Review of Skullsplitter Ale

Beer Reviews: Orkney Brewery’s SkullSplitter 

Size: 11.2 ounce bottle, casks, draft

APV: 8.5%

Availability: Worldwide in select bars


With a name like SkullSplitter, many would be drinkers of this beer might decide otherwise. But do not let the name fool you, while it sounds like a “hard” drink it is decidedly smooth and flavorful. In other words it still packs a punch with 8.5% APV but the taste isn’t one you’d associate with a higher APV beer.

According to Orkney Brewery, which makes SkullSplitter, the beer is named after Thorfinn Einarsson who happened to be the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney. Whether or not the drink name described this Earl’s reputation is up to your imagination. 

The beer is a scottish ale brewed with chocolate and crystal ale malts with spicy herbal hops according to the official website. The beer itself is very dark and thick in color, depending on the lighting in the room it may take on a reddish color. So looking at the beer, the initial reaction is to expect a very heavy beer.

SkullSplitter is not bitter and it isn’t as heavy as one would expect. Of course it’s no “light beer” but it goes down smoother and easier than say a porter style brew. It has many flavors in it making it a drinkable but complex beer. Some drinkers will find the chocolate flavors to stand out with a nutty taste. Others will notice a slight flowery spice with some almost sweet aspects to the flavor.

The beer has a very, very smooth texture, it almost coats the tongue as you drink it. The aftertaste is mild and while this might not be the best hot weather beer it is still quite refreshing. Again some drinkers may find the “nutty” flavors to come through a lot which depending on your palate might be a good thing or it might slow down speed at which the beer is consumed.

The name catches your attention and many drinkers probably pass over this beer expecting a very strong and bitter beer. In reality SkullSplitter is a combination of many flavors and has no bitterness whatsoever. If you happen to see SkullSplitter on the beer list at a bar, give this beer a try. It has been compared by some to English beers such as Sam Smith Stingo but this beer is a true Scottish ale.