Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
Liked This Beer
4.14 w/ 1,743 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: 1,743 |  Reviews: 813
Photo of JOaikido
3.91/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330 ml brown bottle.

A- Pitch black. Nice light mocha coloured head of small bubbles. Slight amber and red in the corners when held up to the light.

S- Touch of coffee. Burnt note. Slight alcohol and dried plum.

T- Nice smooth stout taste, but with a fairly sharp bitter aftertaste that lingers for quite a while. Some bitter chocolate and coffee notes. Tiny touch of burnt flavour.

MF- Nice and smooth. Full bdied but not to the point of "chewy" which is too bad.

D- Decent oatmeal stout (how I would class it based on flavour and oats in the ingredients), but not as complex and smooth as my beloved St-Ambroise.

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Photo of NightINgale
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Very dark brown body, with loads of small bubbles and a thin brown-coloured head. I was using a tulip glass, for the lack of a snifter, so the head retention was nowhere near impressive.

S - A very robust coffee/chocolate roasted smell, with some herbal hoppiness and a hint of dark fruits. Very inviting so far.

T - Starts out with a powerful and complex roasted malt kick, bringing loads of coffee and dark chocolate notes, as well as some grape-like qualities. There is just enough sweetness; it's very balanced.The finish is one of a lingering bitter-sweetness and you can taste the alcohol a little more than one would expect from a 6% ale. It definitely opens up more as it warms up, making it very easy to savour and enjoy the complexity of the malts combined with the yeast strain.

M - Medium-to-full body to it. Not as viscous as I would have imagined, but still chewy enough. The mouthfeel is very pleasant, the carbonation is moderate.

D - Quite good, since it's not that strong (compared to imperial styles or barley wines, for example) though very full-bodied.

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

Picked up a bottle at the Farmer's Market in Woodstock, VT. Seemed like kind of a random place to find a beer like this, but the market actually had a decent collection of rarities, so go figure.

Poured this into a snifter. The color is black. All black with a light brown head that thinly skirts across the top of the beer and foams up around the sides of the glass.

The aroma is malty, grainy, slight popcorn smell followed by a hint of chocolate malts. Pleasant.

The taste is malty, mostly on the dark side. Black malts heavily contribute to the flavor and leave some bitter earthiness in your mouth. Very roasty, some dark chocolate in the background. This beer is very black malt driven.

The mouthfeel is smooth, almost creamy, but then the bitterness cancels that sensation. Ample carbonation, nice body. In terms of drinkability, I would say this is very drinkable for the style. I would probably only want a pint or two of this, but I'm not having any trouble putting it down.

All in all, this is a well done old ale. Roasty, bittersweet. Enough elements to keep it interesting. Would pick up another one of these if I were in the mood for the style.

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Photo of abuliarose
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter, revealing black body with a decent-sized coffee-colored head. Smells alcoholic and fruity with undertones of aged dark malt.

Tastes nice and roasty with a lot of chocolate malt character but not any fruitiness like the smell gives off. Medium-bodied carbonation is not too sharp, but enough to accentuate the slight acidic mouthfeel. After all of it, the taste is quite bitter. The beer consistency is borderline heavy with a smooth, slightly drying finish. For sure this is something I would enjoy again.

I think this marks my first in the old ale category, but I am excited to go out for more. This one hits my mark.

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Photo of mountdew1
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a completely opaque black with a thick dark red head. The head clung to the sides nicely, and left a thin layer on top. Aroma was sweet, akin to a dark chocolate with a small bit of oatmeal. Taste was sweet, slightly milky. Melt a bit watery in the mouth, but yet still had body and texture. Pleasant to drink, but the ABV hit surprisingly fast

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Photo of zoso493
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 330 ml bottle into a straight-sided pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very, very dark, opaque brown that allows no light to get through with a thin brown head that doesn't last too long. Leaves some faint traces of lacing.

Smell: Smells pleasant, with some dark fruit and malts really coming though and a hint of sweet sugar and molasses.

Taste: The smell misleads the taste a bit. Dark fruits come out firstly and then finish with a slight hop bitterness. A bit of complexity as you're left with a sweet taste in your mouth.

Mouthfeel: Fairly chewy and not much in the way of carbonation. Leaves your mouth feeling a bit dry after awhile, though.

Drinkability: Low enough ABV but due to the after-effects on your mouth, I'm not sure I'd want to drink a lot of these.

Overall, this is not a bad brew and it's definitely worth a try. I'll definitely seek out some other offerings from Harviestoun while I'm in Scotland.

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Photo of jsh420
2.59/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

pours almost pitch black with a 1+ finger head that left some lacing

smell was too much like a pils - cereal grains very weak

taste is like the nose a pils with some toast and chocolate

mouthfeel is very light and thin

drinkability - well i doubt i ever drink this again unless its free - high price tag for black pils = pass

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Photo of association330
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Pours almost black, with just a hint of ruby red around the very edges of the glass. Head is fizzy and slight, leaving a ring of foam and little lace.

S - Charred malts, a hint of burnt sweetness.

T - Coffee, bitter chocolate, a bit of molasses sweetness. Some floral hopiness on the swallow. Bitter, burnt coffee taste lingers on the tongue.

M - Light side of medium-bodied, maybe even a touch watery on the swallow. I was expecting something thicker.

D - Excellent flavor, but everything else about the brew was quite average.

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Photo of fropones
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured black, allowing no light to shine through. Thin mocha head appeared on top and dissapeared pretty quickly leaving only a couple bubbles on top. Smell is dark chocolate, unripe fruits, and burnt malt. Similar to a dry stout but more fruity. Burnt malt, chocolate, caramel, and toffee up front in the taste. Finishes with some dark fruits and and some hop bitterness. Complex. Actually leaves some sweet notes on the tongue afterwards, as opposed to the bitterness after stouts. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, low carbonation. Overall a delicious and quite drinkable beer.

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Photo of manwich
4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Easily one of my favorite beers, Old Engine Oil is very aptly named, pouring a thick, dark, black with an ephemeral brown head. In flavor it succeeds at being strong but not overpoweringly so, with plenty of roasted, malty flavor. It is truly exceptional to sip, filling your mouth with flavor and gently bathing your tongue.

This is truly a special beer, full of flavor without becoming syrupy, thoroughly drinkable and interesting to drink with each new bottle. Great for sipping from a pint glass on a cold wintry night. I dream of one day finding this on tap, as that would really make for a memorable moment.

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Photo of bloberglawp
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black, nice head, laces the glass a bit.

Aroma of roasted barley, and charred malted barley, hints of burt caramel, nothing much more, simple yet very inviting.

Flavor again, a deeply roasted barley, soft astringency. Dry finish, very simple, but very good.

Looking for a Dry Irish Stout brewed in Scotland? Here it is, and it a very good example of one. BTW, this is NOT a Old Ale.

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Photo of cbaird2
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Black as can be, with a medium brown head, 2 finger that went away quickly.

S - Malt, a little chocolate, a little coffee, and a tiny hint of citrus?

T - Burnt malt taste is great, little chocolate, little coffee. Some really great bitterness at the end. Very well balanced and delicious.

M - Smooth, a little heavy, but smooth and delicious feeling going down.

D - I think I could drink this all night, it's really very good in every aspect. This is one of my favorites, I've loved it every time I've had it.

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Photo of PartyBear
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: About as black as a liquid can get, with a small rough tan head. Carbonation? I have no idea, there is a bit on the surface but it's dark to see any inside.

Aroma: Rich dark roasted malts. Strong coffee. Smoked wood chips. Also, a tiny bit like bacon, very weird.

Taste: Smokey, roasted malts. Chocolate but more milky than dark. Light coffee, and also hints of kola nut. The aftertaste is bittersweet as the brewers suggest.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, silky, smooth, creamy, and incredibly thick.

Drinklability: Beautifully silky ale, with rich and moreish flavours. Most people who know anything about beer will have already tried this, if you haven't, then you should.

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Photo of ZorPrime
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Bobsy for this bottle. Tasted on July 29, 2009.

This beer is dark black color and we can't see through. Very nice head slightly brown/beige. The aroma is roasted/toasted malts with a slight note of chocolate. The taste is more chocolate than the sent. Not too much bitter but some is present. The warmer the beer gets, more chocolate is present in the taste and aroma. This beer is full-bodied and creamy. So good. Drinkability is awesome. I could drink that all night.


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Photo of movingtrain
4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours dark, about as dark as it gets. A good two finger head has slowly fallen to less than half...but there is some exceptional lacing on the glass. Looks like a cup of coffee.

Smell is of chocolate, molasses, vanilla, coffee, brown sugar, ripe figs...some serious roasted malts here.

Man, that is good! Sweet up front and bitter on the back of the tongue, this is a well-balanced beer. Taste brings about similar notes as in the aroma...chocolate, molasses, coffee...it's rich, nutty (hazelnut?), and has a great body. Man, every time I pull the glass close to take a drink I get a whiff, and that roastiness in the aroma just helps to build the complexity involved in the taste.

Overall, this beer is quite fine...delicious, perfectly balanced, and incredibly drinkable. I've had this a few times before, once on tap at Nicholson's in Cincinnati...and each time I have it, I am reminded of why so many people buzz about this beer. It is worthy.

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Photo of mikedashg
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours very black with a smaller tan head. Not quite enough head and too dark for an old ale me thinks.

S-chocolate roasted malt an coffee

T-similar to nose. Chocolate, coffee,
roasted Malts. Dark fruits. Prunes and raisins. Very balanced. Slightly bitter, but also sweet.

M-moderately carbonated. Slightly viscous. Not too heavy. Kind of light.

D-lots of drinkabilty. Very tastey. Smooth. Creamy. Low on alcohal.

Seams closer to a light stout then an old ale as far as color and flavour profile. Still gets some pretty high marks though

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Photo of mwa423
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black with a very thin dingy head. The smell is a creamy and rich malt smell with hints of coffee bean.

The taste is very strong, as strong as many imperial stouts. very rich, lots of chocolate and coffee flavors with an enjoyable bitter aftertaste.

The mouthfeel and drinkability are fantastic, I will have to get this one again in the future!

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This offering was presented in a pint glass, subtlety curved like a superb woman. A fine off-white, whipped cream froth only raised a quarter inch over the, imagine this, jet black beer. Now who would have guessed Old Engine Oil would be black? Actually, when placed to the light, it reveals dark tones of black walnut. Throughout consumption, a fine film of lacing coated the glass.

A fairly simple aroma profile, of roasted malts, and coffee beans, but oh so elegantly done.

The balance of sweetness and bitterness allows one to find dark fruits, like cherry and prune. The finish opens with a quick sharp bitterness, followed by a long seducing soft afterglow of malted milk.

This Brit is dense and creamy smooth, with a dry sense of alcohol, and a faint carbonation. After imbibing, its essence leaves a film of residual sugar on the lips.

A remarkably easy quaff, especially for it's style. I found it to be a fine accompaniment with lunch on a cold sunny day. However, it may suffer slightly from the hype. I have a couple of bottles back home, one for now, and one to age.

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Photo of Brad007
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black color with a thin one-finger brown head into my fluted glass.

Aroma is roasty and full of cream, chocolate and a bit of coffee. Certainly doesn't seem like an old ale. Very nice aromas.

Taste is creamy and full of chocolate and cream. Very easy going. Not too bitter.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering cream,chocolate and light coffee. Very nice as well.

A decent beer but it doesn't seem to fit the style. Regardless, don't let it stop you from trying it.

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Photo of bgjohnston
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

An interesting oil, er, beer, to try.

Pours a very dark brown, opaque black in the middle, although the head comes and goes way too soon. Smell is of dark roasted malt.

Taste is pretty much as advertised, with dark chocolate and a dark-roasted coffee flavor. Slightly bitter finish is more reminiscent of baking chocolate, rather than hops.

Not a big mouth feel on this one, but conversely is easy to sip down pretty quickly. Also, not too strong to say yes to a 2nd.

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Photo of MyGoodness
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one on a whim one night. I had no idea what to expect, I just wanted to try a brew from Scotland. It was shockingly black when poured. Literally looks like oil. The head was a wimpy beige colour and was basically gone in a short while. The smell is nice. Chocolate and coffee, malty and roasty (as advertised hah). The taste offers more of the roasty coffee, with only a hint of chocolate. It was surprisingly thin in terms of mouthfeel. Very light carbonation and smooth but not as thick I imagined. This went down easy and wasn't too heavy. I imagine you could knock back a few of these in a night. A pleasant find.

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Photo of DocSeven
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A very dark brown which appears pitch black unless held to a light, and even then it is opaque nearly throughout. Very little head, khaki colored, fades quickly. No additional carbonation bubbles observed. My first Old Ale, so unsure of how inviting it looks relative to other beers in the style, but it certainly doesn't look like a cold bubbly refreshing drink. The name does it justice.

S: Smells great with a chocolatey/coffee flavor. Hints of fruit, like a prune aroma.

T/M: Taste is more of the smell, tastes almost like what molasses smells like (but not what it tastes like, thank goodness). Aftertaste of strong coffee. If this is like other beers in the Old Ale style I can tell I will enjoy trying other similar beers.

D: Don't be scared off by the label/name claiming how "thick" it is. This isn't a one-and-done drink if you want to have a few. I don't know if it's my style for a session beer but would be able to have 2 or even 3 of these in a row without issue.

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Photo of Buschyfor3
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a nonic pint glass at Flanagan's Ale House in Louisville, KY.

A: Its dark in the bar, but so is this beer - no doubt on the pour. Deep, oily brown-black body with only a miniscule, chocolate colored head that forms on the pour. The head quickly dissipates to no more than a ring of khaki-colored foam on the surface.

S: Front end is heavy on the roast coffee bean aroma. There are also some fainter dark chocolate and sweeter malt notes - caramel, toffee, maybe even rolled oats - which peak out from beneath the barrage of roastiness. Otherwise, black coffee, burnt toast, and some dark chocolate seems to cover all the bases. Not much alcohol present in the nose.

T: The barrage of roasted notes in the nose really kicks in with the first sip - bold, black coffee (Colombian roast?), burnt toast, salty soy sauce, some smoky charcoal perhaps? There are also hints of powedered cocoa, a touch of dark, bittersweet baking chocolate and sweeter tinges of caramel and molasses, but these sweet spots are quickly dominated by the plethora of roasted flavors up front. The finish brings out a flash of sweet breadiness, but that too seem to slip below the surface to allow the roasted flavors (black malt?) to control the finish. As my glass warms, the finish becomes borderline bitter and it holds for a couple of seconds before transitioning back to whatever is left of the coffee, burnt toast and black malt flavors.

M: Slightly chalky/powdery. After reading the label of this beer and reading other reviews, I expected the mouthfeel to have a bit more slickness to it. Definitely medium bodied, but maybe the carbonation made it feel chalky?

D: Not hard to drink and the alcohol never really becomes prevalent. I think if you enjoy coffee beers or beers that are very forward with their roasted overtones, Old Engine Oil is probably right up your alley. A nice English Porter that mirrors many flavors that I happen to enjoy in stouts, which makes this ale a nice bridge between the styles. In terms of English Porters, I think I would give a slight nod to this over Sam' Smiths Taddy Porter, if only because Old Engine Old just seemed to have a more robust profile on both the nose and the palate. However, I wouldn't mind trying the two side by side for a more accurate comparison. Nor would I mind seeing how the vintage, whisky barrel-aged aged Old Engine Oil(s) stack up.

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Photo of mralphabet
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Very dark... pretty much black... about 2 fingers of tan colored head, it fades pretty quickly down to a ring.... nice lacing.

S: Right out of the gate I'm getting dark chocolate, coffee and sweet malt. Very nice...

T: Surprise, there is not that much chocolate here... I'm getting toasted or burnt malt right up front with a strong coffee finish.

M: Med bodied with a very fine carbonation. Feels creamy and velvet like, with a dry finish.

D: A very good beer... and very drinkable... surprisingly low ABV for the taste and feel. Not a session beer but a nice sipping beer. Sit back and enjoy.

I have to say with the name I was expecting a little thicker with a little more chocolate flavors. But I have to say it is a very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of maximum12
2.13/5  rDev -48.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Doesn't appear as thick as the bottle advertises, but it is dark dark. Smell isn't much to shake a stick at, faint malts & alcohol.

I have to admit not much reaction to this. It's dark beer, without much character. I get some odd hops coming off of it, & the malts...I suppose there's water in this thing too, but not
much else. I'm not feeling it.

Not really even average. Everything from the nose to the taste just reeks of substandard weirdness. Nothing out of the ordinary, nor anything noteworthy for the style. I shan't try another.

EIDT: the warmer this got, the worse it tasted. No depth, no melding of the flavors...ended up drain-pouring half the bottle. I'm baffled as to the appeal of this beer.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 88.2% out of 100 with 1,743 ratings
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