Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale: A Zero prior knowledge Tasting

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I am pretty sure this one cements the overall theme that this blog is going to take.  Sure I have tried random stuff from a known brewery or picked something up based on reviews, but in this case though, I only walked in the store and thought to myself,  “I want to try something English.”

With that to go on, I took a quick look at the England Shelf, and sitting eye level to me was a “black ale” called Old Engine Oil.  “Sounds good to me” I said, and into my basket it went. No date was listed on the bottle, but I am assuming that it has been in the shop for a least a few months if not longer.

To say I had zero expectations, or anything beyond a rough idea of what I was going to be tasting would be an understatement. Truth be told, I  only had a rough idea of what exactly I would be drinking. Stout? Porter? Black Ale? In all honestly, even after the tasting, and subsequent reading up on the Brewery, I still do not know, well not exactly anyway.  But more on that later.

Pouring with the standard bottle pour (45 degrees for 2/3 of the bottle and then tilting to vertical for the remainder) yield absolutely no head or carbonation.  This one poured jet black. Very fitting name for this one.

I was instantly greeted to a nose of chocolate.  Different than say Samuel Smiths Chocolate stout, which was brewed with real coco. It is definitely coming from the malts here like with Brooklyn’s Chocolate Stout.

Sipping the chocolate is still there with a minor coffee hint.  This one is absolutely perfectly balanced, not sweet and not even a hint of bitterness. There was no alcohol presence to speak of.  It gave me the feeling that it was lower in ABV (more like 4%) than the actual 6%. There was a minimal amount of mocha colored lacing left on the glass.

In terms of mouth feel,  while I have heard the phrase thrown around quite a few times, this was the first time I feel like I truly experienced it.  This one was motor oil thick and chewy.  Again, they could not have picked a better name to describe this heavy weight.

Upon finishing the glass, it left me wishing it came in a six pack, because I wanted another one right after.  This one was a true pleasure to drink.  There was nothing about it that I can detract from, perfectly balanced, thick and chewy, but left you feeling like you could have a few more.

The Chocolate only enhanced the experience, but never overwhelmed you. This is no “dessert” beer.  If it were possible, this would be my default fall weather all day beer, and hell, barring the absolute extremes of summer and winter, one of my year round staples

Seeing that this was originally a homebrew recipe from the 1970’s, and the brewery is really only putting out this beer,  they got it right the first time, and are still going strong.

Going back to my original point,  what exactly would you call this magnificent bastard of an Ale?  The bottle I had gave no description other that Black Ale, so my initial thought was this had to be a Stout.  This is where it gets interesting though.  Checking it in on Untappd, they call it an Porter, and then on RateBeer it is under Old Ale, though the bottle they use as the image says Porter.  Technically all of those classifications are correct, this one straddles them all equally.  But to keep things simple I am sticking with Black Ale.  That’s what the bottle said after all.

Fact of the matter is though, regardless of what you want to classify it as, if you see one floating around, grab one or two of them up, you will not be disappointed.


4 thoughts on “Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale: A Zero prior knowledge Tasting

    Martyn said:
    August 6, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Strangely Harviestown have labeled this ‘black ale’ ‘stout’ and ‘porter’ at various stages of its release.

      bolanrox responded:
      August 6, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Wow that is pretty interesting! Glad to see I am not the only one on the fence with the classification.

    alcaponejunior said:
    August 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Well I can ‘t help with classifying the brew, but I’m certainly going to try it if I can find it. Cheers!

      bolanrox responded:
      August 12, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Found it at a few places lately. Bottle king had it. Assuming total wine would too.

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