Goose Island Pepe Nero 2011
I’m automatically predisposed to a beer called ‘Pepe Nero’. It’s cute, cool and full of attitude – the perfect name for a Chihuahua, in my opinion. I can just see myself, walking down the street in the mean streets of Leeds, Chihuahua on a short lead; a snarling, spitting mass of teeth and fur, mixing it with the ubiquitous Staffies and Chocolate Labradors.
Anyway, enough of these insights into how my fevered mind works. Pepe Nero (6%abv) means ‘Black Pepper’ in Italian, and the taste is the inspiration for Goose Island’s beer. I was looking forward to it, to be honest; Black Pepper is a flavour that – done right – could add loads of depth to a beer, if you ask me.
As it happens, things didn’t quite work out for me with this one. Yes, it was a decent beer – pleasingly dark, with a cherry-skin streak running through it when held to the light. Coffee, roasted malt notes and a slight, sweet nuttiness holding things up – but where was the pepper? Instead of an intense, earthy finish I got lightness, more cherry-fruitiness and a quickly-drying end.
Oh well. Maybe I held too much for it to start with. Maybe it was a bad batch. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good beer – but I expected a Rottweiler – and got a Chihuahua.