1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Old Engine Oil - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

1,501 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,501
Reviews: 755
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 120
Gots: 126 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-10-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (30) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Engine Oil Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,501 | Reviews: 755 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jpalarchio
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On a bit of a chocolate beer kick this week...

Pours fairly dark with just a slight head. Taste is a is a bit of a dry, roasted flavor. Chocolate flavor is there but not over powering. Not so sure about the "viscous" statement on the label; seems a bit thin.

Very drinkable although the $2.99 for 11.2 oz seems a bit high for this one. Overall, not bad and would pickup a few more if I find it for a dollar less.

Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle, poured into an imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a dark and rich brownish black and topped with a creamy, mocha colored, one and a half inch head that bubbles down into a thin cap and leaves thin bits of lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: Just an amazing aroma and at a lower ABV than most other old ales this is just huge. Big, sweet, chewy, dark, roasted maltiness,
dark, ripe, cured fruits, caramel, molasses

T/MF: Slight tobacco, chocolaty caramel sweetness mixed with a bit of lactose, woody, slightly smokey and peaty finish mixed with slight hints of roasted coffee beans. Medium bodied, quite chewy, a little lacking in the kind of carbonation I want to see from this beer, with just a bit more body this beer could be just about the best beer I have ever had. As it stands though it has to remain merely an outstanding beer, just short of perfection. Get a bit thicker, a bit more lively on the tongue and this beats just about every beer I've ever reviewed.

D: The complexity of this beer alone is enough to warrant a 5 but I just can't bring myself to do it, the mouthfeel needs to beer there more, its just not substantial enough for me. Other than that, anyone who has access to this beer and has never tried it should pick up a few bottles of this right now, it has tons to offer, go, go now, what are you waiting for.

Photo of srandycarter
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Black. No head. Thin ring. Ultra thin sheet of lacing.

S - Cooked fruit, dark, prune-ish. Deep sweet malt mixed.

T - Nice thick even coating of roasted malt and cocoa, with something sweet mixed in.

M - Great coating, carb, good balance.

D - Nice offering. Like it.

Photo of ccrida
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

33 cl bottle (newest release, L8 186 B 10:11 stamped on bottle) poured into my Meantime snifter, Old Engine Oil is pitch black with a large tan head, tight with a few larger bubbles, pretty long lasting, leaving decent lace,

Smell is milk chocolate and lactose, a little pruney, very slight roast, not to exciting or even really my taste.

Taste is full and rich, robust for sure, heavily toasted grains, some cured fruits and chocolate, a touch nutty, with a nice, if subtle smokiness. Not sweet like the nose, more complex and very good. In spite of all the flavors, it's smooth and rounded, reminiscent of a well aged RIS, minus the patience and bruising ABV!

Mouthfeel is on the thicker side, creamy but with a dry finish. Super smooth actually, almost cask like.

Drinkability is pretty good, a very tasty, full flavored old ale that is clearly in porter and stout territory. Harviestoun basically could have called this any of the three, and with the smokiness, could have even gone with Wee Heavy. Regardless, it's a damn good dark ale (which is actually all the label claims, "Black Ale"). I like that it's so robust without being over the top ABV wise. Pretty nice price for this rarity to boot, $3.50.

Photo of kbnooshay
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured an oily black color with a HUGE foamy and frothy mocha colored head. Looked like a Guinness pour at first with the gorogeous layers of bubbles sorting themselves out. The frothalicious head stuck around for quite awhile, very light and airey. Loads of lacing. The aroma is super malty with great hints of chocolate, roastiness and must. Awesome bitter chocolate, coffee and roasted grain flavor. Slightly fruity with a light hop bitterness. Not super heavy in feel but very very smooth and creamy to the tongue.

Photo of sgoodship
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was my first sample of this style and a pretty darned good way to start. Not sure if all the Old Ale style is porter-like but this one certainly was for me. I shall explore further!

A: Black of course but there is a hint of a golden walnut brown at the edges when the head clears. Head is short lived but is coffee stained and leaves a slight lacing

S: I just couldn't wait for it to be poured (bad boy) and got a good whiff of blackberry from the bottle. When poured, it was the same but then I recognized the malt, chocolate and coffee. As the drink progressed, it definitely took on a more acidic fruit smell but wasn't too dominant.

T: Frickin' delicious. Fruity acidic start aided with some carbonation with a big dominant syrupy roasted malt middle. It ended with a bitter coffee, chocolate bitterness and the hops were there but oh so slightly. This is an artfully balanced brew for sure. A very fulfilling taste for me.

M: Lovely round creamy buttery smoothness. A wee bit of carbonation livened things up just a tad. The bold taste made me expect a thicker body but it was lighter than expected. Don't misunderstand me, the mouthfeel was not disappointing at all, just not what I expected.

D: I think I could drink quite a few of these. Very satisfying evening drink. It's not a session beer but it isn't intended to be. For me, it's a trip back in time. I am currently reading A History of Suds and Civilization from Mesopotamia to Microbreweries by Gregg Smith and I can just imagine being at an old Inn drinking one of these. Read the book - you'll get what I mean.

Photo of mcsquint
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bought this 11.2oz bottle at Gomer's in Lee's Summit.
A - Pours black and opaque with a thin but creamy head.
S - Aromas of chocolate and coffee
T - This is very tasty. Flavors of chocolate,cocoa and coffee. Very well balanced. Finishes more like a porter.
M - Full mouthfeel with minimal carbonation.
D - While this is not a session beer, it is very rich and flavorful. As it says on the back of the bottle it would be good 'after dinner'.

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

Pours deep dark pitch opaque black with a small tan colored head.

Smells of chocolate, burnt caramel, slight hops. Goodness.

Roasted/toasted flavors, chocolate, caramel, burnt malts, charred flavors, some dark fruitiness, date plum.

Rich, full, creamy, big, rewarding.

Drinks fine. Feels a bot more than 6% though.

A tasty dark ale. I've seen this on the shelves forever & never tried it. No more. I'll be back frequently.

Photo of byaeger
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this at City Beer in S.F. and plunked down $5.69 for the 11.2 oz bottle. I had to know. What'd I have to know? How the base for Harviestoun's amazing Ola Dubh tasted (I've had the 12, 16, and 30, the last of which was on tap--possibly cask--at Blue Palms Brew House in LA) like. It tastes like awesomeness.

To quote Spinal Tap, "How much more black can you get? None. None more black."

Impenetrable by light, the old engine oil moniker is fitting, not merely boastful. Sometimes I like to go for liquid coal and this is the go-to beer for such occasions.

Syrupy, roasty, velvety, and to quote someone less famous (my friend Jeff from Montana), "richer than 3 feet up a bull's ass."

If no Ola Dubh is available, go for this, especially as a chaser for your top shelf single malt of choice.

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

a) Dark, almost opaque black/brown, with a deep red edge, where the light struggles through. Tan head, heavy set like coffee crema.
s) Iced coffee & chocolate, roasted grains. Slight brininess.
t) Bitter chocolate, wood char, herbal bitterness following through.
m) Rich, smooth at the outset, but harshens (in a pleasant way) as the bitterness kicks in at the back. Lingering mouthfeel.
d) Could put a away 2 or 3 in a sitting.

Although carrying a sweetness that would align it with chocolate & coffee, the bitterness & char notes make me think smoked meats, salamis, and other charcuterie....

Photo of Cresant
3.52/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this 11.2 oz. brown bottle into a becker glass. No date but I've cellared this one since 1/07. The body was black/brown and completely opaque. There was a constant cap of khaki colored head.

Smell was faint. I got whiffs of molasses and cherries.

Taste was roasted/toasted malts. There was a light bitterness that attempted to counter-balance the sweet syrupy malts.

Mouthfeel was very smooth. Silky with low carbonation. The name of this beer really does reflect it's characteristics. Black, viscous, smooth, and socially lubricating.

Photo of Derek
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I see this as more of a strong ale & porter hybrid.

A: Black with a tan head, very little retention, slight lace.

S: Big malty aroma: chocolate, bread, molasses; a pleasant fruitiness from the British yeast.

T: Chocolaty & bready malt with a little molasses; great fruitiness; some roasted grain, good bitterness.

M: Moderate body is smooth & almost creamy.

D: Quite drinkable.

Photo of Offa
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had first had the barrel-agred version of this some months before and was not impressed but this is a truly exceptional beer and a great exmaple of a style that I generally love.

It's black with a smallish-medium, light brown head that is deanse and creamy, slowly shrinking to a thin, wispy top and a little lace.

The aroma is like a wonderful rich English porter with chocolate, prunes, hints of leaves, earth, bread, mocha, and licorice.

The taste is rich but zesty and also mellow and very smooth. It's similar to the aroma with light chocolate, fruit and stewed prunes, brown bread, toast, earthy leaves, a hitn of red wine and licorice. It's very nice and clean as well.

Photo of ATPete
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle

Old Engine Oil pours a very DEEP brown color, one shade from black, some small slivers of reddish brown highlights. It sports a thick 2 finger mocha brown head with some sticking and very good head retention. Big nose of roasted malts, chocolate and toasted peanuts, black coffee notes and a slight metallic funk. While tasting, chocolate walks up and pummels your tongue, with its sweet semi-coating body, lots of good bright carbonation, a slightly warming and drying alcohol finish along with a gentle hop twang. Im trying to relate it to a definitive style i am familiar with, it strikes me as a cross between a dunkel lager/stout/porter hybrid, very unique and very tasty. Its got a light/medium body that gets a bit sticky at times but not offensive. Great beer from a great brewery.

Photo of Bierguy5
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz. bottle, 6% ABV. Pours pitch black, no highlights at all. Mocha head trickles down to a thin collar rather quickly.

Milk chocolate to start in the aroma. A dose of vinous notes, dark fruit, and maybe a hint of vanilla. Seems like a lot of chocolate covered fruit. Very nice and complex.

Flavor is very much in tune with the aroma. Chocolate and vinous flavors. A little bit of sweetness at the end. Certainly malt driven.

Seems a bit thin, lower carbonation. Lots of flavor. Probably the most complex 6% beer I can think of. Very nice.

Photo of PatrickJR
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into oversized snifter.

A - Dark, opaque black with a nice 1-2 finger brown head. Decent retention with some moderate lacing. Best looking old ale I've seen.

S - Roasted malt character, with a little sourness thrown in as well. Smoke and alcohol notes ride over subtle dark fruits and burnt sugar.

T - Mild roasty flavors, akin to caramelized sugar. Sweetness and mild sourness kicks in like overripe berries. Finish has a burnt quality, along with some wood and smoke. Slight oxidation is noticable throughout.

M - Thick, and almost creamy, but a moderate level of carbonation for the style keeps things lively.

D - A little strong with the burnt and bitter flavors for my tastes, but still a very tasty and smooth beverage.

Photo of russpowell
3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours fairly black with 2 fingers of tan head. Super sticky lacing & above average head retention

S: Cocoa, iron, oaky notes

T: Cocoa, leafy hops, chalky dryness & a touch of dark fruit up front. Roasty malt, a touch of coffee, Finishes dry, roasty & with a touch of plum

MF: Medium bodied with low but noticeable carbonation

Drinks a bit slow, due to the dryness. I do see this more as a stout, but most Brits would likely say this this is too strong for starters. Not a bad night cap, but prefer the reserve aked in whisky casks

Photo of gonzo46and2
2.97/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark black with hardly any head. Appears to be thick, syrupy, viscous. Aroma is dark malts with an emphasis on chocolate. Bitter dark chocolate. Taste mostly reflects the aroma. Mouthfeel is slick and oily with soft carbonation. Not a bad beer but I wasn't that impressed.

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

Not much in the way of head, but awesome in color chestnutty brown highlights amidts an engine oil black to very dark brown. The aroma has a strong vine and roasted malt and coffee note. The taste starts wih some cheap coffee and hints of coca beans, very dry. These darker flavors mix with the viney nature ofthis beer in a very interesting melange. Although the av%is only 6%, this is a sipping beer. Not sessionable at all in my opinion. Pretty tart, but complexly malty.

Photo of tempest
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a bottle in a pint glass at The Farmhouse.

Pitch black - yes, like oil - with a short, tan head. The hints at the mix of dry cocoa and sweet-tasting esters to the come. On my palate, I immediately taste the roasted malts, which come off like high-end dark chocolate. That's soon met with dark fruits, like raisins, blackberries, and plums, along with creamy British yeast character.

What can I say. It's rich with both chocolate and fruit flavors while being well-balanced and drinkable. This is a delicious beer, a must-try.

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

12oz bottle served in a tulip glass.

L - black liquid with a small beige head that faded fast.

S - roasty, black licorice.

T - sweet roasted flavor with a black licorice bitterness towards the finish.

F - medium bodied with mild carbonation.

D - enjoyable brew.

Photo of lpayette
3.57/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is an interesting one for sure. I thought this was a stout of sorts, but BA designates this as an old ale, which upon taste makes a lot of sense. A black old ale... different

Pours near black with hints of brown. Very little carbonation struggles to produce any head which means lacing is out of the question. I smell a bit of funk and vinegar in the smell and I'm fairly confident that the integrity of this brew has not been compromised. It's got a tiny tart bite at the finish (think cherries). It seems this is just a biproduct of what I can only assume is a unique strain of yeast or combination of yeasts. Not really sure if it's for me, but it is definitely interesting. Roasty and chocolatey, though perhaps not as thick and viscous as you'd expect from the name. Seems that black patent was used in abundance if I had to guess. The moouthfeel is actually quite light for the style and very slick. Quite a bit more drinkable than I expected due to the low alcohol.

Overall fairly complex and it tends to grow on you a bit as it warms. Still, I'm not crazy about this one, but I can see how so many are.

Photo of GoodKnight1220
3.87/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle to a glass.

This is a very dark brown brew.

Smelled sweet like cocoa and a deep fruity (maybe cherry) scent.

Taste is very complex and changes during each moutfull, hard to describe, a lot like the smell.

The prior review describes the feel as velvety and that is right on the money.

Would drink again.

Photo of Herrbrokt
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

from bottle into pint glass. no fresh by date

Deep deep brown with bouts of amber red. light tan head. went away after a minute but leaves nice ring.

smells of sweet fruit chocolate. nice and velvety.

Taste nice and balanced. unsweetened chocolate coffee. mixed with floral fruity earthyness. really a non-overwhelming best of everything. impressed

smooth velvet mouth feel. no old engine oil stickyness here.

I'll have another.

Photo of EagleTalon
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a thin, dirty tan head and deep ruby black color. Aroma is chocolate, creamy malts, vanilla extract and sweet alcohol. Flavor is a perfect blend of Malt sweetness, caramel and vanilla and chocolate malts. Good thick mouthfeel. Very easy to drink for a dark ale--no tongue fatigue from lingering roast or hop bitterness. This is a very well made old ale that really drinks like a good cream stout.

Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,501 ratings.