Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

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Skull SplitterSkull Splitter
2,224 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: 2,224 |  Reviews: 1,011
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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Photo of TheJollyHop
4.07/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Prominent smoke, grapes resonate from a copper, brown and red tinged body; pinky finger of head.

Scents of fruity esters: gala apples, raisins, earth, lightly toasted bread, and toffee.

Flavors follow the nose almost to a T with dark chocolate and molasses coming into the fray. There is a burst of bitterness and faint alcohol warmth at the swallow.

Medium bodied with a similar level of carbonation. This brew is much more balanced than the nose would have you believe. Smoke and fruit along with bakery flavors are more than copacetic with each other. Slightly salty, mineral flavor coupled with Earth.

A good example of a Scottish Ale.

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Photo of levifunk
3.82/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

a - not sure how old this bottle is as i got it in a trade, but there are quite a bit of yeast floaties. brown liquid. good carbonation.

s - malts, dark fruit and a citrus note. very little alcohol.

t - very very smooth flavor. malts and dark fruit as expected. there is a faint peppery flavor that is appealing. again, I don't know how old this is, so the smoothness could be due to age. I don't know if I would like it as much if the pepper flavor was more pronounced.

m - very thick body. heavy beer. less carbonation than I thought there would be from the pour.

overall - good beer. I enjoy having it, but would I want a 2nd one right now? probably not.

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Photo of HosP
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up this beer after hearing of two co-workers having a few of these at the bar. Couldn't resist a beer called skullsplitter!

A: Pours a nice clear brown color. Hints of red to it with a nice head that left bits of lace slowly going down the glass.

S: Sweeter smell. Roasted caramel aroma with a hint of alcohol to it.

Taste: Very smooth and malty with caramel coming to the front and a hint of maybe chocolate towards the end. Has an alcohol bite as well but doesn't deter from the nice taste.

M: Pretty smooth with light carbonation.

D: Never had a scotch ale, so for my first one I was pleasantly surprised. Good beer to have to end the day and wind down.

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

Pours brown with a nice foamy tan head. The beer does an interesting trick when helt to light. It turns yellow, leaving only the swirling sediment its original brown hue. Nice lacing.

The smell is very interesting. Lots of sweet malt, some peat, smoke, and a little sourness. It smells like Flemish Brown Lite. The sweet still dominates, but the sour permeates in a very pleasant way.

The taste is a bit more sweet than the nose lets on. Lots of sweet malt and a little peat. That sour quality is still there, but it really isn't sour. Same taste minus the bite. Weird, but very pleasant.

The feel is still creamy and full-bodied. Good feel for the beer.

This was pretty damn drinkable. Good flavors, great mouthfeel, and it hits the spot.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 4.08 out of 5 with 2,224 ratings