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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,844 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,844
Reviews: 926
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 138
Gots: 144 | 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
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Ratings: 1,844 | Reviews: 926 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Fugazme
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ruby pour... deep color. 1/2" head that is quite thick. Great foam stick. Lacing is even and nice.

Aroma is malty and sweet. There is an underlying spicy cinnamon-like quality that is tempting. A touch of smoke. It is, however, subtle and the overall tone of this one is a bit muted.

A good, creamy mouthfeel makes this beer pleasant to drink. A small alcohol burn on the swallow... finishes sweet.

Malty and bright. Fruity with caramel-like notes. Slightly roasty.

I like it!

Fugazme, May 30, 2006
Photo of waldowin
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear red, fading to amber at the edges. Even a careful pour resulted in an 8" foam head, which 5 minutes later is still 1/3 of its size, and not budging.

Smells of grapes and toffee. Tastes of caramel, with a hint of raisins and a suggestion of single-malt scotch. Supremely smooth. It's just silky smooth across the tongue, the carbonation working to prevent it from becoming syrupy. The finish is sweet, almost like cream.

Unfortunately, this stuff lives up to its name. There is *so* much sugar in this brew, one or two is all it takes to get a headache. Don't forget that water!

waldowin, May 30, 2006
Photo of mdagnew
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle bought from The Vineyard, Belfast...

Poured a deep coppery brown / amber colour... Slightly off white head poured quite foamy and faded to light ring... no real lacing...

Aroma - Toffee / caramel maltiness with very light toasted notes, brown sugar sweetness, nice rich creamy fruitiness (figs and dates), biscuity notes, fruit cake, slight leathery notes, some spiciness, some rum perhaps, light hops...

Taste – Rich toffee maltiness, spicy fruits (dates and figs), nice warming alcohol notes, bready, treacle, light hops cutting through the sweetness, some light nuttiness...

Feel - Quite smooth, oily notes... Medium body. Pretty drinkable considering its strength...

Overall - A excellent example of a wee heavy....Recommended...

mdagnew, May 24, 2006
Photo of kmo1030
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

deep red brown with a thin tan head.
fruity rum raisin, with heavy caramel and molasses. there is a little bit of a sour-ish smoked peat character too.
lots of rich caramel followed up with slightly sweeter molasses, and then again rum raisin. a bit more smoked peat scotch flavors following things up than in the smell, which is most welcomed. finishes with a dry slightly grainy quality.
smooth with an almost full body with soft but adequate carbonation.
good drinkability with lots of rich, but completely not harsh flavors. this is a straight shooting, no frills wee heavy that i'm really liking. fans of the wee heavy style put this at the top of your "to drink" list.

kmo1030, May 21, 2006
Photo of SigEp
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out of an austenacious bottle emblazoned with some kind of ready-for-battle viking looking on. Nice amber orangey color in the glass. about 1 1/2 fingers of head that lace-out rather quickly.
now up and into the mouth. scent is mildly smoky, roasty,hints of alcohol and malt underneath. goes in smooth. tastes of a hop bitterness, although not overpoweringly so, certain dark maltyness, with a very dry finish that leaves a little smokiness in there to wisp about. It is a very nice version of this style. earthy and malty with a little tannin-like dryness in the end. A very nice ale, and certainly one of my favorite offerings of the Orkney.

SigEp, May 05, 2006
Photo of RedHaze
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear dark coppery brown, with a quarter inch head that fades pretty quickly to a thin soapy cap and ring, and leaves behind some spotty lacing.

Smell; lots of rich dark malts, and a little chocolate. There's a definite peat presence along with some dark fruits, and a touch of alcohol.

Taste; the peat comes out more strongly in the flavor than it does in the nose, very earthy. A little chocolate and caramel, as well as raisins and plums make a nice appearance, and there's almost no hop bitterness. Even though I could smell the alcohol, I was unable to detect any in the flavor at all. Mouthfell is medium bodied and very smooth, wih fairly low carbonation. If this had just a little less alcohol content, I could probably drink a four pack of these in one sitting.

RedHaze, May 02, 2006
Photo of jongillin
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass to capture the aroma.
A: nice deep red color with small head that dissipates quickly.
S: rich aroma some earth tones and some malt. Caramel and sugar are also present.
T: full of flavor and the aroma does not disappoint when you take a drink. Leaves a caramel finish.
Mouthfeel: Really my only "complaint" (if you can call it that), light carbonation and a little watery. But, it is not bad and given the rich flavor and the complexity of the beer it does help it go down easier.
Drinkability: Great beer, but certainly not a session beer. As mentioned goes well with steak but can serve as sort of dessert beer as well. The sweetness would go well with chocolate (especially dark chocolate).

All in all highly recommended, but be warned it is a serious beer.

jongillin, Apr 28, 2006
Photo of soultrain
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into an Westmalle chalice.

A- Dark amber, 1/8" head disappeared with the quickness.
S-Smells fruity/nutty/earthy/carmel/burnt sugery.
T-Tastes like it smells + has a slight smokey flavor; this brew is tasty, but a definate sipper. Reminds me of a cross between a belgian dubble, a barleywine, and a dopplebock somehow. Starts sweet, ends dry. This beers has a unique flavor, underneath the booze, and I'm glad I tried it.
M-Mellow carbonation, medium mouthfeel, but it is obviously boozey, usually 8% alc. doesn't faze me, but this concoction is, for me, of the take it really slow one beer a nite variety....did i mention that it was boozey?
D-....hence the low score for drinkability IMHO.


soultrain, Apr 24, 2006
Photo of libertygrails
3.28/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Rosie amber color, quite fetching really. Foamy white head halves quickly to a pleasant cloudy white 1/4". Lots of visible carbonation in the glass.

Smell: Walnut, caramel, candied sugar, musky/Earthy malts...akin to the finer doppelbocks.

Taste: The candied sugar from the nose holds onto the palate most for me. Nutty, caramel, malt and a somewhat singular metallic under-taste too. Possibly due to the carbonation.

Mouthfeel: Thin. Goes down easy which improves drinkability with the 8.5% ABV.

Drinkability: Very singular Ale. Not a "session" brew, but enjoyable. The carbonation sends the 8.5% to the noggin' quickly, thus an aptly named brew.

Overall, glad i grabbed a bottle to try. But prolly won't reach for it again anytime soon unless i see it marked down.

libertygrails, Apr 23, 2006
Photo of KyleVick4
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, my first scottish ale

A: Super clear dark brown color. Looks like a newcastle but a touch lighter. Pours with good head that clings well, the bubbles are a sorta off white color, to white to be tan, but to tan to be white...

S: Smells very malty and a little smoky. But the smokyness is closer to a burnt smell than smoke.

T: Very complex. Tastes carmel but then chocolate. Also has burnt, or heavily roasted, malts. A touch of hop flavor near the end, but only in the background. Kinda goes from tart/smokey to a sweet finish.

M: Medium bodied, a little to carbonated I think. Kinda bites you with the carbonation. not very syrupy, cant tell this is a 8.5 abv

D: Im a fan of it, but not a session beer. I could happily finish the first glass, but think there would be quite a bit of slowing down on the second.

KyleVick4, Apr 21, 2006
Photo of SetarconeX
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A nice deep brown, almost coca-cola looking color, with a nicely lingering froth up top. Smell is quite sweet, with a malty backing. Taste is again sweet, with a hint of alcohol and malt, but finishing with a nice bit of hop bitterness. Seems to maintain an almost flawless balance of its characteristics, not to malty, not too bitter.

Quite a drinkable brew, definately recommended.

SetarconeX, Apr 19, 2006
Photo of KarlHungus
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a dark brown color. The head is billowing and light tan in color. The aroma is of sweet caramel, butter and milk chocolate. The taste is of caramel, then chocolate, then caramel again. The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with quite a bit of carbonation, perhaps too much. Overall, this is one of the best Scotch Ales I have ever tasted.

KarlHungus, Apr 15, 2006
Photo of Erdinger2003
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured the beer a little harsh so the top of the original head has a little stuck lacing, looks pretty good. The color is dark brown.

Smell is sweet caramel with apple cinnamon/metalic scent with burnt sugar.

The taste is sweet caramel with soft fruit tones like apple.

The mouthfeel is enjoyable, not great, but enjoyable.

The drinkability is fine, if I could find more I would have more.

Erdinger2003, Apr 15, 2006
Photo of pbr85
3.15/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Brownish red with small off-white head.
S: Vinegar, rice (?), and some fruity scents.
T: Kind of strange, though I have never had a Wee Heavy before. Very complex. Very tart, with some bitter rye flavors, burnt wheat.
M: Smooth. Good carbonation.
D: I don't know...I've never had the style before, but this beer doesn't exactly make me want to try others (though I bought a Robert the Bruce today too). I won't be reaching for it next time, but it is different and certainly worth a try.

pbr85, Apr 07, 2006
Photo of daliandragon
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've long thought this was one of the best designed packaging for a beer that exists, with a kickass viking with a winged helmet. Abnormally cool name too. Scottish beers, particularly Broughton but Orkney too, are often given names in the tune with the country's ancient and mystic history, which I think is better than the ubiquitous name of beer's brewer or hometown.
Anyhoo, this beer pours dark and thick with lots of chunky sediment. The nose is likewise thick and piney with malt and sweetness. Spices and possibly heather are present as well.
The taste is at first malted and hinted with mint or pine but quickly reveals a smoky character that controls the bulk of the flavor. I'm not as crazy about the smokiness and the stong alcohol note but this is still pretty fancy stuff. Mouthfeel is excellent and overall this is a distinctive beer worth an occassional pint.

daliandragon, Mar 30, 2006
Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.13/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

darker than i first thought from the bottle, a rich caramel brown color, with a pale tan head.
a rich prune or raisin-y arome is very apparent.
the fruity raisin persists to the taste, very sweet, not very bitter.
too sweet to drink very oftenm but a good complimentary beer. but tasty. needs some more balnce form the bitter end.

sinstaineddemon, Mar 18, 2006
Photo of francisweizen
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Compacted blood with a head of stomped earth. Aromas of earth, roasted malts, a bit of smoke and some sweetness that is dark fruit like. Taste is similar. This one used to rock my palate into 2002, it was too intense for me than, but now it is smooth and delicous. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and quite nice, drinkability = good. This one is a worthy adversary.

francisweizen, Mar 16, 2006
Photo of JohnfromDublin
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted this on 03.03.06, a 330ml bottle best by Jul 06. Different label than the one shown on BA (still a fierce looking viking chap!).
Removed crown cap with some zest. Poured a hazy dark red-brown brew with a nice head (used a Chimay chalice).
Nice malty smell wafting from this, improving as it sat. Tasted very nice, a chocolate and roast malt brew with a licourice tang. Nice mouthfeel, nice to swirl this beer about the palate. Very enjoyable.

JohnfromDublin, Mar 13, 2006
Photo of ByTor2112
3.55/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this into my Chimay goblet. Nice caramel color that gave brilliant garnet and ruby colors when held to the light. A very thin head of lace that dissipates quickly. Coffee aroma from the cap and when the ale was in the bottle. Once poured in the glass the aroma was alcohol with a small hint of dried prunes maybe? Only a smidge of sweetness there. I kept trying to get a richer more peat-malt mouthfeel but I was only getting alcohol. Not sure if whiskey malt is an actual ingredient but I was tasting it. I had high hopes and I guess I was expecting SA's Scotch Ale with a kick. This ale finishes with a taste of sweet toffee when frothed before swallowing. The last few sips had an awesome buttery taste and Skullsplitter gets better when sipped slow and is allowed to sit and mellow. Strong out of the gate but mellows nicely as more subtle flavors begin to reveal themselves. Cheers

ByTor2112, Mar 06, 2006
Photo of timtheenchanta
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby brown with off-white head. reasonable retention and thin webby lacing down the glass.

Peanut butter, raisins, caramel, a little boozy, slight hop balance in the nose.

Sweet roasted caramel malt attack. Smooth buttery feel and very chewy. Hoppy dry finish.

More caramel than I expected but wonderful nonetheless. Not my favorite in the style but I don't mind having this one a couple of times a year.

timtheenchanta, Mar 06, 2006
Photo of alexgash
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ruddy amber, small, reddish-tan head. Peat, whiskey malt, little oak, brown sugar, a little smoke, some yeast. Slightly fruity, rum and whiskey, sweetish, rich. Toasted edge amplifies towards finish. Smoke and peat increase as well. Finish is surprisingly bitter and toasty. Medium bodied, rich chewy feel. A very good Scotch ale.

alexgash, Mar 03, 2006
Photo of doppelmeup
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow. This was really an interesting beer. I couldn't wait to see if the beer lived up to it's name. And you really have to love the label!

Poured a bottle into a Duvel tulip.

Very pretty, dark amber color. Not a lot of head, but it settled into a quarter inch layer that lasted through the glass. So far so good.

The smell was quite complex. Malty, sweet, some spice and some faint smokiness. Very nice.

Great flavor. Malt then nutty, then some bitterness to balance the sweetness, hints of smoke. As the beer warmed, more alcohol came through.

The beer left the mouth slightly dry.Very light carbonation.

Awesome beer. But drink in moderation. This monster could easily cause some skull-splitting. This was a good one to share with a friend

doppelmeup, Feb 26, 2006
Photo of kelticblood
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Has a nince dark copper color, but had little to no head at all. This beer has been in my fridge for like 3 years. Clear with no hazing or sediment. Very complex aroma wow ! Strong abv noted in aroma. Aroma also has a complex blend of raisin and molasses. Slight cofee and smoke flavors also. I rarely give our 5's but there is so much going on with the taste and aroma I can't belive it. The mouthfeel gets more carbonated with each sip. The aroma smells like it has a high ABV but you cant hardly taste the alcohol. Very smooth finish. If only the appearance was better this beer might get all 5's.This is a great beer but at 8.5 I dont know how drinkable it is. Its unbelivable how they got 8.5 abv into a smooth light to medium body brew. The body seems very light for this type of beer. Sweet malts are noted on the finish with a touch of bitterness . No real hop aroma or taste. Awesome!

kelticblood, Feb 20, 2006
Photo of ski271
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a medium-dark reddish copper with a small, light tan, creamy head that slowly diminishes to a tenacious film. Some stringy lacing. The smell mostly of sweet malts. Alcohol esters, molasses, dark fruit. A little like a tawny port in a way. Taste-wise, there is some strong peat moss right off the bat that caught me off guard. Almost a little overpowering and distracting at first, but on the second taste when you know what to expect, it’s actually a rather pleasant smoky peat flavor, kind of like the flavor in a bottle of Laphroig scotch I have. Well balanced and a bit woodsy too. It has a medium body, syrupy and smooth, lightly warming, and low carbonation. This is not an every-day beer, but a very enjoyable one. An excellent choice when you feel like you’re in a rut beer-wise. Worth trying for sure.

ski271, Feb 17, 2006
Photo of Vancer
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I’m going straight to the taste, whoo, what a pack of meat on top of malt she be. I guess too many of these, and yeah, the top of the head may <poof> off. Nice leathery tones in there also, just a drinkin’ extravaganza. Like quaffing a meat locker smoked lightly over a peat fire – yummy!

Oh, decent tan laces on top of a crystal clear mahogany brew - darn crappy head.

Much more powerful than expected, this one will open your eyes – before shutting them for the night. The thin body will fool you into having more than <a couple>.

Vancer, Feb 17, 2006
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 1,844 ratings.