Name: Skull Splitter
Brewery: Orkney Brewery
Country of Origin: United Kingdom (Scotland)
City & State: Orkney, United Kingdom (Scotland)
Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
Alcohol Content (ABV): 8.5%
First Brewed: 1988
Rich tawny red in color. A juicy, almost fruity malt character with an aroma range of dried fruits – dates and figs – hints of ginger, cinnamon, and a veil of vanilla. Its rich, fruity, winelike complexity on the palate include fresh citrus and died fruits and exotic spices.
I wrote this beer earlier this week, and have just been waiting to drink it. The first time I had this beer, it was great. The last time was at a beer class at Total Wine & More, and it was too hot and wasn’t as good as I remember. Hopefully taking the time to review the beer here, I will get more of the elements I remember from the first time I enjoyed this. Pretty wicked name, too. Who wants to drink a skull splitter? Plus, the Viking on the bottle is creepy. Oh well, as long as he makes good beer! Let’s drink.
In the Glass: It looks almost like an amber ale in the glass. It is dark brown, with a light white head. There is a nice lace on this, though. The tasting notes used the word “winelike”, and it does have a nice thickness to it as I swirl it around in the glass. Oh, and can someone explain to me why the bottle is only 11.2 ounces? I want a full 12 ounces for $3.99!
Nose: There is a lot of sweet malty goodness on the nose. We are drinking this WAY too cold, but you can still smell the sweetness all the way around the nose. I am not smelling any hops here… just a blanket of malty goodness!
Flavor: (I am going to see what the bottle says so the beer can heat up a little before I drink it.) After writing what the bottle says, the head is still there. Not as thick as before, but still covers the entire top of the glass. That is impressive. Remember those malts that I talked about earlier? Imagine those same malts coating the inside of your palate leaving you with an alcohol heat all the way down. Those malts then turn drying and just stick to the inside of your mouth and the top of your tongue. With every swallow, the flavor becomes more drying, but this beer leaves a long enjoyable finish. I have never seen this on tap, but I am sure it is amazing on tap. Most of the flavor hits toward the back of the palate, as there is not much up front… but the experience you get as you begin to swallow this beer is worth every sip.
Mouthfeel: There are a few bubbles up front, but the beer quickly mellows out as you swallow. The sweetness really comes in after two or three drinks. I did take a sip to swish around in my mouth, and by doing that, the bubbles went crazy. By doing that, with most beers, you can find more flavor that was once hidden in the beer. With this, the bubbles overwhelm the palate, and the flavor pretty much leaves all together. I am going to let this one sit for a few minutes and try to enjoy the last sip at room temperature.
Aftertaste: At first, the malty sweetness that you can smell and initially taste becomes almost too sweet… but quickly turns drying and you are left with a lingering drying finish. Not Irish stout dry, but a cracked pepper dry. The malts they use here are obvious, and this is a beer that you are fully aware of the ABV. It’s only 8.5%, but you can taste it with every sip. As the beer gets warmer, it does become more balanced.
This is what I remember Skull Splitter tasting like. I wish it wasn’t so expensive, because this is a beer I could see myself enjoying all night long. They also don’t make bombers of this, but if they did, it would be a bomber that you could spend an entire night with! The bottle says, “500 years in the making.” Job well done, Orkeny!
Skull Splitter – The bottle says: “Skull Splitter, takes its name from Thorfinn Hauskaluif – the 7th Viking Earl of Orkey. Sophisticated, satiny smooth with a deceptively light character, it is a tribute to our colorful forebear.”
“ON THE NOSE, this robust beer has a fruity malt character, with hints of dark fruits, spicy hop, dates and figs.”
“ON THE PALATE, this sweet toasted malt creates a rich, and complex character of molasses, fresh and dried fruits with hints of warming spices.”
I like today’s beer. I already know that. I first had it the first time I went to New York. We went to a bar called Jekyll & Hyde, a themed pub. It was a pretty nifty place, and we had fun there and I tried this beer. They actually had a good selection, and this was a beer that I’d never heard of. I tried it and it was really good. So I’m excited that we are trying it for 1001 Bottles.
The beer looks really thick in the glass; I can’t see through it at all. It’s got some little tiny bubbles floating to the top, but I don’t think this beer is all that carbonated, if I remember correctly. It had some head to begin with, but there’s not much left now. The beer is kind of a dark reddish-brown color. Not super dark, but the thickness of it definitely makes it look darker. I’m not getting a lot of smell from it, but it smells sort of fruity. That surprises me, because I don’t remember this beer tasting fruity. Oh well, let’s see how it does taste.
This beer just has a good balanced flavor. It’s rich, but not hoppy. It does have a little bit of sour fruity taste, but it’s not too strong. It’s just a good solid full-flavored beer, in my opinion. Not too carbonated, not to hoppy, but a lot of flavor. I’d definitely grab one again. (Hmm… oddly enough, I’m watching a movie right now and the phrase “I’ll split his skull,” was uttered. Weird since this beer is called “Skull Splitter”. Coincidence?