Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ode to 'The Maz', w/ Ola Dubh 16 (8%)

Tis a sad but appreciative day...

About 16 years ago, I brought my first car, with my sister, so we could learn to drive and get ourselves to school in our senior high years. It was an '85 Mazda 323 that had only one previous owner and was in good nick. We shared that car til my sis moved, where it came solely into my 'care'. A manual choke, it became a car you had to know to just get it started, and an idling issue made it not good in city traffic. Still, if you trusted it and didn't push it too hard, the engine would just keep going and going (with thanks to my dad's regular servicing).

I remember it once carrying 6 people in it's hatchback body while I was at uni, and while it struggled a bit, it got us from A to B. It also got me and my sis to our first job in our late teens as egg collectors on a farm near our own family's farm. It barely survived a flood that went through where I was living while trying to do postgrad and teaching work, the water coming within an inch or two of the air intake.

Moving from Newcastle to Melbourne, I put faith in the then 20 year old Maz to get me down here, and can remember the shudder of disappointment it seemed to give when I turned it off after that journey. I tried not to do short trips in it, kept the oil and tyre pressure levels right, and when leaded petrol ceased to be available, had to get a additive to keep it going. It took me to camping trips and the long trips to the get to 'real' beaches that are far from Melbourne, these trips reminding me of the drives I use to do from Newy to the farm. In fact, it was on one trip to Wilson's Prom where I had my first accident in it, rear ending a ute because of dodgy drivers, some-what dodgy brakes and a rain soaked road. Thinking that was the end of the Maz there and then, I was surprised to see that apart from a broken headlight, there was only some warping to the radiator housing and it was running fine. It got us there and back, apart from some fuel problems (the fuel gauge had broken years before and had not judged the level of petrol correctly).

While I turned to riding a bike and public transport more in Melbourne, I still used it to transport my bbq to parties and weekends away, and get me to work during my years of causal labouring after leaving project management. Along with the smell of the chicken sheds permeating through the car as a teen, the other aroma I most remember is that of stale burnt meat from the used bbq being in it. However, when I started working regularly at Mountain Goat a year ago (a 5 minute walk away from home), my need for it steadily declined, and with less use, the Maz also declined. While I have previously asked friends to help me push the Maz to the mechanic for repairs, I feel now it has given me more than enough, and so today I say 'Farewell Maz'.

With one final push to get it to the tow truck, I went to the wreckers, where I hope it can be used to salvage other Maz's still going around, much as it had parts put into it to keep it going. Coming back from canceling the rego, I walked into Slowbeer to see Harviestoun's Ola Dubh 16 on the shelf. A beer with the translated name of 'black oil', that has been aged in 16 year old scotch whiskey casks, it seemed all too appropriate I try my first Ola Dubh today.

Ok, with the sentiment out of the way, let's get to the beer.

It does pour a bit 'oily' in the glass with very little head. It was hard to get much at all when it was first opened, so have let it breath quite a bit, which brings out more of the dark fruit and smokey whiskey aroma. There is some nice dark malt sweetness on the front (I assume from the base beer) before the smokey whiskey come through, followed by some slight heat of alcohol before the smokiness returns at the back and in aftertaste.

It doesn't taste like 8% to begin with but after a few sips, that warming alcohol sense does come back up from the belly, into the lungs and slight haze on the brain. The aging has really mellowed the alcohol quite well. If I had already had a few beers before trying this, I would probably have drunk it faster as it is that easy to drink.

I definitely was not enjoying this beer as much when I started tasting it soon after opening, so allowing it to breath is really beneficial. While it may have a fairly simple profile, with time it shows its depth and heartiness behind this smooth and easy drinking beer.

I'm not going to become sentimental again, so will leave it to what I have written to see any connections I may find between this beer and my old car. But here it to 'The Maz'.



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