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Old Engine Oil - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,500 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,500
Reviews: 755
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 119
Gots: 124 | 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: 1,500 | Reviews: 755 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CharlieMopps
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a good two and a half fingers of dense, tan head, with an impenetrably staining black body of beer. Old Engine Oil seems spot-on, and this hearty looking brew has a head that likes to stick around.

S: I'm guessing this smell is from the agining in Malt Whisky casks, but there's a slight bit of a dogfood vibe to this, as in, a bit meaty, but not exactly the real thing. Also, this blends in with a very burnt malt scent and coffee that could either taste amazingly great or incredibly horrid. The proof is in the engine oil...

T: A perplexing combination of flavors comes inside this bottle. It has all the characteristics of a big malty stout, but the scotch whisky side cuts through, making it actually quite smooth until the end, where a little bit of a liquor-like kick comes in. Also, a tad tasting of slick hops is there as well. A bit of a cocoa-like undertone with the grains from the malt and the aging converging somewhere in the middle.

M: With the smooth transition of flavors, from malt to whisky, comes a very creamy then subtle bite. Probably one of the few ways that a solid stout can have a kick to it without making the beer a hop-skewed mess or suffer from over-aging in the barrels. Still, there's a thickness that clings to the palate but is still quite enjoyable.

D: Somewhat leans toward an extreme, but if you were to be drink big malt brews all night, this one would kick you right back into the swing of things with its composition. The rarity of combining two malt beverages, beer and scotch, is what's charming about this beer. I see the appeal, and feel like this is a good one to break up any monotony with the malt-packed stouts.

Photo of Albertv05
3.63/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I tried this on tap at The Old Toad in Rochester, NY.

Poured jet black with a minimal tan colored head. The head faded pretty quickly. The aroma was mildly sweet with roasted grains, chocolate, and a faint hint of fruitiness.

The taste was of roasted grains, more so than I expected but in a good way. There wasn't as much maltiness balance as I anticipated with the roasted grains and the body was a little thin. However, although I typically look for a very well balanced stout, this made it very easy to drink and more digestible. Kind of like a roastier, less creamy Guinness.

I would definitely get a pint again of this if I'm having a few that evening. Very drinkable!

Photo of belgbeerdrinker
3.08/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

a: true to its name this looks like very old engine oil - jet black, very nice dark brown head that retains well; good lacing
s: definite hints of whiskey, coffee & chocolate as well
t: coffee flavor dominates, with minor contributions of anise, chocolate & whiskey; turns bitter at end
m: surprisingly medium body, slightly creamy, burns the nose at the end, decent carbonation
d: appearances were deceiving here - not nearly as heavy as i would've thought & didn't get much whiskey flavor. too bitter for me, can't say i'll be picking up another of these

Photo of beeroclock
3.35/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very dark color, not quite as dark as the engine oil reference in the name, but damn close. Light brown head but very small, laced nicely on the glass. Smelled of oats and coffee. Tasted just like the smell with a creamy stout flavor and held through the aftertaste very nicely. The aftertaste is by far the best part of this beer, I enjoyed the aftertaste. Holds on to your tongue. I will drink it again, but it's not an everyday beer.

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

Poured from a bottle to pint glass. The liquid is dark brown, not quite like used Engine Oil but Engine Oil covers it ok. Whats in a name any how. The Head is big off white and leaves lots of sudsy lace.

The smell is nice, quite inviting as it sit just below my nose. Just a lot of strong smelling Carmely toasted maltz.

The taste is good. Very malty and rich. I was not expecting it to grow on me so fast.

The mouthfeel in good. nice close to full body, good carbonation.

The drinkability is also good. I could down this a lot faster then I had planned for sure. Prosit MK

Photo of DogFood11
3.36/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Poured the 11.2oz brown bottle into a stemmed pils glass. It forms a meaty brown head that has good retention. Dark brown to black body.

This is a smooth brew. The mouthfeel is velvety and creamy, similar to a good milk stout. I'm not sure I've started to many reviews with the mouthfeel but this is memorable on the palate. Unfortunately the beer is just OK other than that. Milk chocolatey malts. I always wondered if I would ever taste tobacco in a beer as I've seen in many reviews, well, this a first for me but old engine oil has a distinct tobacco leaf backend. Couple of dings would be the metallic twinge that creeps in towards the finish. I also found that the malts are rather weak in flavor or complexity.

Notes: Decent.

Photo of stephendr
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2002 vintage -11.2 oz. bottle - color of black , tan thin head - nose of prunes , leather , angave (tequila) , seaweed , rootbeer and malts – taste of portish , prunes , brown sugar , over ripe yellow apples and – body creamy slightly acidic and carbonated – aftertaste of apples and charred wood

Photo of okra
3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Not sure what I expected here - thie was sold to me as 'almost a barleywine' by the barmaid. OK, so there was a good amount of aocohol, but.... I love the appearance, and it had a nice creamy head. Somewhat lacking in aroma though - I expected more, but then again, I'm not certain which style this beer would fall into. Quite drinkable, went down smooth, but I expected a tad more body. Oh, nad for the record $8.50 is an insane price for this in Massachusetts.

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

Drank on-tap at Delaney's Taproom and Restaurant, New Haven, CT

Poured a translucent black with hints of brown at the edges of the glass. The one-finger, mocha-colored, sea foam head left temporary ridges of lacing.

The smell was fragrant and sweet and contained a strong indication of powdered cocoa, along with freshly brewed coffee, alcohol soaked raisins and brown sugar.

The taste was rich and complex but seemed harsh and one-dimensional initially. Bitter, biting, roasted malts along with a subtle (yet noticeable) astringent alcohol flavor trumped everything in their way. After a few minutes however, the beer settled markedly. The malt profile remained similar, but the alcohol flavor subsided and notes of dark chocolate, espresso and a subtle fruitiness became apparent as well. There was a significant (and unexpected) hop bite that left the palate dry and wanting another sip. The aftertaste, which seemed to resonate forever, was comprised equally of bitter, roasted malts and chocolate.

Mouthfeel was thick, creamy and slick.

Drinkability was quite good. For such a heavy and densely flavored beer this went down rather easily.

Photo of numenor1
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours very black, and even with tremendous rousing produces little head. What there is, is khaki colored and actually laces very well. Nose is a bit reticent but shows deep toffee, chocolate, dark fruits and faint smoke. Starts with deep caramel and toffee on the palate then a bit of chocolate emerges amidst dark fruit esters. Ends on a sour twang with fruity chocolate fading into the finish. Traces of smoke and light bitterness make an appearance as well (though the smoke could just be the remnants of the single malt i had earlier :-/) Good complexity. Mouthfeel is medium but gives the impression of being fuller than it is due to very low carbonation, creating a very beautiful creamy texture. Quite drinkable but a touch more bittering would improve things imo. Wish it was cheaper.

Actually, with more than a bit of curiosity (and after having the scotch barrel version of this) i added a small dash of highland park 12 yo to the last 1/3 of this beer with pretty amazing results...the smoke aspect is no longer quasi-imagined

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

Deep ruby almost black body topped with a brown creamy head with a few small bubbles around the edges. Decent retention and lace.
Subdued and mild slightly pepper-buttery scent.
Taste is similar to the smell with an added slightly citric twist. Well balanced aftertaste that fades almost to nothing but lasts long at that level.
Full, creamy and buttery mouthfeel.
Great session beer.
Overall a mild mannered and pleasant brew. Soft, smooth and interesting.


Photo of haz77
3.76/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black, with an inch of bubbly head. This slowly drops to a creamy, firm layer and leaves behind some nice lacing.

S - Could smell it before going anywhere near the glass, although strangely it's not quite as potent as expected when going in for a smell. Coffee, chocolate, wood, anise, vanilla.

T - Coffee upfront, before the chocolate takes over and floats forwards and backwards all the way to the finish. Anise flavours come through in the middle and the vanilla appears towards the end. Fairly dry finish, with chocolate and burnt flavours lingering in the aftertaste.

M - Unbelievably smooth, with a syrupy texture and medium-full body. Carbonation is light, and feels just right.

D - Quite drinkable. There was nothing I particularly disliked about the beer, but I was under whelmed by the smell and taste.

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

Pours what looks like old engine oil:) An off white head is slightly small and leaves no lace however does have good retention.

Caramel, and toffeed malt aromas, dark fruits, and even a slight hint of bourbon.

Very balanced and complex flavors. Dominated by caramel malt & dark fruits. Black currant, black cherry, fig, and some black licorice. Hints of coffee and some fudge flavors as well.

Creamy thick mouthfeel. Tasty!!!

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

A- Stealthy black, like a black hole in space, 1 finger head, reducing to near nothing. im even gettin the rainbow fringes of an oil slick on the surface!faint brussels lacing while drinking

S- lots of treacle and currents, black forest gateau with juicy cherries, mild coffee aroma, some faint grain notes. Becomes slightly more bitter as the beer warms with less sweet notes.

T- once again, sweet cherries and perhaps christmas pudding - much like a doppelbock i feel. A super finish aswell, not overly alcoholic - just a nice little hint, like a rich fruit cake.

M- low to medium carbonation, not overly sticky, a little syrupy on the swallow, but that makes for a lovely moreish wintery, in front of the fire feelin.

D- bloody brilliant i think, i feel i would only want one though to sip and savour on a cold winters evening, a real winner in my book, will need to cellar some and re review next year, this beer is a real classic sipper!

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.

Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 1,500 ratings.