My #12BeersOfXmas – Day 12 – Ola Dubh 18 by Harviestoun Brewery

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“On the twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….” (and I loved her all the more for it!)



Ola Dubh 18 by Harviestoun Brewery

This special porter is derived from Harviestoun’s own Old Engine Oil Porter (see Day 2 here) and is aged in wooden casks formerly used to mature Highland Park 18 Yr Old Single Malt whisky. I got it in a case of 12 that my two youngest got me for Fathers Day – and I have held onto it for a night like this! Gotta love my kids!!!

This is as black as Hades Cellar and slicked into the glass like North Sea crude having a short-lived beige head that quickly dissipated leaving behind an aroma of smooth dark chocolate, treacle, burnt toast and a light smoke edge. A magnificent start in my book!

Another Beergasm alert is in order! Hugely bodied this. The first thing that gets you is the slightly viscous texture. The flavours reveal themselves slowly, firstly the dark chocolate, crooking its finger and drawing you in.

Then something that resembled caramelised soused vine fruits, sweet yet toasted. Then a touch of bitter coffee opening your eyelids and your taste buds to receive the woody warmth of that whisky barrel. OH this is SUCH a special beer! If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m off to a NYE party, I’d be putting my feet up nd sliding down my leather armchair!

Decadent, warming, potent and uniquely Scottish. A proper beer for Hogmanay. I can’t think of a better beer with which to welcome in 2014.

On that note….’til next time…

Slainte! And a very Happy New Year to you all!


My #12DaysOfXmas – Day 6 – Courage Imperial Russian Stout – Wells/Young

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(Saints or Sinners?)

“On the 6th Day of Xmas, my true love sent to me…..”


Courage Imperial Russian Stout – Wells & Youngs

Firstly I was gutted. I seriously thought that I had a bottle of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout with which to commiserate myself following a beer free Xmas Dinner (the cask ale was Hobgoblin – enough said) – I checked the box that I had brought to Lincolnshire – Oh SHIT! I looked around for something a bit like a sleeping draught….hmmm…”That Courage Imperial Stout….Go on…give it a chance….Wells & Young?….Don’t be a snob!” This used to have a real reputation when I was a young drinker, this was a beer, that if you had a beer map, its territory would be marked “Here be monsters!” But that was then, this is….

Here we go then!

Black as a Wigan pitmans’ face after a 12 hour shift! Totally opaque. Beige tan head and a really boozy aroma redolent with espresso, bitter chocolate and fortified port wine. So far so good!

In the mouth, again, bitter coffee and chocolate, the alcohol comes through warming yet slightly harsh and lacking the finesse of say the recent Quantum Impy Treacle that I have had. The espresso lingers long after the swallow and there is quite a hoppy undertone in the finish. It’s quite a nice beer. I was expecting to unleash some vitriol on a big brewers beer, but this is quite OK, if lacking the finesse of others that I have had this year. And at 4 for £6 at Tesco at the moment, it’s certainly worth a swig!

On that note…’til next time…

Slainte! And Happy Xmas to all the daft buggers who read my wafflings!

My #12BeersOfXmas – #4 – India Pale Ale by Bad Seed Brewery

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“On the 4th day of Xmas, my true love sent to me….”


#4 India Pale Ale by Bad Seed Brewery

A new brewery for 2013 and the winner of my Golden Pints award in this category. Look at the labelling! Classy, minimal and with that label hanging like the cigarette from a matinee idols mouth. Just damned stylish. The label tells you that it is 7.3% abv and is loaded with Cascade, Columbus & Chinook hops. I salivate as I read it!

Expecting citrus on that nose? Oh yes, apricot, grapefruit and bitter orange flying from that white foamy head, itself sat atop a deep golden beer, with good carbonation. That head is going nowhere! Full-bodied with a huge bitter Seville orange marmalade the first thing to hit the tongue, followed by the desert dry bitterness then that fabulous piney resinous quality laid on top of a gentle caramelised biscuit sweetness. That resinous bitter finish just goes on…..I simply LOVE this beer. Mouthful after mouthful, I don’t want this to end. But, it’s only 330ml. Just when you long for the beery equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper…..I just wish I could get it on cask.

On that note….’til next time…(Tomorrow – Live From Lincolnshire!!!)


My 12 Beers Of Xmas – #3 – Speyside Siberia by Ilkley Brewery

IMAG0442 crop(12 Beery Apostles – Saints or Sinners?)

“On the 3rd day of Xmas, my true love sent to me……”


#3 Speyside Siberia by Ilkley Brewery

Let me be open about this. I simply LOVE Siberia. A Rhubarb Saison brewed in collaboration with the beer writer Melissa Cole, for a pale beer it ticks a lot of my boxes. Fruity and tart, fresh, slightly spicy and fabulously refreshing for a 5.9% beer. I adore it and drink it on draught wherever I can find it.

Late in 2012, Ilkley took some Siberia and aged it in oak Speyside whisky casks. They only made 700 330ml bottles. I was greedy and snaffled 12! To be fair, I have been fairly generous with my bounty and several found their way to fellow local beer lovers and friends. This bottle I picked up from Yorkshire Ales.

To this beer. The first time I drank it I was slightly underwhelmed. It was a 4 – 4.5 out of 5 where Siberia itself is a 6! I just felt that it had something taken away as much as added. I was keen therefore to give this another shot after leaving it a few months.

A golden beer with a rapidly diminished white head and an aroma slightly fruity/sour with traces of that rhubarb and a Belgian yeasty funk and maybe even a touch of apple. In the mouth, more rhubarb – although not as tart as in the original – a little apple and then a hit of woody warmth wraps you up like an oaky fleece. The whisky alcohol then insinuates into the upper reaches of your nostrils. A second mouthful reveals a lightly sweet flavour that reminded me of Xmas cake icing (then I looked at the beer notes on Ilkley’s website and saw Marzipan mentioned, spot on)

A mellow finish with warmth and the woody whisky warming the throat and belly.

I’m not sure if I have mellowed towards this beer or if keeping it has improved it. It’s certainly more refreshing than a beer at 8.8% abv has a right to be. (Still prefer Siberia though!)

And I have 3 bottles left!

On that note…’til next time (tomorrow of course!)


My#12 Beers of Xmas – #2 Old Engine Oil by Harviestoun Brewery


(12 Beery Apostles – Saints or Sinners?)



#2 Old Engine Oil by Harviestoun Brewery (Porter – 6% abv)

I need to declare a modicum of bias. I hate Xmas beers. Beers that are brewed “especially” for this period are generally speaking, shite! The majority of UK brewers are capable of producing MUCH better beers, fortunately, most do. This is an example.

Old Engine Oil is the base beer from which their barrel aged beers – the Ola Dubh range – are derived. To become Ola Dubh, the beer is aged in varying ages of Highland Park whisky barrels. That said, Old Engine Oil is a great beer in its own right.

Black as a Stout with a light tan head, the initial aroma is of buttered burnt toast, dusty dirty dark chocolate and burnt sugars. In the mouth, those characteristics also come through in a full-bodied creamy, slightly viscous mouthful, dark and delicious with an additional sweet coffee note and a touch of port. This is a George Clooney of a beer,  deep, smooth and seductive. I feel like my throat and insides are being stroked with a furry glove whilst listening to a Barry White soundtrack. The finishing bitterness brings you back to more earthly matters, there is even a little resinous grassyness in the aftertaste to wallow in.

Unlike #1, this beer is right up my street, I willingly submit to its dark pleasures and will follow it wherever it leads! This is most definitely a Saint!

(Note : You can also find this beer in certain Tesco stores as an own label “Traditional Porter” 4 for £6 at the moment! That my chums, feels like shoplifting!)

On that note….’til next time (er…tomorrow for beer #3)