Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

1,728 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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Ratings: 1,728 |  Reviews: 807
Photo of enfield249
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pours thick and dark. No light through this one, caramel colored head.

S - dark fruit, malt, slight roast.

T - lots of coffee, chocolate, slight black patent.

M - full to very full, astringent, not cloying however.

O - A very big porter. Worth a try.

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Photo of Converge
4.23/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into a 16oz pint glass.

A - Pours with a finger-and-a-half of thick, frothy mocha head. Black as night. Nice lacing no surprise. The head eventually died down to a tan cream on-top of the beer.

S - Roasted malt, caramel malt, dark chocolate, and some dark fruits. I also detect a touch of hops. Simple, but really nice.

T - A little disappointing upfront, with not a lot going on at first. Finishes with a roasted malt flavor with a slight bitterness. Not nearly as smokey or burnt as I expected, but rather sweet and creamy, with a lot of vanilla, dark and milk chocolate, and rich caramel. I do find this a little off putting however, as I thought this beer would have a lot more smokiness and bitterness to it. The bottle is a few months old, but it also reads "MAR 2012" on the neck. Still, this porter boasts a rich, creamy flavor profile that I find really appealing. After starting out almost skunky, this beer warms up with a fantastic taste. Towards the end I begin to pick up some smokiness, especially in the aftertaste. Some dark fruits are also present in the warmer taste.

M - Couldn't be much better here. Almost no carbonation, with a thick, creamy mouthfeel that just slides by your palate and taste-buds like silk. Perfect for this style, nice and semi-viscous with a creamy, low-carbonation feel.

D - One of the better beers I've tried to date. Really complex flavor profile and near-perfect mouthfeel with this porter. I do detect something slightly off-putting, almost skunky in the flavor still, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying this one thoroughly.

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Photo of DCon
4.48/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 11.2oz bottle of this from Cicero's in The Loop (St. Louis), MO for $5.50. Poured from the Old Engine Oil- "Black Ale" bottle without a freshness date to be found into a Hefeweizen Glass and enjoyed while I see my buddy John finish 3 Bud Lights.

Aroma- Has a nice roasty, malty aroma that has a bittersweet chocolate background. Light characteristics but perfect to the style.

Appearance- Pours a 2.5 finger head that is dark brown and has great retention. It has a dark brown body with good clarity and leaves thick lace behind.

Flavor- Roasty tastes from the get-go and has a good chocolate character that pops out towards the end. Low Bitterness at the finish and very sweet when it comes down to it.

Mouthfeel- Medium Bodied, Low-Medium Carbonation, Smooth, Thin, and is sweet and malty on the finish.

Overall Impression- As the bartender says "This is one of our best dark ales", and I can see why! Perfect in almost every way but could use a bit more caramel/coffee characters. Of course an English Porter is usually lighter and has more dull attributes, but this would have made this an A+ instead of an A. Had never seen this brew before and am glad I got the chance to try!

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Photo of bagpiper2005
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour: Jet black with three fingers of tan head that sticks around and laces nicely. Streaks of ruby red on the edges when held to the light.

Smell: Chocolate and roasted malt. A hint of vanilla in the background. Light hop astringency.

Taste: Creamy vanilla sweetness upon initial impact which then gives way into a rich chocolate taste with an underlying hint of caramel. This fades into a hint of coffee and then finishes up with a rather aggressive hop bite.

Mouthfeel: It lives up to its name here! Rather thick and creamy mouthfeel. Low carbonation. Very smooth.

Drinkability/Overall: Very smooth drinking, though not exactly a session beer. Good complexity and intensity in the flavor. I'm impressed.

Final Notes: This is a damn good beer. Big flavor and complex, deliciously sweet and savory. Excellent dessert beer or to finish the night out with. Highly recommended!

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Photo of jondeelee
4.7/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

With a name like "Old Engine Oil," I expected this beer to resemble, say, a Budweiser, in about the same way an oboe resembles a nose hair. From the smell, this black ale is well on its way to fulfilling that expectation. In fact, it smells so much like 90% cocoa dark chocolate mixed with smoke, ash, and black malt (with that roasted-until-it-cried-uncle tang), that by the nose alone it would be difficult to imagine this as beer.

On the tongue, the foreignness of this liquid as an ale of any sort continues, with immediate and overpowering black malt flavors pounding tobacco, smoke and ash into every corner of your tastebuds. Way, way below those bitter flavors are a few dark fruit esters and dark sugars, but finding them is equivalent to locating middle C in a frog belch. And the amazing thing is that the flavors continue to build throughout the mouthful, and then hang around for literally ages afterward.

This is not an ale for the weak-stomached or weak-minded, and while that makes it exotic and extraordinary, it also marks a weakness, for it takes a special tongue to appreciate this kind of flavor. Try at your own risk, but *do* try--it's an experience you won't soon forget.

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

330 ml bottle. 6,0% Abv.
Served lightly chilled in a tulip wine glass.
BBE March 2012

Appearance: Old engine lives up to its name, appearing black in the glass. A bright backlight however, reveals the body to in fact be a very dark red. A rough pour yields a large tan head that lasts well and leaves great lace. All in all, a great looking porter.

Smell: Mmmmm this is going to be a great nose, I can already smell the roasted/chocolate malt!
Closer inspection yields roasted malt, dark fudge, chocolate, toffee, a slight nuttiness and a good amount of hops (this really surprised me, I didn't expect hops in an English porter- guess the Scotts could teach the English a thing or two!)
As the beer warms a touch of coffee and a dark fruit character (dates and burned raisins).

Taste: First sip and - great flavour!!! Starts off sweet, then roasted, then sweet again and finally a great bitter finish.
Initially chocolate and dark caramel, followed by a wonderful roasted character, burned fruit cake and a great bitter hop finish.

Mouthfeel: The body is fuller than medium, however a little more viscosity would make it perfect! Speaking of perfect - the mild, smooth carbonation is perfect for the beer!

Overall: Great porter and one I will recommend and have again.

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Photo of isualum12
4.43/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

appearance: Black COAL...Dark as ever with a tan head on it. Looked great...
Smelled of malt and chocolate with some carmel.
Taste was smooth...No really smooth with lots of roasted chocolate taste. Almost smore like. I really enjoyed the taste. There is a bit of licorices to it.
mouthfeel- smooth calm with little activity in the mouth.

Over all this just went to my top 15 beers I would say. I am really impressed. I wouldn't drink several in a night but I would relax with one just about any night. This is a great beer.

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Photo of shanblur
3.53/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield, OH. No freshness date. Poured from 33cl bottle into snifter.

A - As black as it gets in color, with a rich tan head which leaves moderate lacing.

S - Roasted malts dominate the nose, with faint coffee and chocolate aromas. Some minimal hops aroma as well.

T - Rich and roasty taste. Some chocolate and coffee flavors as well, but mostly dominated by the roasted malt flavor.

M - Fairly dense with a gentle carbonation.

Not as complex as I would have liked. Not the best I have had of this style, but far from the worst. Who knows how old it was and if that played a factor.

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Photo of Eramen
4.11/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black colour, much like its namesake, but really, no light gets into this beer! Pours with a half-finger head.

S - Strong coffee bean aroma, woods, rich black earthiness, light metallic, licorice.

T - Coffee, roasted malts, some chocolate, smoke, herbal tones, and light fruit favours that remind me of fruit yoghurt (perhaps because of the mouthfeel)

MF - Delightful medium-heavy smokiness, clinging and chewy, lovely stuff.

O - Highly pleasurable experience with great drinkability. Perfect beer to accompany meals.

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Photo of beerdrifter
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up at the biggest beer store in the UK, Beers of Europe Ltd. Dark brown-black pour with half finger head that fades quickly to a film with decent lacing. Very earthy, roasty, smokey nose with hints of coffee, cocoa, and a touch of licorice. The taste is dominated by roasty, smokey, burnt coffee and bitter chocolate. A spicy, herbal, bitter hop bite emerges as it warms along with a nice sweet malt finish. I'm typically not a big porter fan as they seem a bit thin to me, but this was slightly syrupy and thick and really smooth without being too sweet. And I never find myself wanting a second porter, but again, this was really tasty and had me wanting another. Very pleasant surprise!

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Photo of tewaris
3.31/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz. bottle (~$5 inclusive of tax) poured into a pint glass. No age statement.

Pours dark brown and viscous as described with a milky-brown head. While the head falls off quick, a sheet of foam manages to stick around over the course of the beer. 4/5

Smells of sugars, roast and spices more than anything else to me which is quite contrary to chocolate notes I was expecting. 3/5

Fans of this beer might detect all sorts of flavors in it but I find it to be predominantly bitter with hops and roast; and sweet, rather underattenuated. I am a little biased in my opinion because I hated the Ola Dubh 12, that uses this beer, or some cousin of its, as the base beer. However, I have to give it to this beer that it lets the drinker experience a big stout taste without the big alcohol. Still, I find the bitterness over the top, the sweetness too cloying, and most of all, the beer soulless. 3/5

Mouthfeel is perhaps the biggest strength of this beer and it can rival bigger stouts! Smooth and silky with just hints of carbonation. This beer will shine when paired with something even sweeter. 4.5/5

Overall, as remarked over and over, while it could pass for a bigger, badder beer, it needs some soul in it. Barely above average if you ask me. 3.5/5.

Note: Added some Talisker 10 yo Single Malt Scotch in it later because this one seemed like a good candidate for fooling around. The aroma of this pseudo-aged beer became incredibly good, but the contributions to the taste were minimal. While the aroma was full of everything delicate about Talisker, the taste inherited a touch of peat smoke at the end.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.1/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of Buggies
4.42/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as night. Nice brownish finger width head. Smells amazing. Roasted grains and chocolate. Slight fruitiness in the nose too.

Nice light mouth feel. Not filling. Nice roasty taste with the chocolate also. Nice fruity notes hiding in the background. Slight bitterness from roasted grains.

Overall, what a nice beer. I got a single of this at a Giant Eagle of all places. What a nice little find. I will try to see if I can get more of these.

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Photo of Kromes
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pitch black, no highlights, a finger's width brown head dies down to nothing.

S: Deep roasted malt aroma, a slight chocolate and fruitiness to the aroma, but clean and pure roasted goodness.

T: A big sweet roasted malt flavor up front gives way to a tangy, chocolate and fruity smokiness. The finish is very clean and leaves a smoky remnant of the earthy roasted malt.

M: It's got a nice mouthfeel. Not a lot of carbonation and a heavier feel.

O: I really enjoyed this beer. I love porters and this one is simple and delicious with all the clean roasted flavors.

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Photo of Franz4
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, label says "black ale" rather than "Porter" which was pictured.

A- Can't see anything through this dark blackness, head settles to a thin ring

S- roast and slightly smoked peat come through right away, nice combination.

T-Smoky with a touch of sweetness in the back, toffee-ish, very nice.

M- Lighter body than I expected given the color, makes the beer more drinkable

O- overall a very nice brew, I'd have this one again and I would especially be interested in trying some of the other versions.

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Photo of OddNotion
4.97/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into my DFH Signature Glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice black color with only the slightest ruby notes around the very edges of the glass. A nice one finger creamy tan head that recedes to half a finger and sticks around.

Smell: WOW this beer smells amazing. Very complex. Dark fruits, roasty malts, slight hints of chocolate, but the dark fruits really dominate the nose. This beer stacks up with the best of them in terms of smell.

Taste: Beautiful is the best word to describe the taste of this beer. Very roasty without being smokey at all. Nice chocolatey finish. There is a decent bitterness but not the bite that is associated with it. The bitterness plays well with the roast and chocolate. The flavors all meld together and play off eachother to havea beer that changes through the different stages of the taste but all of the flavors just work.

Mouthfeel: Nice and thick and creamy. Perfect for the style. Given the low abv it is thicker than expected, which I like. The carbonation is there but it is not aggressive, once again - perfect for the style.

Overall: Amazing beer. No frills added but it gets all of the flavors it possibly can out of the ingredients. 6% abv is (relatively) low which is nice in this culture of huge alcohol beers. I wish this was more accessible but I will certainly be picking more of this up! Every aspect of this beer works together in perfect harmony. I have not been this impressed with a porter in a while. My new favorite for the style. One of my favorite experiences is picking up a random (and unhyped) beer at the store on a whim and having it be this good!

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.68/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of heyta. Served in a tulip.

Pours near black with a single-finger off-white head. Retention is okay, and there's a good amount of spotty lacing on the sides of the glass. The nose carries some light chocolate plus some roast. More of the roast than anything else. A bit of coffee as it warms. The flavor is roasted malt with a touch of coffee and some slight milk chocolate notes. Medium body with low carbonation. Fairly creamy and lends a toffee-like feel. Nothing crazy, but a pretty good brew.

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Photo of Satchboogie
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
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 MAB
3.8/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very nice porter. There is a nice chocolate malt flavour and some bitterness to offset it. The appearance is very nice; dark and opaque. Tasty tasty.
I didn't notice the alcohol kick that a 6% brew should have; it's debatable whether or not that is a good thing...

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Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours out much thicker looking than most porters out there. Even looks thicker than some stouts. The color is black, with a fan colored head that doesn't stick around much. The smell is earthy and roasted. The taste is rich with heavy roasted malts. The mouthfeel is pretty thick and had a oily feel to it. Overall pretty good brew.

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

11.2 oz bottle. $3.99 from Beer Run. It appears to be a 2009. Mine says "Black Ale" on the bottle.

Appearance: Its essentially completely black with a little bit of reddish highlights when held up to light. Light brown head with good retention and some sticky sheets of lacing.

Smell: Powdery chocolate and Folgers crystals. Sweet with just a twinge of sour. Lightly hopped.

Taste: Very rich malt flavor (for a little 6% beer) with the roasty chocolate and coffee notes. Herbal hops are a little oily and provide a nice bitterness. More roast and bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Remarkably soft and creamy upfront. Nice carbonation. Drying on the finish (not dry, but drying)

Overall: This is a great porter, or old ale, or black ale, or whatever. Looking forward to trying the Ola Dubh 16 in my cellar.

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Photo of shand
4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into a nonic.

This brew pours, as advertised, a deep black color with a finger of mocha-colored head. Retention and lacing are good. The aroma is very good, a smooth roastiness tempered by some sweet chocolate and some coffee. A well-composed, classic formula. On the tongue, some sweet chocolate hits along with some mildly roasted malts. As time goes on, more of the roastiness comes out, with some of the coffee flavors making themselves known. This brew finishes with a great aftertaste of just a bit of chocolate over a nice dry roastiness.

The mouthfeel is an absolute highlight of an already great brew. It's full-bodied, creamy, with just enough carbonation to keep it from being a slog to get through. The drinkability is exceptional. Overall, a superlative porter that stands at the front of it's class. Highly recommended.

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Photo of aasher
3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a medium bodied dark mahogany in colored that comes together to appear almost black. It features a nice beige lacing around the edges of my snifter. It smells of lightly roasted coffee with a nice bitter chocolate finish. It tastes of rich coffee and overly bitter chocolate. The chocolate aspect is almost too bitter. It does leave a nice after taste behind though. It drinks a lot thicker than it looked while pouring. It coats the palate. Overall this is a solid brew. I just wish it weren't as bitter as it was but it's still a solid porter.

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Photo of postalroger
4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent beer!

It pours exceptionally black as you would expect by the name, with a nice frothy brown head. Roasty aroma with chocolate & coffee present, not a real strong aroma though. It really makes up for it with the taste, rich, creamy and smooth with just enough hop bitterness to counter the malt. Great mouthfeel, each sip makes you look forward to the next one.

This was my first time trying this beer, but it will not be my last. An outstanding beer!

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Photo of paulozanello
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.1 out of 5 based on 1,728 ratings.
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