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Dark Island - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Dark IslandDark Island

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

246 Reviews
THE BROS
95
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 246
Hads: 399
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 10.69%
Wants: 65
Gots: 26 | 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
Reviews: 246 | Hads: 399
Photo of shand
4.4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark Island pours out a lighter black and offers sweet, slightly roasted malts, coffee, and fruit on the nose. The nose is really exceptional. The taste is very good, with fruits and semi-sweet chocolate up front, and smoke lingering on the backend along with some leafy hops and highly roasted coffee. Very well composed, and delicious. The mouthfeel is light and creamy, and the drinkability is great. Overall, Dark Island is an excellent beer. (446 characters)

Photo of BeerRefugee
3.65/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a very dark brown with a creamy tan had with good retention and lacing. Moderate aroma of coffee, toast and toffee. Flavor is similar with hints of coffee, bitter chocolate, raisins and toffee/brown sugar sweetness. Mouthfeel is a little thin and finish is slightly astringent. Would this beer to be a little more full-bodied, but the flavor is very good. (361 characters)

Photo of bmwats
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a footed tulip.

A: Medium-dark brown. Pours a slight brown white head, which quickly liberates itself from reality leaving only a faint ring. No real lacing.

S: Pungent malty tone with some black cherry, tea leaf, and.... cinnamon rolls?

T: Very light malt character, slightly kriekened, with a little musty peat.

M: Sticky and a little shallow.

D: Goes down easy.

Atmosphere is good. Decent hue, but a very slight head and no lacing. Nose is a great malty, sweet cherry and fresh pastry combination. Flabby and a little shallow slightly sweetened malty tone, balanced with a bit of pungent peat. Overall, this is a pretty good quaff. (673 characters)

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.76/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

(poured into a fat tulip - this bottle seems to me to have been at least 6 months old, if not more, and possibly handled poorly sometime in its history...normally, this beer is pretty good - was a bit off here...)

A: really dark on the pour - appears to be a dark, ruby-brown...nice 1" head on pour that poofed out quickly, leaving barely a slimy collar

S: like an old Eastern European Baltic-style porter...really predominantly fruity, bright and berry-like, matched against a background of light-roasted coffee and a dab of cocoa....i'm wondering if they use a lot of finishing hops or ferment at a higher temperature than normal...perhaps a little oxidized...some mild fig, mint, and cordial/medicinal notes....seems weaker than it should be

T: lightly leathery, mildly soured coffee...just as fruity as it smells - sour cherry?...light cocoa and bittersweet in the aftertaste....bold composition of flavors, yet mellow in their dynamics (if that makes sense)....once again, Baltic porter-like

F: light-ish, clean, but curiously hearty....some silky or slickness as it comes along

O: I've had a better bottle than this, and on cask, it's quite nice-r (1,158 characters)

Photo of StJamesGate
4.09/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby black with puffy beige head that keeps a film.
Oily coffee, Christmas pudding, and chargrilled steak on the nose.
Strong coffee and dark cherries, dried apple, raisin skins and fig relish, a roasty hit, and some bark and earth hops. Some sour malts, a bit of treacle, and hints of woody vanilla, too.
Prune finish and lingering stone fruit tartness.
Medium thinking about full, oily, good bit of chew, cleansing fizz.

More darkness than the usual Scottish ale but more fruit than a porter. Enough carbonation to never cloy and a very reasonable strength. I'd prefer more hops, but not really what this is about.

Couldn't ask for more in February. (656 characters)

Photo of bluejacket74
3.96/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours dark brown with a half inch tan head that stayed around for a while. There's a decent amount of lacing. The brew smells like caramel malt, toffee, dark fruit, roasted malt and a bit of leather and chocolate. It tastes like peat, roasted malt, dark fruit, minerals/salt, chocolate and some coffee. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and slick with moderate carbonation. I liked this brew, and at $4.99 a bottle I'd buy this one again in the future. (510 characters)

Photo of mdagnew
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle bought from The Vineyard, Belfast...

Poured a deep amber colour. Slightly off white head poured fairly loose and frothy then faded quickly to patchy covering with thick edging. No real carbonation... wispy lacing...

Aroma - Quite a lot of toasted bready malts, dried dark fruits (raisins, prunes, also some apples), some light peat / tobacco notes, toasted nuts, leathery traces, sweet muscavado sugar notes, grassy hints...

Taste - A bit of a let down after the decent aroma... watered down lightly toasted malts, dark fruits (raisins, apples, figs), fruit / malt loaf notes, metallic traces, some saltiness, light smoke...

M&D - Quite sharp and dry... light bodied... Fairly drinkable and sessionable...

Overall - A decent enough Scottish ale... worth a try... (780 characters)

Photo of Dave1999
3.86/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black with a small tan coloured head.

The smell is quite subdued, there's some dark malts.

The taste is dark malts,toffee, caramel with a bit of a bitter finish. It hints at being great tasting but is too subtle.

The mouth feel is medium bodied with low to medium carbonation.

Overall a fairly simple but tasty beer. Too subtle in both the nose and taste but decent none the less. Being from Scotland I know our beer is pretty different to American made "Scotch" ales. (486 characters)

Photo of mick303
4.13/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a really solid head of toffee tan head, good retention and this leaves excellent lacing and film. Colour is a very dark brown, near black.

Smell is chocolaty dark roasty malts. Some floral esters. Surprisingly light. Low bitterness, fresh fruity maltiness.

Taste has a big full dark malty body, dry chocolate (hot cocoa mix). Cooked apple, bready malt, really rich, a bit of residual sweetness but hops counter this. Finish is dry, slightly roasty, bitterness comes through. Its really tasty and satisfying, really interesting balance of flavours.

Mouthfeel is moderate, low carbonation, but really smooth and rich. Delicious and really sessionable.

A pretty solid go-to dark ale. This is really nice and a tasty ale. (729 characters)

Photo of BigBry
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the pints that we enjoyed at our new-found favorite pub - The Bon Accord.
A very, dark beer (very Guinness-like) with deep ruby high lights when held to the light. Tight, long lasting, off white head. Thick lace coats the glass, almost an inch of foam lesft at the bottom of the glass.
Smells of bitter chocolate, dried fruits like figs or dates. Roasted malt with some hints of coffee.
All of the same flavors as the aromas: chocolate, coffee and roast malt. Fruity sweetness like plum or prune. Just the right amount of hoppy bitterness at the end. Thick and creamy body, silky smooth mouthfeel.
This was a great beer, one of the high lights. (651 characters)

Photo of pkalix
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

completely dark, little head. first time trying this one. got some bitterness, something i'd expect with a higher alcohol content.
a tad oily, more bitter than i'd expect, but has a good taste. for the taste, i was hoping for a higher alcohol content but i suppose it will be a good finisher for the evening.
wanna be guinness?

2nd review.... still dark....
dark fruit aromas, tastes (figs?). settling on the fact that lighter abv has a more genuine flavor- less to contend with when you include a higher abv. it is why i appreciate a truly great taste from the higher abv brews. i mean a slurpee can taste great, but whe you add the vodka to it it diminishes the taste, right? we ARE drinking it for (partially) the alcohol and the craft involved to produce an alcoholic beverage, right? so, the lower abv'd brews naturally have the advantage in taste. this one has a great taste, and a more flavorful malt variety, which is great, but i hesitate when i compare it to higher abv brews. regardless, it still is a great tasting brew. i suppose i feel the need to say this as i have seen many reviews knock the fact that it has an 'alcohol' flavor to it, when that 'flavor' can, actually, be difficult to appreciate. i want to bump up my review numbers as i feel i may have been influenced by others' opinions.... i have always liked this beer.... (1,347 characters)

Photo of DirtyD
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
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. (334 characters)

Photo of DaveBlack
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A: Almost totally black beer, some slight reddish tints at the edges. the head is about 1 finger and tan with moderate retention and some fine lacing.

S: Roasted malts bring a lot of caramel, chocolate notes with an underlying coffee. There is also a prevalent sweetness that reminds me of blackberries. Great smelling brew.

T: Surprisingly light tasting, not nearly as heavy as the nose and look would lead one to believe. The taste of the coffee and chocolate are there, slight smoky vanilla taste as well. The berry is still there as well.

M: Surprisingly moderate body and carbonation. I actually find it a little too watery, I wish it was creamier and stickier to back up the flavor.

O: Great flavor, lots of complexity. My only complaint with this beer is that I find it too light to back up the flavor. Worth a try to be sure. (838 characters)

Photo of wordemupg
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into tulip 23/6/12

A dark brown with deep cola edges, two fingers of mocha foam retains very well leaving lots of spider web lacing, looks great

S milk chocolate, dark toffee, molasses, dried fruit and its a little nutty, smells pretty good but not overly strong

T just a little cold coffee I didn't smell, the flavors come out quite a bit stronger then the nose, a little rum raisin as it warms, tastes great

M silky at first and carbonation leaves it feeling creamy, not that heavy considering the color but the bubbles give it some body, slightly sticky on the lips

O pretty solid stuff in my glass tonight, great flavors in a beer I could session, this ones a winner

I could drink a few of these without getting board, went down quickly and I thought it tasted great, what more can you ask for? (828 characters)

Photo of GONZALOYANNA
3.15/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

500ml bottle. Snifter glass. Notes dated on agt´11. Deep mahogany color crowned by off-white froth showing pretty well retention. Some spots. Yeast, sweet toasted & caramel malt, toffee aromas. Flavors of chocolate, ripe dark berries & hints of toffee. Sweet bitter palate. Medium body, moderate carbonation. Slightly watery in the middle. (340 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid dark brown with the faintest of ruby highlights when held to light. Huge frothy tan head slowly subsides and leaves lots of stickies on the glass on the way down. The aroma is a bit vinous with hints of dark dried fruits. Bits of caramel and chocolate almond with dried cherries and raisins abound. The flavor is as vinous as the aroma suggested. Lots of dark and slightly tart fruit with a hint of butterscotch and light chocolate. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet creamy bubbly mouthfeel. Lots of body and flavor for such a brew with 4.6 abv. I like this. (599 characters)

Photo of CwrwAmByth
4.31/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a dark brown/black colour with an awesome creamy looking off white head.

Smells faintly of dark malts.

Tastes nicely of roasted notes of malt, dark balanced well with light and the hops lingering at the end to create something perfectly balanced. Has a great feel to it that makes it so easy to drink, the alcohol is hidden well.

Overall a pretty remarkable beer. (420 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
4.06/5  rDev +3.3%
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. (1,106 characters)

Photo of leokbelo
4.21/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep ebony, blackest of all blacks into a pint glass! Nice 1/2 inch mocha head that dissipates too quickly into the everlasting lacing.
Hint of figs on the nose, with some coffee and dark chocolate.
Malty on the tongue, again with hints of coffee and chocolate, with raisins and figs dominating. Hops are present to keep it balanced, but not overwhelming, true to the style.
Extremely drinkable, a true session beer!
Highly recommended! (445 characters)

Photo of dbrauneis
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown in color with a half finger tall tan head. The head dissipates rather quickly leaving a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass. Moderate lacing is observed.

S: Aromas of caramel, dark roasted malts, molasses, and hints of chocolate. The smell is pretty intense and very pleasant.

T: Flavors are primarily of the dark roasted malts with caramel and molasses sweetness, there are hints of chocolate and smoke, and a very light bitterness to the finish. The beer is well-balanced and has a nice complexity to the flavor.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly creamy.

O: I really enjoyed this beer, I was not expecting it to be quite so dark and to have such a wonderful aroma. I was pleased that it had hints of smoke but that the smoke was not overpowering and let the other flavors show through. Very easy to drink and I would gladly have another (if only there was another bottle here at the house). (970 characters)

Photo of Samp01
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark brown with a brown head and good lacing on the pour. Aroma of sweet lightly roasted dark caramel malt, some nice hints of cacao and espresso, with some nice dark ripe fruity esters. Taste affords us with some nice chocolate notes, some roasted caramel malt along with some nice ripe dark fruits, some plums, with some light bitterness. Palate is a medium slightly creamy texture with some light carbonation. Finishes with a sweet toasted slightly creamy dark caramel malts some cacao, some dark fruity notes and a light bitter ending for some balance. This is a good tasty and flavorful brew. Almost reminds me of a light version of an Imp Stout, very nice, easy drinking brew. (684 characters)

Photo of RedneckBeerz
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a 21st Amendment pint and the heavy dark brown color (you can just see into it along the edges of the pint). It has a smallish tan head and whisps of lacing on the glass.

As per style, the aroma is carmel, dark roasted malts, and a touch of chocolate.

The flavor follows the nose with sweet chocolate, carmel, and malt flavor coming forward due in part to the lowish attenuation and lack of bittering hops (again as per style).

The malts are on parade here, so grab a seat and maybe the burlesque girls will join in.

The mouthfeel is medium-light and the carbination is fairly low which makes this an easy drinker. If I was to guess, I'd assume this is a 90 Scot Ale, but seeing as to how this is my 1st one of this style, I can't say for sure, but it don't really matter.

This is a great brew albeit a bit pricy ($6.00+). As it warms, it becomes more balanced although still with minimal hop presence. This to me would be an easy drinker any time of the year.

I'm glad David @ The Brewer's Kettle had a tasteing and more glad that I was able to pick a bottle up. Pretty spot on as far as style goes so this is definately an A brew to me. (1,183 characters)

Photo of BlackHaddock
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can’t believe I’ve not reviewed a beer from The Orkney Brewery before, must have drank too many and forgot to write about them! This review will right that wrong.

Hand pulled pint into a UK sleeve in The Baron of Beef, Cambridge.

Dark, dark brown body with an off-white head of smooth foam. The head stayed and gave some good lacing.

The smells where of rich malty molasses with coffee/toffee, all roasted over an open fire.

The taste was of a chocolate laden fruit and nut cake baked a little too long, taken with a bitter coffee. Add some alcohol and you’re almost there, I liked it!

Heavy mouthfeel, but in great condition, with a lovely soft carbonisation, only really found in well kept darker cask ales. (723 characters)

Photo of Zimbo
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

To the Orkney Brewery this is what Old Peculier is to Theakstons.

Very Dark, almost black and certainly much more than I last remember.The ever so slightly caramel hint seems to have succumbed to the more intense dark and firm nutty qualities which give this an almosrt brooding tone. Firm and strong without the roidish qualities often associated with extreme beer. Smells of bitter chocolate and dark fruit as it goes down and leaves some pretty complex lacing on the sides of the glass.

This was a real trailblazer in the Scottish beer scene and to this day it largely defies a style definition. Not a tradition 80/, porter nor black IPA, referring to it as a 'dark ale' (as the brewery does) is as close as you're gonna get in trying to nail it down.

A complex beer for the mature palate. (796 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

A very black solid body, with a creamy off caramel good tan colored head. Head manages to cream and whip up and stick around. Real great looking beer.

Nose is wonderful. Dark malts, woody smoke, leather, hints of dried beef jerky with a little sense of salt, faint caramel sweetness. Just great.

Flavor profile is not as bold probably due to low abv. But it's all there. Roasted caramel and woody like toffee. Slightly wet and even a bit carbonated. Faint char and smoke in the aftertaste, with just a hint of weak cream feel.

Overall I'd probably want it bigger, but for what this offers at this low abv this is quite enjoyable and impressive, really like this quite a lot! (722 characters)

Dark Island from Orkney Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 246 ratings.