Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

988 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: 988 | Ratings: 2,122
Photo of 50wolves
3.67/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - pours amber/ copper with small head, slight carbonation was foggy when poured however became increasingly clear once it warmed up. Aroma - Earthy aroma. Taste - all I can taste is the fig. Feel - has a warmth to it that I do appreciate, quite smooth, has astringent elements to it. Overall - appearance and taste do put me off, not a beer that I would drink again, however I think it is more a case of me not appreciating the beer style than the actual beer. Brewer appears interesting and I would try other products.

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Photo of BowWowWowYippyYoIPA
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

No bottle date

Look - Pours a deep garnet with a beige head. Head dissipates rather quickly to form a thin cap. Average distribution. Limited lacing. 4 paws.

Smell - Lots of dried dark fruit aromas. Hints of wine and port with a touch of alcohol. Hints of tobacco and the faintest bit of cinnamon. 4.5 paws.

Taste - Smoky tobacco flavors up front finishing with taste of dates and bitter almonds. The sweetness is balanced excellently by the alcohol. Baker's chocolate, and a surprising twist of lemon. Finishes like a fine brandy. Very complex and exquisite. 4.75 paws.

Feel - Rather thin for the style and amount of flavor, surprisingly effervescent. Tingle on tip of the tongue. 4 paws.

Overall - Excellent beer and one of the most pleasant surprises I've had in a while. Definitely recommended. 4.5 paws.

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Photo of tekstr1der
4.78/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Reddish-brown pour with minimal head. Looks almost syrapy. Appearance is it’s only low-point. The smell is from heaven - malty and fruity. Flavors are strong malt sweetness with some slight wine notes. Incredibly smooth, and way too drinkable. This one could get me in trouble.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a murky amber with a thin off-white head. Light amount of sticky lacing.

S - Aroma of caramel malts, toffee, and dark fruit.

T - Flavor is sweet caramel malts, dark fruits, toffee, and vanilla. There is a light smokiness throughout. A small amount of booziness in the finish.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Very smooth and creamy mouthfeel. The finish is dry and sticky.

O - Very tasty beer. Lots of sweet malty flavors make this a rich and pleasant drinker.

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Photo of Foxybrau
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This one absolutely lives up to it's reputation for me. Almost missed it at the store, just happened to notice a couple 4 packs collecting dust on a bottom shelf. Skull Splitter pours a hazy amber with a smooth head, the lacing is quite appealing with tiny distinct bubbles and falls away quickly. The nose is unmistakably dark, sugared fruits - plum and fig and perhaps the best part if this beer, although the taste is delectable. Smooth, sweet malts and a warm boozy finish. It begs to be drank and I concede. I find this beer quite enjoyable cold. My first Wee Heavy and I'm officially in love. Happy Valentine's Day!

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Photo of geodonnokepyo
4.14/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Look - Pours a pretty clear amber color. Thin head,dissipated rather quickly.

Smell - Molasses is most prominent. Slight hoppy aroma detected. Some caramel malt detected as well. Possibly some toffee and/or vanilla notes.

Taste - Smoky, roasted malt flavor. A very slight bitterness at the end. Vanilla is in there somewhere too. A little nutty as well.

Feel - Super smooth and light bodied feel followed by a pleasant chalkiness that stays throughout. A little creamy as well with lower levels of carbonation. Absolutely no sign of any of the 8.5% ABV. Very good mouth feel.

Overall - Very enjoyable. Drinks like a session ale. The flavor had complexity but overall it didn't have that mouthwatering appeal. Very good beer though, would recommend.

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Photo of DeepBrew
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into snifter.

A: Hazy dark mahogany with slim foam that recedes into a ring. Good lacing coats the side of the glass.

S: Malt, caramel and dark fruit, improving as it warms.

T: Sweet malt forward, rich dark fruit, slight spice bitter, more flavors and booze comes out as it warms.

M: Medium-high mouthfeel

O: Great drink, just give it some time to warm up.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Draft pour into 12oz tulip; dark Amber with off white head; medium mouthfeel; sugary scotch flavors coats the tongue; minimal alcohol on exhale(nice); sugar beet and "whiskey" finish; very good for style.

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Photo of colingaiser
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 500 ml bottle into 4-6 oz (not sure) sample glass

L: Beautiful nut-brown with a slight but thick tan head

S: Deep aroma of molasses, anise, plum, dates, and a little hint of vanilla ... it smells like a meal!

T: This beer is COMPLEX. And I love it. There's an immediate note of chocolate -- almost like a Tootsie Roll -- before the darker fruit flavors of figs, plums, and cooked apple become apparent. This all takes place with the underlying notes of molasses, vanilla, and toffee. It's sweet, but the booziness (almost like a good scotch) masks some of the sugar.

F: A lighter body than many scotch ales, it makes this deep, complex beer more drinkable (i.e. chuggable) than one would expect. I could easily nit-pick and say I wish this beer were a little heavier and chewier, but they advertise this as having a "deceptively light character," so in that sense they nailed it.

O: This is a MUST-TRY for any lover of deep, complex, malty ales. I'll be buying this one again and having that 500 ml bottle all to myself.

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Photo of slusk
4.46/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear mahogany with a thin tan head. Bright caramel malt aroma with a small raisin background. No hop nose. Beautifully malty brew. Clean upfront caramel malt with some raisin. low hop bitterness. a slight tinge of alcohol warmth. Medium body and smooth. Finishes semi-sweet. Love this beer. Fine example of a scotch ale.

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Photo of dmgeng
4.01/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Skull Splitter is just such an appealing name and after passing it by 4 times I finally decided to try it since I only had gotten big >10% ABV beers in my other 5 sampler pack slots.

A - Rich copper color. Slightly murky with light eggshell head and decent lacing. Poured lighter than I was expecting.

S - A robust character with malt, toffee, dark fruit, burnt sugar, and alcohol present. Smells like a Scottish beer with more alcohol.

T - Rich in flavor with toasted marshmallow, malt, toffee, some dark fruits and alcohol. Very similar to the smell but with more of the dark sugars. No discernible hops but not cloying sweet so there are some on the backside to assist the alcohol to make this beer easier to drink. On the sweeter side but not too sweet.

M - Medium mouth-feel with light carbonation. It's definitely got some sort of sugar to both add to the burnt sugar flavor but also make the alcohol stand out and the body get thinner. Not the heaviest wee-heavy I've had in the past.

Overall, a good tasting beer. I would prefer a heavier and more robust beer instead of a sugary, lighter, and boozier offering. It is mostly stylistic but the toasted marshmallow is not as delightful as just rich malt in my opinion and I would prefer Dirty Bastard to this beer. I understand that drinkability is what the goal was for this beer and it does deliver on a high impact with lighter body but since I drink to take it all in and not to get drunk I would pass on this beer next time. I would recommend this if you prefer to drink to get drunk but don't like commercial american beers.

Glass- Snifter

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Photo of The_Mad_Capper
4.81/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The aroma includes toffee and a little chocolate but is not overly sweet. Some spiciness and dark fruitiness are also present, along with some soft but pronounced woody, roasted malt. It appears mostly clear with a lovely, orange-ish mahogany body and a light tan head. There is plenty of rich maltiness in the flavor but it feels light in the mouth. The malt is somewhat sweet but is not as toffee-like as in the aroma; it instead has a roasted and woody quality. The flavor overall produces an impression of nicely balanced sweetness and bitterness, which is soon followed by some warming alcohol which appears briefly and swiftly fades, and which contributes nicely to the pervading spiciness and dark fruitiness of the esters. What lingers is a lightly sweet and grainy maltiness with just a bit of husky bitterness. The feel is smooth with a mid-range body—neither too heavy nor too light. Some alcohol warming is present, but it works very well with the other qualities without overstaying its welcome.

Overall impeccable, really. All of the qualities work very well together, especially the well-structured and judicious flavors and the carefully attenuated carbonation and carbonic crispness. The flavor and aroma are consistently complex and expressive without being overwhelming.

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Photo of Caveworm
4.68/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery. Poured from the bottle into a glass mug, its got a 2 finger thick mildly porous eggshell brown head with lateral lacing, and a medium-dark amber body.

I smell spicy roasted malts, along with scotch-like sweetness. Not much hop presence going on.

Tastes like roasted /caramelized malts, spiced fruits, and molasses. Not too much, it ends before that happens. Again, scotch profile type of sweetness. Not really picking up much hop taste.

Skull Splitter's mouthfeel is crisp and clean. Only a slight warming sensation, no sting. Goes down smooth, perhaps a little TOO smooth.

I'll give Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery a 4.75 overall. This will split your skull with a Nordic buzz that is comfortable and still sociable. SKALL !!!!!!!!

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Photo of ordybill
4.65/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass
Aroma- Has a great malt smell with a hint of fruit on the follow through.
Appearance- A deep dark reddish brown with a small light brown head.
Taste- Excellent flavor!! You can really taste the malt and has a hint of caramel.
Palate- This is a great medium bodied beer with a creamy finish, mildly carbonated.
Overall- This is an excellent beer. I love the name, the flavor and the finish.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.56/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle, poured into a snifter at room temperature.

A: Pours a clear, deep ruby-russet brown, and forms a just-wider-than-a-finger head of very pale tan. Once the head collapses into a ring, it leaves some spotty but rather persistent lacing.

S: Sweet caramel toffee malt swirls out of the glass, with just a hint of earthiness, and some mild dark fruit.

T: Yes. Exactly in line with the nose. The flavors open with pure sweet malt, all caramel and toffee slathered and draped over warm toast. Towards the middle, a faint hint of black earth creeps in, and brings along some notes like leather oiled and polished with something that contains a dark fruit essence, like currants and plums. A more roasted, darker feel rounds out the malt profile as well as the beer progresses. The finish is a commingling of the malt sweetness and that earthen-clay bitterness.

M: Surprisingly light-bodied for the flavor, this beer has enough carbonation to give it some mouth presence. A bit more stickiness would have been nice.

O: A glorious wee heavy, and one I return to frequently. For a devout malthead, this beer is a dance of triumph along the tongue.

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Photo of admiral
4/5  rDev -1.5%

a beautifully balanced strong ale/scotch ale that reminded me of a traditional English brown ale on steroids.

aroma: mineral toffee with sticky spice, slight date and figs

taste: yeasty toffee with spice, slight brown sugar, a touch of rum, slight cheese, date and figs and slight chocolate.

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Photo of archyquaffer
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Poured from a half liter bottle into a schooner glass. A moderate pour produces a short-lived, creamy white head that reduces to a ring and wispy islands of lace. The beer is a murky deep brown....with floaties!! WTH? I take a close look at the label, which seems to indicate a bottling date of 2011 (it is now 2014).

So, even though this beer is a bit aged, it does have a yummy aroma and flavor. Tons of mineral, caramel, dark fruit, and a touch of spice. Maybe a touch of diacetyl. The flavors are smooth and complement each other. Creamy mouthfeel with some alcohol warming, though the booze is well-hidden. The floaties seem to dissolve and don't catch on the tongue.

This beer is quite mellow and delicious overall, despite the fact that it's probably past its prime (the seller shall remain anonymous, except to me of course). Despite the rather horrid appearance, this is probably the best Scotch ale I've tried so far. Maybe the extra aging helped it. Awesome label art, by the way, with a cool (if historically inaccurate) Norse chieftain/king on the label.

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Photo of HuskyHawk
4/5  rDev -1.5%

A: rich caramel color, with almost no head and light carbonation. It is pretty in the glass.

S: aromas of bread pudding, but without the sweetness. Some dried dark fruit, a little molasses.

T: Follows the smell, with dried fruits (figs, raisins) and a caramel/toffee dense bread pudding flavor. The downside here is that while this shouldn't be a hoppy beer, the finish is just lacking in something. Either a dose of hops or carbonation might help.

M: Medium bodied, not thick or viscous and dominated by the very light carbonation.

O: a really very good beer, with some great flavors. I find myself thinking that it could be better however.

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Photo of StuporJew
4.71/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A perfect example of the style. Rich, malty, and complex, with darker fruit notes, and hints of peat. Slick, slightly oily mouthfeel, and a creamy, lingering head. Dangerously drinkable, and insanely well done. (I'm on vacation, so this is a half-assed review.) Cheers!!!

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Photo of Davefleming79
3.17/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Had this while eating muscles in garlic sauce. First mouthful gives the impression of cough mixture, but this soon dissipates to a smooth drink. Pours lovely from the bottle with a nice colour to it. Enjoyed the experience but don't think I'll be adding it to my regular list

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle at 40 degrees into snifter
Aroma of malt
Head small (1 cm), off white, creamy, rapidly diminishing to 2 mm ring and broken layer
Lacing virtually none
Body dark red amber
Flavor of sweet malt and caramel; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl, no peaty smokiness
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation

I first had this in a restaurant in Kirkwall, before I knew what a wee heavy was. Then I didn’t particularly care for it. Now, however, I find it to be a delightful drink with the alcohol well hidden. This meets the criteria for a Scotch ale very well.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

BBE April 16. Pours a clear amber with a deep dark ruby hue. Good head with limited lacing and retention. Nose of dark fruit (figs, dates), and caramel over a scotch like alcohol background. Full bodied with a rich and creamy texture. Low carbonation level. Tremendous flavor profile that is complex and balanced. It begins with a scotch like note that flows into the dark fruits. In the middle caramel is predominate as the scotch fades. The finish hints of the previous dark fruits and caramel which fade into a nice alcohol tingle that lingers. An Outstanding Wee Heavy that is alcohol focused.

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Photo of BastardKing24
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am kinda drunk while posting this, but I think I am sober enough to review, hahaha. Anyways, I bought this without knowing it was a scotish wee heavy. Had to look it up in here.

Pours a dark amber or brown color, with a slight white head that leaves a ring.

Smell is of an authentic Wee heavy. dark malt and caramel, with that ever present yeast tone that is very unique.

Taste is the same with a good bite in terms of smokiness and maltiness. This beer gives off a prune/raisin quality that puts it up against the big boys, like Traquair house, or Kilt lifter.

Feel is right on par, nuf said.

Overall I think this is a nice example for the style, as it has zero off flavors and a nice punch in the way of flavor and alc. Worth the buy if you can find. 4.0 across the board.

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle into snifter, bottled on 5/8/2012. Pours fairly cloudy deep reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big caramel, toast, brown sugar, raisin, fig, plum, dark bread, light roast, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast ester, and earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, toast, brown sugar, raisin, plum, fig, dark bread, light roast, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Light earthy/herbal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, raisin, fig, plum, toast, dark bread, light roast, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast ester, and earthy hop flavors; with a good malt/yeast flavor balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and medium bodied; with a smooth, fairly creamy, and lightly slick/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice scotch ale. All around good complexity and balance of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast ester, and earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of bluedognever
4.73/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Named after the Viking 7th Earl of Orkney

I realize it's sounds melodramatic, but this may be the best beer I have ever had (and judging from the scores this has gotten I can't be that far off). However, because perfection isn't attainable, the logical part of me says that even though my heart wants to, I can't give this a perfect 5.

Poured from a bottle into a frosted mug. Pours a nice dark clear chestnut brown with a mocha colored head. The head didn't last long but a slight amount stayed on top thru the finish.

Scents of grain and fruits - hard to say which ones as everything melds very well.

Slightly Bready in taste with hints of fruit - maybe plums or banana?. I can taste some malt but it's subtle. At 8.5% ABV you can taste the alcohol a bit but it isn't overwhelming - much like in a glass of wine - it's there but it's just part of the overall flavor palette. Sorry for the lack of specific flavors - everything blends together perfectly so it was very difficult to pin specific flavors down. No bitterness at all - even at the end. The only bad thing about the finish was that it was the finish - only have the one bottle as part of a build your own six pack from Total Wine - a situation I intend to remedy tomorrow since they had 6 packs of it as well.

Soft but not creamy mouthfeel - good carbonation without being too fizzy

Like many Scottish/Wee Heavies this is a very full flavored beer but it doesn't sit heavy in the stomach. Very tasty - I can definitely see why this got such high reviews from members and The Brothers. This has moved to the top of my "will buy again" list. It's cliche to say it, but this defines the whole Scottish / Wee Heavy genre and sets the bar rather high in my less than humble opinion.

To simplify, this is one of those beers that of you ever have the chance it is a MUST HAVE.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 988 ratings.