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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.

1,406 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,406
Reviews: 736
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 108
Gots: 97 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Engine Oil Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,406 | Reviews: 736 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ZorPrime
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Bobsy for this bottle. Tasted on July 29, 2009.

This beer is dark black color and we can't see through. Very nice head slightly brown/beige. The aroma is roasted/toasted malts with a slight note of chocolate. The taste is more chocolate than the sent. Not too much bitter but some is present. The warmer the beer gets, more chocolate is present in the taste and aroma. This beer is full-bodied and creamy. So good. Drinkability is awesome. I could drink that all night.


ZorPrime, Aug 14, 2009
Photo of movingtrain
4.63/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours dark, about as dark as it gets. A good two finger head has slowly fallen to less than half...but there is some exceptional lacing on the glass. Looks like a cup of coffee.

Smell is of chocolate, molasses, vanilla, coffee, brown sugar, ripe figs...some serious roasted malts here.

Man, that is good! Sweet up front and bitter on the back of the tongue, this is a well-balanced beer. Taste brings about similar notes as in the aroma...chocolate, molasses, coffee...it's rich, nutty (hazelnut?), and has a great body. Man, every time I pull the glass close to take a drink I get a whiff, and that roastiness in the aroma just helps to build the complexity involved in the taste.

Overall, this beer is quite fine...delicious, perfectly balanced, and incredibly drinkable. I've had this a few times before, once on tap at Nicholson's in Cincinnati...and each time I have it, I am reminded of why so many people buzz about this beer. It is worthy.

movingtrain, Aug 07, 2009
Photo of mikedashg
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours very black with a smaller tan head. Not quite enough head and too dark for an old ale me thinks.

S-chocolate roasted malt an coffee

T-similar to nose. Chocolate, coffee,
roasted Malts. Dark fruits. Prunes and raisins. Very balanced. Slightly bitter, but also sweet.

M-moderately carbonated. Slightly viscous. Not too heavy. Kind of light.

D-lots of drinkabilty. Very tastey. Smooth. Creamy. Low on alcohal.

Seams closer to a light stout then an old ale as far as color and flavour profile. Still gets some pretty high marks though

mikedashg, Aug 07, 2009
Photo of mwa423
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black with a very thin dingy head. The smell is a creamy and rich malt smell with hints of coffee bean.

The taste is very strong, as strong as many imperial stouts. very rich, lots of chocolate and coffee flavors with an enjoyable bitter aftertaste.

The mouthfeel and drinkability are fantastic, I will have to get this one again in the future!

mwa423, Aug 04, 2009
Photo of SLeffler27
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This offering was presented in a pint glass, subtlety curved like a superb woman. A fine off-white, whipped cream froth only raised a quarter inch over the, imagine this, jet black beer. Now who would have guessed Old Engine Oil would be black? Actually, when placed to the light, it reveals dark tones of black walnut. Throughout consumption, a fine film of lacing coated the glass.

A fairly simple aroma profile, of roasted malts, and coffee beans, but oh so elegantly done.

The balance of sweetness and bitterness allows one to find dark fruits, like cherry and prune. The finish opens with a quick sharp bitterness, followed by a long seducing soft afterglow of malted milk.

This Brit is dense and creamy smooth, with a dry sense of alcohol, and a faint carbonation. After imbibing, its essence leaves a film of residual sugar on the lips.

A remarkably easy quaff, especially for it's style. I found it to be a fine accompaniment with lunch on a cold sunny day. However, it may suffer slightly from the hype. I have a couple of bottles back home, one for now, and one to age.

SLeffler27, Aug 02, 2009
Photo of Brad007
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black color with a thin one-finger brown head into my fluted glass.

Aroma is roasty and full of cream, chocolate and a bit of coffee. Certainly doesn't seem like an old ale. Very nice aromas.

Taste is creamy and full of chocolate and cream. Very easy going. Not too bitter.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering cream,chocolate and light coffee. Very nice as well.

A decent beer but it doesn't seem to fit the style. Regardless, don't let it stop you from trying it.

Brad007, Aug 02, 2009
Photo of bgjohnston
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

An interesting oil, er, beer, to try.

Pours a very dark brown, opaque black in the middle, although the head comes and goes way too soon. Smell is of dark roasted malt.

Taste is pretty much as advertised, with dark chocolate and a dark-roasted coffee flavor. Slightly bitter finish is more reminiscent of baking chocolate, rather than hops.

Not a big mouth feel on this one, but conversely is easy to sip down pretty quickly. Also, not too strong to say yes to a 2nd.

bgjohnston, Aug 02, 2009
Photo of MyGoodness
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one on a whim one night. I had no idea what to expect, I just wanted to try a brew from Scotland. It was shockingly black when poured. Literally looks like oil. The head was a wimpy beige colour and was basically gone in a short while. The smell is nice. Chocolate and coffee, malty and roasty (as advertised hah). The taste offers more of the roasty coffee, with only a hint of chocolate. It was surprisingly thin in terms of mouthfeel. Very light carbonation and smooth but not as thick I imagined. This went down easy and wasn't too heavy. I imagine you could knock back a few of these in a night. A pleasant find.

MyGoodness, Aug 01, 2009
Photo of DocSeven
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A very dark brown which appears pitch black unless held to a light, and even then it is opaque nearly throughout. Very little head, khaki colored, fades quickly. No additional carbonation bubbles observed. My first Old Ale, so unsure of how inviting it looks relative to other beers in the style, but it certainly doesn't look like a cold bubbly refreshing drink. The name does it justice.

S: Smells great with a chocolatey/coffee flavor. Hints of fruit, like a prune aroma.

T/M: Taste is more of the smell, tastes almost like what molasses smells like (but not what it tastes like, thank goodness). Aftertaste of strong coffee. If this is like other beers in the Old Ale style I can tell I will enjoy trying other similar beers.

D: Don't be scared off by the label/name claiming how "thick" it is. This isn't a one-and-done drink if you want to have a few. I don't know if it's my style for a session beer but would be able to have 2 or even 3 of these in a row without issue.

DocSeven, Jul 27, 2009
Photo of Buschyfor3
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a nonic pint glass at Flanagan's Ale House in Louisville, KY.

A: Its dark in the bar, but so is this beer - no doubt on the pour. Deep, oily brown-black body with only a miniscule, chocolate colored head that forms on the pour. The head quickly dissipates to no more than a ring of khaki-colored foam on the surface.

S: Front end is heavy on the roast coffee bean aroma. There are also some fainter dark chocolate and sweeter malt notes - caramel, toffee, maybe even rolled oats - which peak out from beneath the barrage of roastiness. Otherwise, black coffee, burnt toast, and some dark chocolate seems to cover all the bases. Not much alcohol present in the nose.

T: The barrage of roasted notes in the nose really kicks in with the first sip - bold, black coffee (Colombian roast?), burnt toast, salty soy sauce, some smoky charcoal perhaps? There are also hints of powedered cocoa, a touch of dark, bittersweet baking chocolate and sweeter tinges of caramel and molasses, but these sweet spots are quickly dominated by the plethora of roasted flavors up front. The finish brings out a flash of sweet breadiness, but that too seem to slip below the surface to allow the roasted flavors (black malt?) to control the finish. As my glass warms, the finish becomes borderline bitter and it holds for a couple of seconds before transitioning back to whatever is left of the coffee, burnt toast and black malt flavors.

M: Slightly chalky/powdery. After reading the label of this beer and reading other reviews, I expected the mouthfeel to have a bit more slickness to it. Definitely medium bodied, but maybe the carbonation made it feel chalky?

D: Not hard to drink and the alcohol never really becomes prevalent. I think if you enjoy coffee beers or beers that are very forward with their roasted overtones, Old Engine Oil is probably right up your alley. A nice English Porter that mirrors many flavors that I happen to enjoy in stouts, which makes this ale a nice bridge between the styles. In terms of English Porters, I think I would give a slight nod to this over Sam' Smiths Taddy Porter, if only because Old Engine Old just seemed to have a more robust profile on both the nose and the palate. However, I wouldn't mind trying the two side by side for a more accurate comparison. Nor would I mind seeing how the vintage, whisky barrel-aged aged Old Engine Oil(s) stack up.

Buschyfor3, Jul 23, 2009
Photo of mralphabet
3.63/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Very dark... pretty much black... about 2 fingers of tan colored head, it fades pretty quickly down to a ring.... nice lacing.

S: Right out of the gate I'm getting dark chocolate, coffee and sweet malt. Very nice...

T: Surprise, there is not that much chocolate here... I'm getting toasted or burnt malt right up front with a strong coffee finish.

M: Med bodied with a very fine carbonation. Feels creamy and velvet like, with a dry finish.

D: A very good beer... and very drinkable... surprisingly low ABV for the taste and feel. Not a session beer but a nice sipping beer. Sit back and enjoy.

I have to say with the name I was expecting a little thicker with a little more chocolate flavors. But I have to say it is a very enjoyable beer.

mralphabet, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of maximum12
2.08/5  rDev -49.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Doesn't appear as thick as the bottle advertises, but it is dark dark. Smell isn't much to shake a stick at, faint malts & alcohol.

I have to admit not much reaction to this. It's dark beer, without much character. I get some odd hops coming off of it, & the malts...I suppose there's water in this thing too, but not
much else. I'm not feeling it.

Not really even average. Everything from the nose to the taste just reeks of substandard weirdness. Nothing out of the ordinary, nor anything noteworthy for the style. I shan't try another.

EIDT: the warmer this got, the worse it tasted. No depth, no melding of the flavors...ended up drain-pouring half the bottle. I'm baffled as to the appeal of this beer.

maximum12, Jul 18, 2009
Photo of dgilks
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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%
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 BeerFMAndy
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

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%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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%
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 coldmeat23
3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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
Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
91 out of 100 based on 1,406 ratings.