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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,713 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,713
Reviews: 920
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 120
Gots: 103 | 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)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,713 | Reviews: 920 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Mick

New Jersey

3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

All in all a nice beer. But, not a "great" representation of the style. It seems that all Scottish beers taste alike. Scottish beers must all use the same type of malts; at least that is what detracts from what could be a great beer. This tasted like Mc Ewans. Nice brown color, bready malty nose. Malty taste, too malty. It would be better served if the alcohol were allowed to have a more dominant presence, however the alcohol is noticeable. Overall drinkable, but only once in a while. More of an apéritif than a round or session beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2003 10:54:32 | More by Mick
Photo of pezoids


2.15/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The appearance of this beer is superb. It poured out a clear and bright ruby, almost cherry color. It gave a big lacy head in the glass and had a nice carbonation. That's where most of the enjoyment stopped for me. The smell seriously reminded me of old wet bread dough and sour apples. There was a strange alcohol smell also.

In tasting, a heavy malt flavor was evident, along with some fruitiness. Any hop aroma was muted by the other flavors. There is an overbearing sweetness here.

This beer was actually hard for me to finish, which is rare.
Someday I'll give this one another shot, hopefully on tap.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2003 07:54:20 | More by pezoids
Photo of Reidrover


4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Comes in a really beautiful bottle with the label having a nice picture of a guy dressed as a viking..can't beat that!
Ahh this beer looks just great large frothy tan coloured head above a clear everfescent brown beer.. almost blood red in the light ( how appropriate)
Smell is good not great lot of malt and smokiness..and forgive me i smelt some aged cheese in there tooTaste..mmm hard to describe very malty though the hops show through..and some lovelly alcoholic warming in the throat and chest..very well done.
feels very good on the toungue easy
Good drinkability for one so stronmg.
All in all another nice beer from the Orkney Isles

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2003 20:50:44 | More by Reidrover
Photo of UncleJimbo


3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle. 8.5 abv
Poured a brown color with thin tan foam. The smell was strong and malty. A sweet aroma with some lactic acid. The taste was sweet and malty, with some caramel and a bit of lacitc acid. The mouthfeel was strong and smooth. The carbonation was strong. The drinkability was good. A bit astringent but creamy and good.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2003 19:03:44 | More by UncleJimbo
Photo of avylover


4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My question is what is the benchmark for a barleywine style? This brew seems nothing like the american barleywines i've tried. What's a barleywine 'supposed' to taste like?

on with the review. pours with a decent head. This beer is transparent yet looks very thick. It's almost burgundy in color. Smell is sweet malts & alcohol. The taste is full of sweet matliness, not hoppy at all like some other barleywines. Great taste but a bit syrupy in the mouth. Has that sweet "dough" taste found in some german doublebocks. A good brew overall, but a bit sweet for my tastes. Worth tyring for sure, but I think this beer could use i bit more balance

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2003 16:36:27 | More by avylover
Photo of 49degrees

British Columbia (Canada)

4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An extremely complex Scottish Style "Wee Heavy" that delivers a great bang for the buck.

Pours a very dark amber color with very little light penetration when held up to a bright lamp. Moderate sized head on the pour full of large bubbles plus a little surface foam coverage. Lacing is adequate on the glass and there is a fairly tight white collar surrounding the surface of the brew.

The Skullsplitter presents very complex characteristics in both aroma and taste including heavy wafts of caramel and plenty of fruit. Immediately on cracking the cap on this one, there's a heavy waft of sour fruit that overpowers the other aromas. These intense aromas immediate bring the thought of fruit cake to the senses. Pour it in a glass and let it settle for a minute or two and the intensely sweet aromas really kick in. Somewhat creamy in texture, but not like a Cream influenced ale, but still surprisingly smooth on the palette. There's even a slight hint of chocolate in the flavor, alebit ever so light.

On first impression, I was a little taken back by everything that was going on in this brew. But as I continued to make my way through the rest of the bottle, everything that this beer presents, is presented to perfection. A high class brew with a very complex character that will surely please Port lovers, Stout lovers and even fans of the Porter.

[ STATS:>> SERVING: 330ml bottle / ABV: 8.5% / PRICE: $2.65 USD ]

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2003 20:05:32 | More by 49degrees
Photo of BeerManDan


4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When poured it was a deep reddish-golden in color with very little foam and no lace. The smell of hops and malts were nearly non exsistant, very weak. The taste had a full, a velvet-like body that was medium dry and powerful. It had a hint of an earthy character. To be drank in a brandy snifter!

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2003 16:15:39 | More by BeerManDan
Photo of kunzbrew


4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a pretty good beer. The brew pours a dark amber with red highlights, a good size head is present for the duration and leaves a sexy lace behind. The smell of alcohol and strong caramel malt fills the nose with great pleasure. A smoked flavor fill the palate also, WOW this is a pretty complex beer. I am really enjoying this session. The hops begin to show them selves as the beer gets a little warmer, along with the smoked flavor is coming out faster and faster. This is a pretty kick ass beer.


Serving type: bottle

01-15-2003 20:54:58 | More by kunzbrew
Photo of IrishRedRock


4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one highly complex and drinkable brew. I must say I had no idea what to expect. Amber colored brew with aromas of chocolate, coffee, and of course, alcohol.

There are many flavors to this brew. Chocolate and hops initially, with a bit of earthiness as well. It finishes smooth with a pleasant hop bitterness and a mild coffee flavor, with some astringent alcohol as well. For some reason, it also reminds me of gasoline as well, but dont get me wrong, its very good and very complex. Quite enjoyable!

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2003 12:17:27 | More by IrishRedRock
Photo of cretemixer


4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep auburn in color with a thin caramel head that leaves no lace. Rich aromas of chocolate, malts and mollasses. Smells like a porter, hints of coffee as well. Malts and coffee come through on the taste as well. Highly carbonated and fairly creamy mouthfeel. Coffee bitter on the finish with a lingering aftertaste. Pretty good brew.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2003 06:24:43 | More by cretemixer
Photo of BeerBuilder


4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a clear, ruby-brown color with a tan head. The aromas are of figs, dates, and alcohol. The flavor is smoky, toasty, and alcoholic. The flavor ends with a slight touch of chocolate. The hop bitterness is way in the back. It is a very warming, full-bodied beer. It is an easy drinking beer with a level of alcohol that will definitely sneak up on you. A very tasty brew, I would certainly drink this one again.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2003 07:09:39 | More by BeerBuilder
Photo of Suds


4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There's A LOT going on in this beer!
Beautiful mahogany color with a very thin, tan head. The taste and aroma are all about the malt. There are serious molasses-like, roasted, and almost smoky malt flavors. And serious caramel and butterscotch characteristics as well. All that, interlaced with a balanced hop backdrop and a wonderful alcohol-warming finish. Long sniffs and small sips......
The beer, though, was also extremely oily, and at times a bit rancid. I don't know how old my sample was, and the fleeting rancid flaw could have been from age oxidation. Still, it's a terrific brew....if I see it again, I'm sure to have more!

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2002 11:31:53 | More by Suds
Photo of Murph


4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a medium amber/copper color with a nice thick tan head that slowly sinks toa solid 1/8 inch level and leaves moderate lace. Big chewy maltiness in the nose with some nice chocolate type sweetness mixed with some fruity figs, prunes, and slight grape skin aromas. Somewhat in between a doppel bock and a barley wine, this brew is definitely a tasty one, and very appropriate for the winter weather. Nice big maltiness with softly sweet tones like a doppel. Nice chocolatey characteristics are there before the complex fruityness comes in. Big prunes, figs, some slight orange zest, and more slightly tart grape flavors. The brew ends with big maltiness but nicely avoids becoming cloying and syrupy. Very clean and very light for the amount of maltiness and big fruit flavors. Not that it is light or clean, there is just a ton of flavor in this brew and it isn't over the top in delivering it. Very tasty, very consumable (perhaps dangerously so), and definitely very recommended.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2002 17:39:38 | More by Murph
Photo of Kwak

New Jersey

4.88/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Rich creamy head, a little small but had plenty of flavor.

Smooth full creamy dark body almost muddy looking.

The taste was full of caramel flavor, nice gentle spicy undertones.
Excellent alcohol warming effect in the end.
I like the aftertaste on this one.

Would recommend, but only have one!

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2002 20:24:03 | More by Kwak
Photo of JISurfer

South Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer is a very nice Scotch Ale. It has a nice strong taste to it of plums and raisins, and a nice thick dark color to add. The head wasn't too thick and creamy, but what do you expect out of a bottle. It goes down smooth and leaves a heavy after taste. Had a nice warming effect on me, and is now one of my favs. If you are a fan of thick beers, with heavy after tastes, then you would most certainly dig it.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2002 14:29:34 | More by JISurfer
Photo of Wildman


4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a dark amber and formed a nice foamy light tan head that left circular lace. Some carbonation was present. An aroma of malt, caramel and prunes/plums. A flavor of malt, caramel and fruit. A very strong flavored beer with a slight hint of the alcohol that is present. A very warming finish.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2002 14:40:16 | More by Wildman
Photo of Gusler


4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a clear ruby red color, the head spectacular in size, the consistency that of thick cream, the lace glutinous, and both a pleasing light tan color. Strong hints of caramel, sweet fruit, toasted malt. Quite sweet at the start, the top middling, the Finnish is vigorously carbonated, ruggedly hopped, droughty aftertaste.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2002 18:06:25 | More by Gusler
Photo of StevieW


4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. brown bottle with the 7th Earl of Orkney staring ominously back at you. Looks like a man on a misson and to be left alone. He's also got a shield and an ax. Pretty Cool.

Rub colored clear liquid topped with a thin edge beige head. Decent raisen, roasted plum smells. Maybe a hint of earthy oak. Taste was a strong mix of syrupy carmel, rich vine ripe plums and toasted fruit. Very smooth finisher, melts into you mouth, then slides into a belly warming finish. Medium to light bodied, despite the complex flavors. Very smooth finishing flavors. Sneaky strong at 8.5 % A beer not be missed. I made it a nite capper. I don't think you want any more than one of these at a time.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2002 18:41:57 | More by StevieW
Photo of yen157

New Jersey

3.43/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, ruby / amber beer with a tan head that quickly disappeared. Smelled very malty, toasty, and fruity, though I was not able to pick out the ripe fruits. Very deep, complex beer showing off much malt and toasted grains. There was an unusual bitterness I was not sure what it was from. This strange bitterness made the finish salty. Also, the beer was quite minerally.

This was not my favorite beer, but I will try it again a little warmer. I made the mistake of drinking this beer too cold. IMO, it should be consumed at cellar temperature as the absolute coolest out of a nice tulip glass. Next time I will show te beer the respect it deserves.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2002 06:30:18 | More by yen157
Photo of beerluvr

Ontario (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This pours with a long lasting tan head over clear deep dark amber liquid, laid back carbonation. Lots of sweet maltiness in the nose, the tasting reveals more malt with some slight phenols, roasted grains, then a nice round of hoppiness to dry things out. A long and enjoyable finish rounds things out nicely.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2002 03:18:32 | More by beerluvr
Photo of cokes


3.35/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours out a deep ruby-bronze. Sandy beige head recedes to an edging, then lasts.
Full nostril bombardment with toffee, raisin, rum and peat smoked malts.
I can't quite get a grip on this beer. I love the hell out of one sip, then am repulsed by the rancid buttery and metallic-sour off flavors in the next
As for the positive:
Starts heavy on the ripe dark fruit. Loads of raisin, touches of plum and maybe some dried date. This is layered upon a huge butterscotch backbone. Hints of liquorice and molasses pop up. Hops are barely noticed in the finish. Far too much malt to budge.
Without the aforementioned off flavors, this would be a serious contender. Still worthy of a feature fight as it is, despite its weaknesses.
Slippery. smooth in the mouth.
I'll have to score another bottle, because I have the feeling this could be a classic.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2002 21:25:26 | More by cokes
Photo of hyuga

North Carolina

4.88/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Amber-brown color with a frothy light tan head that settles quickly. Wonderfully intense and rich malty aroma of smoky caramel along with lots of green apple rind and spicy hops. The aroma jumps right at you, it's hard to miss all of the nuances of character in it, even under the big, bold maltiness. Rich, full flavor. Chewy, sweet caramel and peat-like malt with a little smokiness and spicy hop bite. A tiny hint of dried fruit is detectable. Roasted undertones throughout. Dangerously smooth. Very and robust. Overall, caramel is in charge. This was one of my first introductions to heavily malty brews, and one of the reasons I love them! Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2002 00:59:58 | More by hyuga
Photo of sinistersteve


3.63/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

With a name like SkullSpiter and a Viking on the label, I figured this was going to be a great beer. This deep rich carmel colored beer poured to a nice thick head which settled to a small one which wouldn't go away. Nice strong ale (malty) taste, yet not over too powering. For being a non-American ale, this is a great beer. none of that weird Euro/English taste. Although, I did expect a more of a kockout punch in taste with what was on the label.

Serving type: bottle

09-23-2002 16:15:20 | More by sinistersteve
Photo of sponberg

New York

4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep garnet/brown with a thinnish tan head.

Has a nose akin to a smoky Scotch or Port - hints of toffee and raisin. Beautifully smooth - the slightly smoky, slightly roasty edges of the caramel/toffee maltiness are just SO satisfying. Enough hop bitterness to balance, but this brew is a malt maven's delight. Finishes with some raisiny notes along with a slight but notable warming surge o' alcohol. Skullsplitter is the one beer to have when you're having more than one while sitting by the fire roasting your enemies on a spit - or a leg of lamb, for that matter. One of my all time favorite cold weather sipping brews.

While quaffing the last of my pint, the publican offered up some smoked herring. It went perfectly with this brew.

Serving type: on-tap

09-18-2002 08:03:42 | More by sponberg
Photo of marc77


4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear garnet in hue. Tan head quickly recedes into a tight rim around the glass. Dark caramel malt and lightly sweet fruity esters upfront in aroma, while underlying roasted barley adds a slight edge. Mild diacetyl butterscotch emerges as the beer breathes. Fairly tame aromawise. In flavor, assertive sweet caramel leaps out of the gate, then tames and blends with ensuing light roasted barley and hop bitterness and butterscotch. Lightly nutty, biscuity malt emerges mid palate concomitantly with a subdued earthy Goldings hop flavor. Moderate in body, with a smooth mouthfeel facilitated by the relatively low carbonation. Finishes w/ a fading toffeeish sweetness and mellow alcohol warmth. Skullsplitter is a tasty, straight forward strong ale. Not complex, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2002 17:20:49 | More by marc77
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,713 ratings.