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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,783 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,783
Reviews: 922
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 129
Gots: 125 | 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: 1,783 | Reviews: 922 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bonkers
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I poured from a 11.2 ounce bottle into a standard pint glass. It pours a clear caramel color with a moderate white head, leaves no lacing. The aroma is of sweet alcohol and caramel. The taste follows the nose. The beer is medium bodied but feels a bit thinner than that. It goes down very easily, perhaps too easily considering its 8.5% abv. A solid beer, but I was expecting a bit more.

bonkers, Jan 18, 2009
Photo of farrago
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Plush, two-finger plus head of brownish white color, no lack of lacing left behind. Red-brown brick color, neither especially clear nor cloudy. Big, soft nose of brown sugar, toffee, coffee ice cream, plum and blackberry fruit, croissant flakes, cinnamon spice, long time before it dissolves, nothing close to hoppiness here. Medium-bodied, given the sweetness of the flavors was expecting more body and heft but moves gracefully. Chocolate coated malt balls, creamed coffee, brown sugar and honey with candied orange slices. The fruit flavors plum, black grape, cherry, however, they recede through the mid-palate and allow the carbonation to provide a drier, smoother mouth texture. Earthier, leafier finish with a light saline quality.

farrago, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of ccrida
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

33cl bottle poured into my Samuel Smith imperial pint, Skull Slitter is ruddy chestnut with a creamy, off-white head.

Smell is sweeter, fruity caramel, sugary, alcohol vapors.

Taste is also sweet tropical,fruits, caramel and brown sugar, a light smoky earthiness and fairly assertive alcohol character on the finish.

Mouthfeel is dry, medium bodied, little bit of boozy oiliness, perhaps just perceived, but there is a nice and light, but lasting creaminess that helps cut the bite of the alcohol.

Drinkability is ok, not a bad example of the style, above average but slightly generic. I bet it would be a lot better beer if they dropped it to 7%, especially in drinkability. Maybe even simply some extra kettle channelization would give it the depth it needs. I much prefer the nuance of Orkney's The Red MacGregor...

ccrida, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of McClungbrew2
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Clear medium amber to copper color, with ruby highlights. Creamy tight tan head, with lacing to the bottom of the glass. Carbonation rises up from bottom of glass.

Smell - Sweet malt with caramel and toffee nose. No hop aroma.

Taste - Sweet malt with toffe sweetnes balanced by hop bitterness. Slightly spicy. Warming alcohol. No hop flavor.

Mouthfeel - Mostly creamy heavy body. Slight alcohol tingle with no lingering aftertase.

Overall - Excellent

McClungbrew2, Jan 15, 2009
Photo of Spidey13
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Skullsplitter pours a deep amber which shows very nice ruby highlights when held to the light. A small white head sits on top. On the nose, I mainly get alcohol with bits of toffee, some oak for some reason, and some raisins.

The taste has lots of sweet caramel and alcohol again. There is some lingering bitterness on the back and some alcohol burn. Raisins are in there, too. The mouthfeel is a bit slick with low carbonation.

Overall, I really liked this beer and would glady have it again.

Spidey13, Jan 12, 2009
Photo of MarzenMan
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Mostly brown with a slight orangish hue. Almost no head and very slight carbonation. The smell is faint but different, slightly fruity malt smell.

The menu said "distinctive" and I'd agree. Just a different flavor. Its mostly malty with a little alcohol in the end but there is more going on here than that. There is an overall fruity/sourness underlying the maltiness. Pretty interesting. As it warms I'm thinking milk chocolate with a slight fruitiness.

Pretty interesting. If you're looking for something malty but not too roasty this is a good bet.

MarzenMan, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of MTNboy
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this at Stockton's Pub and Grill at the Lake of the Ozarks. They say they have the best selection in the area I don't know about that but maybe the widest variety. Enough about them on to the beer. This beer has a red-brown color a small tan head and average lace. It has a malt semi whiskey like aroma. It has a roasted malt flavor with virtually no bitterness what so ever. There is some mild alcohol flavor in the aftertaste. It has a very smooth mouthfeel and is a nice sipping ale.

MTNboy, Jan 02, 2009
Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up as a 12oz single at Wilbur's in Ft. Collins. Approximately $4.

A: A light brown, leather color, almost no head at all. What few bubbles are there are khaki in color. Crystal clear. Nice red/brown accents when held to the light. Mostly in the brown realm. A little lighter in color than others I've had, but not too shabby.

S: Lots of earthy and spicy tones, no one flavor really pops out in the nose, buttery smells, almost no alcohol which is quite interesting given the abv.

T: Very sweet and syrupy, there is a whole lot of bready, doughy, malt characteristic, spices are present, somewhat of a chocolate flavor but really not that pronounced, slight alcohol bite at the end. This a very malty beer. I can't really detect much of a hop characteristic, and in fact can sense almost no bitterness at all. Nice molasses character.

M: Thick and syrupy. Not a whole lot of carbonation, sticky mouthfeel and finish. Nice alcohol burn to compliment the flavor.

D: This goes down really smooth and easy. No troubles at all drinking this beer, and the alcohol is nicely hidden, minus the burn. I could put a few of these away in a night. Great beer.

pokesbeerdude, Jan 01, 2009
Photo of Vengeance526
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours to a dark ruby-amber color with a decent beige head that leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

Aroma of roasted malt, toffee and caramel sweetness. Some spices detected as beer begins to warm.

Taste reveals a mildly smoky character, with touches of butterscotch and pepper.

The 8.5% is well hidden behind the spices of this brew, leaving a slight warming effect on the way down but in no way dominating the overall feel or flavor. Very smooth and extremely easy to drink.

Vengeance526, Jan 01, 2009
Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle poured into a pokal kind of glass.

Pours a suprisingly light and clear amber brown, for some reason every time I think of a scotch ale I feel as though it should be black for some reason. The only know against this one is the lackluster head that only forms a lasting beige cap with sparse lacing, I mean maybe the hops aren't strong enough to keep the head aflot but I was hoping for something a bit thicker.

Very sweet and malty, not as smokey as I thought it might be, I really think I am getting scotch ales confused with rauchbiers from some reason. In any case the combination of chocolate, toffee and caramel is something to truly behold, I mean there are beers brewed with chocolate that don't smell as much like chocolate as this beer does. All the while there is a lingering spiciness that allows everything else to come before it while still alerting you to its presence.

First few sips were pure chocolate, I swear. I was taken back a bit by how chocolatly it seemed to me at first. After a few more sips and after the beer has warmed a bit in my hands the spicier aspects of this beer being to fully develop and this is where the beer takes on a complexity all its own. I'd say there is a slight tea like bitterness in this beer on account of what appears to be a boquet of spicies dancing around my palate. Black pepper, buttery caramel, bitter cocoa, and slightly smoked wood all are present here. Not really getting that whiskey taste though it boats many characteristic flavors that many whiskies possess so that is a bit strange, the blending of flavors in this beer does not match that, or does not make me think of it as tasting like whiskey. Mouthfeel is chewy as it should be and carbonation levels are where I would expect them to be for a beer this size but not as viscious as I would like it to be, instead it feels rather clingy, sticky on the back of the throat.

From what I've experienced here this beer seems to be a bit underrated, though to be fair I tend to fall in love with beers the more I drink them so I may be at the slightest bit of fault here. I'd say this beer is pretty complex, flavor and aroma are exceptional, but the feel and the ABV bring this down slightly in overall drinkability. A great beer no doubt about it.

bluemoonswoon, Dec 30, 2008
Photo of praufs01
3.55/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Clear dark brown with a creamy light tan head.

Aroma - Freshly baked yeasty bread and molasses.

Mouthfeel - Full bodied chewy brew with light carbonation.

Taste - Molasses and burnt caramel flavors.

Overall - Well rounded and smooth ale.

praufs01, Dec 29, 2008
Photo of dolemite77
3.23/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I need a little hops with my beer, this one is all malt it seems. Pours a hazy brown with orange highlights... Not much in the head department. Aroma of band aids and malt. The flavor fits that profile as well. Very phenolic, and the alcohol only comes through at the end. I think this could have done with a little more roasted malt, a touch of hops, and less forced alcohol.

dolemite77, Dec 27, 2008
Photo of magictrokini
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep reddish-brown with no head. Aroma of smoke, fruit and sweet malts. Taste is roasted malt and caramel with some yeast/bread flavors. No real peat or smokey goodness, but this does well without. Hides the alcohol very well. Smooth, without being earthy.

magictrokini, Dec 10, 2008
Photo of bmwats
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into pint glass.

A: Dark reddish-amber. Big, frothy, dark ivory colored head. Dissipates slowly, and leaves a thin layer of carbonation on top. Heavy lacing remains.

S: Strong toasted malt aroma with hints of spice.

T: Heavy yeasty, raisin and licorice, and roasted malt.

M: Aroma and taste really fills the mouth. Sweet aftertaste remains through the entire experience.

D: Great quaff. Strong flavor, but not so overwhelming it makes you sip. Drinks easy, and goes down amazingly smooth considering its strong flavor.

This is a good one. Highly recommended. Drinks kinda' like a barleywine. Just as flavorful, but lighter and more refreshing. You know how with a barleywine, it's great to sip slowly and enjoy; this you want to power through and get to the next one.

bmwats, Dec 10, 2008
Photo of bowersdm
3.38/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - Nice red color with a stiff 2cm head.

S - Lots of hop presence, a strong floral aroma. Unfortunately, there's a lot of alcohol present too.

T - Roasted malts followed by a hop presence. I wished the hops' taste was as present as their aroma. Last but not least, the alcohol, a strong scotch like taste.

M - Thin.

D - More flavor would have been nice (whether hops or malt.) This reminded me off my last excursion with a bottle of Glenfiddich (which didn't end pleasantly). If you like strong alcohol tastes in your beers, then this is for you, but I didn't really enjoy the taste.

bowersdm, Dec 08, 2008
Photo of cvfish
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep amber reddish color that produced a generous white head that laced the glass well

S - Roasted malts and toffee

T - A buttery, toffee taste mixed with roasted malts, but also had a sweet honey hints to it!

M - Smooth heavy bodied, not much carbonation

D - Great beer, will be enjoyed many times over. FREEDOM! Sorry, couldn't resist

cvfish, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.43/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz. bottle > small snifter

This one is a deep, rusty amber color, crystal crear, very vivid with a 2" deep brown-tinted head with moderate dissipation and plenty of foam left over.

The nose has an herbal maltiness with subtle espresso notes. sour dough bread in the malt, spices, black pepper hoppiness, smoked salami and peat moss.

yowza! This has a thick, brown sugar and molasses thickness with good complexity and well rounded malt. The balance comes from spicey yeast and grainy hops, malty but very earthy with a metallic, bitter finish. The feel is heavy, smooth and then dry. The heat is a bit high and comes through like grain alcohol with some bitterness left over.

I found this one to be rather un-even and strangelt balanced. bold flavor's with just too much residual sugar and heat. Interesting but limited.

GratefulBeerGuy, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of CHSLBrew
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass.

A-A copper to dark-copper beer, crystal clear. Topped with a tan head, which quickly reduced to pretty much nothing

S-Rich, hearty toffee. This assertive toffee maltiness lets me know what I'm in for when I take a sip.

T-Deep toffee and nutty malts, crisply sweet with no perceptible bitterness or hop character. The darkness of the toffee flavors are complimented by hints of malty sweetness. A bit of alcohol flavors on the finish, but no anything at all harsh.

M-Beautiful and smooth on my palate, with a medium-low carbonation that's present just enough to notice it. Body provides a smooth experience.

D-Highly drinkable. A smooth and enjoyable Scotch ale, extensively flavorful. I sincerely look forward to enjoying another one in the future.

CHSLBrew, Nov 26, 2008
Photo of OtherShoe2
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep amber with a decent creamy head and good lacing rings.

Smells of rich toasted malt, some caramel sweetness, a dry grain scent as well. Terrific.

Sweet rich flavors of caramel, toasty malt, and alcohol warmth, combined with slight bitterness and a clean dry finish. Wonderful beer.

Mouthfilling and warming, this isn't a session brew, but funny enough, it is something you'd like to drink alot of. Terrific example of the style. Not cheap -- small bottle was $4.00 -- but grab some if you can find it.

OtherShoe2, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of Magpie14
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: deep crimson in color, decent cream colored head, splattered lacing all around.

S: big buttery, candied caramel, and malty with tart fruits

T: burly-rich roasted malts, considerable candy-like honeyed caramel, faint alcohol and slight buttery finish. Nothing meager about this one!

M: very smooth body and a touch on the heavy side...teetering on the viscous line, maybe more like a syrupy feel. Whatever it is, I can not get enough

D: the only real downside to this one is the packaging. I got a little piece of red foil in the glass during the pour! (no biggie) Otherwise, top notch-give it a try. Take your time and enjoy, it makes the knees weak rather quickly

Magpie14, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of cvstrickland
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The red-foiled, 11.2-ounce bottle, embarrassingly-clad with a laughable image of a Thorfinn Hausakluif poser (Mr. Skullsplitter himself would likely have stuck a battleaxe in this cheeseball pretender's noggin), poured into a pint willi glass yields a clear, rich copper body topped with a finger of fine, creamy ecru foam. The head recedes rather quickly into a ring that leaves a scant few patches of lacing on the glass.

The smell of the drink is richly malty and sweet with a bit of acrid peat smoke and a whiff of warm butterscotch. Rich, succulent, and mild.

The taste is lots more of the same, with softly buttery toffee, dark caramel and warm toasted malts dominating the show. A twang of molasses and a note of sourwood honey bring more sweetness, even as a spicy hop note, an aromatic woodiness and a touch of peppery alcohol liven the flavor profile and offer a touch of welcome balance to the drink.

Skullsplitter is silky and fullish in body with a little syrupiness cut by fine carbonation. A fine and excellent drink for would-be Viking overlords and non-violent beer-lovers alike. Nicely drinkable.

cvstrickland, Nov 16, 2008
Photo of popery
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark amber with a sticky head. It has a very nice look for a beer of this style. The smell is sweet fruit and caramel. The taste is brown sugar and bitter malt flavors. The beer has a nice, smooth feel and good drinkability for its style and abv. On a side note, this beer really doesn't do a lot of skullsplitting despite its name. It's a smooth malty beer. I get that it's a "strong" style and it's stronger than common beers, but it's a fairly mellow beer that masks its alcohol content well. Actually, it's not even the taste that makes me think the name is silly but the bottle. It just looks tiny. It's narrow and tall and only 11.2 oz for some reason (maybe, that's standard in other parts of the world but it's odd to me). I think Mike's Hard Lemonade is 11.2, also, and that's just a poor association. I'm sure that there are tons of great beers in 11.2 oz bottles, but this one just feels silly with its little viking (or Scot warrior, whatever(oh, just read the back and it is a viking)) picture and red foil fanciness. I know this is completely off-topic. I like the beer, but I think that I'll pour it and toss the bottle in the future. Right now, that tiny little viking is staring at me and all I can think about is him coming alive and having a tiny squeaky voice. It's sort of unfortunate that I just tried Budweiser's American Ale because it's a very similar bottle but normal-sized, which is probably contributing to my obsession with this bottle's size. Come to think of it, there are definitely other strong beers in little bottles. I really don't get it. So, you make a strong beer, give it an overly aggressive name, throw on some manly artwork, and put it in a tiny bottle? Ok, enough ranting. It's good beer, regardless.

popery, Nov 07, 2008
Photo of barleywinefiend
3.3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a clean deep amber with a white head that does not hang around. In the nose, a sweet malt and somewhat earthy. In the taste, a sweet malty beer, with hints of caramel/ butterscotch, and a alcohol presence. It has a dry sticky mouthfeel. It is a bigger beer, with big alcohol and big flavors, the sweetness to this is nice though.

barleywinefiend, Oct 31, 2008
Photo of rbrough
4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Loved this Ale or should I classify as a Scotch Ale. As I was at a college basement bar I drank this offering out of a bottle so I can't comment on the color. However, the taste and aroma of this ale was enough to make me very, very happy. This ale smelled fantastic and lured me in for a healthy first sip. WOW! Can I say smooth. This ale had a soft pleasing feel to the palate and a wonderful aftertaste. I couldn't get enough of this offering. Of course, at 8.5% ABV I had to keep thing in perspective. If you get a chance to try this wonderful brew I can't urge you enough to not pass it by.

rbrough, Oct 29, 2008
Photo of SirChugsAlot
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber with ruby red hints and a fuzzy bubble 1 finger that lingers on the surface with light lacing

Smells malty, with hints of caramel

Tastes sweet caramel almost hints of chocolate very smooth the ABV is well hidden with small amounts of carbonation that is well suited for this one.

Very drinkable and enjoyable - I think I found another favorite

SirChugsAlot, Oct 28, 2008
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,783 ratings.