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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,822 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,822
Reviews: 926
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 134
Gots: 140 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,822 | Reviews: 926 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by rickyleepotts:
Photo of rickyleepotts
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

I wrote this beer earlier this week, and have just been waiting to drink it. The first time I had this beer, it was great. The last time was at a beer class at Total Wine & More, and it was too hot and wasn't as good as I remember. Hopefully taking the time to review the beer here, I will get more of the elements I remember from the first time I enjoyed this. Pretty wicked name, too. Who wants to drink a skull splitter? Plus, the Viking on the bottle is creepy. Oh well, as long as he makes good beer! Let's drink.

In the Glass: It looks almost like an amber ale in the glass. It is dark brown, with a light white head. There is a nice lace on this, though. The tasting notes used the word "winelike", and it does have a nice thickness to it as I swirl it around in the glass. Oh, and can someone explain to me why the bottle is only 11.2 ounces? I want a full 12 ounces for $3.99!

Nose: There is a lot of sweet malty goodness on the nose. We are drinking this WAY too cold, but you can still smell the sweetness all the way around the nose. I am not smelling any hops here… just a blanket of malty goodness!

Flavor: (I am going to see what the bottle says so the beer can heat up a little before I drink it.) After writing what the bottle says, the head is still there. Not as thick as before, but still covers the entire top of the glass. That is impressive. Remember those malts that I talked about earlier? Imagine those same malts coating the inside of your palate leaving you with an alcohol heat all the way down. Those malts then turn drying and just stick to the inside of your mouth and the top of your tongue. With every swallow, the flavor becomes more drying, but this beer leaves a long enjoyable finish. I have never seen this on tap, but I am sure it is amazing on tap. Most of the flavor hits toward the back of the palate, as there is not much up front… but the experience you get as you begin to swallow this beer is worth every sip.

Mouthfeel: There are a few bubbles up front, but the beer quickly mellows out as you swallow. The sweetness really comes in after two or three drinks. I did take a sip to swish around in my mouth, and by doing that, the bubbles went crazy. By doing that, with most beers, you can find more flavor that was once hidden in the beer. With this, the bubbles overwhelm the palate, and the flavor pretty much leaves all together. I am going to let this one sit for a few minutes and try to enjoy the last sip at room temperature.

Aftertaste: At first, the malty sweetness that you can smell and initially taste becomes almost too sweet… but quickly turns drying and you are left with a lingering drying finish. Not Irish stout dry, but a cracked pepper dry. The malts they use here are obvious, and this is a beer that you are fully aware of the ABV. It;s only 8.5%, but you can taste it with every sip. As the beer gets warmer, it does become more balanced.

This is what I remember Skull Splitter tasting like. I wish it wasn't so expensive, because this is a beer I could see myself enjoying all night long. They also don't make bombers of this, but if they did, it would be a bomber that you could spend an entire night with! The bottle says, "500 years in the making." Job well done, Orkeny!

rickyleepotts, Mar 16, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Very appetizing amber colored beer with rich creamy head.Raisin-like aroma to it,kinda porty in taste to me with some dried fruit in there,alchol was prevalent ecspecially when it began to warm.Something to drink before bedtime.Really nice liked it alot.

oberon, Mar 18, 2003
Photo of don1481
4.56/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving: Pour an 11.2 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Deep reddish-brown. Small amount of foam lingers.

Smell: Fruity, toffee, boozy. Caramel notes, too. Smells inviting.

Taste: ... different than what I was expecting from the smell. I really don't taste the booze. It's quite a bit sweeter than I would have anticipated, even after reading the bottle's flavor description. The "complex" descriptor on the bottle is very appropriate here - I definitely get some molasses here. Fruit notes. Definitely warming. Mmm.

Mouthfeel: Soft. Not an abrasive boozy or syrupy feel at all. Satiny.

Overall: Yes, I think I will be picking this up quite regularly for now on when I want to go with something that I know is going to be REALLY good yet unique. AND - as a bonus - reasonably priced for a 4 pack!

don1481, Oct 28, 2013
Photo of RoyalT
4.6/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This has the classic appearance of the Sotch Ale/Wee Heavy style. The head came up huge then went down pitting. The body is a deep, dark, ruby-brown color.

Smell – Man, does this ale wreek! The big aroma of dark, concentrated fruits soaked in rum and brandy come out in force. The malts are present underneath along with some alcohol notes as well.

Taste – The rum/raisin flavor comes out huge and overpowers the other fruits from the nose. There’s also a tartness in there. Maybe we soaked some apples in this batch? Anyway, it’s a very unique and interesting flavor, and a “must try” for any serious BA.

Mouthfeel – Flat, smooth, and full-bodied with a reminder of alcohol.

Drinkability – Everything I wrote about this ale comes together in the drinkability category. I don’t feel that any one component is perfect, but together this is as good as it gets and deserves my highest, “Drinkability,” rating.

Update – I drink this on a regular basis but thought I should re-review it with an ’04 bottle. My opinion hasn’t changed one iota from my initial rating in September of 2003.

RoyalT, Sep 25, 2003
Photo of braugon
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%

braugon, Jul 23, 2013
Photo of cam477
4/5  rDev -2%

cam477, Sep 25, 2014
Photo of liveandletdie
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle has changed a bit, still looks decent but I think I liked the old bottle better. Had this beer with some jalapeno chilli so it might have taken some taste away from the beer. Regardless I liked the beer, many flavors that my imprecise tongue could not put its finger on. A lot of fig/date type flavors. You don't really taste the alcohol. Color was a medium maple brown. Lacing clung to the side of the cup it was in. Little more into the beer and the alcohol makes a little bit of a presence as you might expect.
Overall good beer, and unique taste to it.

liveandletdie, Jun 01, 2011
Photo of MadScientist
4.55/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: This is a fairly clear, medium amber beer with a long lasting tan head of less than a half finger cap on the beer.

S: This beer has a deep malty aroma with malt sweetness, some smokey and almost peaty aromas. There is a moderately-light caramel note in the background. There is the faint aroma of European hops aroma. There is some yeast derived dark fruit notes like plum with molasses and a light touch of alcohol flavor are in there as well.

T: A big malt flavor with a lot of malt sweetness followed by a dry roasted malt flavor. The hops flavor and bitterness are moderately low letting the malt and sweetness dominate the flavor. There is a very light pepper, some alcohol and some bitterness keeping the sweetness in check through the finish.

M: This is a thick, full bodied beer with moderate carbonation and a light alcohol warmth.

O: This malty, sweet and slightly smokey beer would make for a fine after dinner cordial. It's a fairly sweet beer but not cloyingly sweet with the alcohol and light bitterness keeping it in check.

MadScientist, Aug 01, 2012
Photo of Zakk
4/5  rDev -2%

Zakk, Jun 13, 2012
Photo of wesbrownyeah
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

SkullSpiltter Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. 8.5% alcohol
Poured into a pint glass. I was talking to someone at the store i was at and they recomended this beer so i tried it.

A- Pours a medium amber- brown fluid that produces a small tan head that falls to a ring around the glass and froth.

S- I getting some very light scents of dark fruits... plum, raisins and maybe dates. Very light I must repeat.

T-M- There it is the flavor says everything in one sip. The alcohol fuzes with rich burnt malts danky plums and massive raisin backbone.
Taste is simple but for what a Wee Heavy is in Scotland "get drunk and have it taste good". Perfect. Mouthfeel is warm with alcohol tingling with every carbonated bubble but in a good way... smooth.

D- Hell yeah its drinkable and it a Wee bit heavier than any sessionable beers... but hey session drinking can be done with this one be careful.

wesbrownyeah, Feb 23, 2010
Photo of tbryan5
4/5  rDev -2%

tbryan5, Feb 28, 2013
Photo of JacobMutberg
4/5  rDev -2%

JacobMutberg, Oct 11, 2012
Photo of SIRIUS2
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A careful pour yields a clear ruddy brown brew with a very nice foamy white head of 2-3 fingers in width. Head settles down but stays with the brew and leaves lacing all the way down the glass.

Aromas are of earthy malts with a touch of grassy hops. Aromas seem solid with good balance.

Sweet caramel malts were forward, fading slightly to allow something like dried cherries or similar fruitiness to come through. Hops aren't necessarily coming forward with flavor but you get the sense they are there simply because of the balance. The weight is nice too, and the carbonation is allows for an almost creaminess that all comes together well. nice.

Goes down easy and is highly enjoyable. Awesome beer!

SIRIUS2, Dec 17, 2009
Photo of wrycon
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%

wrycon, Oct 09, 2013
Photo of skybluewater
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep rust color, no lacing. Tastes malty, with a nice raisin undertone, with a bit of dried fruit as well. Warming alcohol present. It really tastes almost like a thin barleywine. Not a bad beer, one I'd return to every once in a while, if it was't $2.50 for such a small bottle.

skybluewater, Sep 07, 2004
Photo of orbitalr0x
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle pours into my glass a deep garnet hue without much head, just some bubbles that quickly fade and some chunkers that I accidentally let fall into my glass. Aromas start with big sweet malt tones dominated by caramel, sweetbread, dried fruits, leather, tobacco and a mix of spicy tones. There's a vinous quality in the background as well. Really rich and inviting, it pulls me in for a sip.

First sip brings smooth sweet malts upfront that spiral into a vortex of deep fruits, caramel, sweetbread and spice. Earthy tones of tobacco and leather veer in midway though the sip. Just a touch of alcohol in the finish, this is one malty beast with a great depth of flavor. It does teeter on the line of being too sweet for me, but overall is very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is lush and satiny smooth as the beer effortlessly flows down. Mellow carbonation adds to the ease of drinkability here. I can see how this would be dangerous as the alcohol is totally hidden. Overall, this is just a damn fine drink right here. Will be revisiting this and maybe getting some to age as well.

orbitalr0x, Jun 04, 2009
Photo of chOAKbarrell
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I can't say I know all that much about scotch ales, seeing as I've tried relatively few of them, but I was certainly fond of this one.

This beer is on the darker side, nicely attractive to look at. The alcohol is very present in the scent. I dont know if this is a good thing or not. It didnt bother me, but I guess that issue is just a matter of preference.

The taste - wow. There is a lot going on in this beer. It is rather hard to believe that this beer is only 8.5%. It seems a good bit stronger. I noticed too that it has that slightly-syrupy quality to it much like a barleywine. Very complex.

I dont think your average drinker could handle too many of these in a single session, but it is definitely worth your $$$ to pick up a six pack or
4 pack or however these are sold (I got mine at a bar - $4).

chOAKbarrell, Oct 11, 2005
Photo of danthehopslamman
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

danthehopslamman, Aug 15, 2012
Photo of lordofthewiens
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you to Todd the beer guy at McKean and Charles in Waldoboro for getting me to try this. Other than the cool name, I'm not sure I would have bought this without his suggestion. A 330ml bottle poured into a pint glass, it was brown with red highlights, and had a small head. It had a peaty aroma, as well as a little bit of malt. Loved the taste. Bread, peat, alternatingly sweet and smoky. A really nice mouthful. Try this beer.

lordofthewiens, May 09, 2007
Photo of SD-Alefan
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

SD-Alefan, Jan 27, 2014
Photo of DaftPatrick
4/5  rDev -2%

DaftPatrick, May 15, 2014
Photo of Craftycrusherswench
2.5/5  rDev -38.7%

Craftycrusherswench, Aug 02, 2014
Photo of mbrandon2w
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Beautiful ruby colored brew, with a surprisingly fruity aroma. Lots of plums, raisins and tropical fruit in the nose. Sweet malt flavor, with caramel and fruit flavors coming through. Some alcohol.
Gets a bit heavy and a bit too sweet after a while though, otherwise nice brew.

mbrandon2w, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of WuAnquo1
3/5  rDev -26.5%

WuAnquo1, Jan 08, 2012
Photo of Todd
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 11.2oz brown bottle with a red foil neck. Thorfinn Hausakluif ("SkullSplitter"), the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney pears hauntingly from the label, shield and weapon in hand.

Appearance: Deep murky brown in colour with a cream lace; powder like.

Smell: Alcohol, rich caramel, ripe fruit and the slightest note of hop are all present in the nose.

Taste: Beneath a smooth, creamy, almost chewy mouthfeel lies an 8.5% alcohol that has an aged Scotch profile. This ale screams "caramel!" This dominates the brew with a sweetness that mingles well with a touch of buttery diacetyl, but, is impressively balanced with hints of raisin, alcohol spice and a mild hop leaf flavour. Warming.

Notes: The unique malt profile truly lends itself to the brew. This is an awesome strong ale to be enjoyed slowly, and in relaxation, after a large meal or a cold night.

Todd, Oct 08, 1998
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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,822 ratings.