Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
BA SCORE
4.14/5
Exceptional
1,763 Ratings
Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom
harviestoun.com

Style: English Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-10-2001

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,645
Reviews:
821
Ratings:
1,763
pDev:
10.39%
Bros Score:
4.55
 
 
Wants:
168
Gots:
242
Trade:
3
HISTOGRAM
 
View: Beers
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,763 |  Reviews: 821
Photo of brewerburgundy
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle, goblet, no freshness dating. Thank you for the trade farrago.

This is nearly as dark as Ten Fidy. I think the dark malt infused body shows highlights while the aforementioned Imperial Stout does not, and if it does they are miniscule. A frothy head of nearly half an inch did form in a brown lighter than expected but has now receded to large bubbles ringing and floating.

When one hears the name Old Engine Oil, the expected experience is one of darkness, pungency, and, as the label says, viscousity. In a word, dominance. As advertised the nose is chocolatey and roasty. Bready brownies, coffee grounds, bakers chocolate, English hops, and the suggestion of dark fruit.

The roast is most prominent in the mouth. The chocolate is bitter and fades to black so to speak, to be replaced by hop bitterness in the finish. The roasted malt crescendos to acrid for a slightly sour addition to that finish.

For the 6% abv this does seem to have a solid body. The very soft carbonation surely aids this perception, but I couldn't help thinking it just doesn't live up to the evocative name.

I'll jump on board the 'this really makes me think of a stout and it should be' band wagon. I'm sure they call it an Old Ale partially because it wouldn't be considered as special if it was 'just another stout', which it isn't. I consumed this faster than is normal for me.

 1,381 characters

Photo of fattyre
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark red brown with a moderate lasting tan head. A syrupy malty raisin smell. The taste was toasted bread with a peppery bitter finish and a very slightly oily mouthfeel. A tasty beer that definitely tastes even better when at warmer temperatures. It really seemed more like a porter than an old ale.

 313 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

dark brown with a large creamy tan colored head on the top. Great retention let it hang around for what seemed like forever before finally being nestled down into just a thin layer across the top. The aroma was very full and sweet. Lots of chocolate roaming through it along with a touch of coffee and lots of sugar. A slight smoked presentation as well. The flavor was also very full for a porter. This almost had a stout like feel to it as it was very thick and full with a great robust profile. Lots of chocolate and coffee notes dominated it

 545 characters

Photo of mountdew1
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a completely opaque black with a thick dark red head. The head clung to the sides nicely, and left a thin layer on top. Aroma was sweet, akin to a dark chocolate with a small bit of oatmeal. Taste was sweet, slightly milky. Melt a bit watery in the mouth, but yet still had body and texture. Pleasant to drink, but the ABV hit surprisingly fast

 390 characters

Photo of GBalbin
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark color, almost black, but when placed against the light, it shows a dark reddish tint. Its foam is slightly persistent in the glass. Aroma: Nice boquet of coffee, light touch of vanilla and roasted malt. Taste of coffee. Bitter and dry. Very drinkable and delicious! The label of this beer is different here in Brazil.

 322 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: Black bodied beer with an off white head that easily goes bigger than 2 fingers of head after an moderately aggressive pour. The head quickly dissapates from many tiny bubbles into a thin ring on top of the beer. Lacing sticks everywhere that the beer touched the glass.

Smell: Malts smell mildly sweet, smokey and roasty. You can get a decent whiff of these flavors, but none of the three really jump out at you. Also a hint of fruitiness from the ale yeast I presume.

Taste: Chocolate up front imparts a mild sweetness. Just like the nose; smokiness and roasty flavors are mild in intensity. Its also a bit earthy and fruity too. Can't really pin down any specific fruits in the taste just a general fruitiness to the beer. The beer is simple, yet complex at the sametime because all the flavors are subtle without anything becoming the prodominent flavor.

Mouthfeel: I expected this beer to be very thick and chewy. With a name like "old engine oil" and with a description on the front of the bottle decribing the beer as "viscous". I was a bit dissapointed. Its a medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The beer is silky like an oatmeal stout, but not as full bodied as i was hoping for... with all that said its still a well made beer.

Overall: Solid porter I would get this beer again if I found another bottle of it. Just a bit dissapointed with mouthfeel on this beer, I wanted to see a fuller bodied porter than I got.

 1,479 characters

Photo of dqrull
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black liquid, that for some reason seems a bit brownish to me, although it lets through no light what so ever, not even at the edges, hmm. A creamy tan head, of moderate size lasts quite a wihile, leaving spotted creamy lacing.

Smells is that of hot chocolate with cream! A really full and intense nose with some bitter dark chocolate behind the creamy hot chocolate, a light brush of mixed fruits from the hops, a very, very small hint of roasted malts as well.

Taste is slightly dissapointing after the great nose... Starts off with chocolate and a light hint of lightly roasted coffee, then transforms into a mix of raw vegetables... like carrot juice without the taste of carrots... if that makes any sense. Continuing from mid palate, there is a hint of sweet fruits after the vegetables step back, with a little honey to them as well as a very faint floral perfume-thing. Finishes with bitter coffee... no huge aftertaste, but that is expected with this moderate ABV I guess.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin for me, and the carbonation feels a little bit underwhelming, but it's still good, with small, quite sharp bubbles.

 1,139 characters

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -1%
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 Homerbag
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Jet black like the name implies, old dirty engine oil. Not much of a head to this.

Smell is a buffet of aromas almost battling for each other. Notes of chocloate, coffee, burnt malt, rye, and dark fruit all present. Tastes have the much the same quality as the aroma. Very malty with bittersweat chocolate, drak fruit, and rye punching through. I wouldn't call it a perfect balance, but there is balance between all that is going on. Feel is where this one is a monster. Beers don't usually sink in like this one and coat the palate. It would have to to be avle to get everything that is in here.

A good beer for malt lovers. I could only imagine this being better on tap and a little fresher.

 696 characters

Photo of Brad007
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black color with a thin one-finger brown head into my fluted glass.

Aroma is roasty and full of cream, chocolate and a bit of coffee. Certainly doesn't seem like an old ale. Very nice aromas.

Taste is creamy and full of chocolate and cream. Very easy going. Not too bitter.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering cream,chocolate and light coffee. Very nice as well.

A decent beer but it doesn't seem to fit the style. Regardless, don't let it stop you from trying it.

 477 characters

Photo of brureview
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured an attractive black color with a 2F head into an imperial pint glass.

The aroma is heavy roasted malts and light lemon.

The mouth feel is not very carbonated.

Taste: very malty, the main taste focused on the heavily roasted malts:
there is a deeper roast here not found in American porters. It overwhelms the beer and it is the beer's signature. There is slight bitterness to the roast.

This malt roast carries to the finish. It is interesting to drink this beer colder, and let it warm up.
With warming, the malt mellows and the roast diminishes. The beer is more enjoyable in some respects, but the strong roasted malt remains the focus of this beer.

Overall: an excellent porter- however this is a Scottish brewed beer. It's different than English porters- a lot less mellow. The heavy roasts are prominent unlike most English porters I have tasted. The Brewery web site has excellent info about the beer( note the glass)
https://harviestoun.com/our-beers/old-engine-oil

 988 characters

Photo of pootz
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle

Decanted a deep dark chestnut color with a 3 finger mocha colored meringue cap...moderate head retention, laces well. Modest carbonation

The Nose: bitter chocolate, dark roasted husks and sour cherry with a wisp of musty wet hay. Delightful..almost like a flavored stout.

Profile: Roasty-malty body balanced by grassy Kent golding bittering and the patent malt charred husk astringence. Midway you get some complexity with berry fruit tastes, figs, cocoa, tobacco, licorice. Finishes wet and goes slightly to the sweet side with lots of lingering chocolate-cherry tastes.

A lovely dark ale ...not in character with an "old ale" at all...had I tried this blindfolded, I'd have pegged it as a rich cherry-chocolate porter.

 741 characters

Photo of UnionMade
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The ale is dark umber brown, with very little head. Almost looks like cola. Some lacework, forming patchy little globs on the glass.
Aroma is very subdued, light english hops and a slight roasty aroma. Light esteriness, with an herbal hoppiness flitting lightly through the malt.
Flavor is initially thin, then explodes with flavor at the back of the tongue. Bitterness from both roasted malts and prodigious hopping. Sweet in a strange dark chocolate kind of way. Mild plum and pear flavors, with a touch of fig. Very low carbonation, with a smooth, rich mouthfeel.
Hot stuff. Very similar to Old Peculier.

 611 characters

Photo of BigMike
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From an 11.2 oz. Bottle

A: Pours jet black with no signs of light coming through anywhere. A beautifuly dense tan head on top that's leaving a lace trail on the glass.

S: Dark roasted malts, chocolate.

T: Bittersweet chocolate, anise, a light roasted nuttiness. Finishes with bitter coffee notes.

M: super smooth and creamy. Light to medium body with light carbonation.

Overall: This is good beer. A real easy drinking flavorful porter. I recommend trying this one.

 474 characters

Photo of hckyfn9999
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown with some ruby hues. Almost black. About 3/4" of tan head. Aroma is heavy of roasted malt with bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and some toasted nuts in there as well as some cherries.

Taste is very bitter, almost sour. Roasted espresso and dark chocolate dominate the flavors, and the cherry noted in the aroma is noticeable towards the finish. Mouthfeel is a little thin in my opinion for something that is compared to "gloopy car engine oil" on the bottle but not bad by any means, although this lends itself to drinkability, which it is very drinkable. Reminds me more of a stout, but whatever it is, its good.

 638 characters

Photo of eduardolinhalis
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle served in a snifter glass.

A: Pours a deep brown to black color forming a medium bubbled tan head that disappear quickly leaving only few lacings in the glass

S: Strong notes of malts, roasted malts, chocolate malts. Very biscuity, with strong notes of roasted malts. Very bready: notes of Oreo and earthy yeasts

T: Slightly sweet upfront. Strong notes of roasted malts. Very bready! Very earthy yeasts

M: Medium creamy body. Medium carbonation. Bittersweet aftertaste

O: Great drinkabitity. Excellent quality. Masterpiece

 540 characters

Photo of ski271
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Zeno’s in State College.
A- Pitch black with a small, tan, foamy head
S- Toasty malts with a very slightly burnt scent. Chocolate, coffee and crusty bread.
T- Sweet malts dominate up front. More chocolate and coffee, a little more grainy, and some cherry in there. The finish is medium in duration with a lingering citrus rind bitterness.
M- Medium-full body, dry texture, low carbonation
D- Not a bad beer, pretty enjoyable remarkably easy-drinking for as big as it first starts out as. Worth a try.

 517 characters

Photo of Dankacheese
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Richardberg
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Deep ink, almost black, small brown head.

S: burnt malt, coffee

T: slight bitterness, slight sweetness, but the overall sensation is 100% burnt malt. sounds boring to write about but works out nicely in practice.

M: smooth pour, moderate coating, finishes dry with a bit of alky bite

D: everything comes together to make a highly enjoyable dark beer

 396 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: solid black, insidiously opaque, with a thick and creamy cocoa-colored, so frothy it resembles a chocolate spong cake.
Aroma: sweet, but roasty, with flavors of molasses, brown sugar, and espresso, slightly twisted, definitely dark.
Taste: bitter hops tango with sweet malt in such a fashion that you get a little almost treacly sweetness, step 2, bitter tang, step 3, mild and mellow, repeat, cha, cha, cha. Possesses a far lighter mouthfeel than I'd expected, though still full in body, with dark, rich, and continually tasty flavor. Doesn't hang too heavily on the palate, making for higher drinkability and greater sophistication. This is listed as a Stong/Old Ale, but it contains a mere 6% ABV, and feels a bit stoutish at times. No matter what it's called, a fine ale all around, though, I wonder if it is based on an old Celtic recipe, as the label states, what did they call it before Henry Ford came along?

 930 characters

Photo of sjones5045
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle at Monks Cafe in Philly
2/19/15

38 characters

Photo of Amalak
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A. Blackish brown color. There's some light that comes through, but not much. Very little head with no real lacing.

S. Very strong mix of chocolate, malt and alcohol.

T/M. True to the scent, it hasa strong chocolate malt taste and a bit of a strong alcohol taste. A bit of a nutty hint underneath. It is smooth and full bodied.

O. Very refreshing. A bit of a cough syrup taste, but not in a bad way.

 408 characters

Photo of vinicole
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Very dark brown, Thin beige head.
Roasted malt aroma along with burnt brown bread and black coffee. Some dark chocolate.
Taste of treacle and molasses. Charred bitterness to finish.
Very smooth. Full bodied.

 207 characters

Photo of geexploitation
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Old Engine Oil pours flat and almost black, with some lightening around the edges. The head quickly disappears and you are left with a very still beer. The nose is mostly coffee and toffee, with some dark fruit lingering in the background. The taste is incredibly rich and creamy -- the creamy sweetness reminded me of an egg creme at first -- with a bit of malt bitterness for balance. No hops to speak of. Mouthfeel is very still and creamy -- silky, really. Easy to drink... I imagine this would be great on cask. My first thought about this beer was that it would be an excellent accompaniment to a chocolate dessert. It might even work with something creamy, although that would cut the creaminess of the brew a bit, and without much carbonation I'm not sure if that would be a good thing. Anyway, something to try.

 820 characters

Photo of Burgz
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 1,763 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.