Pepe Nero – A Little Belgium, A Little Chicago

Posted by: on Sep 21, 2011 | One Comment

Summer’s over and with it the days of sitting in the sunshine sipping on a cold beer.  It’s still a little warm to be tucking into a stout or barley wine over a book in the evening, but I don’t exactly want a pilsner either.  Luckily, current hometown hero Goose Island comes to the rescue with Pepe Nero.

For those of you who still think beer is beer – fizzy yellow stuff – think again.  Goose Island makes your standard American craft-brews (IPA, Stout, Wheat, etc.) but they also turn out some of the best Belgian-style ales outside of Belgium.  Along with breweries like Ommegang in New York and Allagash in Maine, they’re bringing classic continental styles to the states, but often with their own little twists.

Enter Pepe Nero.  It’s officially classified as a Saison, or farmhouse style ale.  Typically these are lightly golden in color, tart and fruity on the palate, and my personal favorite way to celebrate the arrival of spring.  As you might get from the name, Pepe isn’t so light on the eyes or the tongue.  The good folks who brew it decided to use a dark-roasted malt in place of the typical pale malt, giving Pepe Nero a nice roasty backbone.  And if that wasn’t enough, they toss in a hearty portion of black peppercorns to compliment the natural spice from the yeast.  What you get is one part traditional saison, one part porter, and one part inexplicable.

The nose has the roastiness you’d expect judging from the color, but it’s not heavy on the palate.  The taste is much more fruit-heavy with those peppercorns coming back after you swallow.  It’s surprisingly more-ish.  At 6% abv you don’t exactly want to chug the stuff, but you’ll have a hard time not taking sip after sip.

This is one of those beers you’ll either love or hate.  Obviously I’m in the former camp.  Keep a look out, I’ve got some other treats from Goose Island in store for you here at Simply Refined over the next few months.  Cheers.

1 Comment

  1. Robert
    October 2, 2011

    Sounds delicious. Though I don’t think I have had more than one or two Saisons, this certainly intrigues me. Recently have been drinking a dunkelweizen that I brewed and have a Duvel-clone fermenting, but I might give a saison a try for my next batch.


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