This is the last of the beers gifted to me buy a travelling acquaintance, so it's been sitting in the cupboard for a few weeks. Only the other day, right before opening it up, did I discover what it actually is.
Goose Island's Pepe Nero is supposedly a dark saison (a first for me) brewed with the addition of peppercorns. My first instinct is to reckon that this addition (as well as the presumably darker malt flavours) would contradict the saison's raison d'être - to be a bright and refreshing summer beers.
This is how it continues to appear when it pours an opaque dark brown with an eggshell white head. The aroma is gorgeous, no matter what the weather; spice reminiscent of a decent tripel with just a hint of prickly sourness, backed up by sugary dark fruit and malts. Any particularly peppery influence is more or less absent in the initial stages. The palate doesn't get as much of the complexity as the aroma suggested, but there's plenty of sweet caramel malt and dark fruit flavours with some coriander and, finally, peppery spice, but even then it doesn't attack the palate like that of a tripel. Also absent from tasting is any hint of the 'farmyardy' tartness or earthiness that I expect from a saison.
Overall it's actually a pretty positive experience, even though it fails to fully deliver the best qualities of a farmhouse saison or indeed a beer with peppercorns added. All the same it remains drinkable and quite interesting to pull apart, and for that alone deserves consideration.
Only in a small bottle, mind.