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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

1,718 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,718
Reviews: 920
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 124
Gots: 106 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-08-1998)
View: Beers (10) |  Events
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Ratings: 1,718 | Reviews: 920 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by instrumentality:
Photo of instrumentality
instrumentality

California

3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked this brew up at Vin de Pays liquor store in Long Beach, an establishment for which I gain new respect from one trip to the next. They have a relatively small selection of fantastic brews, but that selection rotates periodically, so the key is to stagger your visits enough where you'll be able to try something new each time you visit.

I'm at a point in my relative newness to the BA world (about 8 months) where I have become a huge fan of scotch ales, but only a couple have really impressed me. My favorite so far is Founders Dirty Bastard, which I had from the bottle after I had already thrown back a few, so I don't know that my senses were totally up to speed. I also greatly enjoyed Alesmith's Wee Heavy on tap, but again, I had already thrown back nine tasters before I took this one on, so I may be a bit biased. Out of the bottle it was still enjoyable, but not nearly as good. Moylan's Kiltlifter was drinkable but nothing special, and McEwan's Scotch Ale I could pretty well do without.

I've heard good things about the SkullSplitter, and with a little encouragement from BA's seagoat and TheLongBeachBum, I had to grab a sample.

Poured into my Stone Russian Imperial Stout tulip glass (like everything else these days), this brew emerged a rich, opaque mahogany with about a finger of off-white head that quickly settled to a very thin lace with a thin halo of foam clinging to the glass. A quick swirl revived the head slightly before it dissolved back into a halo.

The odor wasn't as potent as some others of the style. There was a small trace of burnt malt that is one of the main draws of a good scotch ale for me, along with the faint emanation of toffee and caramel, but nothing too potent. A good smell, but I would have liked for it to have a bit more strength to it.

The flavor was definitely more interesting, although still not what I'd call the definitive scotch ale. It started off with an intense burning sensation from the alcohol, followed by a burnt maltiness mixed with an intriguing flavor that seemed to evolve from sweet to mildly bitter, first caramel, then toffee, then roasted coffee beans. The finish felt slightly chalky and tasted burnt and subtly sweet, almost like peeling off the charred skin of a roasted marshmallow and letting it dissolve in my mouth.

As I delved deeper into my glass, the sweetness seemed to become more prevalent, almost cloying, like a red wine that's gone a bit beyond its peak.

Maybe it's sacrilege for me to say I enjoy scotch ales made in the U.S. more than scotch ales made in Scotland, but so far, that seems to be the trend. This beer definitely blows out McEwan's, upstages Moylan's Kiltlifter, and has a bit more bite to it than Alesmith's Wee Heavy, but for me, Founders Dirty Bastard really raised the bar (I wish I could find it out here) and this one, which definitely tasty, has some noticeable flaws. I see enough potential, however, where I may have to pick up one or two more and let them age for some time and see if I have better luck.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2006 08:30:37 | More by instrumentality
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Aroma of malt
Head small (1 cm), off white, creamy, rapidly diminishing to 2 mm ring and broken layer
Lacing virtually none
Body dark red amber
Flavor of sweet malt and caramel; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl, no peaty smokiness
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation

I first had this in a restaurant in Kirkwall, before I knew what a wee heavy was. Then I didn’t particularly care for it. Now, however, I find it to be a delightful drink with the alcohol well hidden. This meets the criteria for a Scotch ale very well.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,718 ratings.