Harviestoun Brewery operate out of Clackmannanshire (let’s just take a second to appreciate that name) up in Scotland, and if there’s 3 things our friends north of the wall are good at it’s throwing big logs, making me feel physically inadequate and crafting bloody lovely alcoholic beverages.
Luckily, Harviestoun have the third one down and I don’t recall a bad beer in their bunch. So it is with great pleasure that today I am consuming Old Engine Oil, which – if you follow us on Twitter – you’ll know is the younger brother of the phenomenal Ola Dubh (whose review will be released soon).
A relatively recent brew (conceived in 2000) this thick, black social lubricant won Tesco’s first ever beer challenge. I know what you’re thinking, do Tesco really know that much about beer? Well, that I couldn’t tell you – my local one seems to struggle with opening its doors and it’s meant to be 24hr – but whether it was dumb luck, external help, or someone actually knew what was going on they hit this nail on the head.
It pours thick and near-black, it smells like dark chocolate and roasted goodness. There’s a bit of a fruit and coffee twang to it, it’s exciting and dark and thick and I almost fear it will clog my orofices but I really don’t care. The head is dark and smooth and I’ve definitely been creaking lately so what better remedy than a bit of engine oil?
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Well, Roxanne (my 18 year old Ford Fiesta) could definitely do with some of this Old Engine Oil, she grinds and clunks and whinges and moans. OEO would lay rest to her complaints, it’s syrupy but not too sweet, and for something so dark it’s definitely smooth – silky on the tongue, slow down the gullet. It coats the mouth and has a really rich dark chocolate/coffee aftertaste.
It’s a very well balanced hit, verging on sweet but rolling into a satisfying burnt toffee bitterness. This is a robust but delicate beer. I understand that doesn’t really narrow anything down, but for such a dark beer I was expecting something a little rougher. This is anything but rough, it is, quite frivolously, delightful. Full in the mouth, but beautifully balanced.
Maybe those caber-tossing, bearded, muscle-men aren’t that rough after all, and if any of them offered to share a pint of this with me I’d try my hardest to get over my insecurities (and after a few of these at 6% I probably wouldn’t even remember them).