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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

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1,950 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,950
Reviews: 944
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 156
Gots: 190 | FT: 2
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: 1,950 | Reviews: 944
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.

Photo of rallison
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber brown with a 1/2 finger white head that mostly recedes to lacing. Smells of strong caramel malts.

First taste is of sweet caramel and alcohol warmth. Further tastes reinforce the caramel and toffee sweetness. Luckily, this doesn't get too sweet - I think primarily because of the alcohol balance. Touches of brandy are present as well.

Mouthfeel is rich and fulfilling. Drinkability is decent.

Photo of Blupoet03
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a honey-amber color with a thin white head. The nose brings notes of yeast, florals, honey, bread, and spices.

The flavor delivers everything that the aroma promises - this tastes like a beer version of mead: smooth, sweet, slightly syrupy, and a slight malt flavor.

The alcohol presents itself as an effervescence in your nose instead of an alcohol burn in the mouth.

This is a wonderful example of a Scottish Ale. Repsect it, though, it is strong - and highly drinkable.

Photo of CharlieMopps
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a transparent, dark ruby color with over a finger of head on top that dissipated leaving a trail of lace along the sides of the glass.

S: A rich, malty aroma with hints of dark fruit and sweet spice.

T: In the front, there is a chocolatey, sweet malt base that is well-rounded and stands out. Fades into a middle that has just a touch of hops for a bit of bitterness. Aftertaste is subtle trickle of maltiness with the light layer of hops over top.

M: Creamy mouthfeel, carbonation at an appropriate level.

D: Overall, a pretty solid ale for the style. Being a fan of Scotch/Wee Heavy, I liked this one, but would prefer others given the choice. Still, the availability of SkullSplitter in the region is fairly plentiful, considering the niche market, so you can't really go wrong with it.

Photo of TheCEO
4.62/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I wake up this morning smiling with a hangover. I really went all out last night. I go to the bathroom for my morning ritual. I look in the mirror...my skull is split in half...but I’m not dead. No wonder I had a headache. How can this be? No NORMAL man could survive such a mortal wound...suddenly, my head begins to mend itself...slowly and gracefully...every fiber melding perfectly. Once I’m whole again, the room goes dark...BOOOM!!!! WHITE LIGHT!!--ANGELS!!--SOULS!!--SYMPHONY!!..."I KNOW EVERYTHING!!. I AMMMM EVERYTHING!!". The World stops turning. It’s silent. I am...The American Grandmaster of Beer Tasting.

Photo of khiasmus
3.44/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A- Brilliantly clear, copper colored. All torso: no head or legs. Actually, there is a very faint hint of a ring of soapy white head, and another faint hint of lace down the glass, but that's all.

S- Very strong maltiness, some biscuit, tons of cane sugar, raisins, dates, Powdered-sugar covered dates with nuts in the middle... molasses, alcohol. Overwhelmingly sweet, almost the nose of an eisbock.

T- Sweet, dense, heavy, caramelly, raisiny, sugary, maple-syrupy, MALT. No smokiness, peat, or anything of the kind.

M- Smooth, thick, buttery. Carbonation is low. Slightly warming finish, and the coating of malt lasts a while in your mouth.

D- Simply too sweet. Even for someone that loves Eisbocks. Not very drinkable, especially for a wee heavy.

Photo of biggmike
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brownish-amber color with fluffy head. Hides the alcohol content very well. Aroma of malts and fruit. Head lasted fairly long. I thought the taste was a bit metallic. Based on others review of this beer, I am definitely going to have to try this one again.

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

A: Pours a woody brown with a thick tan head. Bushy laces slather half the glass.

S: An unusual mix of heavy malts and roses. Alcohol on the tip of the nose actual mixes quite well.

T: Oh, this is tasty. Caramel malty notes, but this is not a sweet beer. A creamy nut flavor, almost like cashews. An earthy smokiness at the swallow. This is damn fine.

M: Not as full and chewy as I have come to expect from high gravity Scots. This beer is more on the dry side. In this case, different is better.

D: Very, very drinkable. If I could drink like a true Scotsman, I would make this my bread and butter. As it stands at 8.5 ABV, this is a dangerous drink.

Photo of OWSLEY069
2.88/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clean deep amber with a white head that does not hang around. In the nose, a sweet malt and somewhat earthy. In the taste, a sweet malty beer, with hints of caramel/ butterscotch, and a alcohol presence. It has a dry sticky mouthfeel. It is a bigger beer, with big alcohol and big flavors, the sweetness to this is nice though.

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

Can't believe I had never tried this to date. I got it to pair with a lamb sandwich at a nice restaurant in Portland, ME (Viogna?) with a sweet beer menu (lots of Belgians). They served it in a big old chalice, a dark red with medium carbonation, and a thin golden head. The head faded, but it left some lacing and a swirl of light foam on the beer's top.

Smelled of golden raisins, candy sugar, molasses; all sorts of yummies. A slight herbal hop present, no detectable yeast; this is a real malty ale. Tasted delectable -- mostly malts, a bit of an earthy spice going on as well. Full bodied, but the alcohol was well masked. Went down as easy as you could ever ask an 8.5% ale to go down. I was considering giving it extra points for drinakbility, but I did get a headache shortly after finishing it. Not that I wasn't warned from the name of the beer... Killer Viking on the label. Super solid all around.

Photo of Manosbeeroffate
3.61/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I love the label and wondered if I would ever try this beer, thanks to Todd (Buckspin) yes I can!! Pours a pretty deep brown color, smells a bit sickly sweet, tastes about the same, like some dried fruit, thick malt, slightly burned, and a hint of alcohol in the background despite it being over 8 percent. Overall I do like the beer, but it is a little way too sweet for me, but just a little. I still think it's worth seeking out for anyone who is curious about this beer. And ya gotta love the label!!

Photo of pmcadamis
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Really cool label with a viking guy looking all heroic and stuff. I've heard a lot about this one, but even if I hadn't, I would buy this based on shelf appeal alone...beer + vikings + 8.5% abv = I have to buy it.

A - Purple reddish dark brown like clotted blood. Semi transparent and reddish when held to the light. A four finger head rises up above the half of the bottle that I poured into my snifter, but recedes to a quarter inch cap and a thick collar in the span of a few minutes. Lots of reddish tan lace is left on the glass. Is that Eric the Red on the label? That would be fitting for this reddish tinted brew.

S - Toffee, caramel, and grapey vinous notes right off the bat. Chocolate covered strawberries and cherries are the predominant aromas. I also smell peanut butter and jelly (peanut butter and raspberry preserves?) witch is something that I've never detected in a beer before. A toasty crusty malt backbone resides behind all of this chocolate covered fruit.

T - Peanut butter and strawberry preserves. Whipped chocolate mousse with maraschino cherries on top. I also taste vanilla beans, sea salt, peaty phenols, along with sweet shortcake and pumpernickel malt flavors, and some subdued but balancing leafy hops...just enough leafiness to add a balanced autumnal aspect to this wintery and warming malt bomb.

M - Creamy whipped chocolate mousse. Extremely full bodied and creamy with a neutral finish and a slick melted chocolate feeling in the mouth after the swallow. Some alcohol warmth adds to the rich delectable complexity, but never gets overwhelming or harsh. One of the most outstanding mouthfeels ever...scratch that. This is THE most outstanding mouthfeel ever.

D - This just screams "dessert beer." I love scotch, and I detect a lot of those same peaty Islay malt characteristics in this fantasic beer. I love this stuff, but I can't say that I would drink more than one. I would, however, drink one every night. So it's not undrinkable...it's just unsessionable.

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

Although with the interesting name, this is one fantastic beer. I have not poured it yet into a glass (unfortunately), so I cannot fairly grade color. Taste is extraordinary, very refreshing and not too heavy. Good mouthfeel, just enough to let you know its there, but not too heavy to make you chew. Very drinkable, and I'm looking forward to getting it into a glass to give it a better try.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,950 ratings.