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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

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Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

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1,952 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,952
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: 1,952 | Reviews: 944
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

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.

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

A - Pours a medium brown with hints of ruby. Aggressive pour resulted in a solid half inch of head that stuck around for longer than expected. Lacing was also good.

S - Aromas of this one are complex. Sweet malt, grains, bread, and alcohol are all in the initial waft with no one aroma taking the forefront. There is also a light hint of grapefruit on the end.

T - Very sweet but not cloying. Flavors such as caramel and molasses really stand out but the bite of the alcohol brings a nice balance. Towards the end there is a combonation of bread and nuts. As it warms all the flavors become a little softer.

M - This one is borderline full bodied with good carbonation. The high abv makes the mouth pucker just a tad.

D - This was a really good beer. It is strong and complex yet goes down with ease. Once it warms the smoothness starts to shine.

Photo of PhageLab
4.24/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a sifter (I refuse to use the word snifter if you haven't already guessed)

A - Dark brown coloration with rich ruby hints that glow in the light. Minimal head which is reduced to a frothy ring around the edge of the glass. Laces very well. Nice presentation.

S - Very sweet alcohol/liquor like aroma. Loads of cherries and dark fruits. I can't actually describe how good the scent of this brew is. Amazing.

T - Malty profile that is very sweet, but not overbearingly so. Bites hard then warms as it goes down. Very tasty, but this seems like it would pair well with a nice steak, unfortunately, I don't have one.

M - Full bodied, low carbonation level, similar to drinking a glass of fine brandy.

D - Excellent for how potent this brew is. I highly recommend this one. This makes two for two from Orkney, both beers I have had have impressed me greatly. Do what must be done, drink this.

Photo of Dodo2step
3.44/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased- Market Cross Pub in Carlisle, PA.

The bottle is very unique in that it reminds me of braveheart for some odd reason. Could do without the red foil at the top.

A-pours foamy and it chocolate dark in color

S-nothing to special

T-very thick and heavy and has a malty bittersweet aftertaste.

M-bubbly and refeshing in the mouth though

D- its a fine beer to have once and awhile with friends. I would not buy a six pack to sit around and drink though.

Photo of pwoods
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to redneckchugger for this brew.

12oz. brown bottle with red foil over the cap, poured into a pint.

A: Pours a deep rust color with decent visibility. 1 finger of slightly.. pinkish? head forms and falls fast to a skim. Some patchy lacing.

S: Very sweet from the caramel malts. Very strong fruity esters come out in the form of bananas and... strawberries? haha. Some sweet salt water taffy comes out as well.

T/M: Very sweet caramel and candied sugar malts dominate. Plenty of hops poke out from the back, at times even balancing with the malts. Alcohol is warming but not overpowering. Medium body with limited carbonation.

D: Decent brew that I'll probably come back to. Makes a nice night cap.

Photo of bort11
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Thin head that quickly recedes to a faint ring. Color is a hazy ruby red, very pretty shade.

Smell is strong caramel malt aroma, with some oak and smokey peat notes mixed in. Taste is even more smokey with a bit of ginger spice added to the finish. Nice warmth

Mouthfeel has solid medium body. Mild carbonation is a bit prickly. This is very enjoyable, and I should pick this up more often.

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

Had a bottle of this at Shakespears Pub in Sarasota with my cousins Mike & Chris. Poured into the pint glass to form a nice 1" dense off-white head. The beer is a dark amber color. The foam leaves spotty lacing down the sides of the glass.

The aroma is quite buttery and caramel. Some nice toasted malt too.

The taste: Quite good. lots of sweet caramel and a bit of bitterness to back it up and add balance. Buttery smooth.

MF: Thick, rich and smooth. appropriate carbonation. Chewey.

Drinkability: Sure, I'll have another! Good Wee Heavy! Recommended.

Photo of Sneekeren
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

S: Poured out of a 11.2 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: It has a nice amber color with a white head that fades nicely with lacing behind.

S: Smells of caramel and malt. Also smell some honey in there.

T: Goes down sweet but not overpowering. The alcohol comes out after you swallow.

M: The alcohol warms up the mouth after tasting the beer.

D: Very drinkable beer. I havent tried to many Scotch Ales, but this is definately worth trying.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,952 ratings.