Dark Island | Orkney Brewery

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Dark IslandDark Island
Very Good
434 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 434 |  Reviews: 257
Photo of mercyfulfate
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of BlackHaddock
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can’t believe I’ve not reviewed a beer from The Orkney Brewery before, must have drank too many and forgot to write about them! This review will right that wrong.

Hand pulled pint into a UK sleeve in The Baron of Beef, Cambridge.

Dark, dark brown body with an off-white head of smooth foam. The head stayed and gave some good lacing.

The smells where of rich malty molasses with coffee/toffee, all roasted over an open fire.

The taste was of a chocolate laden fruit and nut cake baked a little too long, taken with a bitter coffee. Add some alcohol and you’re almost there, I liked it!

Heavy mouthfeel, but in great condition, with a lovely soft carbonisation, only really found in well kept darker cask ales.

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Photo of Zimbo
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

To the Orkney Brewery this is what Old Peculier is to Theakstons.

Very Dark, almost black and certainly much more than I last remember.The ever so slightly caramel hint seems to have succumbed to the more intense dark and firm nutty qualities which give this an almosrt brooding tone. Firm and strong without the roidish qualities often associated with extreme beer. Smells of bitter chocolate and dark fruit as it goes down and leaves some pretty complex lacing on the sides of the glass.

This was a real trailblazer in the Scottish beer scene and to this day it largely defies a style definition. Not a tradition 80/, porter nor black IPA, referring to it as a 'dark ale' (as the brewery does) is as close as you're gonna get in trying to nail it down.

A complex beer for the mature palate.

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Photo of imbibehour
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

A very black solid body, with a creamy off caramel good tan colored head. Head manages to cream and whip up and stick around. Real great looking beer.

Nose is wonderful. Dark malts, woody smoke, leather, hints of dried beef jerky with a little sense of salt, faint caramel sweetness. Just great.

Flavor profile is not as bold probably due to low abv. But it's all there. Roasted caramel and woody like toffee. Slightly wet and even a bit carbonated. Faint char and smoke in the aftertaste, with just a hint of weak cream feel.

Overall I'd probably want it bigger, but for what this offers at this low abv this is quite enjoyable and impressive, really like this quite a lot!

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a large, fading head.
Nose shows roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, port and figs. Big choc/coffee liqueur notes.
Flavours are also quite roasty, but nowhere near as expressive. Weak plain coffee mixed with faint fig, red wine notes, and a roasty finish that includes an acidic bite.
Body feels quite watery.

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Photo of OzmanBey
5/5  rDev +26.3%

Photo of 6string
3/5  rDev -24.2%

Photo of bigred89
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of falcon1
4/5  rDev +1%

Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +1%

Photo of mytifred
5/5  rDev +26.3%

Photo of ej285701
3/5  rDev -24.2%

Photo of flyingpig
3.54/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very dark brown, bordering black with a tan brown, foamy head that forms a dome over the top of the pint glass about a thumbs width tall and stays throughout, leaving some good lacing on the glass.

Dark roasted malts with a hint of coffee to begin with followed by dark chocolate malts this time. There is hints of toffee as well, the bottle mentions that the aroma consists figs and hints of fruit but I found these rather hard to detect due to the strength of the malts.

Most of the taste comes from dark roasted and chocolate malts with a hint of both coffee and toffee. The fruitiness is a little more pronounced in the taste but it isn't exactly a strong one. The finish is a lingering bitter malts one.

Just about medium bodied, perhaps a little thin but it still has a slightly creamy feel to it. The carbonation is quite strong and the finish is a malty bitter one.

Nice and with strong malts making up most of the smell & taste which I felt overpowered the rest of the beer slightly but the taste was a good one. I enjoyed this on more than I usually would with such a malt filled beer.

1001 Beers To Try Before You Die:

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Photo of maxk
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500mL bottle into a standard pint glass.

A: A dark brown, bordering on black. Light only penetrates it around the edges. It pours with a 2 finger, deep mocha head with tiny bubbles. It has a decent amount of lacing around the glass.

S: Coffee and burnt sugar are dominant. I definitely get a bit of roast malt smell too.

T: A very balanced flavor of roasted malt, which is both sweet and smoky. Hints of coffee and caramelized sugar. Very subtle notes of oak.

M: Beautifully creamy and rich, perfectly complimenting the flavors.

Overall, I really like this beer. It has great, rich flavors, and is a pleasure to drink on a chilly fall day.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this beer from BOBPINCH666 & emdawg. Thanks Spike & Emily!

500ml bottle served in a tumbler.

L - very dark brown, bordering on black with a thin beige head that stayed as a ring.

S - smokey dark fruits with an earthy background.

T - smoked taste upfront with hints of cocoa and dates before finishing somewhat smokey.

F - light/medium bodied with mild carbonation.

O - a good example of the style.

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Photo of tobelerone
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not exactly sure how old this bottle is but it's at least a year. A vigorous pour let me with a 1/3 inch of tan head that disappeared into a thin band within a minute or so. Nice lace.

Strong oak smell within a foot of the glass...smells like I corked a decent cabarnet. There's a bit of roast malt in there too. Nose is not my strong suit, suffer from allergies that sometimes mask the subtleties of aroma.

Taste isn't bad at all..nicely roasty and again, there's an oaky component to the flavor as well. There's a bit of dark fruit and hints of the chocolate and coffee notes described on the bottle. Any hop bitterness has long since faded to minimal levels, although I can't imagine they would have been particularly strong to begin with. To me there is less of a peat flavor and aroma than an oak/cork thing going on.

I like the mouthfeel of this beer; it's fairly creamy with low carbonation - but just enough left to give it a little lift and prevent cloying. It's easy drinking at 4.6 ABV too. It's a shame the head doesn't hang around longer, it's really nice looking...the 500ml bottle allowed for two pourings into my Keegan Ales pint glass so I got to check it out twice.

Overall this is an interesting beer, different from many other Scottish ales in it's flavor and low ABV. Not super complex but definitely worth a try. The label says it won the CAMRA Champion beer of Scotland twice on cask; that is something I'd like to try someday.

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Photo of windypete
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

picked bottle up after seeing it on hols in wales!.
Poured into a pint glass, very small harf finger head with a light choco color & went as fast as it appeared.

Aroma was very fruity, figs & plums followed by coffee & caramel notes.

Taste was nice with those fig & plum notes hitting you first & at the end the light coffee & caramel coming in.

Overall this is a well balanced dark beer nice fruit notes & coffee & caramel but none too over powering. This is a very easy beer to drink & one i'd been hoping to try for ages & glad i had the chance.


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Photo of womencantsail
3.45/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer pours almost black in color with a finger of off-white head.

S: A touch of roasted malt followed by a rather large dose of dark fruits. There are plenty of plums and prunes with just a little bit of toffee and dark chocolate.

T: The flavor is sort of light and watery. There is just a mild roasted malt flavor and a touch of chocolate. It's got a touch of red wine to it in addition to the dark fruit flavors.

M: The body is somewhat light with low to medium carbonation.

O: The nose was pretty nice, but the flavor was far too thin and watery.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out as a nice shade of reddish brown. The head was white and a little foamy. The lacing was thin and didn't really do too much after mid glass. The smell of the beer had a good amount of malts on the nose, there was a subtle sweetness to the aroma. The taste was earthy, malty, and had some qualities of most English style ales. The mouthfeel of this beer was pretty smooth, it was a little light bodied for the color of the brew. Overall I thought that it was a good brew to try. Glad I had it.

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

Poured from 500mL bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: dark ruby brown body with no haze and very little in the way of head. Not bad.

Smell: nutty and caramelly aroma with a light helping of earthy hops. Well-balanced and appealing.

Taste: nice malt taste with roastiness and a hint of tartness, quite a lot like a brown porter. I like it.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a low level of carbonation. Not creamy at all, but I feel like it fits the style well.

Overall: a decent beer. I'm not likely to go out of my way to have it again, but I certainly wouldn't turn one down.

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Photo of codsmith
3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours jet black with a small tan head that dissipates quickly.

S: Raisin, toffee and roasted aroma are very apparent off the top. Has a some slight sweet twinge with no apparent hops off the top.

T: It has a bitter & sour chocolate and raisin flavor, somewhat hiding the roaster character of the grain. The is a fruit hop bitterness that finishes it off and ties it to the initial taste. There is a very dry & bitter chocolate and coffee flavor that is leftover in your mouth.

M: Medium body and could use a little more carbonation.

O: Not really the flavors I find good in a beer and finishes way too dry for my liking.

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Photo of teromous
4.11/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A: It's a dark brown color with a light tan head about a thumbs width. The head on this beer is very full and creamy. There's great lacing in the glass.

S: It has a strong, rich scent, containing notes of coffee and molasses. There's a plum-like scent.

T: The taste centers more around the fruit plum-like character and finishes with a chocolate flavor and light hints of coffee.

M: Mouthfeel is surprisingly light. It feels like it should be medium just by the bold color and flavor, but it is honestly very light.

O: Overall I liked this beer. I would drink it again because it's very pleasant, but it just doesn't have that punch it needs to stand out. It's nearly there, right on the cusp of being a great beer. The mouthfeel is probably the biggest drawback to the beer, as it stands out of place. Overall I rated it good though, because it definitely is not average.

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Photo of jlindros
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

THanks to dfclav for this one.

Pours a large almost 2 finger creamy head that fades semi slowly with quite a bit of lacing, over super dark almost black rosy brown color.

Nose brings that typical uk style dark ale, soft aged brown malts, toasty and light roasty brown malts, light molasses and caramelized brown sugar, light porter aromas, light earthy hops.

Taste starts with soft dark malts, again with tons of molasses, caramelized brown sugar, some dark dried fruits, raisin, light fig, some very light cinnamon (not real cinnamon just from the malts and yeast I assume), a light juicy quality, some light earthy and very light bitter herbal hops. Finishes mostly clean, light lingering roasted malts, light chocolate even, some juicy dark fruits with more raisin, and a bit of bitterness.

Mouth is medium bodied with decent carbonation.

Overall pretty good, light and sessionable, nice darker roasty malts, toasty, soft aged brown malts, brown sugar and molasses, lots of great dark malt flavors in a very light and sessionable beer, great job.

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark amber (close to opaque) in color and has a light amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high creamy beige head that quickly died down and left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface that gradually turned into lacing.
S: There are moderate to strong aromas of caramel and nuts in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste is dominated by flavors of caramel and toasted malts. It also has notes of nuts and raspberries as well as hints of chocolate and coffee.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a bit thin on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very sessionable given its' low alcohol content. It packs in so much flavor that I could drink this all night long without losing interest.

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Dark Island from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 3.96 out of 5 with 434 ratings