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Old Engine Oil - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,486 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,486
Reviews: 752
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 117
Gots: 120 | 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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,486 | Reviews: 752 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Doomcifer
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured an almost pitch black with a nice 1.5 inch, frothy head that retains wonderfully. Pretty good lacing.

Smells of coffee and cream, cocoa, slight vanilla, cherries, faint hop spiciness, nutty. Great and complex!

Tastes very dark bittersweet chocolate, espresso, roasty malts, anisette, finishes with a slight hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is very creamy and velvety, lightly carbonated and perfect.

Extremely tasty and slightly warming, this beer is pretty drinkable despite it's robust heaviness.

Photo of jslot38
3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

European styled 11.2 ounce bottle. States it is a great after dinner beer... perfect, I just ate dinner.

Appearance: Not quite black, but pretty close. A dark hue of brown, bistre perhaps. Covered by a dark wheat colour head that quickly diminishes to a small covering.

Smell: Sensous chocolate and dark roasted malts. A touch of toffee and a bit of caramel. A touch of coffee lingers in the background.

Taste: A traditional stout flavour, very basic but well balanced between chocolate and a touch of bittering hops. Backed with biscuit there is a good touch of chocolate and a bit of toffee. Some deep mocha lingers.

Mouthfeel: The back of the bottle questions why it would be called old engine oil, and I think the answer lies in the mouthfeel. The sharp carbonation is quickly cut off by a great slickness... as you might expect engine oil to be like.

Drinkability: Would certainly drink a few of these, very basic with some good flavours and an above par mouthfeel.

Notes: A good beer all the way around. Solid smell, solid taste and solid mouthfeel.

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

Barely see-throughable dark walnut with dark crimson tendencies. Without blindingly bright sunlight behind the glass, the beer is essentially opaque. The sandstone colored crown is compact despite a sprited pour and displays multiple fragile bubbles on its rumpled upper surface. A short, jagged collar of lace looks good enough to keep me enthused about the appearance.

The nose is nicely chocolate malty with accessory aromas of dark caramel, dark fruit (dates primarily) and herbal hops. I miss the fantastic Scotch whisky notes of Old Engine Oil Special Reserve since they added an olfactory complexity that this beer lacks. It's still a good nose though.

My first thought was that I feel the same way about the flavor profile; that is, that the 'aged in whisky casks' version was clearly superior (I say 'was' because it's now retired). As I continue to sip though, I'm not so sure that this beer isn't equally as good, if less complex.

I'm reminded, in some respects, of an English porter. As in the nose, chocolate malt is the focal point. While it isn't nearly as malty or as full as the American version of the style, it's a humdinger of an English old ale. Sweet trumps sour trumps bitter, with each present in nearly perfect proportions. I doubt that there's a better poster child for sessionable old ales than Old Engine Oil.

The body/mouthfeel picks up a little viscosity with warming, but it doesn't quite reach the degree of fullness that I prefer. This would be a better beer, in my humble opinion, if the mouthfeel was closer to 10W-40 than 10W-30. A relative shortage of carbonation is just what the doctor ordered.

If it was still being brewed, I'd take Special Reserve over plain ol' Old Engine Oil every day and twice on Sunday. That doesn't mean, however, that this is anything less than a special ale that I'll buy in multiple bottle increments whenever I happen to run across it. OEO is the beer equivalent of comfort food and is giving me plenty of warm fuzzies as I pause over the final ounce. If that isn't a recommendation, then I don't know what is.

Photo of NJpadreFan
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Engine Oil

On tap at Isaac Newtons- Newtown, PA

Appearance- Thick black with a huge tan head. Heavy lacing on the inside of the glass.
Smell- Burnt wood/ bark with a charcoal and coffee aroma.
Taste- Strong burnt wood. Hints of Cherry and coffee/ cocoa.
Mouthfeel- Dry and strong up front. Halfway through the glass the flavor started to dissappate.

Overall- A nice warming beer, the flavor dissappates in the end but nice on a cool evening.

Photo of dherling
3.4/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big bubbly off white hea sits on a sludge like near black beer. The nose gives off some strong espresso, along with malt, and a nice chocolate roundness. The palate delivers a chocolate like bitterness, a little leather, burning wood. It has a decent moutfeel and a finish that lingers. A pretty straightforward beer, not terrible complex.

Photo of guinnessfan
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

A: Pours very dark with a reddish tint, almost opaque. Tan 3 finger head dissapates to about 1 finger with good lacing.

S: Roasted malt and powerful chocolate aroma, with a hint of berry?

T: Smooth creamy chocolate malt, not as powerful as the smell

M: Not as thick as expected, but that's okay. Somewhat creamy.

D: Due to the thinness, I could drink a couple of these in 1 sitting, almost sessionable.

Overall, a good beer with an unusual name that is slightly misleading.

Photo of BlackJeremiah
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into an English pint glass.

A: Dark as its namesake, a very dark brown when held up to light--hints of dark ruby sparkling in the pitch. Less viscous than actual oil, but close. Cream-colored head starts at a full, fluffy, 1", reduces with significant lacing. Looks delicious.

S: Coffee, baker's chocolate, currant/black elderberry, and mouthwateringly roasted malt. Really excited to try this, my first Old Ale.

T: The dark berries start off, followed by the dark toast/roasted malt, blended with coffee and baker's chocolate. Every scent is represented in the taste--what you smell is what you get. Very straightforward, well-balanced, and well-executed.

M: Not nearly as thick as the name suggests, this one is (as I've said for other thick-but-not-too-thick-beers) present, but not quite chewy or mealy. Really nice, really apropos to the flavor mix and what I've understood the style to be like.

D: This is really, really excellent. In terms of dark beers with similar flavors, it's outstripped by Victory's Storm King and Stone's RIS, but that is heady competition with which to brook comparison. I will gladly seek out other Old Ales, but I'm willing to bet this benchmark will be hard to beat.

Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Yet another black brew. This one has a transmission depth of only a few millimeters. It is really rich dark brown. It has a thick latte colored head. a decent ring of lacing remains on the glass.

S - Just smelling this is making my mouth water. Rich elderberries and high cacao dark chocolates aroma with some dates and currants underneath.

T - The taste is mostly of coffee but there are some hints of burnt malt, chocolate and blackberries. Good, but the flavor isn't very powerful and there is no real aftertaste, except maybe a latent bitterness that doesn't add any depth to the beer.

M - Thinner than I ever would have expected, slick and pretty refreshing.

D - Good. It looks almost as good as Guinness does (face it, Guinness is pretty despite its other flaws), smells incredible and tastes great. This beer is an easy one to drink. Seems strong than 6% though. Maybe I just haven't eaten enough tonight.

Photo of Phatz
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have yet to find a charred Old Ale I don't like. I am either a big fan of the style or very lucky with these beers. This is no exception. mmm.

Appearance: Pours almost motor oil black with suggestion of deep ruby hues in the color.

Smell: Roasty roasty roasty malty, chocolate, caramel, coffee and hints of fruits fill the nasal cavity.

Taste: The malty backbone is so smooth and creamy it effortlessly delivers a rush of burnt chocolate molasses, caramel, figs, cherry and coffee wrapped up in a dryish boozy body that really catches you by surprise.

Mouthfeel: Roasty dry but very very rich and smooth!

Drinkability: Load me up!!! I have a new regular! I have been a regular stout drinker for years but these Old Ales and this one has really surprised me.

Hope this is helpful.

Photo of ByTor2112
3.47/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thick light brown head with fluffy bubbles. this settled down to about a one-finger head and left some nice spotty lacing.
Aroma was sweet coffee with a roasted/burnt smell. First taste on the palate is a quick sweetness with the alcohol faintly detected, then it gives way to a nice bitterness and then gets complex to the finish with flavors of chocolate, espresso and some tannins. A good froth heightens all the flavors mentioned. I have been aging this since March. I got my single at Gomer's in KC for about $1.99 I believe. Sweet enough to be quaffable with enough bitterness to be sipped as an after-dinner brew. Cheers!

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A great beer! It was an opaque black with a thick, sticky, coffee-colored head. Aroma was sweet, dark cherry, a little chocolate. Wonderful taste: dark roasted coffee, chocolate, tiny bit of yeast. A very smooth beer. Not too high in ABV, so easily one to have a few of. My wife, who usually prefers wheat beers, liked this a lot.

Photo of mjc410
4.97/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a La Moneuse tulip.

In trying to elicit a nice head from this ponderous ale, I pour directly down the center. My reward is a large bubbled, somewhat dark tan, one finger layer, which seems to hold its own at half its original size for quite a while. True to its name, I can't locate a speck of light seeping through this monster. Should I expect bits of crankshaft? This appears quite like a very big RIS. Thick tan suds ooze down the glass, as if over-encumbered. And yet, they still manage to leave some nice lacing. Odor is intense: dark cherries, molasses, caramel, espresso, chocolate. A wonder! Taste is of rich toffee, creamed coffee, sugar, and roast bitterness. There's also a slight acidity that goes with a lot of old ales. Alcohol seems to be present in its warming, spicy capacity. This is odd at only six percent, but very welcome. Low carbonation and a huge body, without doubt, lead to liquid luxury. This is a new favorite, and the alcohol content could easily allow a few in a sitting.

Photo of dgallina
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml brown bottle, no freshness dating.

Pours almost black with mahogany edges; very little head and slight lace despite a hard pour. Smells of alcoholic vanilla, oak, toasted chocolate malts, powdered cocoa. Flavor is not quite up to the aroma. Very sweet and rounded all the way through. Caramel and coffee malts predominate, with lots of powdered cocoa and burnt bread in the finish. Medium-light mouth feel, with good creaminess and gentle carbonation.

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

Saw this looking lonesome on the shelf at Brawley's, so I picked it up.

Fills my glass dark brown with a quickly reducing head, mild lacing. Aptly named, it really does look like engine oil. Cool.

You can really smell a strong malt profile in this one, very roasty and coffeeish.

Taste is thick and rich, bittersweet, hoppy, and heavy on the coffee flavor. Slightly metallic on the end, but coats your tongue and makes your mouth water. Earthy. Nice hop addition that sneaks into the taste behind all the malt.

Mouthfeel isn’t syrupy, but thick and full. Roasty flavor everywhere. Mildly warming.

I’m not sure why Old Engine Oil is classified as an old ale and not a porter, but it’s tasty nevertheless. Nothing special in my book, but quite drinkable.

Photo of BDTyre
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aptly named, as this looks like motor oil. I rate this high because I really like it, but I'd but tempted to class this as a dark mild.

Nice dark brown appearance. Thick, with a tight, dense tan head. Looks like old oil.

Dry malt smell with chocolatey hints. Mocha, bittersweet chocolate. No hops detectable. It lacks the vinous, grape and sour fruit hints I tend to find in old ales.

Taste, in my opinion, is a little to sweet for an old ale. Definite chocolate notes, verging on dark chocolate, tempered somewhat by a very faint hop presence. Sour notes that are generally associated with old ales are barely there.

Good mouthfeel, nice body on the tongue, Easy to drink despite its richness. Lovely after dinner drink.

Photo of cjgator3
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an almost black color with slight dark ruby hues around the edges of the glass that produces a minimal tan colored head. The aroma is sweet and roasty with notes of dark malts and coffee. Mouthfeel is a bit too light for my preferenses. The taste is very smooth and well balanced. Overall a very nice brew that is plenty interesting and flavorful.

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

I loved the Whiskey Barrel aged bottle I traded for, but this was nice too. A nice English Old ale that isn't that old but I could really see this progessing well with some oxidation adding flavors to an already flavor packed beer. I think I picked up a little maple syrup for a minute. I will have to get some to lay down for a few and see where they go. Nice stuff try a bottle, but not too cold.

Photo of KarlHungus
3.91/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours an opaque black color that is not quite as engine oil like as its name would indicate, but is appealing nonetheless. The head is large, tan, and recedes slowly into nice lacing. The aroma is more like a stout than an old ale as it is listed here on BA. Chocolate, cream, toffee, with a bit of hops in the background. The taste, however, is definitely more like an old ale than a stout. Chocolate, toffee and cream all remain present, but a nice bitterness cuts through them with ease. The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with nice smoothness and carbonation. Overall, this is a nice old ale that I will revisit someday. It isn't as strong as others I have had, nor is it as unbalanced as most American interpretations of the style. It is certainly enjoyable though.

Photo of bort11
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased as a single bottle at Bubbles on N Oak in Gladstone, MO. 11.2 oz bottle poured into an Imperial Pint glass. Dark mahogany brown/black. No light can come through. Bits of sediment suspend up against the glass. It doesn't swirl around, it's motionless like fruit in a Jell-O mold. Not a very big head, about a finger width. Very tight and sticky, the color of dark chocolate milk. Receeds to a thin lace. Smell is potent. I can smell the chocolate malt from about an arms length. There is also dried fruit notes. Taste is very complex. Chocolate, espresso, and earthy floral notes. Finishes pretty clean, very little aftertaste. Engine Oil is a good description of the mouthfeel. Very full bodied, creamy and smooth. Almost no carbonation. Good drinkability, though I wouldn't want to do more than one or two at a time.

Photo of brushpig
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled a bottle at the Irish Bisto in Chicago in a Old Engine Oil glass.
As the beer was poured into my glass I immediately nocticed the lack of a head, dark brown liquid that bubbled heavyly from the bottom of the glass.
The smell was pleasurable, but very subtile with roasted malt and carmel. The odor of some kind of fruit hidden in the back.
One could taste the coffee, malt right away. It was well balenced and smooth, with a roasted coco flavor finish.
Very complex ale, that I found delicious.

Photo of jettjon
3.38/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Highs: Appearance
Lows: None

Into the pilsner pitch brown, nearly opaque. Not quite the color I was expecting after having tried Rogue’s literally black XS Imperial Stout. Head is a half-finger’s worth of brown-tan dense capping that fades away at a moderate pace leaving plenty of lacing but only a rim of foam. Nose is rather vague, hinting at malt and sorghum. Taste bitter-sweet, again not what I was expecting, though typical of the Old Ale classification BA lists. There’s molasses and malt and a light alcohol presence. Not bad but not great either. Mouth is semi-creamy, just this side of watery, not thick or heavy. Finishes on a semi-bitter note. Drinkability is OK; it’s a pretty smooth brew but overall unremarkable.

Overall: Not a bad brew; I guess I was thrown off by the packaging and price and expected a premium stout. I need to retry this later as the proper Old Ale that it is. Worth a try.

Photo of crwills
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Taps Brewery pint glass. Pours absolutely jet black, looks very thick, a small head that fades fast with some decent lacing.

Very strong aroma that hits you as soon as you pour. Cocoa and strong espresso, caramel, bread, and some mild hoppiness that makes it nice and bitter smelling.

Taste is bitter chocolate and sour cherries or blackberries. Hops provide a bit of kick, and a sour aftertaste.

Only disappointment was the for something called "engine oil," the mouthfeel was a little thin and watery. Still smooth and coating (oily?), but not quite as molasses-like as I expected.

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

Was happy to find this one at Thrifty on Court Street in Brooklyn after hunting for it for a few weeks. I remember a Scottish ex-roommate of mine heralding this beer, of course he referred to it as "Arvistoon Ule".
Almost stout like in appearance, with a thick, black body with slivers of light around the borders and almost no head. Nose is thick coffee and chocolate malt, as mentioned on the label. I'm curious as to what keeps this from being a stout although I haven't yet tasted it.
Mouthfeel is a little thin for a stout but is uncommonly smooth and round throughout. Taste is malty and overloaded with coffee flavors that transform into a pleasant toasty aftertaste. Complex and delicious, I could drink these all night, apart from the abv of course.

Photo of czechsaaz
3.64/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma is heavy on the fruity fermentation. Lots of plum and cherry like smells. Just a little bit of chocolate aroma.

Dark dark brown. Almost no head but large rising carbonation bubbles. A little too large, kind of like a coke.

More fruity in the flavor than the aroma. Just a ton of estery and cherry-like fruit flavors. Some vinuous character too. On the sweet side but not cloying. Hop bitterness is very low and hop flavor is non-existant.

It seems a bit thin in the mouth. With this much flavor, i'd expect more body. Carbonation level is very low.

Not a bad beer but I think it could be much more. More carbonation would make it seem more lively. More body would fill it out some.

Photo of GClarkage
3.48/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

04/21/06- Purchased at Corti Bros. in Sacramento, CA.

Presentation- 11.2oz bottle. No freshness info found. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Dark blackend pour. Started out a bit lighter with cherry highlights, but turned out pretty dark. Large 2 inch head almost overflowing out of my glass. Very nice lacing throughout.

Smell- Nice scent of dark fruit, coffee (mocha) and a bit of dark chocolate. Old Ale?

Taste- When it first hits your tongue you think it's going to be on the sweet side, but after it hits your full pallete, it turns out only to have a very slight sweetness. Some roasted malt with a larger than imagined bitter hop finish. Very dry. No my idea of an Old Ale. Maybe and Irish Dry or something.

Mouthfeel- Drying feeling. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability- The taste wasn't bad at all. Just knocked it down because I thought it really wasn't to style. Overall fairly tasty, but not as an Old Ale.

Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,486 ratings.