Dark Island | Orkney Brewery

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Dark IslandDark Island
Very Good
435 Ratings
Dark IslandDark Island

Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-02-2002

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 435 |  Reviews: 258
Photo of bmf0
1/5  rDev -74.7%

Photo of mrasskicktastic
1.74/5  rDev -56.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

A - Very dark brown to auburn, almost black. A half finger tan head dissipates quickly leaving no lacing behind.

S - A smoky bourbon character over a slight sweet fruity (dates and elderberries) odor. The aroma is pleasant.

T - Smoke! This tastes like cigarettes. Ick! It is seemingly composed of entirely charred malt, they probably cooked the barley until it was just idle carbon. It is pretty damn offensive. The aftertaste is of . . . smoke! I CAN choke it down, but it really sucks. I got a brief taste of dark berries for an instant, but I might have just been imagining things (or hallucinating from toxic shock).

M - Viscous, a bit harsh and drying. Not good.

D - If you pour liquid smoke in your cereal or save your cigarette ash for seasoning, then this is the beer for you. Otherwise it should stay on the shelves. Naturally, it is too gross to session. It might go with a cigarette, but I don't smoke. Normally I am avidly against drain pours, but I don't classify this as beer - it's cigarette juice. I hope the drain finds you more pleasant then I do!

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Photo of Zephenbrewid
2.71/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type: 500 ML bottle poured into 16 oz tumbler

A: Lives up to its Dark moniker, this is probably one of the darker scottish/scotch ales I have seen to date, being pretty opaque with a moderately lingering medium tan head.

S: Mmm there's that malt. I pick up on some grape scents in there with a little chocolate pulling through as well

T: Too much roasted flavor here, I can also taste some smokiness. Really though, If i didn't know better I'd call this a porter

M: Med-Full bodied and suddy, feels like there could be some roasted barley here

Notes: bought this on a whim and it isn't for me, there are better scottish ales

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Photo of Thorpe429
2.75/5  rDev -30.6%
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 seedyone
2.75/5  rDev -30.6%

08/01/13 From bottle at Rattle n Hum, NYC. At the outset this was too cold to appreciate. Unfortunately, even as it approached ambient temperature the flavor never seemed to arrive. It never got past a stout w/out body. Left me waiting at the station.

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Photo of TastyAdventure
2.75/5  rDev -30.6%

Photo of kwalters
2.83/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark Island comes in a uniquely shaped bottle with an intriguing label. It was hard to pass up, sitting there all alone on the shelf.

It poured a dark ruby color with almost no head. What little head there was disappeared almost immediately. The smell was of malt and light smoke. The taste was on the malty side (as a Scotch ale generally is) but was too dominated by the burnt-wood/smokey flavor to be truly enjoyable. I can see where one might think of chocolate flavors when sipping this brew, but I couldn't get past the smokiness.

Scotch ales are typically among my favorite brews, but this one seemed a bit off. It's worth a try just because of its unique flavors, but it's not something I'd come back for. The 4.6%abv makes it highly drinkable if you like the flavors.

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Photo of rastaman
2.84/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Fairly pleasant. Sweetish malts at the start (chocolate+ a t touch of sugar and also some toffee). nice roasty, peaty finish, thin-ish body with some sourness, musty, sulfuric, and maybe a bit unexciting, but fairly easy to drink. Cask at Chelmsford Beer fest 03'.

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Photo of Dogbrick
2.88/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Courtesy of Hollingshead Deli in Orange, CA. I didn't really enjoy this one very much. Pours a dark ruby color with a thin beige head and thin lacing. Aroma is faintly sweet malt and toffee. Very fruity flavor without the maltiness I have come to associate with the better Scottish Ales. Finish had some hops but was too sour. A little disappointing but I have had worse.

 371 characters

Photo of CplHunter
2.91/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Deep brown with a red hint. Off white head quickly dissipates to a "dusting". Decent lacing.

S: Burnt. Plums. Estery. Burnt esters...? Cidery. Smoky.

T: Grapes. Plums. Hints of cider and smoke. Sea salt. Ocean. Hop bitters linger. Something off that I can't put a finger on. Whatever that "something" is, it's inhibiting my enjoyment of this beer.

M: Some champagne-like carb hits the tongue. Thick. Rich. Coating.

D: <5% ABV makes it a candidate for a session beer. Just not my session.
BIA: No. This one just doesn't do it for me.

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Photo of jdhilt
2.94/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours with a three-fingered very light, brown head that fades slowly and leaves good lace. A nice deep, ruby color. Nose has just a hint of roasted coffee. Starts hoppy/malty and finishes with a hint of malt/hops and just a hint of bitterness. Very good carbonation. $3.99 for 500ml.

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Photo of clvand0
2.94/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This one pours a brown color with a small head that dies off quickly and leaves very little lacing on the glass. The aroma is really weak - nothing much here. Maybe a little malts. The flavor has asmokiness to it and a slight malt character. It finishes smooth and bitter. This is an interestingly good taste, but it's hard to describe. I'm not sure that I enjoyed this brew much.

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Photo of PorterLambic
2.94/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Mahogany brown, dark tan head with good retention.
Smell is rich with malt but sadly not much else. After serious nasal straining I did find a very faint hint of coffee.
Taste is much better, malty, dark fruit (mostly cherry), oak, sour.
Body is thin, watery, with light, no very light, effervescence. I'm wondering if maybe I got a bad bottle here?
I would give this another shot but if the 2nd is the same then...
Overall, this was just a so-so brew.

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Photo of livingregret
2.97/5  rDev -25%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Serving type was a 1pt .9fl oz bottle. Fairly nice looking bottle and label

Pours a dark dark brown, almost black, w/ little to no head but plenty of lacing w/ nice retention. Not to shabby so far

Smell is a very soft toffee mixed w/ a earthy oat smell. Very pleasing smell that invites you in to sample it

Taste is a touch disappointing to be honest. A light earthy taste(almost semi-sweet) which is not in any way bad but than you get a Dried Chocolate taste that ends w/ almost a prune like ending. I was hoping for more of the toffee to come out but no such luck. Smooth taste..that ends w/ chalk

Mouthfeel is very smooth at the beginning but ends w/ a slight chalky taste. Once again...I was really hoping for the smoothness to follow all throughout the taste but it does not

Drinkability is averageish. It's not terrible and I would enjoy one again...but would I keep a few extra on hand?...honestly I would not. The odd pick up from my local store sure but nothing to go out of my way to keep in stock

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Photo of CaptainFleeker
3/5  rDev -24.2%

Photo of ej285701
3/5  rDev -24.2%

Photo of 6string
3/5  rDev -24.2%

Photo of Brewer1980
3/5  rDev -24.2%

Photo of R_J_FearNoBeer
3/5  rDev -24.2%

Photo of CampusCrew
3.02/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

appearance: deep dark black, nearly ebony. low head retention

smell: lots of smoke flavor, and I actually think I can detect peat, not that I ever smelled that before. But definitly has that earthy aroma that may be generated from that.

taste: subtle taste compared to the aroma. I have a feeling this may be aged very well and possibly even oxidizes but Im not sure. heavy roasted malts like a scotch ale should be. detecting some smoke as well. But it had a dry tar like taste and left a weird feeling in my mouth. Dry... cough cough

mouthfeel: worst part about the beer was the mought feel. medium to full bodied

drinkability: interesting and I would love to try again fresh. It's so dry it drying my mouth out though. weird. It did not drink well with me. maybe it had light damage. it sat in the store for awhile Im sure.

 831 characters

Photo of veech
3.05/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I was surprised that I didn't like this beer more, but the overdone smokiness just really compounded with each sip until I just didn't enjoy it any longer. I typically like the style and the presentation, nose and mouthfeel were all fine. The smokiness just really dominated with each successive sip. I have noted the high marks from most other reviewers, but I just really had a hard time finishing my particular bottle. The other Orkney beers I've tried I have really enjoyed, but unfortunately I cannot count Dark Island among them. I guess it's just not my bag.

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Photo of Derek
3.06/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A bit flat with a light oxidation, just doesn't seem lively. Subtle fruit and dark malt character, light licorice in the finish. I know it's only 4.6%, but I expected a bit more.

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Photo of biglite351
3.06/5  rDev -22.7%
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 Godfather50
3.06/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Maybe I wasn't in the mood for this dark ale, stout.
There was nothing offensive about it, but nothing hoppy or wholesome or distinctive.it reminded me of a kit homebrewed stout I brewed a couple of years ago. I was very pleased with it, but then, It cost me 30p a bottle and was out of a tin.

I think I'm not a dark ale fan, that's the problem.

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Photo of gbontrag
3.08/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Looks like raisin water; water that's had raisins soaking in it for a few hours. (I do this for breads.)

Not much of a nose to it. Dark toast... a little tobaccy. Maybe this is an old bottle. There's not a lot of sniffy power.

Tastes like burnt toast with butter. Old socks--? I don't much care for this. It's not very interesting. Maybe I'm looking at something that's lost a step due to age. There's a little charred wood, a bit of dark malt sweetness like just a hint of prune. A hop kiss along the sides of my palate. That funky shoe yeast keeps popping up. Negligible carbonation.


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Dark Island from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 3.96 out of 5 with 435 ratings