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Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

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Skull SplitterSkull Splitter
2,213 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,213 |  Reviews: 1,009
Photo of fx20736
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a British pint glass.

Pellucidly clear, rich amber the color of strongly brewed black tea with a thick, frothy shortbread colored head that leaves decent lacing.

Aroma: esters of alcohol, plums, burnt toast, toffee and a subdued butterscotch like diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: Soft & supple.

Tastes exactly like it smells: malty, sweet & boozy with a plummy, toffee flavor that turns pruny on the fade.

Notes: Good stuff, a heavy beer suitable for hand to hand combat or getting warm on a chilly evening.

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Photo of Hopfenpeter
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This interesting beer poured a clear chestnut brown with a bubbly tan head building about two fingers high. Good retention and lacing.
The smell is of dark fruit like plum and fig, as well as caramel and a load of malty flavors and honey.
Tasting this beer, the front is marked by honey, plum and fig, being met by honey caramel and malt in the middle, a bitter hop selection giving balance to the beer at the finish.
Maybe it is the Viking on the beer bottle, or the honeyflavor in this beer, but somehow this beer reminds me of Mead in beer form.
A great beer!

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Photo of brewcrew76
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Clear copper with a thin off white head.

S - Sweet malt, caramel, toffee, some figs and dark fruits as it warms.

T - Caramel and toffee, some dark fruits, hint of tobacco and maybe even leather. Sweet but not cloying.

M - Medium body with light carbonation and a surprisingly dry finish.

D - Vinous and sweet. Very solid. I enjoyed it.

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Photo of AlexanderCsamaj
4.06/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

If you like malty beers with some kick and character, this is for you. It is smooth and caramelly with hints of dark fruit and easy to drink. Not all those I travel with enjoy this brew but then again not all I travel with have an experienced sophisticated pallet...

Best beverage coming out of Scotland that isn't Scotch.

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Photo of micromaniac129
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A beautifully colored beer here being a rich chestnut with a tall tan head that hangs around abit with desent lacing. On the nose essense of green apples compliment the toffee malts. Taste is top notch with some slight roasted malts, dark fruits and bread perhaps sourdough. A slight hop spiciness is in ther also. And double dollop of alcohol greets you at the end.
Smooth on tongue with a drying finish. A really quite nice wee heavy that was a rather nice surprise.

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Photo of Kinsman
3.91/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice dark chestnut red color fills the glass. Creamy white head caps it off with a few inches of head.

Rich fruity and malty aroma greets the nose. Fig and raisin alongside a strong toffee note. Hint of alcohol in the background.

Sweet toffee and molasses bring out the malts on the palate. Fruit as well with a healthy dose of dates and figs. A bit of a spicy hop bitterness in there to balance things out.

Mouthfeel has rich and creamy full bodied feel. Overall, Skull Splitter is quite an enjoyable Scotch Ale. Not as cloyingly sweet as some tend to be but still a full bodied malty brew for a nice cool evening.

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Photo of Cinderbike
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark brown with tan head. Average carbonation.

S - Malt, molasses, toast, faint esters, light alcohol warmth.

T - Figs, caramel, molasses, and a sweet maltyness. Light roast on the finish.

M - Medium bodied. Doesn't coat the tongue but certainly has some backbone to it.

O - Wow. For $3/bottle, this is a steal. I've found a new go-to Wee Heavy.

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Photo of rangel2
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured bottle into Dogfish Head tulip glass, yielding one fingers pretty white head of a rootbeer colored beer.

Initial aroma is of molasses, for sure. With nice plum, fig, date and raisin lingering below. Slight toffee. Faint cherry.

Up front crisp raisin hits, which leads into biscuity, caramel, super oily middle, with a sweet pruney taste dissolving into warming alcohol finish, that's sweet but never cloying -- I promise. There are some nice earthy tones in there, that take full advantage, and make quite the pairing, with the mushroom and onion pizza I'm chowing on.

Overall, I always eat nice pizzas with SkullSpliter whenever I can. If in Bloomington, IN, stop by Finch's and have this one with the Dordogne (four earthy cheeses, truffle honey, and prosciutto). It's a freakin' delight. It yanks up the earthiness, melds its sweetness with the honey, turning the prosciutto into a sweet, breakfast-worthy, divine swine.

It's crisp, and it can handle earthy and sweet heavy pizzas like a charm. Take full advantage of this beer. It will turn a so-so earthy dinner into a damn good meal.

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Photo of idurra
3.69/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The color is dark ruby and murky, with suspended particles. The head is tan, with little retention and no lace. The aroma is mostly sweet, with caramel or molasses character. Tastes initially sweet, but the finish is on the dry side. Raisins taste could be noted, and there is an obvious malt character. Alcohol taste is very obvious. Little hops bitterness is present. Medium bodied mouthfeel, with tingly carbonation. Overall good and pleasant.

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Photo of Murrhey
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured in a Pilsner glass

A: Finger width, cream colored head small bubble. Not very long retention. Nut-brown, and no cloudiness.

S: Some fruit and sweet malt scents. I'm picking up a small hint of apple in the fruitiness.

T: Dark, yet sweet. Spicy maltiness, and hints of dark sugar.

M: Thick, smooth, well carbonated.

O: There isn't much to say about this beer other than it is complex and tasty.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.86/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle. A strange find in decidedly non-raping and pillaging suburban Portland, OR earlier this year.

This beer pours a perfectly clear, dark ruddy amber hue, with two broad fingers of puffy, foamy, and mildly creamy ecru head, which leaves a low castle ruins profile of lace around the glass as it slowly recedes.

It smells of sweet, sharp malt - caramel and hard toffee - and dark, tangy fruit, all adrift in a boozy undercurrent. The taste is more caramel malt, tinged with edgy toffee, a soft oily nuttiness, dark musty fruit, herbal earthy hops, and mildly metallic alcohol.

The carbonation is fairly sedate, barely a tic or barb about, the body a decent medium weight, and mostly smooth, the booze tugging at the trouser cuffs a tad. It finishes off-dry, the latent malt chugging along, buffered by a slight astringency, equal parts booze and herbal hops.

Pretty hard to say anything bad about this offering, lest Odin's dogs of war be set free. Still, the standard, enjoyable big malt component isn't done any favours by the kind of off-putting hop character. Booze, I can deal with, this, less so.

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Photo of dansmcd
3.92/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark red/brown translucent fizzy body. A thin head receding to a collar quickly. Spotty lace.

S - Malts and booze are very prominent. Red apple, plum and treacle.

T - Sweet molasses, golden syrup, apples, sherry and dark fruit. Spicy hops. The high profile of the alcohol has a warming effect that would suit a wintery night, but is more noticeable than I would expect from an 8.5% abv beer.

M - Quite light in body and not as syrupy as other like- styled beers Ive had. Medium to high carbonation.

O - A sweet, malty brew with a good measure of provocative complexity. A touch thin in the body for my liking however.

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Photo of negroobserver
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle - 8.5% ABV

Pours a deep mahogany color, crystal clear, with about a quarter inch of cream colored head. Smells sweet with light fruit scent, like cantaloupes and figs. A bit of funk. This one might a bit past it's prime. Flat flavor on the front end. The middle has a strong fruity flavor with a light sweetness. The sweetness then turns into a back end, which is a bit bitter. The bitterness then magnifies and really shines at the far end and lingers in the mouth for a few seconds. The mouthfeel is great. The body is dense and smooth, but not too thick. There is little or no sting on the tongue from the alcohol or the carbonation. Overall a very nice beer. Very enjoyable, but I'm not very impressed. A very good beer for it's style, but not amazing.

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Photo of capeannbass36
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle(no date) poured into a tulip.

A- Pours a clear, coppery red, topped by a 1 finger off white head that dissapates rather quickly. Light lacing remained behind throughout.

S- Sweet malt, caramel, and dark ripe fruits. A little bit of raisins. A tiny hint of hops.

T- Sweet malt. More darkfruits. A little bit of spiciness. Toffee and burnt sugar.

M- Light to medium body and carbonation. A unique coating to mouth that I cannot put a finger on?? Somewhat dry finish.

O- Had to try this partly due to label and name...but more to "The Bros" rating of an A+(without details??!!) Decent enough. Will try again. No way, no how...can I possibly give this an "A+" though. Not even an "A".

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Photo of JayS2629
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours a beautiful, rich ruby/copper color with great clarity, descent white head that fades slowly and leaves ok lacing.

The aroma was very rich, full, malty and bold with honey tones, toffee, fruity hints of ripe apple and dark fig. Notes of raisin ride on top of a caramel middle.

The flavor was almost opposit up front iwth a punch of bitter hops dominating that fades on the tounge into a fruity, floral point that settles in the middle to a rich, toffee, malty background. Notes of earthiness blend in and melt into a dominant hopy finish. The hops stand strong throughout.

Medium body, smooth with malty middle and dry finish.

I wonder if they call this skull splitter because it splits the senses. Rich malty aroma and hoppy taste. Confusing but interesting.

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Photo of doopydoogle
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Cloudy brown/tan w/red and amber hues towards the outside. Light head which leaves a little lace.

S - Sugar, malt, toffee, caramel, slight spice, some raisin, banana, and alcohol.

T - Cherry, big malt explosion, surprisingly bitter for the style, the bitter gives way to some clean malt character with a bit of fruity yeast character backing it up. The finish is slightly spicy and bitter, with the bitter remaining for quite some time. Alcohol is noticeable, but doesn't predominate, and the malt character really shines.

M - Pretty clean for the style, not too sticky, with a great explosive carbonation and a good bitter that sticks around.

O - One of the better scotch ales I've had. Not too keen on the sweet ones, so I usually avoid this style, but I quite like this one.

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Photo of zbellino
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A) Like earl gray tea, over-steeped. Basically non-existent head, outside of a two mm wide "spent dish-soap" ring around teh top of the pint glass.

S) Overall, pleasant. Kind of sweet and sour, like a green apple.

T) The showstopper. Very unique. Has an front of burnt sugar perhaps, with a really complex crab-apple flavor as the main event. It burrows into the back quarters of your tongue in a really interesting way.

M) Excellent as well. In between half and half and whole milk. A little crispness you might not expect from such a dark, frothless brew.

O) I would try it again and again, if not for the price. Orkney has a real winner ... and perhaps a classic .. in this Scotch Ale.

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Photo of hoptualBrew
4.51/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Deep mahogany brown, light khaki head. Great lacing, sticky and coats the glass.

Aroma is sweet molasses, plum, toffee, bread grain, light chocolate. Very balanced and fragrant. Heavenly nose on this!

Really pleasant on the palate. Sweet toffee and light plum up front. Molasses, syrup, light bakers chocolate. No bitterness really discernible.

Full body up front, slightly drying in the finish. Carbonation is perfect, slightly under- in the fashion somewhat of cask ale.

Overall, beautiful beer. Well executed and highly drinkable, this is one of the better Scotch ales on the market in my opinion. Not overly dense and viscous like most American takes on the style, but still a really warming beer if your in cold weather.

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Photo of Justin23060
5/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My first A+ review and a perfect choice for the first night that required the furnace. Very dark amber with a beige head that gradually dissipated and stuck somewhat to my thistle glass. Smell is all the wonderful things you get from a fruit cake (even that little bit of alcohol you get from a brandy infused one). Taste is a pleasant sweetness that slowly fades to a clean semi sweet finish, thanks to the hops that only slightly bitter. Candied cherry is the headliner, followed by some almond nuttiness and a definite Sherry earthiness and warmth. The unmasked alcohol helps to highlight all the complexities in this warmer. Don't let the Viking theme and name lead you to believe this beer is just a novelty. This is indeed one world class brew.

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Photo of cjacobsen
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(A) Very dark ruby red that looks almost dark brown when not around light. Light head on it that leaves lacing.

(S) Dark fruits. Dark cherry. Some booze. Fig.

(T) There's a toasted malt character, not a whole on roasted but just toasty enough. Cherry hits in the middle. A lot of fig in the back of the flavor.

(M) Medium to light body. Somewhat grainy.

(O) A surprisingly lighter feeling brew than expected. Very good flavor and pretty well balanced. This is a great scotch ale.

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Photo of beerdrifter
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My nephew picked this up in Edinburgh for me. Clear mahogany red pour with two finger off white head with great retention and lacing. The nose is totally malt dominated. Tons of caramel with hints of dark fruit, butterscotch, vanilla and bread with just a touch of booze. The taste is complex and loaded with sweet toasted malt as well, with hints of spicy hops, caramel, dark fruits, vanilla, molasses and a healthy dose of booze. Not much of an attempt to disguise the alcohol, but it doesn't hurt the drinkability. Very smooth and warming. Thanks to Kevin for hooking me up with this great example of the style!

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Photo of hoopermcbeal
3.38/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice ruby colour, small amount of head. Very strong smell of molasses and alcohol. It is quite smooth with a strong finish, I got a abit of hops and a sweetness as well. I was happy with this beer considering I bought it on it's name alone.It's a very powerful beer with strong flavour, definitely not for the weak of heart.

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Photo of Paincane
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Chocolate dark brown with tan head that fades quickly and leaving small amount of lacing. 330ml bottle poured into snifter.
S: Malts, sweet dark fruits, figs, alcohol and tobacco all emerge. Definitely smells like more booze than it contains at 8.5%abv.
T: Roasted malt, tobacco, figs, dates, and alcohol.
M: Full-bodied, sticky, warming alcohol presence. Lightly carbonated.
O: A manly brew, not for the wife and kids. Seems a bit harsh and in need of mellowing. Will cellar it for a while and re-taste it later. Nonetheless, I did enjoy it and will have my skull split again by Orkney.

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Photo of Guden
3.67/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted at the Quarry House in MD.

A- Light chocolatey brown with a nearly non-existent white head.

S- Chocolate, alcohol, toffee and tobacco all fill the nose in an interesting bouquet. Not overly strong but what's there is good.

T- Heavy alcohol warmth with moderate caramel sweetness, light chocolate and a touch of black currants to balance the heat. Not so hot as to feel like a liquor but certainly the dominating characteristic.

M- Highly carbonated and full bodied giving a creamy mouth filling feeling which spreads the warmth and sweetness to all the taste buds.

D- A good beer but lacking in any real complexity or thrill. Something I would certainly enjoy again but not that I would go back to often.

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Photo of HopsYeast
2.85/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

a-clear dark amber body with a no head.
s-yeast and an abundance of fruit. plums, grapes, sweet apples, raspberries, cherries, and figs. to be honest, it almost smells like concentrated fruit syrup.
t-slight beginning of hops gives way to fruits again. some maltiness but dominated by yeast and fruit flavors. its too much. almost like drinking grenadine. there is a nice warmth from the high abv% but thats it.
m-thick. goes along with the syrup theme im picking up on. low level carbonation.
o-maybe i got a bad one since the review are in tital contrast to what im experiencing but this doesnt do it for me. i will try again to see if my palate develops more but right now, this isnt for me.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 4.08 out of 5 with 2,213 ratings
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