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Dragonhead Stout | Orkney Brewery

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184 Reviews
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Dragonhead StoutDragonhead Stout

Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery
United Kingdom (Scotland) | website

Style: English Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.00%

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.

Added by xlperro on 09-01-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 184 | Ratings: 290
Photo of gfreed
4.83/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Perhaps it's coincidental that the two best UK breweries in my opinion are in Scotland: Harviestoun and Orkney. And with the truly exceptional Dragonhead stout, Orkney may have pulled ever so slightly ahead of Harviestoun. If it weren't so expensive here in the USA I'd drink this with every meal-- well, that's a bit of hyperbole, but you get the point. From the opaque, clarinet-black color to the aromas of coffee, chocolate, rope (?) and lemons; from the roasty front end to the citrus tail end, this is a UK stout without peer. I'm now on a quest to drink the entire Orkney line.

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Photo of Traquairlover
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle poured into a tulip pint glass.

A = Rich, dark mahogany with a light tan very firm foamy head, leaves medium lacing.

S = Strong roasty scents, cocoa powder, mouthwatering.

T = Great balance of bitter coffee, lightly burnt toast with sweet cocoa and light traces of cream.

M = Medium body, good mouthcoating, feels like a much bigger beer than it actually is.

D = Very drinkable for as strong tasting as it is.

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle at 48* into a Murphys pint glass.

A: This pours pitch black with some khaki-colored fizziness that goes away quickly.

S: The nose is of chocolate, coffee, and a powerful smoky/mesquite aroma.

T: It is roasty all around with boiled peanuts, chocolate, coffee, licorice, and a sour earthiness at the back end.

M: It has a very thin body, yet it is somewhat sticky.

D: It goes well with barbeque sunflower seeds so that's something. I won't be buying it again.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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Photo of lou50rp
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark almost black in color. Head was brown and lasted for awhile.
Smell was dark chocolate/dark roast coffee smell. godd medium smell, not overpowering.
Taste was what smell promised. Good dark chocolate, dark roast coffee.
Mouth was coated a bit, a good feel.
Definitely drinkable.Very good stout taste. A nice treat on a cool summers eve.

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Photo of aepb1
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark brown/black, big thick brown head

S- Smokey, roasted coffee though the nose is not all that strong

T- Sweet caramel up front, giving way to coffee and some hoppy bitterness

M- Smooth but a bit light for a stout. It's on the light side of medium

D- An interesting take on the style that makes it nice to revisit from time to time.

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

about 60 degree F into a pint glass
A- deep opaque black. Fine tan head.

S- smokey, malty and caramel.

T- smokiness, burn marshmallow, cocoa, and coffee

M- light to medium body with decent smoothness

D- a different take on stout. Very tasty but fairly expensive.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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Photo of Bung
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500ml. Poured black, tan head. Pretty solid looking for a small beer.

Aroma, Quite a bit of maltyness, some nice roasted notes and some earthy peat.

There wasn't a large pallet with this one, but the earthy roast malt and coffee is exactly what it should be. The faintest hint of lactose like qualities.

Clean finish and very drinkable. Good, almost creamy body. I thought this was an excellent example of an English, would have this regularly if it wasn't so damn expensive for a session beer.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle without a freshness date pours a deep black color with a creamy, light brown foam. Good looking brew with decent retention and bountiful lacing.

Nose is different...ashy with some charred grape and fig fruitiness. Chalky and smoky with some layering of more traditional stout characteristics of roasty malty and cocoa.

Taste is definitely smoky, with a little peat and fruit to go along. Uniquely odd, but enjoyable nonetheless. Somewhat thin mouthfeel and the finish is so light, it disappears super-fast. Mild roast and a fair amount of chocolate with a substantial dusty chalk flavor as it warms. Sweetness is low, but ample. Has a myriad of flavors, that is for sure, but the steep pricetag of $5.75 would prevent me from purchasing this very often.

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Photo of ianjsullivan
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

ST: Pint bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Dark, black, with a thick brown head.

S: Not a strong smell, but, there are some coffee notes, smoke, sugar and malt.

T: Fruity with some sugar and coffee.

M: Very light actually, lighter than I thought it would be.

D: For a stout, because it is light, it can be consumed rather easily.

Overall: Pretty good stout, not intense or heavy, but nice and fruity with some good smoke.

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Photo of mithrascruor
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a slightly glossy black color with nice tan head with some solidified bubbles and a bit rocky. Good retention.

Smell: Excellent balanced aroma of roasted malts, coffee, and chocolate. There's a bit of fresh herbs or spices in there as well.

Taste: Has a roasted malt flavor, but also a substantial bitter aroma that is more herbal than it is anything else. That latter flavor persists into the aftertaste. While not bad, it is a bit off for this style.

Mouthfeel: Has a certain dense feel to it, yet is still light- to medium-bodied. Has a rather tingly carbonation to it.

Drinkability: Low ABV and fairly tasty. Still, the herbal taste and the rather light mouthfeel count against it.

Looks and smells great, but it isn't such a great stout from this usually lovely Orcadian brewery. Still, it does have a bit of uniqueness to it that makes it certainly worth trying if you get the chance.

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Photo of giblet
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured nicely into the glass with about one and a half inch of head. steady carbonation. good lacing down the glass. black in color. rich roasted smoky malt aroma. taste is lighter than i expected. the abv is rather light too. this would be a good one to have a couple with a meal.

suckem up and movem out.


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Photo of sammiles
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Grabbed this at Purvis Cellars, Melbourne.

As a Highland Park fan its great to grab beers from a place with as much history as Orkney. Love the label artwork and stories as well. Up there with Unibroue.

Nice dark black colour, what you hope for from a good English stout. Pretty good head retention. Lots of coffee bean smell and smells like a stout should. Taste was a bit of a let down. Maybe a little astringency and not as complex as I was hoping for. Maybe could use with a higher ABV? Leaves a nice smokey taste in the mouth though. Overall pretty solid, the Dark Island from these guys is better though.

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Photo of MisterClean
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Purchased at total wine in Tustin

A - Pours a dark, dark brown with 3 fingers of creamy capuccino head. Dissipates nice and slow and leaves moderate lacing. Beer appears to be full of hops by clumpiness of head.

S - Anise or licorice, dark coffee, and cinnamon. Some spicy hops in the background too.

T - A lot of caramel up front. Followed by dark roast coffee, bittering hops, slightly black peppery and finished with a few bittering hops. A little lactose too.

M - Light in body, slightly malt dominated, smooth, and yet with some slight astringency.

D - Good for style, but the mouthfeel leaves a bit to be desired.

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Photo of hustlesworth
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A- deep black with only a hint of mahogany at the bottom. nice dark khaki colored foam settles fast but leaves some nice thick lace behind.

S- very sweet milk stout type of smell, some wet dog, chocolate and mild coffee.

T- a little sweet in the flavor up front, becoming dry like an irish stout. mildly flavored, with cocoa and coffee and a pleasant underlying cherry-berry fruity tartness. woodsy and roasted in the finish with just a touch of citric and peppercorn hops.

MF- a little too fizzy and that takes away from the fullness of the body. aggressive carbonation thins it out and subsequently makes it a lil rough. still coating and somewhat sticky on the lips.

D- not the most complex stout, but a mild and highly drinkable one. absolutely thirst quenching, and at 4% i can have my stout nutrition without a ton of booze. flavor improves as it warms up, but i'd rather chug it out of a giant viking helmet!

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Photo of mickstepp
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Much lighter/thinner, less viscuous than I expected. A tiny bit of effervescence on the tongue.

Nice opague blackness in the glass. Thin head that quickly dissipates. Bitter chocolate/coffee aromas as expected.

Nothing that lingers. Not mouth coating or supple at all. Just not memorable. I'd just as soon drink a Guinness.

I would love to visit the Brewery, however. I could see myself slamming low alcohol Dragonhheads with Viking descendents in remote little corner of the world that Orkney must be and offering a more charitable review after the experience.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark colour, slight hint of mahogany brown held up to the light. Head is decent and foamy, with a rich ochre colour close to the beer and a lighter colour, leaving some dense sheets of lace, at the top. Looks like a very pleasant stout.

Nose is intense, with some strong espresso notes and a weird, intense phenol character, like methylated spirits or something even though it's not boozey, just quite sharp on the olfactory. Some unsweetened chocolate blends in, very nice indeed, and very impressive smell for 4%.

Taste is an odd mix, tastes like it's a weak solution of something, like quite watery with a sour, burnt character lingering behind. Gets more character later, with a dark coffee flavour and some red wine acidity. Hints of an umami savoury flavour and maybe some cocoa as well, but it's subdued. Sour tannins come through on the back, some unripe fruit. Decent and interesting, but can't say I love it. Kudos for getting so much complexity out of a lighter stout, but tastes a bit weak.

Mouthfeel contributes to that weakness, as it's quite watery. An odd syrupy texture saves it, but I don't think it's a great feel for the style.

Very drinkable for a stout. Subtle burnt character and nice dark flavours, but smooth, English and polite. I enjoy this, even though I'm not blown away by the flavour.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.3/5  rDev +12%
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.

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Photo of tpd975
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bought to cross the style off my list. Ended up enjoying it.

A: Pours a very very dark black hue with a nice tall espresso colored head. Nice retention with a nice thin cap hanging around for the duration. Tons of lace all the way down the glass.

S: Aroma of roasted malt, coffee, and a touch of chocolate.

T: Same as aroma. Very dark roasted malt, slightly ashy. Tons of gas station coffee. There is a chocolate element as well. Sort of bitter like bakers chocolate.

M: Medium in body, still carbonation makes this a very smooth drinking beer.

D: Damn good taste and the ABV would allow you to session all night long. Really is a solid low ABV stout.

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Photo of ADZA
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Love the way this brewery displays their beers in nice looking bottles with good labels front and back that tell you something about the beer and their reason for producing it if i could award a score for presentation for the bottle of this brewereies beer they would prob score a 5 everytime,it pours a jet black colour with nice carbonation that leaves a frothy one finger cappicino laced head with decent carbonation that leaves noticable creamy lacing very nice looking,it smells exactly like a strong cappicino with a subtle dark choc background very nice,it has an average mouthfeel with massive hints of nice roasted dark coffee and chestnuts flooding the palette which culminates in the end with some spicy hops to make this beer a very good example of the style.

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Photo of IHasaFlavaFlav
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - These bottles all look awesome. Going into the glass it gets a nice mocha head. Thick black body, against the light its still jet black.

S - Straight away a roast hit. It stays there and its a huge roasty hit.

T - Compared the aroma, the taste is far smoother. A big roasty hug rolls across your tongue.

M - Drinks well, goings down nicely. Nice aftertaste.

D - Could drink this all night, but would take me awhile on each.

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Photo of tatoodkelt
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm a big fan of Orkney products and hadnt realized it had been so long since I had this one.

Bottle to pint glass.

A- Very dark brown like two shades shy of black. No light penetration, even at the edges. Nice chunky 2 finger mocha head that left a nice cap and lacing all the way down.

S- Overall roasty with coffee and chocolate peeking through.

T- Like the smell with a little spiciness at the end of each swig. Made me think of a Hersheys Special Dark candy bar the whole time.

M- Very smooth but a little thinner than it looks.

D- Very easy drinking stout. Definitely will be keeping a spot in the fridge for it.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown with some red-orange highlights. I can't see through it...head comes with some large bubbles balanced by a tighter foam. Good legs.

Aromas of a classic stout: roasted malt brings the coffee and a hint of bittersweet chocolate, with only a cursory hopping.

The flavor definitely reduces the impressiveness of the nose by taking out the power. Without the foundation, the house collapses. All the right flavor notes are hit, but the thin, watery, and weak mouthfeel/backbone leave the nose and palate out to dry.

Not bad at all, especially for a stout coming in at 4.0%. I would call for more chunkiness overall - this is a nice base for a beer that could be great. This bottled version isn't.

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Photo of selecter70
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The typical Viking ship name & logo made me second-guess whether to pick this one up from the shop, but the fact that it was from Orkney alleviated any immediate misgivings. A good, dark brown pour with red edges hinting at some light coming through soon sat dark with a medium brown one finger head & light brown lace. The aroma exuded roasted malts with dark chocolate and coffee smells with hints of a browning banana. Smooth, medium-bodied, the flavor held the above but with a nice warming smoked peat flavor and hint of salt-water and seaweed, which definitely gave it some character & did not detract from the experience. There was definitely the undertone of a nice smoky single malt scotch that my wife noted was "unique and wonderful", that says it all...fine for a damp day

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Dragonhead Stout from Orkney Brewery
86 out of 100 based on 184 ratings.