Review of Goose Island Big John

18 Jun
How’s it going guys?!?!  Are you ready for another beer review???

Today, I thought I would review a beer from the famous Goose Island Brewing Company in Chicago, Illinois called the Big John.

This brew is an Imperial Stout that just came out this year, so I’m psyched about trying it.  It was recommended by Blake Layne from Chuck’s Liquor’s.  He knows I love big, strong Stouts and he hasn’t led me astray yet, so I’m eager to get it in a glass. 

First, a description from the website,

Inspired by the epic skyline of Chicago, Goose Island’s brewers set out to craft Big John; a tall, bold slugger of a stout that stands out vividly against the little soft beers out there.  Epic amounts of roasted malt and an addition of cacao nibs give Big John a massive chocolate flavor and aroma.  With a body as substantial and black as the building to which it pays homage, Big John is sure to inspire a sense of awe with every sip.

Let’s not wait any longer.

The Big John came in a 22 oz. bottle with an ABV clocking in at 11.5%.

This thing poured a very dark black, crude oil color that had absolutely no highlights shining through at all.  Even when held directly toward the light source I could see nothing but pitch black.  A dark, tan head was formed, from the pour, that was smooth, creamy and lush.  I received nice girth and retention from a fairly aggressive pour and the lacing tried to hang on to the sides of the glass for a while, but eventually all of the foam and lace dissipated to leave behind some decent alcohol “feet” when swirled.

The aroma brought out a very deep, dark chocolate malt packed with alcohol notes.  They were strong, but not strong enough to overpower other fragrances of burnt, roasted coffee bean, dried leather and dark, booze soaked fruits similar to plums and raisins.  As the brew started to “breathe”, the roasted coffee started to work its way out front more and resemble straight black coffee, however only a touch milder (if that makes sense).  Overall, its complex and bold in the nose.

The taste was outstanding, I thought.  Rich and forceful.  At first, the alcohol grazed the palate profoundly only to meld and give way to the charred coffee and vivid, dark chocolate.  It’s very malty with a licorice undertone.  Dark, booze immersed fruit started sweet then gave way to an earthy, round tone.  I also got a charcoal gristle type of flavor.  Nice.  Some bitterness is there, but the malt quickly overtook it and rendered it insignificant.  The overall flavor was elaborate, well balanced and intricate.

The mouthfeel was an honest to goodness “full” mouthfeel.  One of the few that I have ever had.  It was chewy, slick, thick, oily, viscous, smooth and dry.  Tons of flavors were left behind on the palate.  A sturdy warmth coats the tongue and throat, which finished with a proper “burn.”  This was one of the best mouthfeels that I have ever had the opportunity to experience.

The Big John is big, rich and audacious…. and I like it!!!  Extreme maltiness.  Actually, I didn’t find the aroma to be as bold or magnificent as the taste, yet it was still good.  It’s, for sure, a sipper.  This would be a super Winter warmer, however I had no problem tackling this thing in the middle of June.  This is another beer that is best enjoyed when time can be taken to let it develop, warm to room temperature and ponder all that it has to offer.  It had very nice character and extremity.  The ABV is high, which doesn’t make the drinkability very easy, so it could sneak up on you in a hurry if you’re not careful!!!  I’m hoping that I stumble across another bottle or two of this to put back and cellar.  If you favor Imperial Stouts.  Give this a try.  I found it most enjoyable.           

Has anyone else out there had this?  What did you think of it?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading guys.  Cheers.

Score:  4.3 out of 5
Grade:  A

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Posted by on June 18, 2011 in Country: USA, Goose Island


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