Sunday, August 5, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 Whiskey Aged Ale | Harviestoun Brewing | Alva, SCOTLAND

I'm not really denying the skills of Scotland to get me nice and pickled upon request.  To wit, if I ever found myself in a mahogany library or a cabaret, I'd probably be accompanied by a single malt or a Rob Roy.  However, when it comes to lardy-arsed, bearded moonshiners, its the American variety, not the Scots who I turn to for my boiled hops and fermented yeast needs.  But like all rules, there are exceptions -- and where there are exceptions, there is usually a sledgehammer of opportunity that hits you squarely in the frontpiece, declaring its presence at $1.25 per liquid ounce, because, well, frugality is for slappers..

A couple of weeks ago, I'm sitting in a beveraging establishment with my buddy Antal in the Detroit hipster bedroom community of Ferndale, poring over the long and impressive beer menu at One Eyed Betty's, prodding on like pretentious fucks about grain bills and Beach House, while casting the sweet nectars of Michigan down the narrows of our throat.  At some point, we ask the right questions, or unlock the cheat codes for the bar, or something else proper -- and the man behind the bar casually presents us with the tavern's SECRET menu.  So, we begin to dabble a bit in its assertion.  "Shhh", it says.

Oh, nothing.
What is pathetically deplorable behavior on my part is that beer menus and beer walls rarely inspire me anymore -- some of that pretentious dickery I was referring to earlier.  Being unfazed by a large tap wall is like being desensitized to gore because of the dark depths of the internet.  But, whomever wrote this beer menu should win the fucking Pulitzer.

On it, I am reading an impressive list of rarities, and seasonals, and rare-seasonals, and rare-seasonal-one-offs, and a dozen other interesting extrapolations of the one before.  Its like reading 50 Shades of Gray by the theatre-light of Magic Mike 2.   But it is also something that is, like, "No thanks, unless you're buying", because I was pretty set on tussling with Midwestern IPAs at a fraction of the cost for the rest of the night.

But then, The Sledgehammer: an off-menu indecent proposal.  A rare gem by a brewery called Harviestoun set in the central lowlands of Scotland.  I ordered it straight away, almost without confirming the price of the endeavor, and you know what? I felt freer doing so.

Maybe you've heard me say this about half a dozen beers already, but I hadn't been this excited about an individual in-bar brew like this in a long while.  Especially since this was someone else's very small stockpile and this person was essentially gifting it to me at $15/bottle.  I just couldn't imaging walking into a Tesco and emerging with one of these.

Ola Dubh is an old ale aged in Highland Park casks that held whisky for 16 years and infused with mystery and magic; Highland Park scotch being a coveted brand amongst devotees.  What is imparted in this dark ale is a smoky-sweet sipper with roasted coffee and chocolate liquor notes.  Its is smooth as a Neil Hannon album-ender, and I probably should have been wearing a nice robe de chambre with turn-up cuffs while enjoying this.  It is a beer rooted in geography, and proper respect was to be paid to commemorate its long endeavor from the awful, Gap-swing-revival influence of the mid-1990s to its final flirt with my palate.  Its migration from Midwest Scotland to Midwest USA is a remarkable range, and it felt like its story was a Robert Burns re-interpreted by Tim Burton.

This is truly beer eye-candy, the bottle denoting its individualism by numerical declaration: 5161.  That just sounds scant. It was signed by both the Brewmaster and someone called "Master of Wood", which is an an seemingly indelible title of glory.  I want to be that.  Google me someday. 

This beer is a ruiner.  Can I ever catch up to something like this again?  And at this value?

Romance is not dead.  At least not in Scotland.

ABV: 8.o%
Acquired: One Eyed Betty's (Double Secret Menu)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had heard of this secret menu. I wonder if it still exists?