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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,841 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,841
Reviews: 926
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 137
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: 1,841 | Reviews: 926 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a single at Steve's on University here in Madison. With a name that formidable, I had to give it a try.

Pours a dark, almost opaque porterish brown, with a finger of dark tan bubbly head. Nose is pungent and earthy - peat moss, smoked wood and dark fruits. Flavor profile is as formidable as its name - again the smokey, earthy, woody character, along with caramel malts, and a hearty helping of dark, dripping prune and fig. There's definitely some RIS or Baltic Porter in this one. I've never had a Wee Heavy with those dark fruit notes like this. Mouthfeel is substantial, the alcohol makes its presence known but doesn't ovewhelm. This is a very unique and potent Scotch Ale unlike any I've had before. Definitely worth a try.

Golden2wenty1, Nov 19, 2005
Photo of danielharper
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Puchased from Strong Bros. Liquor Store, Fayetteville, TN.

Pours a dark amber color, opaque but clear, into a pint glass. A small beige head forms, which quickly dissipates into thin air. No lacing on glass.

Very malty presence in nose. Some caramel aromas, combined with perhaps a touch of toffee, top off a sort of sweet undercarriage. Reminds me a lot of a dopplebock.

Very good taste here. A strong dose of caramel hits me up front on this one, with the sweetness only getting stronger as I swirl it around the mouth, eventually leading to a malty finish. Slight astringent quality in the aftertaste, but it goes down smooth, smooth, smooth.

Luxurious and thick mouthfeel, with only a hint of carbonation to keep things interesting.

Overall, this is a good beer, one that I am very happy I've tried. Four dollars a bottle is a bit steep, though, so it may be awhile before I start buying these regularly.

danielharper, Nov 17, 2005
Photo of hero27
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle

Dark bronze color. Aroma is caramel malts, some dark fruits, and of course some alcohol mixed in. Tastes are molasses, plums, raisins, malt..all lead to a sickly sweet array of flavors. Complex, but some hops to balance it out wouldn't kill anything. Full mouthfeel. The guy on the label is starting to creep me out, so I'll wrap this up.
A pretty decent Scottish ale, but overall forgettable.

hero27, Nov 08, 2005
Photo of redwolf1
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-For appearance, the Skullsplitter poured a nice rich auburn, with a lackluster head that disappeared after a few seconds.
S-A very mild citrusy smell, reminiscent of courants with a strong wiff of alcohol.
T&M-Although not detected at first, there will be a strong alcoholic warmth about halfway through drinking. Smooth malt feel gets even smoother as time passes with the malt becoming more pronounced.
D-At 8.5%, the beer does have a kick to it. So, I wouldn't expect people to drink many of these in one sitting. It is very nice sipping beer, much like any Scotch Ale should be. Very good in my opinion; I would definitely buy this one again.

redwolf1, Nov 08, 2005
Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've seen this beer pop up on the review page a couple of times, so I thought I'd give it a try. And with a name like Skullsplitter, it was bound to have some chops.

A. Tarnished pine, almost flat head, virtually no post pour fireworks. Tons of yeast floating around the bottom of the glass.

S. Dank, malty chocolate.

T. Medicinal cherry flavor, with hints of smoked meat.

M&D. Beer comes across as being a little flat. At 8.5 ABV, it goes down pretty easily.

FLAbeergutinMASS, Nov 08, 2005
Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another strong and malty beer. Has a lot of Dopplebock characteristics with it. Aromas of molassas and malt. Flavors of the same with deep figs, dates, and raison flavors. Perhapse some chocolate and smoke flavor added. Light bittering from roasted grains. Though good flavors, it has a burned flavor to me that is a bit harsh and unpleasant. The alcohols remain sweet and tame for an 8.5%er. Alcohols become a bit sherry-like and didn't completely agree with style. Stays creamy and heavy. A good winter warmer.

BEERchitect, Nov 07, 2005
Photo of tgbljb
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured a crystal clear deep ruby color with modearte tannish head. Smell is magnificient with caramel, molasses, dark ripe fruit present. Almost a wine-like smell. Taste is big time malt with mich sweetness. Caramel, molasses, dark cherries abound. Finishes with a bit of dryness to balance out the sweetness. It also will ot let you forget that there is alcohol present. This is a rich lush brew that is very drinkable for 8.5% alcohol. Also has a nifty label.

tgbljb, Nov 03, 2005
Photo of kmpitz2
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solod dark tea color with ruby highlites. A very small head falls a patchy coat over top. Nose is pretty sweet raisiny with a nice smoky background. Nice ballance, but with a definate fruity sweetness in there. Flavor is definately smokey. The sweetness from the nose is definately subdued. I like the flavor a lot. Feel is thick with a moderate carbonation. Very drinkable brew. No real hint of the 8.5%. I enjoy it a lot.

kmpitz2, Oct 30, 2005
Photo of joedon
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thick, billowy head of tan foam. Beautiful dark bronze, almost ruby color.

Malty, bread aroma really jumps out from this beer.The taste is equally intense. First notes are smoky peat followed by malt, toffee and caramel. Finish comes with a big alcohol nose and a bit of burnt sugar-raisin taste. Almost no hop taste which is expected for a wee heavy.

Very much a slow sipping winter beer. The smoky peat may be a little bit of an acquired taste.

joedon, Oct 29, 2005
Photo of ggroller
3.25/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I love the red foil seal. It's like opening a Christmas present.

Dark amber colored beer, bordering on opaque.

Very thin head but very thick and sticky.

Malt, caramel, and raisons in the nose.

Malty sweet, raisons, peat, bandaids, smokey wood in the taste. This is a very complex beer.

Not very drinkable as it is a bit too sweet.

ggroller, Oct 28, 2005
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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 11, 2005
Photo of czechsaaz
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

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%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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 23, 2005
Photo of numenor1
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 1,841 ratings.