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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
Reviews: 250 | Hads: 406
Photo of RedneckBeerz
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

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Photo of Zimbo
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
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!

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a large, fading head.
Nose shows roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, port and figs. Big choc/coffee liqueur notes.
Flavours are also quite roasty, but nowhere near as expressive. Weak plain coffee mixed with faint fig, red wine notes, and a roasty finish that includes an acidic bite.
Body feels quite watery.

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Photo of flyingpig
3.54/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very dark brown, bordering black with a tan brown, foamy head that forms a dome over the top of the pint glass about a thumbs width tall and stays throughout, leaving some good lacing on the glass.

Dark roasted malts with a hint of coffee to begin with followed by dark chocolate malts this time. There is hints of toffee as well, the bottle mentions that the aroma consists figs and hints of fruit but I found these rather hard to detect due to the strength of the malts.

Most of the taste comes from dark roasted and chocolate malts with a hint of both coffee and toffee. The fruitiness is a little more pronounced in the taste but it isn't exactly a strong one. The finish is a lingering bitter malts one.

Just about medium bodied, perhaps a little thin but it still has a slightly creamy feel to it. The carbonation is quite strong and the finish is a malty bitter one.

Nice and with strong malts making up most of the smell & taste which I felt overpowered the rest of the beer slightly but the taste was a good one. I enjoyed this on more than I usually would with such a malt filled beer.

1001 Beers To Try Before You Die:

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Photo of maxk
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500mL bottle into a standard pint glass.

A: A dark brown, bordering on black. Light only penetrates it around the edges. It pours with a 2 finger, deep mocha head with tiny bubbles. It has a decent amount of lacing around the glass.

S: Coffee and burnt sugar are dominant. I definitely get a bit of roast malt smell too.

T: A very balanced flavor of roasted malt, which is both sweet and smoky. Hints of coffee and caramelized sugar. Very subtle notes of oak.

M: Beautifully creamy and rich, perfectly complimenting the flavors.

Overall, I really like this beer. It has great, rich flavors, and is a pleasure to drink on a chilly fall day.

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

I got this beer from BOBPINCH666 & emdawg. Thanks Spike & Emily!

500ml bottle served in a tumbler.

L - very dark brown, bordering on black with a thin beige head that stayed as a ring.

S - smokey dark fruits with an earthy background.

T - smoked taste upfront with hints of cocoa and dates before finishing somewhat smokey.

F - light/medium bodied with mild carbonation.

O - a good example of the style.

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

Not exactly sure how old this bottle is but it's at least a year. A vigorous pour let me with a 1/3 inch of tan head that disappeared into a thin band within a minute or so. Nice lace.

Strong oak smell within a foot of the glass...smells like I corked a decent cabarnet. There's a bit of roast malt in there too. Nose is not my strong suit, suffer from allergies that sometimes mask the subtleties of aroma.

Taste isn't bad at all..nicely roasty and again, there's an oaky component to the flavor as well. There's a bit of dark fruit and hints of the chocolate and coffee notes described on the bottle. Any hop bitterness has long since faded to minimal levels, although I can't imagine they would have been particularly strong to begin with. To me there is less of a peat flavor and aroma than an oak/cork thing going on.

I like the mouthfeel of this beer; it's fairly creamy with low carbonation - but just enough left to give it a little lift and prevent cloying. It's easy drinking at 4.6 ABV too. It's a shame the head doesn't hang around longer, it's really nice looking...the 500ml bottle allowed for two pourings into my Keegan Ales pint glass so I got to check it out twice.

Overall this is an interesting beer, different from many other Scottish ales in it's flavor and low ABV. Not super complex but definitely worth a try. The label says it won the CAMRA Champion beer of Scotland twice on cask; that is something I'd like to try someday.

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

picked bottle up after seeing it on hols in wales!.
Poured into a pint glass, very small harf finger head with a light choco color & went as fast as it appeared.

Aroma was very fruity, figs & plums followed by coffee & caramel notes.

Taste was nice with those fig & plum notes hitting you first & at the end the light coffee & caramel coming in.

Overall this is a well balanced dark beer nice fruit notes & coffee & caramel but none too over powering. This is a very easy beer to drink & one i'd been hoping to try for ages & glad i had the chance.


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Photo of womencantsail
3.45/5  rDev -12.7%
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.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.73/5  rDev -5.6%
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.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.82/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 500mL bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: dark ruby brown body with no haze and very little in the way of head. Not bad.

Smell: nutty and caramelly aroma with a light helping of earthy hops. Well-balanced and appealing.

Taste: nice malt taste with roastiness and a hint of tartness, quite a lot like a brown porter. I like it.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a low level of carbonation. Not creamy at all, but I feel like it fits the style well.

Overall: a decent beer. I'm not likely to go out of my way to have it again, but I certainly wouldn't turn one down.

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Photo of codsmith
3.65/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours jet black with a small tan head that dissipates quickly.

S: Raisin, toffee and roasted aroma are very apparent off the top. Has a some slight sweet twinge with no apparent hops off the top.

T: It has a bitter & sour chocolate and raisin flavor, somewhat hiding the roaster character of the grain. The is a fruit hop bitterness that finishes it off and ties it to the initial taste. There is a very dry & bitter chocolate and coffee flavor that is leftover in your mouth.

M: Medium body and could use a little more carbonation.

O: Not really the flavors I find good in a beer and finishes way too dry for my liking.

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Photo of teromous
4.11/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A: It's a dark brown color with a light tan head about a thumbs width. The head on this beer is very full and creamy. There's great lacing in the glass.

S: It has a strong, rich scent, containing notes of coffee and molasses. There's a plum-like scent.

T: The taste centers more around the fruit plum-like character and finishes with a chocolate flavor and light hints of coffee.

M: Mouthfeel is surprisingly light. It feels like it should be medium just by the bold color and flavor, but it is honestly very light.

O: Overall I liked this beer. I would drink it again because it's very pleasant, but it just doesn't have that punch it needs to stand out. It's nearly there, right on the cusp of being a great beer. The mouthfeel is probably the biggest drawback to the beer, as it stands out of place. Overall I rated it good though, because it definitely is not average.

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Photo of jlindros
4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

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Photo of jale
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with a finger of tan head that lasts a few minutes.

S: If I was blindfolded, I would swear this was a port wine. Just a hint of chocolate and roasted malt.

T: Taste is much the same as the aroma. Very port wine like with a hint of chocolate and roasted malt.

M: Slightly thin body with light carbonation.

D: Glad I tried this but a little thin for me.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a half-litre bottle into a cervoise glass. Best before 12 May.

A: Black with red-brown edges. Opaque. Light head. Some bubbles visible drifting up the sides of the glass.

S: Vibrant fruit. Chocolate notes flirting with distant, nutty coffee. Brown sugar.

T: Not at all what I expected. A malty main body, sweet and, after some consideration, fruity (dried apricot, pear?). Light and playful with bitterer notes on the end and aftertaste. Well-balanced.

M: It feels a bit metallic, even though not a trace of metalleity (this is a world, check the OED) can be found in the taste. What I mean is it's drying and/or puckery, but not in the best of ways. Other than this, no complaints.

D: A good beer. Recommended. Easy to drink.

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Photo of Thorpe429
2.75/5  rDev -30.4%
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.

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Photo of biglite351
3.06/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - considerable maroon red around edges of glass. Tight creamy white head.

S - figs, fruit, malt and a mild chocolate. Overall not bad, but far to light.

T - dark fruits, something like alcohol, mild coffee grind. A bit bitter in the after taste.

M - thin coating, decent tingles on sides of tongue.

D - no reason not to, but no reason to grab it either.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.58/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish brown with a bubbly cream head. Some spotty lace.

Light smoked and caramel aroma, some toasted malt.

Soft beer. AVB is actually apparent. I would have loved a little bite. brown bread toast, toasted malt, some light smoke, charred caramel. Mild roasted malt and light bitter finish.

Medium body, some light carbonation. Needs some zip.

I liked this for what it was, but it needs a bit more aggressiveness. A very soft, subtle beer with pleasant flavors.

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Photo of gfreed
4.43/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The latest effort in my quest to drink the entire Orkney line (or at least what's available in the US). As Scottish ales go, this one is actually a bit thin in the nose, but the taste more than compensates. It's not overpowering, but is a subtle and complex mix of dried fruity things, leather, burlap, rope and a teeny bit of smoke, perhaps? It will require many more bottles to sort it all out. I had this pint with a handful of chocolate-covered espresso beans and, toward the end, a fistful of chocolate jimmies (the cheap, waxy kind from Stop & Shop), neither of which put a dent in the taste of this beer. Another superb brew from our Scottish pals.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.83/5  rDev -3%
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.

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Photo of albern
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a fairly light bodied, easy to drink, Scottish Ale. It pours a ruby brown with plenty of thick creamy head once it warms a bit. The beer laces very well and the nose is caramel, smoky malts, and sweetish dark malts.

The beer is creamy, but also a bit thin, with a low ABV. The beer could improve with a bit more heft, but that being said, there is a very nice caramel, butterscotch, and smoked peat type flavor to the beer. The sweetish dark malts blend nicely with the caramel flavors to create a nice balanced, although thin, Scottish Ale. I had this with salmon and it was a very nice complement. The aftertaste is very mild as is the beer overall. This is worth seeking out.

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