Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

2,189 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,189 |  Reviews: 1,004
Photo of philipquarles
3.21/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark ruby brown with a medium off-white head. Not much lacing.

Smells of dark roasted malt primarily, along with nuts and something that's almost Play-doh like?? Interesting, to say the least.

Tastes like dark malt with a real earthy/smokey quality, as well as quite a lot of caramel and some chocolate. Really a bit unbalanced, weighing on the sweet side.

Mouthfeel is ok; thick, but in a syrupy way. Overall this isn't a bad beer, but a bit to sweet for my tastes. Probably won't be buying it again.

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Photo of champ103
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: This pours a dark amber brown color. At first a two finger beige head forms , but recedes fast. Patchy lace is left behind.
S: Tons of malty goodness. Nuts, caramel, and a hint of chocolate. Dark fruits: plums, figs, raisins. Some rum like alcohol. Incredibly complex.
T: Very sweet and malty. Caramel, nuts, and dark fruit that follows the nose. A dry wood flavor that balances out the sweetness. Again, very complex. I love it.
M/D: A full body with a light snap of carbonation at first. Carbonation gives way to a good creamy and rich body. Plenty of warm rum like alcohol. A sipping beer, but one to sip on all night.

Oh ya, this shows of what Wee Heavies have to offer. Tons of malty stuff going on that I love. The flavors and aromas really come out as this beer warms up. Not as smokey as some examples can be, more fruity. Which is a nice change of pace. Highly recommended.

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Photo of BirdFlu
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this lives up to it's reviews pretty nicely. It pours a nice dark amber with light head. Smell is a bit restrained but nice. Aroma is a bit sweet, malty, a little like brown liquor but isn't overpowering. Taste has, again, a really nice amount of sweetness without being too syrupy or artificial. It's a soft, complex sweetness with caramel, malt, maybe a bit of vanilla too. Mouth is moderate on the lighter side for a malty, sweet beer. This is one of it's highlights. Medium carbonation as well. It finished with a slight boozey warmth and delicious, dry, sweet aftertaste. Is VERY drinkable. All around great.

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Photo of umtox
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep caramel with lots of tan small bubbles a nice textured appearance in a snifter glass.

Smells of roasted malts and molasses.

Taste well balanced with a healthy dose of caramel flavored roasted malts.

Surprising light on the palate for a beer this potent. I will definitely seek this out again.

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Photo of dstc
4.8/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep rosy brown with an off-white head that falls to a minimal head.

Smells of roasted malt, caramel and chocolate.

Big malt flavor with a burnt chocolate sweetness. Also hints of raisins.

Full bodied and very smooth. Lightly carbonated.

Awesome wee heavy. Love it.

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Photo of johnd513
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark ruby red color with a thick frothy off white head that quickly disappears and leaves some decent lacing on the glass. Smell is fruits, raisins and slight alcohol. The mouthfeel is of medium body with moderate carbination. Taste is of fruit, malt and alcohol that is a little upfront. Drinkability is dangerously high. A little pricey but damn good.

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Photo of SimplySinister
2.26/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

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

S - Smokey and woody. The malts came through far too strong for me.

T - I can relate somewhat to other reviewers when they say that this brew has some of the qualities of an English Brown ale. Initialy the taste does have some of the characteristics of an English brown, but soon after other notes begin to emerge. For me, it started out a little nutty and soon developed into a sickly sweet, overly smokey, malt-coated nightmare.

M - Thick and syrupy. Terrifying.

D - Its price severely limits its drinkability, not to mention its taste. Far too thick and far too sweet for my taste buds. Atrocious.

After reading all the reviews for this one I had really high hopes for it. That was a mistake; this beer was a monumental disappointment. I like to give every beer out there a fair chance. Sometimes I will even give a beer a few dozen chances before I make my decision. As far as this beer is concerned I just don't like it. I could go on and on about certain things I dislike, but I'd rather just leave it there.

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Photo of Cresant
3.55/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured this 11.2 oz. brown bottle into a Westmalle glass. No date. The body was cola colored and clear of sediment. The meager head reduced to a filmy island.

Smell was prune sweetness. Grain. Syrup.

Taste was tangy sweet. Stewed prunes and a light metallic flavor.

Mouthfeel was medium in body and somewhat velvety.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- dark dark red with one finger of sticky beige head.

S- caramel, smoky earthy peat, and maybe some toffee

T- loads of sweet caramely malts and a peaty taste. an ideal wee heavy.

M- medium and creamy feel with a strong upfront taste with little or no aftertaste. very clean feeling.

D- this was probably the best example of this style i have ever tried. something id love to have several of. if you like this style this is a must try.

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Photo of Brad007
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark red color with a one-finger head and decent carbonation.

Aroma is strong with hints of smoked peat and a bit of caramel. Definitely seems like it has a decent malt bite.

Taste is very strong with definite flavors of smoked peat and a bit of caramel/brown sugar at the back. Rich and chewy.

Mouthfeel is smoked peat and caramel. Very thick. Beer goes down smooth.

Definitely a skull-splitter! A decent sipping beer that would go well with a cold night. Probably the best example I've had of this style.

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Photo of jwc215
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours mahogany with ruby hues and a frothy off-white head with great retention.

The smell is of caramel with earthy/woody and raisiny notes.

The taste is of caramel/toffee with earthy notes and a hint of butter. Rich maltiness is balanced by raisins and a light roast in the finish.

Creamy, smooth and full-bodied.

Dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of mshallah
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lots of malt and alcohol in the nose. Molasses, smoked peat and spicy almost rye aroma. Sweet start. Hops build by the middle and the finish is semi-sweet. A strong ale that borders on a barleywine. Very warming and tasty. Comes in a pricey 4-pack but well worth it. A special brew.

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Photo of oneeye
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you StinkyPuss.
SkullSplitter - Orkney Brewery
Product Of Scotland
First beer from Scotland
Poured into a pint glass
Pours blackcherry with a little oil slick of foam for a head. Very little lacing but cloudy and hazy with plenty of carbonation.
The smell of alcohol and licorice, raisons, and dried dark fruits.
The taste is crisp and bitter. Raisons and dried fruit. Funky cheeries with brown sugar. Black licorice with an earthy hop bite.
Mouthfeel is creamy with a slight burn of alcohol. Crisp and sour.
Drinkability is great. It seems like you should be drinking a huge bottle of this. It's a big beer no matter what size the bottle.

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Photo of wschumac
4.67/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Dark reddish brown with very little head. Head disappeared almost immediately.

S - Sweet aromas excellent maltiness
T - Caramel very sweet tasting just as it smells. A little hidden aftertaste of hops but excellent tasting.

M - smooth and creamy love it
D - very easy to drink

watch out for the ABV

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Photo of roadhouse
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Appeared a nice clear shade of reddish mahogany with a one and a half finger light tan head that leaves some very nice looking sheets of lace.

Aroma of caramel, raisins, toffee, maybe a touch of hops far in the background.

Taste is exploding with caramel maltiness. The raisiny fruitiness is also present here and blends wonderfully with the caramel flavors. After the explosion of malt there is the slightest hint of earthy hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel is nice and thick, creamy.

What can I say, this stuff is great. You would never think it's 8.5% alcohol if you didn't know. It's a nice changeup to go from hop bombs to malt bombs every once in a while.

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Photo of brantadid
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark amber color with a minimal white head. Not much lacing to speak of.

Smell sweet. Lots of fig and date aromas with hints of caramel or vanilla.

Might have been a bit cold because the flavor seemed to work from the back to the front palate. Very malty with nice dark fruit. A very faint hoppiness.

Mouthfeel is very creamy. Rather fizzy up front and is follow by a smooth creamy finish.

Very, very drinkable. Alcohol is well masked. Ranks near the top in the style for me.

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Photo of spointon
4.72/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I poured this ale from an 11.2oz brown bottle into a 6 oz sipping glass.

A= This ale poured a dark caramel brown with a thin tan head. Minimal carbonation release visible and minimal lacing.

S= I detected notes of caramel malts, treacle, ripe fruit, and unbelievably, a small note of earthy hops.

T= This ale was full of rich caramel flavors, punctuated by spice cake, mild hops, and a bit of alcohol in the finish.

MF= This was a smooth and slick mouthfeel. Medium-heavy bodied.

D= An outstanding brew, one of the best of the style that I have ever had. I enjoyed this one as dessert after a meal and I will certainly do so again...

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Photo of Weizenmensch
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First of all, this is like no other wee heavy I've ever had. I was just going to enjoy this ale quietly, musing on its merits without reviewing it, because I thought I knew what I was in for.

There are flavours in this beer I've seldom had before, and never all at once: the brewer who created this combination is truly skilled. There are elements of Kelpie Seaweed Ale, and other herbal ales I've tried, but also understated and richly satisfying christmas pudding, pepper and cinnamon flavours.

I'm not one for English nut-brown ales with these flavours normally, as they are usually too overstated. It's easy to make a brown ale with rich raisin, plum and spice notes, but very hard to have them balanced to such an extent that the overall impact isn't astringent and generally unpleasant in the mouth.

Skull Splitter works. It tastes like a seaside brewery - you can taste the bitter herbs, seaweed, sharp hops, and also the rich, flavoursome characteristics of the malts. I will remember this beer, not only for its awesome name and bottle, but for reminding me that ALL styles of beer can truly be made excellently, even the ones I personally am not so naturally attuned to.

Bravo, Norman Sinclair!

P.S. I'm giving this a straight five, but only because it's the best ale of this style I can possibly imagine. I've never had anything close to this in this style. However, I've had other excellent beers in other styles that have approached and sometimes merited a five. When it comes to the Scottish beer world, this is the leader of the pack.

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Photo of theghost3
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is mahogany with a hint of red. I poured a one finger white head. Smell is molasses and roasted malts. It tastes strongly of malt with caramel and molasses. Alcohol is very prevalent, so there is a bit of a whiskey flavor. Feel is smooth and just slightly acidic due to the higher alcohol content. This is a fairly drinkable beer but strong and somewhat heavy, so don't plant to drink more than a couple in a session.

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Photo of ibbjamin
3.32/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Paid $2.49 for an 11.2 oz bottle from BevMo in San Jose, CA. Poured into a snifter with one pour.

Aggressive pour leads to a one finger head and retains as a thin sheet on the top of the brew. Laces nice upon first glance, but the lacing quickly diminishes. Deep reddish brown color. Not much carbonation visually.

This is a hefty one in the nose and smells really tasty. Alcohol well blended with caramel and roasted malts.

Alcohol present in the taste as well along with the aforementioned caramel and roasted malts.

Nice carbonation in the mouth leading to a fizzy yet smooth finish. Full bodied, thick, smooth and a little creamy.

A good representation of this style. A bit heavy for my liking and the alcohol could have been masked better. A one and done on this one.

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Photo of morimech
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish brown with a small off-white head that quickly settles to a thin cap. A little sticky lacing is left on the glass.

I smell caramel malt with a little smoke mixed in. Surprised on how sweet it smells. Alcohol is detected but it is not prominent.

Caramel malt is the main player in the taste. The malt is complimented by a smokey peat, earthy flavor. A little alcohol warming is noted.

Has a medium to heavy body and a low carbonation. The result is a nice creamy mouthfeel that coats the mouth.

A good sipping beer on a chilly, rainy day. One a session would certainly be enough.

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Photo of Chugmonkey
1.32/5  rDev -67.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

I love the name of this beer, one of my favorite beer names ever. Smells strong, earthy, smoky, and medicinal. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. Taste is intolerable. Drinkability is impossible due to thick mouthfeel and nasty lingering medicinal syrupy aftertaste. I could not finish it. This beer made me want to quit drinking altogether. Should be named Throatsplitter. I shutter and cringe when I see it in a store.

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Photo of joeboe2001
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First, let me say that the Skullsplitter I had was probably served way too cold, and that I did not have the patience to let it warm up before I tasted it.

Appearance--dark, nearly opaque. When I held it up to the overhead lights, little shined through. Very little head, could probably have been poured without producing any.

Smell--musty, smoky smell--peat?

Taste--rich and complex, very malty. Full mouthful of flavor at first, only a mild aftertaste at the back of my mouth after. Smooth despite high alcohol content.

Drinkability--too rich to drink over and over. Went down easy, but this is a one-at-a-time brew.

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Photo of gonzo46and2
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beef brothy amber brown. Aroma is beefy too! Warms to a molasses, brown sugar, caramel, beef and barley soup. Taste is a bit dry and salty then sweet and warming. Slight bitterness is detectable but understated. This one's a heavy meal akin to shepherds pie. Great to sip.

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Photo of Lenny2884
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a mahogany, reddish brown color with an airy white head that falls to a thin covering.

Smells like sweet caramel and alcohol. Hints of nuttyness and chocolate as well. Faint hint of spicy hops round out the aroma.

Tastes very sweet and smokey. Caramel dominates my tastes buds with the smoked flavors coming into play later. Bitterness is low but apparent and it ends dry. Chocolate flavors linger around well after the brew has been swallowed. Very complex malt character.

Overall, nice scotch ale. I'm not too familiar with the style but I definately enjoyed this one. Would not session this beer bc of how sweet it is, but would be great with some dessert or after a meal. Not sure if I could drink more than one of these in one sitting. Cheers!!

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,189 ratings.
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