Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

1,735 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: 1,735 |  Reviews: 811
Photo of fropones
4.42/5  rDev +7.8%
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 +16.6%
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 +6.1%
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 +8.8%
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 -0.5%
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 +8%
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 +11.7%
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 +2.9%
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 +1.2%
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 +2.4%
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 0%
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 +2.4%
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 +0.2%
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 -2.7%
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 -1.7%
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%
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%
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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Photo of dgilks
4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a nice creamy tan head. Decent head retention. This just looks plain good.

Aromas are rich and intense. I get molasses, raisins, smoke and sweet malt. Intense and very nice.

Big flavour with roast, espresso, smoke, some fruity overtones and a hint of the molasses I noted in the aroma. Big, rich flavours.

Nice, rich, thick mouthfeel with mild carbonation suits this beer well. A great winter beer.

Great beer with lots of flavour. Really good for a beer that clocks in at 6%. Great on a cold winter's day.

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Photo of istarilord
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As the name (and label) suggests, the beer pours a very nice, dark brownish black with a brown head.

Flavor to me was reminiscent of oatmeal stout, with a good amount of maltiness & cereal tones. The coffee/chocolate flavors were fairly light for a dark malty beer.

Very smooth and easy to drink, a decent dessert beer.

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

11.2oz brown glass pry-top bottle with black and silver label. Neck stamp says A009 01:22...I think.

Appearance: Straight pour into a tulip yields sticky tan head sitting on top of totally opaque black beer.

Nose: Lots of roasted coffee, green coffee (i.e. unroasted), barnyard (not funk, just earth). Smells like crude oil, man.

Palate: Rich and creamy right off the bat, fading to an almost crisp, lager-like black malt. Lots of roasted coffee and toasted cocoa powder notes, but there's some hops on the finish. Ends up tasting how ground coffee smells. Slight hop acidity to it on the finish.

Notes: A highly drinkable black ale. Smells like and tastes up front like an Imperial Russian Stout, but the mid-palate and finish are like the headiest black lager you've ever had. Crazy amount of malt and flavor for being only 6%. Highly recommend.

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

11.2 oz bottle poured into a Nonic. No date on the bottle.

A - Dark amber on the pour but once in the glass, it's completely black. Not as thick as I imagined but it came out with a small and quickly fading tan head. It left a thin coating but that's it.

S - Black roasted malts bursing on the nose with a chocolaty, toffee, and slight coffee addition. A hint of dark fruity esters finishes off this dark, rich smelling beer.

T - Black roasted malts flood the mouth bringing with them a chocolaty feel and toffee with coffee flavor. Delicious! Not really bitter at all for how roasted the malts are.

M - Vicious. The mouthfeel is definitely full-bodied. It brings with it the texture of melted milk-chocolate being swallowed. A velvety smooth and rich experience. One mouthfeel of a beer that really makes the beer so much more outstanding!

D - For as heavy and ruch as this beer is (and it may be one of the richest I've ever had), it's very drinkable. I'm sure a few would do some damage, but I'd love every second of it!

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Photo of endincolorado
4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Thick, viscous body with lots of tan head that settles slowly. Nice sticky lace.

Smell- Strong, roasted coffee malts. Toast. Some hazelnut. Slight tingly hop-bitterness in background.

Taste- Great roasted malts that take on a whole different, more toasted flavor when aerated. Bitter dryness sticks around in the flavor.

Mouthfeel- Thick, velvetty texture complemented by a nice, creamy carbonation.

Drinkability- Much more drinkable than it looks and smells.

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Photo of CHickman
4.11/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured black and smells toasted and like coffee. Tastes malty and roasted with a combo of chocolate, coffee, malt and hops that gives a touch of sweetness; the roasted flavor dominates, but the beer is smooth and light like an ale yet feels and tastes like a stout/porter. Overall a very good combination and a very good beer!

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Photo of alcstradamus
3.1/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A--Poured a near black with only a thin layer head in my 16 oz. snifter.

S--Roasted malt, cocoa, marshmallows, earthy hops

T--Light roasted malts, truthfully not a whole lot else going on with this beer. It tastes like a watered down porter and is somewhat generic. Its very average, not anything special

M--Medium bodied, washed down clean with a slight ashy aftertaste

D--Nothing to separate this beer from the pack. Just a nice drinking but boring ale.

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Photo of beergirlblog
4.21/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was scared to try this because it sounds like it would be black and thick and bitter- but the name was so cool. The black-brown-ruby color was really beautiful, and it turned out to be much less intimidating in aroma and taste than expected: there were lots of dark roasted scents and flavors: malts, chocolate, grains, coffee, raisins. Unfortunately, the nice flavor profile was kind of let down by the thin feel of the beer- a little more body would carry them better. Overall, it was drinkable, but tasted a little weaker than I would have liked, but I'd definitely order it again.

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.1 out of 5 based on 1,735 ratings.
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