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Friday, March 9, 2012

Pepe Nero 2011 – Goose Island

                Another day digging in my beer cellar looking to see what I had and I found a bottle of Pepe Nero that has been down there since early-March 2011.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have aged it since it is only 6%, but I had the first bottle of the 4 pack back in March 2011 and wanted to find out how it would evolve over time.  Belgian Style Ales have the added benefit of allowing for extreme creativity, they can range from strong and malty, to light and flowery, to the tangy/sour brett, to earthy aromas and flavors.  Pretty much there is no limitation, and much of what happens is more art than science; which might be why brewers like New Belgium’s Peter Bouckaert abhor the word style.

               However, before I go off on a completely random tangent about the wonders of Belgian beers, Pepe Nero is technically a Belgian Farmhouse Ale, but a very interesting darker variant of Farmhouse.  On BeerAdvocate it received an 85 and on ratebeer it has it at a 93 for style and an 81 overall.

They say:
With an aroma of roasted chestnuts and a mysteriously dark, mahogany hue, Pepe Nero is a farmhouse ale brewed with black peppercorns. His roasty sweetness melds into a lingering, earthy, black pepper finish that is ideal for pairing with grilled meats and roasted vegetables.
Recipe Information:
Style: Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 6.0%
International Bitterness Units: 30
Color: Mahogany
Malt: Pilsner, Rye, Crystal Rye, Black Malt
Hops: Pilgrim, Saaz


I say:
                Pepe Nero pours extremely dark.  At first glance it is black, but when held up against the light it’s an extremely deep mahogany color.  The head was very foamy and creamy at 4 inches thick.  It had excellent retention, remaining through almost the entire beer.  The aroma was very malty, and while I didn’t pick up a roasted chestnut scent, I did pick up sour cherries on the back end for some reason.  It was surprising in a beer brewed with rye and peppercorns.  Flavor-wise, Pepe Nero had a very sweet, roasted flavor almost like roasted root veggies, it was very earthy and melded into a spicy finish like fresh cracked peppercorn.  The earthy spicy notes lingered an unbelievably long time and made me want to go back for another sip.

                Pepe Nero is an extremely complex beer, yet no one attribute overpowers the others.  It is extremely well balanced and enjoyable, probably not a beer to reach for after a hot day working outside like many farmhouse ales, but it is certainly a great one to sit back and sip while contemplating deep philosophical questions.  It is an awesome beer!

                That’s all for tonight, Happy Drinking!!!

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