A chilly Friday is upon us to close out the week, so we are going to wrap things up around here with a Tasting Notes segment focused on the satisfying and delicious offering known as Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery (Clackmannanshire, Scotland).
In a bit of a departure from my normal Tasting Notes segments that usually cover a recent release, this week is going to focus on an older classic that you may have overlooked on local shelves. Ken Brooker, the original master brewer at Harviestoun Brewery of Scotland, first brewed Old Engine Oil in 2000 as a Black Ale that was inspired by his time building wooden prototypes for the Ford Motor Company. This offering is brewed with a heavy dose of oats and roasted barley to lend the beer “a greater sweetness and fuller flavour than many other stouts and porters,” but the brewer’s expert craftsmanship somehow keeps the beer at a low 6% ABV with a light texture. The result is a beautiful beer that has been highly praised over the last 15 years, and it is absolutely a must try brew for beer drinkers of any level. You can find Old Engine Oil at most craft beer friendly retailers in Birmingham and Alabama for about $4 or $5 per 11.2 oz. bottle. Now that the particulars are out of the way, let’s get into some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes on Old Engine Oil Black Ale from Harviestoun Brewery:
Appearance: Old Engine Oil pours up an inky, glossy black body. Held to the light, the liquid hints at some brown hues around the edges but remains a deep, opaque black on the most part. The pour built two fingers of creamy, khaki colored foam. The head slowly drops to almost a finger of top cap that lasts the entire experience. Chunky lacing notches the glass after each sip. This is a pretty beer that definitely lives up to its name in appearance.
Aroma: Roasted malt hits the nose first with dark chocolate and toasty toffee notes. Brown sugar, caramel, cherries, and coffee grounds soon join the roast to create a mouthwatering combination. Floral and earthy hops round things off on the back end and keep the beer from coming off as one dimensional and all sweetness. Beautifully composed aromatics.
Taste: Heavily roasted malt hits the palate first with an almost ashy/smoky quality. This note is a bit aggressive, but in the best possible way and delightfully welcomed. The roast is complemented by a note of dark roasted coffee with a touch of cream, and then tamed by a dark fruit and cherry quality. Bittersweet cocoa, caramel, and toasted honey oat bread are all here as well. Earthy hops provide some bitterness and balance to keep this brew easily in check from being cloying. Everything about the flavor is amazingly complex and incredibly delicious.
Mouthfeel: As the name suggests, this brew is viscous and falls on the fuller side of medium in body with a moderate carbonation level. Old Engine Oil is creamy and coating on the palate, but it does slowly dry out between sips. The alcohol level is nonexistent, which is a nice surprise considering the feel of the beer. Despite the viscosity, the beer remains light and easy drinking, but the flavors should keep you slow sipping this beauty. The aftertaste is all dark chocolate and coffee.
Final Thoughts: Simply put, Old Engine Oil is just a gorgeous beer in every way possible. The craftsmanship and complexity of this beer is awe inspiring, but it still comes across almost effortlessly achieved. Everything falls into place for this brew in every category to provide its drinker with a perfect sipper for any occasion or season (especially considering its conveniently low ABV of 6%). If you have never tried Old Engine Oil, pick up a bottle on your next beer run to experience this gem. If you have already enjoyed this great offering in the past, you may want to revisit it on one of these cool fall nights. Make it happen. Prost!