Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

1,737 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: 1,737 |  Reviews: 812
Photo of sk8man121
3.68/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Engine oil black (ha) with a thick, tan head on top of about a finger and a half. Completely opaque when held up to a light. Nice.

S: I smell roasted malts, dank earth, and even a bit of campfire. This is quite nice.

T: This is pretty nice. Not much cocoa up front (I expected more), but a nice malty backbone. More dirt, some minerals. Not bad.

M: Carbonation is perfect and runs through the entire beer nicely. A bit thin (would like to have seen more body), but comfortable nonetheless.

D: I'd say that this has good drinkability for two reasons.

1.) The alcohol is low enough to be able to drink at least a few of these.

2.) If you dig the flavor, that won't be a problem. Otherwise, you just plan won't want to.

Pretty good offering that I may give one more shot at some point, but certainly nothing that blew me away.

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Photo of superdedooperboy
4.06/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2-ounce brown bottle poured into a New Belgium globe tulip.

Pours a nearly impenetrable black hue with a one-inch layer of light tan foam that fades away to a lingering bubbly cap that clings easily to the walls of the glass, leaving behind gorgeous well-formed rings of lace as it empties.

In the nose, a strong whiff of creamy dark chocolate is evident along with a little lightly toasted bread and sweet grain. Nothing terribly complex, though certainly enticing.

Medium-full body with a mild-to-moderate carbonation that seems to make the body feel lighter than it really is. Mildly sweet caramel notes open up, with dark burnt toast taking over almost immediately; roastiness overwhelms the middle and is accentuated by a decent bit of hop bitterness and a hint of acidity, with a little more malt sweetness peeking around the edges of the tongue. Finishes very dry and roasty-bitter, with a lingering roastiness that lasts quite some time.

A wonderfully pleasant and surprisingly drinkable ale. Not really befitting the name, this is much more enjoyable than a glass of similarly-looking dirty engine lube... or at least I would assume as much.

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

11.2oz bottle served in shaker pint.

A: Near black. Almost zero light permeates this one. Mocha brown head initially stands about 2.5 fingers tall and settles in at about half a finger. Sticky lace. Nice looking beer.

S: Deep roasted malts. Freshly ground coffee. Hint of vanilla.

T: Roasty, chocolatey flavors. Coffee and cream. Milk chocolate sweetness. Carob, maybe? Nutty and woody notes in the background. Finishes a little bittersweet.

M: Lucious mouthfeel. Very soft and smooth. Carbonation is unnoticeable in a very good way. Could be more viscous for my taste, but for the style it's spot on.

D: I could definitely tip several of these in a sitting. Keeps the palate interested, but is beautifully restrained.

Very well done. This will likely become a beer that I keep on hand with some regularity. Pick some of this up the next time you see it on the shelf, you won't be disappointed.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into tulip aug2 2010

A black like its namesake with a large 3 finger head that hangs around for quite some time slowly falling to a 1/4in film leaving plenty of lace, pretty sexy looking beer when all's said and done

S a little dark fruit some smoke, chocolate and a little coffee and molasses

T a little more smoke then I smell and just a tiny bit of booze but other then that it tastes as it smells but just a little stronger then the nose

M a little thin but enough carbonation to give it a creamy feel

D went down pretty quick and I will be drinking this again without doubt

for a first beer from a brewer I think I picked a good one, I can't wait to try some of the other brews by these guys that just got released here in Alberta

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

Poured into a Duvel glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As poured the appearance of the beer almost lives up to its name. The liquid is dark brown, almost black in color and once in the glass allows no light through it. The stream of liquid contains lighter and darker "threads" but even those that are transparent and clear are dark brown, just not as dark as the darkest. The ½" head is dense throughout with some lager bubbles on the top. The head recedes soon to leave an irregular ring and an irregular island of foam. Also there are patches and leggy trails of lace clinging to the sides of the glass. Sipping leaves widely scattered small patches of foam clinging to the sides of the glass.

Smell: The aromas are those of dark roasted malt, dark chocolate and dark molasses, along with some dark fruit (plum or prune).

Taste: The flavor is rich, dark roasted and reasonably complex with a trace of sweetness, some almost burnt bitterness and races of dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium to full bodied and soft, with moderate but persistent carbonation. The finish is moderately long with early sweetness disappearing quickly to leave the dark roast, almost burnt bitterness and some earthy character from the hops.

Drinkability: While listed as a porter (it was once listed as an Old Ale) this is one of those beers that tests the myth that the difference between a porter and a stout lies in the dark roast malt. I've found with this beer that while it should be sipped slowly and savored, each sip also follows naturally from the first and I'm finishing this beer wanting more than there is. I'll certainly seek this beer out to have again in the future

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

Appearance: Pours completely opaque black, with a small, thick brown head. Thick lacing.
Smell: Strong evidence of coffee and toasted malts. Some fruity tones.
Taste: All coffee up front, with an interestingly fruity finish.
Mouthfeel: Thick, yet clean. Moderately carbonated.
Drinkability: The thick, robust flavor definitely makes it a beer to enjoy slowly. However, the complex taste is something that can definitely be enjoyed for a beer or three.

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Photo of DionysusII
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Black body, dark ruby red where very little light passes through on a few spots in the glass. Aggresive pour yields thin light brown head that fades quickly with little to no lacing.

S- Nice boquet, just as the label describes, roasted barley, semi-tart chocolate and hints of coffee.

T- Taste follows smell in this big brew, just as i expected. Delicious.

M- Medium heavy body, a little less than what I had hoped for, but great none the less.

D- Very drinkable given the lower ABV for how strong a flavor this delicious porter offers.

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Photo of obywan59
4.33/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a thin light brown head. Minimal lacing.

Lightly sweet dark chocolate in the nose.

More coffee than chocolate in the taste. Nicely sweet like a porter should be, but follwed by a bit of tartness.

Medium bodied. Not as thick as old engine oil. Light bitterness in the end. I get some alcohol burn in the throat.

No problems with this one. Full-flavored and ruch. Easy to drink.

This was the third in my series of British brews tonight, following Oxfordshire Triple B (England) and Williams Brothers Alba Scots Pine Ale (Scotland). Boy, did the Scots ever blow away the English tonight. I was a bit worried after drinking the fabulous Alba, but even though I bucked the trend, and rated the Harvietaun lower, it was a great beer to end the night with. Like an after-dinner coffee.

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Photo of eat
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with a patchy cover of beige head. I thought it would look thicker given its name; I hate when I'm let down in the name of a beer. Why not name a beer something else if it's not going to live up to it? Some lacing present.

Molasses, smoke, roasted malt, dark chocolate, espresso, caramel and dark hops in the nose. Pretty nice.

Tastes of dusty cocoa, lots of dark hop bitterness, dark chocolate, light smoke. Surprising bitterness. I like it.

The feel could definitely be a little thicker. Not bad, but engine oil? Medium-thin body with light carbonation.

I like how this is definitely a porter in the classic sense. Very drinkable. I'd pick this up again for sure. Great example of the style, though I'm not sure what it has to do with engine oil.

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Photo of Bravo4
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into an Imperial pint glass.

A- Extremely dark with a tan head that lingers around 1 finger.

S- Coffee with dark fruits and chocolate. Slightly heavy.

T- Deffinately dark chocolate with coffee and dark fruits.

M- Thick and rich mouthfeel that goes down smooth with little carbonation.

D- This is definately drinkable and would make a good session beer if you are into this style.

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Photo of mdwalsh
3.23/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Just some very short notes on this one, sorry.

A: BIG cola like head on this, opaque black body, not much else worth describing though.

S: Sugar, cooked grain, brown sugar. No Alcohol.

T: Dry, roasted, no hops or alcohol. Sort of bland, I could see why they wanted to age this in barrels.

M: Dry and Light.

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Photo of ritzkiss
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle split with eat - thanks Colin!

Pours a nice dark brown with a little light around the edges, two fingers of foam pop up and leave a big bubble collar and some light lacing.

This has to be considered a classic of the style. Coffee, bitter chocolate, molasses, dark fruits, charred wood, a bracing grassy bitterness that has a faint citrus note in there, nice toffee and brown sugar sweetness, slightly thin body but at 6% this is a supremely drinkable, loaded with flavor porter you would gladly session. Really very nice, this is what the style was meant to be.

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Photo of mulder1010
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 ML bottle poured into a 425 ML glass

A-- Poured a reddish black and settled black with red tints at the head of the beer. Short lived dark brown head that became light brown head. Some head retention and no visible carbonation. Small bit of lacing with the beer.

S-- Roasted malts, coffee molasses, and have a bit of cured meat smell to this.

T-- Coffee, molasses, sweet milk, a lot of roasted malts to this.

M-- All over the board in a good way. Tar like but has enough sweet qualities to get by. Started getting a bit of milk chocolate in the mouth to go along with the others. Thick and rich but not overly heavy.

D-- Excellent porter. Well hidden ABV, complex and has a lot going on with it. Also quite drinkable and can have 2-3 and not get tired of it.

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

Poured from thw 12 oz slim into a pint glass.

Pours dark black with flecks of brown covered by a brown foam.

Roasted coffee/chocolate smell with underlying sweetness. Subdued roasted bitterness wrapped with malt. Quite flavorful, in an almost understated way. Almost tasting a bourbon/whiskey sensation that I know not to be there - but could easily see how this is barrel aged in other varieties.

Slight creamy mouthfeel. Very drinkable. Excellent,

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Photo of Parrotbeak
3.97/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A few shades short of black, with almost no light passing through. Very thin, off-white head that fades quickly, leaving a few patches. Not much lacing.
Smell is dark, roasted malts, with notes of dark chocolate and cocoa, as well as caramel and fainr toffee. Some faint espresso notes as well.
Taste is bitter, roasted malts, with notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and light caramel. Bitter and malty on the finish.
Mouthfeel is smooth, yet crisp and fairly dry on the finish. Medium body.
Drinkability is good. Tastes more like a porter than an old ale to me. Pretty good beer overall.

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Photo of dqrull
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black liquid, that for some reason seems a bit brownish to me, although it lets through no light what so ever, not even at the edges, hmm. A creamy tan head, of moderate size lasts quite a wihile, leaving spotted creamy lacing.

Smells is that of hot chocolate with cream! A really full and intense nose with some bitter dark chocolate behind the creamy hot chocolate, a light brush of mixed fruits from the hops, a very, very small hint of roasted malts as well.

Taste is slightly dissapointing after the great nose... Starts off with chocolate and a light hint of lightly roasted coffee, then transforms into a mix of raw vegetables... like carrot juice without the taste of carrots... if that makes any sense. Continuing from mid palate, there is a hint of sweet fruits after the vegetables step back, with a little honey to them as well as a very faint floral perfume-thing. Finishes with bitter coffee... no huge aftertaste, but that is expected with this moderate ABV I guess.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin for me, and the carbonation feels a little bit underwhelming, but it's still good, with small, quite sharp bubbles.

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Photo of mithrascruor
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a solid black color with nice creamy darker tan head. Very good retention and lacing. More head than I would expect, after the Ola Dubhs I've had.

Smell: Warm and slightly sweet aroma of roasted malts, dark chocolate, and a bit of creamed coffee.

Taste: The flavor is almost entirely that of roasted malts. The taste is fairly dense, and it takes on a burned/bitter quality towards the finish. It is best to wait a bit between sips, as more delicate aspects of the flavor come out in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy mouthfeel, with a light but constant carbonation. Medium-bodied; a bit lighter than I expected.

Drinkability: Taste may be a bit too much for some people, but I find it quite drinkable and the ABV is pretty low.

An enjoyable old ale, and probably a good introduction to this style (both in flavor and price). I personally prefer their Ola Dubh which have a lot more going on with various subtle things in the flavor.

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

To compare some dark beers, I bought this, 'Old Ale' Porter from Scotland.

Very dark brown, good head, very nice lacing.
Aroma of dark malts, a bit of coffee and chocolate, also dark caramel and vanilla.

Taste is bitter from roasted malts. There's almost an ash taste to it too. Bitter aftertaste as well.

Mouthfeel is medium: it's not lingering too long. Alcohol is well masked.

Compared to other porters I've had ( I say porter, because it's stated like this on the bottle), This Old Engine Ale' is modest.
More creamy milky chocolate notes would make it more to my liking.
Good nevertheless.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.72/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Not many brews I've had like this.

Served in a pint glass. Have had it in a chalice at the same joint as well.

Poured without much of a head, not that it's a big deal with an old ale. A thin film of sud lingered for a bit and no sight of lacing. Dark viscous black - iodine or vanilla extract in appearance and consistency.

The nose off this is roasty, bitter, and vinous (not necessarily in order of potency) - but hardly off-putting.

I'm almost at a loss describing its flavor. I can try and sum it up with by noting that it tastes like a mix between port wine and an Irish dry stout. I don't know how they achieve the balance in those flavors, but it's wonderful.

The mouthfeel is very much like an Imperial stout and Concord grape juice, without the grape part. Viscous, but not thick. Astringent, but not altogether dry.

I love this beer, most especially on draft. Great by itself or with fruity, chocolaty, or rich (in general) desserts.

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Photo of thjoth
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pilsner glass.

A: Black as pitch with a dark tan (I'm calling it a khaki color) head that lingers around a finger in width. Darker than Guinness. No real bubbling or carbonation was apparent.

S: Slightly burnt coffee with a sweet note of...I'm not sure, perhaps a sort of chocolaty/dark-fruity note.

T: Bitter chocolate with burnt coffee again. Finish is slightly bitter, about the middle of the road by beer standards, and sticks around for quite a while in the back of your throat. I was still tasting this one occasionally about 45 minutes later, but I'm not sure if that has more to do with the slight bitterness or with the sheer viscosity of the liquid.

M: Almost syrupy it's so thick. No carbonation to lighten it at all that I noticed. This is actually how I like them though; they can't get it thick enough to stand a spoon up in, but by God they're trying, and I applaud the effort.

D: I could definitely drink a couple of these. Overall quite enjoyable. For sure I'd like to review this one again down the road after my senses develop a bit better and see if I can pick anything else out.

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Photo of aepb1
4.57/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Black with a creamy tan head

S- Chocolate and coffee, malts. Rich smell!

T- Strong chocolate fore with the roasted malts finishing and a bit of hoppiness at the finish as well

M- Decent though not as thick as the appearance and smell would lead you to believe but being labeled a black ale, it makes sense

D- Great beer and very easy to drink!

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

A: As advertised, it looks like oil. Little tannish head, that faded quickly, and left little lacing.

S: Very nice aroma. Nice sweet smell of chocolate comes across with a background of roasted malts.

T: Great taste! Matches the smell exactly. Chocolate comes across strong with a very nice lingering flavor of roasted malts with a slight amount of hops. Really enjoyed it.

M: Decent amount of chew to it. I would have liked a little more though. Still good.

D: Very drinkable. I'm glad I accidentally got two when I was out on a beer run.

Overall - Overall, I'm very impressed with the beer. The flavor was very balanced and delicious. Great amount of chocolate and malts. Well done.

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Photo of rarbring
4.07/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very dark, almost black, beer, a small brownish head, little lacing some curtains.

Dark caramel malt nuances, coffee and chocolate beans, burnt bread and some saltiness.

The taste is upfront sweet, burnt sugar, a bit smoky, coffee beans and bunt porridge.

Little carbonation, thick and oily with a dry finish.

Very sweet to me, with some ripe cheese and ginger bread perhaps?

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Photo of projectflam86
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep dark brown almost black color with a thick creme colored head that leaves some nice lace.

S- Lots of roast and malt aromas initially with a bit of smoke.

T- Rich and roasted with a lingering burnt aftertaste. Some better sweet chocolate and toasted grains come through as well.

M- Medium bodied with low carbonation. Overall a smooth creamy feel.

D- I would have guessed this to be more of an english stout than an old ale but either way its quite tasty.

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Photo of crossovert
3.93/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle.

It pours thinner than motor oil (cmon guys). It is a nice rich black with brown on the edges of the pint. The head is huge and cocoa tan and creamy and delicious looking. It takes forever to recede leaving some nice lacing.

It smells very grainy, like a freshly brewed beer. It has some nice chocolate scents along with some sugary caramel and bread. There is a hint of smoky peat and coffee as well.

The flavor is decent, very Irish stout-liken at first, but infinitely better. It has a sort of spiciness to it along with some toffee, chocolate pudding, and coffee. Gradually it gets smoother and fruitier and is pleasant.

Its a decent beer. Nice one.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.1 out of 5 based on 1,737 ratings.
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