Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
1,762 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

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Ratings: 1,762 |  Reviews: 821
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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with a light tan head. In the aroma, roasty coffee, but thinner than a stout. In the taste, roasty coffee and a small chocolate like hint. A smooth and medium to light bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry coffee hint in the aftertaste. Almost looks and smells like a stout, but not as rich. Quite nice overall.

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

Review is from notes taken on 10/24/2010 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is deep dark brown/black like freshly brewed coffee; starts with a scant 1/4 finger dark tan head that fades immediately to nothing other than a faint skim floating in the surface and a thin ring surrounding the surface; body is entirely opaque (aptly named, I must say); a few spots and strands are left holding on to the sides of the glass.

Smell: Mostly burnt/roasty coffee grounds; some dark bittersweet chocolate; mild hop bitterness that is earthy, soil-like and leafy; really quite what I would expect, and it's kind of reminiscent of Edmund Fitzgerald... just not quite as big or robust.

Taste: Much like the nose, the most dominant aspect is the strong and bitter burnt roastiness -- kind like French pressed espresso; there is a faint bit of chocolate to it, but it's really overpowered by the bitter roast; the faint earthy/dirty hop presence is there, but it does have a tinge metallic bite to it. Overall, this is a really good beer and I can see me getting it again based up on these flavors.

Mouthfeel: Ah, the part of the porter that just falls flat for me in almost every case -- they always just seem kind of thinner than they should based upon their smells and flavors, but considering that they're not meant to be thick and chewy, this one is pretty good and about on style; just somewhere between light and medium in weight; the beer leaves a thin and dry coating all over the roof of the mouth; carbonation is quite present and maybe just a tad sharp.

Drinkability: I think I could really get into this beer on cool fall nights, much like tonight. The flavors are really good and robust, and the ABV isn't going to be something that knocks you on the ground.

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Photo of LairdChisholm
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours incredibly close to black. When held up to the light, the corners of my glass turn a mahogany brown. The is some very fine white sediment hanging around the bottom. A slight espresso colored head has very good retention. Some great lacing on this one.

S - Average pungency on this one. The smell is very good though. It consists of creamy chocolate and a hint of coffee and dark fruits.

T - So many different flavors going on here it's hard to count. This porter has incredible complexity. There is dark fruits up front followed by notes of milk chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, and coffee. The after taste has notes of creamy vanilla and bitter dark chocolate. Amazing.

M - A wee bit on the watery side but it still manages to be somewhat chewy.

D - Finishing this one won't be hard at all, the amazing taste makes in a Porter to sip on and savor.

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Photo of klikger
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a Darkness tulip

A - Black, little head, good lacing

S - Prune, raisin, caramel, dark chocolate. Yum.

T - Coffee, cocoa, dried fruits, and a bunch of piny hops. There's plenty of hop bitterness and espresso beans on the finish. Very tasty beer.

M - Relatively low carbonation, good body for a porter

D - 6% and all this flavor? Give me another.

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

The beer is absolutely black. I held it up to a number of different light sources and got no change at all in color. Not surprising though with a name like that. It had a little bit of head at first which was a tan-brown color; it went away but has good lacing effect.

You can pick up hints of coffee, raisin, dark chocolate, and that smell that comes off hot cocoa. It's fairly subtle though, but right now the beer is pretty cold. I'm sure it will wake up in a few minutes.

My first taste is of bitter chocolate. The beer is not as thick as the color would have you think, but it is pretty slick. The chocolate flavor lingers the whole time, much like a Young's Double Chocolate. It has a drying finish with a bitter touch on the end that is pretty refreshing.

This is a big beer for only 6%. It's definitely a sipping beer and there's reason they only sell you one. I'm going to work on this one for a while.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle. The prototypical old-world example of the style, it would seem.

This beer pours black, black, and more black. Just some slight basal mahogany prism effects here, lads and lasses, with a single finger of foamy, bubbly, and somewhat creamy beige head, which leaves a bulky morass of variously webbed lace around the glass in its slow, meandering wake.

The aroma is dry, ashy chocolate malt, cold coffee grounds, a touch of black, fleshy fruit, and floral, earthy hops. The taste is chocolate malt up front, followed by a dry, bitter cocoa, late-morning coffee urn character, a latent lactic essence, and leafy, fairly edgy earthy hops.

The carbonation is averagely effervescent, the body on the upside of hefty, softly smooth, and just a bit tingly. It finishes kind of sweet, the obfuscating souring bitterness abating somewhat, letting loose more goodly chocolate maltiness.

A well-made old school porter, with lots and lots going on, but not too much of any one thing, thankfully. The expected sourness is well accompanied by lots of cocoa, malt, coffee, and fruit, all in appropriate proportions, which goes a long way in explaining the steady, common popularity of this offering.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer is black with a thin brown head that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. Carbonation moderate. Beer served in a DFH signature glass.

Aroma is pretty sweet for a porter with hints of coffee and mild roast / smoke. It smells good.

Beer is thin and quite bitter in the back but that's from the roast. Its moderately sweet up front but there isn't much going on in the midpalate. The beer is creamy and smooth overall and leaves only this bitterness as a lasting / aftertaste. Its pretty good.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black with a ruby red tinge on the edges in the light, thin layer of mocha head with little retention and no real lacing.

S - Pleasantly sweet, with milk chocolate and some dark cocoa. Could be a little stronger on the nose, as the scent is slightly tame.

T - Dark cocoa dominates the palette and a bit of sweet cherry lingers on the tongue. Alcohol is a bit noticeable, but not a turnoff. Roasted malts come through nicely and the 'bittersweet' flavour which is advertised is definitely noticeable.

M - Mouthfeel is smooth and soft, with fine carbonation, and a perfect feel for a porter.

D - Overall a very tasty offering, and more than I was expecting. Could throw back a couple of these at a time, and the mouthfeel keeps you craving more. Flavours are discreet and pleasant, but not overpowering. Recommended to any porter fan.

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Photo of beyah
4.51/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Black as midnight in the middle of nowhere on an overcast night, lightly carbonated, good lacing

Has a malt smell, with treacle?

Smooth, excellent mouth feel. Huge malt flavor, with very subtle bettering hops. There is flavor similar to a good porter.

This beer is unbelievably good, you can tell it has a Scottish heritage easy on the hops and big malt favor.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.63/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance -- Pours a dark brown, nearly black in the glass with zero highlights. A voluminous dark khaki head with the texture of a sea sponge.

Smell -- Chocolate syrup, french roast coffee, char malt. Pretty aromatic but lacking dimensions.

Taste -- Mirrors the nose overall, although more focus on bitter burnt malt. Coffee and burnt toast dominate with chocolate and earthy hop bitterness. Finish is burnt bread crust, Hershey's syrup, and herb bitters.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body with mild carbonation. Velvety would be apt. Pretty satisfying. I can only imagine what it's like on cask.

Drinkability -- I probably won't be reaching for this one again. It's certainly an well-crafted beer, however there isn't enough depth of flavor and the burnt bitterness is piercing and leads to palette fatigue.

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Photo of Andyc101
3.86/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Black with caramel lining. 1/2 finger head then subsides to a thin bubble layer.

S - Light hints of chocolate and caramel.

T - Gives you that "booze sting" right upfront then takes it to the back of your tongue where it gives you a good level of bitterness. It is not as sweet as it smells.

M - Doesn't really coat my mouth. Not a watery taste but a watery feel if you get what I'm saying. Foams up A LOT if swished. Leaves a pleasant after taste.

D - Very enjoyable and not too heavy. I wouldn't drink this too often but when I do It will be a fun reunion.

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Photo of milkbaby9
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle in Chimay chalice. Dark brown black color. Upon a vigorous pour produced 1 1/2 finger cafe au lait colored creamy head which quickly reduces to a thin layer of small bubbles. Nice patchy lacing evident as it's enjoyed.

Aroma of sweet dark chocolate, coffee bean, burnt toast, just a bit of a green hoppyness. Tastes of dark chocolate, sour tang of strong coffee, undercurrent of doughy bread -- under the roasted grainy flavors. Hint of piney or grassy hops in the finish along with roasted bitterness.

Low carbonation registers only quickly in a passing manner. Syrupy oily heavy mouthfeel with drying finishing bitterness combating the mouth coating viscousness. Finishes moderately long with three threads: lightly sweet bready maltyness, roasty bitterness, and a light almost spicy hoppy bitterness.

I didn't enjoy this quite so much the first time I drank it, but I appreciate it much more now; really enjoy the roastyness of it. Maybe it was drinking Ola Dubh (Old Engine Oil aged in scotch whisky casks) and feeling the things I enjoyed about that beer so much which increased my appreciation of Old Engine Oil.

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Photo of Nature777
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of the greatest beers I have ever had!

A: Very dark black, visibly heavier than it tastes. Nice tan head with a little lacing. Beautiful brew.

S: Roasty, chocolately, coffee smells. Beautiful!

T: Superb flavor! Nice heavy chocolate and coffee flavors with beautiful hints of malt. This beer tastes so good that it could make a grown man cry!

M: Smooth. That's all I need to say.

D: Very drinkable. Very enjoyable.

This is a nearly perfect beer. I can't imagine anything being changed on this brew to make it better. This is in my top 10!

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Photo of GilGarp
3.63/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz. bottle served cool into a tumbler.

Very dark brown on the pour but looks black in the glass. The viscosity of this oil isn't the thickest but then again, this is a 6% English porter, not a double stout. The head is about a 1/2 inch of creamy tan head. Slow to settle and leaves some lace behind. A nice looking porter.

The aroma is roasty and I can smell it from an arms length. A nice chocolate coffee smell that is very pleasant.

The flavor is immediately off-puting. It's strangely fruity, not enough roast, very light in flavor and body. The balance is there but the flavors don't seem quite right. Milk chocolate

Mouthfeel is too light and too thin but the carbonation is nice and low. Very smooth but it doesn't live up to the name.

Overall a disappointment.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.41/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip

A - Pours a dark brown almost black oily color with a nice 1.5 inch head that is nice and tan and dense. Delicious looking near perfect pour and look. The head is dense and creamy and frothy. Almost like a chocolate milk shake look to it. It recedes ever so slowly and leaves some great sticky lace.

S - Delicious burnt toffee and slight coffee aroma. Some mild chocolatey sweetness as well. Very nicely roasted malt and some slight vanilla spice wander around.

T & M - Wow. This beer is amazing. Sweet toffee and caramel malt flavors intermingle and are well balanced by that nice roasted character. A slight expresso hint mixed with some cocoa powder is definitely in there. It is very smooth and dare I say, oily. Great mouthfeel with great CO2 level that isn't too overpowering. The beer finishes with some nice dry and bitter hop character that is surprisingly grassy but does a good job balancing the malt.

D - Very high and delicious. Near perfect based on ABV and overall combination and execution of flavors.

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Photo of ne0m00re
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Black with some ruby hues, nice one-finger head died to a nice cream film.
S: Roasted malt, dry, subtle like Eddie Fitz, creamy oats, very stubtle fruit (bananas, blackberries, raspberries).
T: Toffee with a dry burnt characteristic, burnt hoppiness that is slightly green and resiny lingers; there is some vanilla and fruits.
M: Creamy and frothy, yet thin and dry.
D: Especially good.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Prime 16 into its proper Old Engine Oil tulip. Cheers to proper glassware!

A: Black body with an inch of creamy light brown foam. Good retention and lacing. Great looking beer.

S: Simple, straightforward aroma of chocolate and caramel malts, as well as a hint of earthy hop bitterness. Solid.

T: Follows the nose quite closely. A reasonably roasted character helps keep the sweetness in check. Bitter finish from the roasted malt and the hops. Tasty, but not quite outstanding.

M: Very soft body, both in consistency and carbonation. Quite pleasant indeed (if not what I expect motor oil to feel like).

D: Great balance of sweetness and bitterness plus the delicate body make this easy to finish.

Notes: While I might take issue with the rather hyperbolic moniker on this brew, there's no disputing the fact that it's a darn tasty, well made beer. Say no more.


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

Deep dark brown, appears black in the glass, with a finger of frothy tan head that leaves a solid sheet of lacing and has some staying power.

Smells of bitter roasted malt that is a bit woody. A touch of sharp sourness.

Bitter chocolate, rich coffee, a touch of smoke, caramel and cola are all present to the tongue. Lingering bittersweet finish.

Medium bodied with lowish carbonation. Some astringency in the back half of the mouth.

This is all-around good, but nothing jumped out to me as great. I had higher hopes, as I'm a big fan of the style.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$3.99 for a 11.2oz bottle. 6% ABV. Brewed with pale malt, roasted barley, and oats. Hopped with Galena, Worcester Fuggles, and Kent Goldings.

Pours out to a very deep black, forming a modest tan head with poor retention and sparse lacing. Carbonation is mild. The aroma is of prunes and raisins, licorice, black walnut, and toasted marshmallows. The mouthfeel is smooth with a medium dense body and a lightly astringent burnt finish. The taste is a recap of the aroma, redolent with dark fruits, a mild herbal bitterness, and notes of sawdust, chalk, and anise in the finish. No perceptable off-flavors or aromas, although the hops do add a peculiar green leafy sourness. Lightly smoky soy sauce in the aftertaste.

This is a nice stout, but tastes more like a Baltic porter, honestly. Too often when it comes to English style stouts, I find that the Fuggles and Goldings give them an oxidized, ruddy mouthfeel that I don't care for, but this seems to be nicely offset by the Galena. At $3.99 for the 12oz bottle, I'm not inclined to buy it again, as KZoo stout is cheaper, more readly available where I am at, and tastier, IMO.

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

Dark color, almost black, but when placed against the light, it shows a dark reddish tint. Its foam is slightly persistent in the glass. Aroma: Nice boquet of coffee, light touch of vanilla and roasted malt. Taste of coffee. Bitter and dry. Very drinkable and delicious! The label of this beer is different here in Brazil.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 1,762 ratings
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