Beer Name: Old Engine Oil
Beer style: Scottish Black Ale
Size: 11.2 oz bottle
Beer Advocate Score: 91 (The Bros 100)
Rate Beer Score: 97
When you’re walking through the beer store and spot a beer label that lists “viscous” as one of its selling points, I’m pretty sure you’re morally obligated to try it. When I got it home and started looking up the ratings, I was very pleasantly surprised that I had happened upon such a highly rated beer.
Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale was named by original master brewer Ken Brooker because the black, viscous ale reminded him of gloopy engine oil he saw when he used to work for Ford Motor Company. While I don’t think the viscosity lives up to it’s billing, it’s certainly “roasty” and “chocolatey.”
Old Engine Oil poured smoother than I expected. When I noticed that it was not gaining any head to speak of, I poured faster just to see if I could make it produce some head. I could not. The picture above was taken mere seconds after the pour, and you can see there isn’t much there. You’ll also notice that it is straight-up black – just like the name would suggest. I was disappointed in the viscosity (since that was my primary reason for buying it), but it was probably silly of me to have expected something like a syrup anyhow.
At first smell, I was extremely disappointed. There was a slight hint of chocolate and coffee, but not much. I was even more disappointed when I tasted the beer – it was just watery with a bitter aftertaste. Things turned around after about ten minutes of sipping on the beer, when it had warmed up some. The smell turned into very sweet/chocolatey with a distinct coffee and fruit tone, and the taste turned into a very pleasant coffee and chocolate taste with a hint of citrus. The texture of the beer also seemed to change from watery to creamy and smooth.
All in all, I really liked this beer, though I don’t feel it lived up to the hype I expected from Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. Both sites have pictures of different labels, and the BA picture distinctly says “Porter” instead of “Black Ale,” so I can’t help but wonder if there is some difference between what you can get on tap in the United Kingdom and what is exported to the United States. If/when I make it back over to Europe, this is a beer I’ll be keeping an eye out for.
Sessionability: I give it a 4-pack. Despite my initial impressions, Old Engine Oil ended up being very good, though it did feel fairly heavy on my stomach once I was through the bottle.
Overall: I give it a 4-pack. I can certainly see myself buying this again, because I can’t help but wonder if I got an off bottle and/or if there is some difference between what I bought and what is listed/rated on Beer Advocate / Rate Beer. I found this to be very good, but not as good as BA and RB led me to believe.
Would be best consumed: I expected this to be a very heavy beer that you’d want with a meal and/or during a cold night, but it would be good for fall and spring as well. I wouldn’t want to drink it outside on a hot summer day.