Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Old Engine Oil - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Educational use only; do not reuse.

764 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 764
Hads: 1,593
Avg: 4.1
pDev: 15.12%
Wants: 137
Gots: 161 | FT: 2
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Engine Oil Alström Bros
Reviews: 764 | Hads: 1,593
Photo of archyquaffer
3.5/5  rDev -14.6%

This beer is styled as a "Black Ale", which I see is listed separately but with only 7 reviews. Therefore, I'm not quite sure I'm reviewing this in the right place. But what gives with changing the style but not the name? Or, is "black ale" simply another descriptor for a porter?

Anyhow, a fairly aggressive pour produces a sticky, frothy, pale tan head of about an inch. The beer is a very dark brown.

I perceive a overbaked biscuity aroma with a hint of diacetyl. The roasted malts come through nicely in the flavor, and are accentuated by bark-like, nut, and burnt chickory flavors that suggest strong coffee, but without the astringent flavors of old, overcooked coffee. It's relatively light in body despite the name and drinks like a black lager more than anything.

A decent beer and apparently rare in my area, but hardly worth the $4.29 I paid for the 11.2 ounce bottle.

 888 characters

Photo of Roguer
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful black brew, topped by a very small brown head with poor retention.

Smooth, dark and rich chocolate and roasted barley aroma. A bit of cream, as well. Very robust aroma, but enticing and sweet as well.

Tons of dark, overripe fruit up front, earthy hops in the middle, and waves of roasted barley on the back-end. Extremely roasty: burnt toast, black coffee, dark cacao. Not very sweet, as implied by the aroma, but very robust. Earthy hops, and a little sweetness up front from a caramel/toffee/butterscotch note.

The name is misleading if you're expecting a thick stout. It's more cloying and lasting than chewy.

If viewed as a robust porter, this is an excellent example of the style. It's roasty bitterness is at first abrasive, but it's exactly the way it should be.

 785 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

It, called Black Ale vs Porter, is a lovely black colour and brings a 1 finger head of tannish foam with a careful pour. As the foam shrinks, great lacing left behind.

The smell is marvelous with smooth notes of chocolate, both sweet and bitter. Almost? get a hint of licorice.

The taste brings that chocolate with no hint of the licorice I noted in the smell. Nicely roasty to go along with the chocolate, this such a soothing, comforting beer to drink.

The silkiest of mouth feels, this is just bloody awesome. I'm glad I picked up a few bottles, both with the labels upside down and right side up.

 603 characters

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle into tulip glass, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a 1 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark bread, toast, light toffee, light dark fruit, faint smoke, and roast/yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of bit roast/bready malt and light-moderate yeast notes; with good strength. Taste of big chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark bread, toast, light toffee, light dark fruit, light smoke, and roasted earthiness. Fair amount of roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark bread, toast, light smoke, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity and robustness of roast/bready malt and light yeast ester flavors; with a good roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent English porter. All around great complexity, balance, and robustness of roast/bready malts and light yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,346 characters

Photo of jellikit
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%

Appearance: black. Dark ruby when held up to light. Small, foamy, tan head.
Smell: light roasted barley.
Taste: chocolate and coffee followed by light roasted barley.
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation. Big body. Dry.
Overall: great stout/porter. Would definitely buy again.

 288 characters

Photo of 57md
3.84/5  rDev -6.3%

Dark brown in color with ruby edges. Some roast in the nose along with a trace of alcohol. The body is hearty and creamy. The roast profile is relatively mild but pleasantly present and the flavor includes a very slight kiss of sweetness underneath the roast.

 260 characters

Photo of Navalartichoke
5/5  rDev +22%

Had this on draft in an English Pub ( Craft) Great blend of roasted malt , some sweetness and a nice finish of bitterness. Very mellow. The aroma had a hint of coffee.

 167 characters

Photo of Extrajoker00
4.39/5  rDev +7.1%

Reviewed: 9/28/14

Old EngineOil by Harviestoun

poured from a 11.2oz. bottle into a Guinness pint glass

P- very classy and traditional banner over oval 4.0

A- black as night with a solid tan to brown head 4.25

S- roasted malt, coffee and cocoa 4.75

T- robust and flavorful, roasted malt, coffee, and cocoa bitter-sweetness 4.5

M-full bodied and very present, mild aftertaste leaves me in anticipation 4.5

D- a little heavy on the pallet but still a go to 4.25

O- one of the best English brews Ive had 4.5

long wait to try this one and liking it. Picked a winner here.
---- J

 588 characters

Photo of craftbeersweden
3.75/5  rDev -8.5%

Dark brown, almoust black with a beige head. A lot of lacing.

Nose: Roasted malt, molasses, coffee, chocolate and dark fruit.

Taste: Same as the nose, malt, roasted notes, coffee, dark chocolate and dried fruit.

Almoust no carbonation. Medium to full body. A light bitternss. Great beer!

 293 characters

Photo of dogin26
4.75/5  rDev +15.9%

Poured into a over sized snifter

Beautiful thick head that fades fairly quickly

Expresso, dark chocolate with some rum and raisins

Light and creamy mouth feel. On the palate i taste coffee, dark chocolate and chocolate milk shake

Really tasty porter that has the perfect layers of flavor whilst being super drinkable. Love it

 330 characters

Photo of truebluebums
4.16/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured in a pint glass.

App: 2 finger tan head that recedes rather quickly

Smell: Roasty coffee, burnt toast, bit of soda/cola aspect, dark chocolate, and maybe some dark fruits playing in there

Taste: Creamy mouthfeel but thin body, coats the mouth. Just enough carbonation to have a slight prickle on the tongue. Dark chocolate, bit of an acidic quality that comes from coffee or dark chocolate. Dark fruits. Some molasses like qualities. All followed up with slight piney hop taste.

Great porter. Very drinkable but not lacking on the flavor. More of a classic british taste.

 583 characters

Photo of South2NW
3.99/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured to oversized snifter

A: pours a dark cola brownish-black with a thin, light tan head. Minimal lacing.

S:nice and roasty. Dark chocolate, roasty coffee/espresso.

T: bittersweet chocolate and espresso. A bit of smoke, too. Dry and bitter finish.

M: thinner than I expected/hoped for. Lower side of carbonation. Would've preferred a slightly thicker beer.

O: definitely a great beer. Glad I picked this one up to try it.

 443 characters

Photo of WhiteHillsStore
4.63/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I love this beer. Pours black as night with a thin coffee colored head. The smell is full of sweet malt and toasty aromas. The taste is full of toast, coffee, and dark chocolate flavors. Very delicious. Although it is worth mentioning that for such a heavy beer I thought the flavors were well balanced and it had a nice clean finish. I love the aftertaste as well which is good because it is a nice velvety consistency that coats your mouth and throat. Would absolutely recommend.

 481 characters

Photo of Dentist666
4.56/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

0,33l bottle.
Pours opaque brown-black beer with decent tan 2-finger head, prone to long retention. Robust coffee smell and taste with dark chocolate sourness in the finish. Viscous, with moderate carbonation. Smooth and well-balanced. Strongly recommended.

 258 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.06/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

a classic from a brewery yet to really wow me, this one is a game changer. a mix of so many styles, from dry stout to scottish ale to black ale and beyond, a lot of bases are covered here, a lot of lines crossed, but comfort instead of chaos results. this is a velvety smooth jet black shiny brew that foams up about in inch and a half on the pour and stays vigorous. caramel in head color, rich in aroma. notes of milk chocolate and light roast coffee cascade into a more earthy profile, but maintaining just enough sweetness to not let it get bitter, a great success. the flavor is a lot like the nose, with heaps of dark malt all the way through, but the brewers have somehow coaxed new flavor combinations out of familiar malts. its rich and chocolaty in a new way. its layered, and there is a hint of licorice right before the finish. pillow soft and silky in texture, yet extremely full bodied. carbonation is no more or less than a square medium, and its perfectly dialed for whats going on here. dynamic and nuanced stuff, different in flavor and feel from anything else in the genre, it may in fact be its own genre. i will be buying this one again, i like it far better than its barrel aged variants that ive had. it needs nothing.

 1,241 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.05/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On cask at Rustico (Ballston).

The beer is black with a quarter inch of off-white cap that holds steady for several minutes. The aroma brings milk chocolates, roast, malts, biscuits, brown bread. The flavor is sweet and chocolaty, followed by mild roast and sweet breads. A bit lacking actually. Not bad at all, but the flavor kind of drops off. Thin body and a bit too sweet. Eh...

 383 characters

Photo of Radome
4.31/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Color is deep brown with ruby highlights at the edge when held up to light, although light can't make it through the main part of the glass. Head is tan and initially thick, but it quickly dissipates. Light lacing on the glass.

S - Aroma is roasted coffee and chocolate with light smoke. There is a strong hit of cracked grain in the finish, with some herbal hops right at the limit of my perception.

T - Taste is extreme roast that blends into a cigar-like smoke. It verges on acrid in the mid palate, then dries out and cleans up to very low aftertaste. There is some brown sugar in the early palate. No hops or yeast characteristics come through.

M - Medium body with low mouth coating stickiness. Carbonation is almost nonexistent. A smooth creamy quality that may be from oats. Low alcohol presence.

O - This is a strong, assertive beer, whose assertiveness is based only on malt characteristics. That makes it a welcome change from today's typical hop madness. Still, I find it to verge on too acrid form my taste and I prefer some of the variants that have been aged in various barrels to mellow it and add some other complexities.

 1,193 characters

Photo of lochef81
4.29/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This porter pours a very near black mahogany that only lets light in around the edges. The head is small, tan, and very short lived with some lacing. The aroma is chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. It is dark and roasty with notes of cocoa nibs, coffee, some fruity esters, and lots of malt. The mouthfeel is just what is promised...oily. This would probably be more drinkable if it had just a touch more carbonation to add a little smooth creaminess. The flavor is once again lots of chocolate as well as some dried fruits, European yeast, a little butter coffee on the tail, and a lot of malty sweetness. I do prefer my porters on the drier side but for a sweet one, this is quite good.

 695 characters

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.24/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: There's that namesake - pours a viscous black with a creamy tan head. Little to no retention.

S: Rich and fudgy - brownie batter, vanilla, rum raisin scents waft up thick from the glass. Dense residual sugars here, backed up with notes of toffee and burnt toast.

T: Starts to style: slightly metallic, bready, with a hearty flavor of chalky chocolate. Caramel and bittersweet cocoa tones thicken it even more, then it takes an interesting turn - a crisp dryness, starting with herbal pine and lemon rind, starts a burn. It climbs slow to a strong bitterness of tannic grain husk, surprisingly intense for a porter. Finishes with that tight dryness gripping the palate, with some porter flintiness, as well.

M: Thin body with a little carbonation adding some creamy texture. That dryness that picks up toward the end of the palate breathes some new life into the drink, keeping it from staying too thick and one-dimensional.

O: A great porter - I could drink this all day. Too bad it would be an expensive six-pack...still, as a single bottle with dinner, it can't be beat.

 1,080 characters

Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.84/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a tulip glass. A real looker, a very dark black brew with a ruby red halo at the bottom of the glass and a supple, sumptuous latte tan colored head that looks rather like sponge toffee. Aroma is dark roast coffee and bitter chocolate, with a faint fruitiness that recalls sour cherries along with a little burnt toffee or perhaps maple sugar. Palate is much the same, creamed coffee, unsweetened baker's chocolate, a whiff of sour cherry, and earthy, near-piney hops that add a unique additional element to the more expected roasted elements. The uber-dark appearance and protruding smooth mouthfeel belie the rather thin body and relatively easy drinkability for such an opaque brew. Coffee flavor outweighs the chocolate and other components and alas, the finish is a tad husky and astringent to my palate. Skews toward the dry and roasted rather than the sweeter regions of dark beer territory, probably due to a lack of crystal malts. Still, worth sampling for the porter/stout aficionado.

 1,012 characters

Photo of patre_tim
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown almost black, you can see nothing through it. Only a slight deep amber hue of a half millimeter on the extreme edge of the glass. 2 fingers of tan brown head that leaves a sticky lacing.

S: Chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, espresso, earthy and woody, light smokiness.

T: Very chocolaty, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate and black coffee. Not as intense as the nose. Sort of goes flat in the middle and becomes like a stout.

M: Thick and chocolaty, medium low fine bubbled carbonation.

O: Great Smell, good taste, great name and label. Intense on the nose, a little lacking in taste in comparison. Still a must try.

 636 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.19/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

11.2 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown color. There's slightly less than a finger of mocha-colored head, and its retention is poor. Only slight hints of lacing are left on the glass.

S: Wow. Just, wow. The level of dark chocolate on the nose is amazing: it's so rich and defined, but never overpowers the other notes. There are also touches of umami, roast, coffee, and salt which helps to enhance its chocolate showcase. It genuinely smells fudge-like; later on, I'm even getting a touch of fruitiness. Honestly, this is one of the best, most complex noses I've encountered in a while.

T: There isn't much of a drop-off from the aroma to the flavor. A twinge of fruit esters open it up, quickly transforming into a roasted coffee flavor. It's a bit charred finishing, but more chocolaty than anything. There's also some lingering tobacco flavor post-swallow. Not the most complex, just awesomely roasted and impressively big-tasting for 6%.

M: The general feel is more slick than creamy, but there's still a nice softness to the palate. It's still light and well-attenuated enough to inspire easy drinking, with the gentle carbonation helping to dry it out even more.

O: This is fantastic. It's richness really belies its ABV. Hell, I'd even consider it a benchmark for the English porter (or even the American porter, for that matter). Shame it's kind of pricey and not offered in 6 packs...

 1,420 characters

Photo of dcmchew
4.34/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Almost completely dark, one finger head that doesn't last for long, going to a very thin lacing.
Roasted malts with a whif of chocolate on the nose, classic for its style, tho with a clear juicy dark fruit, like fresh dates and dark cherries, faint smoked plums also.
Rich malts, roasted, with some light toffee, espresso coffee and dark chocolate. Lower dark fruit than in the smell, more raisin-like, dry figgy. Cocoa powder and low licorice. Flavorful hops bring a mild bitterness, enhanced by the roast (lingering in the aftertaste, not very "charred" tho).
As it warms you get a tastier dark/sweet chocolate.
Not as oily as the name suggests, but light and more than mildly carbonated. Works out fine, better actually, it's actually very easy to drink.
This was tasty and well crafted, perfectly balanced, wouldn't give it a pass.

 835 characters

Photo of thecheapies
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours out with a glug-glug-glug, and a massive three fingers’ worth of beige head. This beer is black, as the bottle indicates. It’s true, folks. She’s dark and all kinds of sultry. Lacing is fantastic. Retention… same can be said for it. Looks like a real beer, man.

Smells of good English porter roast, oyster cracker dust, super-dry cocoa, and seawater. Has a richness without being gluttonous or showy. Well-defined and crafted.

Awesome porter flavors. Doesn’t give up on being too “UK” and punch out with caramel or fruity notes. Has a great char and roasty note with a slight salinity. There’s definitely a little bit of dry earthy coffee and a touch of chalkiness that implies cocoa, but doesn’t give it away. Almost a vegetal flavor of peat, but without the kiss of smoke. It might be there, but it’s hard to say.

This is the mouthfeel that porters dream of… silky, yet hefty body and a hoarse carbonation that gets swept into the liquid. Awesome.

Yes, Old Engine Oil does it for me. A classic that needs recognition for what it is.

 1,066 characters

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

What a great beer week and it's only Monday. Yesterday, my neighbor gave me a bottle of Old Guardian, 2 12's of Go To IPA, and a pint glass made by cutting the neck off of an Arrogant Bastard bomber and polishing it. A very cool looking beer glass. So tonight, a different neighbor runs over and gives me a bottle of Old Engine Oil. There's a three-bedroom for sale a few hundred yards down if you're interested. ;-)

Appearance - a dark cola pour with a sticky mocha head. I could see some tawny brown translucence on the pour, but in the glass it is a light blocker. Excellent lace up top. the lid is resilient and creamy.

Aroma - roasted grain, bread crust and espresso.

Taste - robust, roasty malt as expected. An extra dash of roastiness/char on the swallow, the sugars are rather limited here, allowing the grain to really shine through and have several delicious elements to explore. The swallow develops a little espresso, but it's still just a backdrop to the kilned malt show. Finishes with a warm char, dry and clean.

Mouthfeel - slightly heavy-ish and bossy, smooth, evenly carbonated to lend balance to the feel.

Overall - excellent session beer and a showy one as well. Thanks Dan!

 1,199 characters

Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
91 out of 100 based on 764 ratings.