Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
1,757 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: 1,757 |  Reviews: 820
Photo of mattipt
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle, BBE 06/2012. Served at 5 degrees C from a conical 1/2 pint beer festival glass.

A - The colour is very reminiscent of well-known cola brands. Very dark with a ruby red hue. Pours into the glass with a few bubbles but, try as I might, I can't get a proper head on it.

S - The first impression is surprisingly a Guinness-like aroma; that then gives way to dark roasted malt that brings to mind Southern Italian dark-roasted, oily coffee beans. Nutty with a wonderful treacle sweetness. It takes me a long time to figure out the dominant taste though. I think through my Oriental spice cabinet until it hits me: sesame seed oil! That, and the traditional Finnish Easter dessert mämmi.

T - It takes a while for the taste to sink in. Treacly sweet and rich. Wholesome like freshly baked brown bread. Now I've figured it out, more sesame seed oil keeps coming through. Very smooth with minimal bitterness. All flavours blend together wonderfully.

M - Thick, oily, chewy and interesting, again the oily coffee beans come to mind. Coats the mouth wonderfully. Suitably flat without being too much so.

D - At 6%, it's very drinkable. Unlike many porters, it doesn't taste thin. Seems to withstand quite low temperatures. This feels like quite a demanding beer to drink though as it takes some analysis to get all the flavours out and in order. Alternatively, just sit down and enjoy the symphony. Fantastic stuff!

 1,424 characters

Photo of BeerNemesis
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Old Engine Oil | 330 ml. | 6.0% ABV | 2010

Brewer: Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Style: English Porter
Glass: Brandy snifter

"It's an impenetrable slick of black but for a laserlike glint of ruby under light. One viscous sip after another introduces an enigmatic blend of flavors--charred malts and sticky toffee; bitter, slightly oily hops towards the finish; and minor hints of stale espresso and dark chocolate here and there. It's a silky smooth operator, and a gestalt of a brew, that won't easily give up its secrets."

Tar black with glassy shards of ruby red.

Wet coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malts.

Char twists into toffee into espresso and dark chocolate into licorice and back again. Mild, but packed to the hilt with flavor all the way through the bittersweet aftertaste.

Incredibly smooth and viscous, like silk sliding over velvet. Unparalleled for its style.

The blend is king, and all flavors submit readily to the flawless medley.

Would I get it again?:
Oh yeah!

Bottled: it doesn't don't say
Served: 01.02.2011

Price = $3.99 at Whole Foods

 1,123 characters

Photo of IronDjinn
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From a 330 ml brown bottle. Pours out a dense opaque black colour, nearly impermeable to light except for a faint ruby tinge that appears under extreme intensity.

Intense notes of char, roast, licorice, molasses, coffee, dark chocolate in the aroma.

Flavour is greater than the sum of its parts, everything tends to blend in so well together that it becomes difficult to pick all the seperate components apart. Smooth roast and char up front, sweet molasses and licorice follows, dry cocoa kicks in on the finish along with some leafy herbal hops that linger into the aftertaste, while some more of that sweetness reappears for an encore.

Can't fathom a better mouthfeel for a beer of this style. Medium-full, silky smooth texture, very low carbonation, it all just works together, once again greater than the sum of its parts.

An absolutely excellent English Porter, incredibly enjoyable and worth seeking out. I will definitely be picking up more, and spreading the good word around every chance I get. One of the best of the style.

 1,039 characters

Photo of TheKingofWichita
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black color with a thick tannish head and a good amount of lacing. Smells of roasted barley, a little smoke, and chocolate. Tastes pretty good with lots of roasted flavors, coffee, toffee, chocolate, and some smoke and just a touch of hops. Mouthfeel was thick and oily. Somewhat easy to drink.

 307 characters

Photo of RickS95
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Completely black liquid, a black hole in a glass. Sadly, there is no head to speak of.

Scents of chocolate and roasty malts dominate the nose. It almost smells black.

The taste is just strong. It's an aggressive taste, with bittersweet chocolate and toast filling the palate.

There's nothing gentle about this beer. It's not so much a bitter taste as it is a strong taste. It's like a stout combined with a barley wine.

I like the beer, but I don't think I could drink a lot of it. The alcohol isn't all that high, but it's a bit more bitter than I like unless I'm drinking a high ABV beer or an IPA. There's nothing smooth about this.

 640 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The first of my series of final exam/surviving med school 1st semester celebratory beers. Poured at 45°F into Duvel tulip, allowed to warm a bit...

The pour procures an epically dark brown, nearly black, viscous liquid that is crowned with a 1.5" thick, frothy beige head. The glass is adorned with much lacing and the head retains as a bubbly ring with a large island in the center. I can't even begin to describe how rich and balanced the aromas are. Can't help but take a sip and both aroma and flavor are described together. Hefty amounts of cocoa and coffee at first, then comes a nice and subtle (that's the key here) ashiness that is balanced by sweet caramel and biscuits. Hint of burnt toast and blackstrap molasses. There is no alcoholic burn; only a tiny warmth is apparent in the finish. Bitterness akin to coffee and char linger on and on. Carbonation is as good as is gets, yielding a velvety smooth texture to this surprisingly light/medium bodied beer. Looks can be deceiving! But as such, this is a lovely drinker that I would be happy to quaff all day.

 1,072 characters

Photo of mountsnow1010
3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Name makes sense. Thick, black beer.
S - Primarily cocoa and roasty notes, figgy smell, blackcurrant-like odor, a bit of a dusty/dry sensation, not unpleasant. Not a ton of odor.
T - Chocolate and toasty/burnt malt flavor. They fit a lot of charred flavor in this. Really complex, hard separate flavors; really interesting. Dark fruity tastes as well. Nice solid flavor but it I think the char overwhelms all of the other flavors.
MF - Pretty thick, coats the mouth.
D - I could drink several of these.

 508 characters

Photo of BeerdedEric
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark spots, tan and khaki colors in the head. The body is 100% opaque. The head seems to want to disappear about two minutes after the pour but actually sticks around with a silky smoothness.

Roasted maltiness, toffee, chocalate and a nutty aroma. A hint of hoppiness in the smell.

Coffee and chocolate upfront. Some Bitterness in the aftertaste. It's a nice taste but I feel something is lacking, I can't figure it out. It may be due to the blunt taste at first but then there's nothing working for it after that.

Medium to thick bodied but very silky smooth in texture. Feels nice in the mouth. Some carbonation tickles the front of the tongue.

Even though it's kind of thick bodied it's not very heavy. I could have a few of these. It is a good enough beer to drink more than just one.

 795 characters

Photo of EtOHMD
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought this as a single. Shop owner said is was one of his personal favorites. Pours a thick syrupy dark opaque dark brown to black with hints of maroon at the edges. Thin head which dissipates quickly. Rich chocolatey roasted flavor with hints of cherry. Chewy feel with no aftertaste. Wishing I had bought more than one of these! Think it's going to become one ofmy faves.

 374 characters

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.

 1,074 characters

Photo of DaveHS
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Dark chocolate brown with a thin, dark tan head. Moderate soapy lacing.

S-Roasted malts, lactic sweetness.

T/M-Roasty and rich, with a pleasant, creamy mouthfeel and a surprisingly bitter finish. Almost no carbonation. Lush and silky, not too sweet. The roasted malts linger in the finish.

D-A very good porter.

 316 characters

Photo of BigMike
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From an 11.2 oz. Bottle

A: Pours jet black with no signs of light coming through anywhere. A beautifuly dense tan head on top that's leaving a lace trail on the glass.

S: Dark roasted malts, chocolate.

T: Bittersweet chocolate, anise, a light roasted nuttiness. Finishes with bitter coffee notes.

M: super smooth and creamy. Light to medium body with light carbonation.

Overall: This is good beer. A real easy drinking flavorful porter. I recommend trying this one.

 474 characters

Photo of atsprings
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a standard pint glass pours a deep almost opaque black with a nice frothy light tan head that lasts as a thin layer and leaves nice lacing on the glass. Aroma is a nice amount of smooth dark malts with slight baker's cocoa. The taste is loads of dark malts, cocoa, smooth coffee and slight molasses, very complex. This is a great English Porter, one I would certainly have again.

 396 characters

Photo of ams0286
4.88/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A new arrival at the local A&P Liquor Store, I decided to pick this one up to pair with my fresh wild boar chops.

The appearance is exceptional. A thick foamy tan head tops the completely black beverage. As I enjoy this beer there is a great amount of lacing that remains on the glass all the way to the top.

The smell is on point as far as the style goes. Lots of roasted malts, molasses, dark chocolate and even a hint of dark dried fruits. I wouldn't mind if all of this was a little more forward, but it is amazing none the less.

For taste, I can't remember a better black ale that has been so robust. All of those aromas are further accentuated through the flavors in this beer and some. Up front you get a great amount of dark roasted and crystal malts. As this gives way a whole new arrangement of flavors appear. Toffee, dried fruits, even tobacco come across my palate. The hops in this brew are not lacking either. With such a strong malt backbone, you can find in the flavor a resiny/pine flavor that even carries some citrus.

Thick and smooth, even better as the beer warms. The low carbonation rate is again on point for the style. It comes close to the viscosity of and "Old Engine Oil" which is great, and exactly what I was seeking for tonight.

This is by far a session beer. The 6% ABV makes you aware the beer is there, and the body of the beer does too. I do think that this is a great example of the style and wish that more brands lived up to this standard.

 1,483 characters

Photo of vfgccp
3.79/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep rosewood at the edges of a narrow glass, but otherwise as black as it's namesake. Caramel colored head with some decent lacing.

S - Toffee, espresso. Mild, but opened up as it breathed.

T - Toast, char, some woody notes, coffee, bitter chocolate (more like 80% cocoa then a regular dark chocolate bar). The flavors show a steady hand, with nothing over the top. Malt rounds out the aftertaste.

M - Very smooth, light body.

D - The char and bitter chocolate aren't overpowering. Would drink 2 at a bar if I caught this on tap.

 539 characters

Photo of EgadBananas
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black, dark tan head, with a little bit of lacing.

Aroma is very roasted, with some hints of chocolate and a bit of bitterness, seemingly from cocoa and hops.

Surprisingly hop forward initially, lots of roasted malts, slightly sweet with a bit of chocolate and dark fruits. Bitter chocolate on the finish.

Medium in body, slightly creamy, with little carbonation.

Good solid drinkability. Overall, a very nice brew.

 421 characters

Photo of FosterJM
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

51st review on BA
bottle to pint glass
Had at Lucky Devils in Hollywood

App- Black as night with a very small 1 finger head that was very tan.

Smell- Malt, smoke, Burnt quality and some roast cocoa nibs.

Taste- Doesn't drink at all what I thought. Its lush and smooth.

Mouth- Silky, smooth and rich. Paired well with dessert.

Drink- If I was having a second round of dessert or it was cold out another would have been ordered. Very good porter.

 449 characters

Photo of philbe311
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an over-sized snifter...

A - Half fingers worth of dark khaki colored mildly creamy foam... Minimal retention gives way a mixed bag of lacing that is mostly a very thin veil with some splotchy chunks of larger bubbles and a thin collar... A mostly opaque deep brooding brown color with only a touch of light leaking in around the upper end of the glass...

S - Bitter chocolate morsels... Roasted malts... Licorice... Caramel... Toffee... A bit nutty... A modest minty component??? I can't really put my finger on it, but there is something that is slightly off putting in the overall aroma...

T - Licorice... Cocoa... Roasted grains... More licorice... Some touches of peat... A hint of smoke... Solid, but slightly lacking in terms of depth and complexity...

M - Medium bodied... Very muted carbonation... Sleek... A tad on the thin side... Even and consistent... A slightly burnt chalky finish...

D - An enjoyable English Porter that teeters on the edge of being a world class offering but falls ever so slightly short... I would still welcome on future occasions and would recommend for any serious BA... Loaded with enjoyable subtleties...

 1,165 characters

Photo of buschbeer
3.43/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I poured into a pint glass to two fingers of brown head. This beer is dark brown with ruby highlights. The aroma is chocolate and nutty. The taste is dominated by some bitter hops with a bitter coffee taste. I don't remember this beer being this bitter. I recall a more chocolaty flavor. It fells viscous in my mouth. I am left disappointed in this one. The aroma was great but the taste was too bitter.

 403 characters

Photo of Fatehunter
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out of a bottle into a Delirium glass. Black as night. A solid inch of tan head. So beautiful.

S - Burnt malt, dark chocolate and a hint of smoke.

T - Bitter chocolate at first and a good hop bitterness at the end.

M - Medium going towards full body. Slightly creamy with light carbonation.

D - Excellent. A great porter. Nothing bad to say about it.

 365 characters

Photo of Bung
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz. Been a while since I've last had this, time to review one. Out of the bottle looks brown, but it is pretty much black in the glass. Thin layer of tan head, laces ok.

Malty, peaty aroma. Caramel, cocoa.

Taste, pleasant malty caramel. Molasses, peat, light plum. Finishes with some drying cocoa and coffee.

Mid bodied, coating, then gone with a nice dryness. No complaints here.

If this wasn't so damn expensive(3.50 for one 12oz), I'd drink this regularly.

 466 characters

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.

 409 characters

Photo of kjyost
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle dated 'Jul 11', purchased at the MLCC in September. Poured into a beer mug. Served around 6C

A: Viscous, thick and dark with a light mocha head that descends leaving nice little globs of lacing.

S: Licorice, molasses, toffee, coffee... Exceptional.

T/M/D: Follows the aromas with the licorice and molasses dominating. A beautifully thick beer with a nice residual sweetness that balances the other flavours out to virtual perfection. Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy...

 473 characters

Photo of tone77
3.67/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 11.2 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a small head. Smell is of malts, coffee, some hints of chocolate. Taste is good, a balance of malts and coffee, a hint of chocolate. Feels creamy in the mouth and has good drinkability. Overall this is a good quality beer.

 282 characters

Photo of Onenote81
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice bottle received from Vaison as a bonus in a recent trade. Thanks!

Poured into a goblet-style glass. Pours a dark black with some chocolate brown on the edges. A thin tan head caps it off. No lace. Scents of baker's chocolate, faint coffee, nuts. Chocolate is the main player in the nose. Semi-sweet smelling.

The mouth is creamy and smooth. Very mellow finish, but not flat at all. Well-done. Nice creamy milk chocolate flavors jived well with faint bitterness, and the mildest of hop backing. Well-balanced. Not complex, but wonderfully executed. Easy drinker for the cool evenings upon us now.

 602 characters

Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 1,757 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.