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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

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Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

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1,954 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,954
Reviews: 944
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 157
Gots: 190 | FT: 2
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,954 | Reviews: 944
Photo of jwc215
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours mahogany with ruby hues and a frothy off-white head with great retention.

The smell is of caramel with earthy/woody and raisiny notes.

The taste is of caramel/toffee with earthy notes and a hint of butter. Rich maltiness is balanced by raisins and a light roast in the finish.

Creamy, smooth and full-bodied.

Dangerously drinkable.

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

Lots of malt and alcohol in the nose. Molasses, smoked peat and spicy almost rye aroma. Sweet start. Hops build by the middle and the finish is semi-sweet. A strong ale that borders on a barleywine. Very warming and tasty. Comes in a pricey 4-pack but well worth it. A special brew.

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

Thank you StinkyPuss.
SkullSplitter - Orkney Brewery
Product Of Scotland
First beer from Scotland
Poured into a pint glass
Pours blackcherry with a little oil slick of foam for a head. Very little lacing but cloudy and hazy with plenty of carbonation.
The smell of alcohol and licorice, raisons, and dried dark fruits.
The taste is crisp and bitter. Raisons and dried fruit. Funky cheeries with brown sugar. Black licorice with an earthy hop bite.
Mouthfeel is creamy with a slight burn of alcohol. Crisp and sour.
Drinkability is great. It seems like you should be drinking a huge bottle of this. It's a big beer no matter what size the bottle.

Photo of wschumac
4.67/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Dark reddish brown with very little head. Head disappeared almost immediately.

S - Sweet aromas excellent maltiness
T - Caramel very sweet tasting just as it smells. A little hidden aftertaste of hops but excellent tasting.

M - smooth and creamy love it
D - very easy to drink

watch out for the ABV

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

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appeared a nice clear shade of reddish mahogany with a one and a half finger light tan head that leaves some very nice looking sheets of lace.

Aroma of caramel, raisins, toffee, maybe a touch of hops far in the background.

Taste is exploding with caramel maltiness. The raisiny fruitiness is also present here and blends wonderfully with the caramel flavors. After the explosion of malt there is the slightest hint of earthy hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel is nice and thick, creamy.

What can I say, this stuff is great. You would never think it's 8.5% alcohol if you didn't know. It's a nice changeup to go from hop bombs to malt bombs every once in a while.

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

Poured a dark amber color with a minimal white head. Not much lacing to speak of.

Smell sweet. Lots of fig and date aromas with hints of caramel or vanilla.

Might have been a bit cold because the flavor seemed to work from the back to the front palate. Very malty with nice dark fruit. A very faint hoppiness.

Mouthfeel is very creamy. Rather fizzy up front and is follow by a smooth creamy finish.

Very, very drinkable. Alcohol is well masked. Ranks near the top in the style for me.

Photo of spointon
4.72/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I poured this ale from an 11.2oz brown bottle into a 6 oz sipping glass.

A= This ale poured a dark caramel brown with a thin tan head. Minimal carbonation release visible and minimal lacing.

S= I detected notes of caramel malts, treacle, ripe fruit, and unbelievably, a small note of earthy hops.

T= This ale was full of rich caramel flavors, punctuated by spice cake, mild hops, and a bit of alcohol in the finish.

MF= This was a smooth and slick mouthfeel. Medium-heavy bodied.

D= An outstanding brew, one of the best of the style that I have ever had. I enjoyed this one as dessert after a meal and I will certainly do so again...

Photo of Weizenmensch
5/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First of all, this is like no other wee heavy I've ever had. I was just going to enjoy this ale quietly, musing on its merits without reviewing it, because I thought I knew what I was in for.

There are flavours in this beer I've seldom had before, and never all at once: the brewer who created this combination is truly skilled. There are elements of Kelpie Seaweed Ale, and other herbal ales I've tried, but also understated and richly satisfying christmas pudding, pepper and cinnamon flavours.

I'm not one for English nut-brown ales with these flavours normally, as they are usually too overstated. It's easy to make a brown ale with rich raisin, plum and spice notes, but very hard to have them balanced to such an extent that the overall impact isn't astringent and generally unpleasant in the mouth.

Skull Splitter works. It tastes like a seaside brewery - you can taste the bitter herbs, seaweed, sharp hops, and also the rich, flavoursome characteristics of the malts. I will remember this beer, not only for its awesome name and bottle, but for reminding me that ALL styles of beer can truly be made excellently, even the ones I personally am not so naturally attuned to.

Bravo, Norman Sinclair!

P.S. I'm giving this a straight five, but only because it's the best ale of this style I can possibly imagine. I've never had anything close to this in this style. However, I've had other excellent beers in other styles that have approached and sometimes merited a five. When it comes to the Scottish beer world, this is the leader of the pack.

Photo of theghost3
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is mahogany with a hint of red. I poured a one finger white head. Smell is molasses and roasted malts. It tastes strongly of malt with caramel and molasses. Alcohol is very prevalent, so there is a bit of a whiskey flavor. Feel is smooth and just slightly acidic due to the higher alcohol content. This is a fairly drinkable beer but strong and somewhat heavy, so don't plant to drink more than a couple in a session.

Photo of ibbjamin
3.32/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Paid $2.49 for an 11.2 oz bottle from BevMo in San Jose, CA. Poured into a snifter with one pour.

Aggressive pour leads to a one finger head and retains as a thin sheet on the top of the brew. Laces nice upon first glance, but the lacing quickly diminishes. Deep reddish brown color. Not much carbonation visually.

This is a hefty one in the nose and smells really tasty. Alcohol well blended with caramel and roasted malts.

Alcohol present in the taste as well along with the aforementioned caramel and roasted malts.

Nice carbonation in the mouth leading to a fizzy yet smooth finish. Full bodied, thick, smooth and a little creamy.

A good representation of this style. A bit heavy for my liking and the alcohol could have been masked better. A one and done on this one.

Photo of morimech
3.92/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish brown with a small off-white head that quickly settles to a thin cap. A little sticky lacing is left on the glass.

I smell caramel malt with a little smoke mixed in. Surprised on how sweet it smells. Alcohol is detected but it is not prominent.

Caramel malt is the main player in the taste. The malt is complimented by a smokey peat, earthy flavor. A little alcohol warming is noted.

Has a medium to heavy body and a low carbonation. The result is a nice creamy mouthfeel that coats the mouth.

A good sipping beer on a chilly, rainy day. One a session would certainly be enough.

Photo of Chugmonkey
1.32/5  rDev -67.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

I love the name of this beer, one of my favorite beer names ever. Smells strong, earthy, smoky, and medicinal. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. Taste is intolerable. Drinkability is impossible due to thick mouthfeel and nasty lingering medicinal syrupy aftertaste. I could not finish it. This beer made me want to quit drinking altogether. Should be named Throatsplitter. I shutter and cringe when I see it in a store.

Photo of joeboe2001
3.82/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First, let me say that the Skullsplitter I had was probably served way too cold, and that I did not have the patience to let it warm up before I tasted it.

Appearance--dark, nearly opaque. When I held it up to the overhead lights, little shined through. Very little head, could probably have been poured without producing any.

Smell--musty, smoky smell--peat?

Taste--rich and complex, very malty. Full mouthful of flavor at first, only a mild aftertaste at the back of my mouth after. Smooth despite high alcohol content.

Drinkability--too rich to drink over and over. Went down easy, but this is a one-at-a-time brew.

Photo of gonzo46and2
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beef brothy amber brown. Aroma is beefy too! Warms to a molasses, brown sugar, caramel, beef and barley soup. Taste is a bit dry and salty then sweet and warming. Slight bitterness is detectable but understated. This one's a heavy meal akin to shepherds pie. Great to sip.

Photo of Lenny2884
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a mahogany, reddish brown color with an airy white head that falls to a thin covering.

Smells like sweet caramel and alcohol. Hints of nuttyness and chocolate as well. Faint hint of spicy hops round out the aroma.

Tastes very sweet and smokey. Caramel dominates my tastes buds with the smoked flavors coming into play later. Bitterness is low but apparent and it ends dry. Chocolate flavors linger around well after the brew has been swallowed. Very complex malt character.

Overall, nice scotch ale. I'm not too familiar with the style but I definately enjoyed this one. Would not session this beer bc of how sweet it is, but would be great with some dessert or after a meal. Not sure if I could drink more than one of these in one sitting. Cheers!!

Photo of thartman
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from an 11.2oz. bottle, a rich mahogany color, with a healthy head which dissapated quickly. Smell of smokey malts, molasses, and caramel. Very malty in flavor, with a wine-like sweetness, very warming, with a dry lasting finish of horehound candy, caramel, and malt. Nice sipping brew. This would be excellent after a good steak dinner!

Photo of BamaBeerBuff
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A deep mahogany with cherry highlights and some suspended yeast particulate floating around in the beer. A large light mocha head falls to a thin bubbly covering, leaving some decent patterns of lace for a beer of this alcohol content.

S: Very complex--notes of brown sugar, molasses, dark fruit, and a faint smokiness. Alcohol adds some nice spiciness to these otherwise sweet aromas, as well.

T&M: Molasses, burnt brown sugar, and figs are all present before giving way to a complex earthiness in the finish. A medicinal flavor becomes more prevalent as the beer warms. The body is medium with some light carbonation and a pleasant finish.

D: SkullSplitter can tend to get a bit heavy, and when you combine that with 8.5 ABV, you get a beer that's definitely a sipper. I probably couldn't have more than 1 of these at a time, but it's still a solid beer.

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

I believe this review will finally push me from acolyte to initiate, yay!

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Deep garnet, almost brown with decent clarity. One finger head hangs around for awhile before settling to a white film. Moderate lacing.

S - Caramel and butterscotch all the way. Smells like a fine dessert.

T - Mild overall. Restrained sweet butterscotch notes hit first. The beer starts to dry out mid palate with a woody, almost smoked character. Akin to a sweet bourbon mixed with an old rum, with a touch of woody, peaty, briny Scotch. Alcohol is exceptionally well hidden.

M - Light carbonation with a slick mouthfeel. Couldn't imagine this brew any other way.

D - A glass of this is wonderful, maybe two. Wouldn't quite call this a session beer but considering the high ABV this is extremely mild and drinkable.

Photo of homebrewhawk
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz. bottle served in a Duvel glass. Poured a dark copper/brown with a little more than a finger of off white head. Rich malty aroma with caramelized sugar, toffee, and fruit. Full bodied with lots of malt. Molasses sweetness. There are some hops in the middle to balance the sweetness. Nice scotch ale.

Photo of AmishT
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into snifter

A - Deep copper/crimson with a great foamy off-white head that leaves ample lacing. Really neat color...definitely love the appearance. Also, the badass viking on the label is worthy of extra points

S - Sweet, toasty malts are present with maybe a hint of some sort of yeasty aroma. Not a very bold aroma, but a pleasant one, nonetheless. Faint alcohol aroma, as well.

T&M - Complex, spicy caramel malts is the best way I can describe the flavor profile, other than delicious. The unique finish is also rather tasty; it has a more earthy character to it than the spicy malt flavor. The flavors are enhanced by an appropriate level of carbonation. When held on the tongue, the beer retains it's bold malty character very well. Full-bodied, warming, and smooth.

D - The unique flavor profile and alcohol content make this an ale that you should pace yourself with. However, it is very delicious, and as such, quite drinkable. I just wish I could pick up more of this in Alabama.

*Edit- 2nd time around, smell is alot more in your face - much stronger yeasty aromas

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!

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,954 ratings.