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Old Engine Oil - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,516 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,516
Reviews: 755
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.39%
Wants: 122
Gots: 132 | FT: 1
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 (31) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,516 | Reviews: 755
Photo of Chinon01
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Handsome black with a khaki colored head and splashy glass coating lacing.

Nose and Taste - Bitter chocolate, milk chocolate, and hazelnut in the finish. Deep roasted flavors and a touch of coffee.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability - Mouthfeel if fantastic, pleasantly round, full, thick and unctuous. Drinkability is above average.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 8/25/08. Bottle. Pours black with a pretty light tan head that lasts. Aroma of alcohol, chocolate, sweet malt, caramel, molasses, and vanilla. Flavor of burnt caramel and sweet malt, some roasted malt and vanilla. Quite sweet, but with the nice roasted/burnt notes in the background. Smooth palate that gets a little heavy as you drink. A nice sipper.
8/4/8/3/15 (3.8/5)

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

Pours black with thick, finely bubbled brown head. Not much lacing and the head quickly goes away. No where near as "viscous" as the label would have you believe. Light toasted and caramel malt aroma with mild hop background and solid alcohol presence.

Nice, well roasted flavor with background sweetness. Well rounded mouthfeel, solid but not heavy. Quite drinkable.

Good, well rounded black ale. Not quite what I think of when I think stout or porter but pretty good. Worth a shot.

Photo of yesyouam
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

(This bottle had the black label, but didn't say anything about being whiskey-aged. I'll assume it was an older label)
Old Engine Oil is a rich auburn black with a small, dense, firm pink-brown head. The aroma is dry roasted and wooden. The palate is divine-- so smooth and thick! The flavor is of deep rich roast, lightly bittered and slightly chocolate. So damn good! I really have to drink more of this; I just don't run into it every day.
(rated Apr 17, 2007)

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

The Old Engine Oil poured what you would expect with the name. Dark, dense and a single finger foam head that look real comforting to rest my head against. Tight bubble lacing follows you as the glass empties.

The aroma is of chocolate and caramel. The taste is real smooth and velvety. There is a tad bit of bitterness that accompanies the second half down the throat. I found this to be one of the better old ale's I have consumed. You really get the caramel and toffee coming though most of the drink. This one is worth buying again, for sure.

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

nice and dark. i like the dark ones, near black brown. stout but thinner. quite a creamy head. latte in color. nose is a good malt and fruit. the taste is bitter to compare to a stout. i can't really figure to coin it as anything other than a stale bitter, tobacco like. soft chocolate. buttery. the gentle fruit works great with the bitter quality. a soft leather and chalk also. great stuff. i think it may become a winter regular at 3 bucks a bottle.

Photo of avalon07
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick texture. There was half inch of foamy head and good lacing.

S: Had a chocolatey, coffee-like aroma, mixed with malt.

T: More like a porter than an old ale, but I'll take it. Tasted of coffee, dark chocolate and roasted malt. Subtle and smooth.

M: Well-carbonated and with a dry finish. Full-bodied.

D: As I said, this beer isn't necessarily in keeping with an old ale, but it's still tasty and well made. Subtle, complex.

Photo of magictrokini
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black pour with a tan ring of bubbles. Roasted malt and nuts, bittersweet chocolate, prunes, and coffee. Not as viscous as advertised. Woody, burnt oats, malt, raisins, barley, weak coffee, and just a little bit of smoke. I expected a stout with the name and look, but got a very good old ale instead.

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

Presentation: Poured from an 11.2 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Label and cap are significantly different than the BA reference picture, but the ABV and description match. Described as viscous, chocolatey, and roasty. There is some information printed on the neck, but it is unreadable.

Appearance: The bottle opens with an appreciable hiss and the beer pours with 2 fingers of tan head. This compact, rather than settles, and forms a nice, marshmallowy cap, leaving behind thick, sticky lacing. The beer itself is opaque and black, with hints of reddish brown around the edges as you hold it up to the light. Absolutely no trace of sediment in the bottle.

Smell: The smell is intense, wafting up from the glass as I sit with my head 2 feet away. Notes of chocolate and lactose with a notable sourness. Roasted barley bitterness seems to push it more towards a stout than an old ale.

Taste: Roasted barley upfront, blended seamlessly with a creamy semi-sweet chocolate middle. Creaminess is forward enough that is tastes almost like a milk stout, but may also be the soured beers added back to old ales. Mild bitter chocolate in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is excellent, a nice rich and creamy mouth-filling beer.

Drinkability: A well blended and very flavorful ale. I have heard much about his one and was glad to finally taste it. While I would equate the flavor profile more with a stout than an old ale, this is which I will revisit.

Photo of david131
3.49/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Very very dark black with a massive creamy mocha head. This is a stunner. It most definitely does not look like an old ale though.

S- Roasty, with some chocolate and coffee in there. There is a bit of smoke aroma. Kind of sweet smelling too, with just a bit of that English-ness to it.

T- Sweet, roasty, smoky, earthy. Same as the aroma.

M- Pretty smooth with a nice carbonation bite.

D- Not an old ale in my book, but it is an enjoyable European beer. For the ABV, I was kind of surprised at home much of a sipper this was.

Photo of repeal06
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4


Poured blacker than black, with a small tan head that laced the glass nicely.

Smelled faintly of roasted coffee and chocolate, and malty goodness.

Tasted like it smelled. Well balanced, extremely smooth coffee and chocolate flavor. Just the right amount of bitterness.

Felt smooth and creamy in the mouth. I savored this beer.

Easily drinkable. I'm a fan of this beer.

Photo of pittvkyle7
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Black black. Healthy brown head that fades to a ring and leaves lace.

S- Sweet caramel and roasted grain. A smokey woody aroma is present too with a hint of alcohol.

T- A huge malt bomb with a heavy roasted presence. The roasted is leaning towards burnt at times. Sweet grains push through the roast and give way to some hops for a slightly bitter hop finish. very earthy and amazing!

M- Chewy, full, plenty of carbonation to cut the thickness. Very smooth going down.

D- A very nice sipper for this cold night (even though I'm inside) but you get the idea.

Photo of clayrock81
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A thinnish black body with a well-carbonated one-finger head that slowly died and left little lace patches. An extreme coffee malt smell along with maybe some roasted and toffee malts and hints of cocoa. While thick and full-bodied this beer is real smooth and creamy. The taste is a mixture of unsweet cocoa and roasted malts with a slick and semi-dry backbite. Mild dark fruit and hop presence in this beer, but the malts are predominant. This is a musthave for any beer drinker.

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

Picked up a bottle to go at Zeno's after watching my football team reign victorious over Ohio State..

A - Whoaaaa!!!! I know that the name of this beer is Old Engine Oil, but man oh man is this dark. Completely opaque black, half finger dark brown in head that dissipates to a ring.

S - Really great scents of dark coffee roasts, caramel, and semi sweet choclates.

T - Again, very impressive. Really great and well balanced tastes of everything thats apparent in the smell. A little bit of sweetness but not overpowering. My buddy's girlfriend put it best, this tastes like a really good cup of coffee. Carbonated well which adds a tingly feeling in the mouthfeel. Some bitterness at the end.

All in all, an awesome ale. If you can get your hands on one of these I would advise putting any hesitation aside.

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.18/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured jet black, name says it all. Had a nice tan head on it with some good carbonation. Nose of chocolate, toffee and tastes the same and perhaps some black liqourice. I have better Old Ales. Looks better than it tastes but still an ok brew. I am used to my Old Ales being a little stronger I suppose.

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....

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Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,516 ratings.