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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,821 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,821
Reviews: 926
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 135
Gots: 139 | 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: 1,821 | Reviews: 926 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Daniell
3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: dark ale colour, copper/toffee when held up to light. Not much head. Decent lacing.

S: chocolate, toffee, apple, fruits. There is a nice milky flavor integrated with the chocolate- like a chocolate bar. Overall profile reminds me of a rich chocolate syrup.

T: really nice chocolate and toffee taste. The ABV is practically imperceptible- it seems to be manifested more in a sweetness with a bit of bitterness but this beer doesn't taste at all alcoholic to me. Bit of smoked grains in there too at the back.

M: Really nice and creamy.

D: Hard to drink a lot of this.

Daniell, Feb 18, 2010
Photo of twiggamortis420
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

300 mL bottle with no freshness date, unaged in my cellar so I would imagine a 2009 vintage would be accurate. Pours a clear crimson color with a small off-white foam. Fades pretty quick to a nice sheen and leaves some good lacing rings on the glass. OK looker.

Nose is sweet, slightly smokey with a healthy dose of caramel and toffee...sort of a 'wet' malty smell. I don't get a whole lot alcohol considering the ABV.

I could use a bit more smokey and peaty maltiness, but I am enjoying the sweet, chewy and earthy malt presence. Pretty tasty and has a nice wood (almost like cedar) aspect that adds to the complexity. Very rich, dessert-esque beer. Hides the ABV very well and this is one of the better scotch ales I have had recently. A refined and beautiful brew with a decent price tag of 3.50 per bottle. I think I will hold on to a couple of them to see what a few years does to it.

twiggamortis420, Feb 03, 2010
Photo of Halcyondays
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark ruby brown, with a firm white head, real good lace.

S: Peat smoke, notes of BBQ and heavy Scotch malt, fantastic.

T: Beautiful full malt flavour of heavy peat and caramel, sweet, but not over the top.

M: Smooth, full-bodied and creamy, great balance between the actual ethanol and the drinkability.

D: This and Traquair House have to be my favourite Wee Heavies at the moments. The malt is brilliant; a beer I'd love to sip on all night long and reflect on my Celtic heritage.

Halcyondays, Feb 01, 2010
Photo of ryanonline
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a clear brown red, with a giant tan head and a good amount of lacing.

rasins and dates on the nose, along with some fruity notes. maybe some floral hops.

the flavor yields some of the sweetness for a nice hoppy bite, almost grapefruit like. sort of a cherry finish.

feels very creamy on the palate, foamy carbonation, smooth finish.

pretty drinkable, not overbearing, and not excessive alcohol content.

the name of this beer is deceptive as it was fairly easy-going on my skull.

ryanonline, Jan 26, 2010
Photo of jujubeast6000
3.1/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 12/20/2009 (bottle):

Pours a clean dark brown color body, huge tan colored head, very lasting. Very sweet malty aroma, syrupy. Some aroma I can't place my finger on, sweet and fruity. Maybe some woody roastiness or something, intriguing. Some mustiness and Englishness. Malty, dark fruit flavor. Very clean aftertaste. Malty, musty taste. Too much dark fruit for me. A little hot as it warms.

jujubeast6000, Jan 26, 2010
Photo of ProfessorHomer
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Always wanted to try this world-renown beer and finally had the chance to imbibe. This olde-time Scotch ale bespeaketh of long-ago times when these Wee Heavys were rare and actually adhered to a long-standing Scottish brewing tradition of these type of beers.

A: Brown mahogany color. Brown creamy head.
S - Aroma was malty and sweet. A bit fruity.
T - Very sweet, the malts hit you almost simultaneously. Tastes aged. Very smooth and mild. Little carbonation. Very little hoppyness. Alcohol balanced out nicely my sweet malts with very little corresponding hops bitterness.
M - Creamy and sweet, dense.
D - Big ABV. A long, slow, smooth drink. Very complex.

Not for everyone, especially beginners. This is an excellent long drink for dark winter nights. Come taste the heritage!

ProfessorHomer, Jan 17, 2010
Photo of irishking1977
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Honestly, I first bought a 12 oz. of this one because of the hokey name, but this time I wanted to give it a real shot.

A: A deep, brown/amber with a large white crown that leaves some ample lacing. Nice.

S: I barely detect malt and some sweetness, otherwise, nothing that would repel me nor anything that would attract me to this one.

T: I remember the only other time I had this, I didn't like it at all, but this time I really enjoy this brew. Mild malt sweetness with a dry finish. Some bread and floral notes are detectable in the background, but otherwise a very good, well balanced and unique brew.

M: High carbonation and somewhat slick mouthfeel that helps balance the malt presence pretty well.

D: This is a good sipper, but not a brew you'd drink more than 2 of, because of the relatively high ABV. I can feel it with each sip.

irishking1977, Jan 10, 2010
Photo of Durge
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Found this 11.2 ounce bottle of Scottish brew nearly two years ago and it's been sitting unrefrigerated in my rather warm garage ever since. Hoping that the 8.5% ABV will have preserved it, this one pours a rosy mahogany color, clear except for the ton of large floaties that blanket throughout. The head is decent sized but settles to a very firm oatmeal colored cover and outstanding lacing. I give it a sniff and find big malt with a cabernet raisin overtone, almost a pineapple ham sweetness, quite interesting and likable. Then the first taste reveals that the garage did not ruin this beauty. A smooth malt with more of the tart red wine idea as noted in the aroma. The pineapple idea again suggests sweet ham and damn if this isn't awfully drinkable for the buzz level. This is beautifully smooth as a medium to full bodied concoction, not quite resinous but close. If there is any knock here it's that it's so sweet and therefore might be a little less drinkable than first thought. Cheese proves a great complement here. But the flavor is complex with some nuttiness and chocolate hints, with toffee/malt all over it. Finely but adequately carbonated. Too sweet to be a perfect brew to me but perhaps it is somewhat due to my poor storage habits here. Still, this is a fine taste experience. Please add some cheese! Good stuff.

Durge, Jan 05, 2010
Photo of philbe311
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A fingers worth of audibly fizzy slightly off white foam... Minimal retention gives way to nothing more than a ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass and specs of lacing in the middle of the glass... Rich medium brown color with cranberry highlights... Dark yet still translucent... A couple of small carbonation bubbles rise towards to the top along the sides of the glass...

S - Cherry... Champagne??? Dark fruits... Butterscotch... Cranberries... A unique mix of sweet aromas... Pleasant, but not overly complex...

T - Raisins... Dried cherries... Very slight hints of wood and smoke... Slightly medicinal... Not much in the way of complexity...

M - A little more than medium bodied... Slightly sticky... A minor alcoholic warmth... An assertive carbonation throughout, but a little to fizzy for my liking...

D - A sturdy Scotch Ale... A little more than sipper... Has a lot of good things going for it, but it seems to be lacking in complexity in all facets...

philbe311, Jan 05, 2010
Photo of fastwrx05
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After a few Skullsplitters I feel I can know offer some review. This is a delightful brew to enjoy, it pours a deep reddish brown and offers a light head, also has a rather pleasing after taste, good robust full mouth feel. This brew is on the top shelf for me and one of the best scotch ales I have had. I can easily pour these down, you have to be careful with this one! I will continue to enjoy this brew!

fastwrx05, Dec 30, 2009
Photo of joshstevens87
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-pours a chesnut brown/ amber color with a generous slight off white head
S-earthy witha sweet malt with a hint of dark fruit and coffee with a hint of grassiness coming through
T-a big malt taste of a dark fruit with a real earthy background and a slightly burnt edge with no hint of hops and a slight alcohol kick overall very delicious and an excellent take on a wee heavy
M/D-rather heavy mouthfeel with a nice slight alcoholic kick with a good level of carbonation, maybe its the we heavy kick i'm on but this is pretty drinkable too, the abv could land someone in trouble, but overall is a very delicious beer but one that is very heavy and is an acquired taste (but that's rather respresentative of the style)

joshstevens87, Dec 24, 2009
Photo of juju7
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not for the faint hearted. This is a big beer. A rusty amber in colour with a tigh off white head. Aromas of raisin, fig, caramel are there but not quite as pronounced as you'd hope. On the palate the flavour kicks in big time. Big and chewy with firm bitterness, whisky-like alcohol heat (but not at all unpleasant). A strong, long finish. A great beer, but probably only in small doses.

juju7, Dec 20, 2009
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 rapidsequence
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz single from Magnolia Foods in Lynchburg. $2.50.

Appearance: Pours cloudy with a big foamy head. Falls to a thin, patchy little head. Some nice lacing. The beer settles to a, dark orange-amber with the slightest haze.

Smell: A little wine like-- sweet grapes and alcohol. Its earthy and a little grassy. Sweet malt in there, but not too dominant.

Taste: The taste is also somewhat vinous, but the maltiness comes through more in the taste than the smell. There's some dry bitterness that's tempered by the sweetness. Finish is a thinner than I expected-- a little like tea-- dry, tannic, bitter.

Mouthfeel: A little thinner than I expected. I think the body is hurt a little by the astringency.

Drinkability: Overall a decent tasting and easy beer to drink. I've had better Scotch ales for less, but this one has something different to offer. Worth a try for sure, but I doubt I'll go back for more.

rapidsequence, Dec 08, 2009
Photo of Rayek
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a thistle.

A: Deep copper, with active carbonation. A Thick and foamy cream head slowly retreats to a thin film. Leaves a fair amount of lace.

S: Very complex once it starts to warm a bit. A grassy and peaty aroma struck me first. Caramel, roasted nuts and a bit of smoke come on to augment the initial scents. A light alcohol tingle rounds things out.

T: A touch more bitter than I was expecting. A sharp pepper, black tea and roasted bitterness really gets things going. Sweetness shows up with a bittersweet toffee flavor. A light smokiness, plus a hint of leather shows up late. Finishes warm, with lingering toffee, earth and smoke flavors.

M: The dry medium body feels a bit too fizzy at first, but calms down quickly as the beer breaths.

D: I'd been mulling over grabbing this for what seemed like a good year and a half. Perhaps I was waiting to acquire the right glass. No matter. The important thing is that I finally got around to buying a bottle. A consummate example of the style.

Rayek, Dec 04, 2009
Photo of MunchkinDrinker
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear dark amber/brown with a white foamy fizzy head. Some lacing.

S - Slight hop fruity overtone with a musty, barn like undertone. It's strange, but pleasant in small doses.

T/M - Very earthy flavor, presumably from the malts, not hops. The best I can describe the flavor is like musty sweet grass. I had a grass flavored vodka with the same sort of quality. Hops just barely cut the heavy malts. Feeling is a little thick and sticky, slightly unpleasant, but not detracting really.

D - It's a difficult beer to drink. Overall, not quite to my liking, but certainly interesting.

MunchkinDrinker, Nov 11, 2009
Photo of cypressbob
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle, served slightly chilled, 8.5%abv

Poured into a wide bowled Duchesse de Bourgogne glass. Deep rich ruby body, glimmers of gold floating around too. Rich sticky off white head, bubbly and some solid retention.

Nose is full of rich Christmas pudding and rich alcohol soaked fruit. A touch of mustiness from the malt, touch of yeast on the nose too. Buttery caramel and lots of sweet esters

Smooth alcohol stuffed dried fruit. Sticky malty body with a touch of marzipan and amaretto. Some lasting crisp biscuit malt on the finish and a breath of alcohol.

cypressbob, Nov 10, 2009
Photo of BillyBoysPie
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The tall, ominous red foil has been tempting me for a time in the local beer selection at the liquor store. So, I finally grabbed it.

From the bottle into a beer goblet.

Translucent, dark milk chocolate color. Pours with a quarter inch egg-white colored head. Dissipated almost instantly with just a little cloud remaining.

Smells of rich, sweet malts in the toffee ballpark. Some chocolate too. Very rich from the smell, but no alcohol burn.

Flavor. Yes, it has a lot. And it's good. To elaborate - very sweet on the start, almost burnt caramel, a bit of dark chocolate, some fruity sweetness, but indistinct and on the tail of the flavor. Not much in the way of perceptible bitterness, but has a very clean finish I'm assuming comes from the hops.

The carbonation is light, but is just enough to offset the richness of this beer. Had the mouthfeel been heavier and denser, this could have become a beer that was hard to enjoy a full sip of.

I quite like it. A nice sipper and with enough interesting flavor to be worth getting four at a time. Not to drink four at a time, mind you... unless you're quadruplets...

BillyBoysPie, Nov 06, 2009
Photo of OlRasputin989
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter

A: a dark, hazy red-brown color with a thick, off-white head like mousse.

S: sweet dark fruits and candy sugar

T: rich brown sugar and plum, soon reveals smokey characteristics. has a real sharp finish of plum, bourbon, and brown sugar

M: lightly carbonated, medium body brew. has a drying effect and warming finish from the alcohol.

Overall, the SkullSplitter is a manly brew. The flavors are very rich. alot more dark fruit than i expected

OlRasputin989, Oct 21, 2009
Photo of BMoney575
3.43/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on 18-19-09

Pours slightly cloudy reddish brown with a viscous off-white head on the edges. The lacing is huge, and slides slowly down the glass.

Smell is a little peaty, a little of the English style hops. Clean, and not much else.

Taste is all sweet malt, with a hint of peat. The finish is quite bitter, with a little more peat. Not bad, but nothing special.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side, but suits the style.

Drinkability is decent, at least the alcohol is well masked.

Overall, a decent beer, that's about it.

BMoney575, Oct 20, 2009
Photo of Ragingbull
3/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I found this beer to be quite close to the definition of average. There was nothing remarkable about it, but nothing to complain about either. Brown in color with really no head, but some very faint prickle. Malt nose with perhaps a hint of grain or some hops but it reads very subtly. Robust and malty attack. As robust as an average beer can be, I say. Sweet malty flavor, perhaps this sweetness takes away from that robustness. Its a little thick in the mouth like a syrup. Some of kind of dark fruit in the background of the flavor and some nut flavors swirling around as well. A little boozy, but not really. . . drink it and you'll see what I mean. It doesn't hide from its sweet maltiness for sure. Definitely not something you would knock back 3 or 4 of. Perhaps that is why it came in a 4 pack. I won't seek this out again.

Ragingbull, Oct 16, 2009
Photo of STEG
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a nice dark brown with deep red hue. Smells malty with some brown sugar and earthy smells in the back. Taste was suprisingly good malt and darkfruit up front with some tannin and black tea in back. The after taste is just on the edge of being unpleasantly bitter but it isn't. Mouthfeel is wonderfully smooth, and it is extremely drinkable which is scary considering the fact it I just saw it was 8.5. I will probably buy this again.

STEG, Oct 06, 2009
Photo of aristeros
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought as part of a make-your-own-six-pack at Total Wine in Tucson and saved it for last. Poured into my Bodum pint glass. Pours a red amber to iced tea brown, good clarity, active carbonation. A half finger of head from a very careful pour that fades to a bit of foam, decent lacing.

Wonderful malt smells, with biscuit and caramel and a strong butterscotch presence. Some light raisins, some yeast. It 'channels' or evokes certain darker beers without straying from the stye. Subtle nose, but complex; cellar temperature helped here, I think.

Sharp because of a moderate-heavy carbonation. Slightly tart apple and mild caramel up front. A light presence of dark fruit, prunes or plums, followed by a little smokiness and a tiny nip of warming alcohol. Slightly bitter finish.

Dark fruit in the flavor and a bitter finish plus a higher ABV hinder the drinkability. Wish I had six but I'd be going to bed early if I did. A better, bigger beer than I expected. Carbonation will be a little much for some, and you miss out by a lot by having this at fridge temp, I bet.

aristeros, Oct 03, 2009
Photo of zoso493
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into a Duvel tulip

Appearance: Pours a very deep amber color, with minimal had and lacing into my tulip

Smell: A lot of butterscotch and dark fruit. Very malty in the nose.

Taste: Sweet up front, with a caramel, malty taste and finishes with a good amount of bitter. More balanced than I would have inferred from the name "Skull Splitter."

Mouthfeel: Pretty carbonated with a medium mouthfeel. Not bad, but maybe a little bit too carbonated for my taste.

Drinkability: Considering it's 8.5% ABV, it's pretty drinkable, but I'm not sure how many of these I would down in one night.

Overall, it's a solid Scottish brew with a fair amount of complexity. I would certainly drink this again.

zoso493, Oct 02, 2009
Photo of velosuds
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a too damn small 330ml (11.2oz) bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Single purchased at Cost Plus World Market for $2.39.

A-Pours gorgeous deep amber, almost brown with nearly a three finger cream color uniform foamy head. Modest lacing. A rugged beauty, like the Highlands, in the glass.

S-Butterscotch (caramel to Brits and Americans) and fruity malts with a slight hop profile.

T-Malty with a hint of raisins and the warming taste of alcohol. I can imagine Ted Nugent, "the taste of alcohol," liking this one.

M-Very smooth and extremely well balanced, although not as complex as some. This is a straightforward brew, the only problem being the bottle is too small.

D-Very nice for the wee heavy style. So smooth for its 8.5% ABV.

I'll be reaching for this often. Going to have to get a four pack next time I go to Cost Plus World Market. Delicious beer that went down remarkably easy.

velosuds, Sep 15, 2009
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,821 ratings.