Old Engine Oil Black Ale | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

805 Reviews
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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Reviews: 805 | Ratings: 1,718
Photo of Jeffsta1
3.68/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pretty black color. Tan head, mixed texture.

Smells of lager. Meh. Hints of chocolate, malt emerge after time in glass.

Taste is idiosyncratic, citrus rind, malt, bitter.

Mouthfeel is moderately rich, especially for 6% ABV. Perhaps a bit more carbonation than strictly necessary.

Finish is long, mouth-coating, bitter, not intense.

Not a great beer. But far from bad. There are better choices.


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Photo of Greywulfken
4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L: black body of ale with a couple of fingers of tan foam

S: chocolate malts, some char, a hint of espresso

T: follows the nose with some typical but well-executed porter flavors: chocolaty, a bit of deep hidden fruit, some coffee, and hints of char and maybe anise

M: smooth and medium weight, modest carbonation, nice aftertaste

O: a solid porter - I'm sure one that regular drinkers of the style will enjoy

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The Old Engine Oil is a decent porter. The beer poured an opaque black with ecru head that is leaving a spotty lace. The scent has hints of earth and peat. The taste is a well balanced with roasty malt at the front and then a slight bitter finish. The mouthfeel is medium in body with smooth carbonation. Overall this is a very good beer and worth a try.

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Photo of do_ob
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

11.2 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Pours a deep, rich brown and settles as black as midnight in my glass. A semi-aggressive pour yielded a 2.5 finger head of light-tan, fluffy foam. Great nose on this one - baked chocolate chip cookies, coffee, roasted malt, and baking spices. Medium weight, and has a smooth, but watery mouthfeel. Bitter chocolate and tons of smokey/roasty nuts up front on the taste, along with a surprisingly strong coffee bitterness middleways. Finishes smooth, and leaves a robust, smoked wood/nuts taste behind.

A very, very interesting and complex beer. It has the mouthfeel of a weak porter, but the flavor of an imperial stout. This one is an ass-kicker, and will take you for a ride if you're not ready; I wasn't. Very good, though. I can't believe this isn't rated higher.

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Photo of BWood
3.3/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Tried this porter and was not really a fan. Very roasty. Left me wishing there was more coming on the back end. Very interesting that this was in the lock box at total wine and limited to 1 per person.

Black butte porter reserve from Deschutes destroyed this

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Photo of cjgiant
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours basic black with a moderate light tan head. The head starts almost foamy but turns soapy, strangely enough. The head died last at the edges, minor lacing.

Nose is classic dark-beer notes, with dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, and a bit of charcoal. There is a semi-sweet nuttiness I also detect. As the beer warms, I get less of the opening notes and more dark fruit, prune and fig.

Taste is actually a bit more dark-roast coffee, with more bitterness than I got in the nose. There is also a hit of citric bite (lemony) at one point that hits and runs as a green-twig wood note comes on. Note that these additional notes all play along or on top of a coffee (as it warms, it also resembles unsweetened cola - or at least what I imagine that to be).

The body is decent-medium, but the feel is mildly thin. There is a nice lingering light tingle on the tongue after the taste fades.

A very solid Porter, one that has a hint of sweetness but isn't sweet, a hint of roast, but isn't roasty or smokey, a hint of bitterness but not hoppy. It seems a well-made beer, and glad I tried it.

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Photo of werehereforthebeer
4.26/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with soft brown sugar head. Smell for me doesn't jump out and shout anything other than a sweet spice but the taste is phenomenal - dark chocolate, coffee, orange and red currant. Feels impressive, thick, lightly carbonated, smooth and super swallable!

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Photo of Jaysauras
4.24/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

L: Black. Pours black as black. Usually some dark beers have a slight redness when held up to the light, but this this sucker says "no" to that. Nice thick creamy head to it, soft and delicate. Very nice lace as well.

S: Cocoa is extremely prevalent. Malt and a slight bit spicy sweetness. Like a nutmeg. Also a very faint smell of cherry or dark fruit. Very subtle.

T: Wow. This sucker has some wallop to it. Big bold roasted cocoa and dark chocolate favors give way to a more bold espresso bean like flavor. Again there is the smallest bit of a dark fruit in here that I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe like a cherry or plum. Something dark and bold. Malt, spice, and bit of a smoky flavor close out a very interesting and bold beer.

F: Bitter from the english hops throughout. Big and bold. Chewy up front and dry on the back end. This isn't one for easy drinking, but it certainly is worth a pint or two.

O: For a somewhat obscure beer I picked up at Total Wine, this was really solid. Very good character to it and an impressive blend of flavors. It's a slow sip beer that should be savored. If you are a fan of dark beers that feature chocolate and roasted malts this is an absolute beauty.

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Photo of BigOldOaf
4.14/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Pitch black with a nice, half-inch beige head that dissipates quickly.

S - Roasted malt with hints of dark chocolate and coffee mixed in.

T - Roasted malts start and lead into deep, dark chocolate with perhaps a hint of coffee. Perfect amount of bitterness.

F - Medium body, good carbonation with a nice graininess that's reminiscent of Taza chocolate.

0 - This is a great beer. The grainy, bitter dark chocolate is what makes it all come together for me. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at Hop City, Birmingham, AL.

A: Dark as, well, old engine oil. A tan half finger head that petered out quickly.

S: Dark chocolate, malts, a bit smokey. Some coffee notes, too.

T: Follows nose in a smooth, passionate, easy drinking style. Great for sipping. Dark and lovely.

M: Medium to heavy with medium carbonation.

O: Glad I got to try this British staple. A fine porter that drinks like a stout. But then, there's not that much difference between the two. Tasty. Let it warm for maximum viscosity and thermal breakdown.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.56/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Black. Out of curiosity I held a powerful flashlight behind my sampling glass, and still only got faint ruby tinges. Light brown thin head that fades to a ring, spots of lace. I'm looking for viscosity; looks thick, but I want milkshake.

S: Powerful, almost acrid on first whiff. Lots of roasted malt, oat.

T: Bittersweet chocolate is there, but mostly simple oat and roasted malt. Some vanilla mid-palate. Tasty, but unoriginal. Good long bitter finish.

M: The reason why I sought this out!... It's ok. Definitely thick, but not engine oil thick. The carbonation is fine and restricted, which helps.

O: Maybe I was expecting too much, but I really don't see what the big deal is. It's good, but I think it benefits greatly from people reading "viscous, chocolatey" on the bottle and then finding/inventing those characteristics. The "roasty", however, is there in spaded.

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Photo of Gajo74
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm giving this one straight 4s. A smooth and creamy beer that pours a very dark brown and viscous color. A big foamy head and a creamy lace that sticks to the glass. A strong chocolate and roasted malts aroma; smells like something you can wake up to. Taste is mostly malty with a slight hops finish that becomes apparent only as the beer warms. A very drinkable beer, not so full bodied; at times it feels like a lighter beer. A pleasant beer albeit not so complex in taste.

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Photo of ed_loves_ipa
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very tasty, if you're into stouts. Malty chocolaty notes. Very clean tasting IMHO. Not as string tasting as Narwhal or Wake up Dead nitro. Very well made RIPS.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Bottleneck says 3162.

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with a 1/4 inch light brown head that retains decently before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a half sheet of sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a broken ring behind.

S- Very pleasant aroma of dark roasted malt brings to mind chocolate, nuts, caramel and coffee. Also quite biscuity.

T- Quite a bit more generic than the flavor with just straight dark roasted malt, little sweetness and a charry aftertaste.

M- Pretty basic for a porter with medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- Very surprised that the flavor doesn't follow through with what the aroma lets on. A very good porter but it's missing the flavor and mouthfeel to make it great.

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Photo of SmashPants
4.04/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Format: I had this a few years ago as I was just starting into craft beers and hated it. Retrying it to see if my tastes have (hopefully) caught up to it. A slim, very dark brown 330mL bottle with a funky label with an old car. Can't really lose out there.

Appearance: poured into a tulip glass. A near jet black body with an inch of dark tan head that slowly drops to an inch of creamy and rocky finger. Fantastic lacing down the glass. Even jet black as it pours out of the bottle.

Aroma: a strong aroma of roasted malts - specifically coffee - with milk chocolate and a touch of rough cocoa. Smells pretty good.

Taste: the sweet milk chocolate comes through more strongly here alongside the dark roasted coffee. Quite sweet, and very tasty.

Aftertaste: the sweetness backs off some to be replaced by a lovely warming bitterness from the roasted malts.

Mouth feel: moderate to fuller in feel with a moderate carbonation. A pretty good feel with somewhat of a creamy feel.

Overall: well I am very glad that I have decided to retry this beer. A full-bodied and full-flavoured English Porter that shows fantastic roasted dark coffee and sweet milk chocolate. Well worth the having at AU$5 a bottle.

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Photo of interzen
4.95/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

330ml bottle poured into a Vedett tulip glass

Look: Black, black, BLACK! Seriously, this is blacker than a black thing. In Hell. At night. Tan head which sticks around for a while, with some lacing.

Smell: The first thing that sprang to mind was 'tar', closely followed by 'coffee' - there's a ton of toasted malt character in there, too. A faint bit of fruity/floral character but really the tar/coffee aromas are front and centre.

Taste: Toasted malts, coffee and dark chocolate - the chocolate isn't as in-yer-face as something like Sam Smith's Chocolate Stout but it's definitely there. Chuck in a few resinous notes in the finish and you've got something which is absolutely delicious.

Feel: The word 'viscous' appears on the bottle, and with a name like 'Old Engine Oil' you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd need a spoon for this. Not so - granted, it's a bit 'thicker' than your average brew but nowhere near stout levels. Slips down ever so nicely.

Overall: This is my first encounter with the output of the Harviestoun Brewery and it won't be my last. I don't care whether people classify this is a 'black ale' or a porter - categorising it won't detract from the fact that it's across the board awesome; lovely balance of flavours. Definitely a keeper.

 1,268 characters

Photo of tillmac62
3.8/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Note - The bottle says black ale. Near black pour. Exceptional head volume, retention and lacing. Light chocolate nose with hints of roast. Medium body with a touch of creamy texture. Normal carbonation with a bit of effervescence in the finish. The flavor profile is a bit subdued, but well balanced with a nice level of complexity. Let this one warm to room temperature. It begins with a blend of flavors - chocolate, roast, hop and hints of dark fruit over a caramel sweetness with biscuit notes. A mild bitterness and a slight mineral note emerge in the middle. The slow fade from the middle to the finish allows flavor discernment and here is where this one shines and its complexity becomes evident. The finish is a slow fade into a chocolate light sweetness over a light hop flavored bitterness.

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Photo of archyquaffer
3.5/5  rDev -14.6%

This beer is styled as a "Black Ale", which I see is listed separately but with only 7 reviews. Therefore, I'm not quite sure I'm reviewing this in the right place. But what gives with changing the style but not the name? Or, is "black ale" simply another descriptor for a porter?

Anyhow, a fairly aggressive pour produces a sticky, frothy, pale tan head of about an inch. The beer is a very dark brown.

I perceive a overbaked biscuity aroma with a hint of diacetyl. The roasted malts come through nicely in the flavor, and are accentuated by bark-like, nut, and burnt chickory flavors that suggest strong coffee, but without the astringent flavors of old, overcooked coffee. It's relatively light in body despite the name and drinks like a black lager more than anything.

A decent beer and apparently rare in my area, but hardly worth the $4.29 I paid for the 11.2 ounce bottle.

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Photo of Roguer
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful black brew, topped by a very small brown head with poor retention.

Smooth, dark and rich chocolate and roasted barley aroma. A bit of cream, as well. Very robust aroma, but enticing and sweet as well.

Tons of dark, overripe fruit up front, earthy hops in the middle, and waves of roasted barley on the back-end. Extremely roasty: burnt toast, black coffee, dark cacao. Not very sweet, as implied by the aroma, but very robust. Earthy hops, and a little sweetness up front from a caramel/toffee/butterscotch note.

The name is misleading if you're expecting a thick stout. It's more cloying and lasting than chewy.

If viewed as a robust porter, this is an excellent example of the style. It's roasty bitterness is at first abrasive, but it's exactly the way it should be.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

It, called Black Ale vs Porter, is a lovely black colour and brings a 1 finger head of tannish foam with a careful pour. As the foam shrinks, great lacing left behind.

The smell is marvelous with smooth notes of chocolate, both sweet and bitter. Almost? get a hint of licorice.

The taste brings that chocolate with no hint of the licorice I noted in the smell. Nicely roasty to go along with the chocolate, this such a soothing, comforting beer to drink.

The silkiest of mouth feels, this is just bloody awesome. I'm glad I picked up a few bottles, both with the labels upside down and right side up.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle into tulip glass, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a 1 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark bread, toast, light toffee, light dark fruit, faint smoke, and roast/yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of bit roast/bready malt and light-moderate yeast notes; with good strength. Taste of big chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark bread, toast, light toffee, light dark fruit, light smoke, and roasted earthiness. Fair amount of roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark bread, toast, light smoke, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity and robustness of roast/bready malt and light yeast ester flavors; with a good roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent English porter. All around great complexity, balance, and robustness of roast/bready malts and light yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,346 characters

Photo of jellikit
4.5/5  rDev +9.8%

Appearance: black. Dark ruby when held up to light. Small, foamy, tan head.
Smell: light roasted barley.
Taste: chocolate and coffee followed by light roasted barley.
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation. Big body. Dry.
Overall: great stout/porter. Would definitely buy again.

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Photo of 57md
3.84/5  rDev -6.3%

Dark brown in color with ruby edges. Some roast in the nose along with a trace of alcohol. The body is hearty and creamy. The roast profile is relatively mild but pleasantly present and the flavor includes a very slight kiss of sweetness underneath the roast.

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Photo of Navalartichoke
5/5  rDev +22%

Had this on draft in an English Pub ( Craft) Great blend of roasted malt , some sweetness and a nice finish of bitterness. Very mellow. The aroma had a hint of coffee.

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Photo of Extrajoker00
4.39/5  rDev +7.1%

Reviewed: 9/28/14

Old EngineOil by Harviestoun

poured from a 11.2oz. bottle into a Guinness pint glass

P- very classy and traditional banner over oval 4.0

A- black as night with a solid tan to brown head 4.25

S- roasted malt, coffee and cocoa 4.75

T- robust and flavorful, roasted malt, coffee, and cocoa bitter-sweetness 4.5

M-full bodied and very present, mild aftertaste leaves me in anticipation 4.5

D- a little heavy on the pallet but still a go to 4.25

O- one of the best English brews Ive had 4.5

long wait to try this one and liking it. Picked a winner here.
---- J

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Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.1 out of 5 based on 1,718 ratings.
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