Friday, August 26, 2011

Harviestoun Ola Dubh 30 Year

Harviestoun is a craft brewer in Scotland, founded by Ken Brooker.  Before entering the business of craft beer, Brooker built wood design prototypes for Ford Motor Company.  That work had a profound impact upon Brooker, which carried over to the beer.  Harviestoun Brewery is best known for its Old Engine Oil beer.  This beer is brewed strong and dark with the use of a lot of roasted barley.  The beer is also well-hopped, with the use of Galena hops from Washington State.  As good as this beer is, it is only the start of an even greater beer.

Harviestoun takes the Old Engine Oil and, in a collaboration with Highland Park, a distinguished distiller who has been producing single malt Scotch whiskey in the Orkney Islands since 1798.  Harviestoun ages its Old Engine Oil in Highland Park's 30 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey casks.  The end result is the exceptional beer known as Ola Dubh 30 Year. 

The Ola Dubh or "Black Oil" is true to its name.  The beer pours a pitch black, like used engine oil.  A thin light foam develops as the beer is poured into the glass.  The aging of this beer in the 30 Year Old scotch whiskey casks has definitely left its mark, with the aroma of whiskey gently greeting the nose.  The whiskey is accompanied by aromas of smoke, peat, and a little cocoa.  The brewer also observes that there may be notes of truffle oil, vanilla and heathery peat.   

Although the scotch contributes to the taste of this beer, the flavors are far more complex than any porter-aged-in-whiskey-barrels. Chocolate, cocoa and smoked oak flavors work well with the whiskey to provide a truly exceptional beer that is best enjoyed sip by sip.  Clare even thought she could taste cola in this beer, which I could also get a faint hint from in the beer, along with notes of espresso and vanilla. 

The Ola Dubh is not just any beer.  It has its own provenance.  Each bottle bears the signature of the master brewer and the master of wood.  Each bottle has its own number and date of bottling.  The bottle I enjoyed was numbered 21640 and was bottled in September 2007.
This beer has an ABV of 8% and comes with a high price tag at about $20.00 for a twelve ounce bottle.  It is available at stores with a very large beer selection, such as State Line Liquors in Elkton, Maryland.


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