Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
1,747 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: 1,747 |  Reviews: 813
Photo of lpayette
3.57/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is an interesting one for sure. I thought this was a stout of sorts, but BA designates this as an old ale, which upon taste makes a lot of sense. A black old ale... different

Pours near black with hints of brown. Very little carbonation struggles to produce any head which means lacing is out of the question. I smell a bit of funk and vinegar in the smell and I'm fairly confident that the integrity of this brew has not been compromised. It's got a tiny tart bite at the finish (think cherries). It seems this is just a biproduct of what I can only assume is a unique strain of yeast or combination of yeasts. Not really sure if it's for me, but it is definitely interesting. Roasty and chocolatey, though perhaps not as thick and viscous as you'd expect from the name. Seems that black patent was used in abundance if I had to guess. The moouthfeel is actually quite light for the style and very slick. Quite a bit more drinkable than I expected due to the low alcohol.

Overall fairly complex and it tends to grow on you a bit as it warms. Still, I'm not crazy about this one, but I can see how so many are.

 1,117 characters

Photo of seakayak
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of MichialTanner1
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of BrewMaster
3.2/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle

Appearance: Pours with very little head over the dark brownish red liquid. What little head does show does not last long or leave much lacing. Pretty average looking beer.

Smell: Light roasted aroma with a touch of caramel and fruits. Not much volume to the smell.

Taste: Moderately interesting coffee toast to it with some toffee and faint floral hop flavor. No bitterness to speak of with mostly a sweet malty base flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and smooth.

Drinkability: There's not much to say about this beer. It's average and even boring for the style. Perhaps it took a hit on the journey across the ocean. I don't know. But I won't be having another one of these. It lacks any sort of complexity or depth.

 745 characters

Photo of CanuckRover
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours near-black, still black when I hold it up to the light, but maybe some dark ruby around the edges, a blackhole of a beer. Beautiful, think, creamy looking head, looks like cappucino froth or flavoured coffee.

Mmmm, I might make this into a cologne. Chocolate is front and centre, lovely semi-sweet chocolate, absolutely fabulous. Doesn't hold back the fruity, in this case vinous, british malt though.

Not at all what I was expecting. Looking at it and reading the label, I was thinking this would be akin to a stout. No sir. Sure there is some roastiness and the stout associated flavours, but this is a different animal. Chocolate aroma doesn't disapoint, lovely sweetness combines with a vanilla pipe-tobacco character. Malt comes in the backdoor and leaves a vinous character on the tongue. Trace English hops leave a (very) subtle bitterness, very nice and appropriate.

This is one creamy beer. Smooth. Perfect carbonation (or lack thereof). Not much more to say.

I will immediately go pick up an armful of this stuff. Absolutely fantastic.

 1,055 characters

Photo of rusty3335
5/5  rDev +20.8%

Photo of DrunkyBuddha
5/5  rDev +20.8%

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 skriv
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of adjunctlager
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

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 heavenlyStash
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of do_ob
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

11.2 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Pours a deep, rich brown and settles as black as midnight in my glass. A semi-aggressive pour yielded a 2.5 finger head of light-tan, fluffy foam. Great nose on this one - baked chocolate chip cookies, coffee, roasted malt, and baking spices. Medium weight, and has a smooth, but watery mouthfeel. Bitter chocolate and tons of smokey/roasty nuts up front on the taste, along with a surprisingly strong coffee bitterness middleways. Finishes smooth, and leaves a robust, smoked wood/nuts taste behind.

A very, very interesting and complex beer. It has the mouthfeel of a weak porter, but the flavor of an imperial stout. This one is an ass-kicker, and will take you for a ride if you're not ready; I wasn't. Very good, though. I can't believe this isn't rated higher.

 803 characters

Photo of DougT
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated Nov. 2013, poured into a Sam Adams glass.

Dark brown to black with a 2 finger medium tan head with plenty of lacing. Head retains well and a full rather thick foam layer stays.

Chocolate, coffee, yeast, roast, and a little sweet malt. Smells delicious.

Bit of bitter bite up front, sweet in the middle, smooth in the finish. Coffee, chocolate, a little nutty, dark fruit. Nothing overpowers.

Medium to full body. Good fizz. Very smooth, well balanced and drinkable.

I find this to be a very enjoyable drink. The best parts of a robust stout mixed with a nice nut brown ale. interesting flavors in a very approachable beer.

 641 characters

Photo of jmtpi
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of alwaysplayin
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of demcorhip
3.74/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A pretty plain looking beer. An average pour gave a thin tan head that pulled a disappearing act. Since there is no collar i expect no lacings. It does look like old engine oil, almost black, and lets very little light through, even at the edges of the glass.

Smells a bit better than it looks. Milk chocolate, some hazelnut, a hint of booze, as well as a hint of darker fruits, raspberry, blackberry and plum. A touch of earthy leafiness is also present.

Hazelnut but mostly milk chocolate come through on the tasting. More bitter roasted flavours come through in the middle leading to the finish, like a dark roasted coffee that has oxidized due to sitting on the heat element. Finishes with a hint of earthy and decaying leafy hops.

A somewhat viscous medium bodied ale. Some residual sweetness and hints of toffee add richness and counterbalance the roasted malt. Very smooth, as advertised on the label, enhanced by the creamy mouthfeel and mild level of carbonation. Just a touch of hops.

Pretty drinkable stuff, the one thing that detracts is the more bitter roasted notes that muddle things up slightly. Certainly recommended for fans of dark, chocolaty brews. All in all this is an approachable, chocolaty brew that would serve well for those looking to get into the darker styles of beer.

 1,302 characters

Photo of ronin926
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of dgallina
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml brown bottle, no freshness dating.

Pours almost black with mahogany edges; very little head and slight lace despite a hard pour. Smells of alcoholic vanilla, oak, toasted chocolate malts, powdered cocoa. Flavor is not quite up to the aroma. Very sweet and rounded all the way through. Caramel and coffee malts predominate, with lots of powdered cocoa and burnt bread in the finish. Medium-light mouth feel, with good creaminess and gentle carbonation.

 460 characters

Photo of mwa423
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black with a very thin dingy head. The smell is a creamy and rich malt smell with hints of coffee bean.

The taste is very strong, as strong as many imperial stouts. very rich, lots of chocolate and coffee flavors with an enjoyable bitter aftertaste.

The mouthfeel and drinkability are fantastic, I will have to get this one again in the future!

 358 characters

Photo of TubaManJack
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of ImFlyerThanYou
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of BeerKangaroo
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into my nonic:

A: "old engine oil" looking body (at least it lives up to its name), gentle foamy two finger tan/off-white head appears and settles into the top of the body leaving some small paper thin hills on top.

S: roasty and bold with nice chocolate and coffee notes.

T: same as previously mentioned smells adding a bit of a woodiness in it as well.

M: medium with nothing harsh on the tongue. I would say this is fairly drinkable, sweet aftertaste.

O: this is a pretty good beer for its style and one that I would come back to.

 538 characters

Photo of Dilbert65
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Heeenrik
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 1,747 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.