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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.

1,452 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,452
Reviews: 745
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 112
Gots: 108 | 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: 1,452 | Reviews: 745 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
93 out of 100 based on 1,452 ratings.