2 Guys: How to Make a Good Thing Better


We love beer, don’t get us wrong. But we’ve been dismayed recently to see the growing number of “beer cocktails”—like the “liquid smoke” at Chicago’s fifty/50 and the “pisac” at New York’s Market Table. It’s a trend at some high-end bars that we just can’t get behind. To us, adding stuff to beer makes it worse more often than not. So when a PR rep handed us a beer that he claimed had been made better by aging in a whisky cask, we were skeptical, thinking it sounded like nothing more than a gimmick. Oh, how we were wrong.

Harviestoun Brewery’s Ola Dubh (Gaelic for “black oil”) has a deep viscosity and a velvety pour, and we have no doubt that a quart of this stuff could keep a car running smooth for months, if not years. The beer achieves its special character during its six months in 30-year-old Highland Park Scotch barrels. The smoke and peat that saturate the boozy oak imbue the beer with a richness that’s unmistakably ancient.

It only took a few pints to realize the secret of making beer better: more beer. After all, whisky is really just distilled beer. Luckily, there’s still hope for all of us who don’t have 30-year-old whisky barrels lying around: Try the Boilermaker. (Whether you take your whisky separate, or depth charge it, frat boy-style, is up to you.) And fret not if your whisky bottle is all dried up (like ours often is). You still have the famous pousse-café of the brewing world: the Black and Tan, made by layering an ale and a stout in the same glass.

Beer’s been around since, like, the beginning of time. It’s been honed and perfected to the point where even cheap, “bad” beer is still some of the most delicious liquid you can put to your lips. It’s something so polished that the only way to improve upon it is to add more—in whichever form is most handy.

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