Old Engine Oil - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

1,549 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,549
Reviews: 761
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.39%
Wants: 125
Gots: 141 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
English Porter |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-10-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (31) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,549 | Reviews: 761
Reviews by CoolJosh:
Photo of CoolJosh
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bottle to go at Zeno's after watching my football team reign victorious over Ohio State..

A - Whoaaaa!!!! I know that the name of this beer is Old Engine Oil, but man oh man is this dark. Completely opaque black, half finger dark brown in head that dissipates to a ring.

S - Really great scents of dark coffee roasts, caramel, and semi sweet choclates.

T - Again, very impressive. Really great and well balanced tastes of everything thats apparent in the smell. A little bit of sweetness but not overpowering. My buddy's girlfriend put it best, this tastes like a really good cup of coffee. Carbonated well which adds a tingly feeling in the mouthfeel. Some bitterness at the end.

All in all, an awesome ale. If you can get your hands on one of these I would advise putting any hesitation aside.

More User Reviews:
Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.56/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Black. Out of curiosity I held a powerful flashlight behind my sampling glass, and still only got faint ruby tinges. Light brown thin head that fades to a ring, spots of lace. I'm looking for viscosity; looks thick, but I want milkshake.

S: Powerful, almost acrid on first whiff. Lots of roasted malt, oat.

T: Bittersweet chocolate is there, but mostly simple oat and roasted malt. Some vanilla mid-palate. Tasty, but unoriginal. Good long bitter finish.

M: The reason why I sought this out!... It's ok. Definitely thick, but not engine oil thick. The carbonation is fine and restricted, which helps.

O: Maybe I was expecting too much, but I really don't see what the big deal is. It's good, but I think it benefits greatly from people reading "viscous, chocolatey" on the bottle and then finding/inventing those characteristics. The "roasty", however, is there in spaded.

Photo of brewskifan55
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at Hop City, Birmingham, AL.

A: Dark as, well, old engine oil. A tan half finger head that petered out quickly.

S: Dark chocolate, malts, a bit smokey. Some coffee notes, too.

T: Follows nose in a smooth, passionate, easy drinking style. Great for sipping. Dark and lovely.

M: Medium to heavy with medium carbonation.

O: Glad I got to try this British staple. A fine porter that drinks like a stout. But then, there's not that much difference between the two. Tasty. Let it warm for maximum viscosity and thermal breakdown.

Photo of oberon
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I must say I had never heard of this until now,pours a deep brown with some nice ruby hues with a great creamy head that sticks very well.The aroma is a little caramelly and dry.A taste of unsweetened chocolate and some fruity notes with a slight dry finish.Very impressed with this beer.

Photo of RoyalT
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Black as night in the body with a nice, full head that went down slowly and laced the glass.

Smell – This has a tight aroma. After it warms a bit, the burnt malt and toffee character come out nicely. Other faint smells include coffee, chocolate, and milk shake.

Taste – Definitely milk shake with a dash of coffee. This is well-blended and complete. The milky chocolate flavors mix with the coffee and a bit of candy, maybe Heath Bar meets Hershey, and a wonderful dark malt backbone. Everything is even-keeled though and very nice.

Mouthfeel – No carbonation and very creamy smooth. This is full-bodied but even. No sharp edges to this ale.

Drinkability – Wonderful to drink at any time and in any season.

Photo of byaeger
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this at City Beer in S.F. and plunked down $5.69 for the 11.2 oz bottle. I had to know. What'd I have to know? How the base for Harviestoun's amazing Ola Dubh tasted (I've had the 12, 16, and 30, the last of which was on tap--possibly cask--at Blue Palms Brew House in LA) like. It tastes like awesomeness.

To quote Spinal Tap, "How much more black can you get? None. None more black."

Impenetrable by light, the old engine oil moniker is fitting, not merely boastful. Sometimes I like to go for liquid coal and this is the go-to beer for such occasions.

Syrupy, roasty, velvety, and to quote someone less famous (my friend Jeff from Montana), "richer than 3 feet up a bull's ass."

If no Ola Dubh is available, go for this, especially as a chaser for your top shelf single malt of choice.

Photo of ExtraStout
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at BBC in Franklin, MA. It pours very dark, almost black. The head was creamy tan but small and dissipated rather quickly. There is some light lacing as well. Smell is of malt, chocolate, and maybe hops. The hops definitely come through on the taste, it's somewhat bitter with a hint of chocolate and malt. Smokey like a Porter usually is which is why I'm a Stout fan. The mouthfeel is pretty good but not the best. Drinkability: I'd take it if I had it, but I'm not sad that I don't. Definitely not bad, but at the same time it's nothing special.

Photo of hopsleeroy
3.89/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Chemmie for this one!

A-Black body with very little white head, not as thick as the name suggests
S-Roasted grain, ale fruit flavors, earthier hop/yeast
T-Roasted Falvor with some bready malts, very mild hop nice bitter aftertaste, some sweetness would have helped.
M-A little bit thin on the body with decent carbonation
D-I could go for another

Interesting beer, but not what Iwould expect out of an Old Ale.

Photo of sgoodship
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was my first sample of this style and a pretty darned good way to start. Not sure if all the Old Ale style is porter-like but this one certainly was for me. I shall explore further!

A: Black of course but there is a hint of a golden walnut brown at the edges when the head clears. Head is short lived but is coffee stained and leaves a slight lacing

S: I just couldn't wait for it to be poured (bad boy) and got a good whiff of blackberry from the bottle. When poured, it was the same but then I recognized the malt, chocolate and coffee. As the drink progressed, it definitely took on a more acidic fruit smell but wasn't too dominant.

T: Frickin' delicious. Fruity acidic start aided with some carbonation with a big dominant syrupy roasted malt middle. It ended with a bitter coffee, chocolate bitterness and the hops were there but oh so slightly. This is an artfully balanced brew for sure. A very fulfilling taste for me.

M: Lovely round creamy buttery smoothness. A wee bit of carbonation livened things up just a tad. The bold taste made me expect a thicker body but it was lighter than expected. Don't misunderstand me, the mouthfeel was not disappointing at all, just not what I expected.

D: I think I could drink quite a few of these. Very satisfying evening drink. It's not a session beer but it isn't intended to be. For me, it's a trip back in time. I am currently reading A History of Suds and Civilization from Mesopotamia to Microbreweries by Gregg Smith and I can just imagine being at an old Inn drinking one of these. Read the book - you'll get what I mean.

Photo of tuckevalastin
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours thick and as dark as night with barely any tan head

S: smells of sweet chocolate and caramel as well as a roasty coffee like malt

T: The taste is very roasty and a bit bitter. Hints of chocolate and caramel are noticable but roasted coffee dominates.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with decent carbonation. Not the smoothest beer in the world but not much heat comes through either.

D: Above average drinkability for a dark beer

Overall, this is a good beer to drink once in a blue moon. Worth a try if you enjoy the style.

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A great beer! It was an opaque black with a thick, sticky, coffee-colored head. Aroma was sweet, dark cherry, a little chocolate. Wonderful taste: dark roasted coffee, chocolate, tiny bit of yeast. A very smooth beer. Not too high in ABV, so easily one to have a few of. My wife, who usually prefers wheat beers, liked this a lot.

Photo of warnerry
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

No bottle date, but I've had this for probably 6 months.

A - Pours very deep brown/blacvk with just over two fingers of brown head. Head has great retention and leaves lots of lacing.

S - Milk chocolate, some bitter chocolate, lots of roasted malt. A bit of dark fruit.

T - Starts off with sweet coffee and fruit, with milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate coming midway. Finish is roasted malt, somewhat bitter, and a faint sweetness. Very nice.

M - There is a viscous aspect to the mouthfeel, but overall it is medium, and alternates between silky and roasted bitter dryness.

O - Very nice English porter. A bit pricy, but I would still pick this up occasionally.

Photo of sponberg
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nigh-on opaque (like, umm, old engine oil...) with a tan head that leaves lace down the glass as it goes.

Interesting aroma - toffeish, dark malty smells waft from the glass. The flavor starts out with a rounded sweet coffee-chocolate-toffee flavor, then from out of nowhere a strong apricot fruitiness comes into play mid-sip. Not a "sorta like an apricot a little bit" flavor - more like a "take a bite!" flavor that really compliments the rest of what's going on. This goes away almost as quickly as it came, leaving a finish of chocolate and coffee that becomes slightly moire bitter on its way down. Very complex, and very, very good.

Note: The second pint I had a month or two later did not exhibit the apricot flavor that was there the first time, but every other flavor note remained. Odd.

Photo of Nature777
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of the greatest beers I have ever had!

A: Very dark black, visibly heavier than it tastes. Nice tan head with a little lacing. Beautiful brew.

S: Roasty, chocolately, coffee smells. Beautiful!

T: Superb flavor! Nice heavy chocolate and coffee flavors with beautiful hints of malt. This beer tastes so good that it could make a grown man cry!

M: Smooth. That's all I need to say.

D: Very drinkable. Very enjoyable.

This is a nearly perfect beer. I can't imagine anything being changed on this brew to make it better. This is in my top 10!

Photo of bishopdc0
3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer is dark with a thick hea that recedes to thr edge of the glass

The aroma is roasted malt thru annd thru and is wonderfull like dark chocolate icecream

The taste matches the aroma but mix in coffee at thr end its wonderful starts with a chocolate malt and a nice creamyness then a dryer. Roasted coffee flavor

Mouth is very nice doesn't dry to much

Photo of Doomcifer
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured an almost pitch black with a nice 1.5 inch, frothy head that retains wonderfully. Pretty good lacing.

Smells of coffee and cream, cocoa, slight vanilla, cherries, faint hop spiciness, nutty. Great and complex!

Tastes very dark bittersweet chocolate, espresso, roasty malts, anisette, finishes with a slight hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is very creamy and velvety, lightly carbonated and perfect.

Extremely tasty and slightly warming, this beer is pretty drinkable despite it's robust heaviness.

Photo of Jason
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 11.2 long neck gold foiled brown bottle with no freshness date. Blurb about the beer on the back label.

Appearance: Hmm … the colour of refined engine oil, nearly black with dark ruby hues. After a hard pour the brew formed a dense cake like head that left a spider web like trail of lace most of the way down the glass.

Smell: Sweetened coffee, toffee with a ghost like maple syrup nose. Fruitiness wanders from vague maraschino cherries to sweetness of a lemon.

Taste: Remarkable smooth, with a creamy and brawny fullish body and a slick velvety mouth feel. Huge flavours of caramel and slightly buttered toffee, coffee and unsweetened bitter chocolate. Hops are quite interesting, bitterness is spot on to balance this huge strong armed malt palate. Mild cherry fruit within the sweetness, the roasted barley and hops have no problem of making it disappear though. Floral hop flavour creeps in lending an earthened leaf like flavour. Residual sweetness is plenty but it is not alone as the roasted flavours ride deep into the finish.

Notes: A big dark beer to remember, had it on cask and I am pleased that it is easier to obtain now that it is imported in bottles. The likings of an old ale with a more than sturdy malt back bone to hold up against the heartiest of meals, lamb stew with parsnips and fennel paired with a loaf of multi-grain beer bread would do be just fine. 6.0% abv.

Photo of tjthresh
3.86/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Engine Oil. What a great name. This beer pours with a dark brown with a frothy head. It that cappacino? There is lots of chocolates and caramels throughout. In the nose and flavor. Suprisingly, quite easy drinking. Nothing really bad to say about this. Good show.

Photo of merlin48
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle pours an opaque, deep brown into a glass. I've seen other ales that look more like motor oil on the pour, but this this one has a fine, tan head that lasts forever, and leaves sheets of lacing down the glass. Aroma is a wonderful blend of campfire smoke, molasses, figs, chocolate, coriander, and some dark fruits. Quite impressive on the nose! Mouthfeel is rich and creamy. This is a full bodied Scottish ale, with a taste that resembles the nose, but is even more complex. Raisins, burnt coffee, and leather emerge in the taste and it all comes together nicely with some bittering hops. A hint of licorice is also noted. This is, certainly, the best Scottish old ale that I've been blessed to sample. Very highly recommended!

Photo of tigg924
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: deep black 1/4 inch head

Smell: burnt malt, expresso, dark chocolate

Taste: expresso, smoked malts--almost rauch like, some cream--some alcohol on the finish

Mouthfeel: light body, smooth, creamy, low carbonation--no bite

Drinkability: What I got and what I was expecting were two different things. This is a very smooth and drinkable old ale and perhaps my favorite I have tried in the style. More complex than I have described, I will reach for this again.

Photo of jakester
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I got this as a single at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. No date on the label. I drank this in a goblet glass.

This beer does look like engine oil when you pour it. Almost opaque, with a hint of deep garnet with a touch of brown if you hold it up to a bright light. A 1/2 finger of tan foams forms on top, which quickly drops to islands and a ring. No lacing observed.

Aroma is strong chocolate, very fruity, like cherries or dates. Alcohol in there as well. Not much in the way of hop aroma.

Flavor is chocolate, but not too sweet. A definite hop bittering is present, making the flavor of this interestingly yummy. Very fruity. I do think I can pick up some grassy/herbal hops in there also. Aftertaste is pure dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel is luxuriously smooth and creamy. Carbonation is soft. This beer just rolls around in your mouth. Great mouthfeel. Finish is incredibly creamy, like a chocolate milk shake.

I get the feeling this is what an old ale is supposed to be. I haven't had many. This beer is fantastic. Highly recommended.

Photo of magictrokini
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black pour with a tan ring of bubbles. Roasted malt and nuts, bittersweet chocolate, prunes, and coffee. Not as viscous as advertised. Woody, burnt oats, malt, raisins, barley, weak coffee, and just a little bit of smoke. I expected a stout with the name and look, but got a very good old ale instead.

Photo of jondeelee
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

With a name like "Old Engine Oil," I expected this beer to resemble, say, a Budweiser, in about the same way an oboe resembles a nose hair. From the smell, this black ale is well on its way to fulfilling that expectation. In fact, it smells so much like 90% cocoa dark chocolate mixed with smoke, ash, and black malt (with that roasted-until-it-cried-uncle tang), that by the nose alone it would be difficult to imagine this as beer.

On the tongue, the foreignness of this liquid as an ale of any sort continues, with immediate and overpowering black malt flavors pounding tobacco, smoke and ash into every corner of your tastebuds. Way, way below those bitter flavors are a few dark fruit esters and dark sugars, but finding them is equivalent to locating middle C in a frog belch. And the amazing thing is that the flavors continue to build throughout the mouthful, and then hang around for literally ages afterward.

This is not an ale for the weak-stomached or weak-minded, and while that makes it exotic and extraordinary, it also marks a weakness, for it takes a special tongue to appreciate this kind of flavor. Try at your own risk, but *do* try--it's an experience you won't soon forget.

Photo of Thrasher
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark with a tinge of purple, good head. Aroma of Scottish malts, quite grassy and just a hint of smokiness. A surprisingly friendly beer, despite name and appearance. Smooth malts are not caramel sweet but more roasty and toasty, with mild hint of coffee. Some slight fruitiness gives this beer distinction; a very ripe flavor, kind of like a mild although the alcohol kick can't be denied. This beer evokes, for me, images of cloth caps, wood paneled walls and my grandfather's immense library of antique books. Hoppiness is very herbal, gives the palate a quick jab towards the finish. There is a lasting and lustrous finish that is wonderfully nourishing. Mouthfeel smooth, like oil, if not as thick and sticky as that simile suggests. This beer is labeled a number of things: old ale, strong ale, barley wine, porter; but to me the malts are indelibly characteristic of a Scottish ale. A unique and enjoyable beer that I will be buying lots of, if only I could find it priced less than $2.78 for 11.2 oz bottle.

Photo of far333
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow...this is great. Dark brown, nearly black with a light brown head. The head is small and drops quickly, but leaves a thin layer of frothy bubbles floating on top of the beer. The smell is faint, but hints of coffee and chocolate are definitely there. The flavor is big. It hits your tongue quick and hard, and it's great. It's full of hop bitterness, coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt. The hops linger in the mouth. Carbonation is a bit heavy, but the mouthfeel is still smooth. The feel and flavor are well-balanced. Need to get more of this stuff.

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Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,549 ratings.