Big John | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Big JohnBig John
1,571 Ratings
Big JohnBig John

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

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by aasher on 03-13-2011

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,571 |  Reviews: 453
Photo of corysmith01
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I don't write many reviews but felt compelled to write this one. I saw this in the store, looked at the reviews and thought "decent." As in, this should be a decent stout, based on the various reviews and comments. What I got was a thick, viscous, quite complex stout that caught me off-guard…again, based on the reviews.

This beer mentions cocoa nibs on the label. I must admit I didn't get a lot of that as I think the alcohol quells the subtlety of the vanilla. But what wasn't mentioned, and what I was getting a lot of, was dark fruits; figs, raisins…both in the nose and in taste. This was a really nice surprise as I've gotten that from beers like Deschutes Black Butte XXV, but not so much in your average chocolate/coffee stout. Nice surprise. The mouthfeel is what really sold me…I love thick, viscous stouts. Zhukov, things like that…love them. And this is right in the same arena.

The only knock I could give is that maybe it's slightly hot, a little alcohol burn. But at 11.5% that doesn't shock me. The other qualities are more than enough to subdue that. This is a pretty great beer. As someone who likes heat (Mexican Cake, Bomb!), I'd love to see a variant of this beer with some pepper character, but until then, this version is more than adequate.

 1,276 characters

Photo of ryan1788a5
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter. Bottled 3/25/11, so this is over two and a half years old.

A: Pitch black on the pour. Even a very aggressive pour fails to build much of a head. Lacing is minimal and spotty.

S: Raspberry ester. Fudge sauce and black cocoa. Acrid burnt crust edge. Heavily roasted grain. Big spike of alcohol. A little bit of cardboard oxidation, but this is normal. Dried figs.

T: Raspberry and currant esters. Slick fudge sauce. Bittersweet dark chocolate. Roasted barley. Blackstrap molasses. Cocoa nibs are big on the mid-palate, and create a strong chocolate pull. Roasted coffee beans. Charred crust and a touch of acrid smoke. Boozy. Charred crust, fudge sauce, and lingering cocoa nibs on the long finish.

M: Big, thick body. Slick, coating, and chewy. Very weighty and sludgy. Low carbonation. Numbing alcohol.

O: This is an enormous beer, and there is no subtlety to it whatsoever. Drink this on an empty stomach and you will not need to eat a meal. You will also probably be drunk. Works very well as an after dinner/dessert sipper. It really favors the sweet tooth.

 1,108 characters

Photo of avalenzuela
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%

Photo of PZBREW
4.5/5  rDev +10%

Photo of Flabbyjandro
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of roger617
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.71/5  rDev +15.2%
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 Phil_H
1.25/5  rDev -69.4%

Photo of Brewzma
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of myuncle
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of Pintofbrown
4.57/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Becker glass. 2012 vintage.

This beer is black with no foam. The scents comprise vanilla, brown sugar, a little cocoa and some bourbon barely escaping through that nectarous nose.

The flavors are more roasted and a little boozy to start. However, at mid-palate, these wonderful flavors of fig, vanilla, dark chocolate, and brown sugar start to really take off. The finish goes on forever and incorporates more of the roasted malt and bourbon booze.

This beer glides right over the tongue and has some nice heft to it, definitely leaves the lips a little sticky.

I never had this beer fresh, but I can say that this is a gluttonous, dessert imperial stout with a year of age on it. And the bourbon hits at just the right level, letting you know it is in there, but not bruising the other flavors. I would gladly have this supreme, syrupy stout again.

 866 characters

Photo of prisdefer
4.75/5  rDev +16.1%

Photo of twenty5
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of buzzy
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of ScotNH
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of nkeckhar
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of philbe311
4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Just shy of a fingers worth of slightly lopsided dark khaki colored froth that displays minimal at best retention... All that remains is an uneven half crescent shaped veil of lacing and a thin to moderate collar... The color is a deep rich slightly foreboding dark brown teetering on black... Mostly still with just an occasional stray sluggish carbonation bubble...

S - A big aroma... Loaded with sweet milk chocolate and caramel... Hints of molasses and brown sugar... Perhaps some vanilla as well... There are also subtle hints of slightly roasted malts and a faint booziness that lingers beneath the surface... Very sweet... Very enticing... Very nice...

T - Light roasted malt... Caramel... Cocoa... Vanilla... Brown sugar... Molasses... Very sweet... A very light booze presence permeates throughout... There are some dark fruit notes mixed in as well... The roasted malts rises on the finish and intensifies a bit... There is also a subtle astringency on the finish...

M - Full bodied... Limited carbonation... Coats evenly and fully... Chewy... Slightly viscous... Quite smooth...

D - A very nice well rounded American Double / Imperial Stout... Very sweet, but never cloying... Smooth and well rounded... Not world class, but it isn't too far off... I don't have a single complaint... Very well done by Goose Island...

 1,340 characters

Photo of Gatch
4.74/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 12/07/12 0930...develops in the bottle for up to 1 year.

A: Dark as a beer can be with a nice, medium to dark brown head. I poured into the glass from a distance because I knew this would be thick and stubborn. But it poured nicely and looked inviting. Creamy, faded quickly, and left little lacing and retention.

S: Dark, sweet, boozy fruit. Heavily roasted malt. And of course, so much dark chocolate and cacao nibs that its difficult to put into words. Just sublime.

T: Seriously ridiculous flavors. So much dark, luscious, creamy chocolate. Sweet, dried, dark fruits. Black strap molasses and caramelized brown sugar. Great sweetness without being cloying. Chocolate covered, sugary, syrupy fruits is what I keep going back to.

M: As thick and creamy as can be. Amazing flavor and balance. Carbonation is low but its where it needs to be. Slight bite with each sip and the body is absolutely spot on. Superb.

O: The numbers I'm giving this beer aren't a joke. This is the real deal and a beer that I really enjoyed. Such an incredibly delicious and impressive stout. I was a tad nervous drinking it so close to the "drink by" date that was a little less than a month away, but it blew my mind. Such a pleasurable drinking experience! So glad I picked it up.

 1,274 characters

Photo of oakaged88
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of barnzy78
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, bittled on 12/07/12 0830
A - Fairly rigorous pour eventually creates a thinner creamy light brown head that does hold good retention. For a second I was thinking no carbonation. Whew.
S - nice chocolaty nose, sweet, brown sugar, molasses, caramel, slight roastiness
T - rich, bold, dark chocolate, fruity esters of cherry and blackberry, caramel, molasses; very sweet and boozy
M - full body, lower carbonation, very well balanced with excellent complexity
O - excellent American Imperial Stout with nice chocolate flavors. If the price was right I would get this again.

 585 characters

Photo of Moses_Malone
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of ajcormier
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of JamLand
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of gtermi
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of Gatordaddy
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Big John from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 4.09 out of 5 with 1,571 ratings