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: 177 | 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 Duhast500
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a stemmed glass.

The color is a dark brown or black with a dark cherry or maroon hue when held to the light. Has a slight brownish white head.

The smell is a bit heavy with caramel and some dark fruit flavor, some raspberry flavor.

The taste is of a sweet malty flavor with some raisin flavor and a bit of a spicy, smokey flavor. A hint of caramel and some slight grape flavor.

The feel has a nice medium body and is nicely carbonated. A real nice finish.

Photo of wl0307
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Revisiting this ale 4.5 years since my last encounter; BB NOV.09 for this bottle, served cool in Hapkin's bulb-shaped sniffer.

A: pours a dark mahogany hue with perfect clarity, fine and constant streams of carbonation and a 1cm thick beige froth lasting throughout the drink.
S: lightly metallic notes skirt the main theme of overripe dark fruits, quality dark malts that has a fine and aromatic edge as of gristy crystal malts, as well as an unexpected note of apple-ly+earthy hop aroma (ringing a bell of Fuggles); in the background, more settled aroma consists of liquidy brown sugar, jammy longan-fruits, overripe gooseberries or musky grapes, and an noticeable touch of warming alc. Not bad, but not quite complex and a tad too sweet as I remembered from my previous encounters.
T: better than the aroma, the flavour is more complex and full of aromatic fruit-malty elements; the initial entry of robust yet not-thick dark malts and overripe-fruit+raisiny elements, with an edge of lightly spicy hops (as of Styrian Goldings), precedes a more jammy fruity middle that somehow lifts up the weight by a good margin. The aftertaste, besides a faintly toffee-ish undertone and slick sweet prunes, goes slightly sweet-herbal, denoting a touch of licorice root and sweet olives at times, while hops also make a belated performance by lending a light bitter touch. Also lingering is the lovely "woody-yeasty" edge that many well-aged pale/amber ales and fortified wines have in common, which I simply fail to describe in detail.
M&D: different from my first encounter of this ale 4.5 years ago that was also my first encounter with a Wee Heavy ale, I've tried more samples of this beer style ever sine, and this filtered bottle version is neither up to the standard of the cask version (tasted at the NWAF in Manchester last year - slick and heavenly) nor able to overwhelm me with inspirations. That said, this Scottish equivalence to an English Old Ale is still highly sip-p-able, with a quietly carbonated texture and a really light body (against the 8.5%abv. strength). Seriously, throughout the drink I haven't picked up a drop of alcohol, despite its random appearance on the nose.

* Tasting Date: 04/10/05
BB date: Sept. 06.
3.5 A: served in a tulip-shaped wine glass, it pours a murky, ruby hue, with a fast-retreating head, leaving just sparse bubbles on the neck against a static body.
4.5 S: wow... the most distinctive aroma fiercely knocks my nose with a heavy, richly-buttery as well as peated dark-malty aroma, deep-running "black-sugar" syrup (note: NOT brown sugar), mixed well with yeast-extract (like Marmite), and, well, "manure"-like slightly stinky note, and lots of very ripe, even lightly fermented dark-fruits... Ju...st exceptional!!
4.5 T: extremely creamy-rich texture of sweetish dark-malts upfront, coming with a touch of warmish alcohol; at the back a rounded palate of dried dark-fruits, bits of raisins and bits of longan-fruits, along with a rich but slightly stinky nutty flavour gradually developing, leaving a smoothly fruity, rounded, and mildly bitter-sweet aftertaste.
5 M&4 D: creamy and smoothly sugary, without divine intervention of too much alcohol as its 8.5%abv. implies. Full-bodied and richly-flavoured, on palate it somehow feels so light, approachable and relaxing... My first Wee Heavy, and it triggers my interest to try many more of this style! Fantastic beer.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle poured into a Unibroue Tulip. No date on the bottle. Unavoidable yeast sediment poured into the beer.

A - Delicious dark candy apple red color that's clear aside from the yeast. Poured with a good creamy light tan head. Little retention left a thin layer and spots of lacing but definitely legs.

S - Fruity esters of raisins and yeast aromas shining through the earthy heavy caramel malt aromas. Very rich smelling with small raspberry hints.

T - Rich malts swarm the mouth with a touch of raisins and a mild spiciness from the alcohol level. The malts have an earthy, slightly smokey undertone. A caramel flavor lingers on the finish.

M - It's a smooth and medium bodied beer that has a low level carbonation bite to the finish but is velvety on the palate. Alcohol warming ensues.

D - I love rich malty beers and this one covers all the bases well for me. The alcohol is evident but rounds out the sweet malts well. I could have a few!

Photo of erz316
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bottle into duvel tulip

A - a dark brown-red translucent colour describes the body; light only serves to highlight the red tones in the body. not much of a head, as I had to give it a strong angled pour to get much to begin with; the head then settles very fast leaving only a dot in the middle where the scoring at the bottom of the glass gives off bubbles--minimal lacing either.

S - primarily is the vinous alcohol, with some fruiter notes in the back. the malts come out in a subtle caramalized notes, though I smell more of a simple sugary scent than anything distinct.

T - a dominant sweetness restrains the booming alcohol presence. initial taste is the booze and sweet notes mixing, the sweetness is refined and has a distinctive fruity character. a little astringency hits the tongue at first, but quickly subsides to the other flavours. alcohol during finish is not dissimilar to the character of a cask strength scotch, really bold, and perhaps a bit dry. there is also a moment during the finish where it seems a bit phenolic, when the brew hits somewhere near my nasal passage at the top of my throat.

MF&D - a very warming beer; the alcohol is quite spicy going down and it really gets one cozy--perhaps a bad idea on such a hot day. the consistency is smooth and unassuming, not heavy at all, which makes it very easy to drink. moderate carbonation. I think I'll go watch braveheart now.

Photo of yesyouam
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Skullsplitter is a solid brown ale with a thin, dense khaki head that leaves nice lacing. It has a grassy aroma with hints of sweet malt and paper. It's pretty full bodied and reasonably smooth. It's a little sticky at the finish. It tastes a little sweet and a little bitter, with notes of grass and wood resin. It's pretty bold and warming and well balanced. It's quite enjoyable.

Photo of BretSikkink
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown color with plenty of red and copper highlights - mostly clear but this bottle spit out some sediment at the end that clouded up the glass. Head isn't much, but a tanned color that sticks pretty nicely.

Aromas are pretty straightforward with malt sweetness: toffee, butterscotch, caramel, hints toward classic Scotch notes.

The flavor is still pretty on the level - clean, you might say. Mostly sweet, with a hint of sour, Islay Scotch-peatiness. Big and bad, plenty of skullsplitting if enough beer is drunk. Big alcohol notes in the finish.

Long finish, no surprise with the big alcohol, low carbonation, and overall maltiness. A little lacking on complexity but more than making up for it in being badass.

Photo of Briarscratch
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep copper with a reddish tint. Very small head but lingers throughout with a little lacing. Smells sweet and syrupy with a hint of raisins. Tastes super malty and very fruit concentrated, completely masking the high alcohol content. It has a medium body, kinda hangs in the throat when i swallow. The skullsplitter is pretty easy to drink, a little heavy but very delicious.

Photo of kshankar
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep copper with a tan/off white head with decent retention. Head is small, slightly rocky. Leaves a layer of foam at the top of the beer

Aroma: Sweet and fruity, caramel malts. Maybe some darker fruits as well

Taste: The caramel malts dominate on this one, sweetish. A little hop bitterness at the finish

Mouthfeel: Creamy medium body. Coats mouth well

Drinkability: 8.5%? Really? Doesn't taste like it. Not my go to style, though. I could probably have a couple, but its not my particular type of beer.


Photo of jeffjeff1
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

one of the finer scottish ales

Appearance- dark brown, good head

Smell- earthy, very nice

Taste- caramel, malty

Mouthfeel- dry, medium body

Drinkability- very drinkable, one of the better scottish ales, I have had a few and this one was definitely very nice.

Photo of kaseydad
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Snifter pour.

Comes out dirt brown with a HUGE head that stays consistent throughout the drink. Sediment is present and flowing freely.

Aroma of figs, dates and booze.

A tangy taste at first which also contains a smokey finish. Pretty tasty Scotch!

At 8.5% the alcohol is masked well and the price is not bad.

One of the better Scotch Ale's out there and recommended.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle pours into my glass a deep garnet hue without much head, just some bubbles that quickly fade and some chunkers that I accidentally let fall into my glass. Aromas start with big sweet malt tones dominated by caramel, sweetbread, dried fruits, leather, tobacco and a mix of spicy tones. There's a vinous quality in the background as well. Really rich and inviting, it pulls me in for a sip.

First sip brings smooth sweet malts upfront that spiral into a vortex of deep fruits, caramel, sweetbread and spice. Earthy tones of tobacco and leather veer in midway though the sip. Just a touch of alcohol in the finish, this is one malty beast with a great depth of flavor. It does teeter on the line of being too sweet for me, but overall is very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is lush and satiny smooth as the beer effortlessly flows down. Mellow carbonation adds to the ease of drinkability here. I can see how this would be dangerous as the alcohol is totally hidden. Overall, this is just a damn fine drink right here. Will be revisiting this and maybe getting some to age as well.

Photo of sarahspat
4.92/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark brown with beautiful amber highlights; small caramel colored head.

Smells of caramel, red wine, woody/earthiness, flowers. The taste follows suit. Very tangy, sweet (but not too sweet) and at times almost tart. No shortage of complexity here. Very rich and smooth, too. No way I would have guessed that this had an ABV as high as 8.5% based on the taste. The alcohol is completely hidden. It's medium-bodied and perfectly carbonated.

This is one of my favorite styles; but this was the first authentic (being that it's brewed in Scotland) one I've had. This is a great Wee Heavy... maybe my favorite one now.

Photo of srandycarter
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Photo of MaltyGoodness
4.44/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

Photo of brendan13
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
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

Photo of hardy008
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of julian1117
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

Photo of cnally
4.01/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

Photo of tigg924
4.64/5  rDev +13.7%
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.

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.

Photo of cavman
4.65/5  rDev +14%
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.

Photo of SykDoc
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

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.

Photo of Contagion
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

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.

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