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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,798 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,798
Reviews: 924
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 131
Gots: 130 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Skull Splitter Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,798 | Reviews: 924 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of srandycarter
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Vigorous pour results in 2+ inch off white head, lots of cling lace, reduces to .5 inch disk.

S - Earthy, somewhat sharp moss. Hard to discern the malt and hop components.

T - Caramel, booze and bitter finish.

M - Medium body, good balance carb and coating.

D - I would do a few.

srandycarter, Jun 03, 2009
Photo of MaltyGoodness
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle

Pours a slightly murky chestnut brown with a small eggshell head that thins. Mild lacing on the glass.

Rich caramel malty aroma with a light herbal hop presence. Slightly smokey and fruity.

Sweet caramel malt upfront leading into a mild hop bitterness and herbal hop flavor. Mild smokiness and a slight fruity flavor midway through. Finishes sweet and malty as it began.

Full body, medium carbonation.

Delicious Scotch ale that exceeded my expectations.Certainly one of the standards for this style.

MaltyGoodness, Jun 01, 2009
Photo of brendan13
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured from the bottle a fairly clear copper colour with a beige head that slowly falls away.
S - Big sweet caramel aroma along with dark fruit touches.
T - Sweet caramel & dark fruit also in the taste along with an earthy, slight peaty character. Some light prickly spice hints.
M - Medium bodied with quite a low carbonation level.
D - A very tasty Wee Heavy that is almost a definition of the style. However at 8.5% is not exactly a sesssioner. But I shall be drinking again from time to time

brendan13, May 19, 2009
Photo of hardy008
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours a reddish brown color with a small head.

Smell - Caramel and malt. My kind of beer, lots of malt.

Taste - Malt and caramel are dominant. Has a nice sweet flavor.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, smooth, sweet, and properly carbonated.

Drinkability - Highly drinkable. The best Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy I have ever had.

A nice beer to sip. No reason to chug a beer as beautiful as this.

hardy008, May 18, 2009
Photo of julian1117
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Visual Appeal: as dark brown as pumpernickel bread or a sweet young Japanese girl's eyes, but wanted more lacing

Smell: toasted malt, reminiscent of pumpernickel bread, but not as strong as I would want, lacking

Flavor: very nice, but has oddly bitter aftertaste that detracts a little from the experience

Mouthfeel: effervescence present throughout consumption

Drinkability: the 8.5% ABV is too high to sit down to a few

I was disappointed with this ale considering how well it was rated on this website and how expensive it was (I bought a 4-pack for almost the same price as a quality yank microbrewed 6-pack.) I overwhelmingly prefer Belhaven's.

julian1117, May 17, 2009
Photo of cnally
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

mean name, mean label. is that a viking? nah, it's from scotland. **edit** wait, it IS a viking??? man i know no history whatsoever, thought they only lived in iceland and stuff...

pours out a bright red amber with a little darkening. two finger brown head fizzes out quickly and leaves a slight lace.

very underwhelming aroma. I concentrate and pick up caramel, woodsy nutty malt, some nutmeg...but the power of the aroma is very slight. projective it is not with its aroma.

what a difference between the smell and the taste in intensity. the flavor of this beer is massive, with huge caramel and vanilla flavors meshing well with heavy malt. nutty aftertaste, all walnut and brazil nuts. thick, oily flavor. that sounds weird, but think of oily nuts...this is walnut and malt.

really creamy feel. substantial, balanced, really good.

maybe the pricing is affecting me, but it is not quite the quickest drink. the alcohol is hidden well. the flavor is bombastic. but there is just something holding it back from being really really good. we will just settle on very good.

cnally, May 09, 2009
Photo of tigg924
4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: One inch head, clear, leather brown, medium carbonation

Smell: malts, caramel, and sweet flowers

Taste: huge malts, caramel, and sweet flowers with a taste of alcohol towards the end

Mouthfeel: sweet, smooth, medium heavy body with a slightly less sweet end..I can feel the carbonation

Drinkability: I have described several beers as hop bombs, and this is just the opposite--a true bombing of malts. Even though you can taste the alcohol, it hides it well--considering the abv. I will have this again and could see myself having another in a sitting. To the style, which I marked on this is excellent. In my own views, this is more of a B to B+ beer.

tigg924, May 08, 2009
Photo of avalon07
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a muddy, brownish color and a slightly cloudy consistency. There was a half inch of foamy, long-lasting head and very good head.

S: Aroma is dominated by malt, but there are traces of caramel.

T: A big, robust malt flavor, with traces of bread, caramel and some yeast. Complex and flavorful.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a smooth, dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: This is one of best Scotch ales I've had. Very drinkable and bold.

avalon07, May 02, 2009
Photo of cavman
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A = Nothing about it's look prepares you for what comes later.

S = Very nice clean malty smell

T = Malt bomb, and I love it. There is so much good stuff going on in this beer, it is hard to describe fairly.

M = Medium bodied, which is good in this style.

D = I find this to be almost too drinkable for it's size.

cavman, Apr 30, 2009
Photo of SykDoc
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. It pours a deep brown/red color. A beige 2 inch head forms and slowly recedes. Sediment is noticeable.

The aroma includes a nice level of caramel malty sweetness, bread and yeast, as well as a bourbon like alcohol note. Very good.

The taste is interesting with a heavy malted backbone and some bread and banana-like components. A very smooth and pleasant sweetness at the finish. As I just tasted another drink, there is also some raisin notes.

The mouthfeel is a bit interesting but quite good. There is a smoothness to the way it moves in. The carbonation is not particularly strong but a very mild dryness and stickiness sits on the palate. It is medium/full bodied.

This beers drinkability is hindered by some of its strength. It has very good flavor and a nice mouthfeel but it makes it difficult to have more than one or two, as does the ABV cause it is easy to drink. Overall, this is my second and I will always keep my eyes open for me.

SykDoc, Apr 20, 2009
Photo of BarrelO
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a goblet. I normally let beers this big warm up before I sample them, but the Legends Ltd. website recommended serving it chilled, so I went with that. On a side note, if we could rate the label art, this would get a 5 for sure.

A: Dark reddish brown with a 1.5 finger head that quickly dissipates and leaves a little bit of lacing.

S: Toffee-ish sweet malts with a hint of smokiness.

T: Follows the nose pretty well. The best way to describe it would be what scotch would taste like if you took away the alcohol heat. A fairly vinous aftertaste.

M: Quite full, almost chewy.

D: Not bad at all. I wouldn't make this an all day every day beer, but it's quite good as a nightcap. Preferably while watching Conan the Barbarian or listening to a Manowar album.

BarrelO, Apr 18, 2009
Photo of Contagion
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

There is a dark nut brown color to the beer with copper accents. There is a slight haziness to it, not enough to impede light passing through. When poured a quarter inch, off white head formed. It dissipated quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass and a slight film at top. There was no lacing at all.

The scent was almost overly sweet. Toasted malts, molasses and caramel are most notable. There was also just a slight hint of alcohol. The flavor was a combination of caramel malts, dark fruit, brown sugar, and touch of acrid alcohol. There was also a slight bitterness to the finish. The aftertaste was almost buttery.

This is a medium bodied beer. A slight creamy coating forms in the mouth.

This was not exactly what I was expecting from a Scottish Ale. It was a bit sweeter than I expected, however I was surprised that the 8.5% ABV wasn't as noticeable as one would think. As it warmed towards room temperature, the flavor opened up more, and the body seemed to gain a thickness to it. Towards the end it was almost like I was drinking beer flavored melted butter. The butter analogy comes from the buttery taste to it. I'm not sure that I would want to drink a lot of this beer in one sitting, but a bottle every now and then definitely would be nice. Thankfully the name had nothing to do with how your head feels after drinking it.

Contagion, Apr 17, 2009
Photo of saintwarrick
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark hazy rust, very cloudy, with a dirty white head that's a bit fizzy and goes away quickly. Aroma is pure sweet malt, bready with figs and some noticeable alcohol, hints of some other dark fruits. Taste is sweet but not overly so, some toffee and dark fruits, grapes, raisins and dates. Some nice alcohol warming comes through as this is a big malty brew.

Very good brew, a bit boozy for the style, but very tasty and worth the price.

saintwarrick, Apr 08, 2009
Photo of CrazyDavros
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark ruby pour with large off-white head that fades quickly.
Toasty malts, almost roasted, dominate the aroma, with some sweet figs and spices coming through later.
Rick roasted malt on taste. High alcohol content certainly makes its presence known in a lingering finish.
Alcohol heat can be felt on the palate for a long period. Satiny smooth though.
Alcohol is too dominant!

CrazyDavros, Apr 07, 2009
Photo of Jimbo87
3.35/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Had at the Green Leafe on $2.50 Micro Night.

In a US Pint glass.

Clear dark brown.

Smells nice. cantaloupe, grain, sweet, brown sugar.

Tastes like cantaloupe, brown sugar, malt, yet some how dry and bitter. I don't like this type of bitterness. The bitterness of chewing up a pill that you aren't supposed to chew up.

Pretty prickly carbonation.

Drinkability: Not great. I wasn't a fan of this. I had this after Ayinger Celebrator, and this really didn't taste too good compared to that, not that they were supposed to taste similar. Maybe I would have liked this more if I hadn't drunk it right after a beer as good as Celebrator.

Jimbo87, Apr 04, 2009
Photo of Alkiser
4.72/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Aroma: Big peaty, earthy armoa. The strong peat fades quickly into a slight sweet carmel. No hops on the nose (perfect for the style).

Appearance: Dark copper with ruby on the edges. Head is off-white and quickly dissapates. Decent lacing.

Flavor: Malt, peaty, smokey flavor. Alcohol makes its self know but is not boozy.

Mouthfeel: Low-carbonation, creamy, very smooth.

Overall: Goes down pretty easy for a beer high in ABV. Very plesent, this beer exemplifies the style and deservers no less than a world class rating.

Alkiser, Mar 28, 2009
Photo of caddybuyer
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Nice looking deep amber brown with red highlights when held to the light. Filtered clarity and a decent tan head.

S-Heady sweet and fruity malts

T-Thick and sweet malts with a strong caramel and raisin bias. Coupled with a strong sweet alcohol flavor, it reminds me of Christmas fruitcake without the spices. Virtually no hop bitterness present.

M-Well balanced overall

D-Overall well done, but not really reaching for another right away. I guess this is the poster child for the wee heavy style, and a great warmer it is...very good to sip by the fire, but not one to toss back lightly.

caddybuyer, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of dotsonjamesg
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this off of liquorama.net. I have had it several times when I lived in California but never bothered to give it a proper review. I just remember it was really good. I think the name was my biggest attraction at the time, not knowing anything about the brew type, "Wee Heavy." I studied a bit of Nordic and European Mythology/History and loved the title and knew a little about the story behind the name.

Since I don't have a thistle glass, I served this tasty brew in 7oz stout cup. Best I could do.

Appearance: Filtered, brown, iced-tea-like appearance in color. Head was about one finger and off-white that faded quickly.

Smell: Smell is much sweeter than I remember. The nose consists of pears, alcohol, and sweet malts. No hop presence.

Taste: Taste is sweet with an apple-like flavor. Not a whole lot of complexity here but there are definitely several layers of flavor. The taste ends in a nice bitter finish that lingers on and on with an alcoholic heat behind it.

Mouthfeel: The brew has just about the right amount of carbonation and feels good on the tongue. Not thin but definitely not thick. Its pretty good right there in the middle.

Drinkability: Its simple, sweet flavor makes it very drinkable but it's a bit expensive. You would never guess that this brew has almost 9% alcohol. Its very smooth and even easier to drink.



dotsonjamesg, Mar 25, 2009
Photo of selecter70
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great label & always a crowd-pleaser. However, it is not the overarching crazy beer that many express it to be. A good scotch ale that overtly lays on the alcohol presence; something that detracts from an otherwise decent ale. A smooth dark brown with crimson edges pours with a full tan head that wanders away shortly without lace. The aroma has a strong alcohol component, almost rum, with sweet caramel malts & a smokiness. These flavors come through, but the sweetness & alcohol predominate, leaving the raisin hints behind. A very nice strong ale, but the flavors definitely are overwhelmed a bit. I'd still go for another though!

selecter70, Mar 23, 2009
Photo of numinorian
4.53/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A Deep copper-brown, thick but not lingering head. Small stars of lace linger. Fairly translucent.

S Strong and bitter with a hint of caramel

T Bitter strong but not to powerfull. Strong and lasting finish, Hints of clover and caramel

MF Good strength for the style but not to overpowering. Bitter with a bit of malt.

DA fairly high for a scotch ale.

This beer is an absolute treasure. A perfect representation of the scotch style. This beer is a truely powerfull and delicious drink, and was well worth the search. I highly recomend this beer, if my raiting is not enough.

numinorian, Mar 22, 2009
Photo of bum732
3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a perfectly clear brown with red tints. Small head that dissipates quickly. Smells of baked bread, toffee, some caramel, some molasses. Tastes of raisin bread and toffee sweetness up front followed by a moderate bitterness and alcohol presence. Finishes with some caramel sweetness. Very low carbonation, probably explains the lack of head, but i think it works for the most part.

A great scottish beer, lots of great flavor. I guess my only knock would be that there is very little carbonation, even for the style. Other than that, great malty beer.

bum732, Mar 21, 2009
Photo of superdedooperboy
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served up at The Mellow Mushroom in Evans, GA. The server poured from a 12 oz. bottle into an unchilled pint glass.

Pours a rich mahogany hue with a rather small light tan head (though this may be due to the server's lack of pouring skills) of large bubbles that disappears fairly quickly and leaves just a little lace behind on the glass.

A somewhat boozy aroma tickles the nose with sweet toffee and caramel malt notes and rum-soaked figs and raisins.

Possesses a thick, chewy body, mirroring the nose in most aspects of flavor, with a front of very sweet caramel malts and molasses, moving on to those alcohol-laced fig and raisin notes, picking up some more booziness toward the back and going down warmingly, with a bit of a lingering sweet aftertaste.

Scrumptious and true to style--a staple of the style, in fact--but drinkability suffers due to the 8.5% ABV which, as the name suggests, can be quite skull-splitting and doesn't hide itself too well on the tongue, either.

Delicious, and while it may knock you on your feet, unlike those brews concocted by the inhabitants of the Orkney Isles in ancient times, it won't make you feel like you're flying. There's plenty of alcoholic goodness, but thankfully no henbane or hemlock.

superdedooperboy, Mar 20, 2009
Photo of giblet
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured nicely into the glass. thick rich creamy head. steady carbonation. smell is of rich toffee. the taste was a little sweet for my taste but it is a good smooth beer. skullsplitter? well if you had a sixer of this i venture to say your skull would feel split!!!

suckem up and movem out!!!


giblet, Mar 18, 2009
Photo of aeminter
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Colts9016

Appearance: Beautiful amber-brown color, very clear with nice effervescence and about one and a half fingers worth of tan head. The head fell quickly, but remains at about a sixteenth of an inch across the glass leaving light lacing.

Smell: Very malty aroma, slightly nutty/smoky

Taste: Strong sweet malt flavor with hints of dried fruit...a little smoky...very deep, inviting and rewarding.

Mouthfeel: Nice alcohol warming and carbonation

note: great sipping beer, perfect to relax with...

aeminter, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of snaotheus
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours caramel amber, medium to low carbonation, thin beige head and a very small amount of lacing. Smells woody and a little smokey, a little molasses sweetness.

Taste is very well-balanced sweet. It's not overpowering or candy-like, although the toffee and caramel flavors are there.

Feels very good in the mouth -- not too heavy, not too thick, but substantial. Very drinkable.

snaotheus, Mar 09, 2009
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,798 ratings.