Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

1,879 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,879
Reviews: 929
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 144
Gots: 156 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Skull Splitter Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,879 | Reviews: 929 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jbsteiny
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can't believe I had never tried this to date. I got it to pair with a lamb sandwich at a nice restaurant in Portland, ME (Viogna?) with a sweet beer menu (lots of Belgians). They served it in a big old chalice, a dark red with medium carbonation, and a thin golden head. The head faded, but it left some lacing and a swirl of light foam on the beer's top.

Smelled of golden raisins, candy sugar, molasses; all sorts of yummies. A slight herbal hop present, no detectable yeast; this is a real malty ale. Tasted delectable -- mostly malts, a bit of an earthy spice going on as well. Full bodied, but the alcohol was well masked. Went down as easy as you could ever ask an 8.5% ale to go down. I was considering giving it extra points for drinakbility, but I did get a headache shortly after finishing it. Not that I wasn't warned from the name of the beer... Killer Viking on the label. Super solid all around.

Photo of Manosbeeroffate
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I love the label and wondered if I would ever try this beer, thanks to Todd (Buckspin) yes I can!! Pours a pretty deep brown color, smells a bit sickly sweet, tastes about the same, like some dried fruit, thick malt, slightly burned, and a hint of alcohol in the background despite it being over 8 percent. Overall I do like the beer, but it is a little way too sweet for me, but just a little. I still think it's worth seeking out for anyone who is curious about this beer. And ya gotta love the label!!

Photo of pmcadamis
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Really cool label with a viking guy looking all heroic and stuff. I've heard a lot about this one, but even if I hadn't, I would buy this based on shelf appeal alone...beer + vikings + 8.5% abv = I have to buy it.

A - Purple reddish dark brown like clotted blood. Semi transparent and reddish when held to the light. A four finger head rises up above the half of the bottle that I poured into my snifter, but recedes to a quarter inch cap and a thick collar in the span of a few minutes. Lots of reddish tan lace is left on the glass. Is that Eric the Red on the label? That would be fitting for this reddish tinted brew.

S - Toffee, caramel, and grapey vinous notes right off the bat. Chocolate covered strawberries and cherries are the predominant aromas. I also smell peanut butter and jelly (peanut butter and raspberry preserves?) witch is something that I've never detected in a beer before. A toasty crusty malt backbone resides behind all of this chocolate covered fruit.

T - Peanut butter and strawberry preserves. Whipped chocolate mousse with maraschino cherries on top. I also taste vanilla beans, sea salt, peaty phenols, along with sweet shortcake and pumpernickel malt flavors, and some subdued but balancing leafy hops...just enough leafiness to add a balanced autumnal aspect to this wintery and warming malt bomb.

M - Creamy whipped chocolate mousse. Extremely full bodied and creamy with a neutral finish and a slick melted chocolate feeling in the mouth after the swallow. Some alcohol warmth adds to the rich delectable complexity, but never gets overwhelming or harsh. One of the most outstanding mouthfeels ever...scratch that. This is THE most outstanding mouthfeel ever.

D - This just screams "dessert beer." I love scotch, and I detect a lot of those same peaty Islay malt characteristics in this fantasic beer. I love this stuff, but I can't say that I would drink more than one. I would, however, drink one every night. So it's not undrinkable...it's just unsessionable.

Photo of Mumps
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Although with the interesting name, this is one fantastic beer. I have not poured it yet into a glass (unfortunately), so I cannot fairly grade color. Taste is extraordinary, very refreshing and not too heavy. Good mouthfeel, just enough to let you know its there, but not too heavy to make you chew. Very drinkable, and I'm looking forward to getting it into a glass to give it a better try.

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

Poured from the bottle a rich dark reddish-brown with a creamy beige head.

Malty with toffee, raisin aromas.

This has a great malty flavor with toffee, biscuit and raisins present. You can sense the alcohol as well.

Smooth and rich with a slight zing from the alcohol.

What a nice beer to enjoy at your nearby Scottish restaurant.

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

$2.79 for 11.2oz bottle. 8.5% ABV. Pours out to a clear dark amber with reddish accents, forming a large whipped and rocky light tan head with excellent retention and nice sheets of sticky lace. Carbonation is mild to moderate. The aroma is quite interesting...there is something distinct in this nose that I haven't placed in other beers and it's chocolate chip cookies. It's there, tucked away under the mild herbal hops. Quite odd, but I also get cloves...peculiar for a Scottish Ale, but nice nonetheless. The mouthfeel is silky smooth with a medium-dense body. The taste is excellent...there is a great balance between the sweet, biscuity and nutty malts and the restrained bitterness. Fermented cleanly with no off-flavors noticed. There is an aftertaste of dates and figs with a little pepper from the alcohol. The finish is just a touch dry. Faint flavor of smoked malt, but not pungent.

Man, what a nice Scottish Ale. This is really enjoyable and much too easy to drink. I can see where Robert the Bruce from 3F's got it's inspiration. I would buy this again.

Photo of coalcracker
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Via bottle at Abbey Road Pub in Virginia Beach, VA.

Poured dark golden color with substantial creamy, head.
Smell: Smells of raisin, toffee perhaps, alcohol aroma sneaks in.
Taste: Nice! Zing of alcohol noted, but not without a drapery of malty raisin, sweet- yet balanced. Very tasty...
Mouthfeel: Quite smooth with the alcohol kick
Drinkability: Could have had severalf these, but not without consequences.
Overall, a fantastic brew with character. Strong and deceiving.

Photo of wedge
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark reddened brown. Short-lasting head sticks around as a bubbly ring around the edge for the most part. Aromas of malty butterscotch, earthy peat, and underlying fruity alcohol. Rich malty flavor, molasses, dry dark fruitiness with some bready notes. An almost woody alcohol note and faint smoky edge as well. Medium-full bodied and notably smooth and clean.

Probably not quite as powerful as a large axe to the face at the hands of a large Viking earl...but it sure does warm my head up a bit. Very dark overall, I like it.

Photo of barefootbrewer
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a clear amber color with a thick cream colored head. The aroma is malty with some caramel. The taste is big of malt and caramel with some hints of smokiness. The mouthfeel is heavy and somewhat chewy. The bold flavors and mouthfeel in this beer are very balanced and make this a delight to drink.

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

Thank you to Todd the beer guy at McKean and Charles in Waldoboro for getting me to try this. Other than the cool name, I'm not sure I would have bought this without his suggestion. A 330ml bottle poured into a pint glass, it was brown with red highlights, and had a small head. It had a peaty aroma, as well as a little bit of malt. Loved the taste. Bread, peat, alternatingly sweet and smoky. A really nice mouthful. Try this beer.

Photo of Naerhu
4.58/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Beautiful dark, dark red body on a very tight and fine head. Very stubborn lacing.
S - Great caramel and peat aroma.
T - Surprisingly dry and rich, but also little bitterness. Fantastic balance. Smokey toffee flavor dominates.
M - Creamy, luscious body. Alcohol is incredibly integrated.
D - This is a great brew, prolly the most underrated on the site.

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.

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.

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...

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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!

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.

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.

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.

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,879 ratings.