Harviestoun Old Engine Oil (Ava, Scotland) 5.5%
3 for $11 at my local Vintage Cellars
'Viscous, chocolatey, bitter'
The above line sits at the bottom of the Harviestoun label and, unlike lots of marketing guff, it is such a succinct description of this delicious dark beer. Whats more, at this chilly (for Sydney) time of year, the lovely, rich and hearty flavours of the 'Old Engine Oil' seem to take on an extra air of significance - I just want to come and drink this. It's like being a kid again, where I have to finish off my veges to get dessert. This beer is my dessert.
I think part of the appeal here is absolutely personal, and is really centred upon the rich, almost dairy like texture. The connection for me is that I am a massive fan of dairy. Milk, cream, cheese, yoghurt, even humble butter - all of it tastes special to me. Perhaps in a past life I was a dairy farmer, or a frustrated lactose intolerant chef. Whatever, I love dairy, and my body seems to thrive on the stuff. For extra significane, desides dairy, I also love dark chocolate. The good 70% Cocoa kind, of the style that balances both bitterness and sweetness perfectly.
Two peices of Lindt Excellence 70% Dark, accompanied by a glass of unhomogenised Organic Cows milk, is literally my daily nightcap & a favourite part of my routine.
The Harviestoun then is, flavour wise, all to familiar and right. Rich, heavily roasted malt, in a style that many breweries do well (Southwark & Coopers Extra Stout in Australia particularly so) but few do with such balance. This beer avoids the burnt coffee like flavours of some Stouts, instead moving towards a more caramelised, leaner palate that has you wanting to drink more than just a glass. That aforementioned creaminess comes through on the palate, giving generosity and viscosity, almost as if vanilla beans where also thrown into this brew. But to counter the cream, along comes the bitter chocolate, straightening up the broad creaminess and keep it all well toned and refreshing.
To tell you the truth, I think many people would just accept this as a lovely, rich, dark weather beer, but to me, it tastes like a lovingly familiar, almost custom built, amalgamation of some of my favourite flavours, packaged up in very accessible way.
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