Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

Skull SplitterSkull Splitter
2,204 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: 2,204 |  Reviews: 1,005
Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mmm. Liked this beer.
Been on a stout run over the winter, seguing into black lagers this spring - enjoying the roastiness. Been a while since I tried anything like this, and this one caught my attention.

A: deep amber/gold - quick head that dissipates just as quickly

S: nice - sweet, malty, some brighter notes pop through

T: vague orange, caramel malt, gentle spices

M: warming, soft, medium-bodied

O: great ale; had to update all this after having had one on the heels of the Sam Adams Wee Heavy - this has a class and character that befits the tradition of the Wee Heavy

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Photo of medic25
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a thistle glass (finally got to use it for a Scotch ale!). Dark brown with a thick white head. Malty, raisin-like aroma. Taste is a great malt flavor, sweet with a fig/raisin like character, almost no bitterness or hop sensation. Drinks nice and warm, with a pleasant aftertaste that would be a great drink on a cold winter night.

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Photo of JLeege
3.62/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into a tulip, has the newer label

Appearance- Pours a deep amber color with a creamy white head. Decent retention, but little to no lacing.

Smell- Caramel and toffee dominate the nose. With some dark fruits mixed in.

Taste- Very sweet throughout. Fig and grape, to the point of dried raison start things off. Leading into strong caramel malts and notes of toffee and subtle vanilla. Slight citrus and earthy hops on the finish. But the lingering taste is still sweet dark fruits, mostly grapey.

Mouthfeel- Full body with medium carbonation. A little syrupy.

Overall- The ABV's are hid well throughout the drink, but it does sneak up on you quickly. Not bad, though a bit too sweet for me. Definitely worth trying though. For what it's worth I liked the old label better.

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Photo of GoldenChild
4.92/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a world class beer buy it if you want to try one of the best beers for this style. $9.99us for a 4 pack.

A-Dark orange 2 fingers of creamy thick head.

S-Oak, Bourbon, Dark fruit, Caramel, And vanilla .

T-Smooth warming, Oak, Bourbon, Dark fruit, Caramel, And vanilla .
Love it going to drink two then put the others in the cellar. Will be buying more. Drink this beer

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Photo of dinomite
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A red tinted color in the glass with a fairly small head.

The flavor of this beer is the true standout--a wonderful mix of dark fruit & molasses with an undertone of maltiness. Overall, it is certainly a sweet beer, but there is enough subtle earthiness and spice that it's far from a fruit beer or cider.

The mouthfeel is a bit lighter than other wee heavies, but what one would expect from a fairly sweet, high alcohol beer.

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is slightly hazy copper in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high creamy beige head that quickly settled down leaving a thin layer of bubbles that consistently covered the surface.
S: There are moderate aromas of dark fruits in the nose and notes of malty sweetness.
T: The overall taste is rather sweet and has flavors of dark fruits along with notes of molasses and hints of caramel. There are some hints of spices in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied and smooth on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel is rather light compared to other beers in this style.
O: The beer is quite flavorful and very easy to drink because the alcohol is well masked from the taste. It is a good representation of the style.

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Photo of bsp77
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Hazy reddish-orange with thin off-white cap. Nice glow.

Smell: Plum, figs, raisins, cherry, caramel and spicy English hops (likely Fuggles or Goldings).

Taste: Very malty blend of plum, figs, raisins, cherry and caramel (yeah, it is the same as what I wrote for the smell, oh well). There is a nice counterbalance of spice, pepper and earthiness from the English hops.

Feel: Low carbonation, medium to full body, nice drying finish.

Drinkability (ahem, Overall): For such a strong Scotch Ale, this is very easy to drink, while also having a great deal of complexity. American brewers take note: this is how to brew a great Scotch Ale without going overboard.

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

Reddish brown and somewhat cloudy. Head is ok and lacing is decent.

Smells really malty, with an earthy, floral, nutty backbone.

Taste is very caramel malt, with nuts, floral notes, and a little mid fruit flavor.

Feel is slick and medium bodied, warming, sweet aftertastes.

Drinks ok. Not quite what I expected, but still a good brew.

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Photo of Dubbledown
4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is obviously a true Scottish Wee Heavy. I often use it to judge all other Scotch ales against. I think that some American brewers forget that there should be a spicy-sweet component to the flavor. The Skullsplitter does have a wonderfully complex flavor

I poured it into a 16oz. Guinness pint glass.
the colour is a beautiful reddish orange. Moderate head which quickly recedes. Serving tempurature was 55 degrees F, which I consider ideal for this type of brew. Serving it too cold brings out bitterness and obscures the flavor. On the nose there is a strong but clean alcohol smell followed by dried cherries and other fruits-maybe raisins and orange peel. Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Flavor is full of spicy dried fruits, especially cherries and raisin with a clean alcohol finish. This is a beer that goes down easy despite its high alcohol content.

As Scotch ales go I think this is the best of the best.

Grade A Purchased at Stoney's-4pk $12.99

Addendum- Although I hesitate to recommend blending beers in the glass,we have ,of course the Black & Tan. I now suggest you try a Guinness stout Skullsplitter blend when you find that the Scottish ale can either be a bit too intense for first beer of the day or you feel that the flavor of the ale sometimes fails to bloom without the help of the Guinness lace left on the glass. So, I recommend you try a Red & Black with a base of Guinness draft, which can be a mixture to suit your mood and taste; from barely there to a 50/50 mix. You be the judge. Enjoy.

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Photo of bobhits
3.84/5  rDev -5.9%
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 +5.4%
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 -4.4%
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 -16.7%
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 +18.9%
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 -13%
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%
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 -9.8%
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 -4.7%
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 -15%
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 -16.7%
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 +0.2%
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 -2%
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 +1.7%
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 +10.8%
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 +13.5%
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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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 4.08 out of 5 with 2,204 ratings
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