Orkney Dark Islands Fermentation Conundrum

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Jun 26, 2012
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San Francisco Bay Area
I discovered Orkney Brewery's Dark Islands in Scotland on cask and followed it around Edinburgh! Here's Orkney's own description:

"It offers ripe, fruity and roast coffee aromas with flavours of dark chocolate, dates and nuts, from the combination of roasted malts and robust hops.

ABV 4.6 %
IBU 19
HOPS First Gold: East Kent Goldings
MALT Pale: Crystal: Chocolate: Malted Wheat"

I want to brew a clone and I'd like to hear from others who have loved this beer (the NON-bourbon barrel aged version) because I'm unclear on my process and fermentation plans.

I've done a lot of good research on grain bill. I'm going on the Brewery's own description, as well as discussions in UK forums and my own noodling in Beersmith:

82% Crisp Floor Malted Maris Otter (my standard base malt)
5% Viking wheat malt
4% British chocolate malt
2% Bairds Crystal 135/165
2% Bairds Crystal 55/65
5% Invert #3

BUT - I'm not sure about fermentation. It's definitely got some dark fruitiness and isn't really true to the Scottish Export/80 shilling style guidelines or "norms", which are supposed to be: lighter in color than Dark Islands, neutral yeast expression - not fruity, and little to no hop flavor. They call the beer a dark Scottish Ale but it seems to me to drink more like a brown or even robust Porter.
I'm a Ray Daniel's fan and i have followed his directions for a Scottish before (low ferm temps, wlp028/wy1728, limit esters, long caramelization boil, 60 min addition only). Mine was similar to a southern English brown and took some bottle time to fully express. But this beer seems a lot more English in style to me, or more like a hybrid style.

Gonna use 1469 and not Ringwood that Orkney purportedly uses. Others think they use Notty, and one dude who was at the brewery said they def top crop. I know and adore 1187, it's my fave, but i just can't deal with a 6 or 8 week fermentation to ramp up to a slow finish to diacetyl rest to making sure no refermentation bottle bombs...not right now anyway. I need this quicker and 1187 needs special attention (maybe when I get a stainless mini fermenter that I can leave partway open).

If anyone knows & loves Dark Islands, I'd love to hear your thoughts on your perception of its flavor notes as far as fermentation plans.