Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

2,181 Ratings
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery
Scotland, United Kingdom

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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,002 | Ratings: 2,181
Photo of MNAle
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Dark ruby with a tan to off-white thick head, leaving nice lacing. Georgeous aroma of cherry, caramel, nutty, and more, with some alcohol in there, too. Moderate feel. Complex flavor, fruits - cherry, raisens - caramel, earthy and sweet, alcohol is obvious but not overpowering in the taste. The finish has fruits, malts, alcohol, and some bittering. The taste is very nice and complex - there is a lot going on here that is difficult for me to describe it all, but the combination is a really good Scotch ale.

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Photo of kitschiguy
4.61/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

330ml bottle poured into standard liquid retention vessel.

Cloudy orangey dark brown with an off-white head. Fades to a film that lasts with some nice lacing.

Nose has lots going on - fruit cake, dark fruit, spice, raisin, brown sugar.

Palate follows but with some bitterness right at the end - balance is good and a touch of alcohol coming through.

Mouth is very nice and full.

Overall a really great beer - lots of bang for your buck with this one.

Highly recommended.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.39/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Somewhat cloudy copper brown body with fine carbonation rising to support a light tan head that fades to a veneer and a ring with dots and webs of lace on the glass talk about a run-on sentence. The nose offers fruitcake, fresh and toasted bread, raisin, cherry, caramel and caramel malt, a touch of alcohol, in that order. It's diverse among a certain theme, if that makes sense. The flavor omits some of these components, focusing on the fruitcake, raisin, toasted bread, and alcohol, but still provides a rich palate with potent but understated intensity. Its earthy bitterness is considerable but the mild sweetness also makes its presence known. Body is medium weight, slick, with muted carbonation verging on flat, but it works with the array of flavors.
My scores are based on the prestige and style, otherwise I might overlook this beer and rate it .25 lower in each category. Regardless, this is a great beer that focuses on a set of flavors and explores them thoroughly. Between the label and the beer itself, when I'm drinking this I feel like I have one foot in Scotland.

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Photo of VoxRationis
4.34/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Decanted into conical pint glass. Clear orange-brown color color with minimal head during the pour. Malty nose with hints of citrus fruit and pancakes; moderately sweet with notes of biscuit and peach, but gently bitter close. Medium bodied. Really an enjoyable return to my familial roots.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This pours brown, small head of foam.

Smells of maple, caramel malt, fruity, nutty.

Tastes of maple and caramel, nutty, toffee, slight cardboard.

Low end of medium bodied.

A classic and still holds up.

 209 characters

Photo of dadplusbeer
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L- deep dark, cola like redness in the glass

S- malty sweetness, currant, bready richness

T- cherry, overripe plum, earthy hops, malty sweetness with a bit of alcohol over the top palate cutting the sweetness with precision.

F- bright, carbonation is great, playful smoothness

O- A great malty change of pace for me.. this beer is great by a fire, and with meat.

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

A - Dark brown body, slight transparency, short off white head, fades like cola. No lacing.

S - Strong hit of malt, sweetness and dough, a bit of funk, and warm alcohol. Deep cherry hints.

T - Following the nose, with fruit and sugar front, middle of bread and raisins, and a bite of acidity and cherry cola in the close.

M - Opens prickly, middle a touch thin, with smart carbonation.

O - A very tasty ale, with warmth and dark fruit. Perhaps a bit too much like a cherry cola for me, but it delivers on the name, so not a beer to be trifled with.

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Photo of sjccmd
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark fruit, rye bread, raisins in the aroma. Cola, sarsaparilla. Cooked figs. Light notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and blueberry. Subtle butterscotch.

Pours slightly hazy, dark ruby/amber, with a light tan/off white head. Ok retention and good lacing.

Figs and rye bread mingle on the palate. A touch more roast than was apparent in the aroma. Blueberries, brown sugar, and bitter molasses. Herbal, earthy hops with a firm bitterness for the style.

Medium full body with medium carbonation. Roast and hop bitterness linger on the palate, otherwise mostly dry.

Rich, robust Scottish ale. Lots of depth with complexities coming out more and more as it warms.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.39/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Somewhat blurring the lines for me is this beer, equal parts wee heavy, scotch ale, barleywine, old ale, winter warmer, it offers up a little from all these categories.

Pours a deep amber color, 1/3" off white head. Aroma had all the candied malts, strong alcohol notes, a tiny bit of red/peat feels.

Taste was a strong red ale, alcohol very up front and not hiding from anyone. Brag to your volunteer firefighter or rugby touch butt crew about how strong this is, that's the type of people I always see being dumb asses drinking this beer and Guinness. Has a wooden old world feel.

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Photo of jrsqc7
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A medium dark tastes malty like good dark plug smells awfully sweet like overripe dried dates deep red apples alcohol warming and tongue mutilating good and pleasant but hmmmmm that title is too damn ridiculous and I love heavy metal

 233 characters

Photo of MissGreen1987
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Good for two more months just opened
Floaties and very little ring, Slight alcohol taste, little carbonation, nice little buzz, would definitely try again

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Photo of JRed
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark Amber in body with off white head that clings. Aroma of dark fruits, spice, molasses, raisins. Tastes of dark fruits, molasses, raisin, spice, some pine, booze. Heavy body with medium carbonation. Gets the buzz going.

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Photo of spacecake9
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter glass.
A - Pours a clear reddish brown with a small white head that settles to a ring.
S - Aroma is all malt.
T - The flavor is caramel, maybe a hint of alcohol on finish.
M - Medium mouth feel and carbonation.
O - Definitely one of my favorite scotch ales.

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

A: cloudy - a lot of sediment floating; medium brown in color; 1+ finger reddish khaki head that receded to a thick collar; very nice lacing;

S: sweet malt; a little spice; a little alcohol; a hint of smoke;

T: sweet malt up front; caramel is predominant from the middle through the finish; a little nutty; very mild bitterness at the end;

M: medium to full bodied; moderate carbonation; lightly dry finish; pretty smooth considering the ABV;

O: really nice;

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.46/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L (4.5) - A deep brown color, not black. Slightly clear, and yet cloudy at the same time. Very little head and dissipated quickly.
S (4) - Not a lot of aroma here, but a little bit of that sweet malt and then some raisin aromas.
T (4.75) - Tastes GREAT. Rich, earthy, slight roasted notes. A little alcohol taste, but not a whole lot.
F (4.25) - Slightly viscous, smooth beer. Not a lot of alcohol burn, but my bottle was a little old.
O (4.5) - I really like this style of beer, and this is a fantastic example of it. I'd kinda forgotten about it in my fridge, and I wish I had more.

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Photo of JustLikeMyDad
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a beer mug.
Pours a nice dark brown color.
Not much foam to speak of, does have some sit around the edge of the glass.

Smells almost fruity and sweet.

Tastes dark, roasted malt, alcohol.

Feels full, bold, and flavorful. Smooth carbonation.

Overall, a very nice beer, The tastes are more complex than I can describe, it's worth checking out if you like darker beers.

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Photo of dbl_delta
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle dated best by October 16 into pint glass. Pours a cloudy amber-brown with a light tan head. Initial impression is caramel and molasses sweetness, but this is nicely balanced by fruitiness. Mouthfeel is medium and the alcohol is well hidden. Very smooth and easy to drink. Slightly bitter finish, but still with overtones of caramel. Hard to describe, really.
I've tried quite a few Scotch Ales that were brewed in the US, and this one stands out from the pack. I must admit that I like the US-brewed ones better but perhaps my palate isn't sophisticated enough to truly appreciate the subleties of the true Scottish brew.

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Photo of tone77
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 11.2 oz. bottle. Has a dark brown color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of malts, dark breads, sweet. Taste is malts, alcohol, dark breads, fruits, some sweetness. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall a bit boozy, but still a good beer.

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Photo of deaddear
4.01/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle, best by July 18 (assume that's '18?). Poured into snifter. Pretty sure I've had whatever game the guy on the label is from on my phone.

A: Dark ruby/garnet, a transparent reddish/brown when held up to light. Moderate head settles down to a whirlpool-looking covering. Lacing is low to moderate, spotty for the most part.

S: Caramel, burnt sugar, bit of cinnamon sweetness. Plum/raisin. Alcohol has a slightly rummy aroma.

T: Cinnamon, burnt bread. Raisin/prune-like sweetness. Mild but not unpleasant alcohol burn.

M: Moderate body and carbonation

O: An enjoyable classic.

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Photo of Troy_P
4.92/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Red Coat Tavern was out of the usual Bellhaven Wee Heavy. Decided to try this one. Came in a bottle, poured into a nice cold glass.

Appearance: Nice head. Good creamy lacing. Wonderful dark, dark color.

Smell: Slightly fruity. Some caramel noted. Overall, a very positive beginning.

Mouthfeel: Rich and full body. Not as "thick" as expected. Very smooth. This seemed to be a bit lighter in the alcohol taste than the Wee Heavy from Bellhaven.

Taste: Nice malty profile. Wonderful complex notes which seemed to adjust slightly. Sweet caramel combines with some fruitiness. Nice finish.

Only wish I didn't have to stop at the second. Though, in truth, these were filling as well.

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Photo of Dmiller25
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours with a subtle cloudy appearance, rich in amber color with a milky head. It smells like a wine and is very smooth. I enjoy the toasted malt and molasses favors.

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Photo of jahbless
3.17/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Wow! the burn is very apparent from the first sip. Tastes like hard liquor, definitely not like other wee heavy that I have tried. Would not buy again. 

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Photo of alarmclock314
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

11.2oz bottle, stamped BBE Apr 18. Pours transparent light amber with a large off-white head. Smells of white wine, sweet malt, apple, and floral hops. The taste follows closely with sweet malt, apple, fig, floral hops, and white wine. Some mild sweetness, dryness, smokiness, and booziness. Thin body and above average carbonation. Overall, it doesn't fit with other Scotch Ales, but it's still a tasty and complex beer. This is like a beer version of a good semi-dry white wine.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
3.57/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a black cherry with a thin bite head. Not a big smell other than malt and alcohol. Decimate alcohol taste with some Luther dark fruit taste backed by sweet malt. Black cherry coming through. Going to let warm up. Not my cup of tea
I guess.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,181 ratings.
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