By: Benjamin Welton
Arguably, the great appeal of Mad Men (and the early 1960s in general) is all the drinking that goes on. Specifically, I think that we, those poor souls who have long suffered underneath the dictatorship of empowered busybodies, are attracted to the culture of drinking on the job. The very notion that a worker, whether white-collared or blue, could imbibe while on the clock seems astounding today. Well, I hate to gloat, but the 1960s don’t seem so far away to me. You see, in my office (which typically oscillates between micromanaging and rudderless boredom) we have the privilege of drinking every payday. Dubbed “Thirsty Thursday,” our payday booze cruise is primarily spent cruising between different dishes of cheese and crackers. The beer selection is usually stellar, and a discerning man or woman can pick out some real gems. Harviestoun’s Old Engine Oil Black Ale is such a catch, and this delightful Scottish beer is deserving of the following analysis.
One cannot help but to immediately recognize that this is a dark
beer. Even before the first pour, your eyes will scan the amber 11.2 fl. oz. bottle and quickly understand that this beer is not for the timorous. Old Engine Oil Black Ale’s regal taste and manner is underplayed by the label, and yet the Old Engine Oil Black Ale’s working-class aestheticism belies its more subtle hints of sophistication. The lettering and format of the label has an Art Deco flavor, while the car centerpiece looks like it could easily be the Daimler double-six V12 50hp that the great gentleman detective Lord Peter Wimsey drove which such haughty pride.
Pour: This beer pours thick, and its head can vary between a thick, creamy spread and a thin, blonde dab. This beer pours slow, almost as if one is decanting sludge. This beer leaves behind many pleasant foam rings as the drinker works their way to the bottom, and when they near the end of their first pint, the drinker could look down and easily imagine their Old Engine Oil Black Ale swimming in a demitasse as a cup of espresso.
Taste: Although it bills itself as “vicious,” the Old Engine Oil Black Ale only has a small, yet noticeable bite. British to the core, the Old Engine Oil Black Ale’s Galena, East Kent Golding, and fuggle hops let you know that you are indeed drinking a potent brew. The roast barely and oats give this beer a smokey, rugged appeal, and the fulfilling taste will make you stand up and praise the character and palette of the Scottish people. This is a beer best paired with earthy, almost bitter cheeses such as Camembert (which is what I enjoyed my pint with) or Muenster. If cheese isn’t your “bag,” then a nice steak or some dark chocolate would work nicely with this fine Gaelic product.
ABV: 6% for bottles or kegs/ 4.5% for casks
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