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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.

1,369 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,369
Reviews: 731
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 104
Gots: 87 | 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: 1,369 | Reviews: 731 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dgilks
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%

Pours pitch black with a nice creamy tan head. Decent head retention. This just looks plain good.

Aromas are rich and intense. I get molasses, raisins, smoke and sweet malt. Intense and very nice.

Big flavour with roast, espresso, smoke, some fruity overtones and a hint of the molasses I noted in the aroma. Big, rich flavours.

Nice, rich, thick mouthfeel with mild carbonation suits this beer well. A great winter beer.

Great beer with lots of flavour. Really good for a beer that clocks in at 6%. Great on a cold winter's day.

dgilks, Jul 15, 2009
Photo of istarilord
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%

As the name (and label) suggests, the beer pours a very nice, dark brownish black with a brown head.

Flavor to me was reminiscent of oatmeal stout, with a good amount of maltiness & cereal tones. The coffee/chocolate flavors were fairly light for a dark malty beer.

Very smooth and easy to drink, a decent dessert beer.

istarilord, Jul 13, 2009
Photo of SFLpunk
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%

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 BeerFMAndy
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

11.2 oz bottle poured into a Nonic. No date on the bottle.

A - Dark amber on the pour but once in the glass, it's completely black. Not as thick as I imagined but it came out with a small and quickly fading tan head. It left a thin coating but that's it.

S - Black roasted malts bursing on the nose with a chocolaty, toffee, and slight coffee addition. A hint of dark fruity esters finishes off this dark, rich smelling beer.

T - Black roasted malts flood the mouth bringing with them a chocolaty feel and toffee with coffee flavor. Delicious! Not really bitter at all for how roasted the malts are.

M - Vicious. The mouthfeel is definitely full-bodied. It brings with it the texture of melted milk-chocolate being swallowed. A velvety smooth and rich experience. One mouthfeel of a beer that really makes the beer so much more outstanding!

D - For as heavy and ruch as this beer is (and it may be one of the richest I've ever had), it's very drinkable. I'm sure a few would do some damage, but I'd love every second of it!

BeerFMAndy, Jun 26, 2009
Photo of endincolorado
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%

Appearance- Thick, viscous body with lots of tan head that settles slowly. Nice sticky lace.

Smell- Strong, roasted coffee malts. Toast. Some hazelnut. Slight tingly hop-bitterness in background.

Taste- Great roasted malts that take on a whole different, more toasted flavor when aerated. Bitter dryness sticks around in the flavor.

Mouthfeel- Thick, velvetty texture complemented by a nice, creamy carbonation.

Drinkability- Much more drinkable than it looks and smells.

endincolorado, Jun 23, 2009
Photo of CHickman
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%

Poured black and smells toasted and like coffee. Tastes malty and roasted with a combo of chocolate, coffee, malt and hops that gives a touch of sweetness; the roasted flavor dominates, but the beer is smooth and light like an ale yet feels and tastes like a stout/porter. Overall a very good combination and a very good beer!

CHickman, Jun 14, 2009
Photo of alcstradamus
3.08/5  rDev -25.6%

A--Poured a near black with only a thin layer head in my 16 oz. snifter.

S--Roasted malt, cocoa, marshmallows, earthy hops

T--Light roasted malts, truthfully not a whole lot else going on with this beer. It tastes like a watered down porter and is somewhat generic. Its very average, not anything special

M--Medium bodied, washed down clean with a slight ashy aftertaste

D--Nothing to separate this beer from the pack. Just a nice drinking but boring ale.

alcstradamus, Jun 11, 2009
Photo of beergirlblog
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%

I was scared to try this because it sounds like it would be black and thick and bitter- but the name was so cool. The black-brown-ruby color was really beautiful, and it turned out to be much less intimidating in aroma and taste than expected: there were lots of dark roasted scents and flavors: malts, chocolate, grains, coffee, raisins. Unfortunately, the nice flavor profile was kind of let down by the thin feel of the beer- a little more body would carry them better. Overall, it was drinkable, but tasted a little weaker than I would have liked, but I'd definitely order it again.

beergirlblog, Jun 11, 2009
Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Old Engine Oil is indeed a black and viscous looking beer but there is a bright and piercing splint of maroon that prevents it from appearing quite as thick or gloopy as actual car engine oil. Despite the flashy undertone, the body is opaque even when held directly into light. Its head is airy and well spaced out but remains persistent throughout the tasting.

This particular bottle may not have been aged in whiskey barrels like its compatriots the Ola Dubhs or the since retired Special Reserve, but it kind of smells like it has anyhow. Charred oak, roasty residuals, spent tobacco and plenty of dark, bitter-sweet chocolate abound. These scents stick to the insides of the nostrils and make a heavy, lasting imprint.

The taste is fervently malty and offers a dazzling array of sweet and roasty qualities. It carries the flavour of heavily scorched, sugary-sweet dark caramel and is complimented by intensely toasted malts, a chunk of chocolate, black coffee and a hint of dark cherry. It has the dark roasty flavours of a porter with the sweet complexities of a barleywine.

The beer uses an unusual hop, Galena, a Washington state native renown for its extreme bitterness. I wouldn't consider the beer overly bitter - as mentioned I find it generously malty - although it does possess some bite. More contribution appears to be had from Worcester Fuggles which are said to be the source of this oily, very anise seed-like flavour.

The beer is medium bodied. It has the roasty, chocolaty flavours of a porter but not the same kind of breadth or body. That said, its sweetness makes up the difference. Flavours of coffee and licorice make the beer considerably rich; it may be only 6% but I'm sipping this as slowly (and deliberating on it just as much) as I would a beer twice its strength.

Call it an old ale, call it a porter or a stout - call it whatever you'd like, this is a fine beer. It is rich and gratifying, a fulfilling beer worthy of always keeping on hand in the cellar. And it's a little like the old model Ford car on its label; it's big, loud, chunky and above all else, reliable. They simply don't make 'em like this anymore.

biegaman, Jun 10, 2009
Photo of Reaper16
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%

served from a bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a super-dark brown; might as well call it black. The deep-tan head was sizable at first, but fairly quickly recedes to a 1/2 finger ring with longevity at that size. Lacing was not as prevalent as hoped.

Smells of chocolate and earth and bread. I kept searching for deeper scents... at one point I think I imagined some dark fruits... but nothing further hit my nose.

Thankfully, this beer tastes yummy. Loads of fairly intense chocolate flavor wash over, quickly yielding to roasted malt goodness. The chocolate flavor hits back with decided sweetness on the finish. A touch of earthy bitterness on the aftertaste makes this beer quite drying.

This is a thinner beer than one might expect, given the flavor profile; certainly its not the "viscous" drink that the bottle claims that it is. Its not a bad thing, though. It makes for a very drinkable beer despite its sweet, malt-bomb nature.

This is a beer that never wows me in any area, yet I come away from it having enjoyed it quite a bit. I'll never turn one down, that's for sure.

Reaper16, Jun 07, 2009
Photo of redneckchugger
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%

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 coldmeat23
3.73/5  rDev -9.9%

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees

Pours what appears to be a nice black color, But is betrayed by a golden brown surface ring. One-finger head of of somewhat thin, medium brown colored foam. Retention is very good, though. Lacing is in strands, oily and slick.

Big notes of dark roasted malts. Good presence of dark chocolates and dark roasted coffees. Smells very earthy. Has very light notes of dark fruit sweetness.

Dominated by dark raosted malt flavor. Mild notes of dark chocolate covered espresso beans. Slight notes of dark fruit sweetness. Presence of roasted grains.
Overall it's very earthy and somewhat dry.

Not anywhere the level that I expected this one to be. It's smooth and has a light creaminess to it. Medium level of carbonation. The dryness really makes this one seem quite thin.

Quite smooth and easy to drink. This one would be a good candidate for session beer drinking, for those of us that like it a little more on the dark side.
While I do enjoy this brew and will drink it again, when given the chance, it does not live up to it's name, sadly. I expected so much more.

coldmeat23, Jun 02, 2009
Photo of Stavage
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%

Poured with a good two fingers of frothy chocolate brown head sitting on top of a black body of fluid. This is my first Old Ale but it looks just like what I'd expect of a good stout. Head retention was ok, lacing was good.

Smells of dark roast malts (I guess cos it's full of them), dark chocolate, strong espresso. I guess theres a little bit of a fruitiness of the wild berry variety. It's that dark chocolate coffee malty smell that dominates though.

Taste doesn't disappoint. Immediately hit with a complex caramel malt, dark chocolate and bitter espresso trio. A sweetness starts developing in the mouth when the hops comes into action leaving a very pleasing bittersweetness lingering until the next sip. Aftertaste is very much bittersweet and roasty. Very impressed with the balance of bitter and sweet and also how theres just enough floral hops to balance the malts.

Thick smooth and creamy mouthfeel, heavy enough to be fulfilling without being overwhelming. For such a robust beer it was surprisingly easy to drink and it went well with a basic meal. The alcohol is well hidden too.

Stavage, May 29, 2009
Photo of TitanTake
3.33/5  rDev -19.6%

Very thick pour. Looks like coffee or charcoal. It has almost no head.

Nutty aroma; a slight smell of cold bacon grease.

A little disappointing in flavor. Good, but not as good as I had hoped. Lingering aftertaste that doesn't make you want to go back for more.

The more I drink of this the more I don't like it.

TitanTake, May 23, 2009
Photo of markaberrant
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%

A - cola like pour, but opaque black in the glass, small tan creamy head eventually drops, and doesn't leave lacing.

S - very dry chocolate, very nutty, does not smell sweet, but still has some carmelized/toffee notes, earthy

T - smooth maltiness, more of that earthiness, not much for hop character or even bitterness, roast doesn't really show up until the aftertaste, but when it does, it's really good and lingers a long while.

M - chewy, full bodied, but not heavy, low carbonation, mostly creamy, but some roast malt astringency, dry finish works really well with roasted aftertaste and provides a nice contrast to the initial thickness, well hidden alcohol, virtually no warmth.

D - interesting interpretation, with lots of subtle notes

Sorta like a lighter wee heavy, with a good dose of roasted malt. Very nice, very smooth, it's well done and all, but maybe a tad pedestrian (which is what I think of most wee heavy, especially those on the lighter end of the spectrum). Still, if you are into malty english/scottish ales, especially with a fine touch of roasted malt, you can't go wrong with this one.

Thanks to Viggo for the bottle!

markaberrant, May 17, 2009
Photo of seand
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%

Poured into a large red wine glass.

A: Pours a very dark near opaque brown, not quite black, with maybe half a finger of tan head. The head dies down pretty quickly but does leave a bit of foam, mainly around the edge of the glass. Leaves reasonable lacing.

S: Fairly subtle, malty with hints of dark chocolate and coffee.

T: Sweet and complex, but subtle, certainly not overpowering, with a nice hop finish that lingers on the aftertaste.

M: Thick, with medium to mild carbonation. Works well with the flavors. Viscous is a good word here.

D: Quite easy to drink, and the ABV isn't too high.

Quite good, and I'll probably buy it again.

seand, May 15, 2009
Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%

Presentation: 11.2oz brown pop top bottle with cool label and a nice ditty about the beer.

Appearance: Ultra dark brown, almost black, with bright ruby highlights when held up to the light; Big, fluffy micah head with good retention and awesome sheets of lacing

Smell: Mild sweet roasted grains, hints of cocoa powder and sweet milk chocolate...mild, simple, and delicious

Taste: This beer flows across the palate like melted chocolate; initially it's a bit earthy, full of sweet dark roasted grain tones, then comes luscious semi-sweet chocolate and kind of nondescript dark fruitiness, and it ends with a mild bitter roasty kick with mild earthiness; the last thing on the palate is dusty cocoa powder.

Mouthfeel: Rich and smooth as silk on the tongue

Drinkability: If it was a bit lower abv, this would make a strong candidate for session dark ale...it's quite high

Conclusion: So simple; so smooth; so rewarding. One of those beers that knocks your socks off without really awing you in any distinct way; it's not a kick in the teeth like a Bigfoot or a different-flavor-a-minute complexity like Hennepin...it's just so simple, understated, smooth, and delicious. I've had chocolate porters and chocolate stouts made with real chocolate that don't come close to the cocoa aroma and flavor of this brew; damn good beer.

BedetheVenerable, May 14, 2009
Photo of bcdees47
4/5  rDev -3.4%

I enjoyed this one from a cask at a beer festival in Edinburgh. Appears thick and black in the glass. Rather opaque, actually. Very thick mouthfeel and a bitter, roasted flavour with some chocolate sweetness. Nice aftertaste as well. I would have this one again.

bcdees47, May 10, 2009
Photo of prototypic
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%

Old Engine Oil is not a misnomer. This one pours a very dark chocolate fudge color. Only a hint of light is getting through revealing slight garnet highlights. A very attractive mocha colored cap sits on top. It's a couple of fingers deep. Retention was on the shorter side and lacing was light and sticky. Very close to calling it a '4.5' here.

The nose is a little too weak. Bittersweet chocolate seems to the primary component. Hops are surpringly strong and add a pleasant floral vibe. They're mostly grassy and earthy. There's a faint dark fruit aroma that's mostly reminiscent of raisins. It smells sweet and malty on the tail. A bit of yeast creeps in at the very end. Not bad, just a little too weak.

The flavor easily takes the next step. Bittersweet chocolate takes up most of the spotlight. A sweet flavor evolves as it warms. Hops are very strong and tasty. They add an excellent floral element and perhaps attribute to a rather intense bitter flavor that emerges. There's a light coffee aspect to that contributes an acidic or sour element to the flavor. Dark fruit is extremely subdued and barely noticeable. Alcohol is blended very well and goes unnoticed. It finishes bitter and slightly acidic. Perhaps a little too acidic.

Old Engine Oil isn't the viscous beast that it appears to be. It's nice and smooth, but could use a little more body. Carbonation is dialed back quite a bit and doesn't interfere. Drinkability is quite good. I like the intense flavor quite a bit. I can see it being a little tiresome after more than one bottle, but I'm enjoying this one. It goes down easy and abv is relatively light.

Old Engine Oil is an impressive Old Ale. I like it quite a bit. It'd benefit from more punch in the aromatics department. The flavor could be improved by somehow adjusting the acidic flavor. It's more than solid in all other respects. Definitely recommended.

prototypic, May 07, 2009
Photo of Windigstadt
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%

A: You'll never guess it by the name, but this pours black. There's a hint of ruby on the edges of the glass, but it's black. A thin tan head briefly appears before returning to the darkness from whence it came.

S: A nice balance of malty sweetness and roasted notes with just a hint of licorice.

T: Much like the nose, it's nice and sweet up front. Notes of brown sugar with a touch of caramel; some spicy rye-like notes. After the initial sweetness the roasted malts kick in. It's roasty but not burnt, with just enough hops to keep it from being syrupy sweet.

M: Despite the name, it's really not that thick or viscous. Personally, I think that's a good thing.

D: The fact that it's not too thick makes it very drinkable for 6% ABV.

Overall: A delicious beer. It's listed as an Old Ale, but I would consider it a cross between a traditional Scottish Wee Heavy and a robust porter. It has that caramelized sweetness up front but porter-like roastiness (I would guess roast barley) and the results are quite tasty. Definitely one to seek out.

Windigstadt, May 05, 2009
Photo of SingleCell
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%

Poured into a snifter at cellar temp. Best before marked on the bottle as FEB 2010.

A: Pours very dark, basically black with a slight red rusty tint. Tan 1/2 inch head is produced from an aggressive pour. However, as quick as the head shows up its gone leaving a light dusting of head.

S: Wow, I could smell this as soon as I popped the cap from a few feet away. Smells of milk chocolate, very dark fruits (plums), slightly burnt malt, almost like a Belgian yeast smell hiding behind everything. Also, some alcohol can be detected in the nose.

T: Burnt malt once again, alot more of the fruity estery flavours that can be somewhat detected in the smell, hint of bread like yeast. Finish of light coffee and strong dark fruits.

M: Very fine carbonation produces a medium bodied creamy almost velvet like mouthfeel. The bitter coffee finish also produces a somewhat dry mouthfeel.

D: A very mellow beer with an excellent mouthfeel. I think this is a very drinkable beer. At 6% ABV I probably won't session too many of these in one night but as with alot of old ales I find it is best to savour rather than quaff.

Overall a solid beer! With a name like old engine oil I was hoping for this to be a very thick viscous beer which it was not. However, I was still very satisfied and I would buy this beer again. Cheers everyone!

SingleCell, May 03, 2009
Photo of Pencible
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%

This poured a clear black ruby with a bit of tan head. It smelled like brown sugar, honey wheat, and raisins, with some sweet caramel and roasted barley and oak. It tasted like roasted barley with some coffee and brown sugar, and a bit of oak. It was slightly thick with a bit of carbonation, and had a bittersweet aftertaste. Overall this was a decent old ale, but not the best. The flavor wasn't as sweet as the scent, which is a shame. The body was good, but I would have preferred it to be fuller. It was clean and easy to drink, especially since it's a relatively low ABV for old ales. I imagine this is what old ales used to be like a long time ago, when they were a primary ingredient to porters. Modern old ales seem to have more of a barleywine character to them, which I prefer. This beer didn't really have anything wrong with it, but it was somewhat boring and forgettable.

Pencible, Apr 30, 2009
Photo of surfer4life
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%

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 tigg924
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%

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.

tigg924, Apr 16, 2009
Photo of raoulduke37
4.43/5  rDev +7%

The name really makes this one appetizing. Yet another great recommendation from Dave at Wade's Wines. Thanks Dave!

A - It really does look like old engine oil. Thick, black, dense, with a decent head, and not too much lacing around my mug.

S - Hmmm, raisins, molasses, smoky meat in the background. Really complex and hard to pinpoint but extremely appetizing.

T - This is my first taste of "old ale" and I really like it. It looks like a stout, but tastes somewhere between a dopplebock and a porter. Toasted almonds, baking chocolate bitterness, faint traces of honey and burnt coffee. Again, complex and exciting.

M - It throws you off because you are expecting syrup and much more density, but you get a nice little tingle of carbonation in there.

D - I would love to have this on tap somewhere around here. Fat chance.

raoulduke37, Apr 14, 2009
Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,369 ratings.