Skull Splitter Ale | Rogue Ales

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Skull Splitter AleSkull Splitter Ale
Very Good
52 Ratings
Skull Splitter AleSkull Splitter Ale

Brewed by:
Rogue Ales
Oregon, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Jason on 07-30-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 52 |  Reviews: 50
Photo of rudy0908
5/5  rDev +29.2%

Photo of rarbring
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A hazy amber brew, an off-white head, little lacing, good curtains.

Hay, grass, nettles, and sour milk.

Tasting of toffee, brown bread, porridge and then grape-fruit peel.

Little carbonation, coarse texture, medium body, a very dry finish.

Balanced, almost APA.

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Photo of Tyrawlings
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of ffejherb
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Earth Bread+Brew in Philadelphia, PA on 11/15/08. Also known as "Brutal Black Bitter".

A - Very deep, burnt amber with burgundy and ruby highlights and almost one finger of beige head that receded to a thin ring of retention and left some decent lacing behind.

S - Dark roasted malt up front with hints of chocolate and mild coffee. There is also a burnt caramel malt presence. Hops are earthy and citrusy overall.

T - Opens with quite a bit of sweet burnt caramel and dark roasted malt with some coffee and chocolate notes in the back, then segues into a hop bonanza with an earthy character. Finishes with a blast of bitter citrus hops.

M - Medium body with smooth but syrupy texture and fairly prickly carbonation. Finish is moderately bitter and on the dry side.

D - I think I like this even better than the standard Brutal Bitter. The dark malts give this a thicker body and offer more balance to the aggressive hop character of this brew.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clouded amber with a crème head. The flavor is interesting with a bitter sweet thing. It's pungent with citrus and a bit of booze. A fair amount of acid is also present. Feel is slick on liquid and the carbonation is smooth enough. This is nice to drink, though a bit edgy. At first I was thinking that maybe this could be a barley wine of sorts since there was no info listed about its style. But now I see that it is a strong ale and that makes sense.

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Photo of charlzm
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Consumed 06/19/08 during Lucky Baldwin's IPA fest. Called "Rogue Black Brutal Bitter Anniversary" at that time.

This beer is, as advertised by the name, black. I couldn't see any highlights at all. A thin, light tan head was present when the beer was presented to me in a pint glass. This quickly became a skin of foam that remained throughout.

No aroma at first, but when the beer warms, a dark roasted chocolate malt aroma appears.

This brew is a little thin in the mouth.

The first flavor is a smoky malt character, more in line with a stout or porter than a DIPA. Smooth. However, there is a significant bitter aftertaste. A metallic note is present at first, but as the beer warmed, it disappeared.

Sort of splits the difference between a stout and an IPA. Interesting, but Stone XI is still tops in this emerging style.

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Photo of dfillius
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Listed as Rogue Black Brutal Bitter at Blind Tiger Ale House in NYC. Served in a pint glass.
A: 3/4 finger of off-white head. Almost opaque dark brown with red around the edges. Chill haze, and glass frosted up, (too cold).
Described by bartender as one-time only Brutal Bitter with dark roasted malt.
S: Hard to read due to cold. Hoppy whiff with a tinge of alcohol. Almost all hops, and not much else.
T: Bracingly bitter - grapefruit?, pine?, juniper? Lots of Cascade hops I think. Much better as it warms and malt balance flows in. Cocoa notes now and then.
M: Not puckering, the hops lays on the back center of my tongue. Nice sweet note now that it has warmed. Mmmm!
D: Only one dimension of hoppiness: not inviting, more like devastating. I typically like very hoppy beers and I did not want a second pint.

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Photo of TheBCrew
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had a 20oz pint at The Blue Tusk in downtown Syracuse. Pours a deep black with 2 fingers of tan head that dissipates leaving moderate lacing. Roasted aroma with a hint of hop pine. Taste is basically like the Brutal Bitter with a good amount of chocolate malt added. Bitter, very dry and roasty flavor. Medium to heavy bodied with the dry finish lends to good drinkability.

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Photo of SurlyDuff
3.4/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this one at the Rogue PublicHouse in the Portland airport. THick soapy frothy beige head with tough lacinhg. Dark roasty chocolate and malty goodness.
Bitter dry hop presense hits the tough and cuts through the super dark malt. Short bitter finish and a really good drinker.

Tastes almost like a blend of two beers, then a unique brew. It's like they mixed their brutal bitter with a porter. Good, not great

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Photo of pershan
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD.

The beer poured a dark, brackish-brown with a thick, rocky, tan head into a chalice. I caught a slight whiff of hops before my first taste. Not much hop flavor or malt sweetness, but lots of hop bitterness with alcoholic esters. A decent strong ale, but could have been better balanced, with more hop aroma and flavor. Nice carbonation and lacing. Not a bad beer, but not outstanding either.

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Photo of cichief
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on draft at the Frisco Grille, Columbia, MD. Apparently the brewery re-released this beer.

A- Rather dark, but somewhat hazy brown, with a decent tan head.

S- Some chocolate notes, subtle hops spice in the background.

T- Not too sweet, but malty, somewhat chocolaty, the hops are present, but muted.

M- Medium body, well carbonated, no noted alcohol burn.

D- At 9.2% ABV I wouldn't have too many, but they go down pretty easily.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.38/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mahogany red for color, off white head. Some caramel on nose. Deep roasted caramel for flavor and alcohol is noticeable. Cask woody notes and some burnt cherries stand out along with some breadnotes. Decent beer but is dominated mostly by a huge caramel backbone and alcohol. Good alcohol spiciness and drinkability.

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Photo of genog
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Mad Mex.

Pours a dark brown color with a really thick and creamy head that sits on top for a good while, maybe it was overly carbonated. Lacing clings to the side at first then begins to fade away. Smell is of dark colored malt with some hops present as well, but a lot of good spices are present too. Taste is a mashup of different experiences with muted hops, a strong malt, and some chocolate or coffee notes. Smooth carbonation made this one nice to sip on.

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Photo of John_M
3.25/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Have to say I was not overly impressed with this beer. The beer is very dry, with not much malt sweetness present. Frankly, it could have used some to balance on the dark roasty flavor and hoppiness. The beer is not overtly hopped, but comes across that way because of it's dry flavor profile and roastiness. Color is pretty dark, and it comes across as somewhat hoppier version of a german dunkel. Not a bad beer, but nothing special. Considering the abv., I recommend getting something else given a choice.

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Photo of matthewfuchs
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in a pint glass. Mahogany in color. Heavy mat flavor with a bitter hop bite at the end. I couldn't get a smell due to someone smoking a cigar right next to me, thanks a lot. Medium heavy body. Overall an ok choice to try something a little different.

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Photo of younger35
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Apparently they re-released this bad boy because I sucked one down last night. Drank out of a pint glass. I absolutely love Brutal Bitter so I couldn't wait to try.

Appearance- A very dark chocolatey brownish/black all around. Has a very creamy off-white head that left fantasic sticky, creamy lacing. Almost looked like a root beer float with vanilla icecream floating on top.
Smell- Had a surprisingly floral, almost piney hop smell that you don't expect from a beer that's this dark. Light chocolate and coffee malts, but very feint.
Taste- Pretty weird but very good. A nice piney citrus hop blast that was not overpowering. Unexpected roasted malt flavors sneek in behind the hops. Not something you normally expect. Very smooth.
Mouthfeel- Has a subtle alcohol warming that goes nicely with the mild carbonation. A very smooth almost thin, creamy feel.
Drinkability- This is a very very drinkable beer that I'm very excited to have tried. It's one of the more unique beers I've had because of some unexpected flavor combinations. Highly recommended.

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

Clear, very dark brown beer with chestnut highlights. Dense, tan head with good retention and lacing. Caramel malt aroma with some toffee notes, along with some citrus. Moderate bitterness with sweet caramel malt and grapefruit. Hops become sharper in the finish and the bitterness lingers. Mild alcohol warmth. Modium bodied with moderately low carbonation. Creamy, malty texture. A nice combination of rich malt character and American hops.

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Photo of granger10
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Comes in a snifter with a murky brown color, blackish in the middle and auburn on the sides but mostly brown. Head was faint and soon nothing at all.

On the aroma all I could get was this fruity pine resins. As it warmed a bit of roast but that's it. It was a good aroma but quite sharp on the hops.

Taste was more complex but also quite intriguing. Very roasted up front with stout characteristics. Some grain and toffee compliment it but soon the roasted character gets dominated by the hops. Tons of hops. Quite brutal as well. A bit of toffee sticks around but the piney hops are in full force. At first the hops lend a citrus and juicy character. But in the finish its pure biting bitterness. Nothing offsets it. I'm left with a pine needle taste in my mouth.

Mouthfeel is moderate. The flavors don't really meld and there seems to be no true class to this beer. Yet the intensity is enjoyable and what I'd expect from a Rogue specialty beer.

As for drinkability, this snifter too awhile and I was good after that. Enjoyable but this beer kicked my ass. I could see how people could love it or hate it. I'm inbetween.

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Photo of kkipple
3.79/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Had this on-tap at CW's Tap Room in Columbia, SC. Thanks to whoever got a hold of this, in defiance of our state's antiquated beer ABV limit of 6%!

Skull Splitter was a very hard beer for me to categorize, in fact I looked it up on BA upon arriving home as I didn't know what I'd just drunk. It's a bit like a hoppy stout, or a hopped-up ESB... I don't really know.

Pour was a deep dark brown that came with a 2cm head that lasted the duration of the beer, about 45 minutes. Nothing unusual, really.

I smelled chocolate, lots of malt, those crazy Rogue hops, and a somewhat smoky nuttiness. Couldn't really put it in the same category as anything previously tried.

This is an intriguing beer... it's a nutty, very hoppy, dark ale. Has somewhat of a walnut flavor. Lots of dark malts and hops. It's creamy and leaves a dry bitter aftertaste. Somewhat similar to Rogue's own "Mogul Madness" in fact...

Bottom line, this was tasty, if a bit weird. I plan on enjoying it at CW's while we have it, however. Try if you get the chance as it likely won't be around long.

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Photo of GreenWBush
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice find! Served on-tap at Rich O's public house in New Albany, Indiana.

This comes to me in a very-appropriate for driving 10oz. goblet. The beer itself is russet with ruby glints, dark and imposing. 1/2" head that goes down to nil but leaves a good amount of remaining lace.

Nose is uber-clean, Pac-man yeast gobbled beefy maltiness. The waiter described as a scotch definitely seems much more a Strong ale, but some of those characteristics are here.

Taste reminds me of a hugely-hopped scotch ale, a hoppy English barleywine, and an American IIPA all at once.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are dangerous...silky smooth, hoppy, balanced, goblet wasn't enough. But it had to be. Maybe i'll see this again.

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Photo of Crosling
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from April 2004. Pours dark brown with a yellowish and tannish color head. Nice lace left behind. Nice looking beer.

Memorable aroma on this one. Very fruity and very juicy and very hoppy with mainly grapes and tangerines.

This was delightful. Flavors of spruce, pine, sap and bark with other citrus notes available as well.

This was a very nice beer.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.6/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on draft at Barley's in Boone, NC. The menu said JL Stock #11 Skullsplitter but I assume I had #10.

Poured an opaque, milk chocolate brown color with a creamy, tan head. Beautiful looking. Reminiscent of Chocolate Milk or hot chocolate.

Aroma is strictly hops. This beer was a bit hard to rate and judge. Looked like a stout or porter, smelled like a DIPA. Very interesting indeed. Citrusy hops with grapefruit. Did not have any chocolate or coffee aromas. More on that later.

Taste was really unbelievable. A very smooth beer. Tons and tons of hops but not much bitterness at all. Very balanced indeed. I did taste some coffee and chocolate alhtough I didnt smell any. Bsically a DIPA with chocoalte malts.

Great mouthfeel. So creamy. Bitterness is kept in check and the malts make it completely balance. There was a bit of astringency and metallic off flavors, but otherwise, a masterpiece. I really enjoyed this tasty treat. I hope to try it again in the very near future. Great job Rogue!

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Photo of TheEclecticGent
2.31/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Every 15th of each month my favorite watering hole has a “Rogue 15th” day, where they offer a special Rogue beer every month. This time it was “Skullsplitter”.

A: This is a thick little high gravity beer. It pours into a small pint “sampler” glass a very dark brown with a minimal tan head that has little lacing.

S: Yikes, I can smell the hops from a good distance away.

T: This is not an easy beer to drink. It’s HOPPY. The stout flavor comes through but the hops slam against my taste buds. This is a sipping beer. After a while the hops seem to smooth out and balance with the stout toasty flavor (or did my taste buds die from the hops?)!

M: Mildly carbonated and fairly heavy on the tongue.

D: Like I said above, not an easy beer to drink, more of what I'd call a sipping beer. Cannot say I drink this beer everyday. I’d say rarely. However, I’m very honored to try this beer.

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Photo of chOAKbarrell
3.28/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I got to try this one on tap at Max's in Baltimore last night. A somewhat interesting offering. It was either listed wrongly on the beer list, or hadnt been listed at all yet. I saw the tap handle, and in the midst of my indecision I decided to just go with the Rogue.

I really had no idea what kind of beer this was supposed to be. I found it hoppy, but not on an IPA level. But then again, it seems most Rogue beers have the overly hoppy quality to them. If it is supposed to be a porter, then I dont think it was a very good interpretation of the style.

John's Locker Stock was pretty smooth and drinkable, but I dont have a lot of interest anymore in beers where the most noticeable characteristic is the hoppiness, so consequently I found this pretty forgettable.

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Photo of DaggerEyes
3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

had a 10 oz pour of this on tap at Barcade in Brooklyn NY

Poured Black as night with little to no head or lacing apparent.
The nose was faint but colored with noticable matly scents.

Extremely hoppy on the tounge. Skull Splitter starts really easy on the entrance and is a bitter kick to the skull on the finish.

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Skull Splitter Ale from Rogue Ales
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 52 ratings