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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.

1,458 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,458
Reviews: 747
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 112
Gots: 110 | 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: 1,458 | Reviews: 747 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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.

Photo of TitanTake
3.33/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Very thick pour. Looks like coffee or charcoal. It has almost no head.

Nutty aroma; a slight smell of cold bacon grease.

A little disappointing in flavor. Good, but not as good as I had hoped. Lingering aftertaste that doesn't make you want to go back for more.

The more I drink of this the more I don't like it.

Photo of markaberrant
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - cola like pour, but opaque black in the glass, small tan creamy head eventually drops, and doesn't leave lacing.

S - very dry chocolate, very nutty, does not smell sweet, but still has some carmelized/toffee notes, earthy

T - smooth maltiness, more of that earthiness, not much for hop character or even bitterness, roast doesn't really show up until the aftertaste, but when it does, it's really good and lingers a long while.

M - chewy, full bodied, but not heavy, low carbonation, mostly creamy, but some roast malt astringency, dry finish works really well with roasted aftertaste and provides a nice contrast to the initial thickness, well hidden alcohol, virtually no warmth.

D - interesting interpretation, with lots of subtle notes

Sorta like a lighter wee heavy, with a good dose of roasted malt. Very nice, very smooth, it's well done and all, but maybe a tad pedestrian (which is what I think of most wee heavy, especially those on the lighter end of the spectrum). Still, if you are into malty english/scottish ales, especially with a fine touch of roasted malt, you can't go wrong with this one.

Thanks to Viggo for the bottle!

Photo of seand
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a large red wine glass.

A: Pours a very dark near opaque brown, not quite black, with maybe half a finger of tan head. The head dies down pretty quickly but does leave a bit of foam, mainly around the edge of the glass. Leaves reasonable lacing.

S: Fairly subtle, malty with hints of dark chocolate and coffee.

T: Sweet and complex, but subtle, certainly not overpowering, with a nice hop finish that lingers on the aftertaste.

M: Thick, with medium to mild carbonation. Works well with the flavors. Viscous is a good word here.

D: Quite easy to drink, and the ABV isn't too high.

Quite good, and I'll probably buy it again.

Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2oz brown pop top bottle with cool label and a nice ditty about the beer.

Appearance: Ultra dark brown, almost black, with bright ruby highlights when held up to the light; Big, fluffy micah head with good retention and awesome sheets of lacing

Smell: Mild sweet roasted grains, hints of cocoa powder and sweet milk chocolate...mild, simple, and delicious

Taste: This beer flows across the palate like melted chocolate; initially it's a bit earthy, full of sweet dark roasted grain tones, then comes luscious semi-sweet chocolate and kind of nondescript dark fruitiness, and it ends with a mild bitter roasty kick with mild earthiness; the last thing on the palate is dusty cocoa powder.

Mouthfeel: Rich and smooth as silk on the tongue

Drinkability: If it was a bit lower abv, this would make a strong candidate for session dark ale...it's quite high

Conclusion: So simple; so smooth; so rewarding. One of those beers that knocks your socks off without really awing you in any distinct way; it's not a kick in the teeth like a Bigfoot or a different-flavor-a-minute complexity like Hennepin...it's just so simple, understated, smooth, and delicious. I've had chocolate porters and chocolate stouts made with real chocolate that don't come close to the cocoa aroma and flavor of this brew; damn good beer.

Photo of bcdees47
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this one from a cask at a beer festival in Edinburgh. Appears thick and black in the glass. Rather opaque, actually. Very thick mouthfeel and a bitter, roasted flavour with some chocolate sweetness. Nice aftertaste as well. I would have this one again.

Photo of prototypic
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Engine Oil is not a misnomer. This one pours a very dark chocolate fudge color. Only a hint of light is getting through revealing slight garnet highlights. A very attractive mocha colored cap sits on top. It's a couple of fingers deep. Retention was on the shorter side and lacing was light and sticky. Very close to calling it a '4.5' here.

The nose is a little too weak. Bittersweet chocolate seems to the primary component. Hops are surpringly strong and add a pleasant floral vibe. They're mostly grassy and earthy. There's a faint dark fruit aroma that's mostly reminiscent of raisins. It smells sweet and malty on the tail. A bit of yeast creeps in at the very end. Not bad, just a little too weak.

The flavor easily takes the next step. Bittersweet chocolate takes up most of the spotlight. A sweet flavor evolves as it warms. Hops are very strong and tasty. They add an excellent floral element and perhaps attribute to a rather intense bitter flavor that emerges. There's a light coffee aspect to that contributes an acidic or sour element to the flavor. Dark fruit is extremely subdued and barely noticeable. Alcohol is blended very well and goes unnoticed. It finishes bitter and slightly acidic. Perhaps a little too acidic.

Old Engine Oil isn't the viscous beast that it appears to be. It's nice and smooth, but could use a little more body. Carbonation is dialed back quite a bit and doesn't interfere. Drinkability is quite good. I like the intense flavor quite a bit. I can see it being a little tiresome after more than one bottle, but I'm enjoying this one. It goes down easy and abv is relatively light.

Old Engine Oil is an impressive Old Ale. I like it quite a bit. It'd benefit from more punch in the aromatics department. The flavor could be improved by somehow adjusting the acidic flavor. It's more than solid in all other respects. Definitely recommended.

Photo of Windigstadt
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: You'll never guess it by the name, but this pours black. There's a hint of ruby on the edges of the glass, but it's black. A thin tan head briefly appears before returning to the darkness from whence it came.

S: A nice balance of malty sweetness and roasted notes with just a hint of licorice.

T: Much like the nose, it's nice and sweet up front. Notes of brown sugar with a touch of caramel; some spicy rye-like notes. After the initial sweetness the roasted malts kick in. It's roasty but not burnt, with just enough hops to keep it from being syrupy sweet.

M: Despite the name, it's really not that thick or viscous. Personally, I think that's a good thing.

D: The fact that it's not too thick makes it very drinkable for 6% ABV.

Overall: A delicious beer. It's listed as an Old Ale, but I would consider it a cross between a traditional Scottish Wee Heavy and a robust porter. It has that caramelized sweetness up front but porter-like roastiness (I would guess roast barley) and the results are quite tasty. Definitely one to seek out.

Photo of SingleCell
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter at cellar temp. Best before marked on the bottle as FEB 2010.

A: Pours very dark, basically black with a slight red rusty tint. Tan 1/2 inch head is produced from an aggressive pour. However, as quick as the head shows up its gone leaving a light dusting of head.

S: Wow, I could smell this as soon as I popped the cap from a few feet away. Smells of milk chocolate, very dark fruits (plums), slightly burnt malt, almost like a Belgian yeast smell hiding behind everything. Also, some alcohol can be detected in the nose.

T: Burnt malt once again, alot more of the fruity estery flavours that can be somewhat detected in the smell, hint of bread like yeast. Finish of light coffee and strong dark fruits.

M: Very fine carbonation produces a medium bodied creamy almost velvet like mouthfeel. The bitter coffee finish also produces a somewhat dry mouthfeel.

D: A very mellow beer with an excellent mouthfeel. I think this is a very drinkable beer. At 6% ABV I probably won't session too many of these in one night but as with alot of old ales I find it is best to savour rather than quaff.

Overall a solid beer! With a name like old engine oil I was hoping for this to be a very thick viscous beer which it was not. However, I was still very satisfied and I would buy this beer again. Cheers everyone!

Photo of Pencible
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured a clear black ruby with a bit of tan head. It smelled like brown sugar, honey wheat, and raisins, with some sweet caramel and roasted barley and oak. It tasted like roasted barley with some coffee and brown sugar, and a bit of oak. It was slightly thick with a bit of carbonation, and had a bittersweet aftertaste. Overall this was a decent old ale, but not the best. The flavor wasn't as sweet as the scent, which is a shame. The body was good, but I would have preferred it to be fuller. It was clean and easy to drink, especially since it's a relatively low ABV for old ales. I imagine this is what old ales used to be like a long time ago, when they were a primary ingredient to porters. Modern old ales seem to have more of a barleywine character to them, which I prefer. This beer didn't really have anything wrong with it, but it was somewhat boring and forgettable.

Photo of surfer4life
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 11.2oz bottle

A - Dark, black, viscous with a chocolate brown head. No lacing.

S - Mmmm...toffee, chocolate and a bit of coffee all the usual suspects with a roasted malt, but throw in some hazelnut and bit of a creamy smell and raisins. A good bit of alcohol esters in the nose as well. This one smells great!

T - Massive roasted coffee taste in the front coupled with dark chocolate with for the mocha flavor. The alcohol is hidden well, barely any hints of it. A tad bit o hops for some balance, but doesn't dominate at all. Some real good malty sweetness on the finish manifesting in the form of figs, dates and plums. Truly great taste.

M - Medium body with medium carbonation. Dry finish leaves the mouth crisp and clean.

D - At 6% alcohol, this one is very drinkable. As always, I'd like to give it a whirl from the tap.

Photo of tigg924
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: deep black 1/4 inch head

Smell: burnt malt, expresso, dark chocolate

Taste: expresso, smoked malts--almost rauch like, some cream--some alcohol on the finish

Mouthfeel: light body, smooth, creamy, low carbonation--no bite

Drinkability: What I got and what I was expecting were two different things. This is a very smooth and drinkable old ale and perhaps my favorite I have tried in the style. More complex than I have described, I will reach for this again.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,458 ratings.