Dark Island - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Dark IslandDark Island

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

393 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 393
Reviews: 245
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 11.84%
Wants: 62
Gots: 22 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 393 | Reviews: 245
Reviews by udubdawg:
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown with some ruby highlights thru out with more head than expected,aroma was suprisingly light a little brown sugar and touch of smokiness.Taste of dark fruit and mildly sweet with a touch of peat in the finish that lingers.A solid ale pretty easy to drink.

Photo of brownbeer
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Really a nice looking Scottish Ale. Pours deep mahogany with a creamy tan head.

Distinctly non-American nose with English-like maltiness and a hint of ashy smoke, toffee, and sweet chocolate.

The soft carbonation jumps out right away, with, again, subtle smoke making an appearance. The taste is a little bland overall, until it warms, when vanilla and sweet chocolate come out, blending with the smoke very nicely. Acquires a certain vinous quality as it hits about room temp. Very sessionable, with a silky medium body. I could drink a lot of this.

Photo of JasonA
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rootbeer chocolate, single finger head with ample lacing. Very surprised at the opaqueness of the brew. Loving the look.

Smells malty, sweet, maybe some rum raisin. Little bitter hops, nothing aromatic. There is something else in there I cant place, reminds me of a wee heavy sourness. Carmelization present and heavy.

Bitter, little malty with the herbal flavor. There is some smoke taste in there. Not burnt, smoke.

Not quite full bodied, but I find this a lot with Scottish Ale's, its prolly more to the style than my pallete.

Not quite a winter warmer, not a spring summer brew. Very enjoyable around a fire, but the ABV for the amount I can drink isnt favorable.

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%

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.

Photo of Jason
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2 oz brown bottle with a gold foiled top, no freshness date.

Appearance: Shaded dark ruby in colour with big light tan head that dissipates into a lace but still retains well.

Smell: Slight fruit, hints of flavoured creamed coffee and soft peat aroma.

Taste: Fruity and mild yet noticeable peatish smoke up front, some crisp carbonation ... then goes a little smooth with a light hop bitterness. A touch of chocolate, some hop flavour and more faint peat smoke flavour inside. In the end is a bit of nut and residual dextrin.

Notes: Tiny complexities make this a very interesting ale, definitely give this one a try.

Photo of merlin48
3.41/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, deep chestnut brown with a luscious three finger beige head that quickly falls into patchy sheets of lace that cling to the glass. Aroma is subdued and has some toffee and peaty smokiness. Mouthfeel has medium carbonation, is rich and slightly creamy, and has a mild hops sting. Sweet toffee and caramel lead the malt dominance. There is a smoky peat taste that echoes the nose, and a hops balance that wavers between fruity and floral. Finish is somewhat bitter, and this ale is well balanced, overall. Distinctively Scottish, and nicely drinkable, but not the best offering from Orkney.

Photo of DirtyD
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Orkney did a great job overall on his beer. It poured very dark and had a nice tan head. The smell was of molasses, dried fruit and rich malts. Taste was to style with more malt flavor showing through than hop bitterness, but for me was more of a sweet fruit than dark malt. The mouthfeel was light to medium and finished very smooth.

Photo of Dizzy
3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark with red highlights. Excellent head retention.
The dominate flavor I notice is smokey flavor quite strong, I'm assuming from peat smoked malt? A strong roasted flavor also evident. Hops don't seem to stand out, I feel like this is a well balanced beer. I wish this were available in Texas.

Photo of ivanwatling
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Thick, dark brown/black. Decent head for a bottled beer, but as always will still disappear after a short time.

Smell: Wonderful strong aroma typical of a dark ale

Taste: Sweet with a hint of bitterness. Predominately a malty taste, rich and satisfying

Mouthfeel: Thick, substantial leaving a warm mouthfeel

Drinkability: Surprisingly low alcohol content for such a bold tasting beer (4.6), meaning a bottle will not but you flat on your back. Hence can be savoured at any time of the day and will always be rewarding.

Photo of ADR
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown with some light transmission at the bottom of the glass. Pale and nice creamy head. Aroma is mostly of black strap molasses. Lighter-bodied than I expected, malt is weighted toward a gingerbread sense with a little impression of coffee. Then, the flavor thins a lot and gets more candy-like and stifling. Interesting, but a weak closer in the flavor department, to me.

Photo of chinchill
3.48/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

Photo of stereosforgeeks
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A nice with a light brown head and some nice lacing.

Smell: Some nice chocolate roasted malts, some butter, toffee, and mild hops.

Taste: Nice nuts and chocolates with coffee. Very light fruity hop bitterness on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy that still manages to be light on the tongue.

Drinkability: This is sessionable at about 5%.

Photo of ByTor2112
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark shade of root beer brown. Thin beige colored head. Maintains a nice film across the top.
Aroma- A deep inhale gets some sweet malt aromas-caramel is in there. The dark malt is not roasty toasty, just rich.
Smooth flavor with a medium pronounced hop bitterness that has a slight edge over the malty flavors. For a dark ale I hate to say this is almost balanced. Sweetish malt flavors with an earthy hop bitterness. A good froth on the palate and it maintians it taste and flavor profiles. The hops come back in at the finish as well. Not bold but a good full-bodied ale.

Photo of rastaman
2.84/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Fairly pleasant. Sweetish malts at the start (chocolate+ a t touch of sugar and also some toffee). nice roasty, peaty finish, thin-ish body with some sourness, musty, sulfuric, and maybe a bit unexciting, but fairly easy to drink. Cask at Chelmsford Beer fest 03'.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a nonic)

A- This beer pours a jet black body with an oatmeal colored thick head that sticks to the glass with each sip. A few random bubbles pop through the murky liquid to glide up the glass to the head.

S- The smell of musty raw peat moss turns to a pencil graphite aroma as the beer warms but still stays pretty soft. The smooth black roasted malt has a Kona coffee quality to it with a fruity note of plums to finish.

T- The flavor of mellow black malt has a dark smooth toffee flavor with some caramel qualities with a mellow bitterness to dark roasted malt finish. The finish has a soft red wine vinegar hint that increases a bit as the beer warms, and it lingers just a moment after the finish.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a tight little fizz note at the finish.

D- This beer is mellow but rich in flavor with a nice bit of earthiness and I would love to try this on cask. I think there are some great flavors hidden in there. The tartness was also a nice compliment to the malts.

Photo of SetarconeX
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Having sample's Orkney's Dragonhead stout not too long ago, and being suitably impressed by it, I decided to give one of their other beers a whirl. Dark Island, I must admit, isn't half bad. Pours a nice dark red color, with a lovely brown head. I know I can't take it into account with my rating, but Orkney has the absolute coolest looking labels ever. Nice black standing stones on this one.

The taste is at heart a fairly standard flavor, with subtle little hints of something more complicated underneath. Lightly malty. Perhaps lightly toffee flavored. Ever so slightly toasted, but still much lighter than a Porter or Stout. Exactly the sort of beer I'd want in massive quantities to go with a nice hearty meaty dinner. Alas, it doesn't seem to get sold in the quantities I'd like. Better out there? Sure. But this one's still plenty fun.

Photo of biboergosum
4.06/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. Quoyloo? Did Herman Melville come through there at one time?

This beer pours a clear, very dark reddish-brown colour, with two fingers of puffy, rocky beige head, which leaves a high-flying array of honeycomb lace around the glass as it slowly sinks away. Sexytime!

It smells of dark roasted malt, some oily nuttiness, soft caramel and bitter chocolate notes, and a subtle drying, indistinct hoppiness. The taste is mildly chocolatey, grainy malt, understated, sulky, persistent nutty tones, some weak, but pesky caramel, and soft, unassuming drying noble hops.

The bubbles are average, and middling, but not at all obtrusive, the body a soothing medium-light in weight, and no-questions-asked smooth. It finishes off-dry, the burbling nutty, caramel, Euro-chocolate sweetness nowhere near overpowering, but still ceding little to the steadfast, if still quite anonymous drying hops.

A lovely Scottish ale, balanced in all respects, except maybe for (from a New World view) the ABV - ah, hell, even I shouldn't complain - any session ale should be lucky to have such complexity and ardor.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours out looking very ominous, dark ,dark brown, not exactly opaque, but close. mocha-froth style head, moderate retention with plenty of foamy goodness left-over.

The nose is mild with chunky, bitter chocolate, dark-roastie coffee with vanilla, sour, spicey hops with zesty dried fruits and Quaker Oatmeal.

The flavor has a very herbal effect right off, dark roastie malt, very hearty with a good balance of earthy notes like, wheat and grains and musty chocolate. The hops provide a a dry, herbal balance from the dank malt. a crispy, clean feel, medium bodied but very smooth at the end, very stout-like feel. The finish is slightly dry, but greasy going down.

This is a pretty rightous and robust session brew.

Photo of Metalmonk
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Received in trade from jabocu.

Poured like milk out of the bottle, all thick and creamy looking. The head was just under an inch thick. Color reminds of stout, an impossibly deep brown. Average amount of lace sticking to the glass throughout the drink.

Smell is malty with only a mild sweetness, pretty hearty aroma but I'm not getting much beyond the malt.

Unsurprisingly malty in the flavor, and an odd but welcome taste I would describe as caramel-flavored salt water taffy. A mildly smoky element at the back of the swallow. Good creaminess in the mouth that lasts long after the sip.

A hearty, robust ale. Also incredibly filling. I hadn't eaten for hours when I drank this and it sat heavy in the stomach. Definitely will satisfy not only thirst, but hunger too.

Photo of HoppinAle
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark Island started off great, but ended a little thin. Upon opening, it had a pleasant aroma followed by multiple tastes that rushed through my taste buds. You can taste a subtle hint of chocolate, the roast, and it leaves a long lasting coffee/caramel after taste. I sampled 1 pint/500 ml and it became a little too carbonated and thin about half way through and started reminding me of a Stewart's Root Beer. The color is dark brown but not opaque. It has a medium thickness in pour with a light chocolate colored head that formed nicely in the beginning, however, settled by mid-beer. I did enjoy Dark Island and would recommend only drinking about two after dinner as a nice treat to end your day.

Photo of cokes
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very deep scarlet brown. Milkshake-like tan head fades to a 1/2" then doesn't budge.
Powerful nose of peat smoke, black liquorice, and mild roastedness.
Smoky up front in the taste, then drops to molasses and liquorice flavors. Smoke still lingers (or reenters) at the midway point. Tobacco leaves and slight earthiness are present. Finishes with a dash of leafy hops.
Light to medium bodied. It seems on the thin side for having so much going on. Tiny, subtle carbonation.
A nice little guy here. Much bigger profile than the 4.6%ABV would indicate.

Photo of ojclark
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Malty, smoky, meaty aroma, very much like a German Rauchbier. Very dark brown with a thick, rocky, mostly lasting tan head. Very malty flavor with slightly smoky flavor and slight sourness and bitterness. Medium-light carbonation and medium bodied with a fairly long, mellow finish. Aftertaste similar to aroma: malty, smoky and meaty. Nice beer. Not what I expected but a pleasant surprise.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.44/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opaque brown in color with a tan head that drops quickly to a decent collar and whispy foam across the surface and leaving just some light lace. The aroma offers a light dark fruit note, a sweet caramel maltiness, and a soft espresso-like roastiness. The body is light, the carbonation limited, and the mouthfeel oily. The flavor, however, is richly malty and quite complex with notes of dark chocolate, burnt caramel, coffee, biscuit, and soft dark fruits. The finish is sweet, even candyish at times, with a light fudge-like note - but always well balanced by an underlying bitterness that keeps the sweetness in check. Although this is a Scottish ale, a warmer serving temperature closer to British standards seems to display its character best. Worth trying, but not worth seeking. Probably very nice cask-conditioned.

Photo of Zephenbrewid
2.71/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type: 500 ML bottle poured into 16 oz tumbler

A: Lives up to its Dark moniker, this is probably one of the darker scottish/scotch ales I have seen to date, being pretty opaque with a moderately lingering medium tan head.

S: Mmm there's that malt. I pick up on some grape scents in there with a little chocolate pulling through as well

T: Too much roasted flavor here, I can also taste some smokiness. Really though, If i didn't know better I'd call this a porter

M: Med-Full bodied and suddy, feels like there could be some roasted barley here

Notes: bought this on a whim and it isn't for me, there are better scottish ales

Photo of Elemental
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice dark brown/black color witha nice brown foamy head. I didn't think that it was a wine colored ale as advertised There are hints of roasted barley, nuts, and hops in the aroma. Real nice taste that is robust in flavor that is slightly bitter with chocolate and fruit undertones. Very well balanced between the hops and malts. Definately worth checking out.

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Dark Island from Orkney Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 393 ratings.