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Old Engine Oil Engineer's Reserve Blackest Ale - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine Oil Engineer's Reserve Blackest AleOld Engine Oil Engineer's Reserve Blackest Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

82 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 82
Hads: 279
Avg: 4.26
pDev: 15.73%
Wants: 39
Gots: 50 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
English Porter |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: WVbeergeek on 01-04-2012

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (30) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 82 | Hads: 279
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.24/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, marshmallows, vanilla, cocoa powder, and milk chocolate. Taste is much the same with char-like and smoke flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with a fantastic smell and some really nice flavors. Definitely a step above normal Old Engine Oil in my opinion.

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Photo of metter98
4.18/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a quarter finger high beige head that quickly died down, leaving a collar of large bubbles and some wispy lacing on the surface.
S: There are light aromas of roasted malts and smoke in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste has flavors of dark roasted malts and is accompanied by a very slight amount of bitterness and some hints of chocolate and smoked peat.
M: It feels medium-bodied and somewhat smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is incredibly drinkable—no traces of the alcohol whatsoever are present in the taste.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.38/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured out as a deep black color with a nice off white head on top. The head retention and lacing were really nice on this beer. The smell is very malty with a healthy aroma of chocolate on the nose. The taste of the beer has a really nice big bold roasted flavors along with a sweet chocolate backbone in there too. The mouthfeel is slick and smooth with a light carbonation. Overall this beer is very good. I would drink it again for sure.

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Photo of nickfl
3.77/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours with one finger of medium brown foam on top of an opaque, black body. The head settles quickly and leaves average lace on the glass.

S - Dark, sugary notes of molasses, licorice, and smoky caramel.

T - Smoky caramel and dark brown sugar up front. Some more intense dark sugar in the middle with notes of cola and licorice. Finishes with smoke, green hops, molasses, and lingering sweet caramel.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - The aroma is full of promising rich malt character and while those characteristics come across in the flavor profile they don't have the sort of complexity I might have expected. The sugary character is cloying in the end and while there is some hop character for balance it could use a little bit of roast to help push back against the sugar.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.63/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

11.2 fl oz brown glass bottle with appealing simple label and branded silver/black pry-off pressure cap acquired at a local Texas bottle shop and served into an Avery stem-tulip in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery's reputation and the beer's current 93 rating. Reviewed as a porter since the label description claims this is simply "Old Engine Oil brewed up to 9% alc./vol" and Old Engine Oil's label identifies it as a porter. I guess there's an argument to be made that this is an imperial porter, but I wouldn't make it.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a half-finger wide head of nice tan colour. Has decent creaminess and thickness. It's not the rich dark tan with a shiny complexion and an even consistency I've come to expect from the very best porters and stouts, but it's pretty appealing. Unfortunately, head retention is bad (even considering the high ABV) - only about 30 seconds. No real lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes, but there is a slick clear brandy-like coating that I've come to associate with the booziest of brews (Sam Adams Utopias comes to mind, for example).

Body colour is certainly a dark black, but I don't know that "blackest" is fair (insert racial jokes here). It's opaque, but it isn't a jet black in the way something like Alesmith's Speedway Stout is. No floating yeast particles are visible. Appears a bit undercarbonated.

Overall, it's a good appearance for a porter and I'm looking forward to my first sip. Admittedly, it's not unique or special for a porter. Pretty standard fare in terms of style conventions.

Sm: Finally, a porter aroma with roasted barley! I was beginning to think breweries weren't doing that anymore. I love the roast and I'm praying it's there in the taste as well. Dark malts, cocoa (with a bit of bean-y earthiness), light cream, marshmallow, chocolate, and chocolate malts. It's a damn fine aroma for a porter, albeit not a horribly complex one.

The roast is absolutely a highlight and has me craving the first sip.

A mouthwatering aroma of average to above average strength.

No yeast character, hop profile, or alcohol is detectable - something of a feat at 9%.

T: Damnit. The roast is substantially less prominent in the taste than it was in the aroma; so much for my high hopes. I mean they did print "roasty" right on the label...

Aside from the disappointing lack of roasted barley presence, it's a nice flavour profile for a porter. Dark malts, chocolate malts, cocoa, chocolate (probably milk chocolate), malty sweetness, marshmallow, and a kiss of char/burnt character. I don't find any yeast character, hops, or alcohol - they all get subsumed by the apt maltiness.

It's relatively simple for a porter, but has a fair amount of complexity in general. (See beers like Ballast Point's Victory At Sea for an example of why this is "relatively" simple). And admittedly this is a pretty standard (dareisay basic) build for a porter. But in that sense it's kind of a classic build; this is very much an almost archetypical English porter, and for that I really like it. The simplicity wouldn't bother as much if I'd just been given the roast I was promised.

It's balanced, sure, but as abovementioned, it's fairly simple. Cohesive but not gestalt. I definitely like it, but I saw the potential for it to be great. I wish the taste would deliver on the aroma. Above average depth of flavour. Average duration and intensity of flavour. Not particularly nuanced or intricate. Good amplitude.

Mf: Viscous? I guess; I mean it's thick, but I wouldn't call it syrupy. Heavy and full-bodied, with a powerful presence on the palate. It's got strength without being boozy or hot. Well-carbonated. Slightly creamy. Overall, the texture complements the taste well, but there's room for improvement.

Not oily, gushed, astringent, or harsh. Unrefreshing.

Dr: It's a good beer that could have been great. The absence of the promised roast in the flavour profile really disappointed me. I could absolutely drink my way through a few of these in a night, and it evokes a classic porter feel, but I can't shrug off the feeling of wasted potential. Unfortunately, the unreasonable price point means I won't be buying this again in spite of its obvious quality (I had to double-check the label because the unreasonable pricing had me convinced the Shelton Bastards were involved). Well worth trying once, and I'd love to see how it develops with age. Good work from Harviestoun.

Solid B

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a small dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, molasses, dark bread, raisin, plum, light licorice, light smoke, herbal, grass, light pepper, and yeast/roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and light-moderate fruity yeast/earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, molasses, dark bread, raisin, plum, light licorice, light smoke, herbal, grass, light pepper, and yeast/roasted earthiness. Fair amount of herbal/spicy hop and roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, toast, molasses, dark bread, raisin, plum, light licorice, light smoke, herbal, grass, light pepper, and yeast/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice robustness, balance, and complexity of big dark/roasted malt and light-moderate fruity yeast/earthy hop flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy, and lightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an excellent English imperial porter style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of big dark/roasted malt and light-moderate fruity yeast/earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark as oil pitch black with a nice thicket of mocha tan head forms fine even lacing down the sides of my glass. This is basically an imperial version of their standard Old Engine Oil, I would call it just that an Imperial Porter. Aroma is creamy with dark chocolate, sweet underlying molasses, mild fruit complexity some hints of raisin. Herbal spicy hops are evident. Flavor is big with dark chocolate, roasted malt complexity, a hint of coffee. A touch of alcohol with dark ripened fruits blended in really a very smooth big dark beer can't tell that it would be 9% abv. Mouthfeel is medium bodied mellow carbonation this beer works well, I'm glad it wasn't aged in whiskey barrels I've had enough of their beers aged in whiskey. They need to send more of their standard and seasonal lineups stateside, seems like they know how to brew a really good beer. Overall my kind of big dark beer roasted malts big flavors with almost no harsh qualities, highly enjoyable definitely grab some. Only 4.99 a bottle really worth it for the abv and flavor quality.

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Photo of chinchill
3.93/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

330 ml bottle.
Pours black with a small but semi-durable head.
Thick body with low carbonation.
Exceptional, rich dark roasted grain aroma.
Light hops and alcohol esters are more evident in the flavor.

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Photo of MasterSki
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Puerto Rico Food & Liquors. Served in a taster pint glass.

A - A thin tan foam settles to a collar, wisps, and a few specks of lace. Dark brown and fairly opaque body.

S - Chocolate, smoke, fruity yeast, slightly vinous, with some mild floral hopping. Biscuit and butter toffee sweetness, with some raisin and other dark fruits. Smells like more of a cross between an English porter and an old ale. There's a bit of sherry-esque oxidation, although this is pretty new so perhaps it's deliberate?

T - The taste is smokey, with some meaty glazed ham flavors, as well as caramel, toffee, fruity yeast notes, buttermilk, chocolate, and a hint of tobacco leaf. Alcohol is very well-hidden.

M - A tad thin for a 9% beer, but there's no alcohol heat and it's quite easy to drink. Lightly grainy texture, medium body, with a fairly dry and crisp finish.

D - Solid stuff, particularly if you like fruity English ales. Might not have been worth the somewhat steep price tag ($7.99 for an 11.2oz bottle) bit it was easy to drink, with a rich and complex flavor profile.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an opaque black in color with hints of dark brown when held up to the light and moderate amounts of carbonation near the surface of the beer. The beer has a half finger tall beige head that reduces to a very thin patch covering the majority of the surface of the beer, a small thick patch, and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark roasted malts and burnt malts along with notes of chocolate, coffee, and caramel.

T: Similar to the smell, this beer has a strong body of dark roasted malts and burnt malts. There are notes of dark fruit, chocolate, coffee, licorice, and just a hint of caramel sweetness.

M: Just shy of full bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Silky smooth.

O: For such a strong porter, the alcohol is surprisingly well hidden. I found this beer to be enjoyable but very much a sipping beer and not a session beer.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.6/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not the blackest pour, but almost there, one finger tan head, pretty quick to a sticky lace and a thin film.
Smell of salty roasted malts and extremely rich dark chocolate with a raisin here and there, sweet, creamy, lots of sweet spices (big vanilla, toffee, faint licorice), bit of pecan nuts, bit of coffee, bit of alcohol. This should be very very tasty.
Oh yea! Creamy chocolate up front, with cappuccino notes, nice toffee, cinnamon, brown sugar, cocoa powder, sweet oily nuts (Macadamia, Brazilian nuts), vanilla and a hint of coconut. Dark fruit undertone, with raisin, juicy plum and some fig. Sweetness dominates, but there's a strong robust dark maltiness, especially towards the end, with smokey burnt grains, bit of wood ash and charcoal. Finishes with a mix of lingering sweetness and roast, mild bitterness, rich aftertaste.
Smooth, but a bit light bodied, not very.. "nutritious". Alcohol nicely hidden.
This comes very close to the very top, would have been better if it kept the rich roastiness of the regular Old Engine Oil (actually, if the alcoholic sweetness didn't cover it up). Still, a huge English porter.

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Photo of John_M
4.27/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a wooden keg at TJ's 9th anniversary event.

The beer pours a darkish brown color with fairly good lacing and decent head retention. The nose is quite complex in this beer, as I pick up licorice, sherry, light coffee, vanilla and smoke. The flavor profile replicates the nose in this fairly sweet beer, and it seemed to be dominated by vanilla, licorice and smoke. The smoke flavor really adds an interesting note to this excellent beer, and as the beer warms, there's considerable dark chocolate as well. There's a hint of bitterness on the finish that helps to keep the sweetness in check, and I'm impressed by how drinkable this beer is (the beer is fairly sweet, but not overly so). Mouthfeel is medium bodied, but with a long, smooth, licorice and vanilla infused finish. Alcohohl is very well integrated into the flavor profile. This is a big beer, obviously, but I really don't get much sense of the 9% abv.

Just an altogether excellent beer, and an absolute treat to see out of a wooden cask. Very nice...

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.4/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up at Bier Thirty last week, I think I paid about $7ish. Poured into my slim tulip... short lasting dark brown head.. big bubble lacing is okay at best... the brew is pretty much black except for the most remote ruby highlights near the stem.

Nose shows a bit boozy light dark malt.. not nearly as "black" as I would expect..

Flavor is more dark.. but odd. Something that I associate with fermented out molasses.. background char that is sweetened a bit by dark raisin... some pronounced cocoa with warmth.. Palate dies off pretty quickly.

Body seems thinned out by EtOH.... carbonation is pretty solid but goes away quickly on my tongue..

Not sure that I would identify this as any type of "porter"... Strong ale, probably... or a damn boozy porter, I guess too.


Okay... glad I got a chance to try it, but I want Harvieston to bring back the Special Reserve... I would like to try that again.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.18/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a two finger tan head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Black color, no highlights. Light carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Mellow chocolate nose and flavor is malty chocolate. Finish is bitter chocolate. Higher ABV is hidden. $6.49 for a 330ml bottle from Julio's Liquors Marlboro, MA.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a jet black body with a sticky tan head that fades to a film but sticks to the glass in sheets.

S- The mellow dark toffee aroma has some smooth black roasted malt smells in the finish. Even though the aroma is smooth, it is full.

T- The mellow roasted black malt has some toffee flavors and an inky note comes through as it opens. There is a papery oak flavor that supports the malt aswell. The hop bittern note in the slightly sweet finish leads to a hint of a slightly tart hop flavor. There is a smokey black malt flavor that lingers in the aftertaste.

M- The medium-light mouthfeel has a gentle fizz and no alcohol heat really noticed.

O- This beer has a nice complex dark malt flavor that is also well blended and very drinkable. There is a bit more carbonation as the beer warms but it has some nice character.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Guldan Draak flute. Pours a very dark red brown, appearing pitch black in the glass. Nice half finger fine light brown head slowly dissipates into a film and ring with little lacing. Pleasant aroma of roasted and dark malt, molasses with hints of chocolate and coffee. Taste is dominated by roasted malt with light dark fruit, coffee and chocolate. Finishes roasty with a moderate suggestion of smoked meat that similar to Rauchbiers, but with more of a burnt quality. Not very complex, but flavors are well integrated and very pleasant. Medium to heavy bodied with creaminess. Light on carbonation, but enough to contribute to a good mouth feel. Alcohol is well hidden. A very nice smokey porter that is a pleasure to drink and savor.

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Photo of Tone
4.64/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a black color. 1/3 inch head of a tan color. Great retention and good lacing. Smells of roasted malt, sweet malt, chocolate, alcohol, slight euro yeast, and a hint of hop. Fits the style of an English Porter. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with a low carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, hint of roasted malt, hint of chocolate, slight euro yeast, and a hint of hop. Overall, good appearance, great aroma, body, feel, and blend.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 330mL bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: rich black hue whose edges suggest an extremely dark brown. Head is a thick finger of frothy dark tan foam. Quite nice.

Smell: rich, smooth aroma of creamy chocolate with a hint of vegetal hops. Not terribly complex, but well-crafted and enticing.

Taste: much deeper and more complex than the aroma. Chocolatey malt flavors provide a backdrop against which earthy and vegetal hops play; fruitier alcohol compounds provide good complexity. Bitterness is relatively high. There is plenty of sweetness here, but it is well-balanced almost to the point of being hidden by the bitterness and alcohol. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel: big body with a good level of carbonation. The body and ABV make this a very silky drink, and the creaminess adds even more luscious texture. I love it.

Overall: this is a really tasty and chewy beer, although I must admit I would like a little bit less of the vegetal hop character present. Still, it's very good.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.24/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black and I first thought without any foam but it does show up after several seconds. Small and tannish, near zero lacing.

Big roasted malt nose with some coffee and chocolate, leans towards the bitter side vs sweet side.

Dark chocolate and that hugeness of roasted malt I mentioned in the smell dominate. Good coffee notes and hop bitterness from the UK hops.

Very smooth mouthfeel.

Big brother to the regular Old Engine Oil and just as enjoyable.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.12/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch tan head. Head retention is decent, and there's a lot of lacing left behind on the glass. The brew smells like roasted malt, chocolate, coffee and some molasses. It tastes like roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and some burnt/charred malt. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and coating, and has a good amount of carbonation. I can't tell this is a 9% ABV beer at all, the alcohol is hidden very well. I think this is a good overall brew, I'd certainly buy this again in the future. Definitely worth trying!

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Photo of dgilks
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. Engine oil isn't wrong. Small creamy tan head. Pretty good.

Intensely toasty and roasty. Nice nuttiness. Sweet. Good.

Sweet and toasty. Big bitterness too. Great rounded complex flavour. Mmmmm.

Medium-full body with moderate carbonation. Sweet.

Great beer. The flavours just work and it sings. Big beer but subtle too.

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Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a black color and a thick consistency. There was a small amount of foamy, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. Good lacing.

S: An interesting smell of coffee, chocolate, and a burnt quality as well.

T: Tasted of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, light hops, and the aforementioned burnt quality. A solid flavor, very subtle and underplayed, as a lot of British beers are.

M: An average amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: On the whole, an enjoyable, easy to drink brew.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma has notes of chocolate, roast coffee and caramel. It pours a deep sable with a thick tan head. Scrumptious flavor has chocolate, quality coffee and malt notes plus hints of licorice and caramel. Lip smacking! Thick, smooth mouthfeel has a good amount of fizz and leaves a smoky, slightly sweet finish. You don’t have to be an engineer to appreciate this one.

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Photo of champ103
4.38/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very glad to come across this. I am a huge fan of everything Old Engine Oil.

A: Pours an impenetrable, opaque black color. A two finger tan head rises with good retention and lace. Looks awesome.
S: Earthy and slightly slick hops up front. Quickly followed by milk chocolate, smoke, and roast.
T: Follows the nose. Light hops up front. Though a great balance of chocolate, roast, and peat/smoke. I love it.
M/D: A medium to full body. Moderate carbonation. So smooth and velvety. Like silk. Incredibly easy and enjoyable to drink.

After falling in love with everything that Harviestoun puts out, it is no surprise that I love this as well. Highly recommended.

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Photo of drpimento
4.59/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured at a good temperature and with a medium size, tan, foamy head that soon settled to some swirls and a ring plus some lace. Color (with the help of a bright light) is a clear, almost opaque brown black red. Aroma is a heavenly, volatile blend of coffee, malt, cocoa, dark ripe fruit, vanilla. Flavor's like nose, has good interplay between malt sweet & bitter, carbonic tang, and hop bitter plus a bit metallic. Body is good, full and decent carbonation. Finsih is like flavor, fairly long, and the barest hint of alcohol. Very good beer.

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Old Engine Oil Engineer's Reserve Blackest Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
94 out of 100 based on 82 ratings.