to mention the malt. Dark cherry with a toasty finish. Really interesting flavor profile. Tartness and toffee flavors all wrapped up together.

Mouthfeel: A drinkable medium body.

Overall: I'll get this beer again, it was a fun adventure. Quite an interesting brew. Makes me want to pick up Monk's Stout, see how that stacks up.

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Photo of DustinSmall
4.32/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the roast house in frederick md 12oz pour into a snifter

A- rich mahogany, dark copper color around the edges, slight head about a half a finger, the head sticks around for awhile

S- Awesome smelling beer, belgium yeast comes through, alot of dark fruits, slight pepper hints, and small coffee hints

T- As soon as it hits the tongue you get a slight pepper heat, then it turns into a dark fruit yeast bomb, the after taste on this one was hints of coffee and pepper great stuff

M- Medium to thin, decent carbonation, very smooth beer and quite refreshing

O- Outstanding beer, great refreshing complex taste i will be getting more of this asap

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Photo of rangerred
4.32/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a tulip.

Pours a very dark brown, nearly pitch black, with a one finger tan head. Ok head retention and lacing but not great.

Aroma is quite unique for a saison. There is the spicy phenols typically associated with the style but there is a nice additon of coffee, dark chocolate, and roasted malt. Some nice complexity there.

The flavor has banana and pepper up front along with some yeastyness but there is sublte roast and coffee in the background adding a nice complexity. Some black pepper and lemon as well. There is some stickyness in the finish and it is not as dry as I would like but a very nice flavor.

Overall, a very nice and unique saison. While it could stand to be dried out a little more, it is one that I would not have a problem drinking again.

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Photo of jampics2
4.32/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Winking Lizard. Made a special trip to catch this one, OK, we go every Friday, but this made it a special Friday. I love the spirit of adventure that Goose Island approaches their unique beers with. This is no exception, described as a Saison noire with Rye.

A touch too cold, so I let it sip. My pint glass holds a dark brown liquid with some red edges. I can see through the bottom of the glass when I look from the side, aside from that, no light escapes it. But it almost looks like it could be filtered. A small eggshell head hangs on for a long time, lace isn't great though.

Smell is awesome and complex. Belgian yeast, rye, clove, banana, and pepper. This is deep and unique, with the rye and pepper really mixing things up and dancing around the more traditional yeasty esters.

Taste is also very nice, complex, and unique. Belgian yeast gives impressions of earthyness and some citrus, particularly orange and lemon rind. Rye steps in and spices things up, and the black pepper makes it groovy. Sweet but dry, a bit of chocolate and candied sugars. Clove and cocoa powder. This is deep and complex but accessible. Love it!

Mouthfeel is ok, but the beer is a touch watery. But carb is spot on, body could be thicker, wonder if this was indeed filtered.

Overall a nice beer, not something worth trading an arm and a leg for, but fans of unique American takes on Belgian farmhouse beers would love this. I dig some other GI beers more, like Sophie, but this was worth a shot!

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Photo of hustlesworth
4.3/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- so it seems what we have here is a deep dark chestnut brown rye black peppercorn saison. this has to be interesting. it has a dense layer of tan foam that settles with an even surface and although there's no more than a few dots of lace, it sure looks good.

S- subdued aroma of wood and leather with fresh rye grainy-spiciness and subtle hints of chocolate and coffee. there's an underlying belgian yeast fruity funkiness but the grain is up front. peppercorn plays a minor role but adds an earthy warmth and some depth to the aroma. smells very much like a schwarzbier, with the rye setting the two apart with distinction.

T- the "blackness" of the malt is tasted throughout, but without any roasted bitterness, similar to the malt profile of one of those newfangled black IPAs. zesty saaz hops has a bite that compliments the mild chocolate sweetness and earthy rye. there's a bit of funk and a fruity character from the yeast and a cherry tartness as well, and a noticeable hit of peppercorn spice in the finish but without any heat. earthy and soil flavors with a hint of sandalwood and cigar tobacco linger long into the finish with peppercorn being the last to leave.

MF- the feel of this beer is outer space. it's all at once soft and creamy and rugged and hard. more accurately would be to say that its like a fleece blanket on the front of the palate and fermented OJ on the back. prickly tight carbonation breaks the lushness and leaves the cheeks with a coated dry feeling.

D- a very interesting melange of styles and flavors, one of the best of the recent "hybrid" type brews i've tried. the other half of this bottle will go with the ribs i have on the smoker as i type this, and with some grilled vegetables fresh from the garden.

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Pepe Nero from Goose Island Beer Co.
85 out of 100 based on 496 ratings.
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