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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,876 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,876
Reviews: 928
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 143
Gots: 153 | 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: 1,876 | Reviews: 928 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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?

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)

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.

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.

Photo of redteg02
4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: nice darker brown with slight shades of red. pours with a very thin head that quickly disipates into a small ring on the outer of the glass

Smell: Truly execptional. a light sweet smell, almost a carmal or mallassis. also has an exquisite roasted aroma.

Taste: almost just as it smells. starts you off with a nice sweet; quickly after you notice the roasted flavors comming through. finishes off with a very pleasing after taste.

Photo of Winter
3/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown with garnet highlights. Scattered light tan head across the surface. Pungent malty aroma has an unappealing sourness to it. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, smooth and soft. Skullsplitter is an odd tasting Scotch Ale. Rich malty flavor with a prune-like fruitiness. But the taste has a funky sour, bitterness to it. The alcohol leaves a dry finish on the tongue. With all the high marks, this was disappointing.

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

11.2 oz brown bottle
Served in a 20 oz tulip pint glass

Pours a light copper brown color. Chestnut highlights with a creamy, thick head.

Malt sticks out in the nose. Sweet and funky, almost like spolied dairy. This beer left off more aromas as it warms.

Slick, juicy malt presence with a smoky finish. Creamy and full with caramel malts providing a syrupy characteristic.

A solid Wee Heavy directly from the country it originates.

Photo of Frozensoul327
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

With a name like skullsplitter, I didn't know what to expect. Hopefully the name isn't an indication of what to expect in the morning. Poured out to a deep cherry color with a nice dense head and lower carbonation. Aroma of alcohol and sweet bread dough go well together. The taste is good for a wee heavy; all the elements are here. Carmel, roasted malt, alcohol, some grain. Very well made. Mouthfeel was a touch syrupy and thick, but remained smooth and easy flowing. Drinkability is decent, as I don't think this beer would be great all the time. When looking for a good example of the wee heavy style, this should be your starting point.

Photo of Citadel82
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is an exceptionally tasteful Scotch ale. Pours a deep ruby brown with a generous long lived tan head that left sheets of lacing on the thistle glass I used to drink this puppy. Aroma of malt and humus/peat. Taste was earthy and buttery with sweet malt and peaty /smoky notes short bitter finish. Mouth feel was slick and and persistently oily. Very drinkable.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 1,876 ratings.