There had to have been a time when most avid beer drinkers went from feeling comfortable drinking just any type of beer to seeking out new and exciting beers. For me, it happened about a year into living in DC. At first, I knew I didn’t like to drink any of the really big commercial beers (Miller, Bud, Coors…etc), but I was alright with consuming things that were still pretty easy to find and not all that unique. One day, I happened into a store about a block from Union Station called Schneider’s. Although more of a wine store, they have a fairly diverse supply of beer in the back. While there, I perused the various bottles. I specifically remember being surprised by all of these large bottles with actual good beer in them. I had always assumed that anything larger than a 120z bottle was for hobos to carry around in paper bags. Anyway, thus began my interest in trying new and exciting beers. I still remember my first purchase at that store. I bought Rogue Shakespeare Stout and this little bottle of Old Engine Oil. I thought it was an awesome name for a beer. I went back for it a few times because I liked it a lot, but I had basically forgotten about it till I saw it in a different store a few weeks ago. I had to get it! Now that I have tasted so many other beers, would I still like it as much as I had in the past?
Harviestoun has been around since 1985; however, they have seen a few different owners over the years. Produced in Scotland, they managed to produce for over twenty years before being purchased by Caledonian Brewery. Then, only a few years later, Caledonian was purchased by Scottish & Newcastle. Interestingly, they didn’t want to keep the Harviestoun name brand. Therefore, they once again became independent again. I know the first few bottles of this were consumed before they were sold back and forth a few times, so I’m really hoping the product hasn’t suffered at all in the end.
As with a lot of the beers I have been having lately, this one poured out a very dark black color. Once again, with beer this dark, you can’t really distinguish any other color other than black. There was a pretty large amount of brown head that developed on top of the beer. With movement in the beer, you can visibly see the carbonation moving throughout the beer, which is despite the very dark color. Swirling the glass results in really heavy thick lacing that continues to last. The glass was pretty much covered, even after the final sip, in a rather substantial amount of lacing.
The smell was shockingly crisp and clean despite the dark nature of the color. I figured the dark color would mean only thick rich coffee scents would emerge; however, this has a much more crisp nature to the scent. There is definitely still some very clear coffee scents present in here. Additionally, there are nice sweet caramel scents that give a little more character to the coffee smells. Added in there are some of the expected roasted malty scents that typically accompany these darker beers. Hops didn’t seem to be a big contributor here; however, I feel like I am pulling a slight hoppiness out of the nose. However, I will always rely far more on my taste buds than my nostrils to figure this one out.
The taste starts with a really clean woody malt flavor. You can tell that this is a deep rich beer even without the coffee kick at the beginning. There is a nice little mixture of chocolate and sweet caramel that follows the crisp clean start. This a very nice lead into the roasted coffee flavor that follows. The sweetness almost helps the consumer get a little nice break before the coffee comes in. Think of it as coffee with sugar and cream. It helps take the edge off. The coffee flavor that comes in isn’t overwhelming. It could be due to the sweet lead in; however, it has a really nice balance. There is a slight sour hit at the end that I think comes from some slight hops inclusion.
The mouthfeel here has a pleasant amount of carbonation. It doesn’t tend to be too high or low. It kind of dissipates quickly in the glass, but on a fresh pour, it has some a lot of good carbonation. The flavors are all well-balanced and smooth throughout. There is a slightly syrupy quality, but it isn’t too syrupy or sweet. Also, the well blended flavors assist in creating a good aftertaste as well.
In the end, I think my memory of this one may have been slightly more than what I got out of the beer, but it is still a great beer. Even though I built this up in my mind, I don’t want to take away from the fact that this is still a great beer. I will most likely get another one of these bottles in the future. If you’re interested in something fun and delicious, then make sure to check this one out.
Teacher Grade: A-