Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

1,722 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:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-10-2001

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Reviews: 806 | Ratings: 1,722
Photo of Ferretferret
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Purchased from the bottle at Brasserie V in Madison. Gorgeous brew. Poured as the blackest of ales; a bit thin on the mouthfeel, but, that's not too unexpected for the ABV. Chocolate, roasted malt, and perhaps honey notes (very subtle; not actually honey, I'm sure) make this much more sessionable than I had anticipated.

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

Decanted in a conical pint from an 11.2 oz can. Pours black with a limited tan head. Nose: dark roasted malts with a whiff of cafe au last; palate: again rich dark malts pleasantly bittered with chocolate and coffee notes. Medium bodied with good retention of effervescence. Sorry to see this is no longer produced and happy to have gotten a taste.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

CAN you believe it?!? I have NEVER before reviewed Old Engine Oil & now, I have the opportunity to do so from a CAN! It is a brief detour onto The CANQuest (tm) from the eradication of the Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody, but it fits with my current immersion in Porters over the last couple of days.

From the CAN: "Beer Engine-Uity"; "Black Ale"; "Viscous * Chocolatey * Roasty"; "Crafted with a Twist Since 1983"; "[World Beer Cup] Best Porter 2010"; "Our classic car obsessed Master Brewer always has a [CAN] of motor oil handy for essential lubrication of his beloved autos, which is how he came up with Old Engine Oil, its thick, dark chocolate viscosity revealing the inspiration behind the name,; Using loads of deep-roasted malt creates its rich black color and adding plenty of oats gives it a wonderful, velvety mouthfeel.; A [CAN] of this is just the job for anyone who appreciate beautifully engineered stuff that used to be made properly. So undo the top button of your pit overalls, ease into the wingback and roll out a rare taste of truly great British beer.; Welcome to the Owners' Club."

I was really anticipating the Crack! of a CAN for the first time in quite a while & once acCANplished, an inverted Glug seemed to be in order. This produced a finger of foamy, rocky, light-tan head that quickly reduced to wisps. Color was Black/Opaque (SRM = 44), allowing ZERO light penetration. Nose smelled of roasty malts, dark chocolate & light smoke. Mmm. Mouthfeel was thin-to-medium, light for the style & especially in light of its name. Taste was mostly dark chocolate, but black coffee, smoke & raisins also managed to work their way into the woof and warp of this beer. Finish was dry, smoky, chocolaty & very tasty. I CANnot thank Harviestoun enough for deigning to put such an iconic beer into CANs!

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Photo of fscottkey
3.78/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: [3.75] The can lists the ABV (6.0%) but there is no date code. The tulip is half beer and half head. The beer is dark brown to black. The head is dense and the same color as a Wendy's frosty. Looks pretty good in a glass.

S: [3.75] Dark fruits, figs, raisins, mild milk chocolate, toasted oats.

T: [3.75] Dark fruit, roasted marshmallows (charred but sweet) again mild milk chocolate.

M: [4.00] The beer is creamy and nice. I am not sure it is as thick as they think it is. The carbonation and creaminess lead to a nice overall mouthfeel.

O: [3.75] The is a pretty good stout. All around good flavor and aroma. At 6% it is near sessionable. I'd get this again

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Photo of DJ-Hophead
4.24/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

330 ml bottle, M and S, Bristol - Pours jet black with a medium tanned head. Medium carbonation. Nice lacing. Aroma - roasted malts, light dark chocolate, oaty - porridge. Taste - Sweet, smooth, roasted malty notes, dark chocolate, crips bitter finish. Solid well balanced porter that ticks all the boxes.

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Photo of 88caprice
4.34/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Look: very dark, black, slight ruby hues, tan head, lacing.
Smell: roasty, sweet, charred, coffee, woody.
Taste: BIG and roasty, charred, burnt marshmallow,
Feel: smooth, full bodied, moderately carbonated.

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Photo of Brolo75
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce can poured into a pint glass

A: Pours black with a creamy, full, tan colored head, lots of lacing, low carbonation, minimal head retention.

A: Chocolate, roasted nuts, coffee, picking up sweet cream, may lactose, smells nice.

T: Chocolate, coffee, nuttiness, moderate amount of coffee like bitterness, touch of sweetness, finish has more roasted notes, toffee, roasted nuttiness and chocolate, coffee lingering in the aftertaste, very balance and easy to drink.

M: Smooth and creamy, low carbonation, dry coffee like finish.

O: This is really good, lots of flavors, chocolate, coffee, roasted nuts, amazing mouthfeel, a beer I would regular reach for during colder weather.

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Photo of AleSan
3.46/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Can... Less good than I read around. Excellent coffee aromas, cocoa, hazelnut. Well the palate, soft and smooth in a slender body, but in the end comes out all the alcohol, too strong, warm and detached from the rest

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Photo of Dzu
4.23/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 0.33l bottle into goblet.
L: Dark brown with a little biege foam head.
S: Cocoa beans, dark chocolate.
T: Bittersweet, roasted sugar,coffee.
F: Tight body, lowcarbonation.
O: Great porter! I'd like it to be more sweet.

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Photo of 911CROFT
3.85/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

330ml bottle into a Spiegleau Stout glass. Paid £1.50 for a single.

Pours a completely opaque, dark black body, that shows only a few mahogany glimmers near the edges of the glass when held to the light. A bubbly, two-finger in height, light tan coloured head with excellent retention, slowly condenses to a thick cap, leaving behind plenty of sticky, spotty lace.

Charred dark malts, burnt grains and powdered baking chocolate comprise the majority of the heavily roasted nose. Hints of a sweeter toasted profile and a faint berry-like fruitiness are perceptible underneath, while traces of ash, and woody, herbal hops become apparent towards the back-end. Taste roughly follows suit, adding further interest to the already complex nose. Dry, dark-roasted chocolate malt, powdered cocoa and lightly burnt acidic coffee lead initially above traces of lighter toasty grains. Mid-palate, tart red berries are joined by faint, but apparent notes of ripe black cherry, plums, dates, raisins and hints of dark chocolate, before roasted bitterness begins to re-build. In the mouth, a medium body paired with low amounts of soft, exceptionally fine carbonation give a pleasantly slick, smooth and creamy feel, despite being slightly less ‘oily’ than anticipated. Towards the back-end, sharp, faintly acidic dark malts, burnt espresso, smoke, ash and traces of leafy, herbal, woody hops combine to give a heavily roasted, slightly sour and mildly bitter finish. After the swallow, burnt coffee, dry roast, char and smoke linger considerably alongside a suggestion of dark fruit to finish slightly dry and chalky, with a touch of roasted grain astringency.

Overall this is a very good beer. Robust and characterful, it expertly balances complexity and depth of flavour with a high level of drinkability suitable to the style. Its flavour is predominantly dry and intensely roasted, but well-balanced by dark fruit and toasted profiles for the most part. To my tastes however, I found the finish just a little too dominated by black patent malt, with sharp and acrid characteristics becoming pronounced enough to detract very slightly from enjoyment.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.21/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass with a thin light brown head that dissipates to patches, with light lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, milk chocolate, a hint of vanilla. Flavor starts with toasted malt with a hint of char, milk chocolate, light drip coffee, slightly sweet at first, then drying out to a lingering dark charred malt and mild dark chocolate finish. Medium bodied with light creaminess. A very nice English style porter, leaning a bit towards an export stout style. Malt has good chocolate and light coffee flavors and the char in the finish is well done. It is certainly as dark as old engine oil, but not quite as viscous. Still aptly named and flavorful.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle to pint glass

LOOK: Dark black color, thin, very little head
AROMA: toasted barley, chocolate-medium to strong.
TASTE: Toasted Grains, bittersweet chocolate, some woodiness.
FEEL: Very Drinkable, low carbonation

Very nice beer.

Could be a bit "peppier", if that's a word to descibe a beer, but good all around qualities.


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Photo of The_Kriek_Freak
4.34/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A very good beer, with pleasant but not overbearing aromas of coffee and burnt bread. Very drinkable despite the lingering roasty aftertastes. Great mouthfeel.

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Photo of TerryMills
4.59/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into globe glass, not sure why this page says no longer brewed, I picked up a fresh bottle yesterday.

Look ,jet black pour , 1 finger dark tan head with lots of heavy lacing.

Smell, very deep roasted malts with just a hint of chocolate in the background.

Taste,nice deep roasted sweet malts come thru strong, then, on the end ,is a slight bitterness like bitter bakers chocolate . awesome combo.

Feel is just as thick as you would imagine from the pour and heavy lacing, nice thick body , as they should be for this type beer.

Overall this is my favorite mass produced bottled stout/ale thus far, I have some local craft I rate higher but not by much. This is a proper beer.

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Photo of Grogsky
4.33/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark ruby red, not as dark as a guinness, however. Head is a rich white chocolate colour, creamy, but dissipates quickly. Aroma gives slight hints of roasted grain. Feel is creamy, yet crisp. Bold sweet chocolate flavour. A nice bitter finish. Reminds me of a milk stout, but not quite as sweet. Feels as though I've just trekked through the Scotish Highlands to a cabin on a hill. A great way to relax after such a trek.

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Photo of Newffff
4.29/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours very nice. Poured into chilled pint glass. Small 1 finger head.
Rich smells of chocolate, coffee.

Drinks well, lingering after taste

Amazing on a hot day

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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 The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Now listed as a "Black Ale" rather than a porter, Old Engine Oil is now in my glass.

It pours a deep, dark chocolate color with brown highlights. Not quite the blackness I was expected (I've seen some BLACK oil changes). The head is 3 fingers tall, and fuzzy on the sides.

Wow, from my perspective this smells like a Rauchbier. Very smokey, with meat locker, roast chicken and/or pork, dark barley, and some exhaust fumes (very interesting!). A touch of citrus at the very end of the aromatic profile lends some versatility.

Taste is made up of roasted barley, perhaps some carafe malts, with burnt coffee and citrus. Some figs. Hints of chocolate here and there, but only minor hints. This is by far a roast, dark profile with pot coffee and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel is exceptional. Just thick, viscous, parching, and coats the mouth like a glug of oil.

Overall, I was pretty impressed here. It's not overwhelmingly, jaw-dropping good. It is however THE PERFECT BEER for when you feel like an Imperial Stout but do not want to get annhiliated by the alcohol content. This one rushes in at about 6% ABV, HALF of most Imperial Stouts. Try it if you haven't yet, you may become a fan.

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Photo of JonCorbett
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: I love the image the name evokes - It does look like dark old engine oil. Not nearly black-black, still has a few scarlet twinges at the edge and base of the glass. Nice frothy, creamy khaki head made up of tightly woven small bubbles, almost as fine as nitro’d stout. And super lace coating the glass all the way to the end.

Aromatics: All kinds of sweet toffee and caramelized coffee bean, with bittersweet dark cacao all of which gently masks light essence of very ripe plum with maybe a hint of vanilla.

Taste: I get a nice espresso jolt and luxurious dark chocolate bitter. Quite a nice earthy hop with hints of piney resin in there and a slight toasted/burnt biscuit - but it doesn’t detract at all from the sweetened bitter front end.

Feel: Velvety cream and relatively thin (light to medium body), does a fantastic job of coating the entire palate. Carbonation is on par - on the lower end but this is necessary to keep its overall creamy qualities.

Overall: Fantastic black ale. And if you are in the Porter/Stout/Black Ale fan club I highly recommend it. It has a wonderful balance of characteristics and very easy to enjoy.

Pairing : Gotta go with a well seasoned and preferably smoked and/or slow grilled pork or beef roast. This beer needs a nice lean but juicy meat that is loaded with spice and rub, and a nicely developed thick caramelized crust. Throw in some large chunks of onion, garlic, and roasted jalapeños to give it a flavour pack that will blend so nicely with this beer.

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Photo of daydesiang
3.64/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

So dark in colour, one and half finger bread. Smell of chocolate, coffee. Taste of strong chocolate, Malts, mild coffee and weak hops. Medium to full bodied. Better than average stout, 3.7

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Photo of mynie
4.52/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This was hypey, back in the day. At least as hypey as any non-limited UK beer I've ever seen. And it's still hard to find in the states, because even though I've been looking for it for over a decade today was the first time I ever espied a bottle. It was expensive, even by modern standards, and I can see that perhaps dragging its rating down a bit.

The bottle calls it a dark ale and says it's viscous, chocolately, and roasty. So that sounds like a porter, but whatever.

Pours quite dark and thick. Not as gluggy as, say, an American RIS, but back when it was introduced 30 years ago, his was probably a site to behold.

Smells very smooth, with loads of sweet chocolate against rough and roasted porter grain. Well done.

Tastes... okay, the flavor is where it's clear that this is some kind of nebulous "dark ale" instead of a porter proper. The front is a very sweet, chocolatey stout, but then near the middle it gets sharp and zippy with large nodes of toffee, like a good Scotch ale, and then it finishes like a dry stout. A really neat and complex collection of flavors that not quite like anything I've ever had before and yet still perfectly balanced.

Really good.

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Photo of janubio
3/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a black colour, with an off white Medium head that lasts for a while. Aroma of coffee, chocolate, burnt sugar and red fruits. Medium to full body. Taste coffee, sherry wine, chocolate and red fruits.

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Photo of AngryDutchman
4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz bottle

Black with a dark cherry/beige one finger head. Ching!

Aroma matches the head, pleasantly dark fruit over malt and hops

Flavor is as plum/cherry as expected...not oily at all, hops being very far in the background (and on the tongue). Flavor lingers as a coating on the tongue long after the swallow. I imagine this has superior medicinal qualities.
Listed here as 6% abv but feels higher...not burn just hovers above the usual malt/hop layer one usually experiences.
A sipping malt beverage. I imagine this being a great selection to set back for aging to hold for special occassions

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Photo of Beginner2
4.19/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Glad I Had this again. It reminds me of how porters were and, really, should be more like now.
Porters should most prominently be about the skills in blending malts. Hops should add character and balance, but not prominence. So, the typical American porter rendition should take note of Old Engine Oil.

Opaque, winter fruit aromas, bittersweet to the taste and viscous in the mouth.
Old Engine Oil gives me the gamut of winter malt sensation.

Reviewed in the "1001", Old Engine Oil deserves to be on the list.

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Photo of Spike
4.14/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours black from its 330ml bottle. Has a ruby edge when held to the light. One finger tan head leaves arches of lacing and a thick cap. A quick swirl easily rebuilds the head.

The nose is rich with toasted malts, hazelnuts, sweet coffee, sultanas.

Flavour is not quite as rich as the nose but coffee, chocolate and toasted malts are to the fore.

Light to medium body with lively carbonation. Dry and astringent. Some chewiness.

Now called a 'black ale' on its label (probably appropriate because it's less chocolatey, more hoppy, and has more carbonation than most porters), this is an excellent and complex beer: loads of bitterness; fantastic nose; coffee; toasted malts; rich effervescence.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.1 out of 5 based on 1,722 ratings.
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