1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

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

1,821 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,821
Reviews: 926
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 135
Gots: 139 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Skull Splitter Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,821 | Reviews: 926 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of spiffylubes
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured with a slight head, maybe 3-4 millimeters. Dissipated quickly, leaving very minimal lacing. Color is a fairly dark amber/brown with very little carbonation. Smell is fairly nutty, darkly fruity, and a little sweet (due to the fruitiness I imagine). Taste is very malty, with some sweetness, caramelly, very little alcohol sweetness. I expected more due to the 8.5%, but all in all its a good mixture of flavors. Sweet aftertaste with very little alcoholey warmth, but very smooth. Little carbonation adds to the overall smoothness. A good beer.

spiffylubes, Feb 11, 2006
Photo of bennetj17
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours with no head to speak of, only very tiny carbonation occuring. Color is deep reddish-brown, lots of floating sediment/yeast throughout. Smells of sweet, carmelly and nutty malt, with a mild chocolate scent also. Tastes very sweet, with caramel malt flavors dominating. Finish is rather burnt/smoky but not overly alcoholic for 8.5%. Thickness is medium, carbonation is a bit low, but it works. Good smoothness. Not overly stimulating but well-rounded enough to increase its drinkability. A decent strong scotch ale.

bennetj17, Feb 11, 2006
Photo of rustymoore
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber with thick, full-bodied head. The smell is amazing...raisens, dates caramel dominate but it has a smokey flavor as well. The taste is also very solid...bold and full of flavor. The caramel notes are most present but I can taste molasses and sweet fruits as well. Mouthfeel is only hampered by strong carbonation. Overall, I could drink this all night long

rustymoore, Feb 10, 2006
Photo of masikon
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark chestnut with some amber highlights when held the light, head was moderate in a tulip and didn't last long for me. Nose was faint with raisins and pepper. Taste was unexpectedly smooth and easy drinking for the abv, no real indication of the alcohol other than a slight peppery feel long after the swallow. Tastes range from raisins to sweet molasses with malt being the dominant factor by far. Overall a very nice and well done brew, easy to drink and quite warming....I'd have this again.

masikon, Feb 10, 2006
Photo of sloejams
3.38/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

You have to love the bottle: big viking fella looking like he's in need of a Wee Heavy something quick after a long day of splitting skulls. Having only split a few heads today, I still reached for this brew, hoping I'd be able to brave it.

I was hoping to drink this out of a human skull, but had to settle on a pint glass - hardly a decent substitute. It did allow to me to look at the beer - amber colored with good clarity and a decent head. It had a very sweet smell - raisin and plum, some cider and esters. The flavor started with the strong malt and the sweetness followed: butterscotch, caramel with a strong alcohol taste. It finished strong with little aftertaste. It had a nice creamy texture with low carbonation. The taste and the alcohol were intense - I think one of these will do.

A nice beer to finish off a day of conquering a village.

sloejams, Feb 09, 2006
Photo of AlexJ
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A sloppy pour into my trusty McChouffe tulip yields a burnt amber brew topped by a thick layer of densely whipped oatmeal colored froth that retains majestically and leaves concentric layers of sticky lace.

Aroma is a malty expression of joy; toasty, caramelized amber malts, oatmeal cookies, yellow raisins, and a subtle hint of peaty soot. It hints of mountain wildflowers and honey-sweetened scones, nice.

Flavor expands your caramel malt horizons with butterscotch, scorched molasses, and buttery biscuits drizzled w/ raw mountain honey. There's a nice floral note throughout with some drying grassy/herbal hops and subtle hints of peat-smoked rocks in the finish.

Body is medium to big with fuzzy, micro-bubbled carbonation and a very smooth and chewy mouthfeel. Intensely malty and noticably strong abv make one bottle enough at a time.

AlexJ, Feb 03, 2006
Photo of Prufrock
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a pilsner.

crystal clear dark amber with an inch of foamy off-white head that falls leaving enormous peaks and tons of lacing.

i know it's not a good description, but the aroma is incredibly malty. buttery, caramelly, bready. a hint of the high alcohol.

ridiculously rich, buttery taste. a touch of caramel sweetness, but more of a bready flavor than expected. very indulgent. fairly high carbonation, but it slides down the throat.

great brew, but i can't imagine drinking more than one. richer than an alfredo sauce; perfect to finish a cold winter's evening.

Prufrock, Feb 03, 2006
Photo of Mitchel
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Skull splitter pours a deep foggy brown with a good head. The head is powdery and slightly off white. It also holds for a long while and leaves good lacing. It smells like grain, ripe fruit (raisins) and alcohol. There is a nice hint of caramel.

Firstly, the alcohol is present. Secondly, and more importantly, caramel is the dominant flavor. It has a saccharine body, but is balanced rather well with some light hoppy bitterness. It is very creamy and almost chewy. It finishes with a pleasant undertone of oak and toasted malt.

This is a very drinkable beer. It is slightly hard to find, and costs a little bit more than your average beer, but it is worth the search and the extra buck. Take it slow; the alcohol can sneak up on you. Skullsplitter is good, definitely check it out.

Mitchel, Jan 31, 2006
Photo of silver0rlead
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly murky deep amber with a nice tan head that retains well for a beer of 8.5%. The aroma kicks it up a notch with a nice caramel and molasses sweetness, peat smoked malt, toasted bread, ripe dark fruits (fig plum and grape), floral hops and some alcohol. The taste again starts off with molasses and caramel sweetness, followed by some smoked peat, light floral hops, dark fruits (grapes, plums and dates), esters, and some mild ethanol. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, and the drinkability is incredible. I was quite impressed by this brew, it was complex and seemed quite authentic, and yet was incredibly smooth and drinkable. Highly recommended.

silver0rlead, Jan 28, 2006
Photo of murphysbleachers
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle into a Sam Smith Nonic Pint Glass:
A: Poured a dark reddish amber color. Lacing present.
S: Malty, slightly metallic smell. Dried cherries/raisins as it opens up a bit.
T: Grainy maltiness, raisins, creamy. The warming effect in combination with the flavors reminds me of eating a cake soaked in brandy.
M: Not much fizziness, creamy texture. Slight alcohol warming in the finish.
D: Good night. Doesn't so much split the skull as lull you into a warm slumber with its easily drinkable warmth.

murphysbleachers, Jan 26, 2006
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into pint glass.
Very nice color. Deep brown, yet not thick. Balanced well with white, foamy head that lingered into lacing.

Aroma: Malt, wood-perhaps oak, peat.
Taste: Surprisingly not strong, but a good balance of malt, oak, hops, and smoke. Doesn't taste like a high alcohol beer.
MF: Hops were present, but just enough to notice them a give the beer some body.
Drank one, but could have more.

1-26-2013 UPDATE: Cracked one open that's been in my cellar for about 1 1/2 years. The flavor has really taken off. Nice sweet malt, chewy. Its sweetness is constant and continual. The hops are gone or at least turned to more of an earthy quality. Smoke is gone, too. What's left is a robust, sweet, and darn fine brew. Some leather and hazelnut come and go. Very nice

Mebuzzard, Jan 23, 2006
Photo of danielocean03
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark and clear mahogany color with a white foamy one finger head that fell to light lacing. Smells rich of smoked wood, nearly a mesquite aroma along with sweet burnt sugars and alcohol present as well. Heavy line of malt also notable in the scent, smell has slight notes of caramel and toffee, chalking up to the sweet nose. Tastes smoky and malty, finishing sweeter and slightly oily slick on the tongue. Bites hard initially and finishes sweet and smooth. Overall a complex strong ale, enjoyable, drinks lighter than 8.5% abv, would purchase again.

danielocean03, Jan 23, 2006
Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a deep mohonagy with a off white head that is about 3/4 and inch thick, it lingers for ten minutes, before it falls int a lace.
the aroma is figs, raisons, malt, alcohol.
the flavor is malty, carmelized malt, fig, smokey, slighty sweet, alcohol.
mouthfeel is a little thick but that is expected.
this beer is very good and drinkable but i think best enjoyed on a cool night.

plaztikjezuz, Jan 21, 2006
Photo of nortmand
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep amber pour with a little bit of tan foam.

A bit of rich grassiness in the smell, not alot else.

Taste is a deliciously sweet rich and malty beautiful thing, Caraqmel, fruitm absolutely fantastic.

Rich and smooth, this beer is absolutely quaffable despite it's inherent sweetness.

nortmand, Jan 21, 2006
Photo of brentk56
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a reasonably clear ice tea colored body with a nice beige head that hangs around for the duration and leaves good lacing

Smell: Smells like raisins, biscuits, caramel and rubber bands

Taste: Tastes rather sweet on the front end with a caramel raisin flavor; mid-palate is when things start to happen, as peaty, smokey flavors builds up to an overwhelming level and creates a very complex finish that meshes with the caramel malt flavors

Mouthfeel: Mediium-heavy body with modest carbonation

Drinkability: A complex and enjoyable Wee Heavy

brentk56, Jan 17, 2006
Photo of Phatz
4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a coppery ruby color, with a 3 finger head. Stayed frothy the entire duration of the beer. Medium lacing.

Smell: Orange drink, and a bit of lemonade (with lots of sugar) and hints of raisins.

Taste: When I first took a sip immediately the thought ‘cinnamon orange caramel’ came to mind. Very sweet (almost seeming artificially sweetened) as if someone added a few packets of white sugar to my beer. Since I have a huge sweet tooth I liked this. I am guessing that some others may not like all the sweetness. There is some lemon tartness in the middle but very little bitter. There is a small hop bite at the tail end of the beer and in the after taste, but most of the hop character is a citrusy and when overridden by the extremely sweet malts it makes the beer seem to be mostly bitter free. The aftertaste is perfect, with a bit of dryness followed by the sweetness seeping back out of your cheeks to mellow the slight hop bite leaving you craving more. Not too sweet or too bitter; this beer is right on the money for me! Very full of flavor.

Mouthfeel: Full body, but medium weight. Nice carbonation keeps the beer feeling creamy and light yet sweet (like whipped marshmallow as opposed to syrup).

Drinkability: This is incredibly, remarkably, dangerously easy to drink. It goes down so easily and for a beer in this style it is impressively light in the stomach. It is certainly not a session beer or and all nighter beer, but I finished the first one very quickly and wanted another. The 8.50 % ABV will definitely catch up to you but I highly recommend trying this beer, especially if you like this style or like sweet beers.

Hope this is helpful.
Cheers!

Phatz, Jan 13, 2006
Photo of EvilKeith
3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours into the glass a dark, burnt ruby color. Beautiful creamy tan head that dissapates quickly, minimal lacing remains.
Sweet and smoky to the nose. Tastes of carmelized fruits and sweet breads. By the taste you would expect this to be sticky.
I'd call this a medium bodied wee-heavy. A wee-heavy to remember.
I only wish I had bought more. This one will be on the shopping list for next time.

EvilKeith, Jan 10, 2006
Photo of ypsifly
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz that is undated and red foiled, poured into a pint glass.

Deep rust under half a finger of tan. Strong retention with a nice sheet of lace.

weet malts, some smoke and bread dough. Slight alcoholic warmth underneath. A bit woody. Very nice aromas.

Tastes very malty as well. The smoke comes through strong, but not with the strength of a rauchbier. Slightly vinous with raisins and enough bite from the hops to keep it from getting too sweet. Residual smoke in the finish with warming alcohol.

The strong flavors and abv make for a sipper, but I could have a couple more in one sitting if I don't have to go anywhere.

Good stuff!

Very full mouth with some oils but the carbonation keeps that in check.

ypsifly, Jan 10, 2006
Photo of Tupperwolf
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into my tulip a dark root beer brown with reddish highlights, a frothy big-bubbled head that recedes to a clumpy ring of big tan bubbles around the surface and swirls of tan over the red-brown depths. Thin rings of big-bubbled lace are left.

Lots of malty smells; Smells like sugarcane, barley, toffee, cola, and rum. Very little hop in the smell.

Fruity esters in the taste, plum, orange peel, peaches, a zesty and somewhat acidic tang. A small dab of hop oils on the back of the tongue, but very little. Warms the mouth with alcohol which is very well balanced.

Minimal but zippy carbonation, a very thin caramel residue left behind, and a very nice aftertaste. The sensation is good, hard to describe, but tempts me for another sip.

All in all, this is a good brew. It didn't have any particularly standout qualities - it doesn't have a really loud personality - but it's tasty. A worthwhile treat.

Tupperwolf, Jan 09, 2006
Photo of wcudwight
4.53/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 11.2 ounce bottle with a cool looking lable of a Viking on it.
A: Cloudy, murkey brown with a bubbly head that doesn't last too long.
S: Aroma hits you immediately.Caramel, Sweet malts, Plums, Raisins.
T: Very sweet and smooth. Caramel, kind of sweet coffee tasting. Very complex. Very good. Hard to describe, I recommend you try for yourself.
M: Thick, chewy, and warming
D: Very drinkable for an 8.5% beer. Where is it hiding that alcohol?

wcudwight, Jan 02, 2006
Photo of russpowell
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Caramel coloring with white bubbly headt hat drops quickly but leavesan impressive lace

Smell: Smokiness (peat), plums and alcohol

Taste: Sweetness and peat taste and lots of both. OTT as the Brits would say (or just to damn much), Slight bitternes and some charcoal taste, tastes do not mix together to anything like perfection

MF: Slick, some what syruppy, good carbonation

Drinkablity: The overall effect is just too overstated. I remember a much better cask version years ago (92ish)

russpowell, Dec 25, 2005
Photo of SPLITGRIN
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thick light tan head stands almost as tall as the beer itself. Nearly black body shows noticeable sighs of carbonation even thru the dark.

Nose is a nonsterous invigorating meaty maltinesss. Just by the smell you can almost cut it with a knife.

At first sip you get deep dark ripe fruit accompinied by grilled malt glazing the buds. Finishes soft malty bittter on the mouthfeel with almost a waxy feel. Breaks down a little on the end and reveals a harder liquer, maybe cheap port. Kind of sharp but enjoyable overall.

SPLITGRIN, Dec 18, 2005
Photo of counselor
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a dark ruby/garnet brown with a thin head that leaves plenty of lace on the glass. The aromas are a little chalky, almost cardboard with a slight peat smell. The beer has a gripping mouthfeel that hangs in and aroud the tongue and gums. Flavors of slightly peaty malt, smokey, nutty and with a fair amount of dry hop aftertaste. I can taste some alcohol notes after the finish with more smokey flavors lasting long after swallowing. Interesting beer.

counselor, Dec 11, 2005
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,821 ratings.