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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,781 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,781
Reviews: 922
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 129
Gots: 125 | FT: 1
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
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Ratings: 1,781 | Reviews: 922 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%

This beer sits a ruby, deep amber color in my glass. It is topped by a frothy, thinnish pale brown head. The aroma is nice and malty with notes of toffee, caramel, a rich concentrated malt note and a bit of cherry. The beer is sweet throughout, though in no way sticky, and it has a medium body to it that is light enough to not be too chewy. This has nice notes of chewy toffee, some notes of molasses, a bit of chocolate and dark malt in the finish. This beer has a nice richness to it, but is still somewhat easily drinkable. This is pretty tasty, purely a complex malty beer, that is nice to slowly sip on.

Gueuzedude, Oct 25, 2005
Photo of battlekow
3.1/5  rDev -24%

Skullsplitter is a deep caramel with a surprisingly white head and pretty good lacing.

Smells sweetly malty, verging on a tropical fruitiness. Maybe a hint of cinnamon? Almost smells like a pumpkin beer.

Taste has sweet caramel malts, a musty smokiness with an accompanying unpleasant astringency, and a lot of iron/blood flavor in the finish. Not agreeing with me at all.

This reminds me more of a strong pumpkin beer or an English Brown Ale than a Wee Heavy. That said, this is actually FROM Scotland, so maybe this is what a Scotch Ale is supposed to be like. All I know is, there isn't a whole lot in common between American Scotch Ales like Robert the Bruce, Dirty Bastard, or Warped Speed and Skullsplitter. It isn't chocolatey or hoppy in the least, and I consequently don't like it as much as the previously mentioned American interpretations.

battlekow, Oct 19, 2005
Photo of meathookjones
4.53/5  rDev +11%

Pours out a dark brownish red color with a tall light tan head that leaves a light coating of lace on the glass. Rich smoky and fruity flavor with a good amount of chocolate malt. The sweetness seems well balanced by the smoke and earthiness. More smoky earthy flavors start this off before sweet fruit notes come through. Light chocolate and caramel malt mix in. The alcohol seems pretty much hidden under all the malty layers. Sweet smoky finish with a touch of fruit. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. A bit thinner than it should be for such a full flavor though. Extremely drinkable stuff that I could drink plenty of in a sitting. A great all around brew.

meathookjones, Oct 18, 2005
Photo of chOAKbarrell
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%

I can't say I know all that much about scotch ales, seeing as I've tried relatively few of them, but I was certainly fond of this one.

This beer is on the darker side, nicely attractive to look at. The alcohol is very present in the scent. I dont know if this is a good thing or not. It didnt bother me, but I guess that issue is just a matter of preference.

The taste - wow. There is a lot going on in this beer. It is rather hard to believe that this beer is only 8.5%. It seems a good bit stronger. I noticed too that it has that slightly-syrupy quality to it much like a barleywine. Very complex.

I dont think your average drinker could handle too many of these in a single session, but it is definitely worth your $$$ to pick up a six pack or
4 pack or however these are sold (I got mine at a bar - $4).

chOAKbarrell, Oct 10, 2005
Photo of czechsaaz
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%

Lots of darker crystal malt aroma. Very fruity fermentation character. Mostly extremely ripe or dried fruit.

Deep amber and clear. Very little head.

Hmmm, malty and sweet, almost barley-wine like at first. There's also a subtle smokeyness that doesn't seem peaty. More like a fermentation character. It's there, but it's subtle. Some melanoidin like malt flavor too. Hops are very restrained but there's enough there to keep this from being too sweet but malt is the dominant flavor.

Pretty full bodied, light but nice carbonation.

Kind of like an amped up MacEwans

czechsaaz, Oct 09, 2005
Photo of unklesyd
2.05/5  rDev -49.8%

Damn. Tasted like two things: my own lame attempt at a Scotch ale that I thought was infected because it tasted like Band-Aid brand adhesive plastic barrier, and Rogue's Chipotle Ale, the only beer I've ever taken back to the bar to complain about.

Way too much peat smoke. Enough to make me wonder: did they overload on purpose, or was this, like mine, infected. Because I could taste a very faint undertone of trad. Scotch sweeties, I have to think the prior is likely. Skull splitting? Indeed, because it tastes like licking a smoke-dried sock.


unklesyd, Oct 08, 2005
Photo of iron78
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%

amber with nice head that faded quickly to nice lace that lingered. slight malt aroma, thought was fairly mild.
but the taste, great. malt and molasses balanced with a bit of alcohol. maybe a touch of dried fruit on the finish.
mouth coating, but again the alcohol balances the mouth feel.
very enjoyable on a cool fall evening.

iron78, Oct 04, 2005
Photo of lackenhauser
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%

Very nice, firey reddish/brown hue to it. Decent enough carbonation level but no head. Average aroma-faint coppery or metallic smell. Big malt flavor. Smoky with a somewhat perfumey sweetness. No bitterness is perceived. Almost a passing astringency in the finish. Good body. Very nice wee heavy that can be dangerously drinkable. Well worth enjoying.

lackenhauser, Oct 04, 2005
Photo of yekeraps
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%

Got in a bottle and just popped it open. Very amber in color with hardly any head whatsoever. I tried to pour a head but nothing. It dissipated after the first couple sips. The aroma doesn't really do the taste justice. Smells good but the taste is out of this world. Very smokey and well balanced with slight hops. It's almost like drinking a campfire. There is lots of body to chew on. Carbonation is good. Overall a very fine beer.

yekeraps, Sep 22, 2005
Photo of numenor1
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%

Pours deep auburn with an inch head that quickly dissipates. Smell is fantastic, smells like a nice oaked chardonnay blended with caramel malt. There's a slight hint of alcohol. Tremendous malt malt flavor assaults the palate from the start. Deep roasted, caramel, slightly smoky. Some nice wine notes. Hops are there to balance but little more, it dries out a bit and finishes quite bitter(otherwise it'd be terribly cloying), grainy, and lingering. Very very tasty. Body is medium full and palate coating with medium carbonation. Alcohol is perceived mainly in warmness. I'm drinking this too quickly.

numenor1, Sep 13, 2005
Photo of ichigodisaster
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%

I have to say, this is one of my favorites to date. I think it is really underrated.

Pours a lovely dark purplish red color with a small head that dissipates quickly to light lace.

Aroma is a bit spicy and sweet, smells of dark fruits and maybe a bit of spice cake.

A pretty complex variety of tastes here, dark fruits like dates and plums and also some spiciness present, maybe chicory or a bit of nutmeg. It's pretty smokey and also tastes of molasses, especially as it warms. A great combination of flavors.

Mouth feel is pretty thick, but not overly so. The carbonation cuts this nicely so it's not too syrupy as the aroma would almost lead you to believe.

Overall a very drinkable brew. I was really impressed. It echoes autumn to me and I really enjoyed it. I am considering buying an entire case just to cellar it.

ichigodisaster, Sep 11, 2005
Photo of cubedbee
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%

Pours a deep reddish purple brown with a thin finger of fizzy white head that quickly subsisides to the thinnest of rings. Nose is a big rich roasted caramel with a slight note of alcohol and maybe the slightest hops note. Taste is a wonderful smokey oak-like flavor with dashes of caramel and roasted malt. Spicey hop finish and just the slightest note of alcohol. Mouthfeel is thick, smooth, and creamy. This is an excellently flavorful strong ale, great for sipping.

cubedbee, Sep 11, 2005
Photo of hefevice
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%

Tasted this one under completely the wrong circumstances. Had spent 2 hours walking around Genoa (Italy) on a sunny Sunday afternoon trying to re-adjust my body clock after nearly 24 hours of travel from Australia. About 1.5 hours in I noticed that I was a bit thirsty and perhaps should stop to re-hydrate. Problem is Genoa is not the most lively place in the world on a Sunday afternoon, and it took me another 30 minutes to find somewhere, by which time I was very hot and bothered. I ended up stumbling upon (and into), of all things a Scottish themed bar. After a few false starts (my Italian is non-existant) I managed to get a menu out of the waitress, and lo and behold at the top of the menu was the legendary Skullsplitter. I was not going to miss this opportunity so I ordered one immediately.

Sadly, it arrived with a Tennents Lager glass, which looked like it had spent most of its life in a dishwasher. Also, the label indicated it was right on its use by date. This aside, poured deep garnet with a fairly good light brown tightly packed head. Aroma was butterscotch, caramel and just the faintest whiff of hops. These aromas also came out in the flavour with a slightly bitter finish preventing them from being cloying. The 8.5% ABV was only very subtly noticable. Mouth was reasonably soft and creamy, carbonation was about right. This is a definitely a beer for a cold winters night, not to cool down after a long overheated march. Note to self, taste it again in the right circumstances.

hefevice, Sep 05, 2005
Photo of mynie
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%

Dark ruby. Translucent. Nice pinkie-finger head that sticks around for days.

Zippy smell of Belgian fruit--raisins and plums--along with alcohol and hints of chocolate. I initially gave this a 3.5 but it gained complexity as it warmed up.

Tastes like a combination of a smoke ale with big meaty oak and the alcohol and fruit zip of a dubble. Strange, to say the least. Complex and flavorful, but not that great a combination.

I don't know what to make of this here beer. It's worth a try, I guess, but I'm really underwhelmed.

mynie, Sep 01, 2005
Photo of Gaisgeil
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%

A well balanced and smooth malty scotch ale.

Pours a hazy medium brown in color with little head to speak of. Nose is quite nice, golden raisins, burnt sugars, very malty. Taste is a bit subdued and understated, similar to what is in the nose, but the flavors meld almost seamlessly making it a bit difficult to seperate them from one another. Mouthfeel is a bit thin. Overall I'd say there are much better scotch ales but this is a solid classic offering.


Gaisgeil, Aug 30, 2005
Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev -2%

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer pours a deep auburn brown with a thin creamy light tan head and a gentle carbonation.

S-The aroma of caramel and toasted malts with some fresh grain and light burnt sugar notes.

T- A rich slightly sweet toasted malt flavor if complex with a finish of faint hop bitterness that hangs on the tongue. Very smooth and no alcohol flavor.

M- This has a medium mouthfeel with a light fizziness to it. No astringency or alcohol warmth.

D-This beer lives up to its name. It has a great malt base but no notes of alcohol. It is complex but not overpowering with the malt and a nice hop finish that is faint but helps to support the malt.

rhoadsrage, Aug 28, 2005
Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.43/5  rDev -15.9%

Appearance - A dark clear purplish red. Small half finger head that leaves a wee scattered ring of lace.

Smell - Syrupy sweet molassess malt, a bit of dates and diacetyl underneath. It is sugary sweet smelling to the point of being almost gross (but not quite). I just hope the taste isn't this sweet.

Taste - Not nearly as sweet as the odor lead me to believe, but sweet still.. My first thoughts are of smoke. A slightly sweet thick roasted barley malt taste dominates, chicory and dates stand out in my mind. It is extremely bitter, but not a familiar hops bitterness, not quite a coffee bitterness either - I can't pin point it. I think the smokey character meshes with a coffee bitterness to skew my view. A very slight metallic note is underneath, but with this bitter of a flavor, a faint metal taste actually helps a little. Alcohol is detectable, but not strongly.

Mouthfeel - There are two prominent aspects to the mouthfeel - one I like, one I hate. It is a thick viscous brew, I like that. Its bitter aftertaste leaves a gummy feel in my mouth, as you guessed, I don't like that at all. This gummy feeling only gets worse and turns into a powerful parching.

Drinkability - After a big glass of water I could definitely drink another, its taste is interesting and has a lot of character that makes it a brew worth examining. It is very rare that I say this about a strong and sweet beer, but 11.2 oz just isn't enough to assess it fully. Since It is so powerfully drying, I am docking it. All and all a great beer I will want to have another time.

mrasskicktastic, Aug 19, 2005
Photo of WesWes
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%

The beer pours a dark ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a rich and creamy malt scent that boasts of crystal and roasted malts. It's sweet and toastey and slightly warming. The taste is great also. It has a very smooth, malty flavor that boasts of crystal, roasted, and peated malts. It has a nice smokey character that mellows the elevated abv. . The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an awesome beer. I love everything about it. One of the top wee heavy beers out there.

WesWes, Aug 19, 2005
Photo of bruachan
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%

at the inimitable brickskellar

deep dark amber/brown with a coating head that fizzles from the alcohol. slight diacetyl nose with brown sugar. more brown sugar and caramel with a roastednuttiness. i could taste the alcohol, but not many 8.5% brews are able to hide it; whatever heat is masked compensated by huge maltiness. virtually undetectable hops, but the malt sweetness isn't overwhelming, so they must be doing their job

another couple of these and someone's skull would have been split (exactly who no one will know)

bruachan, Aug 18, 2005
Photo of TurdFurgison
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%

Presentation: Drank from an 11.2 oz bottle, poured into Watou chalice.

Appearance: Dark red, with thin white head.

Smell: Strong scotch ale aroma, kind of old-world-ale bouquet.

Taste: This tastes on the money for a scotch ale.

Notes: Easily available from several locations in Columbus. I recommend it to scotch ale drinkers.

TurdFurgison, Aug 17, 2005
Photo of charlesw
3.43/5  rDev -15.9%

Well, it's beer, you know? A nice dark color, little head, huge malty nose and mouth, no hops to speak of, not much of an aftertaste. Still... I dunno, I get a big raisin flavor out of it and it seems that someone may have done at least part of the mash at a temp that was a wee bit high - in the middle of the mouth there's an interesting dry rasp across the tongue. It's a bit overpowering in general - I mean, it'd be hard for me, with this much flavor going on, to drink more than one...

charlesw, Aug 14, 2005
Photo of smcolw
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%

Dark honey/melted sugar color; light will penetrate clearly. Decent beige head leaving layered lace on the glass.

Strong sweet caramels and brown sugar show up in the smell. There's a touch of plastic present, but it's very much in the background.

An overwhelmingly sweet beer on the initial taste. There is a very surprising hop finish in the swallow. Very rich and full-bodied, it also has a high level of carbonation. It's been a while since I've had a real Scotch Ale; this one seems a wee bit heavier than most I've tried (pun intended).

This beer is growing on me with each sip. My initial reaction was, whoa, way too much residual sugar. But I like how the hop catches up with the beer. Perhaps it's the 8.5% alcohol content (which is quite muted by the flavors), but more likely, it's the nice balance in the aftertaste.

smcolw, Aug 13, 2005
Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%

For those who like an all-malt type of beer, you can't go wrong here. A terrific exaple of the Scottish ale-wee heavy style. As good as the Belhaven or the Alesmith (two beers I love). This is SO malty! Warming and smooth, good for what ails you! I had this before, but must have forgot to review it. Just arrived in a terrific local specialty store (thanks, Micro man!).

JohnnyDuvel, Aug 13, 2005
Photo of amicar
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%

Pours dark caramel plus brown with off- white head Smells of sweet raiseny smoky things. Tastes a little sweet with roast and smoked malts, but nicely restrained. Nicely restrained hops as well. Complex malt flavors. Really nicely well done. Feels smooth and slick in the mouth with slight alcohol burn. I have to be careful how man of these I drink, because damn... it would be easy to have more than a few....

amicar, Aug 08, 2005
Photo of JMazzic
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%

This is my first review, so please forgive the lack of complexity. Great looking bottle featuring Thorfinn Hausakluif(I'm assuming). Bought from BevMo in Elk Grove.

Appearance - Poured dark amber into a Maudite Tulip glass. About a 1/2" head, light carbonation. Head quickly dissipated.

Smell - Aroma was not real strong. Picked up a sweetness, brown sugar/molasses? Slight fruity smell, maybe raisin. Very appetizing.

Taste - Nice light sweetness. Pretty smooth, considering the ABV. Malty, only slight hop to it. Raisins again, a bit of chocolate after it warmed up some. Warming to the throat, very tasty.

Mouthful - Not too thick at first. Then it fills out to a rich creaminess.

Drinkability - Very Smooth. The alcohol is well hidden. Great taste, can be downed quickly if not careful. That said, this should be sipped and enjoyed. Very good, will drink again

JMazzic, Jul 27, 2005
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,781 ratings.