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 Sammy
3.82/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A black saison. A winter saison. Jon's bottle, and finally caught up with this one that I missed in NYC. A dark body, above average mouthfeel, a sipper of chocolate, coffee, spruce, pepper. Cross-style with a shwartzbier. Wonderful aroma.Bit of smoke.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.12/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this back to back with Matilda... very different.

A: two finger tan head on a deep brown body with red tinge when held up to the light.

S: roasted malt, caramel, toffee, chocolate and dark fruit. Less yeasty than a typical saison.

T: Interesting flavor which is both roasty and tart due to the sour side of fruitiness. Peppercorn cotes with more of a yeasty note than was in the aroma.

M: lighter side of medium body and moderate to high carbonation.

Overall: Having had this back to back with Matilda, I actually would choose this one to have again because of how different it was.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.67/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pour at the BevMo Holiday Beerfest held at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, CA.

Bottled 5/26/12.

Pours a murky dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, spices, slight peppery aromas, and Belgian yeast. Taste is much the same with a mild roasty and spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but I think it smells better than it tastes.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a very unique beer, cant believe i waited this long to try one! the pour is nearly jet black, inky and thick, with a really nice off white head, patchy but sturdy, lasting and easy ro revive with a little jolt. the nose is really roasty malts with some bitter dark cocoa in there, also the black peppercorns really stand out, as complimented by the funky yeast. the flavor is consistent here, pepper and funk all the way through, with an alcoholic, almost bourbon flavor on the back end. spicy but not overbearing at all, delicate in way, despite its looks. the feel is legendary, expansive bright mouthfeel, lots of tiny bubbles like champaigne, with some mellow warmth from the pepper and a long lasting bittersweet finish where the yeast still shines. its so complex and tasty, im a huge fan. my bottle is from 2012, and says 6.4% abv rather than the listed 6, but you cant taste it at all. big flavors abound in this drinkable classic. hoping the sale of the brewery doesnt shut this baby down, because this is fantastic.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.17/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as a deep brownish black color. The head was foamy and tan in color. The head settles slowly and leaves a ring around the glass with some scattered lacing. The smell of the beer is peppery with some sweet roasted malts on the nose too. The taste of the beer has a nice soft breadiness, with a touch of spice and some very nice caramel notes in there too. The mouthfeel is kind of creamy with a light carbonation. Overall this beer is quite nice, very enjoyable, looking forward to having my next bottle.

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Photo of metter98
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark brownish amber in color. It poured with a two finger high dense tan head that died down but never completely faded away.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of dark malts, yeast and spices in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, except that that the peppercorns are a little more prominent, but in no way does their spiciness overpower the taste, which is very well balanced.
M: It feels medium-bodied and slightly dry on the palate with a moderate to high amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very interesting because the peppercorns make it taste almost like a “black saison,” if there is such a style. The pepper is not overpowering, but it does mask some of the other flavors that you would typically expect from a saison.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Relatively new to the brewing circuit, Black Saisons have potential as an alternative to these ultimately dry Belgian golden-type of ales. But there are some dangers...

Pepe pours a medium brown color with medium haze. Very froathy with a fantastic foamstance, good lacing, and retention. Off white foam caps the snifter with a marshmallowy type of consistency. Very solid.

Muted aromas of fruit and yeasty spice are met with toasty/bready notes. Where the estery and phenolic notes of typical Saisons are present, they share the stage with the added toast and mild chocolate scent. But overall, much lighter than I expected.

Superbly balance flavor of the apple/pear fruitiness and peppery spice weave in and out of the malt complex of toast, fresh baked bread/bread crust, and mild chocolate and woods. Where the added complexity of dark malts give the beer more interest, it also provides some distraction and works against the purity of true Saisons.

Creamy and full textures early fade evenly into a dry toast finish and fleeting aftertaste. Quite refreshing and clean in the end for so much complexity in the early sip and mid palate.

Though Pepe Nero is a very clean and drinkable Saison, it lacks the intensity of flavor and the raw earthy notes that make authentic Saisons so desirable.

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Photo of brentk56
4.28/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearancec: The coffee colored liquid pours out and is topped by a massive beige head; the retention is impressive as is the lacing - looks like a true Belgian

Smell: Roasty malt elements along with hints of hazelnuts and the farmhouse

Taste: Pumpernickel bread and hazelnuts, up front, with a quick shift in an herbal Farmhouse direction; by mid-palate, the peppercorns add a bit of hotness; while the Saaz hops add a grassy impact, the peppercorns mask some of the hop elements; a bit of coffee appears in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with spritzy carbonation

Overall: A most interesting beer; the flavor palatte comes at you from all directions

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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 emerge077
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tumbler glass. Khaki tan foam, sticks at the edges, dark mahogany body. Delicate crown of lacing in the glass.

Earthy, sweet aroma, dominant Belgian yeast.

Creamy feel, medium bodied, dry and slightly bitter. Not so much as a tingle from the pepper. Pleasant mellowness in the finish, the light roast and mild coffee flavors arrive first, with some earthy peppercorn notes, but again, not all that spicy. Feels more like a straightforward Belgian Dark Ale without the sweetness. Not sweet at all, again fairly dry. Some estery qualities for sure, banana almost... Fairly phenolic with notes of clove and licorice.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.92/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a black color ale with a medium brown foamy head with average retention and light lacing. Aroma of light spicy yeast notes with some Belgian malt with light notes of spices. Taste is an interesting mix between some solid Belgian rustic malt notes with some peppery notes and some spicy yeast. Body is about average with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very solid offering with an interesting mix between the rye malt and the spicy yeast strain.

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Photo of oline73
3.41/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at Victoria served in a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a very murky dark brown with a reddish hue. There is a small layer of tan head that goes away completely.

Smell: The smell is mild but good. Mildly sweet and a little tart with hints of cherry and dark fruit. There is also some spice that fits well with the style.

Taste: A very mild roast and sweetness with hints of dark fruits and tart cherries. There is some spice from the yeast and the rye. The finish has a smooth bitterness with a hint of pepper.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with super smooth carbonation and medium bubbles. There is a touch of dryness in the finish.

Overall: An interesting take on a saison. There are a few too many flavors fighting for attention. I don't think I'd have it again, but it definitely wasn't bad.

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Photo of zeff80
3.97/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured an opaque, cola-black color with a small, tan head of of bubbly foam. The head receded to leave behind thick, sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of roasted malt and strong yeasty notes. It smelled peppery.

T - This "black" saison had a very spicy and peppery flavor. Good roasted malt flavor.

M - This one finishes very dry and crisp. A medium-bodied saison that is very easy drinking.

D - This is a pretty nice brew. I'm glad I found it on tap.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.58/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes. Pour yields a nearly-black beer with a mocha-colored head and some nice retention. The nose has a bit of earth and pepper along with some Belgian yeast spiciness. The peppercorn really stands out in the nose, and that carries over into the flavor. A bit of roasted malt in the flavor along with some earthy woodiness. Mouthfeel is medium with a bit of spice and good carbonation. Drinks fairly well.

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Photo of mothman
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours 1/2 finger of beige head. Color is brown with a copper hue to it. Lace was left.

Aroma: Dry, spice, and rye. Pepper with roasted smoked malts. Light fruits show (bananas). Very odd.

Taste: Bananas, cloves, roasted/smoked malts, some other spices, rye flavors. Kind of dunkel-weisse-like.

Mouthfeel: Dry , spiced, and roasted. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Clean feel to it. Ends dry and spiced again.

Overall, an interesting take on the style, but I kind of like it. Somewhat drinkable, but I wouldn't want too much of it.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 12/20/2011. Pours hazy and cloudy very dark reddish brown color with a nice 2-3 finger foamy khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice dense foamy lacing clings on the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of big raisin, prune, fig, apple, clove, pepper, molasses, dark candi sugar, toast, light roast, light smoke, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/spicy esters with big malt presence; and good strength. Taste of raisin, fig, apple, pepper, clove, toast, molasses, roasted malt, dark candi sugar, light smoke, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of dark fruit, pepper, clove, molasses, toast, roasted malt, and earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice complexity of fruity/spicy yeast esters with a great dark malt balance; and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with a fairly slick, crisp, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an excellent black saison style. All around nice complexity and balance of fruity/spicy ester notes with dark malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of oberon
4.07/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 bottle.I gotta say I have never seen a saison/farmhouse Belgian this dark in color,it's a deep mahogany with a great looking fluffy one and a half finger light beige head atop that spits and billows as settles oh so slowly in my chalice.Aromas of candied sugar and hard toffee,a light peppery spice is detected.Dark fruit and toffee flavors with a smack of pepper in the finish wich I like,dark fruits as required are there.Although the bottle may say farmouse this isn't a farmhouse beer,it's a Belgian dark with peppercorns and it's pretty damn good.

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Photo of jlindros
3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a huge 2+ finger darker colored head fairly fluffy with a bit of lacing, over almost black colored beer and no real light coming through.

Nose has a nice combination of a Belgian saison, light straw and golden malts for the lighter side, but a bit of darker crystal and hint of black roasty malts for the darker side, some light Belgian yeast fruit, with that comes a slight hint of mild hops.

Taste starts a bit creamy actually, some malts with a bit of crystal and darker malts, then with some light straw and light golden malts, a bit of a Belgian malt taste, some fruits from the Belgian yeast, a light barnyard funk barely comes through and gives it just a touch of tartness with the funk, some spicy dry saison yeast as well, a touch of cocoa powder, and some light earthy grassy mild hops. It gets a bit bitter on the finish as it dries out quite a bit, a bit of lingering malt flavors, and bit of creamy malts and touch of fruit all lingering a bit.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied, slightly creamy, and decent but a bit lower carbonation, low for a saison at least.

Overall really interesting, pretty good, nice saison flavors blended with a bit of darker malts, touch of cocoa and some creamy malts, bit of funk and tartness, and fruits, nice.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Goose Island "Pepe Nero"
22 oz. brown glass bottle, "BOTTLED: 04/16/12 1018"
$9.49 @ Wegmans, Malvern, PA

Appearance: Deep brown-black body with glimmering highlights of ruby (slightly hazy). Frothy, massive head of dark khaki. Excellent head retention, clearly bolstered by the effervescent carbonation beneath. Long splashes was well as peaks and valleys are left behind in the lacing.

Aroma: Toasty, caramelish, mildly nutty-toffee-like, and gently spicy. Phenolic. Some light clove. A hint of plastic. Some alcohol. Dull, dark skinned fruit. Subtly chocolatey/roasty.

Flavor: Initially more caramelish and chocolatey, as it warms and the carbonation softens the spiciness (clove, white pepper) and fruit (prune, apple/pear, raisin) appear more clearly, transforming it. It's somehow almost woody, like cedar or soft oak, probably coming from a combination of spiciness and some of the darker malts; and I think that may lead, along with the edge of roastiness, to the impression of a kind of smokiness. Some higher alcohols are present, which is interesting given that it's just 6% (according to the label).

It's fairly full in flavor, and there are some nuances to it, but in general it remains quite the same from beginning to end. The finish is of course dryer, but it's not particularly spicy or fruity (there is an added hint of licorice), and some residual malt leaves it 'similar' to what you've just experienced from the get go.

Mouthfeel: Effervescent, yet malty. Bristling, then slightly foamy, then creamy as it warms.

Overall: I can only assume that (almost) three years in the bottle has softened this beer quite a bit. I remember it having more of a peppery note, and a bit more edge. It's components stood out more. It's quite rounded at this point, and I'm not sure that that really works. I would imagine that early last year was probably its "sweet spot", so if you've got any in the cellar now would be a good time to start finishing them off.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.96/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 4/26/2013 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown color, with a large beige head that fades very slowly and leaves a very thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains Belgian yeast, caramelized malts, spices and some chocolate.

T: The taste starts out with a strong Belgian yeast breadiness. Then some sweetness comes in from flavors of dark fruit, caramel and some spices. The hops presence is very mild and there’s a decent balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, good variation of style, this is a solid beer to drink if you’re looking for something a little bit different.

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Photo of mactrail
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dry black beer.

Very dark in the snifter. Beautiful head with nice carbonation in the mouth. Not much aroma. Subtle flavors. A faint fruity flavor, like guavas, hint of jam. Lemony and tart. Light body. Roasted malt seems to be main flavor. Hops leave some bitter traces and a slight rasp. Some meaty, funky tastes give it some Belgian character. All the flavors fade.

This would be easy to drink. Interesting without being strange.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served on-tap at Iron Monkey in Jersey City, NJ

A: Pours a clear but opaque very dark brown (almost black) in color with light amounts of visible carbonation near the surface and some dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a two finger tall foamy sudsy dark tan head that slowly reduces to a large patch of thick film surrounded by some very thin film covering the remainder of the surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of dark malts, saison yeast, and black pepper spiciness.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of dark malts with some light to moderate notes of black pepper and peppercorn spiciness. There is a light, almost subtle flavor of saison yeast. Hints of bitterness are present in the finish and linger for quite a while.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Light amounts of dryness are present.

O: While the peppercorns do not overwhelm the beer, they do reduce the complexity of the flavors and aromas of a saison making a little one note for me. Still an enjoyable beer, the addition of the peppercorns make this one more of a sipper than an easy drinker. I guess I would call this one a Black Saison.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle - $3.49 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Bottled On: 06/13/12

Appearance: Pours out a very dark brown, near black body with a tall crown of beige foam. The mighty soon recedes but never quite fades from sight. Minor lacing.

Smell: Bittersweet chocolate-coated roasted barley, but, then there's a notable floral aroma accented by the spiciness from the phenols but also the p-corns and a light dark fruitiness.

Taste: Dark chocolate, roasted malts with a soft coffee tone. Modestly sweet. Plum-ish fruitiness, a tiny pinch of cloves, a little pre-chewed gum, and handful of nosegays. A little subtle pepper spiciness showing from time to time. Then, a little bit of licorice, but also some more chocolate. Spicy, choco-roasty, crispish finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-plus carbonation, mouthfeel is moderate peppy, yet it's still rather smooth in a way.

Overall: Pepe Nero is not your everyday saison, or even your every other day saison, but I liked it well enough.

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Photo of russpowell
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Goebbel's in Wichita, always happy to try something new from this brewery. Bottled 01/07/11...

Pours an effervescent mahogany with 2+ fingers of mocha colored head. Above average head retention

S: Pears & apple peels

T: Follows the nose, plus a touch of plum & peppery spice. Peppery spice & grassy hops mingle with green apple as this warms, plus a touch of dryness & even a bit of caramel. Finishes fruity with some peppery notes, & subtle chocolate notes lurking on the edge

MF: Medium bodied, lively carbonation, but really works for the style

Overall a solid, but not terribly interesting Black Saison...

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Photo of billab914
3.35/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into my Allagash glass. It poured dark brown in color with a moderate, frothy, khaki colored head to it.

The aroma mixes the peppery Belgian yeast spice with a little bit of a chocolate milk flavor. I get some peppercorns, bananas and a little bit of citrus to it.

The roasted malts and the earthy spices seem to clash for me a little in the taste. The roasted coffee and dark chocolate tries to mix with the earthy spice, banana and citrus flavors and it's just not working that well for me. The finish has a strong crisp, tart fruit presence as well.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being above average. Overall, it was an interesting beer but it just didn't come together that well for me. The flavors just didn't seem very complimentary to me. Not a bad beer at all, but not on that stands out in the style for me either.

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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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