Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
1,778 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

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Ratings: 1,778 |  Reviews: 827
Photo of Travlr
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black color like 10W30 with a small bubble tan head that settles quickly to leave good lacing.
S: Aroma of milk chocolate and alcohol, background of burnt espresso beans.
T: Flavor starts with milk chocolate and progresses to roast coffee with a sourness permeating through it.
M: Great body, as expected.
D: Overall a nice beer, more roasted and more chocolate than the style would suggest, closer to a stout than an old ale.

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Photo of GJ40
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of WhiteOak
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Opaque black against sunlight, with a minimal dark-tan/mocha head.

S- Dark roasted, smoky malt aroma. Coffee, dark fruits.

T- Dense, dark, deep, extracted, roasted malt flavor dominates the attack, with a mid-palate of coffee, stewed prunes, dates, raisin. An interesting note of red fruit/crushed red zinfandel grape juice is noticeable. I applaud the deep roast without burnt/char off-flavors.

M, D- Creamy, velvety. The slight bitterness is well within bounds and the overall balance is excellent. On tap, the old Engine Oil offers a bit more fruit complexity but is also a bit on the still side for CO2. Very easy-drinking for such a substantial brew.

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Photo of Quadsquad
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of Kendo
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the mini-growler into a Piraat tulip-type snifter. Body is brown on the pour, but appears black in the glass. One-finger tan head settles on top. Some splotchy lace.

S: Big on roasted barley malt, some roasted coffee beans as well. Also a touch of chocolate.

T: Roasted barley again, and plenty of coffee. Finishes with a dry, palate-cleansing bitterness - think pine, maybe. Lingering taste of roasted barley.

M: Thinner than expected, call it medium in heft. Plenty of carbonation.

D: Very good.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a tulip glass.

L - black liquid with a small beige head that faded fast.

S - roasty, black licorice.

T - sweet roasted flavor with a black licorice bitterness towards the finish.

F - medium bodied with mild carbonation.

D - enjoyable brew.

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Photo of SilentSabre
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Now this is indeed a marvelous brew. Pours about as dark as Coca-Cola with about a centimetre thick head. Laces the glass quite nicely and has a wonderful smell.(If you enjoy stouts and darks and such.) The taste is wonderful! A robust maltiness with an almost chocolate finish. I personally love this in a brew. The mouth feel is quite unique in that it almost feels like there is more carbonation present than there actually is. It almost "stings" one's mouth similarly to soda. If strong darks are your preference, the drinkability of this one is most definately 4.0. I will most certainly be purchasing this one again.

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Photo of Satchboogie
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a balloon tulip

A: Pours black with just over a finger of finger of light brown head that fairly quickly bubbles away. Leaves a little lacing.

S: Roasted barley, lots of semi sweet chocolate, a light molasses that borders on licorice, very slight floral hops.

T: Tons of smooth roasted barley and chocolate (bitter sweet), balanced sweetness of the light molasses. The roasted character isn't anywhere near char, it's the medium side of dark roast. Floral hops come through pretty clean in the finish, leaving a bitter sweet aftertaste. Alcohol is no where. Really great balance.

M: One of the more viscous porters, has a feel more in line with a stout. Extremely smooth and creamy, finish is perfect bitter sweet (and the hop presence doesn't wear out it's welcome). Balance is the word of the day.

O: I've heard this a gold standard of English Porters and I can understand why. A smooth and balanced porter with lots of depth and a hoppy finish I actually like!

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Photo of seand
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a large red wine glass.

A: Pours a very dark near opaque brown, not quite black, with maybe half a finger of tan head. The head dies down pretty quickly but does leave a bit of foam, mainly around the edge of the glass. Leaves reasonable lacing.

S: Fairly subtle, malty with hints of dark chocolate and coffee.

T: Sweet and complex, but subtle, certainly not overpowering, with a nice hop finish that lingers on the aftertaste.

M: Thick, with medium to mild carbonation. Works well with the flavors. Viscous is a good word here.

D: Quite easy to drink, and the ABV isn't too high.

Quite good, and I'll probably buy it again.

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Photo of Getalegup
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of Tdenham
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MoreThanWine
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fun labeling on good beer. This black ale truly looks black but basically is like an espresso(extra roasted) version of stout. Poured a meager 1/2" head which dissipated. Same basic stout flavors of coffee and chocolate but certainly more so of each than usual. From the label and name I pretty much expected goop to pour out, but no, it's not anywhere near that thick, in fact many common stouts are thicker.

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Photo of wl0307
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the London branch of the Royal Mile Whiskies Shop. BB Apr. 07, served cool in a broad-rimmed goblet.

A: very deep dark brown colour with ruby hints against light; the creamy and restrained tan head settles pretty in two minutes to just a layer of sparse, rimmed froth. Very low carbonation as far as I can see through.
S: lightly roasted maltiness along with a rich and syrupy flow of dark chocolates (70% bitterness), mixed with a little amount of crushed dark fruits, aromatic red grapes, and a little hint of bittersweet herbs. Giving it a swirl, and the aroma stays more or less the same--a sign of very deep and settled aroma in this black nectar?
T: rich and slightly oily dark maltiness slowly creeps down the palate... the chocolatey element is not so pronounced here as on the nose, and the initial soothing maltiness gradually gives way to a complex herbal+fruity palate: rich-textured and oily plum-syrup, grapey+woody sour tinge, dried dates' sweet edges, and a residual herbal touch of mixture of treacle + licorice + star-anise + phenol(?), leaving a super-rounded and mildly dark-chocolate malty overtone in the finish, with but a touch of bitterness. Not very long aftertaste, though.
M&D: having tried some old ales, I think this one shows the most soothing and rounded texture by far, and the warming alc. seems to simply evaporate from the nectar?!... it's full-bodied yet ever so soothing, even, as its name suggest, a bit oily-lubricating in a sense. The mellow palate compensates for the lack of more robust and complex flavour upfront, but perhaps the beer, as it is, is at its most enjoyable as a good digestive. Very solid old ale to sip slowly~~

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This offering was presented in a pint glass, subtlety curved like a superb woman. A fine off-white, whipped cream froth only raised a quarter inch over the, imagine this, jet black beer. Now who would have guessed Old Engine Oil would be black? Actually, when placed to the light, it reveals dark tones of black walnut. Throughout consumption, a fine film of lacing coated the glass.

A fairly simple aroma profile, of roasted malts, and coffee beans, but oh so elegantly done.

The balance of sweetness and bitterness allows one to find dark fruits, like cherry and prune. The finish opens with a quick sharp bitterness, followed by a long seducing soft afterglow of malted milk.

This Brit is dense and creamy smooth, with a dry sense of alcohol, and a faint carbonation. After imbibing, its essence leaves a film of residual sugar on the lips.

A remarkably easy quaff, especially for it's style. I found it to be a fine accompaniment with lunch on a cold sunny day. However, it may suffer slightly from the hype. I have a couple of bottles back home, one for now, and one to age.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
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 eric5bellies
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Drank from my Duvel Tulip

A - Pours a nice dark Ebony colour with a very nice creamy tigt coffeee coloured head that retains well.

S - Aromas are roasted malts and molassis with small amounts of chocolate.

T - The flavour is a strong vanilla and chocolate, complimented well with dark chcolate and roasted malt with alittle smoke. Plenty on offer here.

M - Nice thick mouthfeel with minimal carbonation. Very oily and damn smooth.

O - My first Harviestoun beer and it won't be my last. Higly recommended.

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Photo of seelengleich
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Manosbeeroffate
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

old ale? I don't know but here we go. Pours nearly pitch black, small brown head accompanies it. Smells a bit sweet with some soapy essence? Tastes a lot better though, caramel, cocoa, malty goodness and a slight hint of dryness in the finish. Overall it's a really nice beer. To me though this is like a really nice porter rather than an old ale in the way of flavor and appearence, but what the hey, if the Scots want to call it an old ale, an old ale it'll be.

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Photo of Viggo
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque dark brown, some red in the edges, super thick two finger tan head forms, refuses to leave, forms a very solid layer, nice lacing, looks great. Smell is sweet and malty, chocolate roast, bread, toffee, molasses and charred wood, some dark fruits, bit of raisin, enjoyable. Taste is nice, sweet malts, toffee, chocolate, like roast, bready, fruity, almost sherry in the finish, very smooth and a nice roast/graininess that underneath that holds it together. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, definition of smooth. Great low ABV beer, could drink these all night.

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Photo of beergirlblog
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was scared to try this because it sounds like it would be black and thick and bitter- but the name was so cool. The black-brown-ruby color was really beautiful, and it turned out to be much less intimidating in aroma and taste than expected: there were lots of dark roasted scents and flavors: malts, chocolate, grains, coffee, raisins. Unfortunately, the nice flavor profile was kind of let down by the thin feel of the beer- a little more body would carry them better. Overall, it was drinkable, but tasted a little weaker than I would have liked, but I'd definitely order it again.

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Photo of StJamesGate
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Garnet-tinged black with violet-sepia lumpy head that clings and pits.
Meat juice, wood smoke and licorice on the nose - very umami.
Ash, pure cocoa, espresso grounds, prune juice, blackberry skins, then pine tar hops.
Concord grape finish and charcoal linger.
Round, chewy, medium.

This was previously labeled just "dark beer", not porter, and I can see some stock ale notes here.

Hard to exaggerate how astringent and bitter the black flavors are here - no sweetness that you'd associate with coffee or chocolate, only the most burnt roasty notes. This plays off the residual sugars that make it quite creamy, working out an interesting and very drinkable dynamic tension. Roast overwhelms any individual hop notes, though there is plenty of balancing bitterness.

Surprisingly nice, and one of the better beers you can buy at Dunne's.

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Photo of Murrhey
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a standard pressure-cap 11.2oz bottle into a conic pint glass in Kalispell, Mont. Reviewed live.

A- Three-finger mocha head. Thick head that lasts forever. Black color, no light comes through. Nice looking beer.

S- Chocolate, toffee, roasted malts. Nice, deep aromas.

T- Delicious, thick flavors. Chocolate, roasted malts. Deep and rich. Yum.

M- Thick and almost chewy. Semi-dry.

O- This is an excellent beer. I enjoy this in all facets.

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Photo of Duffman79
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of TheCrowsEye
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Taco Mac Metropolis in Atlanta.

Pours one shade from black with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of lightly roasted malts and cocoa powder. Also present are slight hints of tobacco and dark fruits. As the beer warms the dark fruit flavors gain a tart aroma.

Tastes good. Smooth and lightly roasted malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by dark chocolate flavors that are neither rich nor bitter. Midway through the sip hints of char make an appearance before being sweetened by the addition of mild dark fruit flavors. The roasted malt, cocoa powder and dark fruit flavors carry through to a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall I didn't find this beer to be overpowering but rather had a good deal of nuance that the UK tends to favor more than us across the pond. An interesting and well made beer that's well worth a shot.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 1,778 ratings