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Old Engine Oil - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,435 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,435
Reviews: 742
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 111
Gots: 101 | FT: 0
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,435 | Reviews: 742 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Kromes
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pitch black, no highlights, a finger's width brown head dies down to nothing.

S: Deep roasted malt aroma, a slight chocolate and fruitiness to the aroma, but clean and pure roasted goodness.

T: A big sweet roasted malt flavor up front gives way to a tangy, chocolate and fruity smokiness. The finish is very clean and leaves a smoky remnant of the earthy roasted malt.

M: It's got a nice mouthfeel. Not a lot of carbonation and a heavier feel.

O: I really enjoyed this beer. I love porters and this one is simple and delicious with all the clean roasted flavors.

Kromes, Jun 10, 2011
Photo of drtth
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As poured the appearance of the beer almost lives up to its name. The liquid is dark brown, almost black in color and once in the glass allows no light through it. The stream of liquid contains lighter and darker "threads" but even those that are transparent and clear are dark brown, just not as dark as the darkest. The ½" head is dense throughout with some lager bubbles on the top. The head recedes soon to leave an irregular ring and an irregular island of foam. Also there are patches and leggy trails of lace clinging to the sides of the glass. Sipping leaves widely scattered small patches of foam clinging to the sides of the glass.

Smell: The aromas are those of dark roasted malt, dark chocolate and dark molasses, along with some dark fruit (plum or prune).

Taste: The flavor is rich, dark roasted and reasonably complex with a trace of sweetness, some almost burnt bitterness and races of dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium to full bodied and soft, with moderate but persistent carbonation. The finish is moderately long with early sweetness disappearing quickly to leave the dark roast, almost burnt bitterness and some earthy character from the hops.

Drinkability: While listed as a porter (it was once listed as an Old Ale) this is one of those beers that tests the myth that the difference between a porter and a stout lies in the dark roast malt. I've found with this beer that while it should be sipped slowly and savored, each sip also follows naturally from the first and I'm finishing this beer wanting more than there is. I'll certainly seek this beer out to have again in the future

drtth, Aug 02, 2010
Photo of aracauna
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice, porter like look to it. Definitely what it says on the label, an after dinner beer. Nice chocolate and plums to the aroma. The flavor is roasty, some chocolate, plums and the slight apple peel taste that I'm starting to decide is a certain type of hops. The mouthfeel is really smooth. Love the name and glad that it caught my attention.

aracauna, Apr 11, 2002
Photo of DirtyBikeBrewing
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark coffee like color with a good amount of head that settle rather slowly.

A - This is a dark beer. Dark like night.

S - Smelled of roasty coffee and chocolate. With hints of molasses and vanilla.

T - Tasted just like it smelled. Really thick beer though. Almost a meal on its own.

M - Very full bodied super rich.

O - Great beer. Would totally drink it again. It's definitely the kind of beer that many porter drinkers have to try.

DirtyBikeBrewing, Sep 25, 2012
Photo of Tone
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy, dark black color. One inch head of a tan color (one of the darkest color heads I've come across). Decent retention and good lacing. Smells strongly of alcohol and roasted malts. There's also might be a hint of hops in the aroma. So far as I can tell, it fits the style of an Old Ale. Smooth and thick mouth feel. There's an average carbonation level present along with a noticeable bitterness on the tongue. Tastes of roasted malts first off, then the alcohol is strong. The aftertaste is of a malt dryness that matures into a slight chocolaty flavor. There's a hop bitterness, but not strong hop flavor. Along with the malt there is a sweetness to the brew that counteracts the malt and hop bitterness. Overall, a rather enjoyable beer that's worth a try.

Tone, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of micromaniac129
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours thick and velvetty and has a deep ruby brown color. Though the foamy head is small it is present through out with spotty lacing around the inside face of my glass.
Aroma is super rich and malty with hints of chocolate.
Roasted malts dominate in the taste. Taste is smooth and lusious with hints of molasses, coffee and chocolate. Hops are light and help tame the malts a little bit with there minty anise taste.
Overall I pretty fantastic beer with depth of flavor and pleasing to gaze upon.

micromaniac129, Jul 28, 2012
Photo of BatDaddy
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

No freshness or bottled date that I can find. Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a dark ruby-tinged black with a slow to form head from a semi aggressive pour. Head is light chocolate color and settles down to a wispy lace that is full of circular shapes. Interesting and a bit peculiar - don't think I've seen lacing look like that.

S - Roasted chocolatey malt, some vague fruity sweetness. Notes of a freshly opened can of dark roasted coffee.

T - Bold dark roasted coffee. Strong and bitter, but smooth on the finish. Big malt backbone balanced out with some bittering hops and roasted notes. Very nice.

M - Smooth, and perhaps appropriately, a bit oily. Maybe it's the power of suggestion.

D - Really good. Great tasting and smooth feel make this a very enjoyable porter.

BatDaddy, Feb 14, 2011
Photo of surfer4life
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 11.2oz bottle

A - Dark, black, viscous with a chocolate brown head. No lacing.

S - Mmmm...toffee, chocolate and a bit of coffee all the usual suspects with a roasted malt, but throw in some hazelnut and bit of a creamy smell and raisins. A good bit of alcohol esters in the nose as well. This one smells great!

T - Massive roasted coffee taste in the front coupled with dark chocolate with for the mocha flavor. The alcohol is hidden well, barely any hints of it. A tad bit o hops for some balance, but doesn't dominate at all. Some real good malty sweetness on the finish manifesting in the form of figs, dates and plums. Truly great taste.

M - Medium body with medium carbonation. Dry finish leaves the mouth crisp and clean.

D - At 6% alcohol, this one is very drinkable. As always, I'd like to give it a whirl from the tap.

surfer4life, Apr 22, 2009
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an almost opaque black with no head. Nose is like old tar from a tree. Just very earthy and resin like. Raisins. Slight touch of dried out wood that still holds a fragrance. Flavor is smooth. Definite raisins there. Nice aged woody flavor. Thick with character. Feel is good. Slight bubble, but an otherwise thicker texture over the tongue. Very drinkable. More of a sipper, but a nice aged old ale.

RblWthACoz, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of repeal06
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4


Poured blacker than black, with a small tan head that laced the glass nicely.

Smelled faintly of roasted coffee and chocolate, and malty goodness.

Tasted like it smelled. Well balanced, extremely smooth coffee and chocolate flavor. Just the right amount of bitterness.

Felt smooth and creamy in the mouth. I savored this beer.

Easily drinkable. I'm a fan of this beer.

repeal06, Nov 14, 2008
Photo of dnichols
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Reese5150 for sharing this brew with me. I poured a 12 ounce capped bottle into a tulip.

A: It poured a thick nearly black body with a half finger tan head. The head recedded to a light cover over the liquid that lingered and produced a ring aroudn the collar that supported a thin leggy curtain.

S: It had a major roasted sweet malt profile with dark fruits and lightly floral hops.

T: It presented a sweet malty and dark fruit (bing cherries and ripe black plums). It had a sweet and creamy malt front with a fruity back.

M: It was creamy and full bodied with a well hidden alcohol and clean dry aftertaste.

D: Very smooth and rich with a decent ABV and nice finish. This is a very plesant and joyfilled old ale. I will seek this one out to include in my stash.

dnichols, Jan 17, 2008
Photo of spiffysamurai
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pint on tab at Woodman's in Orono Maine

A: The beer came in a nice pint size glass, black as night.

S: The beer smelt of a nice Scotish old ale, makes me think of old time beer.

T: The beer tasted of caramel with a dash of vanilla.

M: Nice and smooth

D: Very drinkable for a beer with a 6.0% ABV

spiffysamurai, Nov 14, 2007
Photo of Gagnonsux
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The color is pitch black with a creamy tan head. Not much retention except for bubbles around the insides of my pint glass. The aroma is chocolaty with a touch of roasted smell. The taste is insanely rich. Sweet chocolate flavor is inhanced by light roasted taste, peat flavor, and just a little herbal hop. Old Engine Oil has a great depth of complexity and is incredably smooth. Only 6% ABV makes this even easier to drink. Highly recommended.

Gagnonsux, Apr 23, 2005
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Barely see-throughable dark walnut with dark crimson tendencies. Without blindingly bright sunlight behind the glass, the beer is essentially opaque. The sandstone colored crown is compact despite a sprited pour and displays multiple fragile bubbles on its rumpled upper surface. A short, jagged collar of lace looks good enough to keep me enthused about the appearance.

The nose is nicely chocolate malty with accessory aromas of dark caramel, dark fruit (dates primarily) and herbal hops. I miss the fantastic Scotch whisky notes of Old Engine Oil Special Reserve since they added an olfactory complexity that this beer lacks. It's still a good nose though.

My first thought was that I feel the same way about the flavor profile; that is, that the 'aged in whisky casks' version was clearly superior (I say 'was' because it's now retired). As I continue to sip though, I'm not so sure that this beer isn't equally as good, if less complex.

I'm reminded, in some respects, of an English porter. As in the nose, chocolate malt is the focal point. While it isn't nearly as malty or as full as the American version of the style, it's a humdinger of an English old ale. Sweet trumps sour trumps bitter, with each present in nearly perfect proportions. I doubt that there's a better poster child for sessionable old ales than Old Engine Oil.

The body/mouthfeel picks up a little viscosity with warming, but it doesn't quite reach the degree of fullness that I prefer. This would be a better beer, in my humble opinion, if the mouthfeel was closer to 10W-40 than 10W-30. A relative shortage of carbonation is just what the doctor ordered.

If it was still being brewed, I'd take Special Reserve over plain ol' Old Engine Oil every day and twice on Sunday. That doesn't mean, however, that this is anything less than a special ale that I'll buy in multiple bottle increments whenever I happen to run across it. OEO is the beer equivalent of comfort food and is giving me plenty of warm fuzzies as I pause over the final ounce. If that isn't a recommendation, then I don't know what is.

BuckeyeNation, Oct 22, 2006
Photo of SFLpunk
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz brown glass pry-top bottle with black and silver label. Neck stamp says A009 01:22...I think.

Appearance: Straight pour into a tulip yields sticky tan head sitting on top of totally opaque black beer.

Nose: Lots of roasted coffee, green coffee (i.e. unroasted), barnyard (not funk, just earth). Smells like crude oil, man.

Palate: Rich and creamy right off the bat, fading to an almost crisp, lager-like black malt. Lots of roasted coffee and toasted cocoa powder notes, but there's some hops on the finish. Ends up tasting how ground coffee smells. Slight hop acidity to it on the finish.

Notes: A highly drinkable black ale. Smells like and tastes up front like an Imperial Russian Stout, but the mid-palate and finish are like the headiest black lager you've ever had. Crazy amount of malt and flavor for being only 6%. Highly recommend.

SFLpunk, Jul 01, 2009
Photo of mick303
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A vertical tasting from harviestoun, from notes.
A - A nice tan lacing on this, really good on a fully black body. 4.25
S - coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, sweet roasty malt. 4.25
T - dry cocoa, creamy sweetness, coffee tannins, dry roastiness. Amazing flavour and complexity. 4.5
M - bitter finish, very dry, viscous. 4
O - mild creaminess, great balance, a bit of olive wood, gentle porter and very smooth. Definitely one worth trying, well executed. 4.25

mick303, Jul 03, 2012
Photo of warnerry
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

warnerry, Mar 10, 2012
Photo of watermelonman
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This arrived looking very dark with ruby tones and almost no head. There's a tiny bit of lace being left behind.

The smell is fairly subdued but nice, having tones of chocolate on top of dark malts. The taste is great, consisting mostly of roasted malts. The finish is what really stands out, with subdued hops barely present in a great flavor that lasts after swallowing.

This one went down like candy.

watermelonman, Dec 05, 2004
Photo of beveritt
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured from an 11.2 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Label and cap are significantly different than the BA reference picture, but the ABV and description match. Described as viscous, chocolatey, and roasty. There is some information printed on the neck, but it is unreadable.

Appearance: The bottle opens with an appreciable hiss and the beer pours with 2 fingers of tan head. This compact, rather than settles, and forms a nice, marshmallowy cap, leaving behind thick, sticky lacing. The beer itself is opaque and black, with hints of reddish brown around the edges as you hold it up to the light. Absolutely no trace of sediment in the bottle.

Smell: The smell is intense, wafting up from the glass as I sit with my head 2 feet away. Notes of chocolate and lactose with a notable sourness. Roasted barley bitterness seems to push it more towards a stout than an old ale.

Taste: Roasted barley upfront, blended seamlessly with a creamy semi-sweet chocolate middle. Creaminess is forward enough that is tastes almost like a milk stout, but may also be the soured beers added back to old ales. Mild bitter chocolate in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is excellent, a nice rich and creamy mouth-filling beer.

Drinkability: A well blended and very flavorful ale. I have heard much about his one and was glad to finally taste it. While I would equate the flavor profile more with a stout than an old ale, this is which I will revisit.

beveritt, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of puboflyons
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From an 11.2 fl. oz. bottle marked L8-254A-16:23. This was sampled on April 6, 2009.

The pour was a very dark black with the look of a porter but almost no head. The aroma was extremely interesting and nothing like I had experienced before. It had a mixture of floral hops, chocolate, raisin, and brandy or some kind of hard liquor. The mouthfeel was fairly bold. The taste had a dose of hops, coffee grounds, and grain. It is very pungent. I can see where they get the name egine oil but boy it was a good experience.

puboflyons, Apr 07, 2009
Photo of bloberglawp
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black, nice head, laces the glass a bit.

Aroma of roasted barley, and charred malted barley, hints of burt caramel, nothing much more, simple yet very inviting.

Flavor again, a deeply roasted barley, soft astringency. Dry finish, very simple, but very good.

Looking for a Dry Irish Stout brewed in Scotland? Here it is, and it a very good example of one. BTW, this is NOT a Old Ale.

bloberglawp, Sep 12, 2009
Photo of evlu1441
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I bought this beer based on the name alone. I didn't even know it was somewhat renowned. I'm looking forward to this one.

It pours a thick pitch black with a nice rich brown head. Delicious looking beer.

The smell is slightly sweet and chocolaty with some smokiness coming through.

The taste is very rich and delicious! Some slight molasses sweetness comes through to start alongside some slightly tart maltyness. It then progresses into some deep bitterness towards the back of the tongue, and lots of complex toasty and chocolaty flavours start to develop. It's quite bitter on the finish, but leaves an aftertaste with all the character and complexity its name suggests.

Overall, this is an excellent porter. Full of character, and reasonably easy to drink. Delicious.

evlu1441, Aug 31, 2011
Photo of redneckchugger
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my large snifter. Large tan headm dark body, black as night.
I know i have been using bread a lot in my reviews but this beer really smells like i put my nose in a loaf of fresh bread, i love it,
Tastes great too, more bread, dark caramelized fruits, some chocolate action.
I wish the mouthfeel was a bit thicker but thats my only complaint with this beer.

redneckchugger, Jun 02, 2009
Photo of obywan59
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a thin light brown head. Minimal lacing.

Lightly sweet dark chocolate in the nose.

More coffee than chocolate in the taste. Nicely sweet like a porter should be, but follwed by a bit of tartness.

Medium bodied. Not as thick as old engine oil. Light bitterness in the end. I get some alcohol burn in the throat.

No problems with this one. Full-flavored and ruch. Easy to drink.

This was the third in my series of British brews tonight, following Oxfordshire Triple B (England) and Williams Brothers Alba Scots Pine Ale (Scotland). Boy, did the Scots ever blow away the English tonight. I was a bit worried after drinking the fabulous Alba, but even though I bucked the trend, and rated the Harvietaun lower, it was a great beer to end the night with. Like an after-dinner coffee.

obywan59, Jul 21, 2010
Photo of gerite
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had to try this beer based on the name alone and it did not disappoint me.

It was listed on the menu as an "Old Ale" but is definitely an outstanding Porter. It pours as a solid dark brown color with a 2 to 3 finger tan head that leaves plenty of lace as you drink. It has a complex flavor of roasted malt and cocoa with a slight bitterness at the end.

If you like Porters, you must try this one.

gerite, Aug 24, 2011
Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
93 out of 100 based on 1,435 ratings.