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Dragonhead Stout - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Dragonhead StoutDragonhead Stout

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

253 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 253
Reviews: 173
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 11.43%
Wants: 21
Gots: 7 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 253 | Reviews: 173 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation


3.58/5  rDev -7%

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.

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


3.58/5  rDev -7%

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.

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


3.53/5  rDev -8.3%

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.

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


4.08/5  rDev +6%

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.

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

New Mexico

3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

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.

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

New Hampshire

3.63/5  rDev -5.7%

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.

10-24-2004 01:23:08 | More by jdhilt
Photo of Guinness4me


4.33/5  rDev +12.5%

Orkney has NOT let me down. I used to think Skullsplitter was my favorite Orkney brew, but this one makes my choice even harder.

Perfectly poured by my amazing husband, the appearance was a gorgeous, deep, rich coffee brown with a tan head and lace that clung to the end.

The smell was rich, like an almost-burnt toasted marshmallow, drenched in molasses. It was smokier than I expected but the sweet, malty goodness balanced the overall smell perfectly. Wow.

The taste was mild but intense. Rich, black coffee sweetened with brown sugar and unsweetened chocolate. The nearly-burnt flavor was perfected!

This beer is a good thing, but almost too much for my senses to handle, but, I'll drink as many as the hubby will bring me.

10-19-2004 04:08:55 | More by Guinness4me
Photo of homersimpson

North Carolina

3.53/5  rDev -8.3%

Deep reddish brown with a tan head.
The nose is all malt, sweet, and simple.
Medium, somewhat watery body.
Very light up front and really malty. Thinner than expected. The payoff comes in the end. The finish is an interesting amalgamation of peat and a bit of coffee that hangs around for a while.

10-09-2004 02:04:19 | More by homersimpson
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +3.4%

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.

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


3.68/5  rDev -4.4%

A decent stout. Poured almost balck with a nice craemy head. Smeel was predominantly malt and sweet....nothing special. Taste was lightly malty with a light bitter finish. Very smooth in the drinkability category....light feel. Mouthfeel is light with the malt presence introducing itself nicely. Not bad for such a low abv.

08-25-2004 02:11:37 | More by edchicma
Photo of feloniousmonk


4/5  rDev +3.9%

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.

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


2.2/5  rDev -42.9%

I was very let down by this beer. Poured a beautiful rich black with a delayed mocha head. Aroma was smokey malt, and the smokeyness followed in the flavor as a monotone smoked malt. Not dry enough to be enjoyed as a dry Irish, and not rich enough for an English stout - simply lackluster and boring. I tried to find a freshness date to give this the benefit of the doubt, but found none. Orkney continues to underwhelm me, notwithstanding some nice looking bottles.

07-23-2004 21:27:12 | More by Brent
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


3.95/5  rDev +2.6%

Presentation: 500ml, half litre, 1 pint 0.9 fl oz. wide bodied brown glass bottle with a thin neck, as depicted in the BA Database picture. Main obverse, reverse and small neck label. Lots of black and gold form the background to the Viking Longboat picture that punctures the front label. Listed at 4.0% ABV, but I couldn’t find a freshness date as hard as I looked.

Appearance: Extremely dark with a large Cocoa brown head that laces extremely well, lots of beer welts down the Glass as you take down gulps of this quaffable Scottish Stout. Reasonable carbonation but it lacks a little life at times.

Nose: Lots of roasted malts, coffee and a whiff of warm roasted chestnuts.

Taste: Dominated mainly by a silky smooth roasted malt start, dark chocolate, thick liquorice toffee and burnt percolated coffee with some dark fruits. Has a bitter chocolate finish that lingers for quite some time after the swallow.

Mouthfeel: Rather average overall. At first you could be forgiven for thinking that this is rather thin, yet concentrate and stick with it and you will come to realize that this is rather a deceptive Stout with a funny delicate chewy aspect.

Drinkability: Brewed for the ‘Gallon-a-Night’ man, this is no Jessie’s Stout when it comes to knocking down the Imperial Pints. I found this to be a highly enjoyable and quaffable Stout – I paired the last half of this bottle with some aged Dubliner Cheddar, they accompanied each other rather well, it must have been the common Celtic blood.

Overall: Bottled British beers remind me of the fancy meals you get in Business Class on most Airlines, they have all the ingredients of greatness – yet somehow they always fail to deliver and just never feel right. It is easy to knock this offering, and I would be the first to admit that this is most certainly not the best beer to come from the Orkney Brewery. But when you remember that it is only a 4.0% ABV Stout brewed for imbibing, when put into that context, this is far from a disappointing brew. I have had the fortune to drink this rare Scottish Stout on Cask several times in the UK, yet from the bottle, it feels a little dumbed down I have to say, and as such, sadly it is not allowed to reveal all of its real “Session” strengths that it exhibits on Cask.

Incredibly sexy when pulled through the Beer Engine, but a rather above average feel from the bottle. Not bad value for $3 in California though, for this is still an expensive beer in the UK, when you can find it that is.

06-06-2004 07:17:59 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of Reidrover


3.98/5  rDev +3.4%

OK I just love the Orkney Breweries pint bottles..great shape and classy label.With Viking longship prow.
This is a beautiful beer to behold very solid black..with a great coffee and creme coloured head..very attractive.
Smell also is good..very strong hints of chocolate , roasted malts..fresh despite it being all the way here in Oregon.

The taste is rather weird though,,but in a good way..very woody, salty..on top of dark chocolate I wonder if they used the same process for growing the barley Heather Brews used for "Kelpie"?
MOuthfeel while comfortable..ios too thin for a great stout.
Overall a good drinkable stout..nice for the low alcohol.

03-06-2004 06:47:15 | More by Reidrover
Photo of GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

3.83/5  rDev -0.5%

The beer poured black with ruby highlights near the bottom of the glass when held to light. The brown head was large upon pouing and fell back quickly. Aroma is smoky roasted, coffee, and chocolate with a caramel/toffee undertone. Flavor is bone dry and has coffee and chocolate with a dry finish of coffee. The beer has a bit of diacetyl. The body is med-light and the drinkability is good.

Beer came in a 16.9 ounce bottle.

12-13-2003 02:08:12 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of JISurfer

South Carolina

4.35/5  rDev +13%

All 4's for me. This is another great brew from Orkney. I would rate this one up with, maybe even slightly better than, D. Carnegie's Stout. It's appearance was really nice too. It was thick black with a frothy, pillowy head that lasted a little while. The smell was like a typical stout, deep, rich, roasted, and chocolatey. The big thing that seperated it from most stouts was the super chocolatey smell and taste. The taste was similar to the smell, but on a grander scale. It was very warming to drink and left me quenching for more. As far as drinkability, I could drink this great stuff all day at work and night at home. Then again, that could be a bad thing!

11-11-2003 17:59:38 | More by JISurfer
Photo of aracauna


3.8/5  rDev -1.3%

Pours black, but reddish brown around the edges. The head is probably the darkest I've ever seen for such a weak stout. The brown foam on top of this is what you expect for a 6% or an imperial stout. Instead it's on top of a 4% stout. Quite impressive. I was expecting to be let down, but then I stuck my nose into the glass and the aroma is HUGE. Much fresh coffee aroma. It's kind of like sticking your nose into a bag of coffee. A little chocolate backing it up. The flavor is equally big. A bit sweet, a little smokey, but oh so good. It's a little rich to be a quick drink, but you enjoy every sip. I'm impressed that they packed so much flavor into such a relatively small beer. Kudos to Orkney.

11-07-2003 07:15:44 | More by aracauna
Photo of Crosling


3.73/5  rDev -3.1%

The appearance on this Stout was the highlight. Poured a deep opaque brown with a creamy light brown head. Fantastic Head Retention with excellent lacing left behind.

The usual suddle coffee and chocolate flavors but I noticed some molasses and some roastiness or burntness to the malt as well. Very suddle caramel or toffee type flavor. Can't really pick it up though.

Overall, A good stout. Give it a try if you haven't had it.

10-05-2003 19:58:20 | More by Crosling
Photo of Elemental


4.08/5  rDev +6%

Pretty good color that is extremely dark and thick. It has about an inch of frothy brown head. There is a sweet chocolate oaky aroma to this beer. the flavor was robust. Not to sweet and not to dry with a good balance of malts and bitterness. there are a lot of flavors going on in this beer ranging from a bittersweet chocolate to a roasted flavor. All and all a pretty good stout with a lot going on.

10-05-2003 15:39:37 | More by Elemental
Photo of SetarconeX


4.47/5  rDev +16.1%

What a nice little brew. Surprisingly dark. In fact, it's probably the darkest beer I've seen in recent memory. A real black hole of a stout. Lovely brown lacing around the top that hangs around for a good amount of time.

Tastes just the way a stout should, and then just a little bit. Weighty and quite toasty, with a good clean finish. Perhaps nothing too unusual, but certainly a fine example of this beer's style.

Oh, and despite not being allowed in as a scoring factor, the bottle is one of the coolest looking I've ever seen. Drink this one if you can find it.

09-11-2003 03:40:24 | More by SetarconeX
Photo of grynder33


3.25/5  rDev -15.6%

Poured black as night, with a lovely one inch chocolate soda head, interesting initial nose, sort of mochaish, the first taste however followed up on none of that. thre was a lingering roasted taste that lingered till the end, but all in all it could be classified a light stout.

08-21-2003 12:19:16 | More by grynder33
Photo of marburg


4.05/5  rDev +5.2%

Jet black beer with a frothy, tantilizing head. Aromas of chocolate, maple syrup, and dark (and sweetened) fruits. Taste starts light and creamy and moves to a quick roasted flavor -- almost smoky though not *actually* smoky. It's roasted in the way a marshmellow is roasted. Light coffee tones drop off to a strangely absent finish -- hard to describe, really -- where the flavor really disappears with little significant aftertaste. An easy drinking stout that loses its creaminess quickly -- so it's a bit thin in finish and in body. Nothing spectacular but definitely nice.

05-25-2003 16:30:38 | More by marburg
Photo of BeerResearcher


4/5  rDev +3.9%

From NERAX 2003, this beer had a large following as was evidenced by the long lines formed in front of the tap. Roofing tar in color with a tint of brown when held to light. The rather large bubbles pop and fade quickly leaving a thin trace of lace. A faint aroma of molasses, malt and hops. Semi-dry. The lightly sweet malt balances well with tea-like and mild citrusy hops. Weak coffee and a trace of camphor are detected. A nice stout to swish around and gulp.

05-03-2003 08:05:06 | More by BeerResearcher
Photo of sponberg

New York

4.1/5  rDev +6.5%

Pours a deep opaque brown with a big light brown head. Plenty of malt, a little roastiness, and some treacle in the aroma.

Interesting. I get heavily toasted bread, dark fruit, maybe some toffee, and a molasses-like flavor that I can't quite put my finger on - I even had my wife (a non-beer-drinker) sniff it to see if she could place the aroma/taste, but she could'nt place it either. The brew has a seriously well-rounded maltiness. There is some roast coffee/chocolate flavor as well, but it hides behind the rounder, sweeter malt aspects until the brew warms a bit. Almost tastes like a cross between a milk stout and a dark mild. Decent chewiness for a 4% brew. One of the more interesting stouts I've tried recently - worth getting a few more bottles to figure it out some more.

04-25-2003 06:55:41 | More by sponberg
Photo of Wildman


4.03/5  rDev +4.7%

This beer poured a very dark amber, almost black color and formed a huge dark tan foamy head that coated the glass with lace as it very slowly subsided. Almost a float like appearance to it. An aroma of malt and burnt chocolate and coffee. A flavor of malt and coffee. A slightly burnt aspect to the finish, but not in a bad way, and a little lighter than I thought it would be.

04-04-2003 17:55:32 | More by Wildman
Dragonhead Stout from Orkney Brewery
86 out of 100 based on 253 ratings.