Drinking

Friday Tastings: Ola Dubh Ale

What do you get when you cross a 40-year old Scotch with an ale? (No, the answer is not "A wicked hangover").

Our preferred way to accessorize a beer is with a glass of whisk(e)y, neat, sipped slowly. And while it’s no news that brewers have taken to aging their suds in whiskey barrels, Scotland’s Harviestoun Brewery was the first to do it in casks that once contained Highland Park Single Malt, lauded tipple of the Orkney Islands. Ola Dubh (O-la Doob) means black oil in Gaelic, which perfectly describes the look of this ale as it glugs into your glass. Harvieston’s Old Engine Oil (a bitter, chocolaty black ale) is the base for the beer, which is then matured in Highland Park’s seasoned sherry casks. Ola Dubh is available in a range reflecting the age of the scotch that once hibernated in each barrel. We’re particularly fond of the 40-Year Old Special Reserve (released last winter, but perfect for right now), both for its rarefied pedigree and the unequivocal whiskey notes that are woven into its creamy character: chocolate malt, coffee, and lingering sherry wood smoke. The beer goes for around $19 per 11.2 oz. bottle. If you can swing some HP 40-year ($2,000 retail) to pair it with, Mister, you’ll have the most perfect, most expensive Boilermaker ever made.

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