Few beer names are as deliciously evocative as Harviestoun’s Old Engine Oil. Even before cracking open a can or prying the cap from the bottle, you expect a pint glass full of an opaque and viscous liquid, perhaps decadently rich. And you’d be right, mostly.
Old Engine Oil pours a deep brown, verging on black, with a long-lasting, tawny-colored head. Stick your nose in the glass and you’re rewarded with aromas of smoke, bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee and a hint of plum. So far, so good.
But Old Engine Oil doesn’t drink as chewy as it looks: The mouth feel is surprisingly slick and creamy, and the thin body tastes of bittersweet chocolate and toasted biscuit. There’s one more trick in store: Old Engine Oil finishes with a noticeable heat akin to a high-test barley wine, and yet it’s only 6 percent alcohol by volume.
Harviestoun, a 30-year-old brewery in Clackmannanshire, in the Scottish lowlands, first brewed Old Engine Oil in 2000. It has been variously marketed as a porter and a black ale over the years. In any case, you’ll be glad you took a chance on the Scottish beer with the curious name.
Harviestoun Old Engine Oil. harviestoun.com. About $4.50 per 11.2-ounce can or bottle; $17 per four-pack of cans; $24 per six-back of bottles.