1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,935 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,935
Reviews: 941
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 150
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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Skull Splitter Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,935 | Reviews: 941 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MbpBugeye
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Super dark. More dark that I expected. Its a deep, clear red. The color has hints of brown and purple. The head that is coaxed out is not massive not does it stick around long but it is very dense and leaves nice lacing.

S- Big nose. This is something that I feel a lot of beers lack. I like to be able to smell the beer as it sits in the glass, before I raise it to my nose. This is one that does that. Upon closer investigation, the aroma holds loads of raisin. Its nearly like a box of raisins. There is lots of fruity yeast stuff going on that is similar to dubels. Lots of spicy alcohol and some buttery maltiness.

T- Rich and sweet. Very good. Lots more raisin, plum, a touch of butteriness towards the end as well as plenty of alcohol.

M- Low carbonation but it is still quite prickly. The body is thick and smooth. The feel is slick and buttery. Decent amount of alcohol warmth.

D- This is one huge beer but I could have another one. The alcohol makes no attempt to hide but this beer goes down easy for what it is.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.63/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

So this is Wee Heavy? Pleasant surprise, drinks like a tough barleywine. Good amber & ruby appearance, immense head.

Taste, puckering sweetness paired with alcohol. Really expected this thing to sit heavy on the palate, but it really subsides in a flash, hits your tongue, whoosh, relatively gone in a partial dry finish. Not what I would call on the strong end malt nor hop wise, but high sweet and dry. Has a wood and whiskey feel.

Really one of those beers you have to be in the mood for.

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

Pours a fairly clear amber color with 2 fingers of creamy tan head. Very good retension and lots of lacing about the glassware. Aroma is very malty sweet with scents of dark fruit and citrus hops on the backend. Little bit of mineral qualities come through the nose as well with a touch of caramel and molasses. Taste is malty sweet and well rounded with a pleasant smooth medium/heavy mouthfeel and low level of carbonation. Alcohol is noticeable only in the finish along with some citrusy hops. Lingering taste of the malty sweetness is left in the mouth. Overall very enjoyable.

Photo of bigdeuce
4.48/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a craggy white head, tons of lacing on the glass. Scents of peat, caramel, nuts, and bready esthers shine through. Very appealing. Tastes the same. Very caramelly, not much bitterness, at all. Dangerously drinkable, very smooth not much aftertaste, either. Incredible beer, one of the best on this planet!

Photo of obywan59
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml/11.2 oz. bottle. The Viking on the label represents Thorfinn Hausakliuf who reigned around 1000 AD as the 7th Earl of Orkney. He was nicknamed "Skullsplitter".

Pours a rich amber into my pint glass giving a 2 finger head. I got no lacing. My 2nd bottle went into my Duvel tulip. Color was mahogany, and when held up to the light, showed some nice ruby colors.

Rich aroma of dried fruits. Very fruity and sweet. In the Duvel, the aroma seemed more smooth. It reminded me a bit of baby powder, only better.

Rather sweet. Dried fruits again, with a touch of burnt malts. Slightly bitter as well.

Body is full, but it's not really sticky. Nice burn in the throat.

Very drinkable for the thick body, but the ABV should slow you down.

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

Pours a gorgeous color somewhere between mahogany and burgundy, glassy and jeweled-looking, with a foamy, creamy head that holds strongly and leaves thick lace striations as it lessens. Head stays put forever, never thinning out to a skim.

Nose is mostly darker fruits (plum, fig, raisin, cherry), and something like spiced cider, along with a subtle woody character.

This is one incredibly juicy beer. Flavor is full and round and rich and fruity, kind of candy-like but not super-sweet. Mulled cider, cinnamon, other dessert-type spices, raisin, caramel, cherry taffy, musty wood, and just a whisper of whisky. The alcohol brings in a bit of subtle warmth, but you don't really even notice it's there.

Quite carbonated, this thing tingles the tongue with a vengeance, yet slickness and stickiness adds some depth; surely has a unique textural vibe, especially considering the style.

The last time I had this I was naive to the international world of craft beer outside of a few Belgian favorites...I didn't even know what I was drinking, but I remember liking whatever it was. Now that I have more familiarity with Scotch Ales/Wee Heavys, I kick myself for not visiting this sooner, as it's one of the best in its class, and a completely unique, memorable experience, period.

Photo of emsroth
3.61/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

App: Huge frothy head that stays thick for ages. Chestnut brown with great clarity.

Smell: Strong caramel. An earthy wood aroma is rather prevalent. Herbal hops. A slight hint of sweet alcohol.

Taste: Slight caramel start, bud the dominant flavor is earthy like the aroma: woody and herbal. Ends dry and rather bitter, equal parts burnt and hops.

Thick, creamy mouthfeel.

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

poured into duvel tulip

A: pours brown but is deep dark red when held to the light, head is finger and a half thick that settled to a finger and is slowly falling, with small amounts of lace.

S: sweet fruit, plum/prune, earthy roast sweet malt.
T: sweet malt, lighter plum/prune, earthy malt and hop. a long sweet and slightly smoky aftertaste.
M: slightly thick and smooth carbonation is more to the medium light.
D: im slightly impartial to the style, it just the malty sweet thick goodness that makes is easy to put away.

Photo of BricksandPorter
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured cold into an American Pint glass.

Pour - satisfying in its pour, I could smell the aromas when I popped the cap off. Good lacing, nice creaminess with medium sized bubbles and the color - WOW! This is something special. I have never seen such a bold, ruby red like this in a beer. Took a little bit to settle, but a damn good start.

Nose - HOLY S**T!! This baby can only be described as PUNGEANT. Hits you right away with a combo of peat and salt water mixed with hoppiness. This beer is not for the faint of heart.

Taste - very strong alcohol flavor, masked by a carmel primary and heavy notes of peat moss, salt water and smokeyness (see Laphroag Scotch for simliarities). Has a great mineral base after the first couple of sips and its smootheness is kind of decieving.

Mouthfeel - as I said above, its smootheness is decieving and unfortunately fleeting after 3/4 of a pint. Becomes a task to go back to.

Drinkability - A good beer for entertaining eight to ten beer drinkers (per case) of descriminating taste.

Photo of FreshHawk
3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Light amber bronze with a good number of bubbles. Good sized, thick, creamy, foamy off-white head. Average retention with a good lacing left over.

S - Caramel malt. A good amount of peat and fruity smells and a bit of alcohol smell. Almost like a bit of whisky was put in a malty beer.

T - Initially there is a caramel and toffee malt taste that quickly gives way to a more spiced peat flavor. Also some alcohol taste. Some apple and raisin flavors come into play with a sweet flavors interplaying with the peat taste. It then finishes with more caramel, apple/raisin, and a hint of bread taste. Somewhat sweet and some tang.

M - Medium body with a bit above average carbonation. Fairly smooth and a bit sticky feel. Warming feel.

D - A little sweet and strong to be a beer that I would drink with frequency but it is a decent beer to have every once in awhile. Mouthfeel makes it easy to drink.

Notes: A good amount of sweetness and caramel/malt flavors. Has a fair amount of whisky flavors (peat and some fruitiness) as well.

Photo of HeroJH
4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the best commercial examples of a Strong Scotch Ale I have found so far. The smell has some wonderful fruit and malty notes.

A - Dark brown, head thin but remains.

S - probably the best part. sweet smell, bread, toasty background, dark brown sugar, gingerbread cookie. Some ripe plum and current flavors. Really appetizing. Malt brings it all together.

T - Full rich start, sweet end. Has some dryness at the end just before the sweetness gets too much for me. Mouth coating brown sugar flavor with some bitter. Nice touch of alcohol at the end.

M - Pretty clean for how heavy it is. Not sticky. But real nice lasting flavor that's coating.

D - After the first few gulps, you're well acclimated to have as many as you can handle really. It's really warming in the belly, so it's great for a fall or winter evening.

Photo of MikeGill
3.91/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a Leffe chalice which actually worked nicely.

Deep ruby brown with a small tan head and powdery lacing. Fruitcake aromas along with butterscotch and some earthiness.

Malty with a chewy texture and whiskey-like flavors. Not overly alcoholic as the nose may have suggested. Some mild sweetness in the form of a brambley jam. The creamy texture reminds me of an irish coffee. The alcohol also produces a warm vintage port quality. Finishes clean and grainy with quite a bit of dryness. I feel like Skull Splitter can fool people into thinking it's a session beer.

Photo of wesbrownyeah
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

SkullSpiltter Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. 8.5% alcohol
Poured into a pint glass. I was talking to someone at the store i was at and they recomended this beer so i tried it.

A- Pours a medium amber- brown fluid that produces a small tan head that falls to a ring around the glass and froth.

S- I getting some very light scents of dark fruits... plum, raisins and maybe dates. Very light I must repeat.

T-M- There it is the flavor says everything in one sip. The alcohol fuzes with rich burnt malts danky plums and massive raisin backbone.
Taste is simple but for what a Wee Heavy is in Scotland "get drunk and have it taste good". Perfect. Mouthfeel is warm with alcohol tingling with every carbonated bubble but in a good way... smooth.

D- Hell yeah its drinkable and it a Wee bit heavier than any sessionable beers... but hey session drinking can be done with this one be careful.

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is rich and fruity with a firm malty undertone and just a whisper of fruity sweetness. It pours an appealing dark coppery brown with a decent, if not persistent, pale-bronze head. Fresh, crisp flavor is malty with a fruity undertone, a hint of caramel, and a bit of a bite to it. Texture is tingly, fizzy and edgy, leaving a satisfying finish.

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.

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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.

Photo of ryanonline
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.14/5  rDev -23%
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.

Photo of ProfessorHomer
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
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!

Photo of irishking1977
3.81/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

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.

Photo of philbe311
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
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...

Photo of fastwrx05
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
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!

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)

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,935 ratings.