Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Old Engine Oil Black AleOld Engine Oil Black Ale
1,783 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: 1,783 |  Reviews: 828
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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Photo of sprucetip
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes. Pretty much black with thick mocha head and good retention. Leaves thick lacing early, much of which eventually washes away.

Smells toasty and of roast barley, and faintly of coffee and chocolate. Malty sweetness is even fainter. Complex and nuanced.

More bitter than sweet but fairly balanced through most of the swallow, with bitterness increasing in the finish. Eventually some bitter chocolate comes into play, but it tastes mainly roasty and toasty like the nose.

Some tingling and burn from the carbonation and modest booze, respectively, with a medium/full body and moderately thick viscosity. Finishes dry and bitter.

This is a very good beer, and am glad to have finally gotten around to trying it. Not as rich, thick and overpowering as the big stouts so many of us are into, but it's not trying to be. There is alot going on for, especially for the size.

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Photo of jera1350
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black color with a creamy tan head. Leaves a fair amount of lace on the glass.

Very chocolatey along with a hoppy and fruity scent.

Big toasty malt, lots of chocolate, mild coffee and cola.

Hmm, not viscous as the label states. It is bigger bodied and creamy smooth however.

Very drinkable. Old ale? I would call this more of a stout. Regardless, still a very nice ale that is worthy of a try.

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Photo of BigBen61
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

What else needs to be said...look at the ratings. This is easily on of the finest beers I have ever had the privilege to experience. The aroma of cocoa, coffee, roasted malt and caramel sugar waft over the thick creamy head and the thick viscous black liquid that lies beneath. Even after sessioning a few other beers including one of the IPA beasts from Stone this beers flavors are so rich and so pronounced that there is no denying the amount of care and quality in this product. My friend simply put it this way after his first sip..."If I could die right now I would be a happy man!"

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

When I saw this on the shelf, I gave it a try because it was available via the single bottle and the name gave me the impression that it would be like the stuff that comes out of my 13 year old car when it gets a lube job. While this was not certainly a bad beer, the title of it is a bit of a misnomer as this turned out categorically not to be a Stout nor was it as thick as that type of beer. Once I saw that it was an Old Ale, it made a lot more sense to me.

The pour, aside from being thin, was pretty much what I expected from this. A very dark brown, with some head, and just a little bit of lacing. The mouthfeel is just like the thickness of it, with the taste of peat, scotch, toffee, and bitter chocolate all competing to stand out. The nose is that of a roasted beer while the aftertaste is just a bit creamy and bitter. Nothing really stands out about this but it goes down relatively easy and for a dark beer, this is about as light-tasting as it gets.

At 6% ABV, this beer is not a session beer but just misses that by a notch. As others have alluded to, this seems like more of a Scotch Ale than anything else and is a good drink to have during these cold winter months. It doesn't have the bourbon-barrel aftertaste to it but nevertheless, it's a worth a shot once since this isn't a style that one comes across every day. In my opinion, this resembles "new engine oil" more than anything else...

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Photo of elgiacomo
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jul 10, 2009

Bottle. A little let down by the name Old Engine Oil...maybe I'm spoiled by Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, but this is no used motor oil in comparison. Pours dark brown with a good-sized tan head that retains well down the glass. Good lacing.

Aroma is subdued, some roasted malts and a little hops.

Flavor is very roasted, coffee, some chocolate and smoke and bitter hops on the finish.

Medium carbonation. Mouthfeel is nice, a bit on the thin side with a dry finish.

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Photo of OneDropSoup
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at 6 & Save in New Kensington, PA.

Poured into a tulip glass, black with a thin white ring & just a slip of white dusting. Deep ruby highlights, very slim lacing.

Smell is definitely in Flanders territory: tart & fruity, like an Oud Bruin, sour fruit & peels (cherry, apple). Surprising.

Contrasting taste: mild malty caramel, roasty bitterness. Only a slight sourness, & a grassy hop presence. Again, surprising bitter for its color.

Mouthfeel is medium-full, a tad chewy. This one threw me for a loop with the smell & taste combo. Fortunately it was not overwhelming in any aspect, & I had a real good time alternating the smell & flavor -- smells like a Flemish Brown, tastes like a Schwarzbier. Very interesting indeed. Not sure it lives up the name: "Old Engine Oil" conjures a thick, viscous brew a la "Ten Fidy" or "Old Viscosity." Throw it on the misnomer pile with Chocolate Indulgence. Very enjoyable, moniker aside.

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Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Allagash tall snifter. Pours very dark/black...not as thick as engine oil. Not much head to speak of...even with a straight hard pour torwards the end. A very, very small light brown head rises for a few seconds...but then dissapears quickly. Lacing is thin, but lasting.

Aroma is very strong. Resembles a stout. Lot's of chocolate/coffee. Toffee notes, rosted malts. A slight bitter backside.

Flavor at first is light and bland. Mild to higher carbonation. Beer is at fridge temp. I know this beer has more potential, so I'm going to let it warm up a bit and continue...

...(continuing)getting a lot more bittersweet chocolate now. Roasted maltiness, even a licorice. Not boozy at all. Has a great aftertaste that lingers in your mouth for a while. Mild complexity, nice and tasty!

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 1,783 ratings