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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

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1,906 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,906
Reviews: 932
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 148
Gots: 169 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-08-1998

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,906 | Reviews: 932 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pbr85
3.15/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Brownish red with small off-white head.
S: Vinegar, rice (?), and some fruity scents.
T: Kind of strange, though I have never had a Wee Heavy before. Very complex. Very tart, with some bitter rye flavors, burnt wheat.
M: Smooth. Good carbonation.
D: I don't know...I've never had the style before, but this beer doesn't exactly make me want to try others (though I bought a Robert the Bruce today too). I won't be reaching for it next time, but it is different and certainly worth a try.

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

I've long thought this was one of the best designed packaging for a beer that exists, with a kickass viking with a winged helmet. Abnormally cool name too. Scottish beers, particularly Broughton but Orkney too, are often given names in the tune with the country's ancient and mystic history, which I think is better than the ubiquitous name of beer's brewer or hometown.
Anyhoo, this beer pours dark and thick with lots of chunky sediment. The nose is likewise thick and piney with malt and sweetness. Spices and possibly heather are present as well.
The taste is at first malted and hinted with mint or pine but quickly reveals a smoky character that controls the bulk of the flavor. I'm not as crazy about the smokiness and the stong alcohol note but this is still pretty fancy stuff. Mouthfeel is excellent and overall this is a distinctive beer worth an occassional pint.

Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.13/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

darker than i first thought from the bottle, a rich caramel brown color, with a pale tan head.
a rich prune or raisin-y arome is very apparent.
the fruity raisin persists to the taste, very sweet, not very bitter.
too sweet to drink very oftenm but a good complimentary beer. but tasty. needs some more balnce form the bitter end.

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

Compacted blood with a head of stomped earth. Aromas of earth, roasted malts, a bit of smoke and some sweetness that is dark fruit like. Taste is similar. This one used to rock my palate into 2002, it was too intense for me than, but now it is smooth and delicous. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and quite nice, drinkability = good. This one is a worthy adversary.

Photo of JohnfromDublin
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted this on 03.03.06, a 330ml bottle best by Jul 06. Different label than the one shown on BA (still a fierce looking viking chap!).
Removed crown cap with some zest. Poured a hazy dark red-brown brew with a nice head (used a Chimay chalice).
Nice malty smell wafting from this, improving as it sat. Tasted very nice, a chocolate and roast malt brew with a licourice tang. Nice mouthfeel, nice to swirl this beer about the palate. Very enjoyable.

Photo of ByTor2112
3.55/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this into my Chimay goblet. Nice caramel color that gave brilliant garnet and ruby colors when held to the light. A very thin head of lace that dissipates quickly. Coffee aroma from the cap and when the ale was in the bottle. Once poured in the glass the aroma was alcohol with a small hint of dried prunes maybe? Only a smidge of sweetness there. I kept trying to get a richer more peat-malt mouthfeel but I was only getting alcohol. Not sure if whiskey malt is an actual ingredient but I was tasting it. I had high hopes and I guess I was expecting SA's Scotch Ale with a kick. This ale finishes with a taste of sweet toffee when frothed before swallowing. The last few sips had an awesome buttery taste and Skullsplitter gets better when sipped slow and is allowed to sit and mellow. Strong out of the gate but mellows nicely as more subtle flavors begin to reveal themselves. Cheers

Photo of timtheenchanta
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby brown with off-white head. reasonable retention and thin webby lacing down the glass.

Peanut butter, raisins, caramel, a little boozy, slight hop balance in the nose.

Sweet roasted caramel malt attack. Smooth buttery feel and very chewy. Hoppy dry finish.

More caramel than I expected but wonderful nonetheless. Not my favorite in the style but I don't mind having this one a couple of times a year.

Photo of alexgash
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ruddy amber, small, reddish-tan head. Peat, whiskey malt, little oak, brown sugar, a little smoke, some yeast. Slightly fruity, rum and whiskey, sweetish, rich. Toasted edge amplifies towards finish. Smoke and peat increase as well. Finish is surprisingly bitter and toasty. Medium bodied, rich chewy feel. A very good Scotch ale.

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

Wow. This was really an interesting beer. I couldn't wait to see if the beer lived up to it's name. And you really have to love the label!

Poured a bottle into a Duvel tulip.

Very pretty, dark amber color. Not a lot of head, but it settled into a quarter inch layer that lasted through the glass. So far so good.

The smell was quite complex. Malty, sweet, some spice and some faint smokiness. Very nice.

Great flavor. Malt then nutty, then some bitterness to balance the sweetness, hints of smoke. As the beer warmed, more alcohol came through.

The beer left the mouth slightly dry.Very light carbonation.

Awesome beer. But drink in moderation. This monster could easily cause some skull-splitting. This was a good one to share with a friend

Photo of kelticblood
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Has a nince dark copper color, but had little to no head at all. This beer has been in my fridge for like 3 years. Clear with no hazing or sediment. Very complex aroma wow ! Strong abv noted in aroma. Aroma also has a complex blend of raisin and molasses. Slight cofee and smoke flavors also. I rarely give our 5's but there is so much going on with the taste and aroma I can't belive it. The mouthfeel gets more carbonated with each sip. The aroma smells like it has a high ABV but you cant hardly taste the alcohol. Very smooth finish. If only the appearance was better this beer might get all 5's.This is a great beer but at 8.5 I dont know how drinkable it is. Its unbelivable how they got 8.5 abv into a smooth light to medium body brew. The body seems very light for this type of beer. Sweet malts are noted on the finish with a touch of bitterness . No real hop aroma or taste. Awesome!

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.

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>.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,906 ratings.