I cannot stress enough how much I wish that everyone had some sort of standard for beer. Granted, there is a time and place for a crap beer, such as for party games, but for the love of all that is holy, when you make your way down to your barroom have some integrity and pick something that isn’t something that you can get for under a dollar a can at a liquor store.
And so this is for you, bars with beer clubs, you are my beacons of light in this dark time of beer ignorance. And it is with that statement that I request, order, implore, beg, plea, etc., etc., etc., you to find a bar that prides itself that it has some sort of beer club, where after reaching a goal of 100-plus different beers they reward you in some way (And don’t be a wuss, make sure you gotta reach 100 beers or more).
Besides life-long bragging rights (“Oh yeah? Well I’VE DRANK OVER HUNDRED DIFFERENT KINDS OF BEER, YA BIMBO!”) it’s more of a catalyst to expand your palate, forcing you to try beers that you will love and love to hate, and eventually making you a citizen of the world when it comes to this ancient beverage. Of course you may run into some beers that are just OK. They are good, but the drawbacks might make you kinda … indifferent …
And thus this brings me to my next beer. Her name is Skull Splitter by The Orkney Brewery. Lets look at dem stats!
Type of beer: Scotch Ale
ABV: 8.5 percent
This beer was on the list for one of the beer clubs I’m in, and naturally I was interested because of the name. The list didn’t describe the type of beer and I didn’t bother to ask. The beautiful thing about being in the club is sometimes you dive in blindly to a surprise, and that’s what this was.
Scotch ale was coined around the 18th century for some of the stronger ales that were coming out of Edinburgh, Scotland. The term “Scotch Ale”, in some cases, is kind of just a designation of where the strong ale comes from (Some beers in Scotland may have one name, but as soon as its moved over to the good ol’ USA its called a Scotch ale). The beer doesn’t have to be from Scotland to be a Scotch ale if it meets different requirements, but seeing as this one is from said country, then I figure that’s enough back story for now.
Let me pre-empt the actual review by saying, as of this moment, I am not extremely experienced with Scotch ales. This review reflects my taste history on all beers, not just Scotch ales.
When I first got the beer at one of my local bars I could see that the label design was cool enough, but when I took a sniff of it, it didn’t really seem to spectacular. So I poured it into a glass (Where it foamed up nice, good solid carbo on this baby), allowed it to breathe and then inhaled deeply to try to scavenge up the aromas. Once again it left me confused about how little I could smell on this one. Now, sitting home on my computer, enjoying another bottle of it, I can say that my “smeller” was “broke” because this beer has a distinct scent.
Regardless of my first impression on smell, my first taste was one of surprise. It packed a punch of flavors. The first time I drank it I didn’t notice this, but allow the beer to wash over you, swallow then take a second… Taste that? Hints of fruit blended in subtly adding an initially pleasant post-sip taste. All in all, it looks beautiful, smells pretty interesting and has a complicated taste …
But you gotta take the good with the bad — granted not everyone will agree with what I’m about to say, but stick with me. It tastes like a very malt-driven beer, and for a Scotch Ale that is considered a “Pale Ale” it’s a bit weird. Don’t get me wrong, the malt combination is beautiful, and pairs well with the hops, but I just feel the malt brings the end notes down, instead of it parting ways and leaving that crisp sensation, it lingers and sours.
One more thing: Anyone here had one of those obnoxiously highly alcoholic “beers” that come around every so often. I’m talking 18 percent ABV and up, or around that ballpark. They have an certain alcoholic smell and taste to them. A sort of sting, that isn’t always unpleasant, but is always noticeable. Somehow, even though it’s only ringing in at 8.5 percent ABV, I’m still getting a hint of that flavor (and smell) from this beer. Some people might not mind it, but it sits a little strange with me.
Beautiful color, good carbonation, nice blend of malts that invoke a variety of flavors, malts compliment the hops, flavor lingers and sours after sip, hint of alcohol smell and taste that is present in much more alcoholic beers.
If you go to a bar and see this guy on the menu, I say take a whirl at it and decide for yourself if it’s worth buying some bottles for the crib. However, this guy won’t be throwing this in the “go-to beer” list, it just doesn’t tickle my fancy (especially at its current price!).
I’ll give this guy a 7/10 on the Beer-o-meter
It’s a passing grade … But we could drink better.
Thomas Conner, the ‘Beer Dude’ has known to taste and make some of the finest beers in Charm City. He figures he has made more beer than he drank or is that vice versa. He doesn’t remember. If you catch him at a nearby Baltimore establishment drinking a beer, he reminds us sternly, it’s solely for research purposes. He doesn’t jot down notes. In fact, he highly recommends not drinking and writing because it interferes with the tasting. As always, he brings along a designated note-taker who also multi-tasks by driving him home. Drink and write responsibly and never at the same time is his motto. If you would like him to test out your establishment’s home brew, just pretend you’re at the O’s game, and yell, “Beer man.” He’ll hear you.