Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Goose Island - Pepe Nero

Name: Pepe Nero
Brewery: Goose Island
Style: Saison/Farmhouse
Brewed In: Chicago, IL
Origin: Belgian
ABV: 6.0%
Serving Glass: Pint (draft)
OMG Beer Rating: 7.7

A dark saison brewed with black peppercorns? What mad scientist...? In the glass, Pepe Nero looks like a cloudy brown ale, with red at the edges and a tan head. The bubbles resembled a heavier brown ale than any saison. Fascinating and somewhat unexpected aroma of bannna, toasted nuts, hint of caramel, and maybe something smoky? The first sip hits slightly spicy and herbal floating atop a very brown ale like nuts and caramel base. Very balanced, hinting at a banana berry fruitiness. Unfortunately, it ends a little cloyingly sweet, and not as dry as farmhouse saison makes you expect (and in my case, desire). Perhaps a hint of green apple trying to balance out the sweet mouthfeel and chalky milk chocolate in the aftertaste. This is heavier feeling than a saison, more syrupy.

This is an interesting beer conceptually, and even initially in terms of flavor. Its complexity overwhelms itself though, sending it into a tailspin of sweetness that drowns out the interesting spices and flavors produced by belgian yeast and darker malts (including rye). Even the naming of it as a saison/farmhouse seems off, when to me it tastes more like a belgian-brown hybrid. I admire what Goose Island tried to do here though, and want to come up with some kind of Pepe Nero-ish homebrew that ends drier and ends more balanced in terms of sweetness. Definitely for those who like their beer to end sweet. The Goose Island site mentions grilled meats and vegetables as a pairing option, and I concur. I'd go spicy too.

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