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Old Engine Oil - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Educational use only; do not reuse.

764 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 764
Hads: 1,593
Avg: 4.1
pDev: 15.12%
Wants: 137
Gots: 160 | 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 (30) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Engine Oil Alström Bros
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Reviews: 764 | Hads: 1,593
Photo of Sammy
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A hoppy barley wine. Taste like a dry grainy lighter barley wine. Beautiful fruity aroma like fruity good wine. Some roasted malt and chocolate throughout. Dark colour and initial malty head. Not too sweet. Fruit on aftertaste. Smooth, would be fine with this all night.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks and dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, vanilla, cocoa powder, and milk chocolate. Taste is much the same with a char-like flavor 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 good beer with a great smell but the flavor doesn't quite match up in my opinion.

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Photo of metter98
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is near black in color (when holding up the glass to the light only a slight trace of amber is visible near the bottom edge of the glass) and poured with a thin head that quickly dissipated into lacey patterns of bubbles on the surface.
S: There are faint aromas of dark roasted malts and burnt coffee beans in the nose.
T: The flavor is dominated by roasted and burnt malts with hints of chocolate and coffee.
M: The beer feels heavy-bodied on the palate and there is dryness in the finish. It doesn't feel as viscous as it is billed up to be.
D: Drinking this beer wasn't that difficult, it seemed to be something like a hybrid between a porter and a stout.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.06/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

a classic from a brewery yet to really wow me, this one is a game changer. a mix of so many styles, from dry stout to scottish ale to black ale and beyond, a lot of bases are covered here, a lot of lines crossed, but comfort instead of chaos results. this is a velvety smooth jet black shiny brew that foams up about in inch and a half on the pour and stays vigorous. caramel in head color, rich in aroma. notes of milk chocolate and light roast coffee cascade into a more earthy profile, but maintaining just enough sweetness to not let it get bitter, a great success. the flavor is a lot like the nose, with heaps of dark malt all the way through, but the brewers have somehow coaxed new flavor combinations out of familiar malts. its rich and chocolaty in a new way. its layered, and there is a hint of licorice right before the finish. pillow soft and silky in texture, yet extremely full bodied. carbonation is no more or less than a square medium, and its perfectly dialed for whats going on here. dynamic and nuanced stuff, different in flavor and feel from anything else in the genre, it may in fact be its own genre. i will be buying this one again, i like it far better than its barrel aged variants that ive had. it needs nothing.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours out much thicker looking than most porters out there. Even looks thicker than some stouts. The color is black, with a fan colored head that doesn't stick around much. The smell is earthy and roasted. The taste is rich with heavy roasted malts. The mouthfeel is pretty thick and had a oily feel to it. Overall pretty good brew.

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Photo of brentk56
4.37/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black oil color with ruby highlights; a frothy head that retains well and leaves touches of lace

Smell: Very roasty, with hints of chocolate, prunes and whisky

Taste: A lot going on in the mouth here - starts out roasty, with smoke and dark chocolate flavors tangling with earthy hop bitterness; plenty of roast and smoke after the swallow but there is also licorice on the finish, which lasts for well over 10 seconds after the liquid has gone down the gullet.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Very different and a nice change of pace when you have time to sit and contemplate its flavors

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another very good English / Scottish Old Ale, though they all start to taste the same after a while. Typical in it's heaviness, thickness, boldness, and sweetness. Atypical in it's amber-ish color and candied sweetness. Aromas and flavors of plumbs, raisons, prunes, dates, and figs with a root beer character and texture. Other sorgum-like sweetness and bit-eyness. Heavy and moderately thick to the mouth. Finishes sweet, bold, and lightly clean.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.68/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of heyta. Served in a tulip.

Pours near black with a single-finger off-white head. Retention is okay, and there's a good amount of spotty lacing on the sides of the glass. The nose carries some light chocolate plus some roast. More of the roast than anything else. A bit of coffee as it warms. The flavor is roasted malt with a touch of coffee and some slight milk chocolate notes. Medium body with low carbonation. Fairly creamy and lends a toffee-like feel. Nothing crazy, but a pretty good brew.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a medium foamy brown head with minimal retention. Aroma of chocolate with roasted malt is easily identifiable. The roasted malt with some medium notes of chocolate and coffee also dominates taste. Overall, this is a very enjoyable beer from a style that I’m having more and more of hard time to pin down.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle. The prototypical old-world example of the style, it would seem.

This beer pours black, black, and more black. Just some slight basal mahogany prism effects here, lads and lasses, with a single finger of foamy, bubbly, and somewhat creamy beige head, which leaves a bulky morass of variously webbed lace around the glass in its slow, meandering wake.

The aroma is dry, ashy chocolate malt, cold coffee grounds, a touch of black, fleshy fruit, and floral, earthy hops. The taste is chocolate malt up front, followed by a dry, bitter cocoa, late-morning coffee urn character, a latent lactic essence, and leafy, fairly edgy earthy hops.

The carbonation is averagely effervescent, the body on the upside of hefty, softly smooth, and just a bit tingly. It finishes kind of sweet, the obfuscating souring bitterness abating somewhat, letting loose more goodly chocolate maltiness.

A well-made old school porter, with lots and lots going on, but not too much of any one thing, thankfully. The expected sourness is well accompanied by lots of cocoa, malt, coffee, and fruit, all in appropriate proportions, which goes a long way in explaining the steady, common popularity of this offering.

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Photo of zeff80
4.14/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaue, jet-black color with a small, tan, foamy head that left sticky rings of lace down the glass.

S - The first notes that hit you are roasted malt and coffee. Sweeter aromas appear later (toffee and dark chocolate).

T - The first sip surprised me with how hoppy it was. Nice bitter hop bite. The biscuity roasted malt flavor is a nice compliment to the floral hops.

M - It was very smooth and sharp. Easy drinking with an ABV of 6%. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is an interesting Old Ale. It's rather hoppy and reminds me of a good RIS.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

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Photo of oberon
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

dark brown with a large creamy tan colored head on the top. Great retention let it hang around for what seemed like forever before finally being nestled down into just a thin layer across the top. The aroma was very full and sweet. Lots of chocolate roaming through it along with a touch of coffee and lots of sugar. A slight smoked presentation as well. The flavor was also very full for a porter. This almost had a stout like feel to it as it was very thick and full with a great robust profile. Lots of chocolate and coffee notes dominated it

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Photo of nickfl
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Medium sized, dark tan head, good retention. The body is black, with some minor amber highlights.

S - Spicy, with chocolate malt, toffee, and caramel. Kind of porter-like.

T - Lots of roast barley and coffee, with a bit of chocolate. Slightly sour bitterness and a roasty finish with some alcoholic warmth.

M - Low carbonation, with an oily, slightly thick body. Slightly astringent.

D - Dark and mildly malty with a very strong roast character. Kind of reminiscent of a dry stout.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours black (with a garnet tinge around the bottom) and a half finger of light cocoa colored tan head. Retention is good with some foam around the edges and thin wisps across the center that leave thick swathes of lace down the sides of the glass. The aroma smells like dessert, with notes of cocoa powder, roasted malts, chocolate sweetness, toffee, vanilla, coffee, and dark fruits. There's a good bit in there but none of it really seems to absolutley jump out.

The taste is simliar, with chocolate and vanilla sweetness mixed with zippy coffee notes, cherry tartness, and some underlying roasted nuttiness. The mouthfeel is medium to full with a very nice smooth and velvety feel that seems to just slide down the palette.

This was very interesting with a ton of different appealing flavors coming out. Unfortunately, they all seemed to crowd each other a bit, which I think kept things from really jumping out. Still, this would be a very good post dinner drink, especially paired up with something sweet.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.42/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Possibly one of the most distinctive beers I've ever had. The color is deep ruby, but not black (although it almost appears that way in the glass). It's topped by a short but creamy light tan head that displays good head retention and leaves some spotty lace. The aroma is intense; full of toffee, dark fruit, roasted malts and light candy. The dark caramel flavor doesn't quite follow suit, but offers a very creamy, round, and full mouthfeel - but not as big as might be indicated by the name! Hops are present and well integrated. A very drinkable beer, full of great character but not overwhelming; although I'm not sure I'd want to drink too many of these in a row!?! Definitely a Scottish-style ale, but also something else altogether. Wow!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass. This one has been cellared for approximately two years, if my memory is correct.

A: The beer is a deep black color with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of dark chocolate, bourbon, roasted malts and some alcohol despite the relatively low ABV.

T: The taste starts with strong flavors of dark & milk chocolate along with a touch of dark fruit and some creaminess to it. The malt character is as hearty as you would expect from any big stout. The hops presence is likewise very mild as it usually is in this type of beer. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, decent kick, good representation of style, most of the Old Ales that I've had have been more like barleywines, but this one is more stout-like, which I expected since the label reads "Viscous, Chocolaty, Roasty". Overall it was a very good beer and seemed to handle the age quite well.

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Photo of Jason
4.55/5  rDev +11%
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.

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Photo of russpowell
3.81/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours fairly black with 2 fingers of tan head. Super sticky lacing & above average head retention

S: Cocoa, iron, oaky notes

T: Cocoa, leafy hops, chalky dryness & a touch of dark fruit up front. Roasty malt, a touch of coffee, Finishes dry, roasty & with a touch of plum

MF: Medium bodied with low but noticeable carbonation

Drinks a bit slow, due to the dryness. I do see this more as a stout, but most Brits would likely say this this is too strong for starters. Not a bad night cap, but prefer the reserve aked in whisky casks

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle into tulip glass, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a 1 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark bread, toast, light toffee, light dark fruit, faint smoke, and roast/yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of bit roast/bready malt and light-moderate yeast notes; with good strength. Taste of big chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark bread, toast, light toffee, light dark fruit, light smoke, and roasted earthiness. Fair amount of roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark bread, toast, light smoke, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity and robustness of roast/bready malt and light yeast ester flavors; with a good roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent English porter. All around great complexity, balance, and robustness of roast/bready malts and light yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of chinchill
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle served in pint glass. This bottle has a different label BA. It looks exactly like the Old Engine Oil label on the brewer's website except my label says "Black Ale" rather than "Dark Beer". 6% ABV

A - not quite old engine oil, but still black, opaque and rather viscous for a beer. Dark mahogany highlights under illumination.

Complex aroma, dominated by smokey and roasted malt notes. Some hop bitterness in the rich and deep taste. A touch of fruitiness and unpleasant burnt toast flavor. Modestly bitter, roasted malt finish.

Mouthfeel is this brew's forte: it is thick and smooth with a nice light level of carbonation.

A sipper rather than a multi-beer quaffer.

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Photo of smcolw
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Impressive four-finger head that settles nicely leaving a substantial amount of lace. Very dark brown where no light will shine through.

Chocolate milk aroma. Some coffee and toffee, but it is more creamy than sweet. Dry cocoa also. In a word, complex.

The complexity continues: it starts off very much like a dry stout with some rough coffee-ish flavors and a background of chocolate. Actually, the body is very thin when compared to my expectations. Strong hop in the swallow, remaining through the aftertaste along with the burnt black patent malt flavors.

I think this must be something special: the complexity of flavors and smells alone would garner this a very high rating in my review, but the flavors are mysterious and create the desire to keep on contemplating the contents.

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Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
91 out of 100 based on 764 ratings.