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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,874 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,874
Reviews: 927
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 143
Gots: 153 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-08-1998)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,874 | Reviews: 927 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Lothar666
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- An aggressive pour into a Rapscallion snifter yelded a syrupy, brown red ale with a creamy bone white head that was two fingers thick and disappeared quickly, leaving a cream colored lacing.

S- Very sweet and fruity- Apples, pears or grapes and perhaps a hint of brown sugar.

T- Very little hops present- Fruitiness noted in in the smell above persists in the taste as well, with apples being the most obvious flavor present. It must be noted that the fruit flavors are sweet and not at all tart, making this a very enjoyable brew despite the lack of hop bitterness. The Alcohol content is also disguised very well.

M- Thick, full bodied and almost chewy. An excellent after dinner beer.

D- Extremely drinkable despite the high alcohol by volume, though the quality of the brew demands that this is a beer to be sipped on and enjoyed rather than gulped.

Photo of RDAdams
4.78/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My beer was served in a bottle at the Phoenix Restaurant in Ellicott City, Maryland. The Phoenix must be upscale since it has a beer list.

Appearance: Pours a rich ruby color with a half-inch, cream head that slowly recedes into lace. I was pleasantly surprised to see it had legs.

Aroma: A strong malt aroma with caramelized overtones malt aroma with a complex fruitiness and an absence of hops.

Taste: The roasted malt, the sweetness, and the subtle fruitiness make it absolutely delicious.

Mouthfeel: This is a full-bodied ale meant for those of us who like to chew their beer.

Drinkability: It is very rich and very smooth and definitely not for chug-a-lugging. I had half before dinner and half after dinner - as close to a dessert beer as I have ever sampled. It leaves you with the warmth of alcohol and the sense of completeness of the meal.

Photo of mbrandon2w
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Beautiful ruby colored brew, with a surprisingly fruity aroma. Lots of plums, raisins and tropical fruit in the nose. Sweet malt flavor, with caramel and fruit flavors coming through. Some alcohol.
Gets a bit heavy and a bit too sweet after a while though, otherwise nice brew.

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

pours a dark amber with one finger of tan, creamy head.

Smells fruity, sweet apples and raisins, Toffee, butterscotch and sherry. Malty and sweet with a mild hoppy bitter finish. No hint of the high abv.

Tastes good. Dark fruit, raisins, strong amounts of dark crystal malts with toffee and butterscotch. Finish is tight with a quick explosion of dark malt, booze and hops, finishing just as fast as it starts.

Creamy on the tounge, Sweetness balanced by high carbonation, booze and bitter hoppy finish.

Overall a good strong ale, certainly not a session beer, but a good one to start out with. Will buy again.


Photo of Vvall
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is an excellent Ale,and considering the alcohol content,it goes down real easy.I have had few Scotch Ales/Wee Heavies to compare it with so,as far as I know it is a great example.My only gripe is the cost and availability in my area,but that is hardly the Ales fault...right?This is one I will keep getting,when I can spare 15 bucks for a four pack,that is.

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

Bright red color, some cream colored head, lace in rounded blobs and dollops.

Smells mainly of sweet malt: Grape Nuts, toffee, butterscotch. Some nutty sherrylike oxidization. There's a delicious macadamialike quality to the nuttiness. There's also some candied cherry, raisin, and booze. Very appetizing.

The richly nutty oxidization comes through plenty in the flavor, combining with sweet toffeelike malt and booze to give a strong impression of sherry, and almost even of macadamia liqueur. Tasty malt profile, and raisin, fig and cherry. Lingering sherry and alcohol.

Soft fine carbonation, smooth creamy texture, really excellent.

Very drinkable stuff, the overt alcohol and oxidization are not liabilities.

I don't know if it's normally ozidized like this, but as it was I enjoyed this beer very much.

[Edit, 2-7-2008: Tried this again, and no oxidization. But a pronounced roast turkey smell and flavor! Not as good this time, but interesting anyway. I haven't edited the scores, they're based on the original tasting.]

Photo of andjusticeforale
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I bought this in Rhode Island at Wakefield Liquors. This poured to a thick golden/copper. After reading the bottle I was excited to try this beer. As is widely known, the use of hops was almost non-existent in earlier Scottish beers. Also, of course, with a name like skullsplitter you have to wonder about the strength... and it is a wee heavy;

Just a super explosion of taste on the first sip... Flavors of Malt and scotch whiskey and some toasted caramels, all mixed together with a long alcohol laden finish that really stops the flavor abruptly. This makes you want to take another sip. All the great flavors emerge and separate as the glass warms. There is no shortage of a reminder that this has a high alcohol content, but it really does provide Warmth during snow shoveling season. I can’t see having many more than two of these, but thats kind of obvious.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a clear brown color with about a half inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both good. Aroma is very malty, it smells like toasted malt, raisins, toffee, and caramel. Taste is similar to the aroma, although there's a nice bittersweet kick in the finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's a bit heavy and creamy, this beer definitely has some substance! Drinkability is good, the 8.5% ABV isn't very noticable even though it hits you later. The smoothness of this brew makes it easy to drink. I think this is more of a sipping beer, I don't think I could drink more than 2-3 of these at a time. Overall, I think this is a pretty good beer. If you like Scotch Ales, then you should like this one. A pretty good choice, I think!

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

I can find this at more than a few places locally, but I've never grabbed one until last week. I think the warrior pictured on the label has scared me off until now. Got a snifter ready, got my bottle opener, got smooth music playing in the background, okay, on to the beer:

The beer has a lovely brown color with deep ruby-red hues. The head sits about 3 cm high and retains well. The beer's smell is tart, with notes of raw brown sugar. Moving to the taste, it is a meaty maltball, but it isn't as aggressive as a doppelbock. Very smooth and the alcohol doesn't get in the way. Toasted malts, toffee, caramel, nutty, and buttery notes. Light yeast action in the taste as well. Let's see, what else? Oh noes, I'm almost finished!

That was one of the easiest 8.5% ABV beers I ever consumed. A good, smooth tasting beer with hidden alcohol will do that. I think the Orkney Brewery would do well to look at the English breweries who bottle their beers in Victorian pints : ) That's alright though, around $2 a pop, you can buy two bottles of this stuff and be merry.

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

The beer poured a copper color with very little head. The smell is a little of sweet bread. The taste is of caramel and raisins with a fairly heavy presence of alcohol. It kind of reminds me of fruitcake or something, it's very tasty. The mouthfeel is nice and the alcohol content makes for a very satisfying drinking experience, it's a little heavy to drink more than one of at a time, but I would recommend it as a dessert beer after a big meal. A very nice beer and I'll definitely be picking it up again sometime.

Photo of therica
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Wow I read everyone's reviews and no one said KICK OF HARD-STUFF!

Nice-- more like a raisin-brandy or maybe a little like very hard plum-wine.

A= modest rust-brown color but with a pink-red hue when held up to light (communion anyone?). Fairly foamy tan head, stayed and settled with lots of nice lacing.

S= WOW f you haven't been informed. Very potently nice plum-fruit-hardstuff scent at first whiff, then the same but less potent thereafter.

T= very plum-wine-esque with some distant hints of malt, I'm still looking for the hops but they could be hidden in here somewhere but disguised to my more beer-oriented taste-searchbuds.

M= smooth, nice slightly sweet plum aftertaste, no bitterness although slight hints of maybe a wild berry's tartness.

D= very drinkable for less than your first bottle, then cautions and warnings afterwards, although you'd probably want something different by then.

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

Lost a review? Poured from the bottle this beer is a nice garnet color with a light tan head and good lacing. Smell is sweet malts and a touch of spice. Taste is the same, typical of the style, smooth, sweet with a bit of earthy spice and bitterness in the finish to balance things out. A great 'comfort' brew to have while reading a book.

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

Poured 11.2 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A = Clear reddish, brown, big frothy off white head, thin lacing.

S = Good caramel, roasted malt.

T = The slight scent of roasted malt in the nose is rewarded with a deep taste of roasted malt, slight caramel overtones, some nuttiness. Slight alcohol burn but it helps balance the rich, thick roasted cocoa/coffee malt flavours. Sweet aftertaste of candied dates.

M = Luscious, meaty mouthfeel with good carbonation.

D = Not the best Scotch Ale I've had, but perhaps the second best (though there are still several on my list to try). Much better than most of the more commonly found brands. Taste is perhaps a little strong to want more than one or two at a sitting, but what a sitting it would be. Definitely something that brings me back again and again.

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

Poured out of the 11.02 oz bottle into a pint mug. This has a nice caramel color to it with a nice head and some decent lacing. The smell is very much like a confectioners bread and the taste is big with caramel and raisins. Overall a very good beer and very enjoyable

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

poured out of a 11.2 ounce glass. This is my first wee heavy, just saw Beowulf,so seemed like a good time to drink it. Nice dark brown color, creamy head, moderate retention. Smells like raisins, caramel bread...Raisin Bran! Fruit, candy, raisins again, slightly bitter finish of dark bread. Drinking this seriously is like tucking into a bowl of raisin bran, and I love it!(cereal fanatic) mouthfeel is not really heavy as expected, palate filling, but not heavy. This makes drinkablity easier.

Photo of rebel1771
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a reddish brown color with tons of sediment and a nice fluffy off white head.

Smell: Sweet caramels make up the body of the aroma with hints of vanilla, rasins, with a decent alcohol note.

Taste: Candied fruit flavors up front that quickly fade into dry malty flavor with a warming alcohol note at the end. Not the best Scotch Ale ever but damn drinkable.

Photo of rye726
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle, cellared for two years, poured into goblet.

Crystal clear but rich amber bronze color with a nice thick tan head.

The aroma is of sweet fruits and fresh honey with a faint citrus hop character.

This is a superb wee heavy. Perhaps not as complex as some scotch ales, but it is very well balanced. It again is composed of sweet malts and the quiet leafy hops. A fairly full body gives this brew a wonderful mouthfeel. Overall I found it a very drinkable beer to enjoy on a dark humid night.

Photo of bboven
4.78/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep ruby red clear body with a nice head that lasts. Thinnish lacing.

Smells like raisin bread or some kind of sweet bread along with lots of cherry, but definitely raisiny. Great complexity.

Taste is very sweet and malty, a little cherry note, but you can taste the alcohol here whereas it is not present in the smell.

Really smooth, moderate fluffy carbonation, just a tiny bit of bitter stickiness at the back of the throat.

Beautiful beer. It's the best Scottish Ale I've ever had, but I didn't want to rate it perfectly because I haven't had them all. It was really tempting, but I barely managed to find a flaw or two.

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

I had just drank a lighter (abv) lager before being served this ale, so my review may seem skewed, but I still cleansed my palate w/ pita points.
Served cold and allowed to warm slightly, poured in a 1/2 pint.

A - Deep copper/mahogany w/ a cap of about 2 fingers of tan foam.

S - A fruity ester from yeast that is similar to stone fruit and sweet malt w/ a rather dry malty odor and a gentle woody note.

M - A rough dose of peaty dry toasty malt in feel w/ boozy sweet potency and full carbonation in respect to a strong ale.

T - A big malty dry lightly astringent, crisp malt that is grainy yet sweet w/ caramel and vinous notes with plum and spiced rum notes. A scottish yeast character and peaty malt taste w/ a boozy flavor that is not shy about what it is packin'. Slightly oaky/sugary in the finish.

D - Not one to quaff, More or less a one and done for me, but well worth the price of admission if you wish to 'split your skull'

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

This was superb, a really well crafted beer that I waited far too long to try. Finally got around to buying a single of this one tonight while I was on my trip up to knoxville and I was not dissapointed. Poured a very nice deeep dark brown with an ample two inch head of off white foamy lace on top. This had some very nice retention and left behind about a half inch of frothy white foam on the top when it was done. Very nice side glass lace as well. The smell was nice, although I have to say a little on thel ight side. A nice sweet caramel like aroma mixed in with ample earthy grains made for a full aroma, just a little light. The taste was really smooth. for 9%abv this was remarkable in that you could pick up none of the alcohol. It had a medium to full body that had a great creamy feel to it. Great flavors of caramel with a touch of grassy hops and a decent bread like back. It had a noticable nuttiness to it as well. Overall this was a very very nice beer and something I know I will go back to. It was just so rediculously smooth, I really could have had four or five of them, thugh I am sure it would have caught up to me before then. Really a great treat and something I would have to highly recommend.

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

Appearance: Clear ruby-red in color, with a moderate white head, fine scattered patchy lacing, and no carbonation noted.

Aroma: Sweet caramel and alcohol, earth, no discernible hop presence. The caramel notes are sweet and quite appealing.

Taste: Sweet caramel opens the taste, followed by a slight wood note. Midway through the taste, a mild earthtiness appears, this carries on to the taste's end. The alcohol flavors are sweet, and subtle.

Mouth feel: Smooth and very full, quite soft to the palate.

Drinkability/notes: A very competently brewed example, not over-the-top, as some Scotch ales tend to be, but excellent, nonetheless.

Many thanks to Bill for generously sharing this uncommon Scotch Ale.

Many thanks to Bill for generously sharing this fine and uncommon Scotch Ale, which I had missed the opportunity to try some years ago, and had regretted ever since.

Photo of armock
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark amber color with an off white head that leaves some lacing

S - Caramel sweet malt and a little alcohol

T - Malt with coffee and chocolate hints

M - Medium bodied pretty smooth

D - If it wasn't for the price and abv this would be a great session beer

Photo of CHADMC3
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

·Appearance- Nice light brown to copper color depending on the light. Gracious creamy head leaves thorough lacing in its trail. Maintained thin head throughout consumption.
·Smell- Fine malt aroma, picking up some sort of fruit aroma I didn’t expect.
·Taste- In a word delicious, very obvious chocolate aftertaste. Hints of vanilla as well, darker ingredients suspected.
·Mouthfeel- Very full, but also very easy to drink and let linger. Very smooth.
·Drinkability- Easy to drink, even with abundant mouthfeel characteristics. I can’t put it down, I like everything about this beer.
****This is a keeper.

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

I poured a 330 ml capped and foiled bottle into a tulip.

A: It appeared a cola or tea brown when pouring but in back lighting it had a bright cherry hue. The head was massive...three sticky fingers. It receded to a slim cover over the brew and a ring around the collar that fed a lingering and rich lacing.

S: Deep dark yeast (like a loaf of freshly backed seven grain bread) that was quickly supplemented by dark sugars (molasses) and dark sweet fruits (plums and raisins).

T: It was full of dark sweet fruit flavors, with hints of and rich yeasty bread dough. Its sweetness is not overstated and it finishes dry and clean with a residual flavor of molasses.

M: Creamy, rich and full bodied. It starts of sweet and finishes warm and dry. Hardly any bit of hops or spiciness. Smooth, rich and creamy.

D: Wonderful after dinner sipping brew. Way to much ABV, sweetness and body for a long session but a great starter or finisher.

Comment: Rich and smooth without being overly sweet or dominated by alcohol. Great complexity and balance.

Photo of BeerSox
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into nonic

With an aggressive pour, this one only nets a one finger head, which is about the same color as a heavily creamed coffee. Slowly settles to a razor thin film over the beer. Ruby colored and clear. No lacing on the glass.

The long boil of the wort gives a heavy caramel aroma, with a very smooth overtone. The alcohol is easily detected (around 8.5%ABV) which is atypical, but it isn't necessarily bad. Being a malt oriented style, there really isn't much hop aroma to talk about.

This beer is sweet overall, with the "burnt" caramel being the main characteristic. The hops aren't really detected, but they may be responsible for the slightly spicy flavor that shows up. The alcohol comes in toward the end, and is more noticeable as the beer warms. Full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation, but not flat. The beer has a thicker feels that tends to linger in the mouth like cough syrup. This one is all malt from the start to the end, finishing up with a light grainy taste.

This is another beer for a malt lover. Full bodied and complex. The noticeable alcohol may be an issue for some, but I think it adds character to the beer. Also, it lets you know it's there. Recommended.

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 1,874 ratings.