Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

Skull SplitterSkull Splitter
Liked This Beer
4.08 w/ 2,203 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,203 |  Reviews: 1,005
Photo of InebriatedJoker
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into my favorite beer drinking glass -

Poured a nice carmel color with a two finger head that dissipated quickly - thin lace .

Smell was very malty with Carmel (toffee) hints .

Taste was smooth and very light hints of carmel and toffee -

extremely drinkable brew -

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

I've had this beer on at least 4 different occasions and each time its been different. The first time was way back in 2001, it tasted like soy sauce with sugar in it, the second time was in 2005 in a bar because someone described it to me as "their favorite beer" and didn't believe my soy sauce story. That time it was quite good. The third time was about a year later, completely soy sauce. This review is based on the most recent tasting, last night, definitely not soy sauce.

Beer is clear and dark brown almost ruby but dark. Thin brown head that breaks quickly leaving some lacing on the glass. Carbonation is low. Beer served at near room temperature in a tulip.

Aroma is mild, mostly sweetness, some malt, minimal roast, overall its a little weak.

Beer is medium body with a lead off sweetness and a blank finish. There is some toffee and maybe a little bit of sweetness in the mid to late palate and no carbonation. The beer seems to thin the more I drink it, its moderately peaty. The earthiness to it is minimal but overall its a good beer.

The teetertotter I've been on with this beer is a little frustrating. If I were to guess, I would say the two times I had horrid experiences with it, the bottles were old or improperly stored and that this latest bottle is really fresh and young. I would drink a GOOD one again, but I'm batting 500 right now and may not want to tempt fate.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle with no freshness date. Poured into a Smuttynose snifter and brought to room temperature.

Appearance: Medium brown in color with ruby red highlights. One finger beige head that recedes to a rather thick lacing.

Aroma: Molasses, cherries, oak, and caramelized apples all fit together brillantly. Not much booze here at all. Incredibly smooth.

Taste: Caramelized apples and molasses dominate. Cherry and a touch of spicy oak are nice supports. The booze really does not show here at all. Neither does any hop bitterness. Very sweet.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and syrupy, with an almost dry finish.

Drinkability: The ABV hides really well to the point where the strong flavors are the only thing to keep me from drinking more of this.

Overall, a really interesting, complex and smooth strong ale. Definitely ranks among my favorite English ales.

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Photo of HuppMJH
4.44/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: This beer has a nice brown color, with a hint of orange when lifted up to a light. It's a darker liquid, but still see through. This is what I picture when I'm thinking of how a nice beer should look. As I drink the beer, I notice the head will stick to the sides of the glass, but as I near the bottom of the glass, there is minimal head still stuck to the top of the glass. Still a successful head within this beer.

Smell: I notice the alcohol level more in the smell than in the actual taste; like a subtle hint of whisky.

Taste: This beer does Scotland proud. It has a nice carmel taste with a good finish. As I said earlier, I notice the alcohol content more in the smell, but it's still present in the taste, although not too overpowering. A nice mix.

A very appealing beer with a nice taste and smooth character. I could easily see myself ordering this beer when going out, or picking up a 6 pack when staying in.

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Photo of Bigfatbino
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Despite its rather cheesy label, and luxury price tag, this beer is a fantastic representation of a classic ale.

A = Dark as coffee in the glass, with a thin but long-lingering head. Lacing was very mild in the glass, but overall a very appetizing look.

S = Subdued aromas of chocolate and roasted coffee, no harsh alcohol smell at all.

T = Smooth and very well balanced flavors that echo the aromatic qualities, along with the ever-welcome bite of those beautiful hops.

M = Smooth, small bubbles left on the tongue. Thick and resinous texture, with virtually NO dryness from too much alcohol.

D = Perfect with (or after!) a good, hearty chunk of roast beast. For it's simple yet assertive flavors, this brew really delivers as an impressive beverage to compliment and showcase a session.

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Photo of BaronRVH
2.34/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Great looking beer. A beautiful red with quite of bit of carbonation.

S - Smokey but sweet. The malts are upfront.

T - I was very disappointed! I was really hopeful in trying this beer because Orkney has my favorite, everyday Whisky in the 12 years old. This was cloyingly sweet, over malted and almost flat.

M - Thick, not well balanced. Coated the tongue with no brightness on the finish.

It makes me have to think that the bottle got heated pretty badly on the trip across the pond and completely killed the balance of the beer. That's the only explanation I have because I have read some great reviews of this beer. Of course, I finished the 4-pack.

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Photo of Manoftyr
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into tulip

Appearance-Pours a deep, murky red-brown with significant ruby highlights all throughout. A tanned off-white head rises from the pour but bubbles back down leaving a thin film and abundant lacing, a few swirls get the head kicking back up briefly. Beautiful color.

Aroma-Dark and creamy malts upfront, very sweet and roasty with scents reminiscent of dark butterscotch, I can also detect a bit of woodsiness and the stingy tinge of alcohol.

Taste-Sweet and malty upfront but it then gives way to a phenolic, peaty-smoke character (I love me some peat) that meshes with the sweet malt on the finish. Deceptively complex.

Mouthfeel-Medium-syrupy body with moderate to moderate-low carbonation.

Drinkability-It starts off sweet but the complexities afforded mid-palette prevent it from becoming cloying and keep me coming back for more; this is a top notch brew and my favorite Wee-Heavy/Scotch Ale that I've had.

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Photo of Seanibus
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich mostly clear brown with an impressive head, though it falls quite quickly. The aroma is rich and roasted malt, with a woody, peaty edge. The flavor is intense and dark and roasty, with a cherrywood smoke feel. There is plum and peat and a raisin sweetness The mouthfeel is thick and a bit prickly. The alcohol is well hidden.

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Photo of sixerofelixir
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle. Anytime the label has anything to do with vikings, that is pretty bad-ass.

Pours a clear, rich mohagony, with a very nice and sticky tan head. Smell is sweet and of caramel. Taste is dark as well, and of roasted malts and roasted sugars. Very molasses-like. Super smooth and super easy to drink. Finishes just a tad bitter and very slightly hot. Feel is ever-so viscous, like a wine. Just a fine example of how to blend rich flavors comfortably, and also mask a higher alcohol %. If I were a viking, I'd be glad to loot a case of this..

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Photo of MBPChead
4.51/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this one a couple times now I just hadn't gotten around to reviewing it.

Appearance: deep burgendy brown in color with a creamy foamy head. Gorgeous

Nose: very pungent smell giving off nuts, oak, dark cherrys, brown sugar, caramel, and alcohol. Not bad but a bit faint and a tad boozey.

Taste: immediately comes with a sweet sweet flavor of bread, burnt caramel, nuts, plums, prunes, raisins, oak and dark chocolate extremely malt heavy. In the subdued elements are hints of dark cherries and brown sugar. One final note I have about the taste is that its pretty boozey overall, which really isn't a bad thing and helps it live up to the style. Truly outstanding flavor.

Feel: thick smooth and sticky with a pringly sensation on the tongue that quickly turns into a wonderful thick and smooth creamy goodness.

Drinkability: honestly it drinks wonderfully but I'm more than good after one, its a decently high abv plus its thick and fills you up with 11.2 ounces quite nicely. All in all one of these is all you need in my humble opinion. Definitely one of my all time favorites.

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Photo of claspada
3.86/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clearish, dark brown, almost chocolate color. Has an zero retention.

Aromas are crazy; rich, sweet malts and a boat load of toffee. Some chocolate too. Quite rich on the nose, but no alcohol burn.

Taste, is how do you say, HUGE, and it's a good thing. Quite sweet on the start, almost burnt caramel, a bit of dark chocolate, some fruity sweetness. Zero perceived bitterness, but has a very clean finish I'm assuming comes from the style or the yeast.

The carbonation is light, probably too light really, but is just enough to offset the richness of this beer. Had the mouthfeel been heavier and denser, this could have become a beer that was hard to enjoy a full sip of because of the extreme flavor. To elaborate, this is not syrupy so do not be scared off...

I really enjoy this beer but I would still classify it as a sipper. Interesting flavor to be worth getting four at a time, but not consumed all at once.

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Photo of Jesstyr
4.06/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Randomly grabbed a dusty bottle of this down the street, and was pretty pumped with the find. No date, but I'm guessing its a 2008/2009 vintage, and was certainly no worse for wear.

Dark brown, with slight amber hues. Beautiful foamy head, two fingers and very well formed. Excellent lacing throughout the drink. Very subtle nose, nothing too special, lightly malty, a little maple as was mentioned before.

Great flavor, very much the standard wee heavy, but without the over the top fullness in the mouth - just a slight bit too light. Chocolately, very malty, a tiny bit of sweetness to it. I didn't feel the alcohol, it was nice and smooth, and remarkably easy to drink for the style.

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Photo of BostonBrewins
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a fairly clear amber brown. Off white head sticks around for the long haul. Some nice sticky lacing too.

S - Smells malty and sweet. Notes of maple syrup and caramelized sugar.

T - Wow very flavorful. Bittersweet maltiness and peat overtones dominate. The sweetness is definitely balanced out, but there is some delicious maple and caramel notes here. This is absolutely spot on to style.

M - Full bodied but no at all heavy. I would have expected this to be more syrupy given the alcohol percentage but thats not the case at all. High carbonation level gives it some kick.

D - A very dangerous beer, you wouldn't even notice the alcohol level until it hits you. The quintessential Wee Heavy? Perhaps it is, you could make that argument.

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

If I could drink several scotch ales every day, and could do so without falling over drunk, this is what I would drink. An exceptional aroma of oranges, bread toasty malt erupts from the thin but dense head, with a good burn of alcohol to carry it to the brain. There's a dense, opaque body the color of cloudy iced tea, and then there's taste-- flavors of oak, vanilla, fruit, malt, bread and even some carrots (?) just burst from the glass as if the beer were being sprung from a corset five sizes too small. Not as smoky as other scotch ales, but there's a hint of peat pulsating in the background which keeps the hops in check. Looks strikingly handsome in a thistle, too. The low carbonation and overall density make this something to sip after dinner with a good movie. It's the kind of beer that makes me glad I drink beer.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Gordon's thistle.

Clear cardinal red body with faint ruby highlights and a slender dense beige head. Hefty strands of lacing and faint legs run down the sides.

A touch of melanoidin-laden malt along with caramel and toffee aromatics...

Sweet and biscuity on the palate - with a touch of barley. A bit of winter fruit and a hint of fig gives way to a peat flavor that adds a bit of tartness and dries out the finish (along with the help of some mild hop bitterness). Strong and clean, but with a surprising subtlety as well.

Medium bodied, creamy, with sufficient carbonation.

An excellent example of the style - and a good value to boot.

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Photo of callmeclemens
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

This Ale is not for the faint of heart. Not my favorite but I tried to seperate myself from my personal tastes because I've heard so much good about this. This beer taste like meat, and some people really like that. It was seriously a meal in a bottle complete with the alchohal. I can't imagine drinking more than one of these, I certainly couldn't stomach it. Somtimes I wish I could be the kind of man who could enjoy this kind of drink.More like that viking on the bottle.

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Photo of aahynick
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

about 45 degree F into a pint glass
A- dark brown with slight red tinge and fine white head.

S- aroma of mild peat

T- sweet and peaty and mildly nutty.

M- medium body and seriously smooth.

D- a real pleasant drinker that I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

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Photo of evilkalla
3.94/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving: 11.2 oz bottle into an ale glass.

A: A slightly cloudy brownish-tan color. Very little head, a small amount of carbonation visible in the glass.

S: Has a sweet smell to it. Sort of flowery.

T: Has a solidly malty, earthy flavor to it. Some sweetness balanced out by some hop bitterness. Alcohol is slightly detectable.

M: A slight carbonation bite. Overall it feels solid enough in the mouth.

D: This isn't my favorite style, but overall an enjoyable beer. Would definitely drink it again.

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Photo of Brysky
4.16/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

ST- Bottle poured into glass. Label is a Viking (only mentioned since there is not a picture up yet)

A- ruby brown, almost no head at all on the pour, looks perfect.

S- smells of light chocolate / caramel undertones.

T- Tastes like it smells, a Scottish Ale with undertones of chocolate and caramel.

M- tingly on the tongue and lips

D- Very nice to drink, 8.5% ABV so not a all night session beer but still pretty wonderful.

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Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Skullsplitter, a bit of Wee Heavy, aye....

That bit poured a deep chestnut brown with a ring of wispy lacing at the edges. Peat, oak and the sweetness of over-ripe buttered plums rise from this concoction. A seductive siren or a set-up for disappointment?

A full body all around, but somehow still agile. The beer builds it sweet maltiness throughout and finishes with with a dryness which is the only evidence for hops here. The rich malt in this brew manages to not be overwhelming, but rather enjoyable. It's not boozy and rather drinkable. I emptied the 33 cl with utmost speed, considering it was a Scottish Ale.

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Photo of jsdunlop
4.72/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours out dark amber with a perfect head that slowly dissolves, but leaves its mark on the glass. First whiff of this one and I notice aromas of sugar, molasses, cinnamon and a faint presence of alcohol. Taste is quite sweet, definitely the sweetest scotch ale I've tasted yet. Huge malty flavor up front that goes down smooth with random flavors of alcohol and a hint of cherry with some spice notes. Mouthfeel is carbonation with a nice lighter body. Overall, an exceptional scotch ale, easy drinkability with an abundance of flavorful notes. A nicely balanced brew.

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

ST- Poured a 11.2 oz bottle into a glass

A- Dark Brown with a ruby tint. Ivory head dissipates after a short while.

S- Quite malty with caramel undertones,

T- Scottish Ales being my favorite types of beer, this is my favorite beer hands down. For the alcohol content, it has an amazing taste. Satisfyingly malty with caramel and slight chocolate undertones. A very smooth after taste with caramel notes that linger.

M- Very, very smooth. Goes down with ease. No complaints here.

D- Again, considering the Alcohol content, I could, and have thrown back quite a few with ease.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.06/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11.2oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. No bottled date.

(A)- Pours a clear brown amber color that produced a decent off-white head that dissipated quickly down to bubbles.

(S)- A light smoky peat with a nutty creaminess in front of a light roasted background.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. A light spicy smokiness combined with a creamy nutty caramel malt roasted profile.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. A good malt profile with a fitting richness. Not overly sweet or cloying. Good ABV integration.

(D)- A great example or the style. I enjoy the light smoky bit in the smell and taste. A little too sweet and rich to have a few of, but I am definitely enjoying this bottle.

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Photo of mlazzaro
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark beer. it is a slightly transparent brown. Ivory colored head, looks to have superb head retention for a strong ale.

Smells really good. smooth smell of dried fruit and sweet maltiness. Booze is noticeable as well.

I was kind of afraid of this beer because of the name. But it is some smooth delicious beer. Soft malty flavors, with notes of cherries. I find it to be almost Belgiany in yeast esters.
Much like a St. Bernardus Abt. 12 in flavor and aroma.

For what it is @ 8.5%A.B.V. its drinkability is a little scary. I could drink quite a bit of this. Which may be the reason for the beers name: to describe the next morning.

A good night cap though. Would gladly drink again.

I read other people's reviews about a silver foiled bottle, and I noticed my bottle had red foil which might indicate different batches.

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Photo of ronniebruner
4.62/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As the name implies, this is a beer that will knock your socks off! A very robust, heavey 8.5% ABV beer, packaged in my all time favorite beer bottle: a silver foil neck with a picture of a viking ready for battle. This is a beer ofr beer lovers! Not cheap, but worth every penny and I guarantee you will drink every drop. Comes in 4 packs. Not sure if there are 6 or larger packs.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 84.5% out of 100 with 2,203 ratings
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