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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

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1,939 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,939
Reviews: 941
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 151
Gots: 179 | 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: 1,939 | Reviews: 941 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of deepsouth
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

i'm enjoying this beer tonight out of a tremens tulip.

this beer appears a reddish-brown, nearly opaque. the head was very minimal with minimal retention, but hella lacing.

the smell is sweet and malty. caramel notes as well. hint of alcohol. smells great, but faded fast it seems.

the taste is malty and fruity and superbly balanced. the alcohol is quite warming.

this beer is full bodied, but a light drinker. (if that makes sense) fairly sticky. medium carbonation.

i really enjoy drinking a skullsplitter. i'm fairly new to scotch ales and i find this one highly drinkable.

Photo of windigo32
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've got to say, there really wasn't anything that I didn't like about this beer.

A: Pours a nice dark copper with a decent head. It goes away after a while, but there is still some slight retention.

S: The smell is very good. It is caramelly and malty. Possibly a slight honey undertone.

T: Sweet, caramelly and malty, just like the smell.

M: Smooth and lightly carbonated.

D: If I wasn't going to the bar I got this at to sample various beers, I'd definately have had another. This might be worthy of getting a case from my local distributor.

Photo of dsa7783
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saw this beer in various "Great Beers of the World" books, so my interest was piqued, and I was able to cop a single 11.2 oz bottle from Total Wine and More in West Orange... This was an excellent all-around beer, great flavor, style, and full of body and essence... pours a copper/amber color with minimal head but a nice reddish hue that is appealing... strong aroma full of caramel, slight malts, butter, honey, and sugars... Great flavor, sweet but not overbearing, caramel, malty essence with a sweet aftertaste... Honey flavor with a good mouthfeel and great drinkability for a hefty 8.5% ABV... hard to detect the alcohol behind a great combination of sweet, malty flavors... awesome brew... Recommended...

Photo of Lothar666
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
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
4.75/5  rDev +16.4%
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
4.08/5  rDev 0%
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
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
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
4.37/5  rDev +7.1%
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
4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
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
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
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
4.48/5  rDev +9.8%
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
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,939 ratings.