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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.

1,371 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,371
Reviews: 731
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 105
Gots: 88 | 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: 1,371 | Reviews: 731 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of Beejay
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Looks like old engine oil.. nice creamy tan head.

S: sweet, malty.. slightly earthy.

T: Bitter chocolate, but in the dark chocolate kinda way.. Good. a little kick from the hops.. pretty good.

M:Not too creamy, not too oily.. very nice..

D: Deep dark and delicious.

Beejay, Feb 20, 2009
Photo of HeyItsChili
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours black with dark brown highlights and a thin dark brown head that dissipates into a film.

S - Chocolate, vanilla, roasted malt.

T - Phenomenal. A lot of things going on here; toasty malt, coffee, big bittersweet, almost sour chocolate flavor.

M - Thick bodied, viscous, very low carbonation. Mouth coating.

Notes - Excellent, very complex aroma and flavor.

HeyItsChili, Feb 19, 2009
Photo of cbw1978
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Dark-brown to black, pretty opaque except on the pour. Pour down the middle of a pint glass led to a foamy tan head of just over 1/2 an inch, which dissipated after a few minutes. There was a decent amount of vertical lacing that remained throughout the tasting.

Smell - Malty with a little fruity sourness (apple?), then roasted coffee and chocolate.

Taste - A slight bitterness that wasn't overly hoppy; sweet roasty malt taste was more dominant.

Mouthfeel - Creamy with very subtle carbonation. Coats the top of the mouth and sits for a while after the swallow.

Drinkability - Smooth and pleasant; somewhere between a stout and an ale, worth pouring again, would be a beer to pair with a chocolate dessert.

cbw1978, Feb 17, 2009
Photo of spointon
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I poured this one from an 11.2oz skinny brown bottle into a tulip pint glass.

A= This ale poured a dark black-brown with ruby and cola colored hues around the edges. With an aggressive pour, the dark tan head rose 1.25" and took ten minutes or so to settle to a nice thin cap. Only a few spots and streaks of lace down my glass.

S= Aromas of burnt/roasty coffee, dark molasses-like sweetness, earthy hop bitterness deep down, and a pleasant dark cherry-alcohol note near the end.

T= Very complex mix of flavor here. A heady malt sweetness is soon followed by a rich combination of toffee, darkly roasted malts, chocolate and treacle. The combination give a perfect bitterness to counteract the sweeetness of the brew. Tea like, earthy hop character comes in halfway and leads to a dry and slight roast-bitter finish.

MF= Heavy body with a rich creamy mouthfeel and a nice carbonation pop.

D= Big beautiful flavors here that sort of defy categorization. It reminds me of an old ale and a stout blended. In any event it is incredibly enjoyable and highly drinkable.

spointon, Feb 15, 2009
Photo of demcorhip
3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A pretty plain looking beer. An average pour gave a thin tan head that pulled a disappearing act. Since there is no collar i expect no lacings. It does look like old engine oil, almost black, and lets very little light through, even at the edges of the glass.

Smells a bit better than it looks. Milk chocolate, some hazelnut, a hint of booze, as well as a hint of darker fruits, raspberry, blackberry and plum. A touch of earthy leafiness is also present.

Hazelnut but mostly milk chocolate come through on the tasting. More bitter roasted flavours come through in the middle leading to the finish, like a dark roasted coffee that has oxidized due to sitting on the heat element. Finishes with a hint of earthy and decaying leafy hops.

A somewhat viscous medium bodied ale. Some residual sweetness and hints of toffee add richness and counterbalance the roasted malt. Very smooth, as advertised on the label, enhanced by the creamy mouthfeel and mild level of carbonation. Just a touch of hops.

Pretty drinkable stuff, the one thing that detracts is the more bitter roasted notes that muddle things up slightly. Certainly recommended for fans of dark, chocolaty brews. All in all this is an approachable, chocolaty brew that would serve well for those looking to get into the darker styles of beer.

demcorhip, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of KevinBrewer
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an almost opaque dark brown with a slight reddish tint in the light. Medium-sized tan head with plenty of lacing.

Smells of roasty malt, chocolate, and a hint of coffee. Also a light note of floral hop aroma.

Tastes of sweet roasty malt with bitter chocolate. There is a coffee undertone and a light taste of floral hops. Hop bitterness shows up in the middle, lingers through the end, and is perfectly balanced with the malt.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Doesn't really remind me of engine oil, which I think is a good thing. :)

Great drinkability, especially for a bigger beer such as this. Nice balance of flavors, not overly sweet, and not too bitter. I could easily drink six of these in a night.

KevinBrewer, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of Minkybut
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this cool name for a beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was black as it should be. The head was a dark tan color. The lacing was decent. The smell of the beer was choclkotywith a bit of a burnt smell. The beer had a viscous mouthfeel, kinda chewy that I liked. I will buy again.

Minkybut, Feb 12, 2009
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 FranklinDBier
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Concur with bowersdm below. An excellent pour with great color, aroma, flavor and a nice roasted chocolate aftertaste. Although pricey at nearly $4 for a 16 oz. bottle, this Black Ale is tasty and enjoyable and it doesn't carry a heavy flavor like a stout.

FranklinDBier, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of DoctorDog
3.1/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: 11.2 oz. bottle into a nonic.

A- Very deep brown/mahogany. Pours with 1/2 finger of brown head, which fades quickly, leaving thin, incomplete cap.

S- Vinous alcohol notes offset by some malty/fruity sweetness.

T- Roasty maltiness mixes with slight notes of dark fruit/plum and molasses, offset somewhat unfortunately by hints of wet cardboard that mar an otherwise interesting blend of flavors.

M- Moderate/low carbonation. Surprisingly thin/watery and quite drying. Strikingly lacking in the viscosity that I was expecting. Big disappointment in this department.

D- Not great. Didn't much want to savor this one, and it wasn't close to sessionable. One and done.

Future outlook: Pretty big disappointment. This brew is supposedly age-able, but perhaps my bottle's Old Engine Oil was just too damn old...I'll probably try this again, but only if I'm certain the bottle is fresh enough.

DoctorDog, Feb 06, 2009
Photo of bowersdm
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a nonic.

A - a very black viscous liquid with no head. It seriously did look like used motor oil.

S - dark chocolate, roasted barley, coffee, tobacco, a hint of hops

T - same as the nose, only the tobacco flavor is more noticeable and the dark chocolate is more subdued.

M - very thick and viscous. low carbonation, but I think i prefer that for this style of beer

D - it's a good beer. I'd have another.

bowersdm, Feb 03, 2009
Photo of atis
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bought it in Dublin.

Pours very dark brown with small tan head that immediately dissipates, some scarce patchy lacing. Aroma is quite complex, dominated by sweet malt, hints dark fruit. Taste is roasted coffee malty, some hops, caramel with dry finish and warming bittery aftertaste. Almost no alcohol in taste could be felt, maybe more towards the end when the beer warmed up. Mouthfeel is below medium, low carbonation.

Overall, this is my first Old Ale and I liked it. If I did not know what I was drinking, I would confuse it with strong Irish Stout. It was good.

atis, Feb 02, 2009
Photo of Patrick999
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured into my Ommegang chalice, this is indeed rather dark as the name would imply. Even held up to the light, I get little to no color. Thin head.

S - Good aroma of plum and chocolate, a little anise.

T - If I didn't know better, I'd mistake this for a good porter or stout. Roasted coffee and dark chocolate notes are there along with some piney, tobacco-like hop, and anise. Semi-sweet all the way through.

F - Has a viscous feel to me, and makes me thirsty.

D - Even at 6% ABV, this is rich enough as to make it a sipper. Would be a good pairing for a dessert or cigar if that is your inclination.

Patrick999, Feb 01, 2009
Photo of BarleyMine
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this one into a snifter and it offered a black brew with a nice, brown head with decent retention and rather quick lacing. Smells of roasted malts with earthy/musty qualities. Also has some woody, tobacco and cocoa notes. Medium body with prickly carbonation. Very enjoyable brew.

BarleyMine, Jan 31, 2009
Photo of Tone
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy, dark black color. One inch head of a tan color (one of the darkest color heads I've come across). Decent retention and good lacing. Smells strongly of alcohol and roasted malts. There's also might be a hint of hops in the aroma. So far as I can tell, it fits the style of an Old Ale. Smooth and thick mouth feel. There's an average carbonation level present along with a noticeable bitterness on the tongue. Tastes of roasted malts first off, then the alcohol is strong. The aftertaste is of a malt dryness that matures into a slight chocolaty flavor. There's a hop bitterness, but not strong hop flavor. Along with the malt there is a sweetness to the brew that counteracts the malt and hop bitterness. Overall, a rather enjoyable beer that's worth a try.

Tone, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of mjaskula
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours thick and black with a fluffy tan head. Smells of alcohol, malt and some fruit. Taste is thick complex malty with some chocolate and coffee flavors. Very smooth, much more drinkable than expected. Would drink again.

mjaskula, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of erz316
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

11.2 fl oz brown bottle poured into s. smith pint glass

A - pitch black as far as my eye can tell. there are some brown hues let in at the bottom of the glass but a very minimal amount. there is a nice bubbly light brown head. the lacing is ample and head retention is average.

S - sweet, not over bearing, but noticeably sweet. smells like a sweet iced coffee in some aspect or another, that is: if the sugar was actually smell-able. I also smell the malts which add, I might dare say, a caramel layer to the nose. quite nice, and near perfection

T - the taste is very smooth, and very well blended togather. there is a light coffee like bitterness. the roasty-ness of the malts is also exceptional in my opinion. there is a bit of bitterness from the hops on the far far back tongue, but the taste is not near as noticeable as that of coffee underneath the bitterness of the coffee, during the finish, a hint of chocolate comes out to play and makes a very brief appearance; this gives away to some sort of floral taste. the after taste is primarily that of a light bakers chocolate bitterness, with some harsher coffee pangs.

MF&D - the viscosity of the brew is perfect, not too watery, not too thick. the only thing that could have been a bit better would have been some more carbonation. that would have helped add a bit more body to the brew. but other than that I though it a marvelous beer and one to be a complete paradigm of the style.

erz316, Jan 23, 2009
Photo of Buebie
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a snifter. No freshness date on the bottle.
Poured semi rigerously, forming less then a finger of tan bubbly head.
Leaving a nice assortment of bubbly retention. Thin spotty streaks of greasy lace.

Aroma is quite the malt bomb, with loads of chocolaty ceral grain aroma and a tobacco like cigarette aroma, like peat malty smokyness.
Some hay like dusty aroma also.

Mouthfeel is thin and crisp with an abundance of carbonation.
Taste on this is smokey with an almost overdone cereal grain flavor. Bitter baking chocolate, tobacco, and somthing woody.

This is ho-hum, nothing extravagant, but definatly ok for the style. This would be a terrific session beer, but I'm not sure how many more I'd want to drink with all that carbonation and oversmoked creal grain flavors.

Buebie, Jan 22, 2009
Photo of roadhouse
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a tulip pint glass.

Appears a very deep brown near black color with some reddish highlights. The head is about a half inch thick and light tan in color. It settles to a cap on top and leave some decent lacing.

Aroma is coming across somewhat muted to me but I can pick up some chocolate with a bit of a vinous quality, caramel malts, and a vague fruitiness.

Taste is initially kind of sweet but it is met with a nice fruitiness that engulfs the palate until it is joined by a bit of chocolaty flavor that is not quite roasty. Finish brings some hop flavor of the spicy variety as the fruity flavor gets better.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, certainly not as thick as the name might suggest. It's creamy

I guess I had higher expectations for something with a name like Old Engine Oil. It's a pretty good brew, but definitely not the best Old Ale.

roadhouse, Jan 21, 2009
Photo of farrago
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours with virtually zero head, perfectly black color, way too opaque to gauge amount of bubbles in the liquid. Extremely malty nose bursting with roasted coffee and nuts scents, hardened caramel, Valrhona chocolate, maple syrup and a glimmer of fig fruit and buttered corn, close to full absence of hop scents. Curiously light-bodied, given the depth of the primary flavors, glides through the mouth. Loaded with coffee bean, mocha powder, hazelnut with even a slight tarry edge. Bitterness breaks through during the mid-palate, gains traction towards end and breathes life into the whole. The level of carbonation appears too high at first but you can get used to it. No citrus but the vague dried fruit nuance remains. Vibrancy of narrow range of flavors amplifies finish.

farrago, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of ecoastman
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drinkability - I'd definitely have another but this is not my favorite style for a session beer.
A great drink none-the-less and I'll try again when in the mood for a dark one.

Appearance - deep dark red and looks black. You can't see through this opague liquid. Low carbonation provides a good head to start but quickly dissipates to just a thin lace on the surface of the beer. Looks like flat Coke but somehow darker...like oil...

Smell - malty molasses sweet, chocolate-nut, coffee. Lights notes like a port wine. Mild but quite good.

Taste - similar to what you smell. A mild initial flavour intensifies to a delicious coffee flavour with chocolate and raisen fruit notes. Mild bitter finish and a nice balance. The port-wine like taste is detected. The long lasting chocolate notes are the most outstanding feature of this beer.

Mouthfeel - surprisingly light, watery and smooth from the low carbonation. Feels good but it would be that much better if a little more creamy.

ecoastman, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of EatsTacos
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours completely black with a very small head that reduces to a ring around the glass. No lacing. The colour is like a cola.

Aroma is toasted brown bread with a lot of black licorice. Some good coffee smells too.

Taste is very well balanced, there is a lot of sweetness but it is held in check by a lingering hop bitterness. Similar to the smell, there is a lot of coffee and toast flavours. Some chocolate too.

Mouthfeel is great, thick and creamy as would be expected. A really thin and soft carbonation to make the body seem even fuller.

Good and very drinkable. The mouthfeel is kind of like an oatmeal stout, but the flavour leans more towards a classic english stout IMO.

EatsTacos, Jan 15, 2009
Photo of Stinkypuss
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A. Poured into a pint glass. Black as night and letting in no light. Dark khaki head with some lace.

S. Black toffee malt. Subtle vanilla notes.

T/M. Nice smoothness and creaminess on the palate. Oatmeal and chocolate play together with subtle complexities. A pronounced roasted character and bitter citric hop. Just a hint of alcohal on the roasted dry finish.

D. This is a very drinkable ale that would certainly be best on cask but is wonderful and available in bottled form.

Stinkypuss, Jan 14, 2009
Photo of rjimlad
4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a massive drink. Pours with a rich thick brown head. Colour is an opaque deep coca cola colour almost to black. Rich malt cocoa esters blasting off the head and all the way down to the last drop.
Flavour is all cocoa/coffee and roasty malts. Roast beef abounds. This is thick like engine oil and a gorgeous beer all round. Hoorah for my ol' mate Glenn for bring this around.

rjimlad, Jan 10, 2009
Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,371 ratings.