Beer review – Brewdog, Choco Libre

Not content with taking over the UK brewing scene, Brewdog has crossed the pond to found a new brewery/hotel in Columbus, Ohio. And while the prospect of staying in a room with Punk IPA on tap is highly intriguing, I’m more interested in seeing what new beers the US branch have come up with.

One such creation is Choco Libre, a spiced nitro stout. Even just looking at the can, I’m struck by how different things are. Domestic Brewdog cans are usually far more restrained, with funky colour gradients rather than a smattering of scribbled sugar skulls.

My pictures turned out terribly, so you get the official portrait. Scattering coffee beans around your beer is optional.

A nitro stout, Choco Libre pours like a Guinness. This gives it a gorgeous gradient as it settles, from jet black at the bottom to a light caramel up at the top. After a few minutes the bubbles subside, leaving the inky black liquid you see captured above in the official mugshot.

It does need a few minutes, though. This is not a beer for the gal or guy in a hurry. While there’s cocoa and cayenne pepper notes hidden there somewhere, the aroma is dominated by propellant. The scientist within me knows nitrogen is odourless, but still there’s something unnatural about how this beer smells. Even after leaving it a few minutes for the gas to dissipate, the malodour clung on.

That smell is a damn shame, because apart from that, this is a really interesting beer. Milky sweetness leads, swiftly followed by a kick of cayenne. As that dies away a whole host of other flavours arrive: cinnamon, coffee, chocolate – extra-sweet milk chocolate, rather than anything with a reasonable cocoa content. It’s a bit like drinking the milk left once you’ve finished your Coco Pops. Cayenne heat lingers on the finish, leaving my lips a-tingle.

The mouthfeel is lovely, thick, and creamy. But I’m not sure that’s worth the unpalatable smell it leaves in the schnozz. 3/5

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