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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,937 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,937
Reviews: 941
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 150
Gots: 178 | 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: 1,937 | Reviews: 941 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Traquairlover
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured 11.2 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A = Clear reddish, brown, big frothy off white head, thin lacing.

S = Good caramel, roasted malt.

T = The slight scent of roasted malt in the nose is rewarded with a deep taste of roasted malt, slight caramel overtones, some nuttiness. Slight alcohol burn but it helps balance the rich, thick roasted cocoa/coffee malt flavours. Sweet aftertaste of candied dates.

M = Luscious, meaty mouthfeel with good carbonation.

D = Not the best Scotch Ale I've had, but perhaps the second best (though there are still several on my list to try). Much better than most of the more commonly found brands. Taste is perhaps a little strong to want more than one or two at a sitting, but what a sitting it would be. Definitely something that brings me back again and again.

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

Poured out of the 11.02 oz bottle into a pint mug. This has a nice caramel color to it with a nice head and some decent lacing. The smell is very much like a confectioners bread and the taste is big with caramel and raisins. Overall a very good beer and very enjoyable

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

poured out of a 11.2 ounce glass. This is my first wee heavy, just saw Beowulf,so seemed like a good time to drink it. Nice dark brown color, creamy head, moderate retention. Smells like raisins, caramel bread...Raisin Bran! Fruit, candy, raisins again, slightly bitter finish of dark bread. Drinking this seriously is like tucking into a bowl of raisin bran, and I love it!(cereal fanatic) mouthfeel is not really heavy as expected, palate filling, but not heavy. This makes drinkablity easier.

Photo of rebel1771
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a reddish brown color with tons of sediment and a nice fluffy off white head.

Smell: Sweet caramels make up the body of the aroma with hints of vanilla, rasins, with a decent alcohol note.

Taste: Candied fruit flavors up front that quickly fade into dry malty flavor with a warming alcohol note at the end. Not the best Scotch Ale ever but damn drinkable.

Photo of rye726
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle, cellared for two years, poured into goblet.

Crystal clear but rich amber bronze color with a nice thick tan head.

The aroma is of sweet fruits and fresh honey with a faint citrus hop character.

This is a superb wee heavy. Perhaps not as complex as some scotch ales, but it is very well balanced. It again is composed of sweet malts and the quiet leafy hops. A fairly full body gives this brew a wonderful mouthfeel. Overall I found it a very drinkable beer to enjoy on a dark humid night.

Photo of bboven
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep ruby red clear body with a nice head that lasts. Thinnish lacing.

Smells like raisin bread or some kind of sweet bread along with lots of cherry, but definitely raisiny. Great complexity.

Taste is very sweet and malty, a little cherry note, but you can taste the alcohol here whereas it is not present in the smell.

Really smooth, moderate fluffy carbonation, just a tiny bit of bitter stickiness at the back of the throat.

Beautiful beer. It's the best Scottish Ale I've ever had, but I didn't want to rate it perfectly because I haven't had them all. It was really tempting, but I barely managed to find a flaw or two.

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

I had just drank a lighter (abv) lager before being served this ale, so my review may seem skewed, but I still cleansed my palate w/ pita points.
Served cold and allowed to warm slightly, poured in a 1/2 pint.

A - Deep copper/mahogany w/ a cap of about 2 fingers of tan foam.

S - A fruity ester from yeast that is similar to stone fruit and sweet malt w/ a rather dry malty odor and a gentle woody note.

M - A rough dose of peaty dry toasty malt in feel w/ boozy sweet potency and full carbonation in respect to a strong ale.

T - A big malty dry lightly astringent, crisp malt that is grainy yet sweet w/ caramel and vinous notes with plum and spiced rum notes. A scottish yeast character and peaty malt taste w/ a boozy flavor that is not shy about what it is packin'. Slightly oaky/sugary in the finish.

D - Not one to quaff, More or less a one and done for me, but well worth the price of admission if you wish to 'split your skull'

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

This was superb, a really well crafted beer that I waited far too long to try. Finally got around to buying a single of this one tonight while I was on my trip up to knoxville and I was not dissapointed. Poured a very nice deeep dark brown with an ample two inch head of off white foamy lace on top. This had some very nice retention and left behind about a half inch of frothy white foam on the top when it was done. Very nice side glass lace as well. The smell was nice, although I have to say a little on thel ight side. A nice sweet caramel like aroma mixed in with ample earthy grains made for a full aroma, just a little light. The taste was really smooth. for 9%abv this was remarkable in that you could pick up none of the alcohol. It had a medium to full body that had a great creamy feel to it. Great flavors of caramel with a touch of grassy hops and a decent bread like back. It had a noticable nuttiness to it as well. Overall this was a very very nice beer and something I know I will go back to. It was just so rediculously smooth, I really could have had four or five of them, thugh I am sure it would have caught up to me before then. Really a great treat and something I would have to highly recommend.

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

Appearance: Clear ruby-red in color, with a moderate white head, fine scattered patchy lacing, and no carbonation noted.

Aroma: Sweet caramel and alcohol, earth, no discernible hop presence. The caramel notes are sweet and quite appealing.

Taste: Sweet caramel opens the taste, followed by a slight wood note. Midway through the taste, a mild earthtiness appears, this carries on to the taste's end. The alcohol flavors are sweet, and subtle.

Mouth feel: Smooth and very full, quite soft to the palate.

Drinkability/notes: A very competently brewed example, not over-the-top, as some Scotch ales tend to be, but excellent, nonetheless.

Many thanks to Bill for generously sharing this uncommon Scotch Ale.

Many thanks to Bill for generously sharing this fine and uncommon Scotch Ale, which I had missed the opportunity to try some years ago, and had regretted ever since.

Photo of armock
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark amber color with an off white head that leaves some lacing

S - Caramel sweet malt and a little alcohol

T - Malt with coffee and chocolate hints

M - Medium bodied pretty smooth

D - If it wasn't for the price and abv this would be a great session beer

Photo of CHADMC3
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

·Appearance- Nice light brown to copper color depending on the light. Gracious creamy head leaves thorough lacing in its trail. Maintained thin head throughout consumption.
·Smell- Fine malt aroma, picking up some sort of fruit aroma I didn’t expect.
·Taste- In a word delicious, very obvious chocolate aftertaste. Hints of vanilla as well, darker ingredients suspected.
·Mouthfeel- Very full, but also very easy to drink and let linger. Very smooth.
·Drinkability- Easy to drink, even with abundant mouthfeel characteristics. I can’t put it down, I like everything about this beer.
****This is a keeper.

Photo of dnichols
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured a 330 ml capped and foiled bottle into a tulip.

A: It appeared a cola or tea brown when pouring but in back lighting it had a bright cherry hue. The head was massive...three sticky fingers. It receded to a slim cover over the brew and a ring around the collar that fed a lingering and rich lacing.

S: Deep dark yeast (like a loaf of freshly backed seven grain bread) that was quickly supplemented by dark sugars (molasses) and dark sweet fruits (plums and raisins).

T: It was full of dark sweet fruit flavors, with hints of and rich yeasty bread dough. Its sweetness is not overstated and it finishes dry and clean with a residual flavor of molasses.

M: Creamy, rich and full bodied. It starts of sweet and finishes warm and dry. Hardly any bit of hops or spiciness. Smooth, rich and creamy.

D: Wonderful after dinner sipping brew. Way to much ABV, sweetness and body for a long session but a great starter or finisher.

Comment: Rich and smooth without being overly sweet or dominated by alcohol. Great complexity and balance.

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

12oz bottle into nonic

With an aggressive pour, this one only nets a one finger head, which is about the same color as a heavily creamed coffee. Slowly settles to a razor thin film over the beer. Ruby colored and clear. No lacing on the glass.

The long boil of the wort gives a heavy caramel aroma, with a very smooth overtone. The alcohol is easily detected (around 8.5%ABV) which is atypical, but it isn't necessarily bad. Being a malt oriented style, there really isn't much hop aroma to talk about.

This beer is sweet overall, with the "burnt" caramel being the main characteristic. The hops aren't really detected, but they may be responsible for the slightly spicy flavor that shows up. The alcohol comes in toward the end, and is more noticeable as the beer warms. Full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation, but not flat. The beer has a thicker feels that tends to linger in the mouth like cough syrup. This one is all malt from the start to the end, finishing up with a light grainy taste.

This is another beer for a malt lover. Full bodied and complex. The noticeable alcohol may be an issue for some, but I think it adds character to the beer. Also, it lets you know it's there. Recommended.

Photo of iceball585
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark reddish brown color, semi-clear, thin lacy white head

S- Scotch, oak, vanilla, alcohol, hops, fairly sweet smell

T- Scotch, dark fruits, oak, caramel, apple, alcohol, creamy, bit of hops near the end

M- Medium/heavy body, medium carbonation, very smooth, warming feeling of alcohol

D- Drinkable but the alcohol will bite you

This is pretty good beer. You definatly taste the alcohol in this one. I'd have to say that this is a good example of a scotch ale.

Photo of BBM
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy. murky brown into the glass with a thin tan head atop the beer. Aroma was fruity, sweet, with a hint of alcohol. Certainly Scottish.

This is a fine example of a Scotch ale. There is a maple/vanilla flavor, followed by that slight Scottish bitterness that is usually found with the style. There is a warming alcohol toward the end of the beer. Mouthfeel is somewhat thick, and not too carbonated.

Overall this is a very solid Scotch ale, one that I would recommend to fans of the style.

Photo of Backer2004
3.13/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I have been looking forward to trying this beer out for about a year or two when I first heard of it. Man, was I disappointed. I may try it again and re-review it because to me, something was off. Carbonation bubbles stay suspended, tons of off white head and carbonation. Very smoky, lots of phenols, and peat. Will try one more time.

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

Awesome looking beer, a deep transparent, brownish-red, ruby body, with a massive cream head to top it off. Good sticky lacing.

Huge smells of caramel and cream. Very malty. No alcohol presence to speak of or hop bitterness. Slightly fruity.

A big bodied full flavored ale for sure. This style, and this beer in particular really showcases a huge, intricate malt profile. Same taste as was in the nose, except the alcohol shows up as slightly warming, with a tiny bit of hops in the aftertaste.

A Very creamy brew, with a big body as previously mentioned.

Great drinkability. An excellent beer, and one of the best Wee Heavies I have had.

Photo of JamesS
4.52/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I'd been wanting to try a Skullsplitter for some time, but was a little disappointed with it after finally getting to try it last night. It pours out nice, although not as much head as I would've hoped for, even considering it was from a bottle. It had a nice look to it, an amber-copper color, but a little too clear for a scotch ale. It had some nice complex tastes, with some burnt malt and oak flavors, but the taste and texture were ruined by the dominant alcohol overtone. Even at its higher ABV, I felt there was way too much of an alcohol taste to it. Not bad, but there are much better scotch ales and wee heavies that are easier to find and cheaper to get.

While I still feel this has quite an alcohol flavor kick at the end, I've grown to like it quite a bit. The oak and malt are wonderful, with the heat of the alcohol tuning them up. It has a huge thick flavor and a huge thick scent, that really fills the nose with it's great Scotch aroma. This would be perfect on a cold winter night (or in the Orkneys), and was even good a couple of days ago during the summer.

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

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light reddish brown color with a medium foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of dark fruit, vanilla, bourbon, caramel and a little bit of hops.

T: The taste starts quickly with the sweetness of vanilla & caramel, but is quickly countered by the tart bitterness of dark fruits to the point of nearly being sour. There’s a decent hops presence for the style and a hearty malt character. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easy, not too filling, good representation of style, good kick, this beer is a bit more poundable than most that I’ve had in the style. It’s flavorful but isn’t quite as heavy as other Scotch Ales. I could drink a few of them but the 8.50% ABV might catch up with me by the time I finish the 4-pack.

Photo of ColoradoBobs
3.87/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

330 ml (11.2 ounce) bottle.

Moderately vigorous pour into a chalice yields a fluffy 2-finger head over a brown-red clear body with slight carbonation. Head fades to a solid, creamy-looking cap.

Smell is sourdough bread and malt, some sweet cherries and a bit of chocolate. Alcohol is evident. Grass and hay. There's an interesting berry note: is it strawberries? Smells intriguing, though not very intense.

Taste is sweet raisins and bittersweet chocolate, a bit boozy like malted chocolate rum balls. Some spicey notes come up on the finish. Sweet throughout, with a burnt sugar sidenote. One of the ten or so sweetest beers I've had.

Mouthfeel is thick and sticky.

Drinkability is okay, but I couldn't do more than a coupe of these at a time.

Interesting beer.

Photo of dojobrewco
2.68/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter a deep amber with minimal head retention. Fairly significant lacing as my glass emptied. Had a very sharp smell, not anything like a floral hops. More like a household cleaner. Perhaps this is from the alcohol content. Tasted of toffe sweetness on the frontside but as it finished the high alcohol content surrounded my taste buds. Overall is a very drinkable beer, perhaps if I'm ever in Scotland I'll try another

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

Bottle into tulip glass. A: Pours a deep, vaguely translucent copper brow, head that goes down pretty quick with some minimal lacing. S: Spice, toffee, some lighter malts, distant citrus hops; alcohol is present. T: Sweet up front, very spicy, some lingering bitterness in the finish. M: I would expect by the aroma and flavor that it would be very thick, but it's actually got a nicely light body. D: Very nice, like a milder version of Samichlaus. Very delicious. I've heard about this beer for a while and I was definitely not disappointed.

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

Aroma: Alcohol perfumed grapes with a floral note.

Appearance: Fiery red glass with murky clarity. Holds a thin head without much lace.

Flavor: Toasted malt is full and only a little fruity as compared to the other Wee Heavies in the flight we sampled. There was also a little oxidation which made me wonder about the age of the beer (no date on label).

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation encourages long pulls. Texture seems a bit thin given all the malt flavor.

Overall Impression: Good, but not great Scottish Ale. Easy drinking where I expect a little more chew. Still, a good general beer.

Thanks to Bill and Kim for the sample!

Photo of BucBasil
4.07/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Served in a tulip glass, which I guess is closest to the thistle glass wee heavy is supposed to be served in. Pours a Very deep brown that allows barely any light to shine through. Head is almost nonexistant even after a relatively hard pour, but can build to a quickly dissipating one finger that is off-white.

Smell: Hard to identify, but caramel is most evident. After a few swirls a buttery note comes through, giving way to a quick hint of cocoa.

Taste: Ridiculously smooth, I was blown away by the flavor of this beer. Starts out with a nice chocolate note that continues throughout the midpalate, getting sweeter as the flavor progresses. Some caramel notes come through right before a smoky, yet pleasant finish. Wonderful.

Photo of zeff80
3.81/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a burgandy/brown color with a fluffy, tan, three-finger head. Left some traces of lace.

S - It smelled of malt and spices.

T - It was spicy and had a burnt toast malt. There was also a dried fruit taste.

M - It was smooth and crisp with a warm alcohol presence. A medium to heavy-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good beer, but it would be hard to have a couple in one sitting. I've just been having one at a time.

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,937 ratings.