Skull Splitter
Orkney Brewery

Skull SplitterSkull Splitter
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Orkney Brewery
Scotland, United Kingdom
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
Ranked #21
Ranked #6,951
4.08 | pDev: 12.01%
Jun 11, 2022
Oct 08, 1998
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter
Notes: None
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Photo of Iamaskier
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by Iamaskier from Idaho

L: Brownish ruby body, not really a head.
S: Sweet and wine like. Dark fruit, cherry, and a hint of bread and spice.
T: Rich, toasty, sweet. Upfront dark fruit, cherry, leather, and oak. Hops in the body bring a nice bitterness, along with hints of smoke and scotch whisky, followed by a slightly sweeter dose of cherry and a hint of cracker.
F: Smooth, full bodied, wet finish, alcoholic warmth after a few sips.
O: I was caught off guard by how much of a punch this packs. A great slow sipper, definitely able to hold its own against beers with double digit abv.

Jun 11, 2022
Photo of Kiiz
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
by Kiiz

Bbe mar 24. Drank room temp feb 21.

L: Dark amber/brown with a light amber hue in the light. White ring for head.

S: apple, plum, fig, Sauvignon, spices, and other aromas. Mild hints of ethanol but not obnoxious at all. Very complex with many subtleties. Reminds me of fall/winter.

T: opens with a crisp tartness, like biting into an apple. Dark fruits flank the green apple taste. The taste morphs into a smoky roasted malt backbone with hints of citrus and barley. Finishes with a mild hop bitterness, barley, and again dark fruit. Very little if any ethanol.

F: velvet creaminess, moderate carbonation that doesn’t get in the way of its medium-heavy body. You feel the abv in your stomach a bit but it goes down very well.

O: I wish I tried this much sooner. It’s complex like a fine wine, has better taste than many cognacs, refreshing like apple cider, spice profile of a winter warmer, smooth like a stout. This may be the most well rounded beer I’ve ever had. A must try.

Feb 22, 2022
3.16 by sbradley41 from Pennsylvania on Feb 04, 2022
Photo of JZH1000
4.24/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by JZH1000 from Colorado

Poured from a 33cL bottle into my spiegelau tulip.

The looks are a bit less than expected in terms of head. About one finger of fine off white head shows up on an average pour (brand new glass). Color is quite beautiful a dark dark brownish red that is almost into porter territory but enough light gets through to give it that red tinted. Color is quite intriguing. In the crystal you can see above the foam around the glass there is also a small but distinct ring of alcohol like in a whiskey glass.

Smell is almost like a sam smith brown ale with a punch of powerful earthy yeast and a booziness too it. Nice and british nose, something I like a lot. The malts shine, but are also quite unique just smelling it.

Taste is similar to the nose but with some extra nuances and smokiness. It is also a more mild taste than the smell and quite easy to put down. The malt however is the main event here quite big and warm in the malt department. Also quite a bit of earthiness here too. It's a big beer, but the alcohol is not in the flavor quite surprisingly.

The feel is also very good here. Despite the head it is very creamy but the bubbles dont just explode in your mouth with each sip for a nice balance rich and full mouthfeel with a decent carbonation bite. Also after the alcohol disappearing in the flavor it comes back by bringing that warming feeling into your chest. Good, hearty, and smooth.

Overall a very good beer with only one minor flaw that doesnt actually affect the drinking experience. The head was a bit small but it did stick around and even so, head is only really an indicator of what's to come. Very good scotch ale and if it were american wed probably call it a winter warmer and itd be a damn good one at that.

Jan 31, 2022
3.75 by Shenk87 from Pennsylvania on Jan 19, 2022
Photo of LanceBiggums
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
by LanceBiggums from Canada (AB)

Murky brown amber with a one finger head of fine off-white head. Large pieces of suspended wheat sediment floating around in the beer. Somewhat off-putting, even though I realise they list wheat in the ingredients. The aroma is the best part of this beer, with a bouquet of big malts, caramel and dark fruits, and a hint of ethanol. The flavour is good at first, complex, with all the notes teased in the aroma making their presence felt, but unfortunately the ethanol becomes overbearing towards the finish. I'm not opposed to high ABV beers or noticeable alcohol, as long as it's well balanced, and I would consider this one balanced a bit too much towards the ethanol. This also makes the feel a bit pricklier. Overall a powerful and complex beer, but not super drinkable.

Jan 04, 2022
Photo of Reef
4.16/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Reef from South Carolina

330 ml bottle with neck stamp indicating best by January 24, ?
Clear brown with one finger fine beige head. Spotty lacing, full ring and nearly full surface cap.
Rich malt, peat, caramel, stone fruit aromas.
Dried apricots, light char, peat, some oak flavors.
Smooth rich mouth feel. No alcohol from the 8.5 % ABV. Light hop bitter aftertaste. Medium drinkable body.
Great depth of flavors and malt hop balance. Great beer.

Dec 18, 2021
Photo of eatsluggs
3.86/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
by eatsluggs from Oregon

I like Scotch. I mean the whisky.

Dec 10, 2021
4.66 by PSYCLST from Pennsylvania on Nov 30, 2021
Photo of Balrog
5/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
by Balrog

Truly enjoyed this brew. Great strong flavor and smell. Even though it is a great brew for me, not everyone will like it. Like Scotch, you will love or hate this wonderful Stout.

Nov 20, 2021
Photo of BJB13
3.96/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
by BJB13 from Maryland

330 ml bottle poured into a tulip.
Best by 10/22

Murky and orangish-brown with suspended sediment, it is capped with half an inch of manila colored foam which fades to a ring in about a minute.

The nose opens earthy, oak and peat, before fading into sweeter malt aromas of bread crust, caramel and dark dried fruit. Tasting medium sweet and malty, caramel, tangy raisin and woody hop flavors come through. Bitterness is very low. The body seems light for style, to the light side of medium but smooth and frothy with medium-low carbonation and finishes with some warmth.

Nice, if a bit on the lighter side.

Nov 19, 2021
4.18 by LesDewitt4beer from Minnesota on Nov 06, 2021
4.54 by j37geogaddi from Massachusetts on Oct 23, 2021
3.58 by Bigmoist from West Virginia on Aug 10, 2021
3.97 by KevBot89 from Pennsylvania on Jul 20, 2021
Photo of DrBeergood
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by DrBeergood from Ohio

L: Distinctly Scottish. Partially hazy, it looks woody and roasty. Mild carbonation and a glossy surface.

S: Powerful aroma. Smells roasted--Tangy, woody, and malty. Something special about it, kind of reminds me of an Erdinger Dunkelweizen, but it's a bit more... The yeast is playing with both the barley and the wheat. Perhaps smoked peat plays a role? Is it reminiscent of a barleywine?

T: Roasty, toasty, malty. There's definitely some scotch in here, it's got to be that smoked peat. One could suggest fruit notes, though there's no actual fruits, simply the interactions of the ingredients when cooked. Would pair well with smoked brisket.

F: Smooth. Very drinkable, with an enjoyable residual flavor.

O: Complex. Roasted. Spice notes. Who knows where the fruit notes come from, satiny smooth on the tongue, sides light up with bitterness and peat. And it hits hard. Have you seen the size of this guy's axe?

Jul 10, 2021
3.94 by drunkenmess from Michigan on Jun 25, 2021
4.27 by cdwil from Texas on Jun 03, 2021
3.77 by Techichi from Texas on May 14, 2021
3.97 by TheEpeeist from Pennsylvania on May 08, 2021
Photo of eameslover
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by eameslover from Michigan

This was my first higher-grav beer and all things considered, it’s 8.+ ABV is tame by today’s standards.

Apr 28, 2021
Photo of BPVandenbroek
4.27/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by BPVandenbroek from Canada (AB)

Skull Splitter is crystal clear and leathery brown, with sullen ruby highlights. The head is dense, mousse like, and cream colored. Head retention is excellent.
On the nose, Skull Splitter is rich and malty. Malt comes through in the form of rich, high quality chewy caramel. Leather adds depth and tobacco its unique sweetness. Ripe, dried fruits add extra depth, richness, and the brightness of ripe fruit esters. Those ripe fruits give me a combination of fig, date, and ripe stone fruit. Fruit esters help give Skull Splitter's nose a wonderful, vinous quality.
This is as full, rich, and complex as any barleywine has a right to be. Things start off rich with flavors of tobacco and leather combined with what first seems like a rum, raisin, brown sugar sweetness. This is where the fruit esters kick in, giving dates and ripe stone fruit. Malt gives the flavor a solid backbone in the form of rich, nutty caramel. Finish is short and dry.
Skull Splitter is easily an 8.5 out of 10. It's so rich, complex, and vinous. It easily tastes like it could or should be one of the world's great barleywines. And yet it's balanced and enjoyable even with its intense rich complexity.

Apr 20, 2021
4.79 by JoeMiller2112 from South Carolina on Apr 09, 2021
Photo of tryptagon
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by tryptagon from Missouri

L: Pours medium-dark amber with 1/2 inch of white foam.

S: Warm cereal. Bite.

T: Warmth and whiskey barrels. Some spice.

F: Depth and dominant on the palate. Feels like a viking about to have his mutton.

O: Strong beer with a lot of character.

Mar 30, 2021
3.75 by carolinabeerguy from North Carolina on Mar 21, 2021
3.93 by 2beerdogs from California on Mar 18, 2021
Photo of emerge077
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75
by emerge077 from Illinois

Draft at Late Bar.

Mar 18, 2021
3.69 by micada from New York on Mar 18, 2021
Photo of Jugs_McGhee
3.21/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25
by Jugs_McGhee from Texas

Currently ranked #11 in the Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy top rated beers list.

11.2 fl oz/330ml brown glass bottle with pry-off crown cap nabbed at a Total Wine & More in Metairie, Louisiana. Price was $12.99 USD/4-pack plus tax.

"Scotch Ale." 8.5% ABV.

~10cm head height. ~8 minute head retention. Head is a pale khaki colour.

Body is a dark glowing amber, obviously filtered judging by its clarity and cleanliness. But it's not very vibrant, and isn't as dark as I'd expect a wee heavy to be.

AROMA: Toffee, faint cherry, rich bready malty sweetness, caramel, scintillae of toast, treacle-y amber malt sweetness.

Aroma suggests a somewhat subdued Scotch ale that disguises its ABV well but lacks some of the finer features of a top tier expression of the style (e.g. peat, smokiness, vanilla, et al.).

TASTE & TEXTURE: Fruitier than the aroma suggested, hitting big on cherry which lingers even into the finish. At least the cherry tastes somewhat authentic instead of artificial or medicinal. Amber malt sweetness buoys this rich caramel-laden ale, but there isn't any roasted barley bitterness or smokey harshness to even out all its sweetness, and it trends rather malty and rich indeed, perhaps bringing it out of balance.

Treacle, a whisper of toast, toffee, cream, some sort of imitation vanillin-redolent flavour, stonefruit.

It's a biteen sweet for my tastes, but it's drinkable and its ABV is well disguised.

Smooth, wet, full-bodied, unrefreshing, well carbonated, on the softer side, a bit gooey, neither chewy nor coating per se. I can imagine it better drier (which would accentuate bitterness if there was any) and softer.

OVERALL: Perhaps I just got an older/stale bottle that's sat on shelves unrefrigerated after aging involuntarily in a shipping container, but this doesn't taste like a top tier expression of the style and I can honestly say I've had far better Scotch ales even from American breweries. Doesn't hold a candle to something like Founder's Backwoods Bastard, Thirsty Dog's Wulver, Ale Smith's Wee Heavy(ies), Oskar Blues' Old Chub, Dark Horse's Scotty Karate, et al. - not to mention traditional Scottish-brewed expressions of the style.

Needs better balance and more depth of flavour, but I'm not dismayed I gave it a go once. I just can't see myself craving a 4-pack. Perhaps I need to try it fresh on-draught...


Mar 16, 2021
Photo of Storm_Rryder
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Storm_Rryder from Iowa

Nice, this feels smooth. Body on the lighter side. Not very hoppy, more malty but just slightly sweet. I find this has some similarity with a belgian trippel. Not quite same taste though, this is maybe more like caramel? I would definitely have this again. It is a little high on alcohol but the bottle is on the smaller size. It is a good sipping beer !

Dec 27, 2020
4.16 by zotzot from Vermont on Nov 24, 2020
4.09 by Rhetion from Florida on Nov 21, 2020
Photo of crazyspicychef
4.73/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by crazyspicychef from Pennsylvania

Great Scotch Ale.
The gold standard in my book.

Nov 12, 2020
4.18 by DarrellK from Florida on Oct 12, 2020
4.3 by Archfiend from Illinois on Oct 03, 2020
Photo of aBosslyElephant
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
by aBosslyElephant from Florida

L- Hazelnut coloring, yeast floating
S- Hearty and pleasant ale smell
T- Amazing taste, like old middle age tasting beer, tastes like the color brown, bitter
M- Thick for an ale, smooth but bits of yeast you can feel
O- Amazing, this beer puts hair on my chest

Sep 11, 2020
Photo of IPAs_for_days_13
4.48/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75
by IPAs_for_days_13 from Texas

Pours a very rich red/amber color with a small beige head. Smells sweet, fruity & very malty. Tastes heavily of roasted malts, spice, fruits & honey. Light carbonation with a heavy feel to it, warms as it goes down. This beer is pretty complex to say at the least, it's exceptionally good.

Sep 06, 2020
3.95 by chrismattlin from Ohio on Jul 22, 2020
Photo of jzeilinger
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

A - Dark amber color with nice clarity. Lacing is an off white color but thin and soapy.

S - Toasted caramel malt, some alcohol aroma, dark fruit, and figs. Aroma is slightly boozy and sweet.

T - Toasted caramel malt with some toasty sweetness, light spice, dates, figs, and some dark fruit. Finishes on the sweeter side with minimal bitterness. Nice lingering toasted caramel malt and spice.

M - Thick and frothy with carbonated pricklies on the tongue. Some warming on the way down but in the overall mix of things it's minimal.

O - Not a Scottish Ale fan but this is a really fine beer for the style.

Jul 16, 2020
Photo of Peach63
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
by Peach63 from New York

Pours copper with a 1/2 inch tan head. Light lacing.

Aroma of malt, toast, molasses, spices.

Taste is roast malts, molasses, spices, dates, figs.

Light to medium bodied, light carbonation. Semi-sweet finish.

This is an outstanding beer.

Jul 12, 2020
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 2341 ratings