Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Harviestoun Ola Dubh (30 Year Old)
Welcome to South Texas Beer Blog, where you can see and read about Scottish beers aged in Scottish whiskey barrels that you cannot buy in the UK. Why would this brewery only sell to the USA? I don't know and since I got to drink one, I don't care. They are brewed and aged in "small batches" so each bottle is numbered and dated. They come in a faux-whiskey box and have a small Harviestoun charm hanging from the neck. We got the 30 year batch but there were 12, 16, 18, and 40 year reserves.
We got bottle 21323/Sept. 2007 - and yes, we laughed at "Master of Wood"
This black old ale (Ola Dubh means 'Black Oil') is definitely not one to bring to the lake. It sips like a bourbon whiskey and is best as an evening nightcap or paired with British Cheshire cheese or cuisine like Scotched woodcock, Gentlemen's relish on toast, devilled pilchards, devilled kidneys, or a rich fruitcake. I split an 11.2 oz. bottle with my friend Ramsey and we both had different, but similar impressions.
My Impressions: Pours jet black, thin, with a caramel head. Roasted stout/porter aromas filled the room as I poured our two glasses. As a matter of fact, the aroma led me to believe that it would have roasty, coffee, and chocolaty flavors. The slight chocolate was there but the taste was overpowered by the oak. It has a definate spirity mouthfeel, low carbonation, not really like a beer. Overall, it was like having a glass of Bushmills or Jameson Irish Whiskey with subtle stout undertones.
Ramsey's Impressions: "I would say very smooth, dark concoction with oak notes and a very impressive body but it's not heavy, that's what surprised me. And it tasted like a stout. Oh, and it smells like whiskey!"
Ola Dubh's website has a lot more information about the brewers and the collaboration with the distillery (Highland Park Distillery, Scotland). This is the first time a named distillery has aged beer in their barrels. They use Flash so it's a little annoying to navigate and it won't work on your iPhone or iPad, but I still recommend "How do you Ola Dubh?" for food pairings and a whole lot of information about British cheese. I also checked out "The story of Ola Dubh" for some interesting information.
The Bottom Line: Find a bottle, try it out. If you enjoy stouts and/or good whiskey you will enjoy this beer. Next time I think I'll try to find some of that British cheese they talk about!
Style: Old Ale