Big John
Goose Island Beer Co.

Big JohnBig John
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
American Imperial Stout
4.12 | pDev: 10.68%
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Big JohnBig John
Notes: Brewmasters Notes:
Inspired by the epic skyline of Chicago, Goose Island's brewers set out to craft Big John; a tall, bold slugger of a stout that stands out vividly against the little soft beers out there. Epic amounts of roasted malt and an addition of cacoa nibs give Big John a massive chocolate flavor and aroma. With a body as substantial and black as the building to which it pays homage, Big John is sure to inspire a sense of awe with each sip.
Reviews: 456 | Ratings: 1,579 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by MaxSpang:
Photo of MaxSpang
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a snifter. Brewed in March 2011.


Blacker than black, just a hair of light came through as it was being poured. The head was mocha/chocolate milk colored, small, and dissipated fairly quickly. There was a good amount of lacing as I drank it.


Strong raisin character in the nose. The alcohol was definitely present. There was a good amount of chocolate, as well as some bready/biscuit aromas. Some nice roasted malt aroma came through along with some very pleasant dark fruit aromas.


Yum! Much like the nose, there was a big raisin character. Some alcohol was present, but it was not boozy in the least bit. Some of the bitter pure bitter cacao came through at first, but got more subtle as I drank more which created a very, very tasty chocolate flavor. It was almost milky as far as the flavor and mouthfeel. It was very sweet but had a nice bitter finish after you swallow. Very lovely beer, very enjoyable.


Very thick. Not quite syrupy, but very sticky. Very little carbonation. It was extremely warming and extremely smooth, it was like drinking velvet - it went down very easily. As smooth as it was, the sheer body of it made the bottle last quite a long time. This is definitely a sipping beer and would be a wonderful winter time night cap.


This is a wonderful beer. A very sweet-chocolatey beer, almost dessert like. While it's not the end-all-be-all Imperial Stout, this is a wonderful beer that I would definitely drink again.

 1,515 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of bgold86
4.78/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage, poured into a 12 ounce snifter glass at just above room temperature. Huge huge chocolate and dark cherry nose, slight hints of espresso and cinnamon. Taste is hugely decadent, tons of chocolate and surprisingly huge amounts of roast! Really wish GI would brew this treasure again...

 296 characters

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.82/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bottle, 2013 vintage, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a full finger of chocolate-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Very aromatic! Tons of rich, earthy, bready, roasted malt, imparting notes of freshly toasted dark bread and freshly roasted coffee beans, as well as dark chocolate, brown sugar, and a touch of licorice. Rich and inviting.

Taste: Wow! Rich and chewy and delicious! Strong flavors of roasted malt up front, imparting notes of espresso and roasted nuts, followed by tons of chocolate, brown sugar-like sweetness and a touch of lactose-like cream. So delicious!

Mouthfeel: Chewy and rich, and extremely smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 11.5%, there is a pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: This is a delicious, rich, creamy, malty, chocolaty, slightly sweet beer! Great on its own, I’m sure it would be fantastic as a desert beer!

 1,056 characters

Photo of HopSynonymous
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bomber out of my HF chalice. Oldest beer I've ever had at 4.5 years. 3/25/11 bottle date.

L- Pitch black, opaque, small tan ring, no lacing. Viscous when swirled around.
S- Malty and chocolatey. Bit of alcohol heat with a large inhale. I don't know why I get BA quality, but I do.
T- Again, could be a bourbon barrel beer. It's sweet, chocolatey, dark fruits like cherry and plum, vanilla. Delicious.
F- Thick, but with more carb than I expected for a 4 year old beer!
O- Yum. Bomber is a beast to take down by yourself, but it is worth it. Not getting much change as it warm up and sits, which is a bit of a bummer, but this is a fantastic beer. Very nice.

 660 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.71/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some great lacing. Aroma of dark chocolate malt with light roasted malt and light residual sugar notes. Taste is a sublime mix between black milk chocolate with some light molasses and liquorice notes with light dry roasted malt notes also perceptible. Body is full with nice thick creamy texture and good carbonation and no alcohol presence is easily identifiable. I really enjoyed this huge beer and I’m glad they were able to maintain such balance and drinkability to match the complexity of this beer.

 607 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

single finger dark tan head on a jet black body with no light passing through. Lots of vanilla with dark fruit and chocolate. A very nice dark fruit, vanilla and chocolate mix in the flavor as well. Right amount of sweetness. Slight roasted malt note. thick in body, very smooth and viscous/creamy. light to moderate carbonation. Another excellent beer from goose island. This one is very smooth and flavorful. Strong but not too boozy.

 436 characters

Photo of graemebrown
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of marine1975
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of EricCioe
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of tvanr
3.5/5  rDev -15%

Photo of Casey3236
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

Photo of scottDC
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of Kahlerbock
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

Photo of bauermj
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of guillemiro
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

Photo of nzerbe
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of GonzoHomebrewer
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of Benesi88
3.75/5  rDev -9%

Photo of blmar311
3.5/5  rDev -15%

Photo of Phelps
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 3-25-11. Poured into a snifter.

Pours thick and syrupy, the viscid liquid merging in the glass to absolute blackness. A hair-thin layer of cinnamon-colored bubbles rises from the depths and remains as a thin ring.

Oh lordy. Charcoal, hints of smoke and tons of chocolate in all its glorious forms: cocoa powder, milk, dark, nibs. The smoky, chocolatey stuff is perfectly complemented by prunes and a good amount of piney hops. Pretty glorious.

A sweet, heavy flavor. Molasses, prunes, cedar smoke, sweet dark chocolate syrup and pine.

The body’s a treacly, hefty medium-full. It’s a creamy delight to swirl about. Very light, prickly carbonation, and ethanol fumes in the nose.

Good stuff, if a little heavy and sweet. Like the stepchild between Night Stalker and BCS.

 790 characters

Photo of harrylee773
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of iL0VEbeer
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of Jacob007
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%

Photo of OptionParalysis
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of KAF
3.75/5  rDev -9%

Big John from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 1579 ratings