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Old Engine Oil - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,245 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1245
Reviews: 722
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 10.65%

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
English Porter |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-10-2001)
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Ratings: 1,245 | Reviews: 722 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of BarryMFBurton


4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: There's that namesake - pours a viscous black with a creamy tan head. Little to no retention.

S: Rich and fudgy - brownie batter, vanilla, rum raisin scents waft up thick from the glass. Dense residual sugars here, backed up with notes of toffee and burnt toast.

T: Starts to style: slightly metallic, bready, with a hearty flavor of chalky chocolate. Caramel and bittersweet cocoa tones thicken it even more, then it takes an interesting turn - a crisp dryness, starting with herbal pine and lemon rind, starts a burn. It climbs slow to a strong bitterness of tannic grain husk, surprisingly intense for a porter. Finishes with that tight dryness gripping the palate, with some porter flintiness, as well.

M: Thin body with a little carbonation adding some creamy texture. That dryness that picks up toward the end of the palate breathes some new life into the drink, keeping it from staying too thick and one-dimensional.

O: A great porter - I could drink this all day. Too bad it would be an expensive six-pack...still, as a single bottle with dinner, it can't be beat.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2014 05:02:45 | More by BarryMFBurton
Photo of CalgaryFMC

Alberta (Canada)

3.83/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a tulip glass. A real looker, a very dark black brew with a ruby red halo at the bottom of the glass and a supple, sumptuous latte tan colored head that looks rather like sponge toffee. Aroma is dark roast coffee and bitter chocolate, with a faint fruitiness that recalls sour cherries along with a little burnt toffee or perhaps maple sugar. Palate is much the same, creamed coffee, unsweetened baker's chocolate, a whiff of sour cherry, and earthy, near-piney hops that add a unique additional element to the more expected roasted elements. The uber-dark appearance and protruding smooth mouthfeel belie the rather thin body and relatively easy drinkability for such an opaque brew. Coffee flavor outweighs the chocolate and other components and alas, the finish is a tad husky and astringent to my palate. Skews toward the dry and roasted rather than the sweeter regions of dark beer territory, probably due to a lack of crystal malts. Still, worth sampling for the porter/stout aficionado.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2014 22:48:08 | More by CalgaryFMC
Photo of patre_tim


4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown almost black, you can see nothing through it. Only a slight deep amber hue of a half millimeter on the extreme edge of the glass. 2 fingers of tan brown head that leaves a sticky lacing.

S: Chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, espresso, earthy and woody, light smokiness.

T: Very chocolaty, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate and black coffee. Not as intense as the nose. Sort of goes flat in the middle and becomes like a stout.

M: Thick and chocolaty, medium low fine bubbled carbonation.

O: Great Smell, good taste, great name and label. Intense on the nose, a little lacking in taste in comparison. Still a must try.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2014 15:15:28 | More by patre_tim
Photo of ThisWangsChung


4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

11.2 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown color. There's slightly less than a finger of mocha-colored head, and its retention is poor. Only slight hints of lacing are left on the glass.

S: Wow. Just, wow. The level of dark chocolate on the nose is amazing: it's so rich and defined, but never overpowers the other notes. There are also touches of umami, roast, coffee, and salt which helps to enhance its chocolate showcase. It genuinely smells fudge-like; later on, I'm even getting a touch of fruitiness. Honestly, this is one of the best, most complex noses I've encountered in a while.

T: There isn't much of a drop-off from the aroma to the flavor. A twinge of fruit esters open it up, quickly transforming into a roasted coffee flavor. It's a bit charred finishing, but more chocolaty than anything. There's also some lingering tobacco flavor post-swallow. Not the most complex, just awesomely roasted and impressively big-tasting for 6%.

M: The general feel is more slick than creamy, but there's still a nice softness to the palate. It's still light and well-attenuated enough to inspire easy drinking, with the gentle carbonation helping to dry it out even more.

O: This is fantastic. It's richness really belies its ABV. Hell, I'd even consider it a benchmark for the English porter (or even the American porter, for that matter). Shame it's kind of pricey and not offered in 6 packs...

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2014 20:53:41 | More by ThisWangsChung
Photo of dcmchew


4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Almost completely dark, one finger head that doesn't last for long, going to a very thin lacing.
Roasted malts with a whif of chocolate on the nose, classic for its style, tho with a clear juicy dark fruit, like fresh dates and dark cherries, faint smoked plums also.
Rich malts, roasted, with some light toffee, espresso coffee and dark chocolate. Lower dark fruit than in the smell, more raisin-like, dry figgy. Cocoa powder and low licorice. Flavorful hops bring a mild bitterness, enhanced by the roast (lingering in the aftertaste, not very "charred" tho).
As it warms you get a tastier dark/sweet chocolate.
Not as oily as the name suggests, but light and more than mildly carbonated. Works out fine, better actually, it's actually very easy to drink.
This was tasty and well crafted, perfectly balanced, wouldn't give it a pass.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2014 13:01:59 | More by dcmchew
Photo of thecheapies


4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours out with a glug-glug-glug, and a massive three fingers’ worth of beige head. This beer is black, as the bottle indicates. It’s true, folks. She’s dark and all kinds of sultry. Lacing is fantastic. Retention… same can be said for it. Looks like a real beer, man.

Smells of good English porter roast, oyster cracker dust, super-dry cocoa, and seawater. Has a richness without being gluttonous or showy. Well-defined and crafted.

Awesome porter flavors. Doesn’t give up on being too “UK” and punch out with caramel or fruity notes. Has a great char and roasty note with a slight salinity. There’s definitely a little bit of dry earthy coffee and a touch of chalkiness that implies cocoa, but doesn’t give it away. Almost a vegetal flavor of peat, but without the kiss of smoke. It might be there, but it’s hard to say.

This is the mouthfeel that porters dream of… silky, yet hefty body and a hoarse carbonation that gets swept into the liquid. Awesome.

Yes, Old Engine Oil does it for me. A classic that needs recognition for what it is.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2014 06:43:30 | More by thecheapies
Photo of brewdlyhooked13


4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

What a great beer week and it's only Monday. Yesterday, my neighbor gave me a bottle of Old Guardian, 2 12's of Go To IPA, and a pint glass made by cutting the neck off of an Arrogant Bastard bomber and polishing it. A very cool looking beer glass. So tonight, a different neighbor runs over and gives me a bottle of Old Engine Oil. There's a three-bedroom for sale a few hundred yards down if you're interested. ;-)

Appearance - a dark cola pour with a sticky mocha head. I could see some tawny brown translucence on the pour, but in the glass it is a light blocker. Excellent lace up top. the lid is resilient and creamy.

Aroma - roasted grain, bread crust and espresso.

Taste - robust, roasty malt as expected. An extra dash of roastiness/char on the swallow, the sugars are rather limited here, allowing the grain to really shine through and have several delicious elements to explore. The swallow develops a little espresso, but it's still just a backdrop to the kilned malt show. Finishes with a warm char, dry and clean.

Mouthfeel - slightly heavy-ish and bossy, smooth, evenly carbonated to lend balance to the feel.

Overall - excellent session beer and a showy one as well. Thanks Dan!

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2014 00:23:22 | More by brewdlyhooked13
Photo of abeeronthebeach


4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Drank alongside Pipeline Porter for comparison.
A – Appears in the glass as a liquid coke-black in colour, topped with a sturdy and sudsy head of camel-brown foam.

S – Wisps of smoke and charcoal. Subtle peat and roasted malts. A little faint.

T – Smoke, burned-ends. Bitter cream and plain chocolate. Charred toffee and sweet soy. Begs to be paired with game and root veg.

M – Glorious. Thick and smooth like plush velvet cloth. Made Pipeline feel thin and lager-like by comparison. From here on out this will be the mark to which other dark beers will be held for mouthfeel.

O – Quality needs no apologies. Difference between a pretty good beer and a really good - bordering on great - beer is abundantly clear here (OEO vs Pipeline). The first 330ml went down all too swiftly. Moreish on kettle chip levels. Wonderful.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2014 05:59:41 | More by abeeronthebeach
Photo of DougT


4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated Nov. 2013, poured into a Sam Adams glass.

Dark brown to black with a 2 finger medium tan head with plenty of lacing. Head retains well and a full rather thick foam layer stays.

Chocolate, coffee, yeast, roast, and a little sweet malt. Smells delicious.

Bit of bitter bite up front, sweet in the middle, smooth in the finish. Coffee, chocolate, a little nutty, dark fruit. Nothing overpowers.

Medium to full body. Good fizz. Very smooth, well balanced and drinkable.

I find this to be a very enjoyable drink. The best parts of a robust stout mixed with a nice nut brown ale. interesting flavors in a very approachable beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2014 02:13:49 | More by DougT
Photo of MDDMD


4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A-dark brown black color with a nice tan head and some lacing

S-dark malt, coffee, chocolate, slight herbal

T-dark roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, hint of vanilla, mild bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-easy drinking porter with good body and balance

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2014 03:28:55 | More by MDDMD
Photo of eduardolinhalis


4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle served in a snifter glass.

A: Pours a deep brown to black color forming a medium bubbled tan head that disappear quickly leaving only few lacings in the glass

S: Strong notes of malts, roasted malts, chocolate malts. Very biscuity, with strong notes of roasted malts. Very bready: notes of Oreo and earthy yeasts

T: Slightly sweet upfront. Strong notes of roasted malts. Very bready! Very earthy yeasts

M: Medium creamy body. Medium carbonation. Bittersweet aftertaste

O: Great drinkabitity. Excellent quality. Masterpiece

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2014 21:19:03 | More by eduardolinhalis
Photo of brureview


4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured an attractive black color with a 2F head into an imperial pint glass.

The aroma is heavy roasted malts and light lemon.

The mouth feel is not very carbonated.

Taste: very malty, the main taste focused on the heavily roasted malts:
there is a deeper roast here not found in American porters. It overwhelms the beer and it is the beer's signature. There is slight bitterness to the roast.

This malt roast carries to the finish. It is interesting to drink this beer colder, and let it warm up.
With warming, the malt mellows and the roast diminishes. The beer is more enjoyable in some respects, but the strong roasted malt remains the focus of this beer.

Overall: an excellent porter- however this is a Scottish brewed beer. It's different than English porters- a lot less mellow. The heavy roasts are prominent unlike most English porters I have tasted. The Brewery web site has excellent info about the beer( note the glass)

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2014 04:00:07 | More by brureview
Photo of BWED


3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

330 ml bottle poured into a snifter.

A- Black with a thick brown head. Great retention and it holds some nice lacing.

S- Dark roasted malts. Slight cocoa. Off-putting metallic aroma, however.

T- Subtle roast flavor, but really not much more.

M- Viscous, just like oil. A bit of a roasty-bitter finish, which lingers.

O- This was decent, but I was expecting more flavor out of it. The look and feel live up to the name, however.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2014 21:23:58 | More by BWED
Photo of SeatsTaken


4.88/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pour: Poured into a tulip glass. Looks exactly like its name. Almost completely black with accents of brown near the top. Produced 3/4 of an inch head that quickly dissipated, leaving minimal film behind.

Aroma: Up front there is a very peculiar sour fruitiness I'm sensing. Maybe a raisin or dried date? Roasted malt and dark chocolate make up the rest of what I'm smelling.

Taste: Wow...this is delicious and simple. I'm honestly only tasting bittersweet chocolate and roasted malt, but somehow it is this simplicity that makes this beer so tasty. There is a tiny hint of dark roasted, black coffee that stays with you after a sip, but it still fits perfectly.

Mouthfeel: Creamy up front with minimal carbonation on the tongue. It quenches your thirst just enough to make you want to take another sip, but in a good way of course.

Overall: I loved this beer. It isn't trying to be anything other than an outstanding porter, which it is. This is easily a beer I could drink more than one time in a sitting and not feel guilty about. Some may say it lacks complexity but I believe, at least in this case, that simple is perfect.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2014 23:37:38 | More by SeatsTaken
Photo of scotorum


4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 11.2 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams nonick.

a: Opaque black with the barest hint of ruby clarity at the bottom, at the top an inch tall tan head which receded slowly

s: Dark malt. Later, sweet black coffee and dark chocolate.

t: Sweet black coffee and dark chocolate. Some hop bitterness but mainly sweetish/smoky finish

m: On the lighter side of moderate. Lots of carbonation tingle on the tongue.

o: A fine and slightly different tasting porter. The coffee and chocolate notes are relatively mild as is the smoky finish. Easy drinking but still substantial. If this was half the price it is I'd definitely favor it over many other porters.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2014 07:08:25 | More by scotorum
Photo of Sludgeman

District of Columbia

4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

$3.99/11.2 oz. Poured into a chalice.

Very quaffable black ale. Easy drinking. My top English Porter. 4.5

A – Pours black, but not viscous as described by the brewer, with a one-finger dark tan rocky head that dissipates quickly. Good lacing. Head quickly revived with a good swirl of the glass. 3.75

S – A nice roasty aroma. Some sweet chocolate notes. Creamy. 4.5

T – Roasted malt, minor chocolate notes, some slight bitterness and the slightest of sweetness (maybe even fruit). 4.75

MF – Thin, but smooth, even creamy. Medium-light bodied. Dry finish. 4.5

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2013 00:19:27 | More by Sludgeman
Photo of FLima


4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deepest black color with a thick head with good retention.
Aroma of dark chocolate and licorice.
Flavor of roasted malts, American style coffee, earthy hops, plums, nuts, tobacco, licorice, vanilla and cocoa powder. Very dry aftertaste with lingering roasted notes.
Full body with appropriate carbonation and an oily sensation.
This classic Scottish brew has a good complexity. It is a must to try this and its “reserva" version, the Ola Dubh. As for other brews from Harviestoun, I found the bottle version more robust than the tap version.

Serving type: on-tap

12-19-2013 16:19:08 | More by FLima
Photo of Jetulio


4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle poured into a Pint glass
Appearance... black beer with head colour beige of 2,5 fingers
Aroma... cocoa and smoked flavours, touch of malty aroma too
Taste... coffee in mouth, bitterness appears then, balancing this beer,
Mouthfeel... full body and soft carbonation
Overall... a very nice porter, bitterness is present in a good mood, one to revisit.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2013 15:34:32 | More by Jetulio
Photo of ManekiNeko13

New York

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's a nice example of the style, but I get none of the syrupy viscosity or sweetness others talk about. I'll stick to lambics.

Color is a lovely mahogany, head is a nice brown foam, good carbonation, strong bitterness prevails for me. Smell is definitely of hops, which I'm not a big fan of. Occasionally, I return to the style to see if my taste buds have changed, but alas, they have not.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2013 02:34:41 | More by ManekiNeko13
Photo of TwelveOunces


4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- Pours surprisingly black given the ABV. A dark viscous brew. A one finger of a tan head with little retention.

S- A roasty nose. English yeast. Chocolate and toffee.

T- A smooth beer. An intense roastyness domintes the tongue on this beer. There are underlying notes of chocolate and cocoa. This is undeniably english, the yeast strain really adds a crisp dark fruityness to the beer. Aftertaste is dry and roasty. Roasty to the point of being smokey and leathery. A clean beer and no offensive flavors to speak of.

M- A very viscous stout. Drinks super easy for the ABV and provides a ton of feel. A perfect balance in terms of being bitter sweet.

O- Cant believe it took me so long to get around to this beer. One of, if not the best English porter around.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2013 00:46:43 | More by TwelveOunces
Photo of Murrhey


4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a standard pressure-cap 11.2oz bottle into a conic pint glass in Kalispell, Mont. Reviewed live.

A- Three-finger mocha head. Thick head that lasts forever. Black color, no light comes through. Nice looking beer.

S- Chocolate, toffee, roasted malts. Nice, deep aromas.

T- Delicious, thick flavors. Chocolate, roasted malts. Deep and rich. Yum.

M- Thick and almost chewy. Semi-dry.

O- This is an excellent beer. I enjoy this in all facets.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2013 03:51:41 | More by Murrhey
Photo of StJamesGate

New York

4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Garnet-tinged black with violet-sepia lumpy head that clings and pits.
Meat juice, wood smoke and licorice on the nose - very umami.
Ash, pure cocoa, espresso grounds, prune juice, blackberry skins, then pine tar hops.
Concord grape finish and charcoal linger.
Round, chewy, medium.

This was previously labeled just "dark beer", not porter, and I can see some stock ale notes here.

Hard to exaggerate how astringent and bitter the black flavors are here - no sweetness that you'd associate with coffee or chocolate, only the most burnt roasty notes. This plays off the residual sugars that make it quite creamy, working out an interesting and very drinkable dynamic tension. Roast overwhelms any individual hop notes, though there is plenty of balancing bitterness.

Surprisingly nice, and one of the better beers you can buy at Dunne's.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2013 00:28:28 | More by StJamesGate
Photo of SaisonRichBiere


3.35/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to gcamparone for this one.

Poured into a 12oz mug from a bottle.

Appearance- Thick mocha brown with a nice bubbly head. Leaves some lacing as it subsides into a thin coat on the top of the brew. Like a Guinness without the crowning head. As it pours, it's not as "thick and viscous" as it states on the bottle, but it sets up dark nonetheless. Good looking.

Smell- Dark roasty bitter espresso notes, bittersweet cacao, finishing with a big tart malty whiff. Much akin to beers of this style from the British isles. Definitely smells like it's from the old country.

Taste- Big bitter coffee draw followed quickly by a faint chocolate note, that delves quickly into a really dry, robust, malty, salty, licorice finish. Finishes quick and a nutty sourness hangs out on the palate. Standard UK porter vibe.

Mouthfeel- Surprisingly lighter than it looks. Smooth all the way, only a hint of fizz at first.

Overall- Forgive me for sounding snobbish if I do but... The lack of flavor compared to American craft varieties of the style is what stands out to me. It bums me out a bit, but I still do enjoy the nostalgic UK import as a reminder of what I was really into before Craft Beer in the US blew up. A blast from the past, but a pleasant one for sure.


Serving type: bottle

04-11-2013 01:50:36 | More by SaisonRichBiere
Photo of TMoney2591


4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a willibecher at Firkin.

When you see a cask o' this at your local spot, you pounce, I figger. This stuff pours a deep black-brown topped by a finger of dusty khaki foam. The nose comprises coffee, dark chocolate, and darkly-roasted malts. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a Guinness-like (or acrid coffee-like) sourness swaying from the background to the fore, but never firmly taking hold. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a light carbonation (livelier than most casks lately) and a smooth, easy-going feel. Overall, a very nice English porter, something I could easily see being drained from its current prison and down into my gullet.

Serving type: cask

04-04-2013 17:29:48 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of Dave1999

North Carolina

4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours as the name suggest like engine oil.

The smell is roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. Spot on for a porter.

The taste is chocolate, dark malts and finishes a little bitter.

The mouthfeel is smooth with low carbonation.

This is my favourite non imperial stout/porter very flavorful.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2013 23:34:28 | More by Dave1999
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Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,245 ratings.