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Dark Island - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Dark IslandDark Island

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

382 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 382
Reviews: 242
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 11.84%
Wants: 60
Gots: 18 | FT: 1
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 382 | Reviews: 242
Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.35/5  rDev -15.6%
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.

Photo of djrn2
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%

Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of Thorpe429
2.75/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle picked up in Winston-Salem the night before Sexual Chocolate 2011. Served in a Bruery tulip.

Pours a very dark brown with almost no head. Appears to be quite a bit too dark for the style. Lacing is non-existent. The nose brings forward some toffee as well as a mild amount of diacetyl. The taste is lightly-toasted with some roasted malt and a bit of sweetness. Underneath there is toffee and butter. Body is light with low carbonation. Not worthy of its position as the #1 Scottish Ale.

Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark amber (close to opaque) in color and has a light amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high creamy beige head that quickly died down and left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface that gradually turned into lacing.
S: There are moderate to strong aromas of caramel and nuts in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste is dominated by flavors of caramel and toasted malts. It also has notes of nuts and raspberries as well as hints of chocolate and coffee.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a bit thin on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very sessionable given its' low alcohol content. It packs in so much flavor that I could drink this all night long without losing interest.

Photo of olradetbalder
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of brentk56
3.63/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a cola brown color with garnet highlights and a very nice, sticky head that leaves mucho lacing

Smell: Vague dark fruit aroma with a scent of smoky peat and nuts

Taste: Starts out with a dark fruit flavor that is slightly sour; quickly joined by the smoky peat element that dominates this beer; after the swallow; the smokiness joins with a slight tinge of nutty flavors that fade out as quickly as they arrive

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: While I like certain smoked beers, others just turn me off; unfortunately, this is one that I don't care for, even though I appreciate its complexity, as I don't like the sour aspect

Photo of BEERchitect
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yep, that's Scottish alright. The only culture who gets drunk enough to burn dirt. ..and then make beer with it. Fresh from the bottle, the beer emits a burst of peat / campfire / smoke qualities along with a hearty molassas sweet scent and dark fruits. As expected, the appearance is a solid brown color with a tawny tan head that shows a lot of creaminess and lacing. The taste of the beer does a backflip, giving a lot of syrup-sweet maltiness, rich dark figs, dates, plumbs, and grapes. The beer holds firm with woody, earthy, smoky flavors showing midway through the sip and increasing into the finish. Moderately hopped for bitterness but no hop aroma or flavor. Certainly balanced toward the malts. Despite such bold flavors, the feel is lighter than expected, but without thinning or becomming watery; remains creamy throughout. Maybe a touch of roasted grain chalkiness in the finish. A good beer, but even boldly smoky for a Scotch Ale.

Photo of Knapp85
3.73/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out as a nice shade of reddish brown. The head was white and a little foamy. The lacing was thin and didn't really do too much after mid glass. The smell of the beer had a good amount of malts on the nose, there was a subtle sweetness to the aroma. The taste was earthy, malty, and had some qualities of most English style ales. The mouthfeel of this beer was pretty smooth, it was a little light bodied for the color of the brew. Overall I thought that it was a good brew to try. Glad I had it.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A beautiful shade of dusky reddish chestnut which reveals itself to be closer to dark crimson when held to my sunlit front window. The head is frothydense, light toasty brown and is clinging for all it's worth--in chunky pocked sheets--to the upper portion of the glass. If you have sunlight handy, this one is impressive to look at.

The nose strikes me as cross between a Scottish ale and a porter. It smells of lightly roasted dark malt with plenty of chocolate, sweet dark caramel and peat. It tastes pretty porter-like too with flavors of chocolate-covered caramels and sweet black licorice. It's deeper than that though.

There's also a mildly sour, earthy, peaty smokiness that is some kind of satisfying. It finishes mildly bitter, a friendly reminder that hops are present as well. The mouthfeel is medium-full and creamy without a trace of heaviness. (With regards to body/mouthfeel, keep in mind that this isn't a Scotch Ale; the differences between the two styles aren't trivial).

I've had a number of good Scottish ales recently and Dark Island is the best of the lot. The pint bottle was a little on the expensive side ($4), but well worth it. I'll be sure to pick up a few more of these beauties whenever and wherever I find them. Anyone looking to dip a toe into the 'Scottish ale loch' would be hard-pressed to find a better place to start than Dark Island.

Photo of womencantsail
3.45/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer pours almost black in color with a finger of off-white head.

S: A touch of roasted malt followed by a rather large dose of dark fruits. There are plenty of plums and prunes with just a little bit of toffee and dark chocolate.

T: The flavor is sort of light and watery. There is just a mild roasted malt flavor and a touch of chocolate. It's got a touch of red wine to it in addition to the dark fruit flavors.

M: The body is somewhat light with low to medium carbonation.

O: The nose was pretty nice, but the flavor was far too thin and watery.

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 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 JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +0.8%

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 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 RblWthACoz
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown that shows some dark ruby tints when held to light. Minimal tan-nish head falls fairly quickly. Nose is that woody syrupy sweet thickness. Pretty traditional stuff. Seems like there are some coffee grind tones on the end too. Flavor tastes like bitter old coffee at first but calms down to only a fairly bitter tone. As it warms it becomes more pleasant and some firm peat tones really start to appear. Leaves a smoked, peaty like aftertaste in the mouth. Feel has a thick liquid body and a good level of carbonation. Overall a decent brew. If you drink it too soon without letting it warm up, don't expect as much as you should be getting.

Photo of jlindros
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

THanks to dfclav for this one.

Pours a large almost 2 finger creamy head that fades semi slowly with quite a bit of lacing, over super dark almost black rosy brown color.

Nose brings that typical uk style dark ale, soft aged brown malts, toasty and light roasty brown malts, light molasses and caramelized brown sugar, light porter aromas, light earthy hops.

Taste starts with soft dark malts, again with tons of molasses, caramelized brown sugar, some dark dried fruits, raisin, light fig, some very light cinnamon (not real cinnamon just from the malts and yeast I assume), a light juicy quality, some light earthy and very light bitter herbal hops. Finishes mostly clean, light lingering roasted malts, light chocolate even, some juicy dark fruits with more raisin, and a bit of bitterness.

Mouth is medium bodied with decent carbonation.

Overall pretty good, light and sessionable, nice darker roasty malts, toasty, soft aged brown malts, brown sugar and molasses, lots of great dark malt flavors in a very light and sessionable beer, great job.

Photo of Slatetank
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%

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

Pours ruddy red to mahagony with a 3 fingers+ tan head. Good lacing & average head retention

Smell: Slight fruitiness

Taste: Peat smokiness up front, not too overwhelming. Dryness, choclate & frutiness then surface. Frutiness and slight smokiness in the finish

MF: Rich and good carbonation level

Pretty drinkable, good smoked/scottish ale. Worth a try if you like (as I do) restrained smokiness

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

Cocoa colored head, dark black body. Nose is fruity, vinous, sensations of cherries, grapes, other dark fruits, but mildly, plus some spiciness, cloves, etc. Medium carbonation. Solid malt, and minimal hop presence. Thick and full, a perfect fit for a damp, cold, dark island, an ideal comfort for a gloomy atmosphere. Finish is bitter, but overall, if a bit too light in body and lacking in hops for my taste.

Photo of drabmuh
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The #1 Scottish Ale currently, part of my best beer per style goal on beeradvocate. Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a Russian river wine glass.

Beer is brown and dark but clear with a tan head of small and medium bubbles that leaves some lacing on the glass.

Beer has a mild smoke peat aroma to it but mostly caramel.

Beer is medium to light in body with a mild smokiness and some malt sweetness up front, overall it is pretty good. The midpalate is a little thin but overall it's a pretty good beer. I should drink more scotch ales.

Photo of jwc215
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle:

Pours nearly pitch black with thick tan head that descends to a thin cover. Some trailing lacing sticks.

The smell is of dark chocolate, dark fruits and some earthy notes

The taste is of chocolate with a touch of roasted smokiness. Quite acidic. Some earthiness balances it out in the sweetish finish.

Medium-bodied. Easy to drink.

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Dark Island from Orkney Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 382 ratings.