Old Engine Oil | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

796 Reviews
Old Engine OilOld Engine Oil

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: English Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-10-2001

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Reviews: 796 | Ratings: 1,688
Photo of Nature777
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of the greatest beers I have ever had!

A: Very dark black, visibly heavier than it tastes. Nice tan head with a little lacing. Beautiful brew.

S: Roasty, chocolately, coffee smells. Beautiful!

T: Superb flavor! Nice heavy chocolate and coffee flavors with beautiful hints of malt. This beer tastes so good that it could make a grown man cry!

M: Smooth. That's all I need to say.

D: Very drinkable. Very enjoyable.

This is a nearly perfect beer. I can't imagine anything being changed on this brew to make it better. This is in my top 10!

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Photo of weareallfalafel
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured (kinda hard) from a 12oz bottle into a clean pint glass. The head and bubbles look almost like a nitro porter, the way they sorta cascade upward and collect forming a 1.5-2 inch head that dissipated slowly and sticks generously to the glass, absolutely gorgeous. Smell is of chocolate, burnt roasted malt, a touch of smoke, and an even lighter note of sugar. Fantastic. Taste is just as good as the last two categories with a huge roasted, dark chocolate character. Then a touch of bitterness, that transitions to sweet, and then finishes bitter again. Deceptively simple flavor profile that reveals more and more depth as you drink it and as it warms in the glass. Not surprisingly, from the name, the feel in the mouth is thick, viscous, and luxurious. Fortifying, even. No surprise the porter is the classic post work beverage of the working stiff. And this is a perfect example of it, perfectly executed and cheap af to boot. This is some top notch stuff!

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Photo of ordybill
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass. Pitch black appearance with a small tan head. The aroma is malt and chocolate, outstanding aroma. Excellent flavor of dark malt. A perfect beer.

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Photo of xvoltronx
5/5  rDev +22%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - A light-trapping, intense void of a deep black. One of the deepest blacks I have ever seen in a brew. Creamy beige head that dissipates slowly.

Smell - Wonderfully aromatic. Toasty malts, slightly bitter hops and chocolate. Very complex.

Taste - A robust beer in every sense of the word. Malts break through right away and deliver a smooth, toasty start. The chocolate notes deliver an equally smooth finish. The light carbonation and very subtle hoppy bitterness add just enough definition to round out the brew. Very good balance of flavor.

Mouth Feel - Creamy and rich. Slightly tart, but overwhelmingly smooth.

Overall - This is truly a world class beer. Everything about Old Engine Oil screams attention to detail and experienced craftsmanship. The price is a little steep considering the size of one bottle, but it is well worth the expense as this particular brew is truly sensational and an excellent addition to a fine meal.

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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.

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Photo of josanguapo
5/5  rDev +22%
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 OddNotion
4.97/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into my DFH Signature Glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice black color with only the slightest ruby notes around the very edges of the glass. A nice one finger creamy tan head that recedes to half a finger and sticks around.

Smell: WOW this beer smells amazing. Very complex. Dark fruits, roasty malts, slight hints of chocolate, but the dark fruits really dominate the nose. This beer stacks up with the best of them in terms of smell.

Taste: Beautiful is the best word to describe the taste of this beer. Very roasty without being smokey at all. Nice chocolatey finish. There is a decent bitterness but not the bite that is associated with it. The bitterness plays well with the roast and chocolate. The flavors all meld together and play off eachother to havea beer that changes through the different stages of the taste but all of the flavors just work.

Mouthfeel: Nice and thick and creamy. Perfect for the style. Given the low abv it is thicker than expected, which I like. The carbonation is there but it is not aggressive, once again - perfect for the style.

Overall: Amazing beer. No frills added but it gets all of the flavors it possibly can out of the ingredients. 6% abv is (relatively) low which is nice in this culture of huge alcohol beers. I wish this was more accessible but I will certainly be picking more of this up! Every aspect of this beer works together in perfect harmony. I have not been this impressed with a porter in a while. My new favorite for the style. One of my favorite experiences is picking up a random (and unhyped) beer at the store on a whim and having it be this good!

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Photo of mjc410
4.97/5  rDev +21.2%
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.

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Photo of JamesS
4.95/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow! Pours great, an excellent pitch color that reminds me of a nice dark stout, along with the slightly tan head (although the head isn't as thick as a stout, nor the lacing as strong). It has a fantastic aroma, a great combination of chocolate, coffee, roasted barley, and even a bit of oakiness. It has a fantastic taste, a bit of coffee, a bit of roasted barley and oats, it's like some fantastic combination of a stout and a scotch ale, but with a nice slight hoppy bitterness at the end, as opposed to the usual maltiness of the other two. It goes down smoothly and is overall just wonderful.

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Photo of interzen
4.95/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

330ml bottle poured into a Vedett tulip glass

Look: Black, black, BLACK! Seriously, this is blacker than a black thing. In Hell. At night. Tan head which sticks around for a while, with some lacing.

Smell: The first thing that sprang to mind was 'tar', closely followed by 'coffee' - there's a ton of toasted malt character in there, too. A faint bit of fruity/floral character but really the tar/coffee aromas are front and centre.

Taste: Toasted malts, coffee and dark chocolate - the chocolate isn't as in-yer-face as something like Sam Smith's Chocolate Stout but it's definitely there. Chuck in a few resinous notes in the finish and you've got something which is absolutely delicious.

Feel: The word 'viscous' appears on the bottle, and with a name like 'Old Engine Oil' you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd need a spoon for this. Not so - granted, it's a bit 'thicker' than your average brew but nowhere near stout levels. Slips down ever so nicely.

Overall: This is my first encounter with the output of the Harviestoun Brewery and it won't be my last. I don't care whether people classify this is a 'black ale' or a porter - categorising it won't detract from the fact that it's across the board awesome; lovely balance of flavours. Definitely a keeper.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.92/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The first of my series of final exam/surviving med school 1st semester celebratory beers. Poured at 45°F into Duvel tulip, allowed to warm a bit...

The pour procures an epically dark brown, nearly black, viscous liquid that is crowned with a 1.5" thick, frothy beige head. The glass is adorned with much lacing and the head retains as a bubbly ring with a large island in the center. I can't even begin to describe how rich and balanced the aromas are. Can't help but take a sip and both aroma and flavor are described together. Hefty amounts of cocoa and coffee at first, then comes a nice and subtle (that's the key here) ashiness that is balanced by sweet caramel and biscuits. Hint of burnt toast and blackstrap molasses. There is no alcoholic burn; only a tiny warmth is apparent in the finish. Bitterness akin to coffee and char linger on and on. Carbonation is as good as is gets, yielding a velvety smooth texture to this surprisingly light/medium bodied beer. Looks can be deceiving! But as such, this is a lovely drinker that I would be happy to quaff all day.

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Photo of EPortJake
4.89/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - pours jet black with a thin cream coloured head
S - heavy aromas of bitter chocolate
T - starts with malt and chocolate with a heavily bittered coffee farewell
M - viscous and smooth
O - a very robust, warming and hearty porter come stout. Probably my favorite tipple from the many sampled around Scotland, it really is a treat best drank, imo, on cold winter evenings and christmas. Top notch.

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Photo of ams0286
4.88/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A new arrival at the local A&P Liquor Store, I decided to pick this one up to pair with my fresh wild boar chops.

The appearance is exceptional. A thick foamy tan head tops the completely black beverage. As I enjoy this beer there is a great amount of lacing that remains on the glass all the way to the top.

The smell is on point as far as the style goes. Lots of roasted malts, molasses, dark chocolate and even a hint of dark dried fruits. I wouldn't mind if all of this was a little more forward, but it is amazing none the less.

For taste, I can't remember a better black ale that has been so robust. All of those aromas are further accentuated through the flavors in this beer and some. Up front you get a great amount of dark roasted and crystal malts. As this gives way a whole new arrangement of flavors appear. Toffee, dried fruits, even tobacco come across my palate. The hops in this brew are not lacking either. With such a strong malt backbone, you can find in the flavor a resiny/pine flavor that even carries some citrus.

Thick and smooth, even better as the beer warms. The low carbonation rate is again on point for the style. It comes close to the viscosity of and "Old Engine Oil" which is great, and exactly what I was seeking for tonight.

This is by far a session beer. The 6% ABV makes you aware the beer is there, and the body of the beer does too. I do think that this is a great example of the style and wish that more brands lived up to this standard.

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Photo of SeatsTaken
4.87/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pour: Poured into a tulip glass. Looks exactly like its name. Almost completely black with accents of brown near the top. Produced 3/4 of an inch head that quickly dissipated, leaving minimal film behind.

Aroma: Up front there is a very peculiar sour fruitiness I'm sensing. Maybe a raisin or dried date? Roasted malt and dark chocolate make up the rest of what I'm smelling.

Taste: Wow...this is delicious and simple. I'm honestly only tasting bittersweet chocolate and roasted malt, but somehow it is this simplicity that makes this beer so tasty. There is a tiny hint of dark roasted, black coffee that stays with you after a sip, but it still fits perfectly.

Mouthfeel: Creamy up front with minimal carbonation on the tongue. It quenches your thirst just enough to make you want to take another sip, but in a good way of course.

Overall: I loved this beer. It isn't trying to be anything other than an outstanding porter, which it is. This is easily a beer I could drink more than one time in a sitting and not feel guilty about. Some may say it lacks complexity but I believe, at least in this case, that simple is perfect.

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Photo of shamus
4.87/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is an aptly named beer, since it really does look like old engine oil as it pours out thick and viscous into the glass. Not much of a head, but what little there is leaves a bit of lace down the sides. The smell is exceptional--malty and chocolately without being syrupy--and the taste is even better. Strongly chocolate with definite malt character, but the right amount of bitterness to keep it from being cloying or sweet. This is a very drinkable beer, especially on a cold snowy day. It's rich and delicious and I will be headed back to the LCBO to stock up before they run out.

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Photo of Kopp
4.85/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My dad picked this beer up for me this weekend - he never had it but it was highly recommended.

A: Dark black, small tannish head that laces well, some sediment

S: Roasted sweet scent, some chocolate as well as a bit nutty

T: A nice taste, a bit of a roasted coffee/chocolate/malty flavor, some hops present (dry) adding to it. Leaves a pleasant slightly bitter aftertaste

M: Very very smooth, medium bodied, minimal carbonation - great in my book

D: High drinkability, with a smooth mouthfeel and a pleasant flavor

Overall: One of the best beers I've ever had. It is one of those beers that can be enjoyed thoroughly, as everything about the beer was nice. Highly recommend

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Photo of Tim2000
4.85/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

330 mL brown bottle.

Dark brown, almost black brew with a thin collar of white foam.

Smoky, charred aroma with some burnt sugar.

Molasses and burnt toast with hints of dark chocolate. Hops pick up towards the end and linger with bitter charcoal notes. Silky mouthfeel with low carbonation.

Well balanced beer that manages to get tons of flavour from the roasted malts without any unpleasant acidity or astringency. One of the best stouts that I've tried.

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Photo of BikeChef
4.85/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow is this drinkable stuff... Deep and dark, with a inviting head, the taste is rich with roasted malt. Some hops and a bit of smokiness come out in the finish. This is the kind of exceptional beer that I could drink all night on a chilly evening. In these days of DIPAs, Imperial Stouts, etc., it's easy to forget how satisfying a "smaller" beer like this can be.

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Photo of aidanskinner
4.83/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

330ml bottle poured into a 2/3 pint glass

a -black. makes Guinness look like a beer that's heard of black but has never seen it. <insert further hyperbole here, this is a seriously dark beer>. nice head that dissipates into pleasing lacing.

s - bits of malt, no yeast, chocolate, Agent Cooper coffee cut through with cherry pie

t - big sweet roasted mocha immediately cut with an amazingly dry hop bitterness

m - great. it's satisfying while being easily drinkable, good carbonation and light without even knowing what the word "thin" means.

o - the platonic modern porter. maybe not *quite* as interesting as Alice Porter but it sets out to be a perfect porter and it achieves that and then some.

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Photo of gfreed
4.82/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the most wonderful beers I've had. Pours nice and black into the glass, and has a delightful roasty-toasty aroma that lasts a long time. Tastes just a bit bitter with a roastiness that goes down very easy. You'll find plenty of tobacco notes as well. The adjectives on the label summarize this beer quite accurately.

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Photo of BigBen61
4.8/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

What else needs to be said...look at the ratings. This is easily on of the finest beers I have ever had the privilege to experience. The aroma of cocoa, coffee, roasted malt and caramel sugar waft over the thick creamy head and the thick viscous black liquid that lies beneath. Even after sessioning a few other beers including one of the IPA beasts from Stone this beers flavors are so rich and so pronounced that there is no denying the amount of care and quality in this product. My friend simply put it this way after his first sip..."If I could die right now I would be a happy man!"

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Photo of manwich
4.78/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Easily one of my favorite beers, Old Engine Oil is very aptly named, pouring a thick, dark, black with an ephemeral brown head. In flavor it succeeds at being strong but not overpoweringly so, with plenty of roasted, malty flavor. It is truly exceptional to sip, filling your mouth with flavor and gently bathing your tongue.

This is truly a special beer, full of flavor without becoming syrupy, thoroughly drinkable and interesting to drink with each new bottle. Great for sipping from a pint glass on a cold wintry night. I dream of one day finding this on tap, as that would really make for a memorable moment.

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Photo of Loki
4.77/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sampled from a 330 mL bottle.

Well I don't think they could have found a better name for this unique brew.

The session starts with a pour of this thick, viscous black/brown liquid flows, almost reluctantly out of the bottle. The pour creates a small biege, creamed coffee color head, that quickly fades to a wispy thin, but ever present covering. Each swirl or tilt of the glass leaves thin lines and spots of lacing all around. When held up to the light, the outer layer of the beer assumes a dark mahogany color. While the center simply devours the light, like a black hole. The only real fault I found in apperance was the small, quick fading head.

The aroma takes a complete departure from anything related to engine oil, but not oils completely. Strong aromas of chocolate, roasted malt, and coffee pour forth. With a not so subtle backdrop of smoke and grease, not automotive grease, but cooking grease. Like the scent of fresh cooked bacon, the real stuff, not that turkey bacon that I'm stuck with because it's "good for you." If there are any hop scents my olfactory scences were over powered by the chocolate and the smoke.

The tastes and the body give more support for the name. Chocolate, bitterness, smoke, roasted malt, and grease all dominate for an almost stout like flavor profile with a very full body and a viscous coating of the tongue and mouth with its thick, rich body. Simply wonderful.

While this old engine oil would reek havoc on your car's engine it would certainly help lube up yours and keep it running smoothly for the next 15 minutes or .01 miles when you reach your recommended level for your next "oil change!"

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Photo of Stavage
4.77/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured with a good two fingers of frothy chocolate brown head sitting on top of a black body of fluid. This is my first Old Ale but it looks just like what I'd expect of a good stout. Head retention was ok, lacing was good.

Smells of dark roast malts (I guess cos it's full of them), dark chocolate, strong espresso. I guess theres a little bit of a fruitiness of the wild berry variety. It's that dark chocolate coffee malty smell that dominates though.

Taste doesn't disappoint. Immediately hit with a complex caramel malt, dark chocolate and bitter espresso trio. A sweetness starts developing in the mouth when the hops comes into action leaving a very pleasing bittersweetness lingering until the next sip. Aftertaste is very much bittersweet and roasty. Very impressed with the balance of bitter and sweet and also how theres just enough floral hops to balance the malts.

Thick smooth and creamy mouthfeel, heavy enough to be fulfilling without being overwhelming. For such a robust beer it was surprisingly easy to drink and it went well with a basic meal. The alcohol is well hidden too.

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Photo of kjyost
4.77/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle dated 'Jul 11', purchased at the MLCC in September. Poured into a beer mug. Served around 6C

A: Viscous, thick and dark with a light mocha head that descends leaving nice little globs of lacing.

S: Licorice, molasses, toffee, coffee... Exceptional.

T/M/D: Follows the aromas with the licorice and molasses dominating. A beautifully thick beer with a nice residual sweetness that balances the other flavours out to virtual perfection. Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy...

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Old Engine Oil from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.1 out of 5 based on 1,688 ratings.
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