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

247 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 247
Reviews: 173
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 11.46%
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
Ratings: 247 | Reviews: 173 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Graebner


2.83/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours a rich, dark brown (as a stout ought), with a couple of fingers of light brown head that disapated within a couple of minutes, all of which looked very tasty and inviting. It also smelled very nice, very strong coffee smell along with some caramel and a little soy sauce. Unfortunately, the positives end there.
This beer tastes nothing like a stout. Or rather, it tastes like a stout that someone has mixed 75/25 with water. The mouthfeel is the same; it feels even thinner in your mouth than the coffee it tastes like. Pretty lame.
The drinkability is a conundrum. If you're the kind of guy that can't drink a real stout, but wants to impress the ladies by downing some dark beer claiming to be a stout, this one's for you. Anyone with any kind of beer drinking experience should be able to toss these back all night long. In that sense it's quite drinkable. On the other hand, if you're a real man who wants a real stout, you should hastily find something else. This stuff just doesn't cut the mustard.

In defense of the Orkney Brewery, their other beers that I've had (Red MacGregor and Dark Island) both acquitted themselves very well.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2006 22:03:52 | More by Graebner
Photo of claytri


4.75/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The beer poured a rich black with 2 fingers of light brown head that slowly receeded leaving a good lace on the glass. The aroma was of good dark malt and just a bit smokey. The taste is simply a wonderful smokieness. This isn't the harsh overpowering smoke you get with some beers, just a good pleasant taste like you'd have with good BBQ. Underlying it is a nice bit of maltiness, no real sign of any hops, but they're not needed here. The feel is excellent for a Stout. I usually find Stouts a little watery, but his is just smooth with a nice dry finish that leaves a very pleasant smokey aftertaste. Almost like a good bowl of pipe tobaco, which would probably go well with this beer as well. I would have to say this is best Stout I have ever had. This will be a beer I will look for and want to keep on hand alongside the Schneiders and the Old Nick

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2006 03:39:05 | More by claytri
Photo of smcolw


4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
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 mattcrill


3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to mmmmBEEER for picking this one up.

Appearance: Pitch black pour with a foamy tan head. No visible carbonation noted in the body and no edging noted.

Smell: Licoricie, coffee, and chocolate all woft out of the glass. Very well balanced and prominent.

Taste: Creamed coffe flavor with a bittering slighty water-like finish. Very well done with the roasted and coffee flavors but pretty one dimensional and doesn't linger very long.

Mouthfeel: Medium to light bodied and a tad watery.

Drinkability: The lower ABV and roasted profile makes this one easy going down. Not great but not bad either. Worth a shot if you can get it.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2005 00:09:32 | More by mattcrill
Photo of Nesued

South Carolina

3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark brown color, slight head formation but nothing that interferes with the presentation.

Smell: A medium plesent aroma that remains distinct at least a foot away.

Taste: Pleasing although moderate impact. I was expecting more of a pronounced Stout presence with such a dark coloring.

Mouthfeel: Suprisingly light feel with a noticeble presence of a carbination although not overpowering.

Drinkability: Easy to drink more than one, although I would be more impressed with a more pronounced presence. As previously mentioned, the low alcohol content (4%) is a bit curious.

Overall I'm a bid dissappointed with the "cost to taste" ratio of this brew and would have made it a "regular" in my stable if the presentation of "stout" were more towards my perception of what a stout should be.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2005 00:05:23 | More by Nesued
Photo of chOAKbarrell


3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a decent, solid stout from Scotland. It reminds me a lot of something Young's would make, just not as good, and with a lower alcohol content.

There's great coffee (and maybe some chocolate, too) tones in this beer. Very lush and smooth, but still with proper carbonation (in other words: not like Guinness. That's a good thing). I find the (relatively) low alcohol level a bit strange and find myself wondering how/why this happened.

Dragonhead Stout is worth a try at least once, but as it is an import, it's a little pricey, and there are plenty of other stouts equal or better to this one that you could also get for a much better price.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2005 23:11:59 | More by chOAKbarrell
Photo of KarlHungus


3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is one beautiful beer. It pours an opaque black color. The head is tan with lighter tan speckles. The best part is this gorgeous head lingers forever. The aroma is fantastic too. It jumps out of the bottle the second it is opened. Chocolate everwhere. Roasted malt and coffee are also present. Now on to the taste. Coffee is the dominent flavor with roasted malt undertones. The taste isn't nearly as impressive as the aroma, but it isn't bad either. The mouthfeel is light bodied with low carbonation. Overall, this is a decent brew, and is worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

09-20-2005 02:22:23 | More by KarlHungus
Photo of coasterfreak75

North Carolina

2.95/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour was exceptional. Pitch black with a three finger choppy beige head that slowly dissapated to a thin beige top and lace that held on throughout the drink.

The smell was very hard to pick up on even after warming. Very malty and nutty with a slight coffee undernose.

The drink started out watery with a coffee middle and a watery finish.

To me this was a very thin stout, had it had more body and backbone I would have found it more appealing. Still it was quite drinkable and I would have one again.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2005 03:16:19 | More by coasterfreak75
Photo of Sigmund


4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cask conditioned at the 32nd Cambridge Beer Festival, gravity dispense. Black colour, low head. Roasty aroma, hints of dark chocolate. Flavour is decidedly roasty with coffee notes, quite dry. This is not a very complex beer, but still a very drinkable stout that beats Guinness any day!

Serving type: cask

06-19-2005 22:15:55 | More by Sigmund
Photo of Buildscharacter


3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Opened a bottle of this beer, gave a quick hello to the dragon on the front and poured it into a glass.

This beer has quite the head and it takes a bit for it to dissapate. Mocha colored head that dissapates unevenly. When you drink the beer it coats the side of the glass with foamy residue. A thin layer of foam stays on the top.

There are tones of coffee, chocolate, fruity esters, and an underlying sweetness...perhaps caramel? Not really sure. Coffee aftertaste is there, not as much as some other stouts. The carbonation in this bottle wasn't too pleasing and I didn't feel that it actually brought out any additional flavors, so I took it down a few notches on the mouthfeel. It's also a little watery.

This is a tasty beer, but there are many other's that I would place before it. The flavor is nice, but nothing too special. Worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

06-16-2005 01:54:57 | More by Buildscharacter
Photo of PorterLambic


3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the third brew I've tried from Orkney and I'm not sure what to expect. Skullsplitter was great, red MacGregor not. This one was mor like the latter sadly.
Pours black. Pitch black with a nice tan head that drops slowly and evenly to a thick film but leaves no lace.
Smell is nearly non-existent, just malt.
Taste is coffee,toffee, roasted, almost burnt, malt, light hops and a hint of vanilla as it warms.
Mouthfeel is smooth-ish with a light effervescence and medium body.
Drinkability is just MOR (middle of the road). Decent complexity and balance but nothing for the nose. Aftertaste is light especially for the style.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2005 02:59:27 | More by PorterLambic
Photo of sulldaddy


3.15/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

I am sampling at room temp in an english pint glass. The beer pours a rich dark color and allows no light to pass through.
A large creamy tan head foams up 3 cm easily and recedes slowly leaving large craters on the surface.
Aroma is mostly roasted malt with some lite espresso bean notes mixing in. Not very robust on the nose, but not unappealing either.
First sip reveals a thin watery body with mild carbonation.
Flavor is all malt with some short appearance of a sweet malty flavor that is quickly overtaken by roasted malt and finishes dry and coffee-esque. Not a very lingering flavor on the finish.
The beer is lite and very drinkable. At 4.0% abv it would be an incredible session beer I think.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2005 03:13:21 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of WesWes

New York

4/5  rDev +4.2%
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 cokes


4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A faux-blackness built from the shadows of burnt orange, topped with a fat, frothy, lumpy, beige cream.
Scented of chocolate, ground coffee, cherries, plums, and mineral whispers.
An ashen roastedness begins things. All grill residue: charcoal and beef burnt black. Eyes of bitter chocolate, plums, and dark breads peep from sheltered corners, but cannot approach to sweeten anything. Dry this will stay. A slap of mineral and wood preceeds a dusty, dried herb hop closure.
On the waifish side through the mouth, with a mild but perky carbonation. Fattened a tad, this might congeal into something truly special. Even as is, this is drinkable in nothing less than gulps, and represents the Dry Stout style very well.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2005 19:50:42 | More by cokes
Photo of ADR


3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Opaque brown, little light comes through, mousse-like dark tan head of good retention. Laces in thick smears. Aroma is sweet, light caramel with just a hint of a sparse roast. Mouthfeel is lightish, more carbonation than some. Starts slowly and agreeable, chocolatey with some oily bitterness, then the profile thins pretty dramatically, leaving a slightly unsatisfying impression. Finishes with the coffee and carbonation intact but without a lot of meat left to the mouthfeel or malt impact. Fairly drinkable, light in alcohol, too thin for my expectations.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2005 16:18:22 | More by ADR
Photo of horndecker

New Jersey

3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's a deep deep red tinged black, with a foamy, reddish head with fine carbonation.
The nose is roasted malt and chocolates, cocoa and raspberries with a slight pleasant whiff of soy.
The taste is dry and dusty, cocoa, bitterness and the roasty toasty malt center. A medium to light body with a hoppy finish.
This one's a keeper. Best for when you want something drier and dustier than stouts like Sam Smith but still with a cocoa kick.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2005 03:05:03 | More by horndecker
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

3.38/5  rDev -12%
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 shapudding


4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

No dating. Deep and dark, almost black.... can only see a twinge of ruby if you hold it to the light. Nice amount of head settled down to a thin khaki layer of creaminess that you can catch glimpes of dark through. Dark roasted malt scents, chocolate and sasafrass.... tobacco as it warms. I was surprised with the bitey carbination, but it still feels pretty good, just a bit shocking. Medium bodies. Nice roasty flavors with chocolate and coffee blended in. Goes down very smooth and easy, nicely drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2005 16:59:30 | More by shapudding
Photo of bark


3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The colour is pitch-dark; the medium compact, two-finger high foam is brown with some beige spots.

The smell is full of burned dry malts and some coffee with a hint of butter/cream.

The carbonation is rather strong (stronger than I expected for a stout) with small bubbles.

The taste is burned with dry notes of coffee, dark bread, soil, toffee cookies and a touch of salt. The body is rather weak with a medium-strong bitterness. The aftertaste is also burned with a creamy feel and a slowly growing sweetness. It is not particularly long lasting, but well balanced.

I found this being a rather mild stout, making it easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2005 09:13:22 | More by bark
Photo of BuckeyeNation


3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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 meathookjones


3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This came in a 500ml bottle. Pours out a pitch-black body with a tall tan head. As it was consumed the head stuck around and left decent lacing. Aroma is of light chocolate with slight roasted malt undertones. Flavor is similar with a chocolate maltiness being dominate with notes of roasted malt and a bitter earthiness in the back. Mouthfeel is light for a stout but otherwise smooth. Good drinkability here, with the low ABV and its smoothness going down. Solid beer but nothing I would get excepting about.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2004 15:26:45 | More by meathookjones
Photo of niknar


3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a deep, dark, completely opaque black color with a small almond colored head that quickly disappeared. Leaves a little lacing on the glass, but not much. The aroma has strong coffee notes as well as some expressions of chocolate and caramel. Overall a very pleasant smell. Taste is also strongly suggestive of coffee and sweet, dark malts. Slightly over carbonated and thusly a little thin for a stout. Mouthfeel suffers slightly, but not enough to make this one a loser. Overall, a very tasty brew that brings a slightly different interpretation of the stout style. Not the best on the shelf, but definitely worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2004 00:09:13 | More by niknar
Photo of Kookiekwan


4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer pours black with a one finger tan head, it has little retention but some decent lacing. The aroma was of coffee grounds and sweet malt. The flavor is smoked malt with hints of coffee and it has a coffee-like bitterness. Its medium bodied and easy to drink.

Reflection:This was a pretty good stout, the smoky flavor was a nice change and I will be buying this one again.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2004 15:10:22 | More by Kookiekwan
Photo of SeanChouffe

New Mexico

3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A deep black color with visible carbonation during the pour. The head is a light brown and rocky. Lacing is good ‘n sticky. Aroma is like a chocolate mousse; chocolaty, and lightly alcoholic with some roasted notes. Flavor is surprisingly bitter in the middle (the start is quite undetectable) and lacking in a sweetening balance. Palate is light bodied and watery with a lingering bite. The flavor seems to improve over time, although it is still quite one-dimensional.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2004 03:43:15 | More by SeanChouffe
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
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
Dragonhead Stout from Orkney Brewery
86 out of 100 based on 247 ratings.