Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
Liked This Beer
4.14 w/ 1,745 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: 1,745 |  Reviews: 813
Photo of Eramen
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
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 -3.4%
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 -20%
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 -1%
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 +6.8%
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 +3.9%
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 -3.4%
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 +20%
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 -11.1%
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 +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 MAB
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
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 -6.3%
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 +4.6%
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 +9.9%
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 -7.5%
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 +10.6%
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 -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.

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a syrupy, almost pitch black from a 11.2 oz bottle with little to no head. Aroma is predominantly of chocolate with hints of caramel and molasses coming through.
Taste is also predominantly of sweet molasses with hints of smoke and bitter dark chocolate coming through. Excellent mouthfeel.
Rich, silky and almost full bodied porter. Absolutely delicious.
This has got to be, hands down, one of the finest porters available. A 'must-try' for ever porter lover. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Nerudamann
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a stein glass.

Look - as the name and label depict, black as oil, and almost as viscous. Almost no foam, but what was there was a light tan.

Smell - very roasty and chocolaty. It just smells thick.

Taste and Mouthfeel - like the smell, finely roasted and a bit chocolaty in flavor. A bit bitter at the onset, but it smooths out in the middle and gets a bitter taste again in the finish. Very interesting transition! Texture is well-balanced but leans a little more toward the creamy side, as it should.

Overall - Very good for the beer style, and a perplexing tasting.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330mL bottle, a bottle code but it's unclear what it means.

appears very dark brown, almost black. thin white head that fades quickly to a thin whispy covering.

pungent aroma of bittersweet chocolate, nice. tastes roasty, with major sweet chocolate and coffee flavor. but finishes fairly dry. medium body, with pretty smooth creamy carbonation and mouthfeel.

looks like the label has changed, it now says "Black Ale" instead of "Porter". no matter the style, it's a good beer.

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Photo of colts9016
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass at 50 degrees. I am looking forward to this beer.

Appearance: A two finger head that has poor retention; moreover, the head is dark brown in color and is foamy and creamy. The color of the beer is oil like, dark brown near black. The clarity of the beer is opaque. The head on the beer left no lacing on the glass.

Nose: A robust roasted malt with chocolate, espresso, with a nice toasty note. The hop is there but mild. The hop is woody, with some floral esters. There is a nice yeasty aroma, toffee, molasses, caramel, and bready notes.

Taste: A robust chocolate malt, espresso, with a nice roasted note. There are a mild hop flavor that fruity with floral esters, and some wood. Other flavors are yeast, toffee, molasses, caramel, and bready.

The mouth feel is carbonated, smooth, and silky.

Overall: The body of the beer is medium and the finish is medium. This is a really good porter with lots of flavor a very easy beer to drink. I am glad I got to drink it.

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Photo of Seanstoppable
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Best before date of March 2012.

Pours a solid black color. Head is minimal - a slight ring of chocolate.

Almost no nose that I can detect, with the exception of a hint of coffee.

What it lacks in smell, it makes up for in taste. "Distinctive notes of chocolate and coffee lead to a bittersweet aftertaste" reads the label, and that is exactly what you get. A very nice balance between the coffee and chocolate, both present but neither overwhelming. Smooth finish with a bit of bittersweet flavor that lasts a moment.

Though I probably wouldn't drink this as a session beer, or accompanying a meal, I think this would make a great desert beer.

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.39/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep black with the slightest of brown highlights. A vigorous pour didn't produce too much of a head, but it is there.
Vanilla, banana, a bit of smoke and plum make up the start of the nose. There is a tiny bit of grain and dirt in the background.
The taste starts with dark fruits and earthy hops, a bit of buttered bread and banana, and a bit of smoke in the finish. There is a bit of a mineral and floral background as well. Goes down easy.
A little pricy for everyday drinking, but well worth the try. I got it because it is apparently the beer that becomes Ola Duba, which I grabbed for my cellar. Very nice brew, gave me hope for the future of my Ola Duba.

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

Had this on-tap at Sunswick 35/35 on 4/7/11.

Reviewed taken from notes.

A - This beer pours black in color, and has a decent light tan head on it. The head leaves some decent lacing behind.

S - It smells of dark roasted malts and chocolate. There are also notes of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. Quite a nice smelling beer.

T - This starts out with a nice sweet roasted malt flavor. There are nice notes of coffee and chocolate. I am also getting nice flavors of vanilla, caramel, and a touch of dark fruits. The finish has some lingering roasted bitterness.

M - It has a medium body and the carbonation is on the lower side. It goes down smooth, and leaves some lingering roasted bitterness in the mouth.

O - There is good drinkability here. It has nice flavor, and I could easily drink a few of these in a night. It's sweet, but has a nice bitterness to it. I would definitely try this one again.

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Photo of wcintula
4.63/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Practically perfect in every way. Pours viscously with a brown head weighed down by the gravity of the beer itself. Smells of all the darks, roasted, chocolate, dried fruits, awesomeness. Super malt machine, easy and pleasant to drink. A porter that I can drink for the rest of my life.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 88.2% out of 100 with 1,745 ratings
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