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Dark Island - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Dark IslandDark Island

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

360 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 360
Reviews: 235
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 12.06%
Wants: 57
Gots: 14 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-02-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 360 | Reviews: 235 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 500ml single at Eastside Liquors in Craig, CO, about $4.

A: Dark brown, not quite black, garnet accents when held to the light. I wasn't sure if there was going to be a head on this one, and there isn't much, just a few bubbles on the edge of the class that are a light tan color. From the few bubbles that are there, there are some nice chunks of lacing.

S: I don't think I've ever smelled something like this, chocolatey, and earthy, a faint hint of smoke, peat, really heavy on the malt bill, and even some milk-like smells? There's a lot going on here. Wow.

T: Complexity follows over from the nose just as well, chocolate up front, earth, and smoke throughout, slightly sour as well, smokiness is there from the malts, a really nice addition, hints of fruits, cherries notably, tobacco as well. This is fantastic.

M: Remarkably thick for such low ABV, a lingering bit of smoke in the mouth, low carbonation, quite smooth. Spot on.

D: A little on the sweet side, but definitely a drinkable beer, this is fantastic, very complex, and a slow sipper, which is odd for something with low alcohol, excellent beer all the way around.

pokesbeerdude, Jan 20, 2009
Photo of ccrida
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into my Samuel Smith imperial pint, Dark Island is cola colored, with a creamy eggshell head that leaves nice lace.

Smell is rich, fruity and sweet, but nutty, with dark caramel crystals. The sweetness here seems a little out of wack with the nutty, astringent bite.

Taste is also pretty rich but not as sweet, the maltiness has a more brown porter like quality with the coffee and chocolate, but not real roast, just some light smoky esters. Like the nose, there's something about the malt profile I'm not loving, almost lactose like, but I really think it's just the particular balance of crystal and chocolate malts...perhaps some damp herbal hops as well, touch of spice on the finish. Improved as I let it warm to almost room temp, more chocolate opened up, and coffee on the nose.

Mouthfeel is pretty smooth and light-bodied.

Drinkability is pretty good, and interesting beer, defiantly has the Scottish ale profile but with a more porter like malt base. Worth trying but I'm not particularly wowed.

ccrida, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of BMoney575
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on 1-13-09

Pours a deep brown color with just a hint of red. A thin, off-white head sits on top, leaving craggy lacing.

Smell is very sweet and peaty, now this is a scotch ale. Quite complex, with a strong aroma of smoke.

Taste is very smooth, not as sweet as expected. Very roasty and a little earthy, but not much going on.

Mouthfeel is good, but a little too carbonated.

Drinkability is good, just a little on the boring side.

Overall, nothing different here.

BMoney575, Jan 13, 2009
Photo of Gmann
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown color with honey brown highlights, the head has a nice milkshake quality to it, which settled into a sudsy cap. The aroma has a lactose sweetness to it with some light coffee and chocoate notes. The taste is of a lightly roasted malt, some sort of milky quality, and a metallic twang. Not really what I was expecting here, maybe it is the full body. The feel is very smooth and chewy, quite balanced. The drinkability is fine. No off flavors and good feel. If I didn't know any better I would think this was a stout. Really big body on this one.

Gmann, Jan 10, 2009
Photo of DoubleJ
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Half-liter bottle poured into an imperial pint glass, on to the beer:

Dark ruby brown color, the head is slihtly tan and retains itself decently. Not a bad sight to see. The aroma greets the nose with a brush of banbna, then following its trail is bitter chocolate and bourbon barrel. Well, some kind of wooden vessel. The taste is where this beer is at. There are many different flavors to choose from. It has a buttery smooth feel, although a bit flimsy....tastes like toffee, butter, figs, wooden barrel (bourbon?), and a dash of coffee bean. Easy to drink without the buzz effect, but please....slow yourself down and enjoy the ride Dark Island has to offer.

DoubleJ, Jan 05, 2009
Photo of darklordlager
3.63/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a very dark brown, with a good 1/2 light brown head that sits there like a crown on a king. Great.

Smell is very layered and balanced. Sweet bready malts, a bit of acidic smell from dark grains, a definitive smoky element.

Taste has a sweet breadiness about it. A bit of dark chocolate perhaps. Much smokier than I remember it. After it warms up a bit, the peat blends nicely with the chocolate flavour.

Mouthfeel is very creamy, and is medium-to-full bodied.

Drinkablity- I think this smoky peat would get to me after a while...in fact, it's getting to me during just this one.

I don't remember this one being so peaty...still a good brew none-the-less.

darklordlager, Dec 25, 2008
Photo of livingregret
2.85/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Serving type was a 1pt .9fl oz bottle. Fairly nice looking bottle and label

Pours a dark dark brown, almost black, w/ little to no head but plenty of lacing w/ nice retention. Not to shabby so far

Smell is a very soft toffee mixed w/ a earthy oat smell. Very pleasing smell that invites you in to sample it

Taste is a touch disappointing to be honest. A light earthy taste(almost semi-sweet) which is not in any way bad but than you get a Dried Chocolate taste that ends w/ almost a prune like ending. I was hoping for more of the toffee to come out but no such luck. Smooth taste..that ends w/ chalk

Mouthfeel is very smooth at the beginning but ends w/ a slight chalky taste. Once again...I was really hoping for the smoothness to follow all throughout the taste but it does not

Drinkability is averageish. It's not terrible and I would enjoy one again...but would I keep a few extra on hand?...honestly I would not. The odd pick up from my local store sure but nothing to go out of my way to keep in stock

livingregret, Nov 13, 2008
Photo of LumpyGuitar
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had been wanting one of these forever, thankfully Beers of the World just started carrying this.

Poured a beautiful dark brown, almost looks like root beer. A light tan bubbly head with decent retention.

Smells like rich chocolate, oat, and dark roasted malts.

Taste is very smooth. Starts with a bit of sweet chocolate that leads to a sweet prune like middle, ending on a mildly bitter hop. Aftertaste ranges from overly sweet to a bit sour from the hop.

Mouthfeel is nice. smooth and crisp, very refreshing.

Drinkability is great. Very easy to drink, nice flavor, amazingly smooth.

LumpyGuitar, Nov 01, 2008
Photo of Proteus93
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a very deep brown, nearly opaque - but not so much because it's viscous, rather just a very deep chestnut brown. Head is a little on the shorter side, about a finger high, forming quickly with a lot of fizz and becoming rather foamy.

S: Soft and subtle toffee scents along with a rather deep earthy aroma. Quite nice in this sense.

T: A modest flavour... soft peat, earthiness. A powdery chocolate comes out fairly late on the finish, to add a finishing touch. Rather pleasant, though perhaps a little bit muted all around.

M: The 'powdery taste' of the chocolate is somewhat perceived with a body that is somewhat suggestive of that. Moderate prickle of carbonation, though body is a little light... then finishes with a dry, powdery feel.

D: Easy enough to drink with that lower alcohol content, though it might not be so alluring as to tempt me into buying more of it. Nonetheless, a fairly decent brew that I was happy to try.

Proteus93, Oct 31, 2008
Photo of mterrence5
3.38/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color with avg head. Smells a little like wine but more of like citrus fruit and coffee. Light in the mouth with semi sweet acidic taste and a deep deep coffee grinds / dark chocoalte finish. Very smooth drinking. Good beer but wouldnt drink frequently. Maybe with desert (yeah I said it) cause of its coffee flavor.

mterrence5, Oct 30, 2008
Photo of nickynick
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark Island poured a nice dark brown, with a nice tan head. Smell was very strong of super sweet malt. Taste had slight hints of chocolate, roasted malts, mild sweetness. Mouthfeel was good. Drinkability seemed ok, it was a bit filling. Overall I found this to be an interesting beer. Seemed very stout like to me. I was a good ale, but a little pricey. Something like 5.29 for a 500ml bottle. Not a bad beer, I would not turn one down. But this beer confused me. I do intent to try more Scottish Ales.

nickynick, Oct 16, 2008
Photo of Brad007
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a darkish-red color with a one-finger head. As dark as a stout.

Aroma is both sweet and smoky upfront with a distinctive woodiness to it.

Taste is smoky upfront with a bit of sweetness from the malt. Chewy and goes down well. Somewhat thin in the middle though.

The smokiness of the malt lingers at the back of the throat and dominates the palate.

A very good example of the style. Drinkable and possibly more spot-on than American versions of this style.

Brad007, Oct 04, 2008
Photo of dnichols
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was served from a 500 ml. bottle into a short glass.

A: It poured a reddish Dr Pepper hued body with a frothy, sticky tan head. The head dissipated to a cover over the liquid and supported leggy lacing.

S: It was chalk full of fruity esters, roasted nuts, caramel and chocolate malts and hints of peat moss.

T: It is a pleasant ale with a smokey and nutty flavor that complements the sweet chocolate malts and earthy flavors.

M: It was a light to medium bodied brew with moderate carbonation and a smooth mouth feel with a lingering sweet aftertaste.

D: It is a smooth and easy brew to drink but it is a bit too sweet for a session beer. It makes for a nice after dinner treat.

dnichols, Sep 12, 2008
Photo of Kallessin
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark brown with ruby highlights throughout. Fairly moderate head that dissipated to thin coating.

It has a very mild malty aroma with a little chocolate. The aroma improved as it warmed up.

Very malty taste. Some roasted chocolate and a little coffee. Some dark fruity flavors mixed in that make it taste like it has more alcohol than it does. Some woody flavors likes in been in a cask.

Fairly smooth and creamy, but thin. Slight warming sensation. It makes the tongue tingle a little bit - might be the carbonation.

Very drinkable. I could easily drink a number of these. Overall a great beer.

Kallessin, Aug 31, 2008
Photo of thekevlarkid
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of the 500ml bottle a deep, dark brown like root beer with a two finger tan head. Dissipated after about two minutes to a skim of medium sized bubbles. Intermittent lacing. Big nose of roasted malts and chocolate malts. The flavors were quite enjoyable, roasted malt again up front followed by peat smoke and then a long, distinct milk chocolate finish that coats the tongue. Medium to full bodied and medium carbonation. Though technically a Scottish Ale it drinks more like a Porter and as such is not varietally correct but all the more enjoyable for those like myself who prefer darker brews. Either way this is a very good beer and worth picking up.

thekevlarkid, Aug 28, 2008
Photo of Greggy
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a very dark ruby color that is just barely see through when held to the light. as the brew recedes, it leaves some nice lacing.

S- A little tight in the nose, but it's driven mainly by dark malts and a nice roasty quality with a hint of cherries.

T- Starts out silky smooth and then moves towards a very smooth dark chocolate with a bit of sweetness. I don't think there's lactose in this beer, but it is very reminiscent of a milk stout. Not terribly complex, but is very delicous.

M- Silky smooth from start to finish. Well done.

D- 4.6% for this gem makes it VERY sessionable. I could easily drink this all day long.

Greggy, Aug 20, 2008
Photo of JMBSH
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby like color with a tan-like head. The head shrinks to a nice layer on top. I can see some carbonation but not mush (it is that dark). Not much for lace on the sides of the glass.
Sure has that scotish scent of toffee.
Taste is very good. Roasted malt is rich. The aftertaste is like figs and dates.
I got this off the internet but now I would spend time hitting up local stores to see who can get it. Like it a lot.

JMBSH, Aug 18, 2008
Photo of Haybeerman
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark. clear caramel brown. Pours with a one inch light brown head that dissipates to a skim of coarse bubbles. Some lacing.

S: Rich chocolate roasted malts, toffee. Mild, slightly bitter hops.

T: Chocolates with coffee and some nuts underneath. Very light hop bitterness. Very well-balances and certainly not overpowering in any aspect/

M: Smooth and buttery, yet light on the tongue.

D: Very drinkable at 5% ABV. Nice balance make it easy.

Haybeerman, Aug 17, 2008
Photo of froghop
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

purchased at the puget sound wine cellar in port orchard, washington.

pours opaque with a ruby tint, small khaki head, good lacing.

smell of malt, touch of citrus, cocoa, roastiness.

taste is tart, dark chocolate, sour malt, some licorice, some vanilla, touch of woodiness.

froghop, Jul 29, 2008
Photo of BeerSox
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle into nonic.

Deep mahogany color, almost black and opaque, with some ruby highlights at the bottom. A one finger light tan head slowly settles to a bubbly rim. Solid patches of lacing along the glass.

Very mild roasy grain with some caramel on top.

The flavor again has some roasty flavors, like a mild porter, or roasty brown ale. Very light chocolate flavors in there. Full bodied with good carbonation.

This beer, as a Scottish Ale, is actually darker than their "MacGregor" Scotch Ale. If this makes sense, that one was toasty, this one is roasty. Generally I expect a little more flavor from this style, but I can really respect the subtlety of this one. Perfect for relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. Recommended.

BeerSox, Jul 13, 2008
Photo of shadow1961
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Orkney Brewery Dark Island Scotch Ale pours a finger of tan foam
over an opaque black brew. The nose is smoke- the flavor is mellow
toasty malts, peat smoke, and just a touch of herbal hops. Mouthfeel
is crisp yet full, and dry. It's a very earthy, flavorful, and authentic Scotch
Ale. Tasty.

shadow1961, Jun 09, 2008
Photo of swizzlenuts
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A:Dark Dark beer, almost black. It has a perfect one finger head that stays around for a bit.

S: You can taste the roasted malts and the almost syrupy malt flavours which remind me of toffee.

T: The beer has hints of toffee, dark fruits, chocolate/coffee, and a bit of hops at the end to make the bitterness. The flavour in this beer is quite strong, in a good way. There is also a slight smoked taste to the beer.

M: Creamy and slightly carbonated.

D: Not that drinkable because the flavour isn't beautiful

This is a well crafted beer, but I'm just not a fan of the flavour.

swizzlenuts, Apr 13, 2008
Photo of avalon07
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a deep, dark brown color and a thick consistency. There was a big inch of head and lacing throughout.

The smell was rich with malt, coffee and sweets. Nicely balanced.

The taste had elements of peat, malt, coffee and a little dark chocolate. Fairly complex in this category.

There was an OK amount of carbonation and a crisp finish for a good mouthfeel.

This is a solidly drinkable beer. It reminds me of a stout in some ways, particularly the heaviness. Nonetheless, a well done beer.

avalon07, Mar 30, 2008
Photo of Pencible
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured a very dark brown with light tan head. It smelled like roasted malt and whole grain wheat. It tasted somewhere between a porter and a red ale, with a dominant malt flavors, although there was also noticeable hops and even garlic. It was watery with a little carbonation and a slightly bitter aftertaste. Overall this was pretty good, and an interesting Scottish style ale.

Pencible, Mar 29, 2008
Photo of brendan13
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a pint glass a very dark red, verging on brown. Couple of centimetres of off white head that slowly falls away.
S - Over ripe dark fruits, some smokiness, a bit of chocolate. Some earthy and floral notes also present.
T - Also dark fruit in the taste, the chocolate is very bitter to taste, the smoke comes through as well but a bit more subtle and mixed with the other flavours.
M - Medium bodied, low carbonation.
D - Probably the most complex beer I've had that has such a low ABV%. Highly reccomended.

brendan13, Mar 20, 2008
Dark Island from Orkney Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 360 ratings.