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Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

992 Reviews
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Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery
United Kingdom (Scotland) | website

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-08-1998

User Reviews
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Reviews: 992 | Ratings: 2,127
Photo of gr0g
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle. Mahogany color with a couple fingers of khaki foam. Impressive lace formation. Smells British and malty. Rich toffee and caramelized sugar notes. Super-ripe dark fruit character. Herbal hop notes. Malty-sweet flavor profile that's nonetheless well-balanced by hop bitterness. Light alcohol note on the finish. A bit of diacetyl that's characteristic of UK beers. Some rum raisin flavor. Mouthfeel is a bit prickly at first, but this subsides eventually.

This is an extremely well-crafted Scottish ale. Tons of rich, malty flavor. A must-try for anyone who's a fan of the style.

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Photo of Gorilla_Biscuits
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Really interesting aroma it's hard to decribe, but it's nutty and fruity. It tastes like licorice, grapes, spices, and scotch. Pretty smooth, glad I had the opportunity to try this.

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Photo of Futbol15
4.89/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This beer was everything I expected and then some. I found it at a variety store as a single and thought it would be a great sample bottle to add to my build your own 6 pack....I should've bought 6 of these!

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Photo of Mlkluther
2.77/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

It seems most like this beer - I did it. I found it was overly boozy. It had a cloying sickly sweet finish. I found the overall flavour reminiscent of cough syrup. It's just not for me, I guess :-). More for the rest of you to enjoy!

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Photo of bbtkd
4.49/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this once on vacation in Missouri, they go down real easy - too easy, great flavor. This was one of the first craft beers I had, consuming three (or so) with supper. Luckily I was on foot as I could not have driven. This beer provided two revelations that led me to craft; some beers are way over the standard 4.2%, and beers are regionally available. I am disappointed that I can't get this anywhere near my current home state. Would love to get my hands on this again, a great beer.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bit murky looking, dark amber with no head, the smell is incredible, sweet bread pudding aroma. Taste is as great, sweet toffee up front with a nice dark fruit and malty flavour, followed up with the spices to give it great balance. This is better than i expected and good value too. Very good overall.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.91/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had this out of a bottle last night up at the Cloverleaf. I'm not a huge fan of this style and with the late-season heat wave taking hold of this area this week, I wasn't quite in the mood for anything too heavy. This was high in alcohol but the flavors meshed well enough together to keep it well hidden while still staying smooth enough to go down relatively easily.

Nice dark almond hue to this with not a lot of lead and only trace amounts of lacing that mostly slid down the side of my tulip glass after each sip. Lots of roasted malt and dark fruit in the nose with both of those being present in the taste from start to finish. Fig and dates were prevalent too and there was hint of spice that seemed a bit woody in nature. Slightly sticky and with a trace of peat moss, this was a Scotch Ale from start to finish that seemed classic in nature and as a benchmark for other to emulate.

I would have toned the alcohol down a notch if possible but that's just my bias getting in the way of this beer. It wasn't too strong and it just took a bit of getting used to given the low hop presence here. Had there been snow on the ground or a Christmas tree present, this would have fit in a lot better. By itself, I enjoyed the nuances of this beer while appreciating the subtly of the roasted notes. Quite sweet and easily enjoyable!

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Photo of Cannibalgasm
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle.

A: Pours a hazy deep amber with ruby hues. One fingers of frothy beige head retains itself for a fairly long time before settling. Leaves behind some excellent lacing.

S: Sweet bready malts initially, then notes of fig, plum, caramel, dark fruits, and dates. The scent of pear and apple are also detectable as well as some brown sugar and earthy spiciness from the hops.

T: Caramel and sweet malt flavors up front, followed by flavors of fig, raisin, plum, and dates. Then a subtle spiciness and bitterness from earthy hops melding perfectly with a brown sugar like sweetness. A complex and delicious flavor lingers on your tongue making for a pleasant aftertaste.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate levels of carbonation. Incredibly smooth with a nice creamy finish that leaves a thin layer on your tongue for a bit. Alcohol is just noticeable enough serving as the perfect balancing factor for your palate.

O: A truly special brew. This is definitely a memorable ale. A perfectly balanced scotch ale with a wide variety of aromas and flavors melding together perfectly. I would have to say this is the best scotch ale I've ever had. I plan to be re-visiting this great beer frequently.

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Photo of TH28
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle. No date on bottle. Appearance: Deep ruby red and clear, with a thick khaki head. Aroma: Crystal and bready malts, withy fruity yeast notes of pear and apple. Taste: Caramel and bread crusts up front, giving way to richer notes of raisin and plum, with a hint of spice. Mouthfeel: Medium body with a moderately high carbonation. Higher than I was expecting for the style. Alcohol warmth is strong. Finish: spice and alcohol warming on the finish, with some lingering raisin and fig. Overall: A deep and rich Scotch Ale with strong dried fruit flavors, and spicier than it’s style counterparts.

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Pours hazy amber crowned by a 1” cream colored foam collar with a very fine bead. Dissipates to a thin film leaving light, delicate lace.
S: Plum and caramel.
T: Drier than it looks and smells with dark malt sugars, prune to plum and a lingering caramel malt loaf aftertaste.
F: Very smooth and alcoholic with medium low carbonation and a medium to medium full body.
O: A big, full flavored and well balanced wee heavy.

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Photo of Jeffsta1
3.91/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Red-brown beer, looks unfiltered. Color not convincing of "skull splitting" potential - should be darker. Pretty, rich head with exceptionally fine foam. Good persistence.

Smells almost fruity, like a Belgian ale. Caught me off guard.

Flavor is quite dry. Not much on the midpalate. Reminiscent of a Cremant de Bourgogne, just not as flavorful as Champagne. Complex, malty, but very subtle.

Rich mouthfeel, just lovely.

Not much of a finish, but what there is is high quality.

Some very good stuff and some decent stuff in this beer, but doesn't entirely come together as 'great.'

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Photo of GerryPendry
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A bit thin, I prefer my wee heavies to be a wee bit more chewy. A bit boozy, harsh, and expensive compared to some other examples of the style. Nice malty flavor though, with a little roasted barley, a hint of smoke, and just a touch of hop bitterness. A classic, or maybe even a benchmark, that's definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Marraybay
2.23/5  rDev -45.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

Rats: Little disappointed in this one, given the build-up. Bourbon or sherry esque in both the nose and the taste, with a very prominent and overpowering boozy presence. The booze aside, not a fan of the undercurrent flavor either, which was medicinally sweet-harsh. Believe the end of the glass was the best part of the pour, so warming did perhaps help. Still, found Belhaven's offering in this style to be far more drinkable.

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Photo of Cavanaghty
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Reddish brown with a very thin off white head. No lacing on the glass.

Smell: Fruity with hops and malts.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of hops, malts with a bitter fruity after taste.

Overall: Good brew, similar in taste to red ales.

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Photo of Cure_Tap
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sweetness balanced out with roasted malt and a small amount of smokiness. I kind of taste dates in this. The alcohol punches through on the back, which is something of a downside here, because you're left with this aftertaste of spicy rubbing alcohol. If that lingering rubbing alcohol aftertaste weren't there, this would be really great, but it detracts from it as it is. Hey though, it's high abv scotch ale, so a little boozeyness is gonna come with the territory. Everything else is rock solid. Worth drinking at least once.

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Photo of Jerseyislandbeer
3.03/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark maple colour. Aromas of dark fruit as well as caramel & sherry. Tastes of smooth brandy, malt, dark fruits with a underlying strong alcohol taste. I was expecting something special, but it was proved disappointing and would pass at a second.

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Photo of Karma_is_flawed
4.14/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look - Amber, clean color. Decent head for a wee heavy, dark, but inviting.
Smell - Very mild smell that accompanies this style, not a whole lot going on here.
Taste - Lovely, getting a slight nutty flavor, not very boozy, smooth and easy to drink.
Feel - Smooth feel, not overly carbonated, and not very thick, but definitely substantial.

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Photo of ONUMello
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a tulip
A: Brown with a hint of red and a generous two-finger head that lingers
S: Smooth, malty, brown sugar, cola and fig
T: Not quite as complex as the nose but a nice mix of sweet malt, fig and spice
M: Warming from the alcohol but not boozy. Fairly full-bodied and smooth
O: A very good example of the style and recommended

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

There are two parts to the story as regards the flavor of this high-tension (8.5% ABV) Scotch Ale: sweetly and enjoyably complex malt notes and alcohol. These are two of the defining flavor characteristics of the breed, and Orkney gets it right. This is a deep-amber ale that pours to a large, creamy head on a medium-bodied beer. On the palate it presents a creamy texture and soft carbonation that combine with an admirably balanced finish to produce a surprising level of drinkability considering the ABV. As is typical of Scotch Ales, the malt flavors run between toffee and caramel, with some dark fruit notes from caramelization during the long boil, and hops are largely absent. The sweetness of the malt is nicely balanced by the clean, warming flavor of the alcohol. Dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of MrIncognito
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I think maybe I had somewhat of a skunked bottle but this was still really good. Malt sweetness without being cloying. Alcohol adds a nice warmth and spiciness.

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Photo of obriendes46
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

First found this at beer festival. Thought it was a really nice beer especially for the season (winter nj). Enough body, plenty of flavor. Whenever I find it ( hard to find) I buy

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Photo of Jacobob10
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Tasting notes from 4/16/2015.

11.2 oz bottle. Clear ruby color with a creamy head and a fair amount of lacing. Heavy caramel malt and cola aroma with light notes of cherry and whiskey upon tasting. No hops. Soft texture and carbonation. A touch of sweetness. Medium bodied with a long, buttery finish.

I was expecting more of an "in your face," full-bodied type of beer, but all of the characteristics are subtle and mild. Very easy to drink. By far the best wee heavy I have had.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from bottle into a snifter
Appearance – The beer pours a deep mahogany-brownish color with a one finger head of cream colored foam. The head has a fantastic level of retention, with it slowly fading over time to leave a fantastic level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is quite potent of a darker fruit smell of raisin, cherry and fig. Along with these aromas comes some notes of an almost woody smell as well as lots of caramel and molasses. A little hint of a grainy and grassy smell round it all out, creating a rather nice aroma overall.

Taste – The taste begins with a good deal of sweeter flavors, being a blend of caramel, molasses, cherry and raisin. Right from the start there is a decent showing of a bready malt flavor, which gains more and more roastiness as the taste advances. All the while the sweeter flavors dwindle a little bit drying out the flavor ever so slightly (although by no means creating a dry taste). Toward the end some graininess, wood, and earthy hop come to the tongue and with a decent hit of a boozy alcohol flavor, one is left with a rather warming but smooth flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the brew is a little on the thinner side for a 8.5 % brew with a carbonation that is a little on the higher side. While I would traditionally like a bit more thickness and less carbonation, the combo actually sorta works for the flavors, and makes this one an easier sipper in light of its boozy flavors.

Overall – This was a quite tasty scotch ale. One I will certainly go to again in the future.

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Photo of maedhros09
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look: Clear ruby - amber with a couple fingers of sticky tan head
Smell: sweet, acidic maltiness, metallic
Taste: Has that same almost barleywine type maltiness as Founders Dirty Bastard (caramelly with some fruity acidity and a balancing bitterness) but with a cleaner less full taste. Less bitter in the finish. Alcohol is scarcely perceived.
Feel: Medium full body with a good amount of carbonation. viscous.

Overall: A bit lighter in body and character than the Founders Dirty Bastard; less hoppy as well. There is a metallic flavor to the malt that I associate with lighter European Ales and Lagers. Dangerously drinkable. I like the mouthfeel - well carbonated yet viscous and smooth. It's no accident this is called Skull Splitter - it goes down fast and hits you hard. I really like this beer for its complexity and balance - there's a lot going on, yet it manages to be kind of refreshing too.

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Photo of TheCuriograph
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

it pours a glassy ruby-amber with a creamy off-white head. There’s a nectary malt nose full of pumpernickel, plum, caramel, orange bitters and cinnamon. The beer tastes of caramel, chai, and raisin. Skull Splitter is actually reminiscent of a Belgian Dubbel. It’s heavy but quite drinkable,.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 992 ratings.