Pepe Nero | Goose Island Beer Co.

very good
502 Reviews
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Pepe NeroPepe Nero

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

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: 502 | Ratings: 1,786
Photo of Clonies720
1.63/5  rDev -56.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

Bottled 03/04/2011. 22 oz bomber poured into a tulip

Appearance: Oily black. Nice tan head.

Aroma: Dark fruits. Can't get much else.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Malt forward, with a spicy kick in the finish that cuts the sweet malt. High carbonation that is somewhat unpleasant to me.

Overall: I really would not buy it again as the taste is too dull when there's so much more out there.

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Photo of alexipa
2.18/5  rDev -42%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Alright, so this isn't a saison at all. They list farmhouse ale on their website, but no... this isn't even close to a farmhouse ale.

A: I mean, it's really dark. It's stout dark, with a dark brown head. Not a good start. It reminds me of a beginning extract homebrewer who scorched their extract during the boil.

S: Not bad, smells nutty with some fruit... possibly cherries. Pretty mellow scent.

T: Ummm, farmhouse? What? Tastes like a poorly made stout with too many IBUs. No funk, no hint of belgian yeast. Really boring.

M: Can't complain, it's light bodied like a farmhouse should be with a perfect amount of carbonation.

O: A really bad beer. If they labeled this as a dark belgian ale it would be a very mediocre beer. I was expecting a farmhouse ale and got a crappy stout. Not a good introduction to Goose Island.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.54/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass. Either purchased from K&L or it's a generous extra from lurchingbeast. Just to be safe: thanks!

A: Pours a dark brown body with a tan head. It rises to 2" in height and retains for a long time, leaving great register marks as it recedes.

S: Roasted grains, coffee, a touch of cocoa. Up front, it reminds me of a stout. There is a mild pepper scent. It also has a tripel-like nose of fruit (pear, apple).

T: Stout-like introduction of roasted grain, coffee, cocoa. There's a bite in the finish that reminds me of pepper. It has a well-developed tripel-like flavor of green apples and pears. The stone fruit is a weird complement (actually, "counterpoint" is a better word) to the dark malt flavors going on here. I don't enjoy the combination.

M: Clashing. The body itself is medium. The finish is foamy owing to the too-high fizzy carbonation, which makes the beer soda-like overall. There's a lingering bitterness that I don't like.

O: While this is begging for a new style tick (black farmhouse ale!!! Who's with me??), it's unremarkable in execution.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
2.59/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Black with a light tan head. Retention swirl breaks up the all black appearance of my mid-beer experience but Pepe Nero lacks the rocky head and clinging retention I'd expect from a saison.

Aroma is the best part of this beer: chocolate, woody and smoky with a Belgian yeast twist. Intriguing.

Tastes is a flat mess. Belgian yeast sloppily throws around char and wood smoke. Lacks the dry saison refreshment.

I don't like this beer as a saison and I don't like it on it's own. This is my second black saison and if I don't see another that's just dandy.

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Photo of champ103
2.6/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a nearly opaque brown color. A two finger bubbly white head forms and gently recedes after a minute. Light lace.
S: Burnt toast, pepper, liquorish. Kind of metallic and tinny. Very astringent in the nose.
T: Follows the nose with a large burnt toast flavor up front. An ash like flavor, metallic, tinny, astringent. Blah. This is not good.
M/D: A medium body with moderate carbonation. Fairly thin and watery. I do not care to finish this. Probably going to be a drain poor.

This is not a good offering from Goose Island. It comes in a beautiful bottle now though. I won't be buying any more, and would recommend people avoid this.

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Photo of craytonic
2.61/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

On draft at church key in Washington, DC

Appearance: Dark pour with decent head and lacing

Smell: A bit muted and muddled, some dark fruits and malts with a touch of chocolate.

Taste: Incredibly thin tasting, weird mix also of a very faint sour funky tarness with some dark/rye bread malts and dark fruits

Mouthfeel: Too thin

Overall: I strongly disliked this beer, and would probably argue that a dark saison is a mistake.

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Photo of tittymcj
2.67/5  rDev -29%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Very little smell at all. Just a bit fresh and bubbly.

Pours jet black with a light bubbly head that doesn't stick around long. The black color is beautiful though.

Taste is thin with a little bit of chocolate/coffee in the background. Not a very impressive taste profile.

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Photo of jsh420
2.68/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

bottled 01/07/11

pours dark dark brown and looks black in the glass - 1+ finger tan head decent retention and it left some spotted laciing

smell like a normal saision - fruity banana earthy spice yeast

taste is where i pickup the peppercorns and right from get go - the pepper is not overpowering but i just do not think it goes well with the other flavors then throw in a little chocolate - this beer just did not work for me

mouthfeel was nice - light/medium body good carbonation crisp yet creamy

drinkability not good - if you dont like the flavors why drink it

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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 chugalug06
2.87/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3


Five-finger latte colored head, lots of airy foam. Brew is very deep and dark, lots of brown, black, and red. Lacing is nice too.

Smells light. Lemony, roasty, and chocolatly. Belgian and banana. Too light.

Very light and smooth. HIGH carbonation, no sweetness, no bitterness, peppery, slightly orange and funky. Lots of (light) Belgian flavors, banana, clove... More of a Belgian Dark, than a Saison... Bland.

Heavy carbonation detracts a lot.. I feel this is a brew best served fresh without two years on the shelf.. Can't recommended, but just barely. It's to bland and unremarkable...

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Photo of bengore
2.9/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a deep, dark wood color into a tulip. Minimal head forms.

S: Very inviting aromas of sherry, pepper, and grapes.

T: Starts off very sweet and then flows into the peppery tones from the nose. Goes rather flat quickly, leaving much to be desired.

M: Very light and drinkable, a bit creamy.

O: Overall I was expecting a little more from GI on this one. The nose is pretty good, but the taste just isn't there for me. For such a dark saison, I was expecting to be hit with some stronger pepper notes or at least something that would make me say "wow!". Not to be found here, and I don't think I'd buy another.

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Photo of blakelive784
2.91/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1 pint 6 fl oz bottle served in a goblet, reviewed live:

A - Pours an incredibly dark shade of amber with a decently thick 1 finger head. Retention is o.k. at best.

S - Yeast, spice, cream, and generic malt. Underwhelming and mild.

T - Saison? Weak malt foundation builds to indistinct yeasty esters. It's creamy and finishes a bit bitter. The build seems a bit scattered, and it's far from a comprehensive beer.

M - Medium bodied, and smooth through the finish. Doesn't really complement the beer as a whole.

D - Really a disappointing brew overall. Boring and scattered. I'd pass on this in the future.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
2.92/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle from Supermarket Liquors in Fort Collins, CO around $6 IIRC. Into an old school NB Globe. Batch from 03/04/11 bottle #1902.

A: Pours a nice cola color, definitely dark for a saisAon, way dark, light tan colored head about an inch that quickly recedes to a cap of bubbles that sticks around nicely. A few spots of lacing, but nothing remarkable. Pretty interesting. Looks a lot like a porter though?

S: Smell is definitely a saison though. Strong yeast esters, fruity and slightly funky, but definitely not a bret esque funk, just a nice saison yeast profile. As the color would lead on, there are some slight notes of coffee and roasted barley.

T: An interesting mix of coffee and fruity funky yeast esters. A beer with an identity crisis from the first taste. Porter and saison, strong roasted barley mixes with some strong yeast characters. Slight bit of bitterness on the finish with a lot of roasted malt. I just don't know what to think here, over attenuated porter or roasty saison? Just really not my bag.

M: Dry finish, thin body, a touch strong on the carbonation but it works alright.

O: Meh, just doesn't do anything for me. Too many flavors that I like to see at the opposite end of the spectrum, not mixed together. I could see how people would like it (my girlfriend likes it), but this just isn't my thing. I understand the gray areas and the Belgian concept of style, and I appreciate it, however taking this approach to it in this situation does not work for me.

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Photo of alamere
2.94/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into an oversized wine glass...

A - This is a good looking brew.. clarity is good, etc. I'm confused from the outset though as it's supposedly a farmhouse style "saison" ale?? Really.. no.. not really in my opinion.

S - Honestly, it smells great! Has a fruitiness and a chocolate note, almost smells a little like a dark ale or black IPA.. but more fruity and chocolate.

T - It has the dryness of a farmhouse ale, a fruit to it.. a citrus and almost a chocolate appeal. To my palette.. the taste isn't as chocolate as the smell. It's a bit like a fruity, peppery, CDA..
Which I would normally think is an interesting or good idea. Turns out, maybe not.. It also has a sourness, or even a sharpness to it.. You can taste the black malt.. but honestly, not in a way I love.

M - It's heavy, which you wouldn't expect a farmhouse ale to be in my opinion. Again, it reminds me of an extract created CDA, but more fruity. It does have the dryness of a Saison, but that's about it. Should've maybe named it something differently in my opinion.

O - I can't say that I hated it, but I seem to be the only person who doesn't really think it can be called a "good" beer. It's average... drinkable.. I didn't pour it out.. but even if I'd have brewed this myself.. I'd still think it was an average beer.

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Photo of brother_kenneth
2.95/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, divided into two snifter glasses.

A- Relatively dark/brown pour, but pretty clear and golden in the light. Head is gone almost immediately.

S- Belgian yeast , a bit of funk, and pepper in the nose. Kind of smells like a peppery saison, which is exactly what it should smell like.

T- Roasted malt, Belgian yeast, peppercorns. It starts out very interesting, with the peppercorn being fairly noticeable, but this ends relatively quickly, leaving a somewhat bland beer to finish.

M- Fairly thin towards the end, in my opinion. Not sure about everyone else saying the body holds up so well; mine did anything but that.

O- I really wanted to like this one more. It starts out really good but becomes kind of boring halfway through. Not terrible by any means, but just not incredible.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into cervoise

A - pours a dark brown with reddish edging. Light sand coloured head that disappeared very quickly. Different looking saison

S - Spicy pepper, grassy hops, yeast, roasty wood

T - Quite spicy, lots of peppercorn, lots of roast. There is a nice funky cherry tartness to it as well as a slight grassy hop component on the backend. Interesting mix of flavour profiles but I don't think they work too well together.

M - Drying, medium-light body

O - This is almost like a borderline black ipa but with weak hops and lots of spice. Not my favourite mix of styles but it was okay. Wouldn't seek out again.

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Photo of Mitchster
3/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Brewed with Pilsner, Rye, Crystal Rye, Black Malt and black peppercorns. Hopped with Pilgrim and Saaz.
30 IBU, 6.4% ABV.
Pours out to a cloudy near black, forming a very voluminous head with very good retention and solid lacing. Very briskly carbonated, ~3.25 carbs. Aroma of saison yeast....powdery yeast, delicate malts, a hint of caramel, no pepper, faint cola, distant Saaz. Mouthfeel is powdery with a light body. Taste opens with yeasty phenolics, followed by definite earthy rye notes, mild bitterness, dry finish, and some dark candi sugar notes towards the end (crystal rye?). There is a moderate note of oxidation before the aftertaste. I'm not tasting any pepper or getting any pepper heat.

I love the other Belgian brews from Goose Island (Pere Jaques, Demolition, Matilda, Sofie), but I'm not digging this one. It's a hodge-podge of unbalanced tastes, and the oxidation is so untypical for Goose. I had a hard time drinking this 4 pack and had to give 2 away. Definitely wouldn't buy it again, but support their other brews with bombast.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.01/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle with a born on date of about a month ago on it. best before 5 years. drank from the goose island wineglass.

A- this one pours out a dark brown colored body with some reddish highlights coming through around the edges. there is a very small beige colored head on top that is very fast to fade. very small spots of lacing are left behind.

S- the first thing i notice with the nose here is belgian yeast that seems to dominate everything else here. after that i get some lightly roasted malts and some bakers chocolate. faint earthy hops finish this off.

T- the taste starts out with the lightly roasted malts that i could smell. after that the belgian yeast comes through along with notes of clove and banana. pretty peppery also. dark bakers chocolate and earthy hops sneak through at the end. the taste is much more balanced than the nose.

M- the body is on the thin side and this comes across as almost watery. i am pleased with the carbonation level though. the finish leaves my mouth feeling somewhat dry.

D- meh, this wasnt my favorite saison, or my favorite thing goose island has produced. ill sit on a couple of others i have for a while to see if they get better, but i wont be rushing to try this again for a while.

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Photo of BostonHops
3.03/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(review transcribed from notes, on-tap at the ACBF in boston, 06/04/11. based on multiple samples.)

pours a dark, cola-like brown while yeilding a foamy light tan head that demonstates decent retention and lacing. unique looking saison. nose offers belgian yeast, some roastiness, a touch of chocolate, and a little smoke. very unusual, not sure if this is going to do it for me but i'm keeping an open mind.

flavor follows the nose, but falls a bit flat. i'm just not getting this one. elements of a porter with the roastiness, chocolate, and even coffee notes combine with belgian yeast and a fruity-like element, maybe apple. medium-bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

overall, this was not a total dainpour but the offering just didn't work for me. i appreciate the think-outside-the-box approach, but i prefer to keep my porters and saisons separate (i.e. in the traditional fashion.)

(originally reviewed: 06-09-2011)

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Photo of perrymarcus
3.03/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

on-tap at the ACBF, boston 06/04/11.

pours a dark, cola-like brown while yeilding a foamy light tan head that demonstates decent retention and lacing. unique looking saison.

nose offers belgian yeast, some roastiness, a touch of chocolate, and a little smoke. very unusual, not sure if this is going to do it for me but i'm keeping an open mind.

flavor follows the nose, but falls a bit flat. i'm just not getting this one. elements of a porter with the roastiness, chocolate, and even coffee notes combine with belgian yeast and a fruity-like element, maybe apple.

medium-bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

overall, this was not a total dainpour but the offering just didn't work for me. i appreciate the think-outside-the-box approach, but i prefer to keep my porters and saisons separate (i.e. in the traditional fashion.)

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Photo of hardy008
3.03/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours dark black with a two finger mocha head with good retention and lacing. The aroma has Belgian yeast, bananas, dark roasted malt, and pepper.

The taste has dark roasted malt, Belgian yeast, pepper, bananas, and some tartness. Nothing really tastes bad, it's just that what I am tasting doesn't work well together. The most likely problem is the dark roasted malt. It doesn't seem to belong with everything else. It doesn't taste bad, but it just doesn't fit in.

There is a bit of a grainy feeling to this beer. Medium bodied with modest carbonation. There is a dark roasted malt aftertaste, which is too noticeable. If it played a smaller supporting role, it might be okay. As it is, I am glad I tried this, but don't plan to seek it out again.

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Photo of wedgie9
3.04/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tasted on draft at Bad Apple. Pours almost black with a tint of amber. The head is thin but long lasting and off-white. Nose of rock candy, yeast, some breadiness, and both light coffee and coconut. Flavor is very light considering the color with citrus, candy, black pepper, yeast and bread. The dark malt comes through on the back with coffee and chocolate. Carbonation and body are both fairly light with a long, dark finish. Overall, this beer is good but not great.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.04/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into Trappist Westvleteren goblet in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live.

A: Pours a one finger head, fairly thin, of slight tan colour, pretty much no cream, and pretty decent retention. Solid black colour.

Sm: Slight cream and very light malt. An extremely light aroma.

T: Chocolate, light caramel, some yeast, and very light nuts. A subtle but simple build, with a good balance. Not at all bold or daring. Brewed safely and in a mediocre fashion. This is not at all a saison; I don't know who entered that as the style but they were wrong. Pretty decently balanced, but shy.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with a welcome touch of cream. It could definitely be expanded to suit the flavours more.

Dr: Quite drinkable (the ABV doesn't come through at all), but indistinct. I wouldn't have it again, unless it was on draught and someone raved about it. An unremarkable beer from an allegedly remarkable brewery. <Disappointment>


01/03/14: Truncated notes for a re-review. Bottled: 03/04/11 (almost 3 years ago on the dot). Served into De Molen stemware (an ideal glass based on the image on the label). 6% ABV according to the bottle.

Yields a carbonation hiss upon opening.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours almost entirely foam in spite of a careful pour. Definitely seems overcarbonated. It's a five finger wide head of khaki-tan colour. Airy and fluffy. Okay thickness. Little creaminess. Head retention is good - about 7-8+ minutes.

Body colour is a very dark brown. Semitranslucent but nontransparent. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible.

Overall, it looks nothing like the best farmhouse ales I've had. I'm suspicious.

Sm: Starch. Belgian dark malts. Vague cola. That's about it.

I don't find any peppercorn, alcohol, hop character, or yeast character.

Very underwhelming for a farmhouse ale aroma. I can't say it gets me excited to try it. Aroma is average in strength.

T: Vague cola nut/cola notes. Light chocolate malts. Caramel. A kiss of unidentifiable nutty notes. Some unremarkable Belgian dark & brown malts. There's no hop character to speak of. The flavour profile is deprived of the intricate yeasty notes necessary to make a beer in this style a success. The peppercorn mentioned on the label is sorely absent. I'm far from impressed. It's a painfully simple attempt at a farmhouse ale which lacks the key elements; there's no yeasty character (as well as no accompanying farmhouse funk), no pepper/white pepper, no milky notes, and no straw, hay, or spice. Lacks any subtlety, intricacy, or nuance whatsoever. I'm shocked at its simplicity. Very underwhelming. I can't really call it balanced as there's little here to balance.

Below average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour.

No overt alcohol comes through.

Not sure what they're going for with this one, but the execution is lackluster - both within and without style conventions.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Neatly carbonated. Decent presence on the palate. Okay body and thickness. I can't say the texture brings much out of the taste. It's pretty generic.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, or harsh.

Dr: As forgettable a farmhouse ale as you'll ever have. Not worth trying; I'm very underwhelmed. This is even worse than I remember it. You'd think three years of age would give the yeast a chance to show something, but no. This will fail to impress the discerning drinker and I'd caution my friends against trying it. Far from worth its unreasonable price point. Based on this bottle, I can't recommend aging it. Really a subpar try at a farmhouse ale. Why brew this? I know from experience Goose Island can - and does - do better. Extremely disappointing.


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Photo of deebo
3.05/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottled on 1/3/11

A-Dark black/brown color, moderate carbonation, tight tan head with lacing on glass

S-Yeasty, fruity esters are dominant aroma

T-Yeasty, sweet malt flavor with some sourness and astringency, a little floral/pine hop aftertaste. Different from any other "saison" I've had.

M-Plenty of tingly carbonation, medium bodied, lingering sour/astringent aftertaste

D-The aftertaste makes this a bit low compared to other saisons.

O-An interesting combination, this dark saison has decent flavor, the aftertaste is a bit offputting, will see how it ages

5/21/15-revisiting this beer after almost 4 years since last review. The appearance and carbonation is still spot on. As I would expect this beer has taken on a bit more sweetness and some ripe dark fruit notes. Any hop aroma and taste is long gone. I'm getting a hint of astringency still but it's a bit muted. Overall I prefer this with the age on it but it still isn't worth the effort. I'd bump up the taste and mouthfeel a point and keep the aroma and appearance as is. Not bad.

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Photo of JLeege
3.06/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled 2/25/11

Appearance- Dark brown pour with a creamy dense two finger off white head.

Smell- Peppery spice, dark fruits, a little citrus, yeast. Not a big nose.

Taste- Chocolate and dark fruits start things off. Leading into strong pepper notes. The abundance of peppercorns is almost giving this a light smoked taste, though I am pretty sure there are no smoked malts used in this beer. Some Belgian yeast towards the finish. Quick dry finish, no real linger.

Mouthfeel- Medium light body with lower carbonation. A tad watery.

Overall- A decent idea from Goose Island, but the beer is just not that good. Not a whole lot going on, the first real miss from their otherwise excellent Belgian line.

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Pepe Nero from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.76 out of 5 based on 1,786 ratings.
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