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Dark Island - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Dark IslandDark Island

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

250 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 250
Hads: 406
Avg: 3.95
pDev: 14.94%
Wants: 68
Gots: 27 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  4.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-02-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Dark Island Alström Bros
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Reviews: 250 | Hads: 406
Photo of captaincoffee
3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle in Glasgow. Pours near black with a medium head that does not retain much lacing. Nose is lighter than expected. Roasty maltiness with just a whiff of peat in the background. Taste is slightly sweet with light roasted notes on the malt backbone. Not really what I would call a Scottish ale...more like a cross between a light sweet stout and a brown ale. Good, drinkable, and somewhat flavorful, but not exciting. I would love to try this again on cask where I expect it would shine.

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Photo of tekstr1der
4.17/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mahogany pour with little to no head/retention. Very nice color though. Aroma is just incredible... chocolate-covered cherries. Flavor is malty with some roasted character, but slightly watery. Finish is slightly dry, mostly roast. Not as great as the nose would indicate.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer is a dark black color with ruby brown edges and a tan creamy head.

The smell is interesting. If you smell too quickly, it comes off as acidic and unpleasant while taking one's time releases a more interesting aroma. The nose has a light dark fruit notes and toffee with a nice roasted coffee and bitter dark chocolate smell. Overall, it's pretty good even though it's not as intense as other beers.

The taste is fairly good but not as interesting as the smell. You get a nice floral bitterness from a very light hop note. The bitter chocolate is still there but not as distinct in the smell; it's actually a bit softer and has a slight sweetness. Also, very woody.

The feel is good. A fairly lighter bodied beer that makes for a good session beer. It's thin and a bit acidic, though but doesn't take away much from the beer.

Overall, pretty good and worth getting at least once.

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.73/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a very dark, ruby on the edges, brown with a moderate tan had. Malty nose. Malty flavor on the tongue. Light body. Just the thing to sit looking over Scapa Flow and contemplate the massive amounts of iron below the surface!

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Photo of The_Mad_Capper
3.87/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Dark chocolate and prunes primarily in the aroma, along with some molasses bread. Appears very dark brown, coffee-like; has a thin, off-white head. Tastes like bitter, woody seltzer water. Perhaps a little more fruit and cocoa as it warms up. Thin in body, lightly carbonated.

Not very flavorful—tastes thin, acidic, dry, and woody. I was excited after taking a whiff of the aroma, but then disappointed with the flavor.

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Photo of Andrewharemza
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Black colored, bit of ruby hue, moderate tan creamy head. Aroma is malt, chocolate, dark chocolate, licorice, roasted malts. Taste is moderate sweet toffee, chocolate, milk chocolate, bit dark fruit, roasted malt, dry roasted finish. Roasted acidity present. Medium bodied, moderate carbonation.

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Photo of doktorhops
3.33/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Like every Orkney Brewery Ale: Dark Island conjures up a great image, one of stirring sea tales of a sailor in a rickety boat fighting against crashing waves, jagged black rocks and temptress sirens (the ancient mariner ones, not the alarm sounding ones). Here’s hoping this Scottish Ale will live up to its brethren, including the mighty Skull Splitter (which is currently #11 on my all-time list of reviewed beers). Do not disappoint me Dark Island!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into nonic pint.

A: Presents a fearsome almost opaque deep cola red/brown body with a 1 cm light tan head that sticks around well. Certainly suits the name quite well here. 9/10.

S: Dark fruit forward in the aroma with notes of dark plum, date and macerated figs. There are earthy undertones that suggest a traditional brew with fresh or organic ingredients, along with a solid brown sugar/molasses malt base. Overall the aroma of Dark Island is very much a Skull Splitter lite, and I have absolutely no problem with that [not at all Sir!]. 8/10.

T: Dark fruits present upfront in the flavour with an intriguing sour presence throughout... it’s not Gueuze sour, just a lingering sour touch in the background, however it also isn’t overly as sweet as expected and along with it having a light bitter finish the sourness tips the balance... I checked the BB date and it says ‘APR 16’ so it should be fine, but I am definitely getting a slight sourness which I suspect is unintentional. Hints of brown sugar round out flavour. 6/10.

M: Along with the flavours not being as bold as expected there is some watery mouthfeel that detracts overall from this mid to light bodied light carbonated brew. 6/10.

D: I will get this one again as it may have turned in the bottle a bit, heat damage perhaps? Well it’s the middle of winter here in Canberra and the mercury rarely tops 13 Celsius (or 55 in the old money) so heat damage is out of the question. Infected bottle? Who knows, is it Pasteurized? If so then also likely not. In any case I’ve had a bad run of soured brews lately and I’m hoping my luck changes soon. Overall I imagine a good bottle of Dark Island, a twice CAMRA champion beer of Scotland is a much better brew than the one I just had. 6/10.

Food match: [pairing to what a good bottle of this would match] game meats, beef stew with crusty bread and aged cheddars.

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Photo of Gryphon69
3.8/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured a black with small very light tan head, decent lacing

Smelled good, bready, dark fruits, dark roast, not any noticeable smoke for a scotich ale

Taste was better than average, but nothing really popping out

Thiner than I expected but enough body to hold

Nice looking, always like a beer with lacing, smells more defined than the taste, but good flavor, very easy to drink.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

on cask. black in color, with white head. mild roasty aroma, a touch of chocolate. same flavors in the taste. smooth mouthfeel, overall very nice and drinkable.

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Photo of chinchill
3.48/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle with a BB date of August 2016 purchased and consumed in Fife, Scotland; served in a Sweetwater pint glass.

Flavor has a load of toffee with brown bread. Neither sweet nor bitter. Low carbonation but a fairly durable head. Near full body.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.35/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Best before the end of 10/2015.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that fades to nothing. No lacing on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt, burnt caramel, smoke, and slight dark fruit aromas. Taste is much the same with roast, char, burnt caramel, and slight smoke and soy sauce flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an above average beer that is drinkable, but the aromas and flavors I am getting are a bit unexpected for the style.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of hansavijaticar
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Colour: very dark red. Smell: blackcurrants, dried figs, plums, raisins. Taste and mouthfeel: same as smell, hints of dark chocolate, bit watery, and bitter. By acetic blackcurrant smell and taste it reminds me of Porterhouse Oyster Stout and Sam Smith's Taddy Porter. By bitterness it's untypical Scottish Ale. Very original beer. I suppose it would be even better paired with appropriate food. Skull Splitter is better, though.

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Photo of vinicole
3.72/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Very dark brown with very little head. Slight lacing.
Malt and burnt sugar aroma.
Continuing roast malt in flavour. Some dark chocolate and caramel.
Quite bitter.
Feels rather thin but well carbonated.

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Photo of Mlkluther
3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown with tan head that lingers and leaves a little lacing.

Nose has malt and some caramel but not picking up too much in the nose.

Taste is much more than the nose. Very rich and full caramel and malt and finishes dry.

I really liked this one!

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Photo of tillmac62
3.6/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours darker than a typical porter, but slightly more transparent than a stout. Above average head volume, lacing and retention. Vey rich complex nose of sweet caramel, hints of dark fruit (plums), pear (as it warms), toffee with light coffee notes and a hint of roast and chocolate. Very light medium body with just a touch of smoothness. Average carbonation with a bit of effervescence on the finish. The flavor profile is well below average in intensity, complex and well balanced. It begins rather bland, but comes alive in the middle. Dark fruits become evident along with the other flavors of the nose except for the caramel - it is totally absent. The long finish has a hop note. Perhaps this bottle is old, but since they don't bottle date...

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Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.6/5  rDev -8.9%

Rich deep molasses on a bed of well-toasted, slightly roasted malts fill the nose. Cocoa nibs and powder in the background. Hints of coffee break through. Letting it open, there's also dark caramels and a touch of toffee in the glass, too. Let it really open, and the roast releases a touch of smoke.

Good, rather crisp carbonation with a firm but somewhat thin body. Roasted malts alternate between somewhat bitter chocolate and morning blend coffee, but don't really merge into one. Dark caramel mixes with bitters on the back end. As the finish fades, traces of dark red fruit emerge, such as dried cherries, but it's dry enough to give it a woody, smoked feel.

An interesting take on a stout that includes nuances typical of a Scotch ale, but darker.

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Photo of seedyone
2.75/5  rDev -30.4%

08/01/13 From bottle at Rattle n Hum, NYC. At the outset this was too cold to appreciate. Unfortunately, even as it approached ambient temperature the flavor never seemed to arrive. It never got past a stout w/out body. Left me waiting at the station.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%

$ 5.99/16.9 oz (500 mL) bottle at Vintage Estates in Boardman, OH
Bottle marked L2352 18:34 at 45 degrees into snifter
Aroma of roasted malt
Head small (2 cm), light brown, frothy, rapidly diminishing to 2 mm layer
Lacing excellent – complete wide rings of tiny bubbles
Body dark brown, opaque
Flavor of roasted malt with some coffee; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium to full, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 4, Aroma 4, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4.5, Overall 4.25. Final weighted score: 4.325
This is an excellent dark ale. I want to try it on cask.

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Photo of Paul_PABrewNews
3.31/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance : It was Dark as Night, Slight ruby hues being seen through the bottle of the glass, I could tell it was a clear ale overall from what I could see through it.
Aroma: It was faint, but toasted grains, a bit of smoke tone, coffee and earthy hops were present.
Body: It was soft and smooth a bit thin overall but it was a great chugging ale and with the low ABV very session able.
Taste: Was faint but enjoyable, soft chocolate and coffee tones. Toasted Grains, Brown Bread and Brown Sugar at the end. Blending with a undefined dark fruit note.
Overall: A nice drop, but a little muted in character for me, though on cask I think this would shine. Cheers!

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Photo of PaulyB83
3.72/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A- Pours very dark but some light comes through on the edges revealing a deep garnet. Small medium brown head that doesn't stick around long.

S- Light notes of smoked peat, treacle, whole grain bread.

T- Not as complex as the aroma, pretty light and a bit too thin for what I was hoping for. Getting more dark fruit and a light roast note with some very light smoke notes.

M- Light, easy drinking like a dry stout.

O- It's pretty good, basically like a sessionable Scotch ale. Guess I'm just to used to full flavored beers. It's kinda like Skull Splitter light.

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Photo of Phocion
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Notes from phone, reviewed May 4, 2014. 500ml bottle poured into a nonic dark brown/reddish. Solid finger of light brown head, with big chunks of fizzy lacing.

Caramel/toffee and roasted malts, along with fig and other unidentifiable dark fruits. Slight hint of anise, and the warmer it gets, the smokier it gets.

The flavor is drier than the aroma. SOur and smoked peat, along with nutty and roasted malts. Chocolate and anise; almost English porter-like. Mile dry/sour finish.

Nice soft mouthfeel. Light-medium bodied and low carbonation, perfect for the style.

This is a wonderful beer. Very light and soft mouthfeel with a lot of subtle but no overpowering flavors going on. ABV makes this very drinkable. This would be even more phenomenal on cask.

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Photo of utfiero
4.18/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Color- dark mahogany to very dark brown. Small but creamy head with very little noticeable carbonation.

Aroma- coffee, very roasted malts, hint of raisins, caramel, and dark bakers chocolate.

Taste- rich and deeply flavorful. Starts with a semi-sweet cocoa notes and dark unsweetened mocha coffee, hint of fruit, and finishing with a long roasted and mild smokiness. Excellent.

I procured this 500 ml bottle in Scotland and tasted in in Edinburgh, Scotland on 6/5/2013.

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Photo of Godfather50
3.06/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Maybe I wasn't in the mood for this dark ale, stout.
There was nothing offensive about it, but nothing hoppy or wholesome or distinctive.it reminded me of a kit homebrewed stout I brewed a couple of years ago. I was very pleased with it, but then, It cost me 30p a bottle and was out of a tin.

I think I'm not a dark ale fan, that's the problem.

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle into pint glass, bottled on 6/6/2011. Pours lightly cloudy nearly opaque dark brown color with a 1-2 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Nice spotty lacing clings down the glass. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, toffee, molasses, toast, raisin, plum, pear, apple, dark bread, light roast, herbal, light pepper, light leather, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark malt and yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, dark bread, toast, molasses, raisin, plum, pear, light roast, herbal, light pepper, light leather, and toast/yeast earthiness. No bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, dark bread, toast, molasses, raisin, plum, pear, light roast, herbal, and toast/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice balance, robustness, and complexity of dark/roasted malt and fruity yeast ester flavors; with zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a fairly creamy, smooth, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish as expected of 4.6%. Overall this is a damn nice Scottish ale! All around good balance, robustness, and complexity of dark/roasted malt and fruity yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: A shade below the point at which brown changes to black. Creamy tan head retains well and leaves broken patches of wispy lacing behind. Retention is great.

S: Dark molasses, dark chocolate sauce, chocolate covered raisins and berries. Traces of soot and roast. Nutty undertones. Hints of crust and a little bit of earthy yeast.

T: Roasted coffee beans and coffee beans dipped in chocolate. Waves of molasses and chewy dark caramel. Red berries with chocolate. Nutty. Hints of soot and roasted barley. Cocoa nib sort of chocolatey taste. Oily hop spice toward the finish. Hint of fruity tartness in the background. Chocolatey flavors and hop spice on the finish.

M: Medium-thick body. Silky smooth from start to finish. Moderate prickling carbonation.

O: A full-flavored pint that delivers great complexity and delightfully smooth drinkability. This is just an awesome beer all around. I'm sold on Orkney. These guys can brew some excellent beer.

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Dark Island from Orkney Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 250 ratings.