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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,715 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,715
Reviews: 920
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 122
Gots: 105 | 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)
View: Beers (10) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,715 | Reviews: 920 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sloejams


3.38/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

You have to love the bottle: big viking fella looking like he's in need of a Wee Heavy something quick after a long day of splitting skulls. Having only split a few heads today, I still reached for this brew, hoping I'd be able to brave it.

I was hoping to drink this out of a human skull, but had to settle on a pint glass - hardly a decent substitute. It did allow to me to look at the beer - amber colored with good clarity and a decent head. It had a very sweet smell - raisin and plum, some cider and esters. The flavor started with the strong malt and the sweetness followed: butterscotch, caramel with a strong alcohol taste. It finished strong with little aftertaste. It had a nice creamy texture with low carbonation. The taste and the alcohol were intense - I think one of these will do.

A nice beer to finish off a day of conquering a village.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2006 21:09:20 | More by sloejams
Photo of AlexJ

North Carolina

4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A sloppy pour into my trusty McChouffe tulip yields a burnt amber brew topped by a thick layer of densely whipped oatmeal colored froth that retains majestically and leaves concentric layers of sticky lace.

Aroma is a malty expression of joy; toasty, caramelized amber malts, oatmeal cookies, yellow raisins, and a subtle hint of peaty soot. It hints of mountain wildflowers and honey-sweetened scones, nice.

Flavor expands your caramel malt horizons with butterscotch, scorched molasses, and buttery biscuits drizzled w/ raw mountain honey. There's a nice floral note throughout with some drying grassy/herbal hops and subtle hints of peat-smoked rocks in the finish.

Body is medium to big with fuzzy, micro-bubbled carbonation and a very smooth and chewy mouthfeel. Intensely malty and noticably strong abv make one bottle enough at a time.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2006 23:42:01 | More by AlexJ
Photo of Prufrock


3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a pilsner.

crystal clear dark amber with an inch of foamy off-white head that falls leaving enormous peaks and tons of lacing.

i know it's not a good description, but the aroma is incredibly malty. buttery, caramelly, bready. a hint of the high alcohol.

ridiculously rich, buttery taste. a touch of caramel sweetness, but more of a bready flavor than expected. very indulgent. fairly high carbonation, but it slides down the throat.

great brew, but i can't imagine drinking more than one. richer than an alfredo sauce; perfect to finish a cold winter's evening.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2006 06:43:37 | More by Prufrock
Photo of Mitchel


4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Skull splitter pours a deep foggy brown with a good head. The head is powdery and slightly off white. It also holds for a long while and leaves good lacing. It smells like grain, ripe fruit (raisins) and alcohol. There is a nice hint of caramel.

Firstly, the alcohol is present. Secondly, and more importantly, caramel is the dominant flavor. It has a saccharine body, but is balanced rather well with some light hoppy bitterness. It is very creamy and almost chewy. It finishes with a pleasant undertone of oak and toasted malt.

This is a very drinkable beer. It is slightly hard to find, and costs a little bit more than your average beer, but it is worth the search and the extra buck. Take it slow; the alcohol can sneak up on you. Skullsplitter is good, definitely check it out.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2006 01:53:12 | More by Mitchel
Photo of silver0rlead

North Carolina

4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly murky deep amber with a nice tan head that retains well for a beer of 8.5%. The aroma kicks it up a notch with a nice caramel and molasses sweetness, peat smoked malt, toasted bread, ripe dark fruits (fig plum and grape), floral hops and some alcohol. The taste again starts off with molasses and caramel sweetness, followed by some smoked peat, light floral hops, dark fruits (grapes, plums and dates), esters, and some mild ethanol. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, and the drinkability is incredible. I was quite impressed by this brew, it was complex and seemed quite authentic, and yet was incredibly smooth and drinkable. Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2006 06:41:42 | More by silver0rlead
Photo of murphysbleachers


4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle into a Sam Smith Nonic Pint Glass:
A: Poured a dark reddish amber color. Lacing present.
S: Malty, slightly metallic smell. Dried cherries/raisins as it opens up a bit.
T: Grainy maltiness, raisins, creamy. The warming effect in combination with the flavors reminds me of eating a cake soaked in brandy.
M: Not much fizziness, creamy texture. Slight alcohol warming in the finish.
D: Good night. Doesn't so much split the skull as lull you into a warm slumber with its easily drinkable warmth.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2006 00:05:24 | More by murphysbleachers
Photo of Mebuzzard


4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into pint glass.
Very nice color. Deep brown, yet not thick. Balanced well with white, foamy head that lingered into lacing.

Aroma: Malt, wood-perhaps oak, peat.
Taste: Surprisingly not strong, but a good balance of malt, oak, hops, and smoke. Doesn't taste like a high alcohol beer.
MF: Hops were present, but just enough to notice them a give the beer some body.
Drank one, but could have more.

1-26-2013 UPDATE: Cracked one open that's been in my cellar for about 1 1/2 years. The flavor has really taken off. Nice sweet malt, chewy. Its sweetness is constant and continual. The hops are gone or at least turned to more of an earthy quality. Smoke is gone, too. What's left is a robust, sweet, and darn fine brew. Some leather and hazelnut come and go. Very nice

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2006 18:11:15 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of danielocean03


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

Pours a dark and clear mahogany color with a white foamy one finger head that fell to light lacing. Smells rich of smoked wood, nearly a mesquite aroma along with sweet burnt sugars and alcohol present as well. Heavy line of malt also notable in the scent, smell has slight notes of caramel and toffee, chalking up to the sweet nose. Tastes smoky and malty, finishing sweeter and slightly oily slick on the tongue. Bites hard initially and finishes sweet and smooth. Overall a complex strong ale, enjoyable, drinks lighter than 8.5% abv, would purchase again.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2006 00:19:13 | More by danielocean03
Photo of plaztikjezuz


3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a deep mohonagy with a off white head that is about 3/4 and inch thick, it lingers for ten minutes, before it falls int a lace.
the aroma is figs, raisons, malt, alcohol.
the flavor is malty, carmelized malt, fig, smokey, slighty sweet, alcohol.
mouthfeel is a little thick but that is expected.
this beer is very good and drinkable but i think best enjoyed on a cool night.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2006 04:27:50 | More by plaztikjezuz
Photo of nortmand


4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep amber pour with a little bit of tan foam.

A bit of rich grassiness in the smell, not alot else.

Taste is a deliciously sweet rich and malty beautiful thing, Caraqmel, fruitm absolutely fantastic.

Rich and smooth, this beer is absolutely quaffable despite it's inherent sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2006 04:01:56 | More by nortmand
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a reasonably clear ice tea colored body with a nice beige head that hangs around for the duration and leaves good lacing

Smell: Smells like raisins, biscuits, caramel and rubber bands

Taste: Tastes rather sweet on the front end with a caramel raisin flavor; mid-palate is when things start to happen, as peaty, smokey flavors builds up to an overwhelming level and creates a very complex finish that meshes with the caramel malt flavors

Mouthfeel: Mediium-heavy body with modest carbonation

Drinkability: A complex and enjoyable Wee Heavy

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2006 02:13:33 | More by brentk56
Photo of Phatz


4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a coppery ruby color, with a 3 finger head. Stayed frothy the entire duration of the beer. Medium lacing.

Smell: Orange drink, and a bit of lemonade (with lots of sugar) and hints of raisins.

Taste: When I first took a sip immediately the thought ‘cinnamon orange caramel’ came to mind. Very sweet (almost seeming artificially sweetened) as if someone added a few packets of white sugar to my beer. Since I have a huge sweet tooth I liked this. I am guessing that some others may not like all the sweetness. There is some lemon tartness in the middle but very little bitter. There is a small hop bite at the tail end of the beer and in the after taste, but most of the hop character is a citrusy and when overridden by the extremely sweet malts it makes the beer seem to be mostly bitter free. The aftertaste is perfect, with a bit of dryness followed by the sweetness seeping back out of your cheeks to mellow the slight hop bite leaving you craving more. Not too sweet or too bitter; this beer is right on the money for me! Very full of flavor.

Mouthfeel: Full body, but medium weight. Nice carbonation keeps the beer feeling creamy and light yet sweet (like whipped marshmallow as opposed to syrup).

Drinkability: This is incredibly, remarkably, dangerously easy to drink. It goes down so easily and for a beer in this style it is impressively light in the stomach. It is certainly not a session beer or and all nighter beer, but I finished the first one very quickly and wanted another. The 8.50 % ABV will definitely catch up to you but I highly recommend trying this beer, especially if you like this style or like sweet beers.

Hope this is helpful.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2006 06:55:34 | More by Phatz
Photo of EvilKeith


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

This pours into the glass a dark, burnt ruby color. Beautiful creamy tan head that dissapates quickly, minimal lacing remains.
Sweet and smoky to the nose. Tastes of carmelized fruits and sweet breads. By the taste you would expect this to be sticky.
I'd call this a medium bodied wee-heavy. A wee-heavy to remember.
I only wish I had bought more. This one will be on the shopping list for next time.

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2006 23:03:25 | More by EvilKeith
Photo of ypsifly


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

11.2oz that is undated and red foiled, poured into a pint glass.

Deep rust under half a finger of tan. Strong retention with a nice sheet of lace.

weet malts, some smoke and bread dough. Slight alcoholic warmth underneath. A bit woody. Very nice aromas.

Tastes very malty as well. The smoke comes through strong, but not with the strength of a rauchbier. Slightly vinous with raisins and enough bite from the hops to keep it from getting too sweet. Residual smoke in the finish with warming alcohol.

The strong flavors and abv make for a sipper, but I could have a couple more in one sitting if I don't have to go anywhere.

Good stuff!

Very full mouth with some oils but the carbonation keeps that in check.

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2006 04:44:51 | More by ypsifly
Photo of Tupperwolf


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

Pours into my tulip a dark root beer brown with reddish highlights, a frothy big-bubbled head that recedes to a clumpy ring of big tan bubbles around the surface and swirls of tan over the red-brown depths. Thin rings of big-bubbled lace are left.

Lots of malty smells; Smells like sugarcane, barley, toffee, cola, and rum. Very little hop in the smell.

Fruity esters in the taste, plum, orange peel, peaches, a zesty and somewhat acidic tang. A small dab of hop oils on the back of the tongue, but very little. Warms the mouth with alcohol which is very well balanced.

Minimal but zippy carbonation, a very thin caramel residue left behind, and a very nice aftertaste. The sensation is good, hard to describe, but tempts me for another sip.

All in all, this is a good brew. It didn't have any particularly standout qualities - it doesn't have a really loud personality - but it's tasty. A worthwhile treat.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2006 02:25:32 | More by Tupperwolf
Photo of wcudwight

North Carolina

4.53/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 11.2 ounce bottle with a cool looking lable of a Viking on it.
A: Cloudy, murkey brown with a bubbly head that doesn't last too long.
S: Aroma hits you immediately.Caramel, Sweet malts, Plums, Raisins.
T: Very sweet and smooth. Caramel, kind of sweet coffee tasting. Very complex. Very good. Hard to describe, I recommend you try for yourself.
M: Thick, chewy, and warming
D: Very drinkable for an 8.5% beer. Where is it hiding that alcohol?

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2006 21:44:46 | More by wcudwight
Photo of russpowell


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

Caramel coloring with white bubbly headt hat drops quickly but leavesan impressive lace

Smell: Smokiness (peat), plums and alcohol

Taste: Sweetness and peat taste and lots of both. OTT as the Brits would say (or just to damn much), Slight bitternes and some charcoal taste, tastes do not mix together to anything like perfection

MF: Slick, some what syruppy, good carbonation

Drinkablity: The overall effect is just too overstated. I remember a much better cask version years ago (92ish)

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2005 05:02:50 | More by russpowell


3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thick light tan head stands almost as tall as the beer itself. Nearly black body shows noticeable sighs of carbonation even thru the dark.

Nose is a nonsterous invigorating meaty maltinesss. Just by the smell you can almost cut it with a knife.

At first sip you get deep dark ripe fruit accompinied by grilled malt glazing the buds. Finishes soft malty bittter on the mouthfeel with almost a waxy feel. Breaks down a little on the end and reveals a harder liquer, maybe cheap port. Kind of sharp but enjoyable overall.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2005 00:12:58 | More by SPLITGRIN
Photo of counselor


3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a dark ruby/garnet brown with a thin head that leaves plenty of lace on the glass. The aromas are a little chalky, almost cardboard with a slight peat smell. The beer has a gripping mouthfeel that hangs in and aroud the tongue and gums. Flavors of slightly peaty malt, smokey, nutty and with a fair amount of dry hop aftertaste. I can taste some alcohol notes after the finish with more smokey flavors lasting long after swallowing. Interesting beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2005 20:09:58 | More by counselor
Photo of redteg02

New York

4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: nice darker brown with slight shades of red. pours with a very thin head that quickly disipates into a small ring on the outer of the glass

Smell: Truly execptional. a light sweet smell, almost a carmal or mallassis. also has an exquisite roasted aroma.

Taste: almost just as it smells. starts you off with a nice sweet; quickly after you notice the roasted flavors comming through. finishes off with a very pleasing after taste.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2005 07:47:59 | More by redteg02
Photo of Winter


3/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown with garnet highlights. Scattered light tan head across the surface. Pungent malty aroma has an unappealing sourness to it. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, smooth and soft. Skullsplitter is an odd tasting Scotch Ale. Rich malty flavor with a prune-like fruitiness. But the taste has a funky sour, bitterness to it. The alcohol leaves a dry finish on the tongue. With all the high marks, this was disappointing.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2005 03:38:48 | More by Winter
Photo of Hibernator


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

11.2 oz brown bottle
Served in a 20 oz tulip pint glass

Pours a light copper brown color. Chestnut highlights with a creamy, thick head.

Malt sticks out in the nose. Sweet and funky, almost like spolied dairy. This beer left off more aromas as it warms.

Slick, juicy malt presence with a smoky finish. Creamy and full with caramel malts providing a syrupy characteristic.

A solid Wee Heavy directly from the country it originates.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2005 23:43:07 | More by Hibernator
Photo of Frozensoul327


4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

With a name like skullsplitter, I didn't know what to expect. Hopefully the name isn't an indication of what to expect in the morning. Poured out to a deep cherry color with a nice dense head and lower carbonation. Aroma of alcohol and sweet bread dough go well together. The taste is good for a wee heavy; all the elements are here. Carmel, roasted malt, alcohol, some grain. Very well made. Mouthfeel was a touch syrupy and thick, but remained smooth and easy flowing. Drinkability is decent, as I don't think this beer would be great all the time. When looking for a good example of the wee heavy style, this should be your starting point.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2005 00:00:04 | More by Frozensoul327
Photo of Citadel82

New Jersey

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

This is an exceptionally tasteful Scotch ale. Pours a deep ruby brown with a generous long lived tan head that left sheets of lacing on the thistle glass I used to drink this puppy. Aroma of malt and humus/peat. Taste was earthy and buttery with sweet malt and peaty /smoky notes short bitter finish. Mouth feel was slick and and persistently oily. Very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2005 03:07:47 | More by Citadel82
Photo of Golden2wenty1


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

Picked up a single at Steve's on University here in Madison. With a name that formidable, I had to give it a try.

Pours a dark, almost opaque porterish brown, with a finger of dark tan bubbly head. Nose is pungent and earthy - peat moss, smoked wood and dark fruits. Flavor profile is as formidable as its name - again the smokey, earthy, woody character, along with caramel malts, and a hearty helping of dark, dripping prune and fig. There's definitely some RIS or Baltic Porter in this one. I've never had a Wee Heavy with those dark fruit notes like this. Mouthfeel is substantial, the alcohol makes its presence known but doesn't ovewhelm. This is a very unique and potent Scotch Ale unlike any I've had before. Definitely worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2005 00:19:09 | More by Golden2wenty1
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,715 ratings.