Skull Splitter | Orkney Brewery

999 Reviews
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 Reviews
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Reviews: 999 | Ratings: 2,171
Photo of hero27
3.67/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle

Dark bronze color. Aroma is caramel malts, some dark fruits, and of course some alcohol mixed in. Tastes are molasses, plums, raisins, malt..all lead to a sickly sweet array of flavors. Complex, but some hops to balance it out wouldn't kill anything. Full mouthfeel. The guy on the label is starting to creep me out, so I'll wrap this up.
A pretty decent Scottish ale, but overall forgettable.

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Photo of redwolf1
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-For appearance, the Skullsplitter poured a nice rich auburn, with a lackluster head that disappeared after a few seconds.
S-A very mild citrusy smell, reminiscent of courants with a strong wiff of alcohol.
T&M-Although not detected at first, there will be a strong alcoholic warmth about halfway through drinking. Smooth malt feel gets even smoother as time passes with the malt becoming more pronounced.
D-At 8.5%, the beer does have a kick to it. So, I wouldn't expect people to drink many of these in one sitting. It is very nice sipping beer, much like any Scotch Ale should be. Very good in my opinion; I would definitely buy this one again.

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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've seen this beer pop up on the review page a couple of times, so I thought I'd give it a try. And with a name like Skullsplitter, it was bound to have some chops.

A. Tarnished pine, almost flat head, virtually no post pour fireworks. Tons of yeast floating around the bottom of the glass.

S. Dank, malty chocolate.

T. Medicinal cherry flavor, with hints of smoked meat.

M&D. Beer comes across as being a little flat. At 8.5 ABV, it goes down pretty easily.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another strong and malty beer. Has a lot of Dopplebock characteristics with it. Aromas of molassas and malt. Flavors of the same with deep figs, dates, and raison flavors. Perhapse some chocolate and smoke flavor added. Light bittering from roasted grains. Though good flavors, it has a burned flavor to me that is a bit harsh and unpleasant. The alcohols remain sweet and tame for an 8.5%er. Alcohols become a bit sherry-like and didn't completely agree with style. Stays creamy and heavy. A good winter warmer.

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Photo of tgbljb
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured a crystal clear deep ruby color with modearte tannish head. Smell is magnificient with caramel, molasses, dark ripe fruit present. Almost a wine-like smell. Taste is big time malt with mich sweetness. Caramel, molasses, dark cherries abound. Finishes with a bit of dryness to balance out the sweetness. It also will ot let you forget that there is alcohol present. This is a rich lush brew that is very drinkable for 8.5% alcohol. Also has a nifty label.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solod dark tea color with ruby highlites. A very small head falls a patchy coat over top. Nose is pretty sweet raisiny with a nice smoky background. Nice ballance, but with a definate fruity sweetness in there. Flavor is definately smokey. The sweetness from the nose is definately subdued. I like the flavor a lot. Feel is thick with a moderate carbonation. Very drinkable brew. No real hint of the 8.5%. I enjoy it a lot.

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Photo of joedon
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thick, billowy head of tan foam. Beautiful dark bronze, almost ruby color.

Malty, bread aroma really jumps out from this beer.The taste is equally intense. First notes are smoky peat followed by malt, toffee and caramel. Finish comes with a big alcohol nose and a bit of burnt sugar-raisin taste. Almost no hop taste which is expected for a wee heavy.

Very much a slow sipping winter beer. The smoky peat may be a little bit of an acquired taste.

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Photo of ggroller
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I love the red foil seal. It's like opening a Christmas present.

Dark amber colored beer, bordering on opaque.

Very thin head but very thick and sticky.

Malt, caramel, and raisons in the nose.

Malty sweet, raisons, peat, bandaids, smokey wood in the taste. This is a very complex beer.

Not very drinkable as it is a bit too sweet.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer sits a ruby, deep amber color in my glass. It is topped by a frothy, thinnish pale brown head. The aroma is nice and malty with notes of toffee, caramel, a rich concentrated malt note and a bit of cherry. The beer is sweet throughout, though in no way sticky, and it has a medium body to it that is light enough to not be too chewy. This has nice notes of chewy toffee, some notes of molasses, a bit of chocolate and dark malt in the finish. This beer has a nice richness to it, but is still somewhat easily drinkable. This is pretty tasty, purely a complex malty beer, that is nice to slowly sip on.

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Photo of battlekow
3.15/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Skullsplitter is a deep caramel with a surprisingly white head and pretty good lacing.

Smells sweetly malty, verging on a tropical fruitiness. Maybe a hint of cinnamon? Almost smells like a pumpkin beer.

Taste has sweet caramel malts, a musty smokiness with an accompanying unpleasant astringency, and a lot of iron/blood flavor in the finish. Not agreeing with me at all.

This reminds me more of a strong pumpkin beer or an English Brown Ale than a Wee Heavy. That said, this is actually FROM Scotland, so maybe this is what a Scotch Ale is supposed to be like. All I know is, there isn't a whole lot in common between American Scotch Ales like Robert the Bruce, Dirty Bastard, or Warped Speed and Skullsplitter. It isn't chocolatey or hoppy in the least, and I consequently don't like it as much as the previously mentioned American interpretations.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours out a dark brownish red color with a tall light tan head that leaves a light coating of lace on the glass. Rich smoky and fruity flavor with a good amount of chocolate malt. The sweetness seems well balanced by the smoke and earthiness. More smoky earthy flavors start this off before sweet fruit notes come through. Light chocolate and caramel malt mix in. The alcohol seems pretty much hidden under all the malty layers. Sweet smoky finish with a touch of fruit. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. A bit thinner than it should be for such a full flavor though. Extremely drinkable stuff that I could drink plenty of in a sitting. A great all around brew.

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Photo of chOAKbarrell
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I can't say I know all that much about scotch ales, seeing as I've tried relatively few of them, but I was certainly fond of this one.

This beer is on the darker side, nicely attractive to look at. The alcohol is very present in the scent. I dont know if this is a good thing or not. It didnt bother me, but I guess that issue is just a matter of preference.

The taste - wow. There is a lot going on in this beer. It is rather hard to believe that this beer is only 8.5%. It seems a good bit stronger. I noticed too that it has that slightly-syrupy quality to it much like a barleywine. Very complex.

I dont think your average drinker could handle too many of these in a single session, but it is definitely worth your $$$ to pick up a six pack or
4 pack or however these are sold (I got mine at a bar - $4).

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Photo of czechsaaz
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lots of darker crystal malt aroma. Very fruity fermentation character. Mostly extremely ripe or dried fruit.

Deep amber and clear. Very little head.

Hmmm, malty and sweet, almost barley-wine like at first. There's also a subtle smokeyness that doesn't seem peaty. More like a fermentation character. It's there, but it's subtle. Some melanoidin like malt flavor too. Hops are very restrained but there's enough there to keep this from being too sweet but malt is the dominant flavor.

Pretty full bodied, light but nice carbonation.

Kind of like an amped up MacEwans

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Photo of unklesyd
2.13/5  rDev -47.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Damn. Tasted like two things: my own lame attempt at a Scotch ale that I thought was infected because it tasted like Band-Aid brand adhesive plastic barrier, and Rogue's Chipotle Ale, the only beer I've ever taken back to the bar to complain about.

Way too much peat smoke. Enough to make me wonder: did they overload on purpose, or was this, like mine, infected. Because I could taste a very faint undertone of trad. Scotch sweeties, I have to think the prior is likely. Skull splitting? Indeed, because it tastes like licking a smoke-dried sock.


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Photo of iron78
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

amber with nice head that faded quickly to nice lace that lingered. slight malt aroma, thought was fairly mild.
but the taste, great. malt and molasses balanced with a bit of alcohol. maybe a touch of dried fruit on the finish.
mouth coating, but again the alcohol balances the mouth feel.
very enjoyable on a cool fall evening.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice, firey reddish/brown hue to it. Decent enough carbonation level but no head. Average aroma-faint coppery or metallic smell. Big malt flavor. Smoky with a somewhat perfumey sweetness. No bitterness is perceived. Almost a passing astringency in the finish. Good body. Very nice wee heavy that can be dangerously drinkable. Well worth enjoying.

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Photo of yekeraps
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got in a bottle and just popped it open. Very amber in color with hardly any head whatsoever. I tried to pour a head but nothing. It dissipated after the first couple sips. The aroma doesn't really do the taste justice. Smells good but the taste is out of this world. Very smokey and well balanced with slight hops. It's almost like drinking a campfire. There is lots of body to chew on. Carbonation is good. Overall a very fine beer.

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Photo of numenor1
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep auburn with an inch head that quickly dissipates. Smell is fantastic, smells like a nice oaked chardonnay blended with caramel malt. There's a slight hint of alcohol. Tremendous malt malt flavor assaults the palate from the start. Deep roasted, caramel, slightly smoky. Some nice wine notes. Hops are there to balance but little more, it dries out a bit and finishes quite bitter(otherwise it'd be terribly cloying), grainy, and lingering. Very very tasty. Body is medium full and palate coating with medium carbonation. Alcohol is perceived mainly in warmness. I'm drinking this too quickly.

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

I have to say, this is one of my favorites to date. I think it is really underrated.

Pours a lovely dark purplish red color with a small head that dissipates quickly to light lace.

Aroma is a bit spicy and sweet, smells of dark fruits and maybe a bit of spice cake.

A pretty complex variety of tastes here, dark fruits like dates and plums and also some spiciness present, maybe chicory or a bit of nutmeg. It's pretty smokey and also tastes of molasses, especially as it warms. A great combination of flavors.

Mouth feel is pretty thick, but not overly so. The carbonation cuts this nicely so it's not too syrupy as the aroma would almost lead you to believe.

Overall a very drinkable brew. I was really impressed. It echoes autumn to me and I really enjoyed it. I am considering buying an entire case just to cellar it.

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Photo of cubedbee
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep reddish purple brown with a thin finger of fizzy white head that quickly subsisides to the thinnest of rings. Nose is a big rich roasted caramel with a slight note of alcohol and maybe the slightest hops note. Taste is a wonderful smokey oak-like flavor with dashes of caramel and roasted malt. Spicey hop finish and just the slightest note of alcohol. Mouthfeel is thick, smooth, and creamy. This is an excellently flavorful strong ale, great for sipping.

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Photo of hefevice
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted this one under completely the wrong circumstances. Had spent 2 hours walking around Genoa (Italy) on a sunny Sunday afternoon trying to re-adjust my body clock after nearly 24 hours of travel from Australia. About 1.5 hours in I noticed that I was a bit thirsty and perhaps should stop to re-hydrate. Problem is Genoa is not the most lively place in the world on a Sunday afternoon, and it took me another 30 minutes to find somewhere, by which time I was very hot and bothered. I ended up stumbling upon (and into), of all things a Scottish themed bar. After a few false starts (my Italian is non-existant) I managed to get a menu out of the waitress, and lo and behold at the top of the menu was the legendary Skullsplitter. I was not going to miss this opportunity so I ordered one immediately.

Sadly, it arrived with a Tennents Lager glass, which looked like it had spent most of its life in a dishwasher. Also, the label indicated it was right on its use by date. This aside, poured deep garnet with a fairly good light brown tightly packed head. Aroma was butterscotch, caramel and just the faintest whiff of hops. These aromas also came out in the flavour with a slightly bitter finish preventing them from being cloying. The 8.5% ABV was only very subtly noticable. Mouth was reasonably soft and creamy, carbonation was about right. This is a definitely a beer for a cold winters night, not to cool down after a long overheated march. Note to self, taste it again in the right circumstances.

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Photo of mynie
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark ruby. Translucent. Nice pinkie-finger head that sticks around for days.

Zippy smell of Belgian fruit--raisins and plums--along with alcohol and hints of chocolate. I initially gave this a 3.5 but it gained complexity as it warmed up.

Tastes like a combination of a smoke ale with big meaty oak and the alcohol and fruit zip of a dubble. Strange, to say the least. Complex and flavorful, but not that great a combination.

I don't know what to make of this here beer. It's worth a try, I guess, but I'm really underwhelmed.

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Photo of Gaisgeil
3.77/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A well balanced and smooth malty scotch ale.

Pours a hazy medium brown in color with little head to speak of. Nose is quite nice, golden raisins, burnt sugars, very malty. Taste is a bit subdued and understated, similar to what is in the nose, but the flavors meld almost seamlessly making it a bit difficult to seperate them from one another. Mouthfeel is a bit thin. Overall I'd say there are much better scotch ales but this is a solid classic offering.

SlĂ inte!

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer pours a deep auburn brown with a thin creamy light tan head and a gentle carbonation.

S-The aroma of caramel and toasted malts with some fresh grain and light burnt sugar notes.

T- A rich slightly sweet toasted malt flavor if complex with a finish of faint hop bitterness that hangs on the tongue. Very smooth and no alcohol flavor.

M- This has a medium mouthfeel with a light fizziness to it. No astringency or alcohol warmth.

D-This beer lives up to its name. It has a great malt base but no notes of alcohol. It is complex but not overpowering with the malt and a nice hop finish that is faint but helps to support the malt.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.38/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - A dark clear purplish red. Small half finger head that leaves a wee scattered ring of lace.

Smell - Syrupy sweet molassess malt, a bit of dates and diacetyl underneath. It is sugary sweet smelling to the point of being almost gross (but not quite). I just hope the taste isn't this sweet.

Taste - Not nearly as sweet as the odor lead me to believe, but sweet still.. My first thoughts are of smoke. A slightly sweet thick roasted barley malt taste dominates, chicory and dates stand out in my mind. It is extremely bitter, but not a familiar hops bitterness, not quite a coffee bitterness either - I can't pin point it. I think the smokey character meshes with a coffee bitterness to skew my view. A very slight metallic note is underneath, but with this bitter of a flavor, a faint metal taste actually helps a little. Alcohol is detectable, but not strongly.

Mouthfeel - There are two prominent aspects to the mouthfeel - one I like, one I hate. It is a thick viscous brew, I like that. Its bitter aftertaste leaves a gummy feel in my mouth, as you guessed, I don't like that at all. This gummy feeling only gets worse and turns into a powerful parching.

Drinkability - After a big glass of water I could definitely drink another, its taste is interesting and has a lot of character that makes it a brew worth examining. It is very rare that I say this about a strong and sweet beer, but 11.2 oz just isn't enough to assess it fully. Since It is so powerfully drying, I am docking it. All and all a great beer I will want to have another time.

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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,171 ratings.
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