Skull Splitter
Orkney Brewery

Skull SplitterSkull Splitter
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Style:
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
Ranked #11
ABV:
8.5%
Score:
92
Ranked #3,229
Avg:
4.11 | pDev: 12.17%
Reviews:
1,046
Ratings:
2,308
From:
Orkney Brewery
 
Scotland, United Kingdom
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  218
Gots
  355
SCORE
92
Outstanding
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter
Notes:
Reviews: 1,046 | Ratings: 2,308 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by OldManMetal:
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OldManMetal from North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
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.

Jun 05, 2015
More User Reviews:
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Jason from Massachusetts

4.75/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, sample from the importer.

Impressively strong not only in alcohol but flavour to. The only thing wrong with this beer is that the bottle is too small.

Jan 25, 2001
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GrumpyGas from Illinois

3.72/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

11.2 oz bottle BBE APR 20 poured into a pint glass, (thistle was still in the sink from over use) shows a clear dark copper colored body, without a cap, only an edge-hugging ring of cream colored bubbles and little, to no, lacing.

Aroma is sweet caramel malt and biscuit.
Flavor builds from there to include booze and more malt, with a slight tea taste.

Mouthfeel is a solid medium with a wet finish.

Overall it is very good, bit I won't have more than one at a time.

Nov 04, 2017
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Marraybay from District of Columbia

2.23/5  rDev -45.7%
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.

Jul 01, 2015
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WildHighlander from Oklahoma

5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is by far my most favorite of Strong Scotch Ales. It has a creamy maltiness that is very appealing. A slight peat flavor comes through and the alcohol content of 8.5% ABV complements the malt sweetness nicely. I had this at the Hair of The Dog pub in Chattanooga, TN and really wish I could get this in Oklahoma.

Apr 03, 2012
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.39/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The Orkney Brewery "Skull Splitter"
11.2 fl. oz. brown glass bottle, "BBE MAY 19" and sampled 24 March 2017
$3.49 @ Total Wine & More, Cherry Hill, NJ

Notes via stream of consciousness: Skull Splitter, the beer that started Philadelphia's "Split Thy Skull" strong ale festival. I haven't had this in a long time, like twenty-plus years. Let's see if it's as good as I remember. Mostly clear deep mahogany brown with a ruby cast. Creamy yellowed off-white head. Very nice. Aroma of caramelish malt, dark skinned fruits, spice, grass, and brown sugar. The flavor follows with even more dark fruit... fig... some black raisin... plum... date... berries, maybe low-level cassis. I'm not sure where the spiciness is coming from, hops I guess because the alcohol is very well cloaked. Or is it? It doesn't come off as "alcohol" to me and I'm not feeling any heat. It's a bit earthy and herbal as well. Dry finish with lingering fruit and spice, some residual almost-burnt-sugar maltiness, and earthy, herbal, and grassy hop notes. I remember it as being more malty - it's not, and in fact it's only medium bodied. It's dangerously deceptive in that it's really easy to drink. What's the ABV? Just 8.5%, that's not too bad. The weird thing is I used to think of this as a sipping beer, but tasting it now, I'd have one of these out at the pub with the lads. Just one, mind you, but it wouldn't slow me enough to not be ready for the next round. Back to the head, there's still a thin but solid surface covering and the lacing is quite nice. A definite thumbs up for appearance. In fact all around. The aroma is great, and the flavor takes that even further; and the balance is magnificent. Really good. A classic.

Mar 24, 2017
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JetFeather22 from Colorado

5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Very nice looking light brown color, I have to say this i one of the best beers i'v ever had.. Not the best WeeHeavy, But this is for sure a world class beer...

Oct 23, 2015
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BeerBuilder from Minnesota

4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a clear, ruby-brown color with a tan head. The aromas are of figs, dates, and alcohol. The flavor is smoky, toasty, and alcoholic. The flavor ends with a slight touch of chocolate. The hop bitterness is way in the back. It is a very warming, full-bodied beer. It is an easy drinking beer with a level of alcohol that will definitely sneak up on you. A very tasty brew, I would certainly drink this one again.

Jan 06, 2003
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RidiculedDisplay from California

3.59/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours with about a finger's worth head, which settles into no perceptible head, and finally nothing. Lacing is spotty for a while, but the beer soon becomes solvent-like and laceless. Body is a brown with hints of sea green. A LOT of floaties in the body. Sort of gross looking in that aspect. Might just be my bottle, however. Overall a little unappealing in terms of body color, and the head is nothing to scoff at.

Smell: A sort of smokey, bready funk hits the nose first, almost reminding one of a Rauchbier at times. A soy sauce-like quality. Bread crust, dark fruits, a little alcohol, a little sting in the nose from maybe some mild hopping.

Taste: Again with the Rauchbier-like smokiness, sourdough bread, dried, chile-covered mango, a little general candy sugar sweetness on the tongue. A dry finish. A little complexity, but the smoky-bread malt quality sort of provides a bit of unbalance.

Mouthfeel: Bordering on very dry toward the end, medium-bodied carbonation. Too dry for my liking.

Drinkability: This is a brew with a deceivingly strong aroma and flavor, for it is surprisingly drinkable. However, the appearance of my bottle was borderline gross, and the smokiness borders too much on a Rauchbier for my taste. Don't get me wrong, I love a good Rauchbier every once in a while, but it seems unbalanced for this style.

Jan 23, 2007
Photo of JamesS
JamesS from Indiana

4.67/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I'd been wanting to try a Skullsplitter for some time, but was a little disappointed with it after finally getting to try it last night. It pours out nice, although not as much head as I would've hoped for, even considering it was from a bottle. It had a nice look to it, an amber-copper color, but a little too clear for a scotch ale. It had some nice complex tastes, with some burnt malt and oak flavors, but the taste and texture were ruined by the dominant alcohol overtone. Even at its higher ABV, I felt there was way too much of an alcohol taste to it. Not bad, but there are much better scotch ales and wee heavies that are easier to find and cheaper to get.

While I still feel this has quite an alcohol flavor kick at the end, I've grown to like it quite a bit. The oak and malt are wonderful, with the heat of the alcohol tuning them up. It has a huge thick flavor and a huge thick scent, that really fills the nose with it's great Scotch aroma. This would be perfect on a cold winter night (or in the Orkneys), and was even good a couple of days ago during the summer.

Oct 02, 2007
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MbpBugeye from Ohio

4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Super dark. More dark that I expected. Its a deep, clear red. The color has hints of brown and purple. The head that is coaxed out is not massive not does it stick around long but it is very dense and leaves nice lacing.

S- Big nose. This is something that I feel a lot of beers lack. I like to be able to smell the beer as it sits in the glass, before I raise it to my nose. This is one that does that. Upon closer investigation, the aroma holds loads of raisin. Its nearly like a box of raisins. There is lots of fruity yeast stuff going on that is similar to dubels. Lots of spicy alcohol and some buttery maltiness.

T- Rich and sweet. Very good. Lots more raisin, plum, a touch of butteriness towards the end as well as plenty of alcohol.

M- Low carbonation but it is still quite prickly. The body is thick and smooth. The feel is slick and buttery. Decent amount of alcohol warmth.

D- This is one huge beer but I could have another one. The alcohol makes no attempt to hide but this beer goes down easy for what it is.

May 09, 2010
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dowen44 from Georgia

4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Dec 21, 2011
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jtw21 from Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -14.8%

Jul 21, 2012
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OregonGrown7 from Oregon

4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Aug 05, 2013
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TEdubbaD from Minnesota

4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Aug 03, 2015
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colingaiser from Colorado

4.19/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

Feb 04, 2015
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Kwak from New Jersey

4.87/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Rich creamy head, a little small but had plenty of flavor.

Smooth full creamy dark body almost muddy looking.

The taste was full of caramel flavor, nice gentle spicy undertones.
Excellent alcohol warming effect in the end.
I like the aftertaste on this one.

Would recommend, but only have one!

Dec 10, 2002
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bluejacket74 from Ohio

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

11.2 ounce bottle. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a clear brown color with about a half inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both good. Aroma is very malty, it smells like toasted malt, raisins, toffee, and caramel. Taste is similar to the aroma, although there's a nice bittersweet kick in the finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's a bit heavy and creamy, this beer definitely has some substance! Drinkability is good, the 8.5% ABV isn't very noticable even though it hits you later. The smoothness of this brew makes it easy to drink. I think this is more of a sipping beer, I don't think I could drink more than 2-3 of these at a time. Overall, I think this is a pretty good beer. If you like Scotch Ales, then you should like this one. A pretty good choice, I think!

Dec 12, 2007
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SargeC from California

4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Deep copper-brown brew with a short-lived, tan colored head.

Smell: Caramel, toffee with a slightly smoky aroma. Each element stands out well.

Taste: Very tasty brew. Caramel and toffee flavors flow well together. The beer also has a sweet, semi-fruit flavored wave that strongly backs up the bold flavors.

Mouthfeel: Hearty, full-bodied brew. Dense, with limited carbonation.

Drinkablity: Very enjoyable brew. Bold, but it maintained a good balance that increased its drinkability. It would be easy to pound a few of these down, the alcohol content may lead to burning down the village though.

Sep 27, 2008
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jmccraney from Washington

4/5  rDev -2.7%

Mar 24, 2012
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pheelingIt from Tennessee

4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Feb 07, 2014
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Drew26 from Wisconsin

3.59/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Jan 02, 2015
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SonictheBeerhog from New York

3.81/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Jun 14, 2015
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Novakcination

4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Nov 26, 2014
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Old_Dead_Oak from Wisconsin

3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Nov 28, 2019
Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 2308 ratings