Pepe Nero Belgian Style Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

very good
503 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Pepe Nero Belgian Style AlePepe Nero Belgian Style Ale

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:
Belgian style Farmhouse Ale brewed with peppercorns.

Mahogany color, black pepper aroma, roasted malt and spice flavor, creamy body.

Added by adamette on 03-30-2010

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 503 | Ratings: 1,788
Photo of DavoleBomb
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip.

4.0 A: Deep mahogany brown color. Two fingers of creamy light brown head withe average retention and a healthy ring of lacing.

4.0 S: Belgian yeastiness and peppercorns are most dominant. Lots of black pepper spiciness, followed by clove phenols, followed by some light banana esters. Earthy and dry with a light roastiness.

4.0 T: Taste is full of pepper and clove. Good amount of yeastiness. Banana fruitiness again with hints of plum and raisin as well. Again this is earthy, mildly burnt and roasty, and fairly dry (though much sweeter than the nose suggests). A touch of earthy rye spiciness. Good here.

4.0 M: Lighter medium body. Good spritzy carbonation in appropriate amounts. Reasonably creamy and overall pretty smooth with a slight charred aftertaste.

4.5 D: Good beer. I decided to give this a 4.5 for drinkibility because a lot of the above scores could have easily be the next highest. Good flavors and interesting. I would like another, but I only have this one.

 1,004 characters

Photo of waldoiverson
3.76/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber into Tulip glass

A: a very dark brown, edging toward black, super fine dark head that left medium-fine lacing

S: shockingly, very little hint of toasted malts, that which is there is of a carob tone, a little alcohol, slightly tangy. A bit of a disappointment.

T: slight charm then a nice bright yeast flavor, slight woody/resinous bitterness, dark flavors come through in a slightly sour finish.

M: bright carbonation, pretty dry from front to back, gets a bit more viscous as it warms

D: the abv and the unique mingling of toasted and sour flavors are unique and worth a bottle or two.

 599 characters

Photo of sweemzander
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Bottled 01-17-2011.

(A)- Pours a pitch black color. Produced a great fluffy tan colored head with great retention. Lacing aplenty.

(S)- A really nice dry yeasty earth to it. Definite pepper-like spice in there with more dry hay/straw. Wonderfully earthy.

(T)- Same as the smell in alot of ways. A dry clay earthy yeast profile. Some subtle pepper spice in there. Also some very subtle roasted qualities to it too.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. I was afraid the peppercorn addition would overpower it, but actually adds a nice level of spice to the core of the beer. A good dryness and earth I can appreciate.

(D)- An interesting take on a saison that I rather enjoyed. A bit richer and darker representation, but it was well done.

 791 characters

Photo of PBoegel
3.31/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle, freshness dated bottled 1/3/2011 (will develop for five years in the bottle...? challenge)

Poured into an Ommegang flute chalice, this beer looks great black tea colored with a wheat colored head, fluffy and meringue like with a rocky density, which unfortunately breaks down a little. No real lacing to speak of, but the glass might not have been ideal for it.

Aromas are pretty inviting, floral, lavender, jasmine, lilac and a touch of pepper spice, from the yeast don't pick up pepper corns. Some bubblegum, sweet chocolate and orange. Things starting to get a little weird as this beer opens up. Some acetone peaks through and begins to become a stingy twang.

The flavor had a mix of fresh tea like floral character and a spray extract as in a perfume or cologne. There is a sharp phenolic note not the peppery effervescent spice I like from Belgian yeast but more of a ringing and reverberating sweet Dr. Pepper character.

Mouthfeel is fairly good for the style, hard to really delve into because it was not the most inviting beer on the palate, certainly well carbonated, perhaps too much so, finish has a bit of a lasting coating on the tongue, would like to catch a shorter drier tone from a Saison.

Not for me. Something simply was not happening here, the beer looked fantastic and after having Ithaca brewings dark Saison this passed summer, I was looking forward to trying some more but this was a beer in conflict.

 1,450 characters

Photo of Mandark
3.72/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Samuel Smith pint glass.

Head is minimal, little lacing.
Surprises you by NOT being a brown ale, instead a saison.
Certainly smells like a saison, a little funky, pleasant and earthy.
Tastes like a saison, not surprising or unusual. Spicy, a little bit of a burn, sort of antiseptic.
Mouthfeel is silkier than other farmhouse ales I've tried, very nice.
One of these a night is enough. Not bad at all, in fact a solid offering, but just not what I'm looking for for the long haul.

 494 characters

Photo of dgugliuzza
3.73/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a chalice

A- Chocolate brown color with a thin tan head. Head becomes film like and gives way to medium sized bubbles. Very inviting deep brown color.

S- Smells of sweet fruits with hints of chocolate. Sweet and floral finish with a touch of honey. I did not detect any peppercorn aroma.

T- Malty and smooth. Hints of chocolate and nuts. Slight bitter finish. Do not detect any hops. Still not picking up on any peppercorn, either. However, it is earthy.

M- Really dig the mouthfeel. Full and creamy. Medium carbonation and malty throughout. Comes together really well.

D- Would have no problem drinking two or three. Goes down smooth. The mouthfeel is the best part about this beer. Another solid Goose Island offering

 757 characters

Photo of Jono0284
3.3/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer poured a dark tan color with a tall light tan head. The head quickly faded. In the glass the beer is a dark color that resembles a porter.

I smelled the maltiness and yeast and dark fruit like raisins and the alcohol. My wife's gut reaction on the smell was ceder. As the beer opens up both the yeast and malt fade and I get more of the fruit and booze aroma.

It was very thin in the mouth which was very deceptive because of the color.

The taste was light but the fruits came through. Did not get a lot of the normal "Belgian" tastes. There is some bitterness on the finish and some slight sour notes.

Drank in February 2011 - will drink again in a few years.

 677 characters

Photo of mryuk
3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours very dark and could pretend to be a stout or a porter if you could only see the beer. Unfiltered and translucent with a smallish yellow head that does not stick around.

smells spicy and malty with some chocolate

taste is malty and alcoholic with some bitter at the end. Lots of spices throughout and some fruit.

lots of carbonation and medium-thick bodied.

Overall this beer was only OK. I think this beer could likely get a lot better with age and I will throw a few in the basement and maybe review again in a few years.

 532 characters

Photo of CMB2012
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a wide mouth wine glass.

This ominous brew pours black as night with a minimal tan head that dissipates quickly.

I really wish someone would have given this to me as a blind taste test. The experience is confusing as my eyes say stout and my nose says saison. It smells bright and sparkly with traditional farm house funk, but there is something unusual here. The dark malts show up towards the end with some bitter coffee and dark chocolate notes. It isn't unpleasant, but certainly unique.

The taste is citrus, slight funk, with dark chocolate and some bitterness (not overwhelming). In the end it is what I would call a sparkling stout. Some sort of stout/champagne hybrid.

The mouthfeel is highly carbonated and all saison, perhaps the only thing about this beer that is. It cleans the palate well and lingers only slightly.

First the black IPA and now the black Saison, I certainly applaud the creativity. Whether or not this beer would ever be top notch for its "kind" it has definitely set a path for a new direction that I hope will be explored by other brewers. I don't know if I would give it a definitive saison label, but I have little to suggest otherwise. I would say if you can find it, and you like either saisons or stouts, give it a try. There are worse things you could spend $7.99 on.

 1,333 characters

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

A - Dark cola brown with a healthy, creamy, thick, full, off-white head. Really nice retention with a very nice creamy lace.

S - Strange aroma. First whiff I did get some of the hay and floral type of saison aroma (not really funky/barnyard though). Next whiff I get some spice with pepper, rye, and clove along with some roasted malt and chocolate. Hints of banana that along with the dark flavors, resemble a dunkleweizen.

T - Not really all that much like a typical saison flavor. Spiced with a lot of rye, clove, and roasted malt/chocolate. Pepper is definitely present but it's not a peppery saison like I was somewhat expecting. A good amount of earthy flavors and a faint phenol hint. Interesting and fairly spiced although I would probably say more earthy than spicy, but definitely not what I was expecting.

M - Medium body with average carbonation. Slightly crisp and dry.

D - Not exactly what I was expecting from a saison, just a little too earthy and slightly spicy to be all that drinkable. Glad I had one, but probably wouldn't really want to drink another right after.

Notes: Bottled 01/03/11. Interesting beer, not quite what I was expecting and doesn't seem entirely focused but it was good and definitely has some potential. Not really like a saison with roasted malt, chocolate, rye and earthy flavors being strongest. Worth of try and it is good, but it could be better.

 1,396 characters

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

I've been anxiously awaiting this beer's release, especially since I've never had a black saison before this one. This beer pours a silky dark, dark brown that is on the verge of black with a light half finger dark khaki head that laces the glass. It resembles a stout. The smell is very funky and earthy. It kind of smells like wet dirt after a rain, but in a good way. The aromas are a little subdued. The flavor is interesting. Comparing this to a usual saison probably isn't fair. It has a lot of funk, a good amount of yeast, but then it finishes with this slightly bitter flavor, kind of like plastic. I don't know if it's the peppercorns or what. The mouthfeel is probably the strongest part of this very fresh saison. It drinks and looks like a stout. It's crisp when it hits your palate then mellows to go down very smoothly. I'm a little disappointed yet I didn't know what to expect from my first black saison. The flavor is just very different. I'll age another bottle to see if it ages as gracefully as Goose Island's other bombers.

 1,045 characters

Photo of jjanega08
4.09/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A= The color is a dark black color that I suspect is more of a brown with a little light shining throught the edges of my tulip. While I look at the beer coming out of the glass it looks hazy. The head is a small off white color with a little retention and some spotty lacing. I feel like a saison should have more head to it.

S= Smells pretty good. Interesting i would say. I'm not gonna say it smell pepper in perticular but I do get some sort of earthy quality buried in there. It has a little bit of a roastyness to it but not much by any means. There isn't much of a typical saison smell to it maybe a little Belgian yeastiness to it.

T= The taste is very interesting. I do get a lot of the pepper. It melds well with a sort of banana flavor but it is there. The Belgian yeast makes itself known as well but it sort of takes the way side. There is a nice smokeyness to it that I attribute to the peppercorns I suppose.

M= For a saison I would say the mouth is spot on. Great carbonation and a nice medium body. The color of it makes me wish it were a little thicker. I will rate it by the saison style because I don't think there are many other black saisons.

D= A very tasty beverage. I can see myself drinking this with some grilled meat in the early spring for sure. This begs to be paired with grilled meat. Drinking it by itself I don't think it holds up as much. This is really a beer that is for pairing and sort of makes one step back and realize how well integrated beer can be in cuisine.

 1,508 characters

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

Appearance -- Pours a deep cola brown with two fingers of tight cream head. Truthfully, it looks like a BSDA.

Smell -- Roast malt, cocoa, banana, clove oil, cracked pepper, and earthy yeast.

Taste -- Gently roast malt, banana, clove, earthy malt, and faint woodsmoke. Malt sweetness is quite mild, though there is an iota of plum sweetness. While the peppercorn flavor is certainly present, it's not spicy. There is a hint of what seems to be brett funk in there; think Matilda. Overall, very mellow.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-bodied, slightly slick, with moderate prickly carbonation. I typically like saisons to be more active with regards to carbonation, but this is really working for me.

Drinkability -- While this beer didn't wow me, it was incredibly easy to drink. This could possibly be my favorite of the non-sour Goose Island Belgians. A quality dark saison.

 867 characters

Photo of Beejay
3.92/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A very deep brown with ruby hues at the edges. A nice tan head on top, though it fades relatively quickly.

S: There is a little bit of a sweet/sour thing going on in the smell. There is a tartness with a hint of fruit in it.

T: Very interesting. Sweet right at first, but a tartness takes over quickly. The finish is peppery and dry.

M: Fairly light, the feel of the carbonation is very smooth, like it is comprised of very fine bubbles. Very creamy mouthfeel perhaps the growler knocked down some of the carbonation.

D: Quite drinkable. Very nice overall, and the peppery finish is interesting.

 605 characters

Photo of swanny28
3.57/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: supprise this beer was dark.... as supposed to most saisons.. has a small head when poured then fades quickly...

s: not a lot here thought i'd be getting a lot of peper here but not so much on the nose-

T: Here this saison shines: lots of flavor. the pepercorn is not overflavoring... in fact it doesn't overpower at all, but lots of hints of it peper in the after taste.

M: peppercorn is in play here not alot but a hint. any more than this could be overbearing..

D: easy to drink: i love that it is a dark saison - unique and interesting beer. worth a try....

 568 characters

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.

 644 characters

Photo of BeerLover99
3.83/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: onyx body, 1 finger head, fair lacing

S: light fig/date, whiff of citrus, mild coffee, dash of pepper

T: same as the scent, tad sweet in front, malt middle, mild bitter finish with pepper.

M: Medium, prick on tongue, above average carbonation, mild creamy and sticky after sip

D: This tastes nice, BUT very disappointed after reading the label stating it a was Belgian Saison/Farmhouse Ale w/peppercorn. Tasted more like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale meets a porter. Still worth trying, but not cosmically divine.

 516 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.36/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass. Bottle is dated January 7th 2011.

Resembles and American stout in appearance. Watery dark walnut brown in body with a tan head of about two fingers. Minimal lacing, some but not a lot.

Faint yeast and floral aromatics with barnyard character and must. Not quite unique though and sort of actually boring kind of pedestrian. At least it's not really awful, but this doesn't smell like pepper at all.

Stinging club soda front in the mouth with a quinine and malt taste. Has a bit more body than most saisons I've had, and has a neat kind of malt chew finish which is a nice touch and spin. A little bit of pepper on the tongue after a swallow but not much, and it comes across like fast food take out pepper packets.

A fairly easy to drink saison for a change, but seems to be missing the so called pepper feel that it boasts about. So I am not exactly drawn to it.

 908 characters

Photo of MarkFy
3.61/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter.

A: very dark brown, no head

S: very faint, hard to tell, some wheat, bread.

T: Again, starts out with a slightly sweet, grainy, bread like taste. The Belgium style shows up on the front with the black IPA characteristics showing up in the end. Finishes dryer with hints of coffee.

M: Maybe slightly too carbonated for my likes, thin.

D: Glad I tried it, a nice version of the style, but wouldn't personally seek it out again. The alcohol is about right with the 6%

 507 characters

Photo of bbarrows
3.3/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from bottle to chalice.

A: Very dark brown, opaque. 1/2 inch head; poured too cold (47deg)

S: Spicy like black pepper with a ample yet not over-powering smoke aroma

T: More smoke than spice, long lingering smoke, but again, not overpowering. (And I'm not a fan of smoky beers)

M: Thin, no body to it.

D: It'll take me a while to finish this 22oz bottle, and I wouldn't be longing for another.

 405 characters

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

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Boulevard tulip.

Bottled: 01/07/11

A: Pours a dark cola-brown color with some lighter chestnut at the edges. Sitting on top is one short lived finger of khaki colored foam that quickly melted down to a thick ring and whispy skim. Some specks of lace were present.

S: Interesting yeasty aromas. A tad floral and definitely fruity. Roast, bakers chocolate, dried flowers, grassy hops, some ground black pepper.

T: Just as above with the addition of flour-less chocolate cake, a little pine, and some tart lemon during the finish.

M: Interesting. Just medium bodied with some jammy sweetness, peppery sizzle, and hoppy astringency. Finishes with with a nice mixture of dry, ashy malt, bitter dark chocolate, and prickly pepper.

D: I really dug this. I really liked that this take on a black Saison included lots of earthy hops, pepper, and bitter dark chocolate. This is not a dark Saison with lots of bright fruit, funk, and's somehow a little more sinister.

 1,004 characters

Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.25/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Goose Island Belgian goblet.

A: Pours a beautiful dark brown with a wispy Champagne-like head.

S: Delicious funky Belgian yeast and spicy pepper.

T: Taste is dynamic and complex. First you taste breadiness and funk, then some spicy hops and finally the pepper. Every other sip a new flavour emerges.

D: Alcohol is completely hidden in this one; only the uniqueness and amount of flavour in this can slow you down.

Overall: A great beer from a great line of beers. It is a unique and interesting twist on the typical Saison, and is unapologetically original and interesting. Recommended!

 625 characters

Photo of JEdmund
3.3/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out looking like black tea' you can certainly see through it, and it's no where near as dark as a stout or even a porter. A disappointing lack of head doesn't form.

Smell is restrained, but what I can detect is slight fruitiness and maybe a hint of funky yeast. But it's hard to tell.

Taste thankfully isn't as muted, though it's by no means full-flavored. Body is thin-medium and carbonation seems dialed too far down; I'd like this with a much more effervescent texture. Flavors are like de-bittered malts, slight fruitiness, and a little pepper spice. Again, I'd like these all amped up a few more notches.

Pepe Nero is a let down after being so pleased with Sofie. I'd be interested in trying this after spending some time in a cellar.

 751 characters

Photo of samie85
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a burgundy-hued brown color with one and a half fingers of light brown head.

S-Spicy smelling clove yeast notes with hints of some spicy black pepper.

T-Mild clove yeast notes with some light malt and roasted notes and a tiny bit of lingering black pepper.

M-Light bodied with medium carbonation at the forefront and ends a little thicker and sticky on the finish.

D-This is a pretty easy drinking saison. I've had a couple that were a little too in your face with the yeast notes and barnyard, but this one avoids going in that direction. As a result, this is a very approachable beer that I would recommend to people who are new to the style.

 657 characters

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

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a maple brown color with tints of walnut and ruby in the corners, along with a gorgeous fluffy beige head. It majestically sits on top, retaining very well, and leaving a web of lace on the glass.

Smell: Tons of yeast spice, black pepper, toasted malt, relaxed toasted malt and a bit of chocolate.

Taste: It starts with a soft sweetness, some general dark fruit notes, and a hint of cocoa. Lots of fruity yeasty esters that I expect out of the style. A full helping of black pepper completes the spiciness. Light earthy hops finish out the taste. The finish is lightly bitter but a little bit more sweet.

Mouthfeel: It starts out juicy with the sweetness, slowly drying out over course of the sip, It finishes fairly dry. A fairly full body for the style, with medium creamy smooth carbonation.

Drinkability: I have not had a black saison before, but this is a valuable addition to their lineup. Definitely something I will come back to when I am thinking about a GI, particularly after their very middle-of-the-road Belgian series thus far.

 1,111 characters

Pepe Nero Belgian Style Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.76 out of 5 based on 1,788 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.