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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

1,934 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,934
Reviews: 941
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 149
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
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Ratings: 1,934 | Reviews: 941 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of gwood
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've been saving this one for quite some time now and actually forgot that I had it...always a nice thing to find a surprise in the back of the fridge.

The beer comes with high praise and deserves it. It pours almost soda like with lots of carbonation spinning around in what is a slightly hazy deep brown brew with some light mahogony highlights. Lots of yeast and carbonatioin in suspension but the head died off so quickly my notes don't list anything on the head other than it came and went quickly. My glass was clean and at a good serving temp so I'm a bit perplexed there.

Smells are of slightly roasted but predominately
sweet malts, slight yeast, tingling sensation of alcohol, and dare I say an ever so subtle note of some herbal hops in the back poking through when coaxed out with a swirl or two of my pint glass. The palate is a bomb of caramel malt that explodes in the middle of the tongue and resonates out from it's epicenter, mellowing into sweet maltiness. The malt profile seems to dry out at first but it becomes apparent after a few sips that it's just transitioning into a somewhat astringent warming, no doubt the ABV asserting itself but never wearing out its welcome.

Mouthfeel is smooth and coating. Drinkability is quite high for the style. The alcohol is a welcome part of the overall profile of this beer rather than a harsh overlord. I'm glad to have waited for this one and I wasn't disappointed. If you're a fan of the style I highly suggest it.

Photo of beerindulger
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank this after work with a couple of my friends and we all quite enjoyed it! Appearance was a dark copper brown with a nice head that dissappated fairly quickly but still had carbonation bubles rising to the top of my glass. Smell was wonderful fruity with the alcohol and hops also in their. Taste was very good with a hop after taste that didn't linger as some beers do! Mouthfeel kinda chewy with some fruit undertones. Drinkability is most excellent very refreshing after one beer I could already feel a little buzz coming my way so I drank two more:)

Photo of Tdizzle
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at Vendome Fullerton.

A- Poured into a Chimay chalice, this beer pours a reddish-amber color with a bubbly head that quickly dissipates, leaving some nice looking lacing on the glass.

S- A very sweet and malty aroma with lots of sugary notes of candied fruits, brown sugar, maple syrup, and alcohol.

T- The taste is initially very sweet, but a mild hop bite kicks in shortly after, balancing out the flavor nicely. There are flavors of fruit and mild alcohol on the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy but with lively carbonation.

D- The sweetness of the flavor and the chewy mouthfeel makes this a sipper, but the 8.5% ABV is fairly well-hidden.

Photo of redmagik99
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

rich dark amber, faintly orange, fleeting head. Smells malty sweet, alcholic. Taste was big on the caramel/toffee, though no diacetyl at all like in some other scotch ales. sweet malts a little reminiscent of a dopplebock, but more of a slick, oaky, date flavor. Thick oily chewy mouthfeel, though a bit too much carbonation for my taste. Very rich, yet balanced. The hops do their job. I'm left with a bitter hop and tingly alcohol sensation. ad a powerful dryness seems to wipe it all away and then vanishes itself for a clean finish. Let it warm up for full effect. I paired this with dates and m&ms when i had a serious case of the munchies and it was awesome.

Photo of jdubjacket
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've seen this beer multiple times on the shelf and always thought it was a gimmick beer. Decided to pick up a 4-pack on a whim at Green's last night. Sure am glad I did. Pours a light brown with a almost no head. Some lacing on the glass. Smell is very sweet. Don't think it's the alcohol - almost like brown sugar. Tastes absolutely delicious. Very malty and sweet, like brown sugar and maple syrup, but not over the top. Coats the palate and the tongue very nicely, as it's almost chewy. A delicious brew. Very glad I picked this up!

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A. Pours solid mahogony with a quarter inch head that quickly dissipates. Nice lacing.

S. Smell is not very strong here, very surprising. Alcohol and notes of barley.

T. Hops are masked here behind tones of apple and oak. The sweet doughy taste hides the alcohol well.

M. Well carbonated. Coats the palate gracefully. Leaves a doughy aftertaste.

D. Solid. The high alcohal content is decievingly subdued behind the taste. A worthy treat in a case.

Final Thoughts....

An amazing ale that has a complex flavor profile. One is enough to get a contact buzz. Great fest or session brew. Tends to overshadow others.

Photo of Portertime
4.55/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank heavens for beer with flavor. Pours a hazy brownish color with a mighty head that stuck for a while. Smells of dried fruit and earthy goodness. Tastes of raisons and dried apricots. Nice malt and hop balance. Mouthfeel is smooth and pleasant. It got my taste buds peaked.

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle, served in a tulip glass.

A - hazy, chestnut brown color with a foamy tan head which fell to a ring that left a few spots of lacing.

S - earthy/sweetness in the smell. At first wiff I got a bubblegum aroma.

T - candy-like, sweet malty flavor up front with a little touch of bitterness towards the back end, leaving a sweet sticky taste on the lips.

M - medium/full bodied with a good carbonation feel.

D - ok brew for one or two.

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

Well i've held this one since december 2006 and it's time has finally come.

I down right enjoyed it. As i poured it i alternated my gaze into the beer and at the label, because this allows you to feel somewhere in the highlands. mystical, obscure...very nice.

the smell was also a ride for me. i may well be synesthesic, but i found it to have a fantastic dark chocolate feel hidden within a sweet malt that invaded the duvel tulip i poured it into.

the taste is brilliant. a brilliant soury introduction with a sweet malt coming in right behind in a fabulous blend with a bitter-sour hoppyness that enhanced a ruby red fruityness to it. plus a perfectly soft carbonation with a complimentary 'dirt inside'- the yeast blobs within- make this a full-on fab brew.

very, very enjoyable.

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

A - Mid sized white head with decent lace and a reddish-copper colored clear body.

S - Malty, caramel and toffee aromas with a strong, buttery, peaty character.

T - Lots of malt and caramel up front. Nutty flavors follow with a slick, buttery flavor with some smoky, peat undertones. All of these flavors continue into the finish with along with some warm alcoholic notes.

M - Full bodied, smooth and slightly oily. Medium carbonation and a sweet finish.

D - Rich and heavy bodied. A good example of the style. The alcohol in the finish is a bit hot, and the flavor could be a bit more complex, but the smoky caramel flavors are very nice.

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

a - dark copper brown with a nice tan head. Good looking carbonation running up the glass.

s - malty ripe fruit with alcohol

t - sweet, again some ripe fruits. huge malty caramel punch. The alcohol is there in the finish with a nice warming.

m - extremely full and smooth as silk

d - This is a great ale with a ton of sweet caramel flavor, maybe even a bit too much. This is spot on for the style (based on the description for wee heavy), but I was hoping for more smoky or peat types of flavors. This isn't what I thought it was, but turned out to be pretty good anyway. This won't become a regular for me, but it was definitely worth a try.

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

SkullSplitter does not look particularly intimidating as it pours a surprisingly light (for the style) and clear orangey-brownish amber color with a modestly fluffy head of white tinted orange.

The smell is a kinda crazy. It has a dark, malty, sweetness mixed with fruitiness, mixed with musty earth sourness, mixed with whiskey barrels. Me like.

The flavors falls half a step behind the smell. It is sweet dark malts and cherry/plum fruitiness with some light musty sourness, and earthy bitter wood. Nicely creamy mouthfeel for the style.

I would call this one a damn good wee heavy. It doesn't quite touch the upper echelon's of the style, but it is way better than your average brew.

Photo of LumpyGuitar
3.76/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tumbler, clear brownish red. Started out with a good two fingers of head but dissapated in less than 5 minutes. Only a tad of lacing.

Smell was my least favorite, ranging from alot of alcohol to the faint sweet hint of malt.

Taste was nutty, sweet, a bit of caramel and a sharp, albeit brief, bitter finish. For a beer with this ABV the alcohol taste is nowhere in sight ( taste rather ) and blends remarkably well.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, not much carbonation at all, however, I feel this beer is better without it. At first this beer seems like, but after a moment you get a fairly heavy syrupy feel. Pleasant, although I could with less syrup.

Drinkability is good. I'd drink a few of these in a row but it'd really have to be with the right food, as the taste is too unique otherwise. Got another of these that I'll be pairing with some trout.

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

Had this back to back with Traquair House Ale and to be honest there aren't a lot of differences. The flavor is definitely a good step stronger, but it's much of the same creamy caramel-flavored malts with a slightly bigger herbal hops kick at the end.

Appears a dark amber with a little lacing and short, light tan head. The aroma is of creamy candied malts and sugar syrup. The flavor has a very slight roasted caramel note in it, that amps this beer up a bit compared to the Traquair I just had.

This beer also does a great job of hiding the booze. Very tasty, well balanced, and pretty drinkable. Watch out, this could put you on the floor if you're not careful.

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

Pours a deep chestnut color, one-finger head that fades pretty quickly to a frothy ring.

Smells of bran flakes, sweet corn/maple syrup, slightly fruity and some saltiness. Smells kinda like cake with buttercream icing.

Sweet syrupy malt tastes a lot like barley really, light toffee and some soy impression from the odd salty finish. No hops to describe

Feels fairly light, but smooth and there is that saltiness that seems to stick around and coat the mouth. Nice sipper, probably much better with food.

Photo of joe1510
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml
$3.19
Sam's Marcey

Skullsplitter pours a beautifully clear glowing cherrywood. Tiny suspended particles are noticeable when backlit but in no way take away from the clarity. The off white head grew to one finger and died fairly quickly but left decent lacing on its way.

Rich somewhat syrupy malts greet the nose upfront. Figs, prunes, and spicy alcohol mingle with molasses, brown sugar, and a dark bready malt to create a very tempting combination. There is a surrounding peat smokiness.

Flavor follows the nose. The dark fruits add a nice layer of complexity over the top of the complex maltiness. The peat smoke floats throughout without being over powering in the least. Good example of a wee heavy!

Body leans toward the heavier side of the spectrum with a nice slick coating mouthfeel.

Skullsplitter goes down easy for such a high abv. Will keep you warm without a doubt.

This is a good example of a wee heavy. Tried side-by-side with Belhaven Wee Heavy, and although I enjoyed the Belhaven slightly better this was up there.

Photo of ams0286
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the third time I have now had the Orkney Brewery's SkullSplitter. The first time was in a beers of the world class that I took where I was just allotted a sample. After being so impressed with a mouthfull of this beer I had to get a full bottle. Although they are a little pricey per bottle, the purchase is well worth it.

A - A dark amber color with a slightly off white head. Not alot of head retention or lacing this time and just a few fisheyes throughout.

S - This is an extremely complex aroma for a beer. It almost off the bat reminds me of the scent you get from a cider. It's very sweet and malty smelling. Very light hop scent.

T - This is deffinetly a treat. Immediatly a sweet malty flavor comes through. Almost a hint of apple cider to the taste however that could be a result of the high alcohol level.

M - This is a medium bodied beer, more towards the syrupy end of the spectrum however it's very good and it's right where I would expect a beer like this to be.

D - A few of these and you'll be buzzing. This is no doubt a big beer. I love the stuff but my pocket can't afford to drink it every day.

Photo of boogles
4.77/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Impressive. I expected this to be overhyped, but I was wrong. Appearance and mouthfeel are what I expected, but the nose is really impressive--strong and complex, I don't think I can do it justice. The taste is bold and interesting (malt, of course), with plenty of development. Drinkability--downed very fast, and I usually drink slowly.

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

Appearance: It pours a clear, very dark amber color. Head is off white and roughly two fingers. Retention was excellent and a very solid web of lace lined the glass.

Smell: A load of caramel malt and dark fruit scents roll off the top initially. Strong yeasty aroma follows. There are light citrus notes (some grapefruit and a little mango). Light hops and alcohol are noticeable.

Taste: Caramel malt and dark fruit flavors blend well up front. A hint of roasted malt and light citrus flavors follow. It is a bit yeasty or biscuity, but not in a negative way. It really does complement the other flavors in this beer. Hops are somewhat faint and alcohol is blended very well.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's medium bodied. Carbonation is excellent. It is extremely smooth and drinkable. At 8.5%, it's a little strong, but not enough to hinder drinkability. I'd happily drink a few of these. Overall, this is an excellent beer.

Photo of ZimZamZoom
4.37/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep auburn color, beautifully clear, a brief big tan head that settled to a thin layer pretty quick, without a lot of lacing.

Big earthly malt aroma, sweet but mingling nicely with a light hop spiciness. Some dark fruit character as well. Taste is again sweet with malt, prune and fig notes abound with a bit of those spicy hops. A nice bitter hop and warm alcohol finish. Really finishes quickly though and the drinker yearns for another sip.

Big and hearty, definitely a good drinkable wee heavy. I'd go back to this one for sure.

Photo of timbro81
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to deepsouth in the Brews 'N' Tunes 3 BIF for giving me my first and hopefully not last taste of this nectar.

Pours a very clear amber with a touch of brown. Topped by a coarse half inch head that settles to a fine layer, minimal lacing down the glass. Smells of slightly sweet malts, toffee, and caramel. Taste is very similar to the nose but also balanced out with a slight yet noticable amount of spicey hops. A little viscous in the mouth. Aftertaste leans toward the toffee. Very well balanced and hides the 8.5% quite well. I could nurse this beauty for some time and be quite content. Seems like a good example of the style. Worth checking out.

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

Pours a coppery-brown hue into a small pilsner-style glass. Very bubbly. The bubbles continue throughout the drinking.

Smell is strong at first (sweet and yeast), but then fades.

Tastes very good. This is not overpowering for such a strong beer. There is a nice medley between the hops and sweetness.

Mouthfeel is effervescent, which is not common in such a strong beer.

I could drink a couple of these.
More drinkable than other strong beers.

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

Honestly, sometimes I just forget about beer. Really, I go through so many different brands and styles sometimes good ones just slip past unnoticed. Occasionally even a great one. Thanks to Eric Trotman of Chesapeake, I finally decided to take a look at SkullSplitter and I can't thank him enough.

SkullSplitter is a delight of a beer. A strong Scottish "Wee Heavy" that is sweet and flavorful and full on many different levels. Scottish Ales are generally all the same; dark malt-bomb beers which are rich and full of caramel, raisin, and dark fruit flavors. The varieties of Scottish ales are typically listed by price. Not dollars and cents, but in the old-school unused currency the shilling. Now Scottish beers are typically listed as 60 shilling, or 70 shilling, the price goes up as the alcohol and malt increases. That brings us to SkullSplitter. At the top of the shilling pile are "wee heavy's" the kingpin big daddy of the Scottish ales. These have the most malt character and the most alcohol, and tend to be the most complex and satisfying of all if the Scottish beers. SkullSplitter delivers on all counts. The smell alone is worth a few shillings easy, and for the taste I'd chip in another couple of bucks. To think, I've looked past this beer for years without giving it a thought. Just what else might I be missing, if anybody has a suggestion, after investigating SkullSplitter, I'm all ears.

Photo of Greggy
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a very dark color with a small 1 finger head that recedes quickly to no lace or head.

S: Cherries, Caramel, Vanilla, hint of alcohol

T: Smooth Caramel, Vanilla with cherries and peat. Very smooth and thick taste.

M: A nice subtle Scotch aftertaste - caramel+vanilla

D: Only when the mood strikes me!

Photo of Jmamay22
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown and ruby red maple colored somewhat cloudy and hazy. Hosts a creamy looking off white colored head that settles to a thin cap.

Smells of peat and caramel sweetness. Slight hint of alcohol.

Initial reserved peat tartness moves to sweet caramel with hops that work to keep the sweetness from becoming cloying, but adds no flavor or scent. Has a nice smoky background. Fairly straightforward, but well done.

Very drinkable full bodied and smooth. Sweet tasting beer, but far from cloying well done and enjoyable.

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,934 ratings.