Old Engine Oil Black Ale
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
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English Porter
Ranked #8
Ranked #2,282
4.15 | pDev: 10.12%
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom
Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
Notes: Legend has it that Old Engine Oil was dedicated to our Head Brewer’s love of classic cars. But it’s the thick, dark, chocolatey viscosity that reveals the real inspiration behind the name.
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Reviews: 844 | Ratings: 1,834 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Asgeirr:
Photo of Asgeirr
4/5  rDev -3.6%

More User Reviews:
Photo of StoutSnob40
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I was sorta disappointed by the look of this beer.. I expected something black and viscous.. It poured rather thin. The color did settle to be pretty black and opaque with thin tan head. Smell was nice and sweat, with dark fruits and some dark, burnt sugar. Taste is similar, with more roasted notes and a hint of coffee. Mouthfeel is a tad thin, but nice and smooth.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L: black body of ale with a couple of fingers of tan foam

S: chocolate malts, some char, a hint of espresso

T: follows the nose with some typical but well-executed porter flavors: chocolaty, a bit of deep hidden fruit, some coffee, and hints of char and maybe anise

M: smooth and medium weight, modest carbonation, nice aftertaste

O: a solid porter - I'm sure one that regular drinkers of the style will enjoy

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.56/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Black. Out of curiosity I held a powerful flashlight behind my sampling glass, and still only got faint ruby tinges. Light brown thin head that fades to a ring, spots of lace. I'm looking for viscosity; looks thick, but I want milkshake.

S: Powerful, almost acrid on first whiff. Lots of roasted malt, oat.

T: Bittersweet chocolate is there, but mostly simple oat and roasted malt. Some vanilla mid-palate. Tasty, but unoriginal. Good long bitter finish.

M: The reason why I sought this out!... It's ok. Definitely thick, but not engine oil thick. The carbonation is fine and restricted, which helps.

O: Maybe I was expecting too much, but I really don't see what the big deal is. It's good, but I think it benefits greatly from people reading "viscous, chocolatey" on the bottle and then finding/inventing those characteristics. The "roasty", however, is there in spaded.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

$ 13.12 (Including tax)/four pack of 11.2 oz cans ($ 0.293/oz) at Spec’s DeZavala Road, San Antonio, TX.
Undated can from shelf, stored at 41 degrees in house reefer, served at 45 degrees in a hand washed and dried shaker.
Aroma – Faint malt, a little cocoa.
Head – Enormous (Maximum 10.5 cm, basically the entire shaker, aggressive pour), tan, low density froth with many rocks, average retention for the first half of the head retraction then slow, diminishing to a ragged wide ring and a complete layer. Head retraction leaves broken lacing.
Lacing – Excellent! Wide, nearly complete rings of tiny to small bubbles.
Body – Very dark brown/black, opaque.
Flavor – Light taste of roasted malt, very slightly bitter, with some hints of cocoa. No hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl.
Palate – medium, almost creamy, soft carbonation.
Impression: An excellent English porter with the roast malt of a robust porter and the low hoppiness of a brown porter. This is one that can be easily and rapidly consumed!
Appearance 4.5, Aroma 3.75, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4.25, Overall 4.5.

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Photo of josanguapo
5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From XXXII. In Teku glass. Watchimh True Detective 1x05. Like an Imperial Stout but less alcoholic and very easy to drink. BB date was this month. Superb nose

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at Hop City, Birmingham, AL.

A: Dark as, well, old engine oil. A tan half finger head that petered out quickly.

S: Dark chocolate, malts, a bit smokey. Some coffee notes, too.

T: Follows nose in a smooth, passionate, easy drinking style. Great for sipping. Dark and lovely.

M: Medium to heavy with medium carbonation.

O: Glad I got to try this British staple. A fine porter that drinks like a stout. But then, there's not that much difference between the two. Tasty. Let it warm for maximum viscosity and thermal breakdown.

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Photo of ChevyNexus
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Very dark beer. No light seepage when held to bright led. Very dark roasted tastes of the hops and a slight coffee after taste. Not for a beginner in the dark beer world.

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

Old Engine Oil is indeed a black and viscous looking beer but there is a bright and piercing splint of maroon that prevents it from appearing quite as thick or gloopy as actual car engine oil. Despite the flashy undertone, the body is opaque even when held directly into light. Its head is airy and well spaced out but remains persistent throughout the tasting.

This particular bottle may not have been aged in whiskey barrels like its compatriots the Ola Dubhs or the since retired Special Reserve, but it kind of smells like it has anyhow. Charred oak, roasty residuals, spent tobacco and plenty of dark, bitter-sweet chocolate abound. These scents stick to the insides of the nostrils and make a heavy, lasting imprint.

The taste is fervently malty and offers a dazzling array of sweet and roasty qualities. It carries the flavour of heavily scorched, sugary-sweet dark caramel and is complimented by intensely toasted malts, a chunk of chocolate, black coffee and a hint of dark cherry. It has the dark roasty flavours of a porter with the sweet complexities of a barleywine.

The beer uses an unusual hop, Galena, a Washington state native renown for its extreme bitterness. I wouldn't consider the beer overly bitter - as mentioned I find it generously malty - although it does possess some bite. More contribution appears to be had from Worcester Fuggles which are said to be the source of this oily, very anise seed-like flavour.

The beer is medium bodied. It has the roasty, chocolaty flavours of a porter but not the same kind of breadth or body. That said, its sweetness makes up the difference. Flavours of coffee and licorice make the beer considerably rich; it may be only 6% but I'm sipping this as slowly (and deliberating on it just as much) as I would a beer twice its strength.

Call it an old ale, call it a porter or a stout - call it whatever you'd like, this is a fine beer. It is rich and gratifying, a fulfilling beer worthy of always keeping on hand in the cellar. And it's a little like the old model Ford car on its label; it's big, loud, chunky and above all else, reliable. They simply don't make 'em like this anymore.

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Photo of Offa
4.77/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had first had the barrel-agred version of this some months before and was not impressed but this is a truly exceptional beer and a great exmaple of a style that I generally love.

It's black with a smallish-medium, light brown head that is deanse and creamy, slowly shrinking to a thin, wispy top and a little lace.

The aroma is like a wonderful rich English porter with chocolate, prunes, hints of leaves, earth, bread, mocha, and licorice.

The taste is rich but zesty and also mellow and very smooth. It's similar to the aroma with light chocolate, fruit and stewed prunes, brown bread, toast, earthy leaves, a hitn of red wine and licorice. It's very nice and clean as well.

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Photo of George1799
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Vandelayindustri
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

Photo of RochefortChris
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of irthesteve
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Impetuous
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very very dark brown with some dark reds at the edges. Very opaque. The head is small and leaves behind a resilient head.

Flavors are rich and very malty chocolate and creamy. Hops are present and a nice buttering agent.

Really really good.

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

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass. This one has been cellared for approximately two years, if my memory is correct.

A: The beer is a deep black color with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of dark chocolate, bourbon, roasted malts and some alcohol despite the relatively low ABV.

T: The taste starts with strong flavors of dark & milk chocolate along with a touch of dark fruit and some creaminess to it. The malt character is as hearty as you would expect from any big stout. The hops presence is likewise very mild as it usually is in this type of beer. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, decent kick, good representation of style, most of the Old Ales that I've had have been more like barleywines, but this one is more stout-like, which I expected since the label reads "Viscous, Chocolaty, Roasty". Overall it was a very good beer and seemed to handle the age quite well.

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Photo of Casey10
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was a beer I had on tap at the lions pride in Brunswick, Me.

Had on tap the glass was nice and dark slight head, smell was almost burnt ends with a strong taste of dark roasted coffee. The feel really lasted with the burnt feeling of coffee and chocolate. Finally the drinkabilty is good as this would be something I would drink again.

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Photo of CaptainStubing
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of fountainofyouth
3.81/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Jetulio
4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle poured into a Pint glass
Appearance... black beer with head colour beige of 2,5 fingers
Aroma... cocoa and smoked flavours, touch of malty aroma too
Taste... coffee in mouth, bitterness appears then, balancing this beer,
Mouthfeel... full body and soft carbonation
Overall... a very nice porter, bitterness is present in a good mood, one to revisit.

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Photo of Tim725
3.96/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Photo of EdwardPW
3.91/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Shovelbum
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a one finger tan head over a black body. Decent head retention with meager lace. Light aromas of earthy hops, rich malt and a light smokiness. Rich malt in the flavor as well. Mildly sweet caramel, light chocolate, and vinous flavors over a background of earthy and mildly spicy hop bitterness. Detectable mineral character Medium bodied with low carbonation. Smooth in the mouth with a slightly crisp and dry finish.

A fairly mild mannered old ale despite its appearance and moniker. Style aside this a tasty with admirable malt depth at least partially balanced by the hops that also exhibit some respectable complexity. A low-octane malty Scottish take on the style... and damne good one at that.

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Photo of oishiibiiru
5/5  rDev +20.5%

Photo of andrenaline
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black with a ruby red tinge on the edges in the light, thin layer of mocha head with little retention and no real lacing.

S - Pleasantly sweet, with milk chocolate and some dark cocoa. Could be a little stronger on the nose, as the scent is slightly tame.

T - Dark cocoa dominates the palette and a bit of sweet cherry lingers on the tongue. Alcohol is a bit noticeable, but not a turnoff. Roasted malts come through nicely and the 'bittersweet' flavour which is advertised is definitely noticeable.

M - Mouthfeel is smooth and soft, with fine carbonation, and a perfect feel for a porter.

D - Overall a very tasty offering, and more than I was expecting. Could throw back a couple of these at a time, and the mouthfeel keeps you craving more. Flavours are discreet and pleasant, but not overpowering. Recommended to any porter fan.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 1834 ratings