Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

957 Reviews
THE BROS
96
world-class

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Reviews: 957
Hads: 2,011
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 7.64%
Wants: 167
Gots: 227 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-08-1998

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 957 | Hads: 2,011
Photo of Fabric8r
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

While at the Sharp Edge in Pittsburgh, I asked if they have a Scottish Wee Heavy. I made a Wee Heavy at home and wanted to try a commercial version to see how I did. This beer was precicely what my home brew tastes like. I must have done it right! Loads of flavor, somewhat complex, but definitely a Scottish product! Slightly bitter after taste, yet creamy in the mouth, and bursting with flavor. One to settle down and enjoy. Love the bottle, took it home for my small collection. (482 characters)

Photo of Quaffer
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. Bottle

Appearance: This was a clear, ruby beer that poured with a coarse, cream colored head. It dissipated quickly, but a thin layer stuck around for quite awhile due to a heavy bead. There wasn't any lace left on the glass.

Smell: Sweet malts, caramel, tart cherries, and a light smokiness wafted up from the glass. Right after the pour, this beer had a sour vegetal smell that was unpleasant, but it quickly went away. As I continued to drink, a light hop aroma began to emerge.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full bodied and extremely smooth. The flavor was very round and mouthfilling.

Taste: This was surprisingly dry for a barley wine, especially upfront. The light flavors mirrored the aroma: it was a combination of sweet, rich malts and cherries, both of which were overlayed by an everpresent smokiness. Late in the aftertaste, a touch of hops arose to join the residual sweetness and alcohol.

A good beer. Much more delicate and drinkable compared to other barley wines. I wasn't really impressed with it at first, but the more I drank, the more I appreciated it. (1,096 characters)

Photo of Rumrunner
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle. A kick a-- viking warrior on the lable.
It pours a dark clear brown. A small head and no lacing. The scent is malt and fruit. A plumb and prune scent permeate with a caramel back up.

The flavors are very Scotch. It is fruity and malty. A decent amount of caramel. There is some butter and some ginger bread. I do not favor Scotch ales but this one is very good.

It has a nice heavy syrup feel to the mouth. There is a slight crisp finish and the alcohol sneaks through.
A very nice slow drinking ale. Don't gulp this one. (547 characters)

Photo of hotstuff
3.47/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a tan head with small sized bubbles. The hue of this beer was dark brown and the nose was malty. Somewhat of a bitter aftertaste was observed with this beer. It was an okay beer, but not at the top of my favorites and not a beer that I will be drinking on a regular basis. (289 characters)

Photo of 86MonteSS
4.59/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There's plenty of raisiny goodness to go 'round in this summbitch, ain't there?

My buddy and I are always talking about our rugged Viking roots, so I simply had to get this. Even if I knew it sucked, I probably still would have bought it for the Viking on the label.

But, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I've had ales that are sweet and fruity but end up being WAY too sweet and fruity, but this one doesn't make you question your manhood like the others. Definitely a great beer, and something I'd buy again if I didn't have 10 bazillion other beers to try on a college budget. Skoal! (597 characters)

Photo of Brian700
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma: I like the aroma a lot. It's fruity for sure. Hints of plumb.

Appearance: It has a copper/brown appearance with a little red tint.
Keeps a nice creamy head but not that thick of one. This is a strong beer mind you. The head is a cream color (off-white/tan)

Taste: Nice flavor. Caramel, and very malty. The smell helps you to pick up on the fruity esters. It gets sweeter and sweeter as you consume the beer, or in this beers case, as the beer consumes you.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, not overwhelming. Good carbonation. It is very drinkable for a stronger beer which can make for an interesting night.

Overall: I like this beer a lot. I'd drink it a lot more if my paychecks were a little bigger. Kind of pricey in my neck of the woods. I recomend keeping one or two in the back of your refrigerator for a rainy, skullsplitting, type of day. What a treat. (868 characters)

Photo of TheDM
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew has a very nice malty aroma. It poured a nice light brown head with small light brown bubbles. Its dark brown somewhat transparent body looked very tempting. It had a slightly carbonated taste with a slight after bite and a hoppy flavor. It is a nice beer but falls a little short of my favorite range. (312 characters)

Photo of far333
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque mahogany/dark copper colored. The head is low and frothy, but really sticks around and leaves nice foamy specs on the inside of the glass. Aroma is unique - some malt and also some fruit, like apple or pear. Flavor is rich and round, warming alcohol mixes with a caramelized flavor, and I detect some smoke. Some sweet malt comes through. Teeny bit of hop in the finish, or is that the alcohol stinging my throat? Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Surprisingly drinkable for a beer with such a punch. First one I've had, but I would like more. (545 characters)

Photo of TripelJ
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Skullsplitter, a beer with a story behind it, and how intimidating it sounds. Pours a deep crimson brown with a minimal white head. Smells sweet and the alcohol is noticeable. Sweet, with a mild hoppiness and citrusy undertones--I'd say grapefruit. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth and helps hide the alcohol content nicely. Note: I recommend this beer to be in the neighborhood of 55-65 degrees for optimum consumption (I raised several of my scores after the beer warmed up a bit). This one was a nice treat--very warming with every sip. My favorite scottish ale to date (probably because it reminds me of a Belgian...) (619 characters)

Photo of philipt
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Skullsplitter is among my favorites. But, I'm puzzled: is it a barley wine or a strong scottish ale? Either way it wouldn't stop me from drinking it.

Quite dark copper in color with a ruby tint. When poured, an average sized cream-tan head emerges. The smell is dominated by malt, particularly by a smoked malt aroma. The taste is initially quite sweet with a smoke-like, earthy tone. Hop bitterness is apparent, but not the focus of this beer. There is a definite alcohol burn as the beer runs down the throat, but not overbearing. A wonderful, creamy and thick mouthfeel. A pleasure to drink. (597 characters)

Photo of Elemental
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First, you have to love the label and the name. It pours light with little head that even dies down more to a light foam ring around the cup. The color is auburn-brown with a typical fruity aroma of a barley wine. The first part of the taste is slightly bitter with a bit of spiciness that quickly mellows to a fruity taste. Eventually the fruitiness and sweetness dies down and you are left with a light bitter flavor in your mouth.
Bottom line: if you want a good sipping beer with a full flavor and a large kick, this is your beer. (536 characters)

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

Fruity sweet aroma come out of the glass. Red, almost cherry wood, in color. A cheesy aroma and flavor were also present as the beer warmed up a little. Alchohol was quite noticable in both mouth and nose, but did not detract. Beer became pleasantly more creamy as it warmed up. Quite nice and enjoyable. (304 characters)

Photo of Loki
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pour a dark, very dark amber with about 1/4 inch dark tan head that doesn't last to long. Noses of chocolate, malt, and grains. Smells like Whoppers candies. The taste of this ale is very robust and forward. Tastes of malt, leather, and slightly bitter chocolate dominate this beer. There is also a fair amout of hops that give it a very pleasing bitterness. Very low carbonation, but either the alcohol or the acidity gives a slight tingle on the tounge with the finish. SkullSplitter finishes long and very smooth with an enjoyable bitterness. Great beer. Maybe my new favorite scottish ale. (593 characters)

Photo of BigHead
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The label of reminds me of a guy dressing up as a viking for a viking party, and as he arrives, he realizes he's the only one dressed up...I don't know, it's just the look on his face. The color of this beer in a dark clear amber with a 1/4 inch head. You can smell the sweetness of the malts with a hint of fruit. The beer comes across smokey immediately which fades into the sweet taste of the malts. The beer remains slightly smokey in flavor, but it slowly gives way to the malt and hops. At 8.5% ABV, the beer does not taste all that strong. A drinkable beer and I'll definitely get it again. (597 characters)

Photo of Scooter77
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up mainly because of the picture on the label. It had a classic looking Viking on it, with the horned helmet and all! It poured a nice dark ruby color with a sticky tan head, which slowly faded down leaving a web-like lace. Aromas were of sweet malts and alcohol. Taste was equally sweet with hints of hops and malts. There was a bit of a syrupy texture left of my tongue. This is a very well balanced and enjoyable beer. (435 characters)

Photo of Bighuge
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After rating a couple of nice session ales from Shipyard tonight, I felt like something a little different. Something a little more harsh. I felt like I needed to have my head bashed in with a sledgehammer. Thus I chose the Skull Splitter.

The color? You guessed it....blood red. A thin light brown head cannot hold the bloody hues within. My nose is slaughtered with a thick, heavy, suffocating malt. Aromas of sweet caramel try to reduce the insanity of it all, but do not succeed. My palete is butchered by assassins named Malt, Molasses and Raisin. Just as my palate begs for mercy the alcohol comes knifing through to clean up what's not yet been slayed. Ironically, there's a bloodthirsty hunger inside me that pleads for more against my better judgement. So against a backdrop of spattered blood, I venture in for more. As I mistakingly re-enter this massacre, I think I start enjoying some fruit cake tones, but they get annihilated by a blood drenched rum cake flavor. The finish is gory and serum like.

Warning: Mere mortals cannot take this suicidal journey. (1,077 characters)

Photo of ZAP
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was excited to try this and I wasn't disapointed...almost a scottish style barley wine or old ale...I get a lot of peat on the nose along with some chewy caramel....pours a dark orange with little head...body is rich and firm...very malty beer...with that peat flavor adding a nice twist...also has a nice herbal hop note on the long finish...high quality beer...alcohol is hidden pretty well except for the warming effect in my "tummy"....ah make that "gut"..A nice "big" beer...very sweet flavor with a smokey hint

A nice find...thanks to Stubbob for directing me to the only liqour store in Minnesota that has it probably.. (631 characters)

Photo of Darkale
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wonderful thick Scottish brew. Pours dark, short-lived but dense tan head. Aroma is plummy, raisiny, sweet, and the taste is about ten miles beyond that. Thick, juicy and sweet. Dense. The kind of beer that makes you want to sit in front of the fire. (250 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Very appetizing amber colored beer with rich creamy head.Raisin-like aroma to it,kinda porty in taste to me with some dried fruit in there,alchol was prevalent ecspecially when it began to warm.Something to drink before bedtime.Really nice liked it alot. (254 characters)

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

Got this at Hollingshead Deli in Orange, CA (although it turns out it is available in Ohio). Pours a rich orangish-brown with a medium and lasting head. Nice lacing throughout. Aroma is malty with some fruit and alcohol tones. Flavor packs a punch, mostly malt, caramel and alcohol with a rather fruity finish. Interesting brew. (328 characters)

Photo of Mick
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
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. (540 characters)

Photo of pezoids
2.18/5  rDev -46.3%
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. (613 characters)

Photo of Reidrover
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
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 (646 characters)

Photo of UncleJimbo
3.89/5  rDev -4.2%
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. (339 characters)

Photo of avylover
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
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 (647 characters)

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 957 ratings.