Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

2,195 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 Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,195 |  Reviews: 1,005
Photo of bobhits
3.84/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Skull Splitter

Pours dark amber, thin reddish cream head, the color is a bit murky.

Rum, spiced dark fruits, dates, figs....the bottle does a decent enough job. I think the beer is a bit sweeter to the nose than the bottle leads on. The rum aroma gives off some alcohol notes as well.

Sweet and fruity flavors. The rum like nose isn't at all present in the beer's taste. Opening with dark fruity flavors and finishing with a nice spiced finish. The sweetness strongly over powers the spiced finish.

A bit watery especially given the 8.5%, you have to hand it to the English in their ability to mask the alcohol. Still this goes down pretty well.

Water body, a bit of carbonation that makes this far too easy to slam considering the style and alcohol.

Really glad to have had this beer. It's well balanced, low enough in flavor to drink, but has enough going on to keep it interesting. Not nearly one of the great beers it lacks the extreme complexity that many finer English brews have. Still at about 12 bucks for a 4 pack, it certainly is cheaper and easier to justify.

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Photo of zoso1967
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Skull Splitter pours slightly hazy orange amber color. It hue has a definite warmth to it and glows nicely when held up to the late afternoon sun. The head is parchment in color and fades to little splotches that float about the surface of the beer. The lacing is pretty impressive for style.

The aroma is slightly fruity with a rich candied character to it. Fruity sweetness and some phenols mingle together with a nice caramelized character. This is definitely a malt forward brew, but I do detect a little bit of earthy hop character. Alcohol aromas appear to be completely absent, even at cellar temperature. Overall the aroma on this beer is not as robust as some of the scotch ales I have previously sampled.

The flavor is just as rich as the aroma with a rich malty quality. The caramel laden malt is accented with a bit of toffee and some earthy hop character. This is a malty brew first and foremost though, and notes of candy apple, cherry and raisin are mingled in with the malt sweetness. Luckily they included enough bitterness to keep things from getting too sweet. I am very impressed.

The mouthfeel is also quite enjoyable. The body is medium, and while perhaps not as "satiny smooth" as the label suggests, it is quite gentle on the mouth, with just enough carbonation to bring out the different flavors. The finish is slightly sweet and surprisingly unassuming, leaving an almost honey like sweetness in my mouth.

The drinkability on this thing is off the charts. I am detecting almost no alcohol, even as it continues to warm. Perhaps the "satiny smooth" character refers to drinkability and if that is the case I totally agree. This is a wonderful beer that drinks like it is much smaller. It has great flavors and is well integrated. My friend D.C. extolled the virtues of this brew after another friend's wedding, and I am now kicking myself that I did not try it sooner.

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

Pours an almost-clear, reddish brown color with a small white head that disappears quickly. Scent is very malty with some dark fruit and caramel malt. This beer smells very sweet. Taste is not as sweet as the nose implies. Very strong malt flavors with barley and grain. I also get a lot of caramel and maybe a bit of toffee. There is also some strong alcohol flavors. Mouthfeel is very full bodied and a bit syrupy. Drinkability is scotch ales are not typically my favorite beer. All in all, this is a great representation of this particular style.

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Photo of wvsabbath
3.4/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark tan/brown. Plently of lacing, creamy 1/2 head.

SMell - Malts, sugar and spices, carmel, hops, alcohol and barley. Some rye also.

Taste - Finally after having this beer some 6-8 years ago im able to sit down and drink. Pretty mild and smooth for a wee heavy ale. Carmel mixed with some rye and malts starts the drink off. Very surprized on how mild almost watery flavor it has. Its balanced well, not overpowering on any flavor. Hops are present, as is the alcohol.

Mouthfeel - Its thin and rather easy on mouth. Palette gets some very mild bitterness, but quickly recovers. Aftertaste doesnt last long, you can move right on to something else.

Drinkabilty - This doesnt feel like a 8.5% beer. Pretty mild and smooth. This is too mild for me, i much prefer founders dirty bastard or even the spiced up wallop that the traquair ales bring. Scary smooth beer to drink at such high alcohol. Also, this bottle i have features a different cover label then the classic one ive always known with the real person in viking attire. This one has a cartoon viking and a new logo.

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Photo of obrendano
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

a favorite of mine, this is some stellar stuff right here

A - love the bottle on this, makes me want to crank some metal while I drink. clear crimson red body, puffy head that leaves some good spotting and lacing throughout

S - sweet malt smell with caramel and an alcohol harmony in the background

T - super super malty and sweet, gets sweeter towards the middle, finishes with tons of caramel and butterscotch to be found, and a touch of booze

M - unbelievably smooth and velvety, unbeatable

D - turn down the lights, turn on some Bathory, let this warm up to just barely above room temp and enjoy

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Photo of beertunes
3.55/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a clean, clear medium mahogany with an inch of light tan head that had very good retention and very low lacing.

The aroma was mostly malty sweet, no real peat that I picked up, and a hint of fruitiness. The flavors were pretty similar, there was a trace of peat, the fruitiness was a touch more pronounced and there was a noticeable alcohol finish.

The body was full, without being heavy, and well-rounded. Drinkability was good, although this isn't among my favorite style, I enjoyed the whole bottle.

Overall, a very nice brew. Certainly worth your time when you see it.

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Photo of cyrock1
4.65/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Mahogany, brown with hints of amber.

Smell: Caramel and toffee with roasted malts.

Taste: Chewy dark taffy with hints of roasted malt and toffee.

Mouthfeel: Lively carbonation that keeps the flavors dancing on the tongue.

Drinkability: Not as intimidating as it's name would imply, a real outstanding beer.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a plastic tumbler.

Another old favorite from back in the day finally getting revisited. It pours a clear sunset amber topped by about a finger or so of off-white foam. The nose comprises caramel, buttery biscuits, light toffee, and orange peel. The taste doesn't deviate one bit from the sell. Period. Fair enough. The body is a straight medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat drying finish. Overall, a solid Scotch ale, but somehow not as good as I remember it being back in the day.

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Photo of ramseye4
3.89/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a muddy brown color reminiscent of the water in the Great Dismal Swamp in my home state, with minimal head. No freshness date. Aroma is of strong malt,dark fruit, plums and figs. Plums and raisins hit the tongue first, with muted alcoholic notes. Mouthfeel is full bodied, sharply carbonated, probably the highlight of this beer. Definitely an interesting beer and not too pricey either.

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass. Pours a dark amber color. Not a lot of head, but it settled into a quarter inch layer that lasted through the glass. The smell was quite complex. Malty, sweet, some spice and some faint smokiness. Taste consisted of fruity character, figs, and dates. Malt then nutty, then some bitterness to balance the sweetness, hints of smoke. As the beer warmed, more alcohol came through. The beer left the mouth slightly dry. Very light carbonation. A deceptive fruit beer that I wasn't a big fan of after trying this years later...

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Photo of Bradthoc
3.4/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I saw this sitting on the shelf at a local store and just had to try it. I figured with a name like this you have to be all about good taste and feeling good about drinking it.

The beer poured a nice dark brown with a light tan to white head. The beer had a hint of red notes in it as well.

The smell lured me in immediately with the scent of dark fruits, sugars, malt and molasses. My kind of beer I'm thinking.

Taste of the beer was medium bodied. However, along with tasting the richness of this beer and the dark fruits with molasses and malts, it left a bitterness on my palate that was somewhat undesirable for this particular beer. Almost like a burnt bitter, which left me almost racing to finish the beer and move on versus sipping it and enjoying it.

Perhaps it was this particular bottle, I would have to try it again to fully decide. But at $3.99/bottle (from my local store) it may be some time before that happens.

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Photo of patreely12
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - pours a cloudy ruby/brown. an inch of creamy, tan head after an aggressive pour. through the cloudiness I can see a bit of carbonation at the bottom of the glass. no lacing. nothing special about the look, but appetizing nonetheless.

S - strong whiff of both malts and alcohol, but also has a sweet aroma. maybe some peat too. intense, complex and intriguing.

T/M - I served this too cold because the taste takes a second to kick in.

tastes just like the nose. really smooth on the front. lots of malt. pretty creamy. washes out with a sharp bite of alcohol that isn't unpleasant, rather enjoyable. medium bodied and not much carbonation. alcohol and coffee in the aftertaste. very good, very tasty.

D - Despite the 8.5% ABV this has okay drinkability, not quite sessionable, but I could enjoy a couple of these. With a name like skullsplitter I was expecting this to be harsh but it was actually smooth and delicious.

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Photo of heavy216
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: 11.2 oz bottle, deep red in color, inch of head, gone quickly

S: strong malt smell....can tell alcohol is present

T/M: medium bodied with just enough carbonation.

D: nice strong taste, very good, smooth dark beer....this was the last of several i tried and looks like i "saved the best for last"

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Photo of e11iott
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: 11.2 oz bottle. 2 fat finger head, light lacing, dark red copper in color.

S: Heavy strong smell of alcohol and carmel and all around fruity malts. Very soothing.

T/M: Served cold had medium body. Tasted fruity, perfect carbonation. Well balanced.

D: After smelling this is thought it would come out like syrup, alcohol smelled stronger than 8.5, warth does help this go down. Not sure how many I would have in a row, but went well life my home made burgers.

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Photo of GallowsThief
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a 11.2 oz foil wrapped bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A - Has a nice caramel brown color on the pour. One inch off white head that recedes pretty quickly.

S - Has a bit of a sweet honey aroma. Fruity as well with a smell of apples. Molasses and caramel.Very nice smell overall.

T - Has a sweet almost syrupy taste that is extremely smooth. Full flavor of caramel just like the smell. Fruit in the form of apples there. Has a great warming feel at the end.

M - Mild carbonation that leaves a slick feel in the mouth. Light to medium bodied.

D - Well its ABV says no but be hell yes its drinkable! You wont have more then a couple before a bed or floor comes calling but hangover be damned go for it! This gets better as it gets warmer.

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Photo of Bizquithead
4.63/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is one of my favorites. It has strong alcohol content (8.5%). The ale has a dark brown color which is great. I wish it had a more hoppy note. It is like a lion stout but far cleaner and better. It has a satisfying molasses finish which is why it is my 2nd favorite beer in the world!

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3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330ml into Bruges tulip.
A: The deep and dark body has a hue of burnt plum and the light tan head pours a fluffy two finger head. The dark body held to the light shows the ruby aspects as well as the good level of carbonation and the settling of the sediment in the brew. Head settles to a nice layer and is present throughout. The lacing is left in small amounts.

S: Not that there is too much sweetness in this aroma, but the missing layer of boiled in malts creating a caramel effect are missing or strongly masked. Nice aroma overall, with a good intensity, but a bit too sweet for my liking in the style.

T/M: The bold and bright front of dark fruit and earthy herbal notes are very dominate. The taste is big, but not overly strong. I find this to be a touch on the sweet side for the style, while still hold the nice thick caramel and malty body. Hops are not found in the slightest, but a nice dry finish shows a hint of presence. The body, is sweet and smooth, with a light note of silk. The lingering finish is good for the lingering taste, as for the lingering body feel, there is a unfortunate watery taste.

D: This is a very good representation of the style, the sweetness is a bit much for my liking, but with time at room temp, this sweet character has more battling to do with other flavors that come forward. Good hidden ABV. Seek Out and enjoy.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.71/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a deep clear copper with thin white head. Nice crystal clear hue.

S: big rich malty aroma with notes of candied grape, caramel, and molasses. Smells somewhat sweet for a scotch ale.

T: this beer isn't as sweet on the palate as the nose suggests. Initial notes of candy and molasses followed up by big bready malt character. The finish is clean and slightly sweet. I'm missing the smokey quality that I have come accustomed to with scotch ales.

MF: medium carbonation, light body considering the abv

D: this is a nice well balanced Scotch ale that leans a touch to the sweet side. Very interesting nonetheless, worth trying.

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

Notes from 12/20/2010:

330 mL bottle at 45* into a pint glass.

A: This pours a reddish-brown color with a thick, frothy, off-white, one and a half finger head that laces okay.

S: The nose features aromas of sweet caramel, intensely floral notes, and some peatiness.

T: The tast is of more intense floral notes, juniper, peat moss, molasses, and a sweet berry finish.

M: It finishes oily with a medium body and a small amount of creaminess.

D: It would have been better with more peat but Orkney, like most breweries that brew wee heavies, shies away from it.

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Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at Liquor Loft in Tallahassee, FL.

Pours a slightly hazy caramel-copper color with a half-finger off-white head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sticky caramel malts with hints of deeper toasted malts. Also present are light amounts of booze-soaked medium fruits, light chocolate, and hints of toffee. Slight hints of peat aromas waft in and out as the beer warms.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Clean caramel malt flavors with deeper butterscotch flavors kick things off. Midway through the sip soft medium fruit flavors come into play. Smooth light chocolate flavors make a brief appearance near the end of the sip before fading out into a slightly sweet ending. As with the aroma, earthy peat flavors work their way into things as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall I'm not a huge fan of the style but this was a solid representation of the style and it went down smoothly. Not worth seeking out but worth a shot if you see it around.

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

pours a dark brown cola with an average off-white head. lots of particulates floating throughout the beer.

sweet on the nose: malts, figs, brown sugar, molasses. spice with a bit of clove evident as well.

tastes of fig, raisin and lots of caramel. roasted malts and all around earthy. gets much warmer as the beer warms (if you know what I mean). start to exhale alcohol as the glass begins to empty

full body with a nice creamy feel. great part of the beer.

despite being quite boozy (which I happen to enjoy), this is a really good beer. I could drink one of these for several nights in a row and not tire of it. great representation of a wee heavy.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep ruby body with a big fluffy caramel tan head, nice fine lacing forms evenly down the sides of my glass. The aromatics bring out caramel malt body with a fruit ridden malt body. This one has a new label, with a prety badass cartoon dark comic book viking versus the old red foiled kind of shitty viking pic. Flavor a touch of underlying smoke, roasted caramel malts, ripened plums. A bit of hidden booze in the finish, body is medium bodied. Carbonation is pretty easy going, finishes dry but has a nice rich malt flavor. Seems different from yrs ago when I initially had it but still an enjoyable experience overall, not a must have but a solid wee heavy for sure.

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

There are some beer names out there...and there are some beer names out there! SkullSplitter! Now how on Earth could I pass that up??

Dark caramel, amber color, with a tan head that has minimal retention. Not bad lacing though.

Smells nice and fruity. Dark fruits like figs and raisins are most noticeable. Sweet, yet complex and alluring.

The taste, like the smell, is very nice and sweet. Again, the fruits and maybe some candy caramel taste is there. A very tasty beer that hides it's abv very, very well. Creamy, smooth and a beautiful warming beer to have by the fire.

With the name SkullSplitter, and a blood-red foil hat on top of the bottle, and a badass viking on the label....and a nice 8.5 ABV that stays hidden in the seeping blood of fallen enemies, you are gonna be happy to call this drinkable and tasty beer your new pal. If you don't....then you might just get SkullSplit!

p.s. Shame the bottles are smaller than average...that's what she said....?

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Photo of WeezyBoPeep
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

A: Deep caramel color, hard to see through this one. Cloudy and nice-looking ale. Good lacing, thin, beige head.

S: Some dark fruits ar first; cherries, figs, dates. Light apricots. Malty. I don't detect much hops in the aroma.

T: Light fruits like red grapes, apples and big time malt. I get a little hop presence. Some cloves and spices in there. Overall, a little watery for a wee heavy, but finishes spicy and mildly bitter.

D: At this ABV I and considering the finish, it'd be difficult to call this a session beer.

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Photo of jsh420
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours dark copper with a 2 finger off white head that good retention

smells dark fruit malts

taste is very close to a belgian strong dark - rich dark fruit figs raisins and some hint of booze

mouthfeel is light medium with low carbonation very smooth and creamy

drinkability - is good but this beer is overpriced - doubt i ever buy this again - give me a bsd or a good doppelbock

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,195 ratings.
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