The Orkney Islands are to be found off the tip of northern Scotland. And while they are considered a part of Scotland, their history is more of Scandinavian legacy than Scottish or Celtic heritage. Orkney was for many centuries ruled by the Vikings, and is steeped in historical and archeological mystique, attracting visitors the world over who come to gaze upon the perfectly preserved Neolithic dwellings, Norse architecture and beautiful island landscapes.
Visitors and locals alike describe the islands’ ambiance as mysterious, due at least in part to the unexplained Stonehenge-like “Ring of Brogar” which dates from about 2,000 B.C. It is a circular configuration of 27 standing stones which are inscribed with
ancient alphabets, likely of druid origin, and believed to have been used in secret,
ritualistic magic. It is not known how or why the Ring of Brogar came to exist in its
location on the Orkney Islands, but some believe it may have functioned as a calendar,
while others hold that it fulfilled a more ominous purpose.
Thankfully, a couple Orcadians with no sinister intentions, Roger and Irene White,
founded the Orkney Brewery in 1988. It is housed in a Victorian Schoolhouse in this
remote region, located on the west coast of the largest of the Orkney Islands. Since
their opening they have produced a fine range beers noted throughout the UK for
their quality and earning many prestigious awards. In 1995 the Brewery was extended
and new equipment introduced in order to meet the demand for the Brewery’s line of
beers. Considering their location, they have plenty from which to draw inspiration for
their fine beers, and they name them accordingly. Their colorful beer names include Dark Island (with an image of the low-horizoned winter sun filtering between the pillars of the Ring of Brogar), Northern Light, Raven Ale (the Raven plays an important part in the stories of Viking battles to defend possession of the Orkney Islands), Dragonhead Stout, The Red MacGreggor, and our featured selection, Skull Splitter Strong Ale. These respectable ales are each characterized by great taste and distinctive craftsmanship. For more information about the Orkney Brewery, check out their web site at http://www.orkneybrewery.co.uk/