Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
1,757 Ratings
Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

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

Bros Score:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,757 |  Reviews: 820
Photo of Newbeergeek1
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Kegatron
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours black (with a garnet tinge around the bottom) and a half finger of light cocoa colored tan head. Retention is good with some foam around the edges and thin wisps across the center that leave thick swathes of lace down the sides of the glass. The aroma smells like dessert, with notes of cocoa powder, roasted malts, chocolate sweetness, toffee, vanilla, coffee, and dark fruits. There's a good bit in there but none of it really seems to absolutley jump out.

The taste is simliar, with chocolate and vanilla sweetness mixed with zippy coffee notes, cherry tartness, and some underlying roasted nuttiness. The mouthfeel is medium to full with a very nice smooth and velvety feel that seems to just slide down the palette.

This was very interesting with a ton of different appealing flavors coming out. Unfortunately, they all seemed to crowd each other a bit, which I think kept things from really jumping out. Still, this would be a very good post dinner drink, especially paired up with something sweet.

 1,045 characters

Photo of Doshkin
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a - perfect oily black color with brown undertones. really looks like some old sludgy engine oil. little cream colored head with no retention and quick dissipation

s - roasted sugary sweetness (can't go too in depth here... I have a cold right now)

t - little touch of chocolate. light body for how dark it looks. pleasant bitterness all the way through that carries into the aftertaste. this is a delicious brew

m - so smooth! very drinkable, mild carbonation.

o - this is an incredible beer. highly recommend

 514 characters

Photo of istarilord
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As the name (and label) suggests, the beer pours a very nice, dark brownish black with a brown head.

Flavor to me was reminiscent of oatmeal stout, with a good amount of maltiness & cereal tones. The coffee/chocolate flavors were fairly light for a dark malty beer.

Very smooth and easy to drink, a decent dessert beer.

 321 characters

Photo of Casey10
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

 342 characters

Photo of CFHMagnet
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An aggressive pour unleashed 2 and 1/2 fingers of a nice mocha head consisting of tiny bubbles. This sat and slowly dissipated over a dark coffee colored body. Light lacing clings to the glass, but most of it rolls down back into the body.

The aroma immediately follows through on the dark roasted malts and chocolate that the label tells of. A little dark fruit and toffee are found as I dig a little deeper.

Toffee and sweet, dark roast malt introduce the flavor on this beer. This is followed up by medium roast coffee and dark chocolate, both of which hang on to the very end, with a bit of sweetness coming up to finish it off.

Mouthfeel is definitely a medium/full body feel. I was honestly expecting it to be thicker, but the fact that it isn't does not detract from it at all. If a porter can be refreshing, this is it. Perfect for a fall day, I will have to pick more up when the breeze gets a little nippier.

 921 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark brown (almost black) in color with some hints of deep amber when held up to the light and light amounts of visible carbonation near the surface of the beer. The beer has a finger tall creamy dark beige head that reduces to an extremely thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark roasted malts along with freshly roasted coffee. There is also a very light presence of alcohol in the finish of the nose.

T: Flavors of dark roasted malts and burnt malts along with some notes of bittersweet chocolate and some freshly brewed coffee. There is a good complexity and depth to the flavor.

M: On the fuller side of medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with very light amounts of dryness in the finish.

O: I found this beer to be very enjoyable and very easy to drink - probably a little too strong to be sessionable but certainly one you might like to have another of... Interesting because it seems to straddle stout and porter from a style perspective.

 1,124 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black color with a creamy khaki head that shows moderate retention. Smells of caramel, coffee, roasted grains, slightly fruity with a hint of mineral water. Taste is roasty and chocolaty with hints of coffee and earthy hops. Creamy velvety smooth mouthfeel, light level of carbonation with a medium body. Great dare I say sessionable porter.

 355 characters

Photo of Kakaraht
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours midnight black with a thin tan head that reduced quickly to light lacing.

S: Roasted coffee and burnt malt along with a faint syrupy sweetness.

T: Very typical of its style with that not quite burnt chocolate malt flavor and heavy sweetness. There is a slight astringent bitterness to the beer that is somewhere between hops and burnt malt.

M: Heavy thick and sweet with a round character.

D: Very tasty drink and well recommended.

 444 characters

Photo of paulozanello
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a black and opaque color but not totally motor oily as the name suggest. I can still spot some reddish notes around the edges of my glass against the light. The pour was not totally opaque either. Head is light brown and shows good retention. Lacing is also above average. Nice looking beer.

Aroma is of dark roasted grains, bitter chocolate a touch of tobacco and a light boozy presence despite the rather low abv. I still think the aroma could be a little bolder and "in your face".

It gets much better once it is in your mouth. It starts with nice malty sweet notes that go head to head with just the right amount of roastiness. The bitter chocolate follows the malts throughout the sip. It ends on a somewhat bitter note that lingers for a while, probably a combination of the roasted grain and european hops.

Great mouthfeel on this one...very smooth and drinkable with the right amount of carbonation. Alcohol is not perceptible and just right.

Overall an amazing porter that relies heavily in its balance between sweetness and bitterness (it starts out sweeter and turns bitter as you drink it). The main flaw IMO is that the aromatic hops shine a little bit too much in the aftertaste instead of the malts. Also, as mentioned above, the aroma needs a little kick.

 1,282 characters

Photo of PartyBear
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: About as black as a liquid can get, with a small rough tan head. Carbonation? I have no idea, there is a bit on the surface but it's dark to see any inside.

Aroma: Rich dark roasted malts. Strong coffee. Smoked wood chips. Also, a tiny bit like bacon, very weird.

Taste: Smokey, roasted malts. Chocolate but more milky than dark. Light coffee, and also hints of kola nut. The aftertaste is bittersweet as the brewers suggest.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, silky, smooth, creamy, and incredibly thick.

Drinklability: Beautifully silky ale, with rich and moreish flavours. Most people who know anything about beer will have already tried this, if you haven't, then you should.

 681 characters

Photo of longpondbeerman
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

True to its name, this stuff pours thick and black out of the classic long-necked bottle. Its developed a fine, chocolate tan foam that receeded slowly. The lace was sticky. Old Engine Oil has a deep, rather prune-like smell (my wife said she was reminded of figs), and the taste is smooth and fruity with very little carbonation. I thought this a worthy brew, but not very complex, and not among the top I've had recently.

 423 characters

Photo of marty21
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark black with ruby highlights when held to light. One finger worth of dark tan creamy head. Settles to a nice cap and leaves quite a bit of lacing.

S: Coffee and caramel initially with some dark fruits in the background.

T: Lots of flavor. There's coffee, caramel, chocolate and some darker fruits. There's also a hoppy bitterness in the after taste.

M: Low carbonation with a medium body. Very easy to drink.

D: First tried this one at a beer festival and have bought it quite a few times since then. It has a great taste and feel to it. You won't get bored with this beer with all the flavors it has.

 624 characters

Photo of woosterbill
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Prime 16 into its proper Old Engine Oil tulip. Cheers to proper glassware!

A: Black body with an inch of creamy light brown foam. Good retention and lacing. Great looking beer.

S: Simple, straightforward aroma of chocolate and caramel malts, as well as a hint of earthy hop bitterness. Solid.

T: Follows the nose quite closely. A reasonably roasted character helps keep the sweetness in check. Bitter finish from the roasted malt and the hops. Tasty, but not quite outstanding.

M: Very soft body, both in consistency and carbonation. Quite pleasant indeed (if not what I expect motor oil to feel like).

D: Great balance of sweetness and bitterness plus the delicate body make this easy to finish.

Notes: While I might take issue with the rather hyperbolic moniker on this brew, there's no disputing the fact that it's a darn tasty, well made beer. Say no more.


 885 characters

Photo of EatsTacos
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours completely black with a very small head that reduces to a ring around the glass. No lacing. The colour is like a cola.

Aroma is toasted brown bread with a lot of black licorice. Some good coffee smells too.

Taste is very well balanced, there is a lot of sweetness but it is held in check by a lingering hop bitterness. Similar to the smell, there is a lot of coffee and toast flavours. Some chocolate too.

Mouthfeel is great, thick and creamy as would be expected. A really thin and soft carbonation to make the body seem even fuller.

Good and very drinkable. The mouthfeel is kind of like an oatmeal stout, but the flavour leans more towards a classic english stout IMO.

 692 characters

Photo of brewskifan55
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

 551 characters

Photo of chinabeergeek
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bottle with batch numbering of "L8 74A 15:18"

poured into shaped pint glass.

stout and porter-like appearance. opaque brown-black w red tint under the light. lots of tan head that stays around. some thin rings of lace.

chocolatey, almost coffee-like aromas. roasted malts with stout-like acidic note, with grassy and earthy hop character. whiff of alcohol and dried fruit.

tastes almost like a non-nitro irish stout, but some sweeter alcohol and malt tones (both caramelized and charred). also some stout-like acidity. very mild bitterness, with a dry, not-quite-coffee finish.

definitely syrupy and almost viscous. moderate carbonation for more body.

 656 characters

Photo of Doomcifer
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured an almost pitch black with a nice 1.5 inch, frothy head that retains wonderfully. Pretty good lacing.

Smells of coffee and cream, cocoa, slight vanilla, cherries, faint hop spiciness, nutty. Great and complex!

Tastes very dark bittersweet chocolate, espresso, roasty malts, anisette, finishes with a slight hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is very creamy and velvety, lightly carbonated and perfect.

Extremely tasty and slightly warming, this beer is pretty drinkable despite it's robust heaviness.

 512 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz. bottle, 6% ABV. Pours pitch black, no highlights at all. Mocha head trickles down to a thin collar rather quickly.

Milk chocolate to start in the aroma. A dose of vinous notes, dark fruit, and maybe a hint of vanilla. Seems like a lot of chocolate covered fruit. Very nice and complex.

Flavor is very much in tune with the aroma. Chocolate and vinous flavors. A little bit of sweetness at the end. Certainly malt driven.

Seems a bit thin, lower carbonation. Lots of flavor. Probably the most complex 6% beer I can think of. Very nice.

 546 characters

Photo of Xul
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a viscous, opaque black with a frothy, one-finger mocha colored head. Miniscule bubbles can be seen streaming upwards at the edge of the glass but beyond that, absolutely nothing is visible as this beer looks rather like its namesake.

S: A sweet melange of chocolate, butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, and roasted malts, backed by a light nutty characteristic. Hints of coffee intermingle with the roasted notes.

T: Nutty and roasty up front with the roastiness taking on a more bitter twist. Gives way to bittersweet chocolate in the middle, followed by toffee and vanilla on the backend. Residual taste is a blend of toffee and roasty bitterness.

M: Thinner and a bit more carbonated than the nose and flavors would indicate. Medium bodied, but would be quite a bit more enjoyable with just a touch more weight and smoothness behind it.

D: Goes down easy, it would be very easy - and enjoyable - to put down a few of these.

 935 characters

Photo of rarbring
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very dark, almost black, beer, a small brownish head, little lacing some curtains.

Dark caramel malt nuances, coffee and chocolate beans, burnt bread and some saltiness.

The taste is upfront sweet, burnt sugar, a bit smoky, coffee beans and bunt porridge.

Little carbonation, thick and oily with a dry finish.

Very sweet to me, with some ripe cheese and ginger bread perhaps?

 381 characters

Photo of rootbeerman
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into my allagash tulip

A: pours with the color of engine oil, with a finger thick brown to light brown head.
S: dark roasted malt and coffee with a light caramel hint. a slight floral hop.
T: reminds me more of a stout in flavor, coffee, dark malt.
M: because taste is so stout like mouthfeel being so light throws me off, and not as coating.
D: due to mouthfeel and great taste its a great drinker.

 411 characters

Photo of Wildman
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a very dark ruby amber color and formed a bubbly light tan head that left some circular lace as it subsided. Some sediment present. An aroma of malt and molasses with a touch of caramel. A flavor of malt and caramel. A fairly light body for this style. A slightly astrigent finish.

 303 characters

Photo of warrenc
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours dense black, thin head (bottle did travel overseas..) wonderful aroma of licorice/coffee. Taste is rich malt ,coffee and chocolate. Nice mouth feel, slight thickness creamy. Makes me think of a light stout. Very good. Shame i can't find on draft and have to settle for an expensive bottle.

 299 characters

Photo of Giangio
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 1,757 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston 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.