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Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

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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:
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Ratings: 2,209 |  Reviews: 1,008
Photo of SIRIUS2
4.06/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A careful pour yields a clear ruddy brown brew with a very nice foamy white head of 2-3 fingers in width. Head settles down but stays with the brew and leaves lacing all the way down the glass.

Aromas are of earthy malts with a touch of grassy hops. Aromas seem solid with good balance.

Sweet caramel malts were forward, fading slightly to allow something like dried cherries or similar fruitiness to come through. Hops aren't necessarily coming forward with flavor but you get the sense they are there simply because of the balance. The weight is nice too, and the carbonation is allows for an almost creaminess that all comes together well. nice.

Goes down easy and is highly enjoyable. Awesome beer!

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Photo of rapidsequence
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz single from Magnolia Foods in Lynchburg. $2.50.

Appearance: Pours cloudy with a big foamy head. Falls to a thin, patchy little head. Some nice lacing. The beer settles to a, dark orange-amber with the slightest haze.

Smell: A little wine like-- sweet grapes and alcohol. Its earthy and a little grassy. Sweet malt in there, but not too dominant.

Taste: The taste is also somewhat vinous, but the maltiness comes through more in the taste than the smell. There's some dry bitterness that's tempered by the sweetness. Finish is a thinner than I expected-- a little like tea-- dry, tannic, bitter.

Mouthfeel: A little thinner than I expected. I think the body is hurt a little by the astringency.

Drinkability: Overall a decent tasting and easy beer to drink. I've had better Scotch ales for less, but this one has something different to offer. Worth a try for sure, but I doubt I'll go back for more.

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

Poured into a thistle.

A: Deep copper, with active carbonation. A Thick and foamy cream head slowly retreats to a thin film. Leaves a fair amount of lace.

S: Very complex once it starts to warm a bit. A grassy and peaty aroma struck me first. Caramel, roasted nuts and a bit of smoke come on to augment the initial scents. A light alcohol tingle rounds things out.

T: A touch more bitter than I was expecting. A sharp pepper, black tea and roasted bitterness really gets things going. Sweetness shows up with a bittersweet toffee flavor. A light smokiness, plus a hint of leather shows up late. Finishes warm, with lingering toffee, earth and smoke flavors.

M: The dry medium body feels a bit too fizzy at first, but calms down quickly as the beer breaths.

D: I'd been mulling over grabbing this for what seemed like a good year and a half. Perhaps I was waiting to acquire the right glass. No matter. The important thing is that I finally got around to buying a bottle. A consummate example of the style.

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Photo of MunchkinDrinker
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear dark amber/brown with a white foamy fizzy head. Some lacing.

S - Slight hop fruity overtone with a musty, barn like undertone. It's strange, but pleasant in small doses.

T/M - Very earthy flavor, presumably from the malts, not hops. The best I can describe the flavor is like musty sweet grass. I had a grass flavored vodka with the same sort of quality. Hops just barely cut the heavy malts. Feeling is a little thick and sticky, slightly unpleasant, but not detracting really.

D - It's a difficult beer to drink. Overall, not quite to my liking, but certainly interesting.

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Photo of cypressbob
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle, served slightly chilled, 8.5%abv

Poured into a wide bowled Duchesse de Bourgogne glass. Deep rich ruby body, glimmers of gold floating around too. Rich sticky off white head, bubbly and some solid retention.

Nose is full of rich Christmas pudding and rich alcohol soaked fruit. A touch of mustiness from the malt, touch of yeast on the nose too. Buttery caramel and lots of sweet esters

Smooth alcohol stuffed dried fruit. Sticky malty body with a touch of marzipan and amaretto. Some lasting crisp biscuit malt on the finish and a breath of alcohol.

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Photo of BillyBoysPie
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The tall, ominous red foil has been tempting me for a time in the local beer selection at the liquor store. So, I finally grabbed it.

From the bottle into a beer goblet.

Translucent, dark milk chocolate color. Pours with a quarter inch egg-white colored head. Dissipated almost instantly with just a little cloud remaining.

Smells of rich, sweet malts in the toffee ballpark. Some chocolate too. Very rich from the smell, but no alcohol burn.

Flavor. Yes, it has a lot. And it's good. To elaborate - very sweet on the start, almost burnt caramel, a bit of dark chocolate, some fruity sweetness, but indistinct and on the tail of the flavor. Not much in the way of perceptible bitterness, but has a very clean finish I'm assuming comes from the hops.

The carbonation is light, 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.

I quite like it. A nice sipper and with enough interesting flavor to be worth getting four at a time. Not to drink four at a time, mind you... unless you're quadruplets...

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Photo of OlRasputin989
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter

A: a dark, hazy red-brown color with a thick, off-white head like mousse.

S: sweet dark fruits and candy sugar

T: rich brown sugar and plum, soon reveals smokey characteristics. has a real sharp finish of plum, bourbon, and brown sugar

M: lightly carbonated, medium body brew. has a drying effect and warming finish from the alcohol.

Overall, the SkullSplitter is a manly brew. The flavors are very rich. alot more dark fruit than i expected

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Photo of BMoney575
3.41/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on 18-19-09

Pours slightly cloudy reddish brown with a viscous off-white head on the edges. The lacing is huge, and slides slowly down the glass.

Smell is a little peaty, a little of the English style hops. Clean, and not much else.

Taste is all sweet malt, with a hint of peat. The finish is quite bitter, with a little more peat. Not bad, but nothing special.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side, but suits the style.

Drinkability is decent, at least the alcohol is well masked.

Overall, a decent beer, that's about it.

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Photo of Ragingbull
3/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I found this beer to be quite close to the definition of average. There was nothing remarkable about it, but nothing to complain about either. Brown in color with really no head, but some very faint prickle. Malt nose with perhaps a hint of grain or some hops but it reads very subtly. Robust and malty attack. As robust as an average beer can be, I say. Sweet malty flavor, perhaps this sweetness takes away from that robustness. Its a little thick in the mouth like a syrup. Some of kind of dark fruit in the background of the flavor and some nut flavors swirling around as well. A little boozy, but not really. . . drink it and you'll see what I mean. It doesn't hide from its sweet maltiness for sure. Definitely not something you would knock back 3 or 4 of. Perhaps that is why it came in a 4 pack. I won't seek this out again.

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Photo of STEG
4.31/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a nice dark brown with deep red hue. Smells malty with some brown sugar and earthy smells in the back. Taste was suprisingly good malt and darkfruit up front with some tannin and black tea in back. The after taste is just on the edge of being unpleasantly bitter but it isn't. Mouthfeel is wonderfully smooth, and it is extremely drinkable which is scary considering the fact it I just saw it was 8.5. I will probably buy this again.

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

Bought as part of a make-your-own-six-pack at Total Wine in Tucson and saved it for last. Poured into my Bodum pint glass. Pours a red amber to iced tea brown, good clarity, active carbonation. A half finger of head from a very careful pour that fades to a bit of foam, decent lacing.

Wonderful malt smells, with biscuit and caramel and a strong butterscotch presence. Some light raisins, some yeast. It 'channels' or evokes certain darker beers without straying from the stye. Subtle nose, but complex; cellar temperature helped here, I think.

Sharp because of a moderate-heavy carbonation. Slightly tart apple and mild caramel up front. A light presence of dark fruit, prunes or plums, followed by a little smokiness and a tiny nip of warming alcohol. Slightly bitter finish.

Dark fruit in the flavor and a bitter finish plus a higher ABV hinder the drinkability. Wish I had six but I'd be going to bed early if I did. A better, bigger beer than I expected. Carbonation will be a little much for some, and you miss out by a lot by having this at fridge temp, I bet.

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Photo of zoso493
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into a Duvel tulip

Appearance: Pours a very deep amber color, with minimal had and lacing into my tulip

Smell: A lot of butterscotch and dark fruit. Very malty in the nose.

Taste: Sweet up front, with a caramel, malty taste and finishes with a good amount of bitter. More balanced than I would have inferred from the name "Skull Splitter."

Mouthfeel: Pretty carbonated with a medium mouthfeel. Not bad, but maybe a little bit too carbonated for my taste.

Drinkability: Considering it's 8.5% ABV, it's pretty drinkable, but I'm not sure how many of these I would down in one night.

Overall, it's a solid Scottish brew with a fair amount of complexity. I would certainly drink this again.

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

Poured from a too damn small 330ml (11.2oz) bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Single purchased at Cost Plus World Market for $2.39.

A-Pours gorgeous deep amber, almost brown with nearly a three finger cream color uniform foamy head. Modest lacing. A rugged beauty, like the Highlands, in the glass.

S-Butterscotch (caramel to Brits and Americans) and fruity malts with a slight hop profile.

T-Malty with a hint of raisins and the warming taste of alcohol. I can imagine Ted Nugent, "the taste of alcohol," liking this one.

M-Very smooth and extremely well balanced, although not as complex as some. This is a straightforward brew, the only problem being the bottle is too small.

D-Very nice for the wee heavy style. So smooth for its 8.5% ABV.

I'll be reaching for this often. Going to have to get a four pack next time I go to Cost Plus World Market. Delicious beer that went down remarkably easy.

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Photo of goblue3509
3.4/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice dark copper color with a two finger head that gives way to some decent lacing. The aroma is typical deep roasted malts, caramel, and dark fruits, raisins and plums with a hint of sweetness. The taste is similar in nature roasted malt backbone with dark fruits and caramel, however, the alcohol isn't that well hidden and 8.5 for this style isn't exceptionally high. There is also a slight sour taste. The mouthfeel is of moderate carbonation. Overall it is solid but i feel there are other beers in this class which mask the alcohol better and give a better rounding out of flavor.

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Photo of coldmeat23
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

GLASS: Tulip
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees

This pours up a wonderful copper color. Just over one-finger of loose, off-white colored foam sits on top. Lacing is spotty and fairly slipperey.

The nose is fairly mild. With effort you can find some rich maltiness and some mild notes of dark fruits. Mild yeast notes blend with some light caramel presence.

Good level of maltiness. Good yeast presence. Light notes of dark fruits and caramels. Mild hint of spiciness. Finishes with an alcohol bite, but at 8.5%abv it's not unexpected.

Medium bodied at best. A little heavy on the carbonation, which makes it fairly sharp around the edges. Lacking any real creaminess, which hurts it, IMO.

It's drinkable, but at 8.5%abv I think I'd rather search out some other Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
that I enjoy more.

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

Poured into undersized snifter that I had to repour the last small about from the bottle into it.

A: Huge honkin head of 2 fingers from 2/3 of the beer 6that seems to hang around for a while, the dark copper brown color is very clear and pure, slight bubbles rising up helps the head retention

N: After watching the head slowly disappear, it's time to nose it. It's got some alcohol and dark fruits right out front, some roasted malts, raisin, plum, and a strange cake batter like sweet malt that makes me want to stick it in the oven, but I decided to drink it instead...

T: Starts with more dark rich fruits, plum, raisin, roasted malts, sour yeast, fruity malts, dark toffee taste, what kinda beer is this again? Its like drinking a rich fruit beer with sour malts and lots of carbonation, slight yeasty taste adds a little more depth

M: Lots of carbonation, semi thick on the tongue

F: Pretty sweet, leaves a dark fruity sweetness on the tongue and strange earthy bitter tone, that same fruity and earthy quality adds a strange sweet and savory taste that just sticks out, it dries out pretty well and leaves a thirst and almost off bitter flavor.

Final thoughts: Fruity malt bomb that hides the alcohol well, buy is a little too fruity. All the fruits are dark and heavy that come from the malts and yeast only. Interesting taste but a little too fruity for me. It's definitely worth a try for everyone.

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Photo of MisterClean
4.41/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased in pDX.

A - Pours a deep mahogany with 2 fingers of orange-white head. It moderately dissipates down to 1 and like a bad bean burrito, it won't go away. Leaves very beautiful lacing with good head retention.

S - Very syrupy sweet caramel and toffee, with subtler notes of chocolate and plums. Very delightful, and hopefully not too sweet.

T - Oh my chocolaty goodness. Very milk chocolate in flavor, strong notes of toffee, and light plums. The bittering hops are hardly noticeable. There may be a slight to moderate amount of diacetyl flavor, but it just adds delight into this beer.

M - Medium to full-bodied, with good carbonation. There is a heavy malt dominance with the hops becoming more evident as the beer warms up and in the mouthfeel overall. The quaff is very sweet and almost cloying - similar to condensed milk.

D - Oh, it's very good. Looking for a nice cigar to pair with this beer as it may be overly sweet for the style. This beer would go well with low-salt cheeses, a hearty cigar, and/or a rich pepper steak.

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Photo of ADZA
3.92/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a cherry,brandy colour with decent carbonation that leaves a nice one finger head with lacing everywhere,the aroma is very sweet with hints of apricot,caramel toffee,dark plums,raisins and a sweet alcohol smell lingering in the background aswell,it has a syrupy sticky sort of mouthfeel with big tastes of dried fruits,caramel and a little bit of coffee and suprisingly enough for a Wee Heavy the alcohol is well hidden,this is definately an interesting beer with alot of nice different qualities the main one being for me so far is its the best of the style that ive tried.

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Photo of wahhmaster
3.99/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into an unbranded nonic pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a cola color with a thick foamy head. Has a reddish tint with a nice tan color. Head is creamy and thick. Looks sexy.

Smell: Definite caramel smell with some roasted notes. Could be better, but still smells pretty damn good.

Taste: Has a distinct alcoholic bite to it (shouldn't be surprised; it has an 8.5% abv). Malty and caramel-ly. Pretty much tastes like it smells.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and lightly carbonated.

Drinkability: A great brew. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Mosstrooper
4.77/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a cola color with a large brown head. The head sticks around for a while, and leaves a slightly heavy lace around the glass.

Smell: Smells very sweet- caramel malt, apricot hints, and touches of alcohol.

Taste: Begins very sweet, caramel malt flavor similar to a doppelbock. It finishes with a slight alcohol bite and a bit of a buttery flavor.

Mouthfeel: Heavy and thick, with a balanced carbonation.

Drinkability: A new favorite- this beer is very good all around and is well worth a drink. If it was more available to me, I would definitely buy it frequently.

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

Poured from an 11.2 ounce bottle into a cervoise.

Dark red/brown in color and sporting a tan head that is kept alive by good carbonation. The smell is mostly of caramel. Very rich and heavy aroma. Quite a bit of dark fruits in the taste. Raisins, figs, and caramel are all present. Only a little bit of bitterness at the end, just enough to help balance the sweetness.

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Photo of drtth
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lightly chilled and served in a nonic glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: The beer as served is a clear, nice rich dark reddish brown and gold color mix with a ¾" off-white creamy head recedes soon leaving a ring of foam and some light patches of foam on the liquid. Sipping often leaves a nice spider web of lacing.

Smell: The aroma is rich and soft with strong notes of brown sugar (or toffee) and caramel malt set off by a touch of earthy hops, and a hint of fruit.

Taste: The flavor is consistently and lightly sweet with rich caramel malt and toffee (or brown sugar), along with some balancing earthy undertones. There is some nice complexity here and more going on than I've described.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with light prickly carbonation. The finish is medium long and mostly sweet until the ending when a nice touch of earthy bitterness shows up suggesting its time for another sip.

Drinkability: This is a very drinkable beer and I already would like another. No doubt this one will be finding its way into my glass again sometime soon. I'll also revisit this review as my feeling is there's compexity here that I've missed.

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

Pours a deep-dark mahogany slight carbonation gives way to a small quarter inch constant white head.

Smells of ripe fruit, figs, earthy tones.

Taste is warm, sweet malty dark fruit. Moderate to heavy in the mouth.

This would be a good dinner beverage w/ any heavy sauced game or lamb. I hav had w/ smoked almonds, smoked anchovies and crackers, Jalapeno jelly,cream cheese on crackers and the most impressive; pan fried hot dog on a kaiser roll w/ sliced ripe avacado and a blend of mayo and honey mustard. Wow!


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

Poured from a chilled 330ml bottle.

A - Dark ruby red, almost black. Small head and little carbonation.

S - The smell is sweet and fruity, possibly raisins. Slight chocolatey malts.

T - Strong dark malts, with a fruity edge - definitely raisins, and dark fruits. Deceptively sweet, with a long tasting finish.

M - The texture is creamy, and it delivers a warming hit of alcohol. Heavy and sticky, with a slightly oily feel in the mouth.

D - Rightfully a classic Scotch Ale, in fact a classic overall in Britain. The flavour is complexly sweet and moreish; one is never enough.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a stemmed glass.

The color is a dark brown or black with a dark cherry or maroon hue when held to the light. Has a slight brownish white head.

The smell is a bit heavy with caramel and some dark fruit flavor, some raspberry flavor.

The taste is of a sweet malty flavor with some raisin flavor and a bit of a spicy, smokey flavor. A hint of caramel and some slight grape flavor.

The feel has a nice medium body and is nicely carbonated. A real nice finish.

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