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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,822 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,822
Reviews: 926
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 134
Gots: 140 | 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: 1,822 | Reviews: 926 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of Proteus93
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Honey brown pour, clean and clear, with some ruby red hues. A nice, creamy and sticky head about a finger and a half tall with a great stick.

S: A warm caramel and a peppery alcohol.

T + M: Alcohol stands out most noticably on this one. An interesting spiciness that I would almost compare with cinnamon without actually being cinnamon... it's just a taste reminiscent of such. A toffee-like sweetness and stickiness to it that complements the body.

D: A nice beer, more of a sipper, but quite tasty and enjoyable.

Proteus93, Oct 23, 2008
Photo of SmithwicksNut
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark copper with white head. Head quickly disappears.

S: Rich, malty, sweet carmel smells

T: Rich full bodied beer, tasting the sweet carmel and maybe a hint of molasses.

M: Full bodied with smooth alcohol warmth

O: Rich, sweet, Malty. A very good beer.

SmithwicksNut, Oct 22, 2008
Photo of cswhitehorse
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The SkullSplitter poureda dark amber with a 2 finger foam head that looked like pancake batter. It had a little bit of lacing but not much.

The aroma was mostly malty of the caramel variety. The taste continued on with the main component of the smell. It really tasted like the epitome of a Scotch ale which should make it the standard. In the mouth it was creamy and smooth. It had a unique finish with a soft bitterness that lingered. Overall a pretty solid wee heavy.

cswhitehorse, Oct 22, 2008
Photo of sethmeister
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into snifter.

One and a half finger cream colored head on a dark amber body.

Sweet rum, vanilla and tropical fruit (pineapple in particular) scents.

Flavors include vanilla, rum, crusty French bread. Some honey sweetness. A hint of green apple. Lightly smoky finish. Very slight alcohol warming.

Rich medium mouth.

Drinkabilty is excellent. ABV is hidden well.

One of my favorite Scotch Ales.

sethmeister, Oct 21, 2008
Photo of Offa
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is richly malty with strong, interesting flavours, if a bit too much on the heavy side. After I drank, this, I read that Michael Jackson said that it's like "fruitcake dunked in port," which seems very accurate.

Deep, deep red, it has a medium but dense tan head that slowly shrinks to a ring and leaves a little weak lace.

The aroma is rich and pungent with dark caramel, yeasty bread, dried fruit, stewed fresh fruit, and leaves.

The taste is similar. Rich, full-bodied and pungent, it has musty, sweet red wine, port, caramel, rich malt, dark dried fruit and fruitcake or plum pudding. It's a bit meaty, very fruity, sweetish with a strong alcoholic note and warmth before a finish with toasted brown bread. The palate is full and somewhat heavy without actually being oily.

Interesting, rich, and satisfying, this is nevertheless a beer to sip and enjoy slowly, not one to drink in quantity; even a full 12 oz is pushing it.

Offa, Oct 15, 2008
Photo of shadow1961
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Skullsplitter Orkney Ale pours a good finger of creamy tan foam over an
opaque brown brew. Nose is typical Scotch Ale- dark fruit, coffee, peat,
and an alcohol tang. Flavor is dark toasty malts, with notes of molasses,
again, peat, and something sharp off the back, kind of like unsweetened
chocolate. Mouthfeel is remarkably light and crisp for such a flavorful
brew, but don't think about slamming it- at 8.5% alcohol by volume you
really need to slow down and savor it. Like a lot of good Scotch Ales, you
can almost taste the scotch it might have become if they distilled it. The
beer was named for a Viking name of Thorfinn Hausakluiff (Skullsplitter)
who lived in those parts about 1000AD. Tasty.

shadow1961, Oct 15, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly fogged amber. Nose is leafy and nutty. Kind of a berry edge to it as well. Flavor is nice and malty sweet. Great balance here. Smooth and even. Feel has a slick feel and a low carbonation. Very easy to drink and well worth drinking. An oustandibg beer.

RblWthACoz, Oct 15, 2008
Photo of sevopie
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - A ruby mahogany with a tannish head.

Smell - Very nutty and malty, with very little bitterness.

Taste - Again, very nutty, with a caramel malt leading the way. Slight smokiness.

Mouthfeel - Slick and oily with a lot of carbonation

Drinkability - Not a hint of the 8.5% alcohol here, and very smooth. I'm impressed, I hope the government across the pond doesn't axe this one due to the stupid "connotation" of the name. Its a worthy addition to any fridge.

sevopie, Oct 14, 2008
Photo of Brianmerrilyn
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this on at Mudville 9 in the financial district before the Devil's Islanders game.

A: As for the color, difficult to tell with the dark color of the bottle which was an early indication of the chaps at Orkeney's prowess.

S: The Nose gave off a dark caramel, whisky based earthen quality that was very alluring. More than likely some coca influences as well.

T: The flavor follows the nose partially, but there is no overpowering rush of any flavor. Inititially, your pallete meets the sweentess of the big boy malt, then the boozy bourbon flavor comes to town and is what i call the wallpaper of the taste. Bitterness follows to the end to wipe off and lessen the sweetness from the inception, There is nothing really sublte about the delivery of this beer, hence the namesake. As this boy warms, the overall strength and phenols are more than evident.

M: Don't expect to have a clean pallet for some time after taking in this beauty. Can you tell I like this one? A prolong finish stickey finish to all parts of your mouth, which reminds me of the line "don't move to fast you want your flavor to last". Medium to very heavy body with slick mature texture.

D: Another brew aptly named if I don't say so myself. This one makes no bones about it's intention and let's you know right quick. An excellent tasting anytime and I shall return!.

Brianmerrilyn, Oct 12, 2008
Photo of ronny
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

33 cl bottle poured into a tulip glass. Marlboro man on label with a beard and sword. I guess he can't find work any longer in the US. Too bad, could be some really cool art work with this name.

Poured a beautiful cola color with a hint of red. Very fine carbonation, had to coax a 1 finger tan head, which didn't stay around long. Aroma of malt and caramel, hint of alcohol. Taste is big up front, sweet and caramel notes, but finishes quite dry. Almost syrupy mouthfeel, very light on the carbonation. Sipping this beverage denies the full potential. You need a big mouthful with whatever foam is available...that's when I got a great roasted malty, smokey flavor. Alcohol is present, but works well with the other flavors. The lingering syrupy sweetness is the only minor distraction worth noting.

Would be a nice beer outdoors around a fire with friends on a cool November evening, smoke in the air, smokey, malty bev in hand....

Worthy of another purchase.

ronny, Oct 11, 2008
Photo of treyrab
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Have seen this many times but have just decided to try it. Poured it into a pint glass...

A: Great caramel red and clear with a nice dark eggshell white head that lasts the while time! The color looks very nice - a dark fire orange. Laces pretty well as well.

S: The smell is very under par. Smell like a caramelized macro with alcohol mixed in. There is also some tin/metal in the nose as well. The caramel comes through slightly but the metal is really harsh.

T: Very glad this tasted better than the smell! Has a very nice roasty caramel taste and is very sweet. Some alcohol can be noticed as well on the finish. The finish contains almost no hops. Some vanilla and cream soda characteristics coming through as well. Very flavorful.

Overall, this was a good choice tonight. Perhaps a great choice. Very flavorful with a creamy body. Alcohol comes through slightly, but is not overpowering.

treyrab, Oct 11, 2008
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,822 ratings.