Old Engine Oil
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil
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Porter - English
Ranked #5
Ranked #2,614
4.15 | pDev: 10.12%
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil
Notes: Down your tools and take a swig of this classic craft stout. Beautifully engineered with premium roasted malt for a velvety mouthfeel. It’s proper vintage stuff. All thanks to the meticulous handiwork of our master brewers.

This dark and rich stout was first created in 1999 for a well-known supermarket beer competition, which it won with resounding success. Ever since it’s been a much-loved beer by the brewery and customers alike.

Brewer’s Notes: As soon as you arrive in the car pack you know Old Engine Oil is being brewed from the aroma. The blend of malts and hops produce a balanced bitter-sweet beer with smoky notes and lingering finish.

Hops: East Kent Goldings, Fuggles, Galena
Malts: Lager Malt, Pinhead Oats, Roast Barley
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Reviews: 865 | Ratings: 1,870 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of steveh
steveh from Illinois

4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Prompted by the Beers of Fame thread, and realizing I'd had many of them in the past, but never reviewed them, I dug out an old notebook from the 2004 Chicago Real Ale festival where I took some detailed notes of some of the early examples I sampled.

I was able to enjoy this one at Chicago's Map Room from a cask -- whether or not it was truly CC, I can't say. Maybe my notes will be revealing.

A -- Dark, opaque black.

S -- Black Patent roasted malts and licorice. Yeasty nose and alcohol with warming.

T -- Rich, roasted malt flavor.

F -- Medium to robust body with a smooth, syrupy mouthfeel.

O -- Very flavorful beer. I had enjoyed this from bottles a few times prior, but the cask pour was quite nice -- and memorable after so long.

Mar 21, 2021
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oldmankoch from Tennessee

4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Right up their with its "big brother" the Engineers Reserve this is a delicious porter. A wonderful blend of bakers chocolate, coffee grounds, bit of charred gristle etc...

Mar 15, 2021
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FBarber from Illinois

4.73/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This one pours a lovely dark mahogany brown color. Completely opaque. A two finger velvety mocha colored head forms on the beer and lingers for a while before slowly and almost imperceptibly dissipating until just a thin layer of foam remains on top of the beer. Its pretty much a perfect looking porter. The aroma on this is remarkably complex with notes of chocolate, toffee, with a certain hint of creaminess coming through. Then, there are the roasted malts that have a mild smokiness to them. Finally there are some light earthy hoppy notes that come through on the nose.

The flavor follows the nose with notes of chocolate, toffee, roasted malts, a light smokiness, and an earthy hop presence on the back end. There is a certain sweet creaminess to the beer. Its one of those beers that gives you something else to ponder every sip - at first I notice the creamy sweetness and chocolate notes, then on the next sip, Im drawn to the earthy hoppy bitterness, and then again the smokiness and roasted malts seem to take over. The resulting effect is one of a remarkably complex beer that requires your undivided attention to truly and fully appreciate it. The feel is smooth and silky. Moderate to medium bodied. Spritzy carbonation provides a certain liveliness to the beer. The finish is drier and somewhat powdery.

Overall this is an absolutely delightful beer that for me a least hits everything I want from a porter.

Mar 14, 2021
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Black pour (go figure, right?). Creamy, soapy, dense caramel colored head on top that sticks to the glass.

S - Chocolate and chocolate roast dominate the nose with a slight bit of coffee roast. Smells like a glass full of chocolate roast.

T - Chocolate, chocolate roast, char, coffee bean, and more char. (!!!) The chocolate roast and char lingers for days well after the sip.

M - Viscous big medium body and dry on the back of the tongue.

O - This is a fantastic Porter, highly recommended.

Feb 11, 2021
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nick_perry from North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Black color. Foamy lingering 1-finger white head. Enjoyable roasted malt flavor with just a touch of sweetness and notes of espresso and leather. Mouthfeel is very silky but not overbearingly heavy. Everything is pretty well balanced.

Feb 09, 2021
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taxandbeerguy from Canada (ON)

4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I finally found it! This brew has been on my wants list since 2013! (Specifically added just after my wedding day) 330 ml can served at cellar temperature into a tulip. LCBO purchase for $3.25 CDN.

Appearance - Very dark brown and near black in color. Huge swath of many fingers of head is poured, leaving a huge curtain of lacing. Great staying power of the light tan head. The body does in fact look like old engine oil.

Smell - Roasty notes, a touch of chocolate, but mainly more earthy, leathery with a tobacco or smokey hint. Molasses also seems prevalent. Fantastic nose and clearly a leafy hop assertiveness backing everything up.

Taste - Quintessentially British Isles in style. Earthy and bitter leafy hops, some overroasted grain leaving for a rich and bitter flavor. Loads of leather, some molasses and just enough smoke.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, leaning heavy with some carbonation, but super slick, velvety feel, yet never heavy like a bigger stout would be. Wonderfully balanced.

Overall - Love this brew. Lived up to my expectations and then some. Remarkably easy drinking, tons of flavor, Scottish flair, the name even describes the beer almost perfectly. One of the beers of the year for me and it's early. To me at least Old Engine Oil is to English Porter as Weihanstephaner Hefeweissbeier is to hefeweizens as Duvel is to Strong Belgian Pale Ales, as La Fin Du Monde is to tripels as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is to APA's. The distinctive beer of the style that all others try to replicate.

Feb 04, 2021
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BPVandenbroek from Canada (AB)

4.26/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Old Engine Oil fills my glass true to its name. It pours into my glass as black and thick as motor oil, throwing a cream filled coffee colored head with great retention.
Taking a sniff, the first thing I smell is coffee, supported quickly by dark, European chocolate. Malts make their presence known in the form of rye bread, hot and fresh from the oven. Below that are hints of nuttiness and a general earthy aroma. Each aroma leads smoothly, from one to the next, giving a rich, lush, seamless porter. All of this leads to a coffee scented aroma combined with earthy, leafy hops.
That first sip of Old English Oil shows me a porter that is full bodied, lush, and full flavored without being overpowering in its dark, roasty flavors. Old Engine Oil’s flavor is slightly more coffeeish than the aroma, giving slightly stronger flavors of dark, black, roasted coffee. Belgian chocolate and dark bread lend structure to the beer’s flavor profile. All this leads into a bitter finish full of dark roasted coffee.
It’s delicious, complex, and robust, without being overpowering in its flavors of roasted coffee. The flavors walk the line between flavor and overpowering complexity very deftly, making it a drinkable, approachable example of the style. In my opinion, it would be very easy for a porter to venture too far into the flavors of roasted coffee, making it hard to drink.

Jan 28, 2021
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Pmicdee from Canada (ON)

3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a thick beige head. The smell is roasted malts and molasses. The taste is more bitter than I’ve come to expect for a stout. The toasty-ness I’m familiar with is present. A bit smokey. Mouthfeel is a bit thin, not watery, but thin.
Jan 21 2021

Jan 21, 2021
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HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Solid black appearance with about an average body. Medium light carbonation and an almost dry feel
...aroma is coffee grinds, black coffee,dark bakers chocolate roasted malt, bitter black coffee
.. taste is,bitter,black coffee bitter,dark chocolate bitter,did I mention bitter?. Roasted malt, coffee beans, dark fruit and an odd saltiness in the aftertaste.
.. this won't work for everyone but if in the mood then this is an excellent, very flavorful beer. Glad I tried it and would look for it again.

Jan 17, 2021
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thehyperduck from Canada (ON)

4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

355 mL can from the LCBO; best before Aug 2021 and served barely chilled. Seems like a good night to finally tick off one of the oldest items on my "wants" list.... yet both the label and the Harviestoun website now describe this as a "craft stout" rather than a porter.

Pours a dark, black-chestnut brown colour with ruby red highlights, producing one finger of smooth, foamy, cream-coloured head that seeps away within two minutes or so. A creamy-looking collar is the main remnant; a few wisps on the surface also remain, but there's minimal lace. It smells of roasted grain, dark chocolate and coffee grounds, with additional hints of treacle, figgy dark fruit, earthy hops and a touch of smoke.

A tasty, flavourful stout - there's molasses, roasted grains and chocolate at the forefront, with hints of date and black cherry not far behind. Notes of coffee and baker's chocolate develop later on, alongside an earthy, woodsy finish with suggestions of thyme and floral hops; roasty aftertaste with lingering spice & earthiness. Medium in body, with moderately low carbonation levels that gently prickle the palate, lending a little bit of liveliness to this brew's mostly smooth mouthfeel. No sign of the 6% at all, really, which makes it more drinkable than it probably should be - I could easily plow through several of these short cans over the course of an evening.

Final Grade: 4.12, a an A-. Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil is one of the better English stouts (/stout porters?) that I've had over the years. It's not necessarily a world-beater, but it delivers everything I expect from this type of beer with skill and finesse, all in a neat, flavourful little package. A very nice way to ring in a brand new year - one which, barring an asteroid strike or nuclear war, couldn't possibly be any worse than the last one... right? (He asked nervously?)

Jan 01, 2021
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Storm_Rryder from Iowa

4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, the roasted malt taste is really dominant in this beer. More bitter than a normal stout, that must be the porter side of it. Feels like there is some coffee like flavor, or maybe that is just a similar feel from the roasted malts? Either way, this is delicious ! I wish the can was bigger :-)

Dec 30, 2020
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BGDrock from Canada (ON)

4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Midnight black body, forming a thick, sand head with several minutes retention.
Mild aroma of roasted malt - dark coffee & chocolate.
Intense roast malt flavours, of dark drinking chocolate, rich toasted coffee, eventually leading to a pronounced bitter finish owing to hops & the malt; hints of vanilla and cream provide a softer dimension; light heat in the lingering finish, which is very dry; medium carbonation & medium-full body, with oats providing a velvety feel.

Powerful flavour, the roast malts handled deftly and the feel rich but comforting, without being heavy. Very well done.
PS - seems Harviestoun has changed this classification to a stout.

Dec 12, 2020
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InspectorHound from Canada (ON)

4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: Pours light black with a one finger tawny head. Head disapates leaving a skim of bubbles across the top after 5 minutes.

Smell: Bitter dark chocolate with milk chocolate notes. Strong roasted malt aromas. Hazelnut and coconut hints too.
Taste: Sharp roasted malt notes, like burnt rye bread. Interesting mineral water taste over the mid sip. With leather and oatmeal through the middle and end.

Feel: Medium bodied. Stimulation on the bottom of the mouth and sides of tongue. Slightly oily at the end.

This is a charming, rich, dry porter. Less sweet than the American style porters that are more readily available in my neck of the woods. This earns a solid A

Dec 12, 2020
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papposilenus from New Hampshire

4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

From an 11.2oz bottle, with an either meaningless or indecipherable enigmatic code stamp on the neck. Served in a willi becher.

As advertised, pours pretty much engine oil black but with a cola-red highlight or two and a big pouffy mocha head of foam. Retention is fairly epic, leaving a thick, bubbly cap and a fat webbery of sticky lacing.

A rich, robust, roasty aroma. Chocolate pudding, cardboard and pencil erasers - I don’t know how to make that sound like something that smells good, but it does.

Tastes of roasted cacao nibs and espresso, toasted cardboard and pencil erasers and you’re just going to have to take my word for it that that’s a good taste. Clean, toasted mild bitterness and a creamy pudding aftertaste.

Feel is creamy smooth, medium bodied and chewy with gentle but ample carbonation.

Overall, an easy-drinking, tasty treat for a cold, wet afternoon in front of the wood stove. I don’t know why, but I’d made up my mind this was going to be disappointing but instead it was a big pleasant surprise to the upside. I wish I’d bought more.

Dec 12, 2020
Photo of StoutElk_92
StoutElk_92 from Massachusetts

4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Old bottle

Roasty smoked meaty malts, pruned dark fruits, dark chocolate, coffee roast, baking chocolate on the palate, meaty smoky roast malts, dark espresso coffee, stewed prunes, the darkest of caramel, hint of hops.

Dec 08, 2020
Photo of Tony787
Tony787 from Canada (ON)

4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I bought a can at the lcbo in Ontario it said craft stout beer on my can my 3rd stout porter style beer I've had and the best ..
poured a nice 2 finger creamy head into glass leaves a nice lace as you drink it. the color is black to this beer .
black beer
thick dark chocolate malty flavor and coffee taste also smooth and a little sweet and bitterness .
very enjoyable to drink and probably would buy this stout beer again if I'm feeling like a stout black beer .

Nov 15, 2020
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Limazulu from Idaho

4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-pours beautiful dark mahogany with ruby highlights. Average khaki head that persists and leaves sticky lacing
S-smoke, char, coffee grounds
T-nutty smoky roasted malts, plums. Average bitter, below average sweet.
M-Medium (+) body, effervescent subtle carbonation
O-a solid English porter that stays true to the style. No gimmicks.

Oct 10, 2020
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VABA from Virginia

4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark color with a nice head and lacing
Aroma has roasted malt and chocolate hints
The taste follows the nose with a pleasant roasted malt and chocolate flavor
A medium bodied moderately carbonated beer
A good Black Ale

Aug 08, 2020
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JonnoWillsteed from England

3.79/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L- Black, no sign of sediment in glass or empty bottle. Pours with 2mm tan head.
S- Smokey, coffee, the timber ashes in a fireplace the morning after a roaring night before.
T- Pungent hoppy/dry coffee, with distinct smokey note.
F- The ABV% is relatively low for this intensity of taste, which only seems to accentuate it's pungency further. Ie if this were say 8.5% or 10% the ABV% would bring a sense of richness to balance the pungent taste.
O- Taste-wise this is super-pungent, with the stout/porter notes exposed and at full volume. I can see why this beer is used as the base-brew for ageing into other beers such as Ola Dubh 12. I find the latter more enjoyable than this one, which I'd suggest is suited to committed fans of pungent black beer.
330ml bottle BB: 28/02/2022 Bought from BeersOfEurope/UK for home delivery to me in London. £1.91.
The Description here lists this beer as 'English Porter', yet it's neither. It's Scottish and the front lable states:
'Old Engine Oil - Craft Stout', and the back 'Award winning craft stout'.

Jun 18, 2020
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jrc1093 from Connecticut

4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

No canning date

Pours a deep black body accented with dark ruby hues and topped with multiple fingers of dense, soapy light mocha foam; good head retention leaves a rocky ½ finger of cap, a lasting, frothy collar, and comprehensive spatter of chunky, webby lacing around the glass.

Aroma brings a malted milk chocolate opening as a developing rummy tone offers a sweetness counterbalancing an overarching malty roast; wisps of ground espresso play on the back end against underlying herbal hops.

Taste shows a subtle depth of silky roast malt; a layer of cacao atop charred coffee grounds into a finish a touch acidic, a touch bitter, and with a dulled, hoppy edge.

Mouthfeel shows a medium-thick body, tight and fluffy along the palate with a mild oily texture, and a soft medium-light carbonation integrated effortlessly into the background; a smooth, brilliant little malty prickle presents on the finish, with a fading burst of intense malty grit through the swallow.

Soft and casual, this just gives the feel of a style-defining English porter (at least from this American's perspective) as it brings a quiet myriad roasty malt accessibly subtle and deftly placed; an truly pleasing achievement in sessionable dark ale.

May 12, 2020
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Can from B. United.

This one pours a pretty dark black color, with a small fluffy head, and lots of lacing.

This smells like clean but present roasted malt, toast, dark chocolate, smoke, and some sort of herbal hoppiness.

This has a very nice balance of bitter/roasty and sweet, with some chocolate and very light fruitiness, along with a big delicious roast level, dark chocolate, herbal flavors, and some light smoke.

This is much thicker than a 6% ABV would suggest, with a nice viscosity and creaminess to it.

This is a classic porter for a reason - this is good stuff.

May 11, 2020
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laketang from Arizona

4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thick black murky tar pit soup.
Brown bubble head fades fast.

Street vender roasted chestnut nuttiness. Nice hoppy aromas, toasted bread.

Great roasted flavor, gritty taste with toast notes, chocolate, not too sweet, caramel.

Medium body with some carbonation and a reasonsble level of bitterness. Slme astringency.

I really enjoyed drinking this and i will be looking for this again!.

Nov 11, 2019
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ScaryEd from New Hampshire

4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz can into a tulip glass.

Pours a dark cola brown color with a huge creamy tan head. The head is decidedly persistent, leaving loads of sticky cobweb lacing as it ultimately settles into a thick blanket of foam.

The aroma brings notes of milk chocolate, caramel, roasted almonds, and grainy oats. There's also some subtle hints of molasses and dark fruits with the absolute foggiest idea of hops on the back end.

The flavor is exceptionally roasted, bringing notes of almonds, dark roast malts, coffee and a slight hint of char. There's a good amount of chocolate and caramel in the middle before a finish of dark fruits.

The feel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Very creamy and smooth with an exceptionally dry finish. Has a lingering bitterness that clings to the palate after each sip.

Overall, a great porter that is absolutely exploding with delicious, malty flavors. It's drinkable as hell yet never feels too light. A bit pricey, but definitely worth trying.

Aug 20, 2019
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Harrison8 from Missouri

4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a finger of khaki head. Aroma is roasty, toasty, nutty, caramely and earthy malts with a light molasses and caramel sugary smoothness to it. Flavor profile is roasty, toasty, nutty, caramely and earthy malts with lightly spicy, earthy hops and caramel, molasses and brown sugar. It opens with a very light malty grainy bitterness to it, features a lightly sticky hoppy center and then a smooth, lightly-sweet finish. Mouth feel is medium in thickness with a very fine graininess that is nearly silt-like. Overall, smooth with a very light sweetness on the back for a delightful finish.

Served in a 15.5oz Speigalau tulip from a 11.2oz bottle.

Aug 20, 2019
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beersampler6 from Michigan

3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice, flavorful, easy to drink dark porter from a brewery that’s new to me. Pours a nice oily black color that’s fairly opaque and has a little bit of nice light tan foaming head and minimal spotty lingering lacing. Smells of malt, roasted oats, little nuttiness, milk chocolate, and a touch of medium roast coffee. Taste follows the nose, and the flavors blended well together with just enough malt sweetness. Smooth, mild, very slightly creamy mouthfeel with decent carbonation. According to the other reviews here I should’ve let the beer sit for a while in the glass in order to warm up to room temperature. However I still found this offering very enjoyable.

May 07, 2019
Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 1870 ratings