Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
1,790 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: 1,790 |  Reviews: 830
Photo of rarbring
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
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 -3.4%
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 -5.1%
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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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of several nice birthday beer gifts from my wife this year, picked it out with help from John at Granite Liquors in Weymouth, thanks to both! Poured it into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass. Comes out as close to black as possible, but it's dark brown. When held up to the light and pouring it you can see some deep mahogany colors right around the edges. It has an off white colored head, it doesn't take too long for it to go away and provides a little bit of glass retention. All in all a pretty good looking beer, I wouldn't say it looks like old engine oil in my opinion, but I guess that's a good thing. Smell is very good it has a lot going on. Has some dark fruit/fig characteristics, almost more like a dark fruity liquor though. It has some chocolate aromas to compliment the well roasted malts. This has a bready smell to it which I'm generally not a huge fan of but its quite pleasant in this mixture of aromas. Not a very hoppy beer, but not exactly a hop-head brew. The taste is equally excellent, chocolate roasted malts are the dominant flavor. It still has fruitiness to it, not as dominant as the smell, but still good. The dark fruit liquor taste actually takes a slight backseat to some hops hear, but only slightly, they are both in the vehicle if you know what I mean. Well balanced flavor overall, very tasty, if my jeep's old engine oil tasted anything like this, I'd be drinking it! The mouthfeel is very good, not as thick as I expected it to be based on the name. It's by no means light bodied, it's still a full bodied beer. It's somewhat smooth, close to creamy and incredibly drinkable. This beer could be drank on any occasion whatsoever. It's full enough for the lovers of dark beer and smooth and drinkable enough for the those who like the lighter ones. I think this would be an excellent gateway beer for those who are trying to get into darker beers, a truly great beer.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Single bottle (no date I could interpret, but I think I see a 2009 on here) poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Completely black (even when held up to the light). 1/2" Tan head upon pouring dies down to some foam at the edges and thin skin across the top. Islands of lacing here and there. If you look really closely at the edges of liquid towards the end of the glass you can get dark cola brown as the color of the beer.

Smell: Bittersweet chocolate and roasted malts dominate here but I think I can detect some very faint floral notes at the end. The smells become less dominant as the beer warms up, but still quite nice.

Taste: Bittersweet chocolate up front, roasted malt in the middle, and then a good bitter finish. Nicely balanced and lingering bitter finish is quite good - like that of a good dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Nice and thick - very little carbonation on the tongue but that's not a bad thing here. Just a bit creamy.

Drinkability: Good by itself or with a meal, but it's so intense in it's bittersweet flavor that I think I could only have one an evening or I'd burn out my tastebuds.

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

On cask a Max's today.

The beer pours a fairly dark brown color wiht good head retentin and lacing. The nose is very smokey and peaty, with some noticeable brown sugar and light chocolate. Flavors replicate the nose, and the beer is soft, creamy and long on the palate. While a bit thin, and with very low carbonation, mouthfeel is otherwise medium bodied with a plush mouthfeel. Drinkabilty is good, with the alcohol almost completely unnoticeable.

A nice solid beer, but not one that was really any better on cask then it was on gas (IMHO). Still a nice beer....

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Photo of metter98
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is near black in color (when holding up the glass to the light only a slight trace of amber is visible near the bottom edge of the glass) and poured with a thin head that quickly dissipated into lacey patterns of bubbles on the surface.
S: There are faint aromas of dark roasted malts and burnt coffee beans in the nose.
T: The flavor is dominated by roasted and burnt malts with hints of chocolate and coffee.
M: The beer feels heavy-bodied on the palate and there is dryness in the finish. It doesn't feel as viscous as it is billed up to be.
D: Drinking this beer wasn't that difficult, it seemed to be something like a hybrid between a porter and a stout.

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

On Tap at Kickbacks

A-Black with a foamy one finger head that has moderate retention, but leaves some nice looking lacing.

S-Roasted malt, dark fruit, a whiff of coffee and sweet caramel. Its pleasant but not very strong. I'd like for the nose to be more prominent.

T-Follows the nose with roasted malt, dark fruit, some coffee and caramel. The flavors really stand out, yet work well together. I'm really liking this.

M-On the heavier side of medium, but not quite full bodied. Slick and oily.

D-The pint went down in no time and I could easily have had many more. Very drinkable.

I really enjoyed this one. I'll have to go back and have another before the keg kicks.

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

A: Poured from the mini-growler into a Piraat tulip-type snifter. Body is brown on the pour, but appears black in the glass. One-finger tan head settles on top. Some splotchy lace.

S: Big on roasted barley malt, some roasted coffee beans as well. Also a touch of chocolate.

T: Roasted barley again, and plenty of coffee. Finishes with a dry, palate-cleansing bitterness - think pine, maybe. Lingering taste of roasted barley.

M: Thinner than expected, call it medium in heft. Plenty of carbonation.

D: Very good.

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Photo of Lazerlobe
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is an amazingly drinkable stout-black ale. I wasn't that dazzled by the smell, a sort of sweet milk with some roast. But this dark brew has a LOT of chocolate and roast coffee in it. I will definitely seek out a couple more of these. Good job Scotland!

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Photo of juju7
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best before date Sept 09. Yep, more than six months later this bad boy holds up pretty well. Black as....engine oil? Lovely nose of complex malts, roastiness, touch of coffee and some liqorice-its lost nothing. A rich viscous mouthfeel that finishes long and memorably. Top shelf black ale that proves it has life well beyond it's BBD.

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

11.2oz bottle, goblet, no freshness dating. Thank you for the trade farrago.

This is nearly as dark as Ten Fidy. I think the dark malt infused body shows highlights while the aforementioned Imperial Stout does not, and if it does they are miniscule. A frothy head of nearly half an inch did form in a brown lighter than expected but has now receded to large bubbles ringing and floating.

When one hears the name Old Engine Oil, the expected experience is one of darkness, pungency, and, as the label says, viscousity. In a word, dominance. As advertised the nose is chocolatey and roasty. Bready brownies, coffee grounds, bakers chocolate, English hops, and the suggestion of dark fruit.

The roast is most prominent in the mouth. The chocolate is bitter and fades to black so to speak, to be replaced by hop bitterness in the finish. The roasted malt crescendos to acrid for a slightly sour addition to that finish.

For the 6% abv this does seem to have a solid body. The very soft carbonation surely aids this perception, but I couldn't help thinking it just doesn't live up to the evocative name.

I'll jump on board the 'this really makes me think of a stout and it should be' band wagon. I'm sure they call it an Old Ale partially because it wouldn't be considered as special if it was 'just another stout', which it isn't. I consumed this faster than is normal for me.

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

330ml bottle

Decanted a deep dark chestnut color with a 3 finger mocha colored meringue cap...moderate head retention, laces well. Modest carbonation

The Nose: bitter chocolate, dark roasted husks and sour cherry with a wisp of musty wet hay. Delightful..almost like a flavored stout.

Profile: Roasty-malty body balanced by grassy Kent golding bittering and the patent malt charred husk astringence. Midway you get some complexity with berry fruit tastes, figs, cocoa, tobacco, licorice. Finishes wet and goes slightly to the sweet side with lots of lingering chocolate-cherry tastes.

A lovely dark ale ...not in character with an "old ale" at all...had I tried this blindfolded, I'd have pegged it as a rich cherry-chocolate porter.

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

A- Opaque black against sunlight, with a minimal dark-tan/mocha head.

S- Dark roasted, smoky malt aroma. Coffee, dark fruits.

T- Dense, dark, deep, extracted, roasted malt flavor dominates the attack, with a mid-palate of coffee, stewed prunes, dates, raisin. An interesting note of red fruit/crushed red zinfandel grape juice is noticeable. I applaud the deep roast without burnt/char off-flavors.

M, D- Creamy, velvety. The slight bitterness is well within bounds and the overall balance is excellent. On tap, the old Engine Oil offers a bit more fruit complexity but is also a bit on the still side for CO2. Very easy-drinking for such a substantial brew.

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Photo of rootbeerman
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into my allagash tulip

A: pours with the color of engine oil, with a finger thick brown to light brown head.
S: dark roasted malt and coffee with a light caramel hint. a slight floral hop.
T: reminds me more of a stout in flavor, coffee, dark malt.
M: because taste is so stout like mouthfeel being so light throws me off, and not as coating.
D: due to mouthfeel and great taste its a great drinker.

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

A - Dark engine oil black with some deep ruby hues on the edges. Average sized frothy, creamy, deep beige colored head with a bit below average retention and just a slight bit of lace left.

S - The initial whiff brings a lot of roasted coffee and dark chocolate along with some dark fruit (mostly date and prune like). Later smells bring out a touch of smokey whisky type aromas along with some molasses and a bit more fruitiness.

T - It starts out with a roasted grain type of taste along with a considerable amount of earthy hop and a touch of floral hop flavors. These provide a bitter bite, which, then starts to give way to the roasted coffee and dark chocolate and some roasted barley. On the finish some of that smokey and whisky taste comes out. The whisky taste is very subtle though. Also a bit of the dark fruit tastes linger on the finish.

M - Just short of full bodied with moderate carbonation. Pretty slick, smooth, and velvety.

D - Pretty drinkable beer that has a large array of flavors, but isn't overpowering. Provides some old ale, barleywine, and stout/porter flavors without being a mess. Smooth and easy to sip on, and with only a 6% ABV I could have another too.

Notes: Nice fairly complex beer. Has aspects of a number of different styles and has a bit more hop flavor than I was really expecting from an old ale that smells a lot like a porter/stout. It isn't my favorite beer to sip on, but it is definitely a nice one that offers a change of pace. I would definitely get this again, definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Derranged
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this recently, but the bottle had a different label than what is shown on this site. This was poured from a 12 ounce bottle into what appeared to be a snifter just under 12 ounces.. Don't know what it's called.

Pours black with a tan head. Smells a bit like roasted chocolate. Tastes malty and bitter. Goes down easy, its smooth and not too carbonated.

Overall this is a good beer. Its a bit more bitter than I normally perfer, but I can drink this all night.

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Photo of samie85
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A-Pours a dark brown/black with an almsot non-existent dark tan head.

S-Smells deliciously rich with dark fruits, cocoa powder, vanilla and some roast coffee notes.

T-Roasty malt and chocolate with some vanilla notes with a slightly bitter aftertaste. This a roast flavor I like, it's not in your face roasty but it's easily identifiable.

M-Thick and oily although the carbonation helps this from being too much in the mouthfeel.

D-This was decidedly more drinkable than I expected it to be. I could see myself having a couple of these on a cold winter night, which is unfortunately what we have in store for us tomorrow. Time for a beer run!

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Photo of goldbot
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black with thin tan head that dissipates quickly leaving a little lacing on the glass.

Aromas of sweetish raisin, dark chocolate and bitter espresso, along with some molasses and caramel. Deep, bold coffee flavors with some chocolate. Lots of roasted malt leave a bitter aftertaste. Slight oxidation present towards the finish.

Slightly thin feel at first (not too much, just thinner than expected). However this builds to a substantial body with very thick, viscous mouthfeel.

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Photo of tuckevalastin
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours thick and as dark as night with barely any tan head

S: smells of sweet chocolate and caramel as well as a roasty coffee like malt

T: The taste is very roasty and a bit bitter. Hints of chocolate and caramel are noticable but roasted coffee dominates.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with decent carbonation. Not the smoothest beer in the world but not much heat comes through either.

D: Above average drinkability for a dark beer

Overall, this is a good beer to drink once in a blue moon. Worth a try if you enjoy the style.

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Photo of Xul
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a viscous, opaque black with a frothy, one-finger mocha colored head. Miniscule bubbles can be seen streaming upwards at the edge of the glass but beyond that, absolutely nothing is visible as this beer looks rather like its namesake.

S: A sweet melange of chocolate, butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, and roasted malts, backed by a light nutty characteristic. Hints of coffee intermingle with the roasted notes.

T: Nutty and roasty up front with the roastiness taking on a more bitter twist. Gives way to bittersweet chocolate in the middle, followed by toffee and vanilla on the backend. Residual taste is a blend of toffee and roasty bitterness.

M: Thinner and a bit more carbonated than the nose and flavors would indicate. Medium bodied, but would be quite a bit more enjoyable with just a touch more weight and smoothness behind it.

D: Goes down easy, it would be very easy - and enjoyable - to put down a few of these.

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Photo of 1759Girl
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance> Like the name hints... black, thick. Too dark to see the liveliness. Thick, malt chocolate head dissipates slowly and leaves good lacing.

Smell> Dark chocolate, toasty notes

Taste> bitter start. HUGE dark chocolate taste and coffee finish, bitter-ing slightly. Complex and delicious.

Mouf> perfect. Slightly chewy and yes smooth.

Drinkability> would love this with oysters

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Photo of biggred1
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown and impossible to see through with a whipped up tan head that leaves plenty of fine lace behind on the glass. Dark chocolate malt, dark fruit and some roasty coffee are all present and accounted for in the nose. Rich and roasty flavors are well balanced with a heavy handed hop bittering that really balances the sweet malty flavors nicely. Really nice and complex flavors. Nice and medium full bodied with bright carbonation. A truly unique beer.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark, shiny crude oil black at first look but with ruby highlights and lowlights. Minimal compact and creamy brown head with an agressive pour. Big, Bold, Intense roasted grain, sweet toffee, dark fruit, earthy and floral hops and molasses scents. Taste is slightly more subdued than scent, with a full roasted grain profile, without tasting burnt, backed by sweet nutty toffee, dark dried fruit, and a nice bitter earthy and floral hop presence. Medium bodied, smooth and faintly coating. Truly unique... name, appearance and smell make you think overpowering, but taste and bosy is nothing but pleasing and smooth.

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Photo of tko741
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appears a time-warping black, topped with a solid cream head that dissipates to a wispy cloud above the darkness below.

Smells of rich toffee, butterscotch, roasted malts and bittersweet chocolate. A damn fine nose.

Creamy dark chocolate, roasted toffee, and a smooth malt finish are what this awesome brew brings to your palate. Perhaps a lingering hop bite in the aftertaste, and a rich, velvety mouthfeel. Excellent.

I'd be willing to order this for more than one round but not more than a few at a time...I want this beer to be a treat.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 1,790 ratings