Dismiss Notice
Extreme Beer Fest:Los Angeles

Join us December 9th in Los Angeles for the ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity!

Learn more...
Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Skull SplitterSkull Splitter
2,209 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,209 |  Reviews: 1,008
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.

 619 characters

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.

 568 characters

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.

 581 characters

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.

 704 characters

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.

 826 characters

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.

 381 characters

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.

 643 characters

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.

 661 characters

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.

 668 characters

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.

 743 characters

Photo of neenerzig
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to my friend Passow (A 12 oz bottle poured into my tulip glass. This beer pours a clear, deep ruby color with a tan head half an inch thick when poured, eventually settling to a nice ring lining the inside of my glass with bits of lacing. Aromas of dark fruit and sweet malt, along with alcohol are all present. The taste packs a wallop of sweet smoked malts with dark fruit. Pretty one dimensional in terms of this beer's flavor, but very fucking good! Has a nice crisp, medium bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. This starts being a slow sipper when it is still cold, but once it warms up it was so damn good I couldn't stop drinking it! I will drink this again.


 686 characters

Photo of dacrza1
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Situation: a toast: to our Quiz Bowl team (semifinalists again) and our baseball team's first practice (ever optimistic)...
Glass: Corsendonk snifter...
Appearance: creamy but thin off-white head tops a mahogany brown body --opaque; lacing draws unevenly...
Aroma: toasted malts abound; some spicy ginger hints; enough complexity to warrant a second, third, fourth slow draw...
Palate: active, warming, thick body that has a smooth quality about it (odd considering its namesake and label mascot)--like the label, a BIG presence that demands sipping...
Taste: grape and malt are hardened to a candied sweetness--hints of smoke make this a complex beer worthy of its praise...
Overall: Odd notes, actually--among the first beers I selected from a 500+ menu at Clancy's in Bloom (fond memories); among the first I revisited at the Laughing Lion; one of the few ales I shipped Shan's cousin Mark, always trying to get him to break away from his lager/pilsner dependency... a beer worth its price.

 993 characters

Photo of tjd112
3.64/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Presentation - Poured into Sam Smith nonic

Appearance - Ruby red with not too well retained head and very little lacing

Smell - Very boozy with a lot of dark fruits and some malt character

Taste - Smokiness starts to come out, a good amount of booziness also

Mouthfeel - Medium

Drinkability/Overall - Could have only one of these at a time

 344 characters

Photo of earthboundagain
3.96/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a mahogany brown that produces a small tan head that falls to a ring of lace that are there when the beer is gone.

S- I get a slight whiff of malt, some peat and faint fruit.

T&M- Ok if you're looking for a rich complex beer this is not it, skullsplitter is a huge punch of peat smoked malt, with some dark fruit and alcohol. The mouth feel is smooth and the carbonation is nice.

D- I'm conflicted here since this beer is not real big, but still smacks you in the teeth. The glass empties quickly, and my vision blurs.

I have had this beer several times, and it was a chance encounter with this said beer that really got me back into good beers, something that I got away from for a while. It is not a subtle beer, but a delicious kick in the face. This beer is better then the score it receives.

 812 characters

Photo of laituegonflable
4.11/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark murky red, with disappointingly little head, large bubbles form around the edge with minimal lacing. Quite clear with very slow bead. Looks thick but otherwise a bit dull.

Nose is extremely sweet and very smokey. Thick, chewy, biscuity malt with huge golden syrup character, brandy snap, ohhhh yeah it's delicious. Slight chocolate and a really strong diacetyl character but it's not overly buttery, just adds to the sweetness. I can't say this entices me to drink because it's too sweet, but it's a really delicious desserty smell. A real treat.

Taste manages to avoid the over-sweetness, while retaining the sweetness. Malty on the front with a thick molasses character, hints of licorice on there and more of that brandy snap character. A stronger boozey character comes through towards the back though, elements of actual brandy with some vinous notes, a hint of spice and a mild phenolic touch. More buttery diacetyl on the finish and start, but the earthiness balances it on the back, with nice vinous bitterness or strength.

Quite syrupy on the feel, a bit harsh and drying on the back where the strength lies. Pretty good though, on par with style.

For its obvious strength, the alcohol is not burning and is quite well-hidden. Yeah, a very decent Wee Heavy ale. Pleasant, warm dessert beer.

 1,317 characters

Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.99/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a darkish red-brown colour, with a foamy but large-bubbled head of yellowish white foam, that only really sits around the edges of the glass. Foams up a little when it's swirled. Nice colour, but it looks a bit flat.

Nose is a little roasted, but with a leavened slightly sweet character like a ketchup covered corndog. Slight smokiness to it, in a very subtle way. Altogether, it's very good - all the characters actually meld together very pleasantly.

Taste is rather robust - with a very sweet and teeth-stripping toffee character on the fore, with a sharper light alcoholic bitterness coming through later. Quite pleasant, and again, it balances the characters against one another quite nicely.

Yeah - overall, surprisingly pleasant. I find it a tiny bit cloying after a while - and I'd prefer sipping it to drinking an entire bottle on my own, but it's very tasty.

 878 characters

Photo of cbmatt
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I have had this awhile ago, but found a bottle at the store so i picked it up since i had not had it for some time. It was in a bottle and poured a dark brown with a tan/ amber head. smelled sweet with strong alcohol notes. strong taste infused with notes of sweet notes. being as it is summer, it is great, but much harder to drink with the heat. is a fantastic winter beer, although is available year round. all and all fantastic

 431 characters

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Appearance -- Pours a deep, ruddy brown, not at all cloudy, with two fingers of light beige head that quickly dissipates into a thin layer.

Smell -- Booze, dates and raisins, caramel, molasses, spicy hops.

Taste -- Caramel, molasses, melted butter, raisins, spicy hops toward the finish.

Mouthfeel -- Slick, chewy, and moderate "creamy" carbonation. The hop spiciness present in the finish hides the abv well.

Drinkability -- Not a bad brew. Wouldn't turn one down, but wouldn't seek it out again. Your mileage may vary.

 524 characters

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

Single bottle (no date) poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Dark orange-brown ale (but ruby red when held up to the light) with a persistent light tan head. Plenty of carbonation coming up through the beer when held up to the light. Good lacing - islands and strands.

Smell: Caramel malt sweetness. Maybe a hint of fruit in there. Smell was strongest for me first upon pouring and while cold.

Taste: Fruit and caramel flavors up front and a mild bitter finish. The fruit flavors are grape-like and bitter finish is hard to nail down due to the sweet malt flavor that also shows up towards the end. Quite tasty and fairly balanced for the malt and sweet heavy beer it is. I thought the alcohol was really only noticeable when the beer was first poured and cold, as later on I didn't notice it. As it warmed up though, it became a bit noticeable again. Definitely warming towards the end of the glass.

Mouthfeel: Just enough carbonation on the tongue, and has a thickness which is smooth and sticky at the same time.

Drinkability: Due to the higher ABV, this is a once an evening beer for me, but it is very enjoyable for sipping and savoring, and it really grew on me more and more as I drank it down. It has an unique taste for something so malty and sweet, and is well worth having from time to time.

 1,313 characters

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

330 ml bottle, no freshness date. Pours a dark--almost black--amber with a deep red tint. Head is generous and frothy, off white, retention is excellent.

Nose is subdued (my fault, a bit too cold) but caramel and a smokey note comes forth.

Taste is rich and sweet. Nice strong but smooth mats, the high alcohol is barely evident in the taste. Very rich in the mouth, goes down like silk. Despite the corny labeling this is a beautiful and sophisticated brew. Pleasant surprise.

 479 characters

Photo of papaloukas
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Immediately noticed a strong butterscotch nose on this one. Not as dark as other Scotch Ales but still a beautiful, amber/copper color. Nice head of tanish foam. Moderate lacing on the glass.

A very full bodied beer. Thick but not too thick. Definitely not watery or light. Pretty sweet but spicy too. I like the amount of alcohol.

This is one of my favorite beers.

 369 characters

Photo of Cylinsier
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Pours a deep copper brown, clear, with small head. Retains as minimal lacing.

Smells of rich malts, spiced, and a bit boozy.

Tastes rich, dark sugar malts, mild scotch notes, buttery.

The feel is moderate with small but sharp carbonation throughout.

Delicious, very easy to like. Goes down easy. The alcohol is pronounced but in a good way. I would love to have more of this.

 392 characters

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

Been a long time since I've visited this beer, but first time puting it to a review.

A solid amber pour with a thin layer of white head that receded to a ring. Some sticking to the glass. What one would expect.

Malty bread and fruitcake aroma. Caramel covered apple, and a hint of woody peat.

A nice balance of the malt and rye bread. There is more caramel covered apple than I would expect, but it is pleasant. Finishes with some of that slight tartness to subdue the sweetness. Caramel, peat/earthy tones come out much better as it warms a bit.

Medium bodied and a good stickiness to it, but not overdone. A real pleasant brew and drinkable. Very little abv present.

A good version of the style, about how I remember it as the first Scotch ale I had a chance to try way back when.

 788 characters

Photo of Zebus0
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Haven't done this for awhile! Drank this beer quite a bit but never reviewed it. Down to business:

A: Pretty good. I like the nice copper color it pours, head isn't anything to write home about, but it was from a bottle.

S: Aroma on this is very inviting. Hints of caramel and malt.

T: Tastes great. Not too sharp, but it does pack a kick if you're not used to more bitter beers. Lives up to it's name with the 8.5% alc level. Bit of a tea-like aftertaste to it. Pretty good.

M- Like any other scot ale I would reckon. Nice carbonation to it, fairly smooth but with a tad of texture to it. Nice mix I think.

D- Exceptional. Really refreshing, and one of my favorite imports. You don't see a lot of Wee Heavys around here. And other than the Wine Center in Springfield and a couple bars you can't get it anywhere else. Tad on the expensive side, but every once in awhile it's a real treat to drink.

 902 characters

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

A- Super dark. More dark that I expected. Its a deep, clear red. The color has hints of brown and purple. The head that is coaxed out is not massive not does it stick around long but it is very dense and leaves nice lacing.

S- Big nose. This is something that I feel a lot of beers lack. I like to be able to smell the beer as it sits in the glass, before I raise it to my nose. This is one that does that. Upon closer investigation, the aroma holds loads of raisin. Its nearly like a box of raisins. There is lots of fruity yeast stuff going on that is similar to dubels. Lots of spicy alcohol and some buttery maltiness.

T- Rich and sweet. Very good. Lots more raisin, plum, a touch of butteriness towards the end as well as plenty of alcohol.

M- Low carbonation but it is still quite prickly. The body is thick and smooth. The feel is slick and buttery. Decent amount of alcohol warmth.

D- This is one huge beer but I could have another one. The alcohol makes no attempt to hide but this beer goes down easy for what it is.

 1,031 characters

Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
Beer rating: 4.08 out of 5 with 2,209 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.