1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Dragonhead Stout - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Dragonhead StoutDragonhead Stout

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

249 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 249
Reviews: 173
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 11.43%
Wants: 19
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
English Stout |  4.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Dragonhead is a legendary stout: dark, intense and fully-flavoured it is our tribute to the Vikings and their cultural legacy in Orkney. On the nose, this black stout has a smooth roasted malt aroma giving bitter chocolate, dark roasted coffee and smoky notes balanced by hints of spicy Goldings Hops. On the palate, the dark roasted malts combine to give a rich, rounded palate of chocolate, toast and nut, with a satisfying spicy hop finish.

(Beer added by: xlperro on 09-01-2002)
View: Beers (10) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 249 | Reviews: 173 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation


3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Melted chocolate brown with abundant ruby highlights. I can see the merest hint of light on the opposite side of the glass only because of the strong (for January) sunlight coming through my window. Without that, it's opaque black. The pale toffee cap isn't all that large, but it is tacky and leaves a great deal of lace.

Dragonhead has a very nice stout nose that contains most all of the essential style characteristics. Generously roasted malt makes up the lion's share of the aroma, with chocolate, hops and coffee--in diminishing order--playing supporting roles.

It's still pretty good beer on the palate, although cracks are beginning to show. Flavor and mouthfeel are tightly linked for me when it comes to beer and this stout is a perfect example of how a less than stellar body can impact negatively on flavor. All of the components of the nose are still present, but there's very little power behind them and very little depth, thanks to the too thin body.

To state the obvious, this stout is undermalted. In addition, it's at least as sour as it is malty sweet. The flavor profile consists of diluted chocolate and weak hops. Coffee has taken a powder. The thin, bordering on watery, mouthfeel lays bare what would otherwise be an appropriate level of carbonation and causes it to be too noticeable.

The fix is obvious. More malt would do wonders for Dragonhead Stout and would most likely elevate it to the ranks of the very good. As is, it's drinkable, but I can't stop myself from thinking 'what if... ' every time I upend the glass.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2005 20:21:25 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of metter98

New York

3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color--only some traces of amber are visible near the edge of the glass when it is held up to the light. It poured with a finger high creamy tan head that gradually faded away and left lacy patterns of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are strong aromas of phenols and roasted malts in the nose along with some notes of licorice and smoke.
T: The taste has flavors of roasted malt, bitter coffee beans and licorice along with notes of smoke.
M: It feels a bit shy of medium-bodied, smooth and slightly dry on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is very flavorful considering its low alcohol; I could drink this all night long because it is very sessionable.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2011 02:26:47 | More by metter98
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

3.38/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a nice black opaque body with a tan head and some lacing; certainly presentable

Smell: Coffee, chocolate, and a bit of dried dark fruit that adds a vinous character; also, some smokey tones overall
Taste: Has a bit of a smoky character, but otherwise rather dull for a stout; has a bit of a cardboard taste that's just not right

Mouthfeel: Way too thin; the carbonation is about right

Drinkability: Nothing to get too excited about but also not something that is objectionable, either

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2005 22:14:33 | More by brentk56
Photo of BEERchitect


3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Yep...that's a big beer. Hugely malty, sweet, and robust. Espresso-like in its roastiness and Oreo-like in its chocolatey, creamy flavor and texture. Full and rich from sip to finish. Almost too rich and sweet. Balanced only by the roasted grain bittering and a hardly-detectable hop character. Quite smooth and velvety on it's way down. Nearly sweet stout-ish. Could use a bit more balance, and alcoholic power. I'll have to chase this one with a glass of milk.

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2006 17:23:55 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice deep amber with a slightly off white creamy head that leaves a good amount of lace,aroma is light for a stout but appetizing I pick up some roasted malt and a touch of nuttiness.taste as well is on the mellow side but is very appetizing some unsweetened chocolate and roasted malt with alingering earthy finish.A big time quaffing stout mellow and easy to drink with some flavor,a tad thin but well done from Orkney.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2004 01:32:53 | More by oberon
Photo of biboergosum

Alberta (Canada)

3.55/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle. What is it about the Orkney islands that is so appealing to me, at least on an intoxicating beverage level?

This beer pours a deep abyss of blackness, until upon further inspection an ethereal reddish cola highlight presents itself to break up the overall bleak monotony, with two fingers of rocky, tightly foamy beige head, which leaves broad, brash swaths of storm center-worthy lace around the glass as it gently ebbs away.

It smells chiefly of dry chocolate malt, mild day-old coffee, some soft just-expired milkiness, and musty, leafy hops. The taste is somewhat tart dark fruit, middling baker's chocolate, some soft pale graininess, a weird lactic sourness, stale coffee, and earthy, weedy hops.

The carbonation is present, and gently simmers as things progress, the body on the lee side of medium weight, and generally smooth, but with a growing clammy character. It finishes off-dry, the bittersweet chocolate rather tempered by that edgy dark fruit sourness, some lingering milkiness, and over-matched leafy hoppiness.

This looks quite good at first glance, but the eventual strange fruitiness, in all its underwhelming sideshowiness, kind of mars an otherwise decent stout, what with its inherent chocolate tendencies. Oh well - I guess that this is just one of those 'easier to drink than analyze' offerings. Hey, it happens.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2012 01:52:13 | More by biboergosum
Photo of NeroFiddled


3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Although this is brewed by the wonderful, small Orkney brewery, it pales in comparison to their other brews... although that is partly due to the style itself. The body is typically opaque black, and it's topped by a full and frothy dark tan head that soon drops to a thin surface covering. It does, however, leave some nice lace throughout the glass. The nose expresses some dull fruitiness and minor roastiness which is nice, although there seems to be some minor acetone/solvent-like character as well. The body is typically light with a very nicely creamy mouthfeel from a very fine and moderate carbonation that's intended to replicate their cask-conditioned version. The flavor, again, expresses the typical characteristics of a dry Irish stout with a gently fruity (apple), lightly tangy (low pH) and smoothly roasty malt that's well backed by firm bitterness. It finishes quite dry with a light touch of tart fruitiness and a lingering roastiness. A very straight-forward rendition that's much better direct from the cask than in the bottle.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2003 19:41:51 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of nickfl


4/5  rDev +3.9%

01-17-2012 07:10:44 | More by nickfl
Photo of RblWthACoz


4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black. Tan head. A big head at that. Nose is really nice chocolate tones. Smooth and consistent. Really good fragrance. Flavor is more bitter, but consistent. The chocolate may be on the nose, but it certainly isn't on the flavor profile. The bitter smoothes out over time. Feel is nice and thick on the liquid. Good carbonation too. Drinkable, yes. Well made, just doesn't have any crazy flavor characteristics, but who needs it.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2008 01:31:30 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of feloniousmonk


4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

deep. dark color, with crimson highlights, beneath a creamy cocoa-tan head.
Aroma is gentle, yet still roasty, emitting warm notes of chocolate and coffee, rich, bittersweet, with espresso tinges, and fairly uplifting, I like it!
Warm, rich, smooth satisfying mouthfeel. Just drips over the palate, lolls around the tongue, very silky smooth.
Not as thick or full as some stouts, but that's okay, sometimes. Thoroughly pleasing, with an additional toffeeish sweetness, that really brings a smile.
I can't help but like this beer, and I'd advise you to try it, at least. Doesn't rock any worlds, but damned if it doesn't taste good, and that's all I'm caring about right about now.

Serving type: bottle

08-18-2004 11:00:01 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of russpowell


4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours brown/mahogany with a 4 fingers plus tan sturdy head. Average Lacing and good head retention

Smell: Slight choclate notes & then burnt coffee

Taste: Coffee up front, followed by bitter grainyness& thena slight nutiness. finishes dry with more coffee

MF: Smooth & rich, good carbonation. Makes me think its stonger the 4.0 ABV

Drinks heavier than it is. With the the expresso notes, I think this would be an interesting desert beer. Sturdy bottle would be perfect for homebrewing or home defense!

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2006 12:39:01 | More by russpowell
Photo of drabmuh


3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer weighs in at a monster 4% ABV. Its black / dark brown with a thin brown head of small bubbles that leaves some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is kind of sweet, mild malty, mild roast.

Beer is medium to light in body. Its sweet an mildly bitter but its mostly roasty at the back. Its a little thin for my tastes, but overall its a repeatable, good session stout. I would drink it again.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2010 03:40:21 | More by drabmuh
Photo of WesWes

New York

4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich and creamy malt scent that boasts of crystal, chocolate, and roasted malts. It is quite sweet and chocolatey. The taste is good. It has an intensley rich black malt flavor that goes down easy and finishes earthy and dry. It is full of malt complexity. It starts sweet and chocoalety, but finishes dry and rich in patent flavor. There are also some hops in the aftertaste as well. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate/good carbonation. This is a good drinking English stout. It is low in alcohol, but high in flavor.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2005 01:26:56 | More by WesWes
Photo of jwc215


4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a creamy tan head that leaves some lacing.

The smell is of baker's chocolate, toffee, some smokey notes and an earthy, somewhat woosy, fruity spiciness.

The taste is of smoke, chocolate and coffee. There are toasty and nutty undertones. Maltiness balanced by roast and an earthy bitterness in the finish.

It has a smooth medium body.

Nicely balanced, an enjoyable, mild, easy drinking stout.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2008 12:23:01 | More by jwc215
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled March 2007
Pours with a frothy, initially three-finger thick, light brown colored head that sits a top an almost black colored beer that has some brown in it. The aroma initially has notes of chocolate to it, both a chocolate liquor note as well as a dusty cocoa note. Quite malty as well with a touches of sweet burnt caramel, lots of toasted grain character. This has a touch of alcohol heat to it in the nose, or perhaps something similar to this as this beer is quite low in alcohol.

The beer is quite dry with an accompanying dusty chocolate note. The middle and finish actually have a note of burnt malt sweetness. This has quite a light body to it; it is very quaffable. The beer finishes with a hint of roast grain astringency, a touch of chalkiness, and a nicely lingering roast coffee character. This actually has a touch of roast derived acidity here, which adds a nice tart backdrop to the other flavors. This is an interesting beer, quite tasty and I like that it is so light. This is something that Guinness draught should aspire to be.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2007 05:15:18 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of Rochefort10nh

New Hampshire

4/5  rDev +3.9%

11-28-2011 17:11:51 | More by Rochefort10nh
Photo of smcolw


4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Nice lace, thin head (beige). Very dark brown, not able to shine light through it.

Coffee, chocolate and caramel aromas predominate. Think mocha hot chocolate with warm caramel drizzled on top. Very inviting.

Much, much drier than I'd expect from the smell. Very similar to Guiness/Murphys except that this has a stronger black patent malt/coffee flavor to it. The aftertaste is largely burnt malt (also very dry). The only real distraction is how thin the beer is--surprisingly so. The carbonation is also quite high.

I find this to be a very interesting beer because the smell is so sweet and similar to bittersweet chocolate with caramel. The taste betrays this smell with such dryness and bitter black patent malt flavors. A wonderfully complex stout.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2005 22:52:45 | More by smcolw
Photo of BlackHaddock

United Kingdom (England)

3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Hand-pulled halfpint in 'Chequers' Oxford on 23rd Nov 13 during a mega pub crawl.

Black body with a good deeply tanned foaming head.

The aroma was all malt, chocolate, coffee and peat bog notes.

Taste wise it followed the smells: this is a rich, smooth Stout with a fair amount of sweetness running through it. The dry finish compliments the nutty hints within the coffee and chocolate flavours to give you a reminder that the brewer hasn't forgotten to add some hops into his kettle.

Serving type: cask

12-05-2013 09:10:51 | More by BlackHaddock
Photo of lacqueredmouse


4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark deep black-brown, with a very nice head of ochre-brown bubbles, which have a two-tone effect going on. Lauren thinks it looks pretty. Very dense, browning at the edges. Some very good lacing indeed. Lets no light through. Very nice indeed.

Lots of grains and oats on the nose - massive cereal characters, and a very slight underlying chocolate sweetness. Very rich and exciting.

Taste is absolutely lovely, a very and full smoky escapade, mingling coffee grounds, grain, grapeskin, and a finish of smooth rich mustiness. Mouthfeel is light but silky, delicately caressing, and accentuating the rich notes on the palate.

A really excellent and very enjoyable little brew. Smooth, deep and delectable, with plenty of character. To boot, it's very drinkable, and goes down incredibly smoothly. Very, very enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2009 23:12:24 | More by lacqueredmouse
Photo of wl0307

United Kingdom (England)

4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this bottle at the Royal Miles Whiskies Shop, London branch. No until coming back home did I notice it's expired by one month already (BB DEC 05)... Never mind. served cool in a clear, 500ml jug.

A: pours a very dark brownish to ebony hue, but clarity is good; effervescent, rocky foamy head with very good retention; carbonation status unsure.
S: beautifully crafted roastiness and cold-coffeeish note, while a mildly sweet edge of chocolate malts, roasted nuts, a touch of sweet wood-chips, and aromatic dark fruits (like black plum cordial) sustain firmly in the background. Nicely tuned and settled aroma, and pleasantly malty!
T: the coffeeish edge of malted barley hits the palate upfront, bringing on board a bubbly-textured, mildly sour-bitter edge of roasted malts which spreads on the palate like a carpet of coarsely-ground, bitter coffee beans, yet accompanied by a reasonable amounts of dryness and sourness as the balancer. Lots of leather, roasted nuts, and charred-woody flavour in the lingering bitter finish... very satisfying...
M: lively, or a bit fizzy, throughout the drink, while the more stable flavour of bitterness at the back provides a soothing effect and makes the texture balanced and light.
D: for a 4.0%abv. stout, this beer is truly flavoursome... I can imagine how good it's gonna be if served on cask. Definitely a session/quaffable stout for me, in all seasons!

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2006 18:52:16 | More by wl0307
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a five-finger plus (pour very slowly) light brown head that is thick and frothy leaving a ton of lace. Totally black color. Light carbonation and light-medium bodied. Nose is roasted coffee. Starts with a strong roasted coffee flavor and finishes slightly bitter. $3.49 for a 500ml bottle, Liquor Barn Lexington, KY.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2004 01:23:08 | More by jdhilt
Photo of BillRoth


3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

12-07-2013 20:41:50 | More by BillRoth
Photo of beerthulhu

New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Authentic Orcadian stout.

A: Poured a dark, opaque cola color with a dark beige head that was moderately lasting.

S: On the nose was a rich and very dark roasted malt aroma with some fresh dark coffee beans and some smokey bitter chocolate. There was a slight spiciness from the hops as well coming through.

T: The initial flavor was dark, bitter roasted malt with some bitter black coffee. There was some burnt woody notes, dark licorice, and anise as well. There was a slight roasted burnt coffee lacing on the tongue upon warming. There was a slight acidic nature with some bitter hopping that really stood out. Overall a really dark, rich roasted malt bill with heavy notes of bitter chocolate and coffee and black patent malting.

M: surprisingly light with a slight creaminess to it, but was very rich and dark flavor wise.

D: A creamy, smooth, and rich dark roasted flavor in a modest 4.0% packaging.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2008 13:51:46 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of Mebuzzard


3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orkney Orkney, the Skullsplitter I loved. Here's the stout.

Black and glassy. Nothing else. Chocolate milkshake looking head. I kept pouring the beer in the middle of the frothy goodness and the stream didn't even make a dent, total absorption. Even head at first, as it settle it looked like the surface of the moon (er, at least pictures of it).

Rich aroma of coffee, mocha-chino, caramel, and chocolate. Mouthwatering really. Faint overripe banana and some black plum.

Starts off the flavors with coffee, it seems thin. The prune turns to plum and a bit biting. the coffee is dry and the caramel aroma has nothing to offer in the taste. The flavors could use more muscle and thickness. Tastes similar to the Lion Stout from Sri Lanka.

Still a darn fine beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2010 04:51:06 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of Latarnik

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +3.9%

05-26-2014 18:14:26 | More by Latarnik
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Dragonhead Stout from Orkney Brewery
86 out of 100 based on 249 ratings.