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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,843 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,843
Reviews: 926
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 138
Gots: 144 | 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: 1,843 | Reviews: 926 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerRun13
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful, deep, reddish amber. Super clear like a magnifying glass. A dark off white head fades but leaves good lacing.
Aroma jumps out at you the second you pop the cap. Malty, caramel, and fruity esters. Maybe a little peat/smoky notes.
Malty and caramel with a smoky roasty touch. Dark fruit and some slight alcohol. More peat or something peatlike as it warms.
Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Alcohol definately warms, but is still quite smooth. Almost a touch chewy. Slightly dry finish.
Now this is the real deal when it comes to the style. Quite yummy.

BeerRun13, Apr 28, 2007
Photo of fightingirishcmk
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a beautiful transparent amber color, with a fair sized head. The head lasted for a good amount of time, and was slightly off white in color. Good lacing was left on the glass.

S: Strong sweetly smelling aroma, consisting of cherry, malt, hops, warming caramel, alcohol. Somewhat fruity in nature.

T: Smoky malts are present, as well as the caramel and alcohol. A slight fruit taste of cherry is present. The alcohol is somehwat perceptible, and a drying finish is noted.

M: Slight carbonation, medium to heavy body.

D: Fairly thick, but very tasty. I would definitely try this beer again given the chance.

fightingirishcmk, Apr 18, 2007
Photo of chadspivey
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: the color is like a mix of copper and oak. Very nice 2 finger head, offwhite. 4.5
S: Belgian yeast and fruits galore. Damn this smells delicious. 4.5
T: The first sip was a shock. There’s all kinds of stuff going on that I didn’t smell. It tastes breadish and malty and yeasty and dark and delicious. The malt makes it seem like a dopplebock. But then there’s the belgian fruit and yeasty stuff going on too. 4
M: Really nice and smooth. Maybe a little thinner than your average dopplebock.
D: Very drinkable. I’d like to have another, but only have the one.

Next time I go to Kentucky, Im bringing back more than just one of these...

chadspivey, Apr 11, 2007
Photo of Minkybut
3.38/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured this beer from the bottle to a 50 degree tumbler. This beer was caramel colored with a khaki colored head that was really fine bubbles. Sweet smelling beer with a slightly nutty finish to it. Slightly sweet taste but not overpowering. This was an interesting beer and I think I would try this one again.

Minkybut, Apr 08, 2007
Photo of Redwood21
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured an extremely dark amber brown color, with a light brown, tan head. Very vreamy looking head that had moderate longevity, and moderate lacing.

S: more subdued than i would excpect. some malty sweetness, some caramel sugar aroma, nothing strong though.

T: NICE, there is some butter and caramel, some back tongue spice or herbal ness, not sure. something else to it, soemthing good.

M: so creamy and smooth, very nice feel to it, hard to put the brew down.
D: Its a heavier tasting beer, high in alcohol too. Not something i would drink all the time, but i love scottish ale especially as a change of pace, and while i like traquir more, at less than half the price this is a better value. Very good

Redwood21, Mar 31, 2007
Photo of klewis
4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a mahoghany color with a foamy head. Decent sustain and lacing.

S: Sweet, malty smell with some aromas of caramel, molasses, and cookie dough.

T: I am greeted by an unexpected taste reminescent of a Schlenkerla rauchbier. A light smoke taste is complimented with meaty flavors and a malty backbone. A very good balance lets a multitude of complex flavors shine through.

M: Full-bodied and heavy with light carbonation. Smooth and gentle on the tongue.

D: Totally unexpected. This is quite an amazing treat, and I would recommend this to anyone. Rauchbier fans will probably enjoy this one more than others, but the subtlety of the smoked flavors should be appreciated even by novices.

klewis, Mar 27, 2007
Photo of geexploitation
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear but dark -- kind of a mahogany with reddish caramel highlights -- and a big, light tan head that kicks up big initially but fades pretty quickly. Aroma is pure maltiness, with toffee, caramel, very light figgy fruits, molasses and a touch of wortiness. On the palate, brisk carbonation kicks things off, followed by some nutty malts and just a touch of caramel-tinged fruits. Things are quite sweet and malty. Doughy, thick mouthfeel with low carbonation. This is a beer that is not too complex, but makes up for that in big flavors wrapped up in a smooth package. It's excellent for the style, which IMO should be pretty straightforward and malty, without too many frills. Very good beer.

geexploitation, Mar 27, 2007
Photo of hunteraw
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Ruby/garnet in color, good head, some retention and lacing.

Smell: Very sweet smelling, caramel and butterscotch, some alcohol.

Taste: Sweet, caramel, some alcohol. Bitter finish aids drinkability a bit - sweetness doesn't get too cloying.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, carbonation maybe a bit light.

Drinkability: Not my favorite style, scotch ales are generally too sweet for me, but this one wasn't too bad.

hunteraw, Mar 25, 2007
Photo of mmcave
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a four pack of 11.2 once bottles at whole foods. Poured aggressively into a nonic, thick creamy off white head developed and then faded into little more than a centimeter of film on the surface. The retention is minimal as is lacing. The body is a caramelized brown color with reddish orange tones and tarnished gold highlights. Smell is mildly sweet and very malty. I get lots of caramel, bread, vanilla, biscuit, roasted barley, faint hints of rum, hops are very minimal in the aroma with a slight peppery note. Taste is very malt forward with tons of caramelization and hints of earth. Well balanced roasted barley with sweet malts, hints of rum and a slight oaked or wood flavor. The bitterness is minimal and gives just enough support to balance the sweet caramel flavor. The mouth feel is crisp, yet hearty enough to hold my interest. The alcohol is in the right place for the style, which limits this to only a couple beers in a session, but I enjoy it just the same. Overall this is a pleasant beer and I would likely buy it again.

mmcave, Mar 22, 2007
Photo of mithrascruor
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330 mL bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a dark, clear ruby color with a brownish tint. The head is light tan in colour; thick yet a bit airy.

Smell: Strong fruity aroma, apples and pears, generally, with a slight malty-caramel smell.

Taste: Malty taste with a bit of caramel and some smoky flavors. Light hint of apples as well. Slightly bitter/smokey aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium- to heavy-bodied and generally smooth. Slightly prickly carbonation.

Drinkability: Pretty strong alcohol-wise, but that isn't noticable in the taste. Seems a bit more difficult to get down than a beer of this type should be, though.

Overall it's a nice Scottish ale, but it's nothing outstanding. The buttery feel is missing, as is some of the smoothness for this type of beer. Taste-wise this was a bit of a disappointment as well. I still consider it worth trying, but Traquair reigns supreme...

mithrascruor, Mar 18, 2007
Photo of basscram
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown color which can be seen through and has reddish tint. Head is pretty much nil on this one. Smells like a doublebock and has that slight caramel wiff. First taste is wow! Very sharp flavor and when you swallow, that high abv comes out too. It does have that slight grapefruit taste mixed with the caramel that I tasted which could be the hops I taste. the lacing on the glass continues on as well as you drink this. There are some more tastiness I can't seem to think of that comes to mind when I taste it. I DEFINITELY would recommend this beer for someone who wants something tasty to drink. A great ale. My first Scotch Ale at that!

basscram, Mar 14, 2007
Photo of beerphilosopher
3.48/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a clean ruby-esque color with a rather thin tan-colored head and spotty lacing in the pint glass. The nose is of caramel malts, stewed fruits, and perhaps oats? The palate is some what sweet upfront, but quickly yielding to the aggressive hop presence in this wee heavy / Scotch beer. Slight citrus overtones toward the finish, along with the sweet fruitiness that creates a very nice compliment indeed. This beer is quite heavily carbonated and has a medium mouthfeel. Despite the ABV, the alcohol isn't predominant. Finish is dry. Over all, a very good ale. Quite drinkable, as the alcohol is well hidden. I dig the combination of sweet fruitiness and dry hoppiness in this one. Well crafted.

beerphilosopher, Mar 08, 2007
Photo of guitarmage
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Nice clear amber, orange tint, a couple bubbles rise through the beer. The head is foamy and cream colored. Medium retention, sticky creamy lacing.

Smell: Faint caramel, a mustiness, light rum alcohol, a peppery spiciness, not especially aromatic.

Taste: A big dose of caramel, honey, sweet malt is the focus, barely any hop character, the caramel hangs around the whole time. The finish is dry, biscuity, hawaiian sweet bread.

Mouthfeel: Very full bodied, but creamy and light in a sense, if you get a little air the beer foams up, carbonation is light and just makes one appearance.

Drinkability: This beer is 8.5% and very sweet, but I find it more drinkable than many. I kinda leaves your mouth after you have tasted it, and also doesn't have hops saturating the palate. Tasty.

guitarmage, Feb 27, 2007
Photo of crwills
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, burnt caramel colour with a white bubbly head. Aroma is caramel, dark bread, and boozy bitter chocolate. A smoky, oily mouthfeel introduces a dense, pumpernickel bread or wheat cracker flavour with some caramel and a little bit of sweet alcohol.

crwills, Feb 26, 2007
Photo of theformula
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Luscious dark brown body with large tan head and great retention.

S: Complex and utterly malty. A potent yeas and caramel body with dark, rum-soaked fruits rounded out by faint biscuit aromas.

M: Uber thick, but not chewy. It's very smooth and full-bodied, with a syrupy texture and coats the mouth like a big bear hug. Yeah, that's right.

T: Big caramel foundation. Uncommonly rich and syrupy with dark, ripe, rum-soaked fruits, delicious biscuit and just a touch of hop flavor. Huge, dark malts dominate and a flicker of peat/old scotch leaves that great, grainy texture.

D: A big, unique and brilliant wee heavy. Alcaholic presense is there, but it's subtle and sneaky. The finish is pretty long and earthy. Sip this on a fridgid night. One of my favorites.

theformula, Feb 23, 2007
Photo of Graebner
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Comes in a smallish 11oz bottle depicting the Skullsplitter on the front. Very nice. Rating slightly improved due to the appearance of the viking. Pours a dark brown with a finger of white head. low-moderate bubble column action.

Smells of esters, apple juice, spice.

Tastes sweetish and very caramel-like up front. Spicy alcohol over the tongue, slight hops in the finish.

Alcohol present, and adds to the mouthfeel of this one. One gets a woody alcohol feel as though from a good scotch, as well as a slight drying. Carbonation is balanced and enjoyable.

Overall not a session, but one to sip and savor. Terribly drinkable for 8.5%, though too many and you'd likely receive a visit from the Skullsplitter himself the next morning. A quintessential wee heavy, excellent example of the style.

Graebner, Feb 15, 2007
Photo of claytri
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer poured a clear med brown with an off white head. The aroma was of malt with hints of alcohol. It tasted of malt and alcohol with dark fruits in the finish also some hints of vanilla. The feel was heavy and slightly oily. While initially the look was a little off it was a good beer, It improved as it warmed, although being pulled it only started out cool.

claytri, Feb 11, 2007
Photo of StargherKing
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish-gold color. Best description I can think of would be semi-translucent caramel. Very little head, but that was probably from the pour. Little to no carbonation is readily evident. Smell is malty, just the barest hints of hops underlying. Hints of vanilla, caramel, and possibly cocoa/coffee. Smell isn't as strong as I expected, but that's not necessarily bad. Taste is caramel, coffee, and vanilla. Some underlying fruit, apple or pear, subtle tones of banana. Hints of whiskey. Mouthfeel is rich without being too thick. Almost like a crisp syrup, if that makes sense. I can already feel the alcohol content creeping up, but it's hard to notice from the taste alone. Goes down very smooth, not too rich, I could down this all night.

StargherKing, Feb 07, 2007
Photo of Poser
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The first sip of this kicked my ass. I was not expecting such a strong flavor. It felt like it must be above 10% ABV, so I was surprised when it was a respectable 8.5. The aroma is of alcohol with some creamy white chocolate -- a touch of citrus. It has a full mouthfeel with strong, almost creamy malts up front. It balances out in the finish with a light hop bitterness.

Poser, Feb 03, 2007
Photo of Musky
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a nice ruby red, has a nice thick head. Way to much sediment to point where I had to stop pouring 2 inches from the bottom. My homebrew beer doesn't eve have that much sediment. A nice sweet floral aroma, the bubbles dance on your tongue with a tangy kick. Malty and bubbly best describe this with a hint of sweetness and alcohol warming. Nice beer for a cold night in Wisconsin it is currenty 2 with a windchill of -14.

Musky, Feb 03, 2007
Photo of Atlas1
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I know very little about the Wee Heavy, but I was excited to see this at the store recently and grabbed one to try at home. I'm glad I did so.

Poured from the bottle into a belgian-style goblet. I wasn't sure what the proper glassware was for a scotch ale such as this, but this seems to work just fine. The color ranges from deep mahagony in the body to ruby red at the edges. It's a pretty looking ale, but it would be even prettier if the head hadn't been so thin and quick to dissipate. The nose is sweet and malty. Some prune and apple notes with hints of banana and maple syrup. Maybe some vanilla as well. Distant hints of black cherry. This is quite a tasty beer. The cherry makes a profound appearance here, hitting up front on the tongue. Subtler fruit flavors take over as the ale settles iin the mouth. I can definitely feel the heat here too. At 8.5% ABV, it's hard to hide, even with all the fruitiness. Malty banana floats around with prune, and a hoppy finish helps clear the palate in the finish. The complexity continues to expand as the beer warms up. An interesting ale, to be sure. The mouthfeel is a tad thinner than I would have imagined, but not weak. Overall, this is a tasty brew, though not one to be taken lightly. The high alcohol is present and noticeable, but not overpowering, and this badboy could really sneak up on a person. Split some skulls even, if they weren't careful.

Atlas1, Jan 23, 2007
Photo of RidiculedDisplay
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours with about a finger's worth head, which settles into no perceptible head, and finally nothing. Lacing is spotty for a while, but the beer soon becomes solvent-like and laceless. Body is a brown with hints of sea green. A LOT of floaties in the body. Sort of gross looking in that aspect. Might just be my bottle, however. Overall a little unappealing in terms of body color, and the head is nothing to scoff at.

Smell: A sort of smokey, bready funk hits the nose first, almost reminding one of a Rauchbier at times. A soy sauce-like quality. Bread crust, dark fruits, a little alcohol, a little sting in the nose from maybe some mild hopping.

Taste: Again with the Rauchbier-like smokiness, sourdough bread, dried, chile-covered mango, a little general candy sugar sweetness on the tongue. A dry finish. A little complexity, but the smoky-bread malt quality sort of provides a bit of unbalance.

Mouthfeel: Bordering on very dry toward the end, medium-bodied carbonation. Too dry for my liking.

Drinkability: This is a brew with a deceivingly strong aroma and flavor, for it is surprisingly drinkable. However, the appearance of my bottle was borderline gross, and the smokiness borders too much on a Rauchbier for my taste. Don't get me wrong, I love a good Rauchbier every once in a while, but it seems unbalanced for this style.

RidiculedDisplay, Jan 23, 2007
Photo of 1fastz28
3.48/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

not much of a head to it, and it dies rather quickly has a fruity taste to it with no real distinction of a hoppy or maltness to it. alocohol stings the tongue but not in a bad way, very unique taste to it, the more i drink, the more fruits i can smell/taste, banana and apple especially

1fastz28, Jan 20, 2007
Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a very clear reddish brown color with a small 1/8" head of tight tan bubbles that faded within about 30 seconds. There is a little bit of lacing left on the glass after swirling and the head fades. There aren't really any bubbles rising to the top, so the head disappears and ends up as a small ring around the top of the beer where it meets the glass.

Aroma: Malt driven aroma with a hint of cherry. There may be a little bit of oxidation here, but it adds to the complexity rather than taking from it. I don't get any hops in the nose, and the often overdone peat aroma is very reserved.

Taste: The favor is much more complex than I suspected from the aroma. There is a real depth to the malt that allows you to taste the dark caramel malts as well as a truly defined dry bready flavor. This all accents a slightly burnt toast flavor that seems to be there the entire time. The cherry is definitely there in the flavor, but that is about it for fruit flavors. The rest is a medley of malt flavors to round out the beer. Obviously the malt leads the finish with the only real dryness coming from attenuation. There is a subtle but present warming on the back of the throat that sets in a good while after the sip.

Opinion: This is a really tasty beer. I like that it is different from the typical Scottish Peaty Monsters. This beer scratches an itch on my palate that can only be satisfied by a Bock or Doppelbock. It has a defined maltyness and reserved hops and other fruitiness that makes it go down really refreshing and full flavored. This beer doesn't lack anything, and I would certainly drink it again.

SkeeterHawk, Jan 05, 2007
Photo of demcorhip
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This ale poured a clear, deep reddish amber. Big 3-4 finger off white head formed on a relatively gentle pour. Finely carbonated, with a few vigourous sources of bubble from the bottom of the glass.

Big malty nose. Carmelized malt sugars most evident, as well as tangy, slightly smokey yeast, all on top of a pleasant, mellow, earthy grassiness.

Very nice caramel and toffee flavours, overtop of nicely toasted malts. Almost whiskey like in flavour, and complexity. Has qualities of earthy peat (yeast?, hops? malt?) as well as an essence of the sea. A light, grassy, and earthy hop finish to round it all out.

A very well balanced, slightly warming (due to the alcohol) big malty beer. Slightly dry, even with all the caramel and toffee flavours. Does a great job of showcasing quality scottish malts.

Very drinkable. Perfect for a warming session on a rainy winter's night. Should also appeal to any whiskey drinker, especially those who enjoy scotch. Very glad to have found this tasty treat, may have to take it head to head with some of the other wee heavy's available to me.

demcorhip, Dec 31, 2006
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 1,843 ratings.