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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,764 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,764
Reviews: 920
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 129
Gots: 122 | 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: 1,764 | Reviews: 920 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WesWes

New York

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.

08-19-2005 01:31:46 | More by WesWes
Photo of bruachan

District of Columbia

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)

08-18-2005 06:16:48 | More by bruachan
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.

08-17-2005 01:44:21 | More by TurdFurgison
Photo of charlesw

New York

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...

08-14-2005 22:30:52 | More by charlesw
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.

08-13-2005 18:42:56 | More by smcolw
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!).

08-13-2005 04:21:07 | More by JohnnyDuvel
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....

08-08-2005 23:22:25 | More by amicar
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

07-27-2005 02:59:05 | More by JMazzic
Photo of EPseja

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev +6.1%

Hearing that I was a fan of woody beers and smoky scotches, this one was recommended to me by beer manager Jon Hartlage of Smart Buy Wines in Fort Lee, NJ. Thanks a ton, Jon!

Served in a pint glass at recommended temperature.

A - Pours a clear, deep amber color with crimson highlights and an explosive tan head made of medium sized bubbles and a pillowy, tiny bubbled top. The head subsides to 1/4'' after a minute or two, and the lacing remains intact all the way down the glass.

S - Aggressive malty nose with medium bodied hoppiness, roasted nuttiness, and light raisiny brown sugar notes. Only faint hints of the alcohol contained within.

T - Smoked, peaty malts hit you right off the bat - somewhat surprisingly since I did not get this at all in the nose. Some of the roasted malt sweetness comes through in the middle and toward the swallow. The finish is laced with spicy hops and is quite dry and vinous (in the vein of a dry sherry). There is a warm alcohol afterglow which reminds you that this beer is well fortified, despite the fact that the ABV is masterfully disguised. Very complex.

M - Initially watery, but not thin. Opens up ever so gently to become airily creamy on the palette. The swallow is fast and easy. Wonderful!

D - The well disguised alcohol coupled with the very wide taste profile on this one makes it disturbingly easy to quaff (and ponder) despite the big ABV. Delicious!

07-15-2005 02:22:43 | More by EPseja
Photo of karst


4.2/5  rDev +2.9%

Pours a dark brown chestnut with ruby highlights and a creamy 1-2 finger head lacing the sides of a New Belgium glass. The head evolves into a thick cream colored halo ring.

Smoke/ peat malts, caramel and toffee.

Taste is similar to aroma - Caramel malts, toffee, dark fruits and alcohol for a slight dry finish.

Mouthfeel is slick.

Has well hidden 8.5% ABV Wee Heavy. Most drinkable.

07-02-2005 14:20:08 | More by karst
Photo of abcsofbeer


3.88/5  rDev -4.9%

This one was poured from an 11.2 ounce greenish brown bottle. The nordic dude on the label is pretty cool. Pours a clear, bubbly, Coca Cola color with light amber shades on the fringes. The head is tan colored, bubbly, but not thick. There is no lace until you get to the bottom of the glass even though the head sticks around nicely.

The nose is buttery, fruity and semi-sweet smelling.

The taste is fruity and malty with breaks of alcohohic flavor. I think the aftertaste was somewhat hoppy, and, mildly salty (a new one). It finishes with more alcohol in the bottom of the glass. I like the scotch ale. It's good.

06-21-2005 00:26:05 | More by abcsofbeer
Photo of Sigmund


4.47/5  rDev +9.6%

Cask conditioned at the 32nd Cambridge Beer Festival, gravity dispense. Dark reddish brown colour. Complex aroma of dark fruits, spices and oak, various woodwork, some chocolate. Flavour is spicy, oaky, malty, chocolate, there’s vinous qualities (old sherry, marsala). Nutty / dusty hops finish. A great beer!

06-08-2005 16:40:56 | More by Sigmund
Photo of Fish113d


4.05/5  rDev -0.7%

served into a pint glass, from a refrigerated bottle, it pours a chestnut brown color, a bit hazy, with a rather huge head, due to a pretty aggressive pour. The head is a milky off-white color that begins to settle a bit with some slow, nice cascading. Some slight yeast remains at the bottom of the bottle as well.

Aroma is mostly of some caramel malts, maybe some oak (dryness), and some nice hops. Nothing overpowering, but decent overall.

Taste is of some smoke flavors off the start along with the nut brown malts and sweetened with caramel a bit, with some decent alcohol burn, and a hit of hops then yeast to finish it. Reminds me a lot of drinking somethign aged in bourbon barrels maybe. Nice overall flavor.

Feel is nice and smooth. Carbonation is not ridiculous, and the alcohol helps to balance out the smootness of it. Rather easy to drink for a medium-bodied brew.

Overall, one i had tried a few years back due to the bottle being cool looking, but one I have tried again due to remembering that I rather enjoyed it!

06-07-2005 21:33:52 | More by Fish113d
Photo of bigbubba


3.33/5  rDev -18.4%

This is a clear, brown beer with a slight redness. The head is a very light tan, about 1/2" tall. It smells very good. There is a sweet malty aroma with a little vanilla. The taste is good but nothing special. I expected more flavor, it seems a little watered down. There is an odd flavor, this might be an old bottle. The mouthfel is a bit too thin.

05-23-2005 22:52:56 | More by bigbubba
Photo of Chadbrew


4.72/5  rDev +15.7%

This ale doesn't pour so much as ooze out of the bottle a deep red color with a half inch of fluffy dirty colored head. There is beautiful lacing left along the sides of the goblet as I swirl it around.

The first thing I smell is alcohol and butterscotch, maybe some raisins soaked in rum. Very powerful malt smell with light hops not what I expected considering the head brewer at Orkney calls this a barleywine, a style I am used to being highly hopped at all levels.

Taste - There's the hops! Bitter up-front that makes the tip of my tongue kind of numb-like. There are subtleties of banana and figs and much like the smell there is some butterscotch and alcohol. There is a lot of malt in the finish which I'm not really used to in a beer this big.

Mouth - Big full body and a blast of really fine carbonation followed by an ultra clean finish.

Drinkability - A very rich beer that like its namesake is not to be reckoned with lightly. It's as high in flavor and character as it is in alcohol. Loved it and will be purchasing more.

04-25-2005 00:29:41 | More by Chadbrew
Photo of deejaydan


4.7/5  rDev +15.2%

Pours a beautiful deep ruby with tiny bubbles running through it. Nice compact sustaining head with good lacing. Toffee-molasses aroma which is lovely. Flavor is rich carmel-chocolate malt. Slightly sweet, hop presence is restrained if not nil. Mouthfeel could be a touch thicker. Perhaps a tad less carbonation too.
A good beer, but at $13 a 4 pack, not an everyday drinker. A great special occasion beer.

04-20-2005 00:43:58 | More by deejaydan
Photo of cncbofh


4.68/5  rDev +14.7%

Pours a swamp-like brown.

Took a little while for the smells to really come out... when they did they were rich with figs, burning wood, some fruit and no noticable hops.

Taste was thick with caramel malts. Sweet and fruity with a deep earthy and leafy background. Where is that alcohol hiding? Amazing! Very complex and gets better as it warms.

Due to the amazing taste, no noticeable alcohol and creamy smooth carbonation, this beer gets a 5 for mouthfeel and drinkability. Incredible.

Goes well with some aged Irish cheddar and rye crackers.

04-14-2005 02:19:13 | More by cncbofh
Photo of whynot44


4.2/5  rDev +2.9%

Full bodied, nice clear dark garnet color with a moderate creamy off-white head. Without the head, this would look a lot like 10w/20 motor oil.

The aroma is sweet caramel malt, slightly vinous.

The taste is also overwhelmingly malty with a rich caramel, spicy, raisin/fig tone. The finish is sticky sweet with a piney, peaty aftertaste that lingers with a hint of smoke. A beer for serious malt lovers and cool weather.

Try this as an after dinner drink during the holidays.

04-12-2005 04:57:04 | More by whynot44
Photo of ken3c


3.9/5  rDev -4.4%

Reddish brown with a good one finger head. Many bubbles rise continuously to feed a solid layer of foam throughout the beer.

Dark malt smell with a strong sense of smoke. Some hops as well.

Sweet and smoky. A little carmel and melon. A slightly bitter hops aftertaste.

Medium-heavy body with a foamy feel.

The aroma put me off a little but I love a good BBQ and this beer is like a good BBQ.

04-10-2005 22:33:05 | More by ken3c
Photo of canucklehead

British Columbia (Canada)

4.35/5  rDev +6.6%

It poured with a surprisingly big head and had that nice mid dark dense body. The nose was pure malt and peat and was a thing of beauty. This beer is a big bad Scottish ale with an inherent smoothness that makes you want to slow down and think about each sip. Excellent and very original.

04-06-2005 17:30:26 | More by canucklehead
Photo of SupaCelt


4/5  rDev -2%

Beautiful dark ruby ale. Two results off the pour ( from two seperate samplings ). Once a massive head, once a small head. Both samplings demand a look at the colour. This is a most attractive glass any way you slice it. Rich and hearty colour and plus or minus headage. Heads are fine and dandy, but the flavours are what we come for. Heavy headed pour yielded lace while the tame pour gave just a few random islands that evolved from the foam ring around the rim. Carbonation is evident although not riotous in both samples.

The smell is similar to an ESB with the dark malt sweatness and roasty goodness omly less hop characteristics. Caramels jump out as well as an old ale molasses sweetness. Slight dark fruitiness pairs with the caramel to give a sugar cane feel that says sweet all the way. Crystal sugars. Quite pleasing to the nose.

The taste is yet again reminiscent of an ESB. Me brethren and I were feeling ESB impressions. The two styles may be yet too undifferentiated for my fledgling palate. Guesswork during the tasting told me: old ale/ ESB / wee heavy. Wee heavy seems to be the official, so I can advocate that nomination. As far as imported brew, this one has the best taste I have encountered thus far in my travels. Massive caramel malts punch in at the first shift. Their sweet tones lend heavily to the overall components. This crystal coated sugar flavor is the most dominant of all. Very clandestine hop flavors creep in to add accents, but never proclaim any authority. The finish remains smooth and sweet, non-bitter. I must say this old boy is quite tasty. Delightful toasty accents. No alcoholic overtones, just a sweet sipper with capabilities to split ones skull the f*ck open. Very robust and overpowering sweetness makes this a good drinker, but less than superb. A very good rep of the wee heavy style. No import off flavors which is the ultimate wink and nod for this old boy. A nice Celtic love juice to get loose. Cheese infested label and all. Arrrr!!! I'll slop up to this mofo again.

04-05-2005 07:58:01 | More by SupaCelt
Photo of arizcards


3.95/5  rDev -3.2%

Picked up a 330ml bottle for $2.59 at AJ's back in January.

This is a dark red brownish colored brew that is leaving a nice lacing down my glass. Nose is of caramel malts and somewhat peaty. Taste is very smooth and complex. A heavy dose of malts greets you with some hints of dark fruits in the background with a nicely slight dry hopped finish. Mouthfeel is creamy and wonderfully smooth. High ABV is well masked. This is a finely crafted brew!

04-03-2005 01:02:43 | More by arizcards
Photo of padjo1


3.85/5  rDev -5.6%

Mouthfeel, appearance and taste all outdo the smell. Therefore, we have to take points off of the balance,hence not a very good one. This cripples the promise of the Orkney's, being a Iron Age Europe stronghold and all, known for its Celtic associations, nevertheless those pertaining to beer. Still, the taste has orange peel notes, as well as maple, coffee and caramel undertones and a slight hint of cinnamon. Cloves? No. That bitterness is coming from the coffee blending with the caramel, methinks.

03-14-2005 06:43:53 | More by padjo1
Photo of Shultzerdugen


4.22/5  rDev +3.4%

Reddish-brown with light colored, tight bubbled head.

Caramel is my first impression upon sniffing. And second. A definite smokiness, a little bit of dark fruit.

Again caramel takes off across the taste buds. Floral and strong citrus from hops, maybe even a little evergreen. Vinous, and again a bit of dark fruit, like very ripe blackberry. Very slick and grainy.

I've seen the 4 packs of SkullSplitter for over $11 dollars. I wouldn't pay that much for it--(a friend gave me one)--but it's pretty damned good.

03-03-2005 02:16:43 | More by Shultzerdugen
Photo of horndecker

New Jersey

4.4/5  rDev +7.8%

Rich walnut color with a fine tan head. Lots of froth, capuccino colored.
A funky citric nose with notes of cocoa and burnt malt. A little walnut aroma appears after it warms a bit.
Flavors of roasted malt, chocolate and oddly, soy. Not a salty soy, just a dark roasty vegetal funk. Very delicious actually.
Wonderful rich mouthfeel, chewy and satisfying. Alcohol warms you up a bit, but there's no burning throat or numb lips.
I'm happy to get my skull split any old time.

02-27-2005 04:02:52 | More by horndecker
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,764 ratings.