Orkney Dragonhead Stout

(Sorry for the lack of visuals. Gnomes stole the pictures. Bastard gnomes.)

Hello and welcome to the Daily Beard. Tonight, I’ve got another beer review to tickle your eyeballs with, and hopefully by the end, a new beer to tickle your beer glands with as well. It’s Orkney’s Dragonhead Stout, a big black bottle of Scottish power, like a distilled William Wallace. The only thing left to do is drink it. So let’s get to it.

Popping the cap reveals initial aromas of big, bold coffee, with some sticky-sweet molasses providing an earthy sweetness. Underneath everything is a base of deeply roasted malts, sprinkled with bitter-sweet dark chocolate, creating that tried and true stoutish aroma. The end brings hints of smoke, which billows up into your nose and clings like the last remnants of a campfire. So far, it’s all very stout-like – bold, dark, and powerful.

The bottle taste reveals…well, something different. The flavors are all there – dark chocolate, bold coffee, and roasted malts provide the major profile, while a subtle hoppy bitterness clings at the back of the tongue. But, everything is very weak. Actually, that’s not true. It almost tastes like a diet stout. It has that watery, thin feel and flavor, like it just slips right off the tongue and takes the flavors with it. The flavors do start out fairly bold, but the end is just…weak. One reason for this could be the insane 4% ABV. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s just a tad stronger than root beer, as far as stout is concerned. As I said, it tastes like a stout at first, and almost even feels like one, for about three seconds. Then it just bubbles away into a faint bitterness soon after drinking. It’s not too pleasant at all. But, we’ve only just begun, so hope yet remains.

Maybe not. Poured out, the aromas are…disappointing. Chalky roasted malts fizz up amongst a weak profile of coffee. That’s about it. There’s no longer a potent cloud of aromas, just a weak “meh”. Visually, it at least looks the part, pouring a super dark brown and sporting a huge chocolate colored head that last’s forever. But, it pours pretty thin, showing none of the thickness of its stouty brethren.

The post-pour taste is the final nail in this Scottish coffin. The flavors are nothing more than what they were in the bottle. In fact, somehow, they’re not as strong, which I didn’t even know was possible. Weak chocolate and coffee are there for about half a second, before just disappearing. The best way to describe it is this: Take a Guinness, pour it into a pint glass, drop about five ice cubes into the glass, and wait half an hour. You’ll be left with a thin, watery mess of stout flavors.

This is a stout in name only. Oh, it’s dark. So visually, it’s a stout too. It’s has a crazy low 4% ABV, which doesn’t seem like it should affect the flavors. But, something has. They show up at the start, but then they just fizz and disappear into a watery nothingness. Roasted malts, chocolate and coffee try to make an appearance, but all they manage is what amounts to lifting a finger in the direction of true flavor. There’s really nothing redeeming about this at all.

I can’t even suggest it for anything. Oh, maybe as a movie prop! There, I suggest this beer as a movie prop. It pains me to talk bad about beer. I love beer. And hey, maybe my bottle was off somehow. But, for now all I can say is thankfully, Orkney has their Skull Splitter to wash the taste of this out of my mouth. Dragonhead doesn’t even make it halfway up the scale, but I’ll round up and give them an F.


Taste: 3/10

Looks: 8/10

Price: 7/10

Drinkability: 3/10

Lasting Strength: 3/10

Overall:4.8/10 (+.2 sympathy points)=5/10 F


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