Dragonhead Stout | Orkney Brewery

very good
187 Reviews
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Dragonhead StoutDragonhead Stout

Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery
Scotland, United Kingdom

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

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Reviews: 187 | Ratings: 295
Photo of SpruceMoose
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Being an accustomed stout fan, I revelled in the opportunity to try Orkney Brewery's addition to the scene. Although it sports an ABV of only 4% (remarkably low for a stout of its taste and calibre), Dragonhead promises a warm treat on a winter's night with its bold taste and enticing appearance.

Appearance: A mildly aggressive pour leaves a beige-brown head that retains its size for a few minutes. The body is completely black and characteristically opaque, informing the drinker that it is a full-bodied stout.

Smell: Hints of coffee, chocolate, toast and other bitter aromas are instantly noticeable upon the first whiff. The beer's odour is as deep and bold as its taste, not dissimilar to Samuel Smiths stouts.

Taste: A strong and cohesive combination of bitter and smoky flavours is instantly pleasing. An aftertaste of coffee and chocolate flavours remains on the senses long after this beer.

Mouthfeel: Thick and bold yet not overly carbonated. Classic stout mouthfeel, heavier than Guinness yet smoother than other English stouts.

Overall: A brilliant stout that is to be tried by anybody even vaguely interested in darker beer. However, the intensity of its flavours means that such people should perhaps warm themselves up with contemporary stouts such as Guinness or Murphy's before abandoning the sweetness and nitro-carbonation for the rich smokiness and experience of Dragonhead. Another fine brew by the lads at Orkney!

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Photo of heygeebee
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 1st choice

Pours a black body tan head. Two finger coarse head a sheets of lace

Aromas are toasty and roasty, choc dominates

Taste is amazingly full on for a such a low ABV beer and really hits the stout mark. Not too sweet nor dry. Lots of roast malts, lots of chocolate a hint of coffee and hint of cream.

Mouthfeel well carbonated.

Overall I would have scored much lower but really this is AMA amazing beer for 4 percent.

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Photo of bucho
4.44/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very, very nice nose - definitely pour this one into a snifter. Low alcohol and sits kind of heavy, but is nice for those afternoons up north at the cabin when you're just kicking back and relaxing. Kind of has a smoky taste to it - very unique. A bit on the expensive side.

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Photo of CookstLiquor
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle. Pours a typically black colour with a healthy brown/beige head. The nose is very Scottish and suggests the sea/ocean and smoke. On the palate it is notably dry with smokey/earthy/dirt notes. Definitely a unique dry stout in many regards. It has many characteristics of much bigger (imperial) stouts, but is very modest alcohol-wise.

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Photo of neophilus
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown pour into blackness, medium tan head.

Mildly roasty malt up front with hints of buttery sweetness and some tones of chocolate.

Flavor has some hint of peat and more buttery sweetness, very reminiscent of a good scotch. This is the closest thing to a scotch I've ever tasted in a beer. Obligatory roasty body, more tones of chocolate and coffee from the roasted malts but all wrapped up in this delicious peaty sweet finish.

Good body, smooth aftertaste. Great flavors that are different from most American stouts I have tried. This one definitely bears its Scottish label of origin proudly.

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

500ml bottle. What is it about the Orkney islands that is so appealing to me, at least on an intoxicating beverage level?

This beer pours a deep abyss of blackness, until upon further inspection an ethereal reddish cola highlight presents itself to break up the overall bleak monotony, with two fingers of rocky, tightly foamy beige head, which leaves broad, brash swaths of storm center-worthy lace around the glass as it gently ebbs away.

It smells chiefly of dry chocolate malt, mild day-old coffee, some soft just-expired milkiness, and musty, leafy hops. The taste is somewhat tart dark fruit, middling baker's chocolate, some soft pale graininess, a weird lactic sourness, stale coffee, and earthy, weedy hops.

The carbonation is present, and gently simmers as things progress, the body on the lee side of medium weight, and generally smooth, but with a growing clammy character. It finishes off-dry, the bittersweet chocolate rather tempered by that edgy dark fruit sourness, some lingering milkiness, and over-matched leafy hoppiness.

This looks quite good at first glance, but the eventual strange fruitiness, in all its underwhelming sideshowiness, kind of mars an otherwise decent stout, what with its inherent chocolate tendencies. Oh well - I guess that this is just one of those 'easier to drink than analyze' offerings. Hey, it happens.

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Photo of deg
4.01/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured the beer from a bottle into a glass. The beer was dark, almost black. The head had a tan color. I couldn't smell anything. My sense of smell is weak (hence the average rating). I could taste roasted malt and coffee. The beer felt light in my mouth and went down easy. I note the alcohol level was low. I didn't pick up any alcohol warmth which I would expect for that level of alcohol. An easy drinking, good tasting stout.

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3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

500ml bottle. Enjoyed on agt´11. Pure black into a Pint glass. Dark beige , small bubbled, foam creates a dense, creamy & thick layer crown. Lasting head & spotty lacing. Toasted malts sweept up by winds of coffee to the nose, subtle fruity aroma too. Dry bitter coffee at first sip, slightly sweet flavor in the middle is increased by chocolate hues. Medium body & low carbonation. Sweet finish then coffee returns, Nice drinkability, unfortunately this pretty gentle stout results quite cloying finally.

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Photo of Pencible
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured an opaque black cherry with moderate tan head.
S: It smelled like sweet molasses and earthy dark chocolate, with some roasted coffee and cream.
T: It tasted like bitter black coffee and dark chocolate, with a little molasses and copper hops. It had a bitter and mostly clean aftertaste.
M: It was somewhat thick and oily with moderate carbonation. Decent body.
D: This was a good traditional English stout. The scent and taste and body were all pretty simple, but nice. The finish was fairly smooth, so it was easy to drink. Not an impressive beer, but nothing wrong with it either.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to the roommate for the free beer. Enjoyed with some Cahill's porter cheese, a stunning pairing.

Beer pours with a pretty big dark head, brown/gray and sticky. two significant lace rings. Second pour leaves a ton more frosting-like lacing.

Aroma is of fresh coffee and chocolate, fairly light but pleasing still.

This one is pretty light all around, in flavor and body. At 4%, it's to be expected. It has a nice smooth malt profile and a bit of a grassy hop finish. A bit bitter too. Really pretty simple but it works. A little bit of dark fruit and maybe some anise as well.

Easy going down. Very enjoyable with the porter cheese. Lots of flavor and a nice easy-drinking ABV. No idea what the bottle cost but if it's reasonable I'd buy this again.

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Photo of auro0006
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

The dark, brown-black color supports a light, but creamy, tan head.

Aromas of dark chocolate, caramel and roasted malts fill the air.

The palate is medium-full with plenty of rich malt flavors.

Filling the palate are rich malt flavors; dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and a hint of peat.

There is the smallest detection of bitterness in the finish.

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Photo of HopZen
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep espresso with lighter brown edges. 2 fingers of thick, tan head; dissipates to a nice, oily film. Good lacing.
S: Roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate with hints of spicy/piney hops.
T: Similar to nose, nice balance of malt and British hop bitter; tasty nut finish. There is an odd metallic flavor that creeps up the back of my palate in the beginning, but thankfully it mellows out quickly in the session.
M: Oddly thin for such a bold flavored stout; I would love a meatier body to chew on. Carbonation is appropriately low. Finish is semi-dry.
O: A good, roasted stout. Could use a richer body, but nicely sessionable given the low ABV.

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

500mL into tulip.

A: super black opaque body. very dark head. multi hued. dark brown, light brown, brown brown. really cool to look at. very frothy and the lacing shows as well.

S: a very faint smokiness reminds me of a little bit of a campfire, but really in the faintest sense. some espresso. a little bit of earthy hop aroma. spicy even.

T: the body is very rich for how airy it is. tobacco is at the forefront. roasted grain. not quite burnt. maybe a little towards the finish. a little bit of coffee in an otherwise super dry finish.

M: a fizzy carbonation on a light body.

D: i do enjoy light-bodied dark beers. rather counter-intuitive to most. nice having a stout that it is so easy drinking.

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Photo of ezperkins2
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dragonhead – Orkney Brewery
English Stout
500ml bottle with no date poured into a tulip on 1/9/12

A. Looks like a great stout. Dark body with foamy light brown head that fades to a ring within a couple of minutes.

S. Roasted malts dominate the nose with hints of dark chocolate and a touch of coffee. There is also a nice bit of peaty smoke as well.

T. Like the nose there is a hint of smoke and chocolate but the main player is roasted malt. After a second or so the peaty smokiness shows up and lingers for a while. What else would you expect with a brewery from the Orkney isles? The long finish is a bit dry and very smoky.

M.. The mouthfeel is my main complaint with this brew. Very thin and very watery up front. The finish dries a bit but overall the watery thin body of this beer was a bit of a turn off.

O. Overall this was an enjoyable beer and I was glad I had a chance to drink a style I don’t get often. The biggest thing I will take from this is the great peat smoke finish that reminds me of a nice glass of laphroaig.

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Photo of leokbelo
4.41/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich, dense, blackest of all blackness into a Pint Glass. Creamy mocha head fades into a coffee like lacing.
Rich roasted malts on the nose, chocolate and coffee.
Bitter chocolate with more coffee on the tongue, roasted nuts and very mild hops.
Extremely drinkable, with the low ABV (4%).
An excellent English (Scottish) Stout, though I was hoping for a bigger punch on the hops.
Highly recommended!

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

A: Pours a solid dark brown color with a one finger head made up of larger than average bubbles which clings to the glass as it recedes.

S: Dark roasted malts prevail with hints of dark fruit, caramel and a small amount of chocolate.

T: Light malts are the predominate flavor in this one with finish of chocolate and light coffee. A bit of bitterness on the finish.

M: Definitely on the lighter side with a mild amount of carbonation. Very malty with a light mouthfeel.

O: Overall, very tasty, definitely on the lighter side as was evident by the ABV. I'd buy this again for sure.

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Photo of madvoice
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a rich dark chocolate in colour with minimal head that left a lot of lacing. Smelled very much of sarsparilla, caramel and chocolate. Taste of malt, coffee and chocolate with a spicy bitter finish. A little lighter on the mouthfeel than most stouts. Carbonation not too heavy. Quite drinkable.

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

poured from a bottle into a pint glass, had a nice dark black color with a nice chocolate color head. The taste had a solid coffee flavour & a bitter aftertaste! Not a thick stout but a good one so it should be well liked by most but just lacking that something special to make it a top stout.
One that i would have again!.

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

500mL bottle poured into a tulip stout glass. There appears to be a time & date stamp, but it's not obvious to me what it means.

Appearance: Pitch black on the table, and when held up to the light, just the barest hint of dark ruby red at the edges. 1/4" dense tan head on pouring, which died down to a thin foam across the top with a good ring at the edge. Nice strands, sheets, and sheets of lacing on the glass as I drank it down. Outstanding appearance for a stout.

Smell: Roasted malts with strong cocoa smell and hints of coffee. Very mild hint of raisin in there as well. Very appealing.

Taste: Roasted malts, mild coffee and chocolate, with a solid bitter finish. A robust stout - on the bitter side but just right.

Mouthfeel: Spicy carbonation on the tongue - slick, but otherwise a little watery. Maybe a little too carbonated - it overwhelms everything else with a nice big drink, but it more manageable when the beer is sipped.

Overall / Drinkability: A stout at 4%....a sessionable stout indeed! I think the only thing I'm no too crazy about with this beer is the carbonation and mouthfeel, but besides that, it's a nice beer that I think would be fantastic on cask or on tap. I could see myself enjoying another one of these over a course of an evening, and even more so with the right meal.

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Photo of vandemonian
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Orkney Brewery Dragonhead Stout pours with a black colour and a decent enough head that fades to sparse lacing. The smell is very weak but I smell some roasted malt - maybe some bitter coffee... maybe. The flavour is sour and sharp up front. With some some charcoal in the middle. The finish is sour and smokey. The texture is nice and frothy. Overall, I didn't like this stout that much. Too sour and smokey.

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Photo of metter98
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color--only some traces of amber are visible near the edge of the glass when it is held up to the light. It poured with a finger high creamy tan head that gradually faded away and left lacy patterns of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are strong aromas of phenols and roasted malts in the nose along with some notes of licorice and smoke.
T: The taste has flavors of roasted malt, bitter coffee beans and licorice along with notes of smoke.
M: It feels a bit shy of medium-bodied, smooth and slightly dry on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is very flavorful considering its low alcohol; I could drink this all night long because it is very sessionable.

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

Quite a heavily roasty yet fairly light-drinking stout. At 4%, it tastes and feels like there's at least a little more weight to it than it has. Can't say I would pound this like I could a Guinness.

A short, creamy/frothy tan head puffs up over its near-impenetrable grimy coal blackness, slumping down into a tight collar and only dragging a little slippery lace after each sip. Looks sooty like chimney sweepage.

One of the most roasty aromas I've come across in any beer. Charred, biting grain over some strong dark coffee and mild (not mild-ly) bitter chocolate. Couldn't interpret the bottling code, but I'm wondering if there was some staling or sourness contributing to the bouquet. I've gotten the same from other Scottish stouts...

A lot of what you smell you also taste. The dry, burnt grain taking center stage, assertively bitter, riding a medium-full, lightly creamy body. Real dry finish, the burnt flavor wrapping itself around your tongue and not letting go. A nitro serving could smooth that out surely. But I'm digging it anyway.

Prepare yourself for a showcase of carbonized malt with this one. A man's drink.

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

A - Pours a brown-black, capped with a persistent albeit small collar of mocha froth, not much lace to speak of.

S - There is a charred-roasty-sweet impression to the nose that is so familiar that it seems like the brew could've been aged in Johnnie Walker Scotch barrels. Burnt almond is an underlying suggestion, as is vanilla bean.

T - The flavor is heavily-laden with a peat-campfire smoky char, so greatly as to be inextricable from the other flavor elements. I'm thinking this is akin to a Scotch and (lots of) water, consumed next to a smoldering peat bog.

M - Pretty thin, and very lightly carbonated. I don't think it would work any other way.

D - I can't get past the Scotch comparison. If you enjoy the type of flavors in Scotch, you may dig this brew. If you think Scotch is nasty, you probably won't enjoy this.

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

Bottle poured into an imperial pint glass

Appearance: Opaque,can't see through, not much head or lacing though

Smell: Chocolate smell with a small burnt flavor

Taste: Burnt chocolate coffee flavor

Mouthfeel: Smooth overall with a small rough roundabout feel that leaves the mouth craving a little more to figure it out

Drinkability: Pretty easy overall and wood be good with some traditional irish fare and desserts

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.1/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with a dark brown quickly fading head.
Nose shows lots of coffee, a bit of liquorice and craploads of roasted malt. Too much coffee character!
Flavours include plenty of roasted malt, lots of ground coffee, in fact pretty much nothing else is noticeable, just a hint of faint sweet malt. Ends abruptly.
Body is very watery.

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Dragonhead Stout from Orkney Brewery
3.84 out of 5 based on 295 ratings.
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