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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,934 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,934
Reviews: 941
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 149
Gots: 176 | FT: 0
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-08-1998

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (13) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,934 | Reviews: 941 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of donteatpoop
4.14/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear brown color that becomes ruby red when held up to the light. A thin line of foam sits atop the brew but dissipates rather quickly.

Heavy earthy malts dominate the nose accompanied by dark fruits and an almost chocolate scent. Very inviting, mouth is watering.

Earth malts dominate the mouth as well, some oak or maple notes, the alcohol is present but masked up front to finish with a nice warm sensation.

Photo of socon67
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an Ommegang snifter.

A - Amber to brown color, translucent. Nice lacing and a thin eggshell colored head.

S - Scents of plum and prunes. Has a boozy scent. As it settled there was a distinct smell of caramel that wasn't present before.

T - Tastes molasses sweet. Has a caramel flavor with a backdrop of dried cranberries. Ends with a boozy bite.

M - Very smooth for the style, heavy bodied, and low carbonation. Makes for a great post meal beer.

O - I Enjoyed this one, and think that in the colder months this would be even better.

Photo of bpw28
4.85/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Two finger white head, great retention, dark oaky brown (about a 23 SRM), beautiful lacing.

Smell: Big roasted malt, big dark fruits: prunes, figs, and cherry come to mind, floral, boozy, sweet, slight woody, caramel, nougat, nutty/chestnut.

Taste: Wow. Sweet but not overly, nice medium roasted malt, big prune and fig, boozy (not offensive, it tastes like a well aged liqour), warming, biscuity, caramelized sugar, spicy, light liquorice. Great full and chewy body.

Final Thoughts: This screams "enjoy on a cold, snowy day by a fire". This could be my favorite scotch. Even if it is summer, I can see the good in this brew. The warming full ale is amazing. Great brew.

Photo of spitInTheOcean
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

dark brown color, clear, and a tan head.

smells big time of malts and caramelization.

tastes the same way it smells, big. big malt flavors with caramelization, and esters into the finish like plums. very sweet. no smokiness. the flavor of the malts lingers after the finish. not very much bitterness.

a medium body with moderate carbonation. very warming.

this is a good beer. it makes being a viking(or even scottish) very attractive if this is what i get to drink all day every day.

Photo of rvdoorn
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look: the beer pours a dark orange-copper color with almost no head.
Smell: Caramel, toffee, butterscots, earthy and grains.Very light
Taste: Butter, caramel, malts, grass and some spicy hops. Sweet malt finish.
Mouthfeel: creamy texture, medium carbonation
Overall: Nice brew

Photo of eclaycamp
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have to say that the bottle redesign on Skull Splitter is among the best I’ve ever seen. Ornkney really amped it up, going from a somewhat lame stock photo to a menacing looking comic character brandishing a huge axe. Nice work and hats off to whoever had a hand in the redesign.

Popping the cap on this I’m immediately concerned. The bottle opens with nary a hiss, so we could be dealing with something spoiled or even a possible infection. Luckily the nose smells okay. I don’t get any kind of sour or off flavors, instead I get a lot of fruity notes followed by dark malt. Peat is there somewhere as well.

In the purposes of full disclosure, this is a purposely aged bottle, as I’ve had it since a trip to KC in January. I’ve treated it well; storing it in my fridge at around 38 to 40 degrees F. The beer shows it’s age somewhat, as there is a slightly oxidized, almost sherry like quality to my first sip of beer. Having had this fresh (or at least as fresh as we can get here in the states), I notice that the peat character in this aged version is very subdued. This is unusual. Fresh this beer is almost a peat bomb, a heavy toffee and syrupy affair tinged with wonderful smoky malt character. That said, I like this too. There still a beautiful caramel toffee background, but it’s augmented by this amazing dark fruit character. It’s almost like a Belgian Dubbel or something similar. I love the finish. Sweet and smoky peat malt comes through first, before giving way to a light sense of alcohol; there’s an ester character going on that leads to a pleasantly warming finish.
The body of the beer is thin and less syrupy than what I’ve had in the past. This could and likely probably is a byproduct of the nearly still state this beer is in. There is almost no carbonation, which isn’t really surprising considering that the lid came off so easily. The beer has a nice residual malt sweetness throughout.

Overall this is a deep beer, more well-rounded and complex than versions I recall having in the past. This aged version has developed a wonderful dark fruit character that has helped to smooth out the rough peat edges of the fresh version. I have another bottle of this in the fridge so I may try it a second time to do a comparison. Either way Skullsplitter remains one of my favorite versions of the Wee Heavy style, and a beer that continually surprises me every time that I have it.

Photo of cbo2122
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A pretty big tasting Scotch ale that is suprisingly light feeling. It has a nice dark ruby red color and carries a decent head. The smell immediately presents itself and easily provides scents of figs and dates. The taste is interesting and a little complex, but not overpowering. The fruit notes are easily picked up amidst the darker malt. But, it was the lightness of the beer in the mouth that suprised me the most. It smelled heavy and looked heavy, but no this beer drank easy. An impressive, though not skullsplitting scoth ale.

Photo of Vierenner
3/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Somewhat cloudy, tawny-red color beer; a tight, smooth head with hints of red and amber

Juicy, almost fruity malt character, together with a medley of fresh and dried fruits, dates and figs, hints of ginger and cinnamon spice. Finishes with a hop bite which is a little strong for me.

Interesting beer, worthy of sampling, but don't get too excited about it. However, the label is beautiful!

Photo of snpub540
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured a nice brown kind of mahogany hue with a creamy khaki head. Left some nice sticky lacing on my glass the entire way down.

Smells of dark fruits and bread. All malt notes in the nose.

Taste is very complex. At first it is dark fruit most notably fig and raisins. It has a very nice neutral bitterness and as it warms it gains some toasty flavors as well. A little bit of alcohol warmth in the finish.

Mouthfeel is super creamy and smooth. It is pretty much perfect. The body almost feels like something I'd have on cask. This is way out of the norm of my go to styles but I enjoyed it a lot.

Photo of BBP
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a cherry chestnut color with some ruby notes glowing from the bottom. Unfiltered with slight amounts of sediment and decent carbonation. Maintains a small head for the duration of the drink.

S- Dare I say the best thing about this drink? The aroma was definitely elevated my expectations. Oak, vanilla, candied sugar, caramel, and raisins.

T- The taste of this reminded me a lot of an Old Ale without so much of the hop presence. There are hops, but they're primarily spicy rather than bitter. There's dark fruit in this like raisins and prunes, but they're balanced so well they don't have a chance to stick out. The sugar and caramel sweetness is also quite balanced too. Grassy hops can be thanked for that.

Everything seems to be smoothed out as if aged, but it's not. You'd never guess the alcohol to be nearly 9%.

M- Very smooth and creamy. The bottle describes it as "satiny smooth", and it sort of is. If they were able to edge the carbonation down ever so slightly it would get a nicer rating. Slightly dry and sticky in the finish.

O- As far as the previous drinkability category would go, this would ace it. The alcohol is nowhere to be found.

Overall, I was happy I picked this up, but I think I'd rather opt for a more pungent flavor than one as smooth as this. It's almost smooth enough that you forget about it.

Photo of BeerLover99
4.74/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Deep leather brown, finger head, good lacing

S: caramel, slight smoky wood, hint of booze

T: caramel, raisin/ripe fruit, good bready malt,
slight bitter finish.

M: med/heavy, creamy/smooth

O: POW! Now that is a delicious wee heavy. Glad
I finally picked up a 4 pack after seeing it at my
local store for many years.


Photo of Thads324
3.54/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A : A ruby mahogany color with very little tan head. dissipates to a small whispy top of nothing very quickly.

s : smells very boozy, with a sweet dried fruit flavor and a hint of caramel and butterscotch. An underlying tone of musty hop goes almost the whole way through the brew.

T : starts with a sweet malt taste with a very subtle fruit character. The fruit is difficult to decipher and subtle. The middle has an odd elongated hop flavor that is slightly bitter and earthy flavored. A tiny bit of smoke as well. finishes very light and dry, almost like a white wine finish. Booze is much less prevalent than in the nose.

M : easy going, yet tingles very well from the carbonation.

overall an all right brew, but nothing mind blowing. a little less fruit and a little more real malt complexity would be nice. I know this is a good beer, but slightly underwhelming in overall character for a wee-heavy.

Photo of Kshock
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Bright brown caramel color with good head retention. Good lacing on the glass.

S- smells or caramel malts and brown sugar sweetness.

T- Same as the nose, very round and balanced. simple flavors but very well done beer. Can tell this beer has been refined over the years.

M- Very light and delicate. mild carbonation.

Photo of Daktyls
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear cherrywood brown color with a small one finger head with big bubbles that dissipates fairly quickly leaving a nice looking lacing on the top and a ring around the glass.

S: There's a dark malted character present on the nose along with some dark fruits, figs and dates are most apparent. There's also a light amount of hopiness that is present.

T: Dark fruits again, some dates and figs, followed by a huge malt character which dominates the rest of the taste.

M: A huge malt character definitely gives this beer a full bodied feel to it, with not a whole lot else going on. The alcohol is well hidden by the malts.

O: Overall, quite good. I would definitely buy this again, a solid beer, a little easier to drink than other Scotch Ales/Wee Heavys that I've had previously.

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.

Photo of dedgarmcvey
4.55/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle from Winchester Wine and Spirits.

Appearance: Pours a tawny dark amber with some off-white head that doesn't linger too long.

Smell: Despite lack of persistent head, gives off strong aromas. A strong toasty malt odor is complemented by a little bit of "strong ale" acridity.

Smells like viking vomit. I approve -- I didn't buy a beer called "Skull Splitter" hoping for a wimpy brew.

Taste: Starts minimally then bursts on the tongue with powerful malt profile that is not cloying. Finishes with sweet alcohol kiss that reminds me of vermouth.

Mouthfeel: Thick and almost milky with medium to high carbonation that adds to its bite.

Overall: A very enjoyable fuck-you-up beer that may just have made it onto my short list. After all, I would be a fool to want to tangle with Thorfinn Hauskaluif. That's a really big axe. And any culture that erects standing stones is okay with me.

Photo of fdkayti
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a reddish orange hue with a nice fluffy pearl head. Not a lot of lacing.

S- Malty and sweet. Black cherry.

T- Sweet but tart, almost acidic at the back of my tongue. Reminds me of a shiraz. Lots of red fruit notes. Definitely and deliciously malty. No hops.

M- Feels like its sticking around on the inside of my cheeks. Good carbonation without being overpowering.

O/D- Just enough boozey taste to slow ya down but still want to keep drinking it. Diggin' it! Good beer for a good weekend.

Photo of KenC
3.64/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a dark cherry red with two fingers of head. Little to no retention and no lacing.

S: Solid fruit smells. Others say figs and dates; I couldn’t get quite that specific. Then came the alcohol, thought I might not be liking this.

T: More like a wine than a beer because of the fruit. If you don’t like hops, this would be for you! The alcohol kicked in at the end, but not overwhelming, and not in a bad way. I found myself liking it!

M: Very smooth, and heavy. With that kind of ETOH, there is no carbonation.

O: If I wanted a heavy, fruity brew that goes well with a comfort food meal on a cold winter night, this would be the choice. Good job overall for a style I don’t gravitate toward.

Photo of Knapp85
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours out as a beautiful redish brown color with a good head to start then it card off just to leave a little white film over top of the beer. The smell is semi sweet with some malts dominating the aroma with a bit or caramel. The taste is sweet too with some caramel flavors through out. The mouthfeel is pretty smooth and not overly carbonated. It's a stronger beer too coming in at 8.5%. Overall I enjoy this beer quite a bit, probably one of my favorite Scottish beers I've ever had. I look forward to having this every time I get the chance. Really worth checking out!

Photo of Duff27
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Murky ruby red with a half inch of thick foam into a tulip. Some floaties present. Great lacing and good head retention.

S- Caramel malts immediately. Dark fruits.

T- Extreme maltiness. Peat. No hop presence per style guidelines. Slight (okay, a lot of) booziness but that's alright!

M- Medium to medium/full mouthfeel. Good carbonation

D/O- Such a great beer...gets better as it warms, too. Highly recommended for Scotch Ale fans or those who don't need a ton of hops to be happy.

Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle at Washington House, Sellersville, PA

One of the best Scotch ales I've had. And it's from Scotland, go figure. Poured into a stem glass, a deep mahogany with ruby highlights, and a small layer of bubbles for a head. Strong scents of toasted malts, dark sugars, sweet dried fruits, and peat. Big, complex flavor: toasted bread, sweet caramel, brown sugar, dried black cherries, raisins, figs, spiced rum, and smoked peat emerging in the background. Some alcohol bite pervades throughout. Heavy-medium mouthfeel, a bit syrupy, and quite drinkable.

Photo of olmatty
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear Amber with a persistent puffy head. Creamy and honey toasted biscuity sweet aroma. Flavor is creamy and lightly sour, complex layers of sweet malts and a light smoke flavor that comes across as a touch phenolic at first blush. Hops are spicy and present late and alcohol brings up the rear. Warming, but not hot. Very enjoyable and smooth. Complexity of such a simple brew is staggering, proving that less can often be more.

Photo of Treebs
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint glass

A: Pours a dark cherry with little to no head. Keeps a slight film on the top.

S: Smells of figs and dates fill the nose immediately with a light booze note as well.

T: Taste follows the nose to a T with the bitter figs, dates and grapes present with a slight booze finish that's very nice.

M: Very smooth with little carbonation and medium to heavy body.

O: Interesting scotch ale. Not my favorite because I'm not into the dried fruity smells and tastes that associate with this beer.

Photo of SubpoenaDeuces
3.77/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Skull Splitter - Scottish - 8.5% abv

A: dark caramel color with hues of deep blood red amber, very little carbonation, pencil lead thin head with no lacing

S: there's ain intense cherry and alcoholic sweetness, very sweet on the nose, lots of turbinado sugar with notes of caramel

T: in the front of the beer is a slightly smoky sweetness, caramel notes, hops are understated but well done, just enough to balance out the sugar blast of the malt, again, this may be a problem with the style, but it just feels like candy water, with not enough complexity to justify it. Definitive beet sugar and slight boozy note that gives a little warmth on the palate

M: for all the black cherry notes, youd figure that iy would have a malty chewiness to it, but that is not the case, it is surprisingly thin. A noteworthy hybrid between a belgian dubbel and an amber, with the boring effect that a cross-section of those two would produce.

D: Very drinkable and boasts a ton of diversity. I could give this to plenty of friends in a lot of different situations, illegal timbering, amateur meth lab creation, ice road trucking, all kinds of stuff. Does something being diverse make it good? Well I guess in the way your tomboy girlfriend can feel at home in a summer dress or equally gangly in wrangler cutoff jean shorts: diversity.

Narrative: You could feel the idle particles of dust drape upon you bit by bit, your unused glass with a wanting pallor for the warm touch of active paper. They knew what you were when they took you home from Staples: An All In One. Sure you're not not exceptional at scanning, what with your plastic internal parts, but YOU CAN DO IT. Sure you may not print the best photos with your blotchy low quality ink, but IT CAN BE DONE. Faxing? You've got that covered, in a halfhearted, paper jam, off-contrast sorta way. But it is still faxing. The perfect package for a man who needs to a variety of things, very little of the time. Oh, here comes a formidible 5th grade sciene projec- oh I see, they just opted to take a picture with their camera phone and email it to themselves instead of your very capable scanning parts. Perhaps variety is the spice of life, but boring needless diversity, that's more like UC Davis.

Photo of Cozzatoad
3.72/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle

A- Dark brown/mahogany colour with a little light brown head that recedes quickly, leaving very minimal covering and almost no lacing

S- Caramel malts with a roasted note to them, then dark fruits notes. A hint of heartiness (hops?) and maybe some faint alcoholic notes

T- A lot of caramel from the malts. The roasted notes that were in the aroma are almost (if not comletely) absent. Then again some vague dark fruits notes and hops enough to bring balance, but not much flavours. Some alcoholic notes show up as the beer gets warmer

M- Very delicate and smooth mouthfeel despite the high alcohol content and the caramel predominance. Maybe a bit watery in such a strong beer. Adequate carbonation

O- A very delicate warming beer. Plus, you don't find many thirst-quenching strong ales around. Great drinkability in an 8.5%ABV beer

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,934 ratings.