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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.

1,370 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,370
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: 1,370 | Reviews: 731 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of raoulduke37
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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
Photo of Kopp
4.88/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My dad picked this beer up for me this weekend - he never had it but it was highly recommended.

A: Dark black, small tannish head that laces well, some sediment

S: Roasted sweet scent, some chocolate as well as a bit nutty

T: A nice taste, a bit of a roasted coffee/chocolate/malty flavor, some hops present (dry) adding to it. Leaves a pleasant slightly bitter aftertaste

M: Very very smooth, medium bodied, minimal carbonation - great in my book

D: High drinkability, with a smooth mouthfeel and a pleasant flavor

Overall: One of the best beers I've ever had. It is one of those beers that can be enjoyed thoroughly, as everything about the beer was nice. Highly recommend

Kopp, Apr 13, 2009
Photo of JohnQVegas
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black with a very thin, whispy tan head.

Aroma is roasty, coffee, bittersweet cocoa.

Taste is roasty, coffee and very dark chocolate, balanced by a hop dryness, with hints of sweetness and smoke underneath. Finish is roasty, with a very slight, lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, maybe a little bit more watery than expected, moderate to low carbonation.

JohnQVegas, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of popery
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black liquid with a mocha head that leaves good lacing.

S: Well-balanced aroma that is nutty, fruity and english-hoppy all at once. The hops are mineral/herbal. The malt is chocolatey and nutty. There are some interesting fruit notes lingering in the background.

T: Well, I don't have nearly enough experience with old ales to speak with any authority, but this is quite good. It doesn't exactly blow me away. It reminds me of a good porter more than anything else, but it's still quite enjoyable. The chocolate malt is assertive and bold. There are roasted notes and dark stone fruit notes, which for me is the biggest departure from normal porter territory. There is more bitterness than I was expecting and a mildly ashy flavor that I enjoy.

M: It could be a tad creamier and thicker. I bet the beer is better from a cask, but that's probably true for most British beers.

popery, Apr 09, 2009
Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Old engine oils pours dark brown, almost black, color with a nice head above that left suitable lacing down the glass. Coffee, toffee, undefined sweetness, and earthy notes all contribute to the nose. Creamy and slick on the palate, a great mouthfeel. Creamy sweet espresso, perhaps with some raisins up front. A dry earthy bitterness, almost herbal, pervades the finish of this beer.

This beer is different than anything I have I had, and I like it. Malty, earthy, and bitter components all melded together in a way that I have not experienced.

BeardedBoffin, Apr 08, 2009
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 ludachris
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one courtesy of TheHammer. Thanks again marky.
Pours a deep chestnut brown, almost black with about a finger of tan creamy head. Smell of chocolate, toffee and coffee. I was expecting something a little more defined in smell, but it's none the less good. Subtle aspect of the beer carries into the taste. Chocolate malt the initial flavor, decent carbonation, then hit with a really nice accent of hops. A bit of malt, coffee and toffee to balance it all out in the end. Mouthfeel is ridiculously smooth. Bitter finish lingers at the end, but it's really nice. Drinkability is also very good, in part because of the low carbonation and chocolatey smoothness.

Overall, a really decent brew. From the bottle shaped like a piston to the description on the back, everything matches this beer perfectly. When they say smooth, they mean it. Something a little bit more pronounced in flavour and I would have given this a solid A. Nonetheless, one I look forward to getting again.

ludachris, Apr 01, 2009
Photo of Hoagie1973
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaque black with a moderate tan head. Head reduces but retains and leaves decent lacing.

Roasted malt nose with some espresso, brownie-like chocolate and a bit of toffee/molasses. Slight sour acidic twang.

Same holds true for the flavor. Decent balancing hop presence.
Starts sweet but goes dry in the finish with a nice burnt coffee bean aftertaste. Hint of smokiness too.

Insanely thick and creamy, yet nicely carbonated, which keeps the head hanging around in the form of a creamy cap that renews itself with each sip.

Thick & full bodied, flavorful, balanced, and drinkable. What else is there to say? Great stuff.

Hoagie1973, Mar 30, 2009
Photo of MeisterBurger
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice black. It's like, how much more black could this beer be? And the answer is none. None more black. Nice 1" brown frothy head. Decent lacing.

S: Sweet, creamy caramel. Mild floral hops.

T: Oaky, chocolately caramelly coffee with a lovely bitter, slightly floral hops finish. There's a lot going on here and it's all good.

M: Full bodied, creamy, and a little fizzy.

D: Oh my yes.

MeisterBurger, Mar 30, 2009
Photo of ghebel
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours an opaque very dark brown, almost black with a one inch light brown head that leaves some lacing on the glass on it's way to a thin ring.

S - Chocolately roasted malts, fruity.

T - Roasted malts start sweet and ends bitter. Alcohol in the end, but not over powering.

M - Moderate to full body. Nice bite with lingering bitterness in the back of the mouth.

D - Very drinkable.

Overall - Good beer, I like the mixture of sweetness with the bitterness that makes it seem to have a dry finish. It is heavy, but not too heavy. I would not drink a bunch of them, but I doubt that's the brewer's intnet. This is a good beer to savor and enjoy.

ghebel, Mar 22, 2009
Photo of BMoney575
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on 3-22-09

Pours very dark red, black unless you hold it to the light. A clingy off-white head cling to the sides.

Smell is malty, roasty, but with a subtle fruity burnt-sugar quality. Not very strong, but enjoyable.

Taste is subtle like the smell at first, roasty and smoky, but then big-time hops push through. The hop edge is a little plasticy and very bitter, kind of out of place.

Mouthfeel is good, a nice balance of thickness and carbonation.

Drinkability is very good, the hops definitely keep thing balanced.

Overall, I enjoyed this beer more and more as it warmed up. A solid choice.

BMoney575, Mar 22, 2009
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 chilly460
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - As you'd imagine, pours a deep brown near black. Almost no head but some lacing.

S - Deeply roasted malt, some coffee

T - Starts out with smooth malts, but turns to a somewhat acidic or earthy bitter. Bitter aftertaste, as if overly roasted.

M - Not bad, not as thick as expected but a good level of carbonation.

D - Fair, the bitter aftertaste keeps it to 1-2beers before it would be a little overpowering.

chilly460, Mar 20, 2009
Photo of robbtjones68
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Outstanding old ale. A dark brew that stops just short of a stout doesn't get any better. Chocolately and viscous throughout and a hint of licorce on the back side. Weighs nicely on the tongue before hitting the palate. The amount of alcohol is just right. The Scots do it again. Beer Bliss.

robbtjones68, Mar 17, 2009
Photo of spokeydonkey
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was on draught at a local bar. I took it home in a bomber to drink while brewing an old ale. Poured it into an 8 oz snifter.

A - Deep mahogony, almost black in color. Very little light tan head.

S - Dark roast coffee, molasses notes in the smell. Little hop character.

T - Very dry tasting. There's a hint of sweetness at the front, but it's followed up by a nice smoky character from the malts and a lingering bitterness. There's a hint of hot alcohol with this one as well. Finishes extremely dry.

M - Medium body, but very smooth feeling. Perfect to keep it drinkable and clean.

D - Highly drinkable. Well balanced with a smooth mouthfeel.

spokeydonkey, Mar 14, 2009
Photo of fightingirishcmk
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a fairly dark color. I hope my engine oil doesn't look this dark! A bit of a red appeared when held up to the light. 2 finger beige head, that dissipated at a normal pace, and a moderate amount of lacing was left on the glass.
S: Vanilla, caramel, honey, and sweet malty goodness were all quite apparent.
T: Very caramel-ish, I was expecting more of a burnt taste, but it is really sweet caramel, vanilla, and a slight amount of roasted flavor. Some bitterness at the end to balance things out, although it was slight.
M: Creamy, a fair amount of body, with a name like "old engine oil", I would expect it to have a bit more.
D: Highly drinkable, although I might consider this more of a dessert beer. Most english ales are quite quaffable, and this is no different.

fightingirishcmk, Mar 12, 2009
Photo of morebeergood
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap tonight at Deep Ellum. Served in a proper Harviestoun Old Engine Oil chalice (very nice). Light black color, shades of charcoal. Decent sized white head. Smelled a bit like molasses and peat. Taste was good and a bit unusual for the style. Had an earthy, whisky, bittersweet chocolate flavor to it. A bit different flavor than other old ales I've tasted, which made this one stand out a bit. Smooth body made this a pleasure to sip. This beer was a pleasure to drink, and a top notch offering from this Scottish brewer.

morebeergood, Mar 12, 2009
Photo of TheHammer
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Came in a brown pry off bottle with a best before date and a history of the name. The pour pours with a good thumb of deep brown creamy head that laces quite well. The beer's appearance is dark brown and almost black, hence the name. My only beef is that the head didn't sustain very well.

Smell - Very pleasant, immediate smell of rich chocolate and smoked wood smell. I think I'm also getting a slight hint of roasted caramel malt and hazelnut I think. Very complex and very nice, my only qualm is it could be a bit stronger but thumbs up.

Taste - Starts with a slight almost nutty taste and then seamlessly transitions to a mixture of floral hops and sweet and smokey roasted malts and ends with a touch of dark chocolate bitterness that does not linger whatsoever. It's a little bit too rich for my tastes, but I was supremely pleased, especially with how well tempered the bitterness is.

Mouthfeel - The aftertaste for this beer is so subdued it's actually pleasant. It transitions between flavors well, and doesn't leave the mouth dry or filmy as one might expect. Unfortunately, the carbonation of this beer died at the 3/4 mark and I always like a little bit of head with my beer.

Drinkability - This beer is a bit rich for my taste, but even despite that, I'd gladly drink this all night. It's light on the gut, smells great, doesn't leave a bad aftertaste and would go great with anything sweet. Not a patio beer or after work beer, but at a pub, party or poker night, for sure.

Final Thoughts - Before drinking this beer, I saw it on BA and thought, how can a beer called Old Engine Oil be a grade A beer. Even more so, since I figured that it would be thick, rich and excessively bitter. Fortune smiled on me, and I saw a bottle of it at the liquor store, so I figured I'd give it a shot and save it for a rainy day. That rainy day came today, and I was very impressed and pleased. I'm certainly going to buy this stuff again, and see if I can get some buddies to give it a shot.

TheHammer, Mar 12, 2009
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed at Spike's last night. Review composed of notes from tasting.

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Pitch black in body with a creamy, tan, halo for a head. Light lacing overall, though much more than the average old ale (probably due to the relatively low ABV).

Smell: Wow! This is one unique aroma. Smoked meat, perfumy hops, roasted malt, dark chocolate, wood, and a touch of astringent alcohol. Definitely this beer's strong suit. I keep going digging my nose back in for more.

Taste: Similar to the smell, but with more of a roasty character. I wasn't really sure of the style while I was drinking this, thought it could've been some sort of stout. Lots of roasted malt, smoke, and dark chocolate, with those perfumy hops adding to the mix as well.

Mouthfeel: Cool, smooth, and milky. Still reflects characteristics of a stout in my book. Carbonation is medium-low. Goes down very easily, especially for an old ale. You're not limited to just sipping with this one.

Drinkability: If it weren't for the cost ($8.00 for a 12oz bottle), I'd order this again. Loved the smell, and liked the other aspects of it. Not my favorite old ale, but a pretty drinkable one.

ThreeWiseMen, Mar 11, 2009
Photo of cbn
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, opaque, loads of particulates. Vigorous pour yields an inch of beige head that retreats to form a thin haze, some lace.

Light aromas of roasted malt, locker room and alcohol.

Good clean flavor.

Slightly thin with just enough carbonation to deliver a truly refreshing porter.

Very good, easy to drink!

It looked and tasted like a porter to me so that is how I reviewed it.

cbn, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of CrazyDavros
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light-devouring black, with a small, fine, creamy brown head. Leaves no lacing.
Aroma is of oats, roasted grains, burnt toast and chalk (???). A strong hint of the alcohol content pervades through the blend of smells.
A beautiful sweet cream oat-y malt hit, followed by a pleasing roasty bitterness. Very agressive finish, pretty much essence of charred toast. As in burnt to a crisp. I feel like I'm breathing out smoke after every sip.
Rich, thick and creamy. Although halfway down the glass it starts to feel a tad watery.
Delightful, though the burnt finish might become overwhelming after a couple.

CrazyDavros, Mar 05, 2009
Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours very viscous and heavy - a deep dark brown. Aside from the colour, not unlike its namesake. Lots of tiny streams of carbonation around the rim, feeding a very finely bubbled head of mocha brown foam. Some pancaking on the very top after a while. Lacing is very good. Looks like a very nice beer indeed.

Nice dry chocolate/cocoa characters on the nose, quite sweet, not particularly roasted or charred. A little coffee like aroma later, but it's sweet and dessert like, mocha or tiramisu all the way. Very nice, if not huge.

Nice smooth initial opening; a creamy silky texture with a subtle burnt sugar sweetness. This crescendos to a much darker, deeper and more bitter character, which hangs around with an ashy tone at the back of the throat. Pretty dark by the end - and unleavened by any hint of sweetness - ultimately, it's incredibly dry.

It's a smooth beer, and quite drinkable, but slightly too raw on the back palate to me. Still, it's a very decent drop of beer, with lots of character and some most enjoyable elements.

lacqueredmouse, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of asabreed
3.48/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz. bottle into a Brooklyn snifter.

Appearance: Nice opaque black with spotty lacing and a lot of runniness as far as leaving residue on the glass with each sip.

Smell: Some roasted malts, chocolate, and coffee, and a bit of wood. Balanced, but otherwise lacking a bit of depth and far from anything I'm extremely impressed by.

Taste: Balanced here too, with some smoke, some wood, a bit of acrid coffee bitterness, mild chocolate, and maybe a bit of molasses. But there's too much of a sourness with the finish that lacks depth, and overtakes the potential for strong malt and roasted flavors by the end.

Mouthfeel: A tad too slick, with a good burst of carbonation at the end. But it's almost watery at the front end, which I think doesn't let as many flavors come through and lends to the overly sour nature.

Drinkability: I'll stick with trying more of the Ola Dubh stuff, as this was decent, but nothing was overly impressive for me. It doesn't seem like an old ale as much as a dry stout, and there was a lot of depth lacking at what otherwise could've been a great beer. The $3 price tag also puts a bit of a damper on me wanting to ever try another one.

asabreed, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of Chapter40z
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A. Midnight black. A fair tan head with small amounts of lacing. Can't see a speck of light threw this one.

S. Some toasted malts. Dark fruits but very mild on the nose.

T. More roasted malts then I smelled. Very clean tasting...Dark chocolate bitterness.

M. Little bit watered down. Not as full a body as expected from so dark a beer.

D. Overall a pleasant beer. Not over powering and yet fulfilling.

Chapter40z, Feb 26, 2009
Photo of dukew456
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into my Duvel Tulip.

Deep brown with a tan head that comes up nicely, then settles down to a thin layer. Looks good.

The smell on this is pretty great...almost riding the line between what I usually think of as an "old ale" and what I think of as a porter. Dark roasted malts, with an almost peaty bitter-earthy character and bitter chocolate.

The taste is incredibly malty up front, and rides that wave the whole way. The "roasty" (Harviestoun's word, not mine) quality on this is inherent and lends an earthy aspect to the taste, which complements the sweet malts well.

A great beer that I'm glad I picked up, and will again when the spirit moves me.

dukew456, Feb 26, 2009
Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,370 ratings.