Like every Orkney Brewery Ale: Dark Island conjures up a great image, one of stirring sea tales of a sailor in a rickety boat fighting against crashing waves, jagged black rocks and temptress sirens (the ancient mariner ones, not the alarm sounding ones). Here’s hoping this Scottish Ale will live up to its brethren, including the mighty Skull Splitter (which is currently #11 on my all-time list of reviewed beers). Do not disappoint me Dark Island!
Poured from a 500ml bottle into nonic pint.
A: Presents a fearsome almost opaque deep cola red/brown body with a 1 cm light tan head that sticks around well. Certainly suits the name quite well here. 9/10.
S: Dark fruit forward in the aroma with notes of dark plum, date and macerated figs. There are earthy undertones that suggest a traditional brew with fresh or organic ingredients, along with a solid brown sugar/molasses malt base. Overall the aroma of Dark Island is very much a Skull Splitter lite, and I have absolutely no problem with that [not at all Sir!]. 8/10.
T: Dark fruits present upfront in the flavour with an intriguing sour presence throughout… it’s not Gueuze sour, just a lingering sour touch in the background, however it also isn’t overly as sweet as expected and along with it having a light bitter finish the sourness tips the balance… I checked the BB date and it says ‘APR 16’ so it should be fine, but I am definitely getting a slight sourness which I suspect is unintentional. Hints of brown sugar round out flavour. 6/10.
M: Along with the flavours not being as bold as expected there is some watery mouthfeel that detracts overall from this mid to light bodied light carbonated brew. 6/10.
D: I will get this one again as it may have turned in the bottle a bit, heat damage perhaps? Well it’s the middle of winter here in Canberra and the mercury rarely tops 13 Celsius (or 55 in the old money) so heat damage is out of the question. Infected bottle? Who knows, is it Pasteurized? If so then also likely not. In any case I’ve had a bad run of soured brews lately and I’m hoping my luck changes soon. Overall I imagine a good bottle of Dark Island, a twice CAMRA champion beer of Scotland is a much better brew than the one I just had. 6/10.
Food match: [pairing to what a good bottle of this would match] game meats, beef stew with crusty bread and aged cheddars.