Beer of the Week – Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Engineer’s Reserve

As the week draws to a close it does so with the now-traditional send-off – the BeerCast Beer of the Week. This time around sees the 10th entry in the list of the most unsung Scottish beers you can get your hands on, both traditional classics and modern wonders that deserve a place in your mixed-case of brews from north of the border. With one a week there will be 52 in all, so as we hit the middle of March (not quite St Patrick’s Day) we are going to turn attention towards darker beers once again and highlight one of the very best.

When it comes to barrel-ageing beer in Scotland, Harviestoun are the forerunners and the true pioneers. Ever since the moment in 2002 when an experiment involving Old Engine Oil and Dalmore whisky casks resulted in the beer that eventually became Ola Dubh, Alva’s finest have been on the ball with both barrel-aged beers and strong dark stouts. We may well return to siblings from that particular family tree later – but for now it’s the most under-rated of their line-up that lies in the spotlight – the quite amazing Old Engine Oil Engineer’s Reserve.


10. Engineer’s Reserve (9.0%)
Harviestoun Brewery, Alva, Clackmannanshire
Style: Old Ale
330 ml bottle

First we need to talk about the style – Harviestoun list ER as a ‘Blackest Ale’ and it lies on RateBeer as an Old Ale – but there’s lots of imperial stout and export porter in there as well. The real strength, with pun very much intended, about Engineer’s Reserve is that it straddles all of these closely-related families of beers and it does so almost effortlessly. Whatever pigeon-hole you want to shove it into, it won’t stay there for long as it is one of the most drinkable 9%+ ABV beers I think I have ever tried – it is a paragon of balance and smoothness.

The original Old Engine Oil will no doubt also feature in this list of 52, such has been its formative relationship with the other beers in the Harviestoun stable – but although the Engineer’s Reserve is less influential it is even more incredible. Firstly, it is the most liquoricey beer I’ve ever had, but there’s a fantastic depth of dark malt and almost peaty richness in there as well that truly delivers great flavour after great flavour. And yet even though it has that balance there is that ever-present hit of warming booze never far away. A true classic.

Pick it up here:
At Harviestoun’s online shop (as a mini-case of 3x330ml bottles)

Beer of the Week Series:
1. Fyne Ales Highlander
2. Swannay Old Norway
3. Broughton Old Jock
4. Traquair House Ale
5. Tempest Easy Livin Pils
6. Cromarty Brewed Awakening
7. Fallen Chew Chew
8. Black Isle Hibernator
9. Isle of Skye Red

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