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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,788 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,788
Reviews: 922
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 130
Gots: 129 | 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: 1,788 | Reviews: 922 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of callmeclemens
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

This Ale is not for the faint of heart. Not my favorite but I tried to seperate myself from my personal tastes because I've heard so much good about this. This beer taste like meat, and some people really like that. It was seriously a meal in a bottle complete with the alchohal. I can't imagine drinking more than one of these, I certainly couldn't stomach it. Somtimes I wish I could be the kind of man who could enjoy this kind of drink.More like that viking on the bottle.

callmeclemens, Aug 11, 2010
Photo of aahynick
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

about 45 degree F into a pint glass
A- dark brown with slight red tinge and fine white head.

S- aroma of mild peat

T- sweet and peaty and mildly nutty.

M- medium body and seriously smooth.

D- a real pleasant drinker that I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

aahynick, Aug 10, 2010
Photo of evilkalla
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving: 11.2 oz bottle into an ale glass.

A: A slightly cloudy brownish-tan color. Very little head, a small amount of carbonation visible in the glass.

S: Has a sweet smell to it. Sort of flowery.

T: Has a solidly malty, earthy flavor to it. Some sweetness balanced out by some hop bitterness. Alcohol is slightly detectable.

M: A slight carbonation bite. Overall it feels solid enough in the mouth.

D: This isn't my favorite style, but overall an enjoyable beer. Would definitely drink it again.

evilkalla, Aug 10, 2010
Photo of Brysky
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

ST- Bottle poured into glass. Label is a Viking (only mentioned since there is not a picture up yet)

A- ruby brown, almost no head at all on the pour, looks perfect.

S- smells of light chocolate / caramel undertones.

T- Tastes like it smells, a Scottish Ale with undertones of chocolate and caramel.

M- tingly on the tongue and lips

D- Very nice to drink, 8.5% ABV so not a all night session beer but still pretty wonderful.

Brysky, Aug 08, 2010
Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Skullsplitter, a bit of Wee Heavy, aye....

That bit poured a deep chestnut brown with a ring of wispy lacing at the edges. Peat, oak and the sweetness of over-ripe buttered plums rise from this concoction. A seductive siren or a set-up for disappointment?

A full body all around, but somehow still agile. The beer builds it sweet maltiness throughout and finishes with with a dryness which is the only evidence for hops here. The rich malt in this brew manages to not be overwhelming, but rather enjoyable. It's not boozy and rather drinkable. I emptied the 33 cl with utmost speed, considering it was a Scottish Ale.

BeardedBoffin, Aug 06, 2010
Photo of jsdunlop
4.75/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours out dark amber with a perfect head that slowly dissolves, but leaves its mark on the glass. First whiff of this one and I notice aromas of sugar, molasses, cinnamon and a faint presence of alcohol. Taste is quite sweet, definitely the sweetest scotch ale I've tasted yet. Huge malty flavor up front that goes down smooth with random flavors of alcohol and a hint of cherry with some spice notes. Mouthfeel is carbonation with a nice lighter body. Overall, an exceptional scotch ale, easy drinkability with an abundance of flavorful notes. A nicely balanced brew.

jsdunlop, Aug 04, 2010
Photo of LairdChisholm
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

ST- Poured a 11.2 oz bottle into a glass

A- Dark Brown with a ruby tint. Ivory head dissipates after a short while.

S- Quite malty with caramel undertones,

T- Scottish Ales being my favorite types of beer, this is my favorite beer hands down. For the alcohol content, it has an amazing taste. Satisfyingly malty with caramel and slight chocolate undertones. A very smooth after taste with caramel notes that linger.

M- Very, very smooth. Goes down with ease. No complaints here.

D- Again, considering the Alcohol content, I could, and have thrown back quite a few with ease.

LairdChisholm, Jul 28, 2010
Photo of sweemzander
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11.2oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. No bottled date.

(A)- Pours a clear brown amber color that produced a decent off-white head that dissipated quickly down to bubbles.

(S)- A light smoky peat with a nutty creaminess in front of a light roasted background.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. A light spicy smokiness combined with a creamy nutty caramel malt roasted profile.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. A good malt profile with a fitting richness. Not overly sweet or cloying. Good ABV integration.

(D)- A great example or the style. I enjoy the light smoky bit in the smell and taste. A little too sweet and rich to have a few of, but I am definitely enjoying this bottle.

sweemzander, Jul 25, 2010
Photo of mlazzaro
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark beer. it is a slightly transparent brown. Ivory colored head, looks to have superb head retention for a strong ale.

Smells really good. smooth smell of dried fruit and sweet maltiness. Booze is noticeable as well.

I was kind of afraid of this beer because of the name. But it is some smooth delicious beer. Soft malty flavors, with notes of cherries. I find it to be almost Belgiany in yeast esters.
Much like a St. Bernardus Abt. 12 in flavor and aroma.

For what it is @ 8.5%A.B.V. its drinkability is a little scary. I could drink quite a bit of this. Which may be the reason for the beers name: to describe the next morning.

A good night cap though. Would gladly drink again.

I read other people's reviews about a silver foiled bottle, and I noticed my bottle had red foil which might indicate different batches.

mlazzaro, Jul 20, 2010
Photo of ronniebruner
4.6/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As the name implies, this is a beer that will knock your socks off! A very robust, heavey 8.5% ABV beer, packaged in my all time favorite beer bottle: a silver foil neck with a picture of a viking ready for battle. This is a beer ofr beer lovers! Not cheap, but worth every penny and I guarantee you will drink every drop. Comes in 4 packs. Not sure if there are 6 or larger packs.

ronniebruner, Jul 16, 2010
Photo of TheJollyHop
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Prominent smoke, grapes resonate from a copper, brown and red tinged body; pinky finger of head.

Scents of fruity esters: gala apples, raisins, earth, lightly toasted bread, and toffee.

Flavors follow the nose almost to a T with dark chocolate and molasses coming into the fray. There is a burst of bitterness and faint alcohol warmth at the swallow.

Medium bodied with a similar level of carbonation. This brew is much more balanced than the nose would have you believe. Smoke and fruit along with bakery flavors are more than copacetic with each other. Slightly salty, mineral flavor coupled with Earth.

A good example of a Scottish Ale.

TheJollyHop, Jul 16, 2010
Photo of levifunk
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

a - not sure how old this bottle is as i got it in a trade, but there are quite a bit of yeast floaties. brown liquid. good carbonation.

s - malts, dark fruit and a citrus note. very little alcohol.

t - very very smooth flavor. malts and dark fruit as expected. there is a faint peppery flavor that is appealing. again, I don't know how old this is, so the smoothness could be due to age. I don't know if I would like it as much if the pepper flavor was more pronounced.

m - very thick body. heavy beer. less carbonation than I thought there would be from the pour.

overall - good beer. I enjoy having it, but would I want a 2nd one right now? probably not.

levifunk, Jul 15, 2010
Photo of HosP
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up this beer after hearing of two co-workers having a few of these at the bar. Couldn't resist a beer called skullsplitter!

A: Pours a nice clear brown color. Hints of red to it with a nice head that left bits of lace slowly going down the glass.

S: Sweeter smell. Roasted caramel aroma with a hint of alcohol to it.

Taste: Very smooth and malty with caramel coming to the front and a hint of maybe chocolate towards the end. Has an alcohol bite as well but doesn't deter from the nice taste.

M: Pretty smooth with light carbonation.

D: Never had a scotch ale, so for my first one I was pleasantly surprised. Good beer to have to end the day and wind down.

HosP, Jul 14, 2010
Photo of RomaniIteDomum
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a nice foamy tan head. The beer does an interesting trick when helt to light. It turns yellow, leaving only the swirling sediment its original brown hue. Nice lacing.

The smell is very interesting. Lots of sweet malt, some peat, smoke, and a little sourness. It smells like Flemish Brown Lite. The sweet still dominates, but the sour permeates in a very pleasant way.

The taste is a bit more sweet than the nose lets on. Lots of sweet malt and a little peat. That sour quality is still there, but it really isn't sour. Same taste minus the bite. Weird, but very pleasant.

The feel is still creamy and full-bodied. Good feel for the beer.

This was pretty damn drinkable. Good flavors, great mouthfeel, and it hits the spot.

RomaniIteDomum, Jul 03, 2010
Photo of neenerzig
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to my friend Passow (A 12 oz bottle poured into my tulip glass. This beer pours a clear, deep ruby color with a tan head half an inch thick when poured, eventually settling to a nice ring lining the inside of my glass with bits of lacing. Aromas of dark fruit and sweet malt, along with alcohol are all present. The taste packs a wallop of sweet smoked malts with dark fruit. Pretty one dimensional in terms of this beer's flavor, but very fucking good! Has a nice crisp, medium bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. This starts being a slow sipper when it is still cold, but once it warms up it was so damn good I couldn't stop drinking it! I will drink this again.


neenerzig, Jun 26, 2010
Photo of dacrza1
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Situation: a toast: to our Quiz Bowl team (semifinalists again) and our baseball team's first practice (ever optimistic)...
Glass: Corsendonk snifter...
Appearance: creamy but thin off-white head tops a mahogany brown body --opaque; lacing draws unevenly...
Aroma: toasted malts abound; some spicy ginger hints; enough complexity to warrant a second, third, fourth slow draw...
Palate: active, warming, thick body that has a smooth quality about it (odd considering its namesake and label mascot)--like the label, a BIG presence that demands sipping...
Taste: grape and malt are hardened to a candied sweetness--hints of smoke make this a complex beer worthy of its praise...
Overall: Odd notes, actually--among the first beers I selected from a 500+ menu at Clancy's in Bloom (fond memories); among the first I revisited at the Laughing Lion; one of the few ales I shipped Shan's cousin Mark, always trying to get him to break away from his lager/pilsner dependency... a beer worth its price.

dacrza1, Jun 25, 2010
Photo of tjd112
3.55/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Presentation - Poured into Sam Smith nonic

Appearance - Ruby red with not too well retained head and very little lacing

Smell - Very boozy with a lot of dark fruits and some malt character

Taste - Smokiness starts to come out, a good amount of booziness also

Mouthfeel - Medium

Drinkability/Overall - Could have only one of these at a time

tjd112, Jun 23, 2010
Photo of earthboundagain
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a mahogany brown that produces a small tan head that falls to a ring of lace that are there when the beer is gone.

S- I get a slight whiff of malt, some peat and faint fruit.

T&M- Ok if you're looking for a rich complex beer this is not it, skullsplitter is a huge punch of peat smoked malt, with some dark fruit and alcohol. The mouth feel is smooth and the carbonation is nice.

D- I'm conflicted here since this beer is not real big, but still smacks you in the teeth. The glass empties quickly, and my vision blurs.

I have had this beer several times, and it was a chance encounter with this said beer that really got me back into good beers, something that I got away from for a while. It is not a subtle beer, but a delicious kick in the face. This beer is better then the score it receives.

earthboundagain, Jun 17, 2010
Photo of laituegonflable
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark murky red, with disappointingly little head, large bubbles form around the edge with minimal lacing. Quite clear with very slow bead. Looks thick but otherwise a bit dull.

Nose is extremely sweet and very smokey. Thick, chewy, biscuity malt with huge golden syrup character, brandy snap, ohhhh yeah it's delicious. Slight chocolate and a really strong diacetyl character but it's not overly buttery, just adds to the sweetness. I can't say this entices me to drink because it's too sweet, but it's a really delicious desserty smell. A real treat.

Taste manages to avoid the over-sweetness, while retaining the sweetness. Malty on the front with a thick molasses character, hints of licorice on there and more of that brandy snap character. A stronger boozey character comes through towards the back though, elements of actual brandy with some vinous notes, a hint of spice and a mild phenolic touch. More buttery diacetyl on the finish and start, but the earthiness balances it on the back, with nice vinous bitterness or strength.

Quite syrupy on the feel, a bit harsh and drying on the back where the strength lies. Pretty good though, on par with style.

For its obvious strength, the alcohol is not burning and is quite well-hidden. Yeah, a very decent Wee Heavy ale. Pleasant, warm dessert beer.

laituegonflable, Jun 16, 2010
Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a darkish red-brown colour, with a foamy but large-bubbled head of yellowish white foam, that only really sits around the edges of the glass. Foams up a little when it's swirled. Nice colour, but it looks a bit flat.

Nose is a little roasted, but with a leavened slightly sweet character like a ketchup covered corndog. Slight smokiness to it, in a very subtle way. Altogether, it's very good - all the characters actually meld together very pleasantly.

Taste is rather robust - with a very sweet and teeth-stripping toffee character on the fore, with a sharper light alcoholic bitterness coming through later. Quite pleasant, and again, it balances the characters against one another quite nicely.

Yeah - overall, surprisingly pleasant. I find it a tiny bit cloying after a while - and I'd prefer sipping it to drinking an entire bottle on my own, but it's very tasty.

lacqueredmouse, Jun 11, 2010
Photo of cbmatt
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I have had this awhile ago, but found a bottle at the store so i picked it up since i had not had it for some time. It was in a bottle and poured a dark brown with a tan/ amber head. smelled sweet with strong alcohol notes. strong taste infused with notes of sweet notes. being as it is summer, it is great, but much harder to drink with the heat. is a fantastic winter beer, although is available year round. all and all fantastic

cbmatt, Jun 09, 2010
Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Appearance -- Pours a deep, ruddy brown, not at all cloudy, with two fingers of light beige head that quickly dissipates into a thin layer.

Smell -- Booze, dates and raisins, caramel, molasses, spicy hops.

Taste -- Caramel, molasses, melted butter, raisins, spicy hops toward the finish.

Mouthfeel -- Slick, chewy, and moderate "creamy" carbonation. The hop spiciness present in the finish hides the abv well.

Drinkability -- Not a bad brew. Wouldn't turn one down, but wouldn't seek it out again. Your mileage may vary.

yeahnatenelson, Jun 09, 2010
Photo of damndirtyape
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Single bottle (no date) poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Dark orange-brown ale (but ruby red when held up to the light) with a persistent light tan head. Plenty of carbonation coming up through the beer when held up to the light. Good lacing - islands and strands.

Smell: Caramel malt sweetness. Maybe a hint of fruit in there. Smell was strongest for me first upon pouring and while cold.

Taste: Fruit and caramel flavors up front and a mild bitter finish. The fruit flavors are grape-like and bitter finish is hard to nail down due to the sweet malt flavor that also shows up towards the end. Quite tasty and fairly balanced for the malt and sweet heavy beer it is. I thought the alcohol was really only noticeable when the beer was first poured and cold, as later on I didn't notice it. As it warmed up though, it became a bit noticeable again. Definitely warming towards the end of the glass.

Mouthfeel: Just enough carbonation on the tongue, and has a thickness which is smooth and sticky at the same time.

Drinkability: Due to the higher ABV, this is a once an evening beer for me, but it is very enjoyable for sipping and savoring, and it really grew on me more and more as I drank it down. It has an unique taste for something so malty and sweet, and is well worth having from time to time.

damndirtyape, Jun 06, 2010
Photo of appenzeller
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

330 ml bottle, no freshness date. Pours a dark--almost black--amber with a deep red tint. Head is generous and frothy, off white, retention is excellent.

Nose is subdued (my fault, a bit too cold) but caramel and a smokey note comes forth.

Taste is rich and sweet. Nice strong but smooth mats, the high alcohol is barely evident in the taste. Very rich in the mouth, goes down like silk. Despite the corny labeling this is a beautiful and sophisticated brew. Pleasant surprise.

appenzeller, Jun 06, 2010
Photo of papaloukas
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Immediately noticed a strong butterscotch nose on this one. Not as dark as other Scotch Ales but still a beautiful, amber/copper color. Nice head of tanish foam. Moderate lacing on the glass.

A very full bodied beer. Thick but not too thick. Definitely not watery or light. Pretty sweet but spicy too. I like the amount of alcohol.

This is one of my favorite beers.

papaloukas, Jun 03, 2010
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,788 ratings.