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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.

1,398 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,398
Reviews: 735
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 109
Gots: 94 | 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: 1,398 | Reviews: 735 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ChanceK
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

ChanceK, Jul 31, 2013
Photo of Xul
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a viscous, opaque black with a frothy, one-finger mocha colored head. Miniscule bubbles can be seen streaming upwards at the edge of the glass but beyond that, absolutely nothing is visible as this beer looks rather like its namesake.

S: A sweet melange of chocolate, butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, and roasted malts, backed by a light nutty characteristic. Hints of coffee intermingle with the roasted notes.

T: Nutty and roasty up front with the roastiness taking on a more bitter twist. Gives way to bittersweet chocolate in the middle, followed by toffee and vanilla on the backend. Residual taste is a blend of toffee and roasty bitterness.

M: Thinner and a bit more carbonated than the nose and flavors would indicate. Medium bodied, but would be quite a bit more enjoyable with just a touch more weight and smoothness behind it.

D: Goes down easy, it would be very easy - and enjoyable - to put down a few of these.

Xul, Mar 10, 2010
Photo of speter
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a pitch black (albeit with ruby highlights when held to the light) with a one-finger tan head that fades with impressive lacing.

S: Roasted malt, chocolate and crystal malt, with notes of prunes and currants.

T: Follows the nose. The slightly sweet start is balanced by the dark, nearly ashy, roast of the malt. Not much development over the palate, but the aftertaste is rather like dark chocolate.

M: Medium body with rather light carbonation, leading to a creamy mouthfeel.

D: A porter that drinks like a stout! I think I'll have another.

speter, Feb 08, 2011
Photo of steinlifter
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured almost pitch black, good size tan foamy head that diminished to a tan creamy collar that held the sides of the glass all the way down.
Smell: was of toffee.
taste is exceptional, roasted coffee with chocolate notes, and just the right amount of hops.
mouthfeel was a bit chewy,but very carbonated and light.
drinkability is great with this one. A very good beer that I will have again!

steinlifter, Mar 05, 2007
Photo of enfield249
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pours thick and dark. No light through this one, caramel colored head.

S - dark fruit, malt, slight roast.

T - lots of coffee, chocolate, slight black patent.

M - full to very full, astringent, not cloying however.

O - A very big porter. Worth a try.

enfield249, Aug 21, 2011
Photo of Ralphus
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My bottle of Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil came with some high expectations. The fellow at the cash register had been talking it up since early fall when the first porters arrived. And when I finally got around to trying it I was expecting a little more of what I'd come to enjoy in other offerings..

It pours as dark as one is led to believe it might be but without the head and no lacing either. It didn't look that impressive so I gave it a smell.. there's some coffee, dark chocolate and even hints of red wine in there. But I wouldn't rank it as great.. maybe even not all that noteworthy. Certainly other beers of this style have performed similar feats.

In tasting we find some sweetness up front - but it's very short lived. Being quickly being dominated by the roasted barley and slightly acidic hops at the back end. There is balance but it's transitory in nature instead of a constant play between flavors.

Mouthfeel is smooth but a little on the watery side. It may have the look of old engine oil but surely it does not have the consistency. The one area I will give the beer credit towards though is that it ends better than it starts. Each passing mouthful is a little more enjoyable than the last and before you reach the end of your first glass, you'll already be thinking about your second.

Ralphus, Feb 12, 2009
Photo of spamages
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

spamages, Jul 01, 2012
Photo of cdean801
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

cdean801, Mar 06, 2014
Photo of Kimbo1318
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Kimbo1318, Jul 03, 2013
Photo of Manosbeeroffate
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

old ale? I don't know but here we go. Pours nearly pitch black, small brown head accompanies it. Smells a bit sweet with some soapy essence? Tastes a lot better though, caramel, cocoa, malty goodness and a slight hint of dryness in the finish. Overall it's a really nice beer. To me though this is like a really nice porter rather than an old ale in the way of flavor and appearence, but what the hey, if the Scots want to call it an old ale, an old ale it'll be.

Manosbeeroffate, Mar 11, 2007
Photo of klikger
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a Darkness tulip

A - Black, little head, good lacing

S - Prune, raisin, caramel, dark chocolate. Yum.

T - Coffee, cocoa, dried fruits, and a bunch of piny hops. There's plenty of hop bitterness and espresso beans on the finish. Very tasty beer.

M - Relatively low carbonation, good body for a porter

D - 6% and all this flavor? Give me another.

klikger, Oct 14, 2010
Photo of Richardberg
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Deep ink, almost black, small brown head.

S: burnt malt, coffee

T: slight bitterness, slight sweetness, but the overall sensation is 100% burnt malt. sounds boring to write about but works out nicely in practice.

M: smooth pour, moderate coating, finishes dry with a bit of alky bite

D: everything comes together to make a highly enjoyable dark beer

Richardberg, Mar 21, 2009
Photo of kvnstfrd
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

kvnstfrd, May 23, 2013
Photo of rabsten
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with thick, finely bubbled brown head. Not much lacing and the head quickly goes away. No where near as "viscous" as the label would have you believe. Light toasted and caramel malt aroma with mild hop background and solid alcohol presence.

Nice, well roasted flavor with background sweetness. Well rounded mouthfeel, solid but not heavy. Quite drinkable.

Good, well rounded black ale. Not quite what I think of when I think stout or porter but pretty good. Worth a shot.

rabsten, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of MadeInOregon
3.48/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

THE LOOK of Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil is very much appropriate given the label's description when it calls it a "black ale", however it is quite average in every other respect with nothing raising even an eyebrow. The body is solid black and is topped with a very thin, khaki head.

THE SMELL is of dried chocolate (i.e. cocoa powdery). It is quite sweet and rich smelling, but extremely average.

THE TASTE is mainly of sweet, but bittersweet, chocolate. There is a mild, medium hoppyness and dry, bitter finish. There is also some coffee in the flavor profile. This is a solid, accurate representation of a porter but there's certainly nothing impressive, intense or anything else going on.

THE FEEL is basically an American porter or maybe a medium-thin stout. The label sounds like this will be impressive or overly strong, thick, etc., but this is a quite tame and straightforward porter.

CONCLUSION: The label is smoke and mirrors; this is a tame, straightforward porter. Everything about this is entirely normal and civilized. Change the label and I'd give it higher ratings. It's a good drink, but why pay a premium for basic porter from Europe when you can support a local, craft brewery making the same thing? Lots to chose from domestically. Pass on this one.

MadeInOregon, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of longpondbeerman
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

True to its name, this stuff pours thick and black out of the classic long-necked bottle. Its developed a fine, chocolate tan foam that receeded slowly. The lace was sticky. Old Engine Oil has a deep, rather prune-like smell (my wife said she was reminded of figs), and the taste is smooth and fruity with very little carbonation. I thought this a worthy brew, but not very complex, and not among the top I've had recently.

longpondbeerman, Mar 16, 2003
Photo of Shovelbum
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a one finger tan head over a black body. Decent head retention with meager lace. Light aromas of earthy hops, rich malt and a light smokiness. Rich malt in the flavor as well. Mildly sweet caramel, light chocolate, and vinous flavors over a background of earthy and mildly spicy hop bitterness. Detectable mineral character Medium bodied with low carbonation. Smooth in the mouth with a slightly crisp and dry finish.

A fairly mild mannered old ale despite its appearance and moniker. Style aside this a tasty with admirable malt depth at least partially balanced by the hops that also exhibit some respectable complexity. A low-octane malty Scottish take on the style... and damne good one at that.

Shovelbum, Apr 05, 2006
Photo of Drew26
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Drew26, Sep 14, 2013
Photo of Viking
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I must agree with dpend - this is one hell of a breakfast beer (though at 11.2 oz, it takes a couple of bottles to make a full meal).

It certainly has the look of old engine oil - extremely dark, almost black with just a hint of ruby red noticeable when viewed against a light. Not as thick as I expected. Decent head, but rather short lived. Nice aroma of creamy, mellow chocolate and fruit. Taste is smooth - very chocolatey with a nice roasted caramel malt character. A bit of tart fruitiness - plum, I think - rests just under the chocolate. Smooth and creamy beer. Overall, a great treat.

Viking, Sep 21, 2002
Photo of jbsteiny
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I saw this at Cherry Tree, and, reflecting on the whisky barrel-aged variety and how amazing it was, I figured I'd shell out $8 for a 12 oz. bottle (highway robbery, imo). The bartender didn't know what glass it went in and she gave me a Chimay -- I think it would go better in a standard wine glass to capture more aromas. It poured near black with no true head -- a few swirls of bubbles. Its smell was very pleasant but hard to describe. It had a very sweet grape characteristic, but also something creamy like butterscotch. I know grape butterscotch sounds disgusting, but it was pleasant.

This beer becomes exceptional once it crosses your lips. Very rich blend of flavors: starts with sweet cream, becomes cognac, and finishes with roasty chocolate malts. Yummo. Wonderful mouthfeel -- the minimal carbonation was fine considering the full body and the crisp finish. If I could find a place to pick up a case of this at a reasonable price, I'd be on it in a minute. Smooth and intensely flavorful. Harviestoun is a new reason to go to Scotland. Next: must hunt down the barrel-aged one again. I remember it having an amazing peat flavor that offset the sweetness.

jbsteiny, Mar 22, 2007
Photo of xk6m6m5x
2.25/5  rDev -45.7%

xk6m6m5x, May 18, 2014
Photo of DubCo21
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%

DubCo21, Apr 16, 2014
Photo of HabiMendes
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

HabiMendes, Nov 14, 2013
Photo of kpowledge
5/5  rDev +20.8%

kpowledge, Aug 15, 2014
Photo of sdm9465
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

sdm9465, Nov 16, 2013
Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,398 ratings.