Cheers!: PC Police Pick on the Wrong Skull Splitter


A few years back, the PC police tried to lower the boom on Skull Splitter, a big malty ale from the Orkney Brewery. It’s a beer that has been revered by beer enthusiasts for as long as I can remember.

The complaint by the PC police was that the name implied violence and trumpeted the strength of the 8.5 percent brew, both of which the PC police thought might entice youth to spend their meager moola on relatively expensive four-packs of the sophisticated-beyond-their-youthful-palates Skull Splitter instead of cheap 40s of Steel Reserve and Mickey’s or a bottle of Kiwi Strawberry MD 20 20.

The brewery had to explain to the mainstream beer straights that their award-winning beer is named for Thorfinn Einarsson, a man who lived in the 10th century, served as the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney, and just happened to be known as Skull Splitter.

History trumps political correctness every time. Or it should. And it must have in this case, for Skull Splitter is still boldly with us.

Skull Splitter beerThis is such a deep, dark fruity beer. There is no fruit here, but the great British ales have an amazing fruity quality that might be on its finest display with Skull Splitter. The fruitiness is gigantic, amazing, awe-inspiring, with a quick coffee-bitter finish. With each sip I get the impression of biting into an apple-sized dark berry. Give me a big slab of raisin pie on the side!

A tip o’ the cap to good ole Thorfinn Skull Splitter. He was probably a very gentle soul, once you got to know him.

In the mood for another malty/fruity English ale, I picked up Old Speckled Hen, from the Morland Brewery, which until 2000 was in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. But that year Morland was purchased by East Anglia brewer Greene King of Bury St. Edmonds.

The Morland Brewery in Abingdon was believed to have been one of the oldest in that ancient land of brewers. Benedictine monks established a monastery there in 674 A.D., and beer historians believe a brewery might have operated at the monastery from at least 1100. But it wasn’t until the 1700s that the actual Morland Brewery came into being. A couple hundred years later, another business came to Abingdon. The MG car factory opened there in 1929.

At the plant was an old demonstration model MG saloon car that was covered in flecks of paint. Locals came to know the car as the “owld speckled ‘un.” When the MG factory celebrated its 50th year in Abingdon in 1979, Morland Brewery joined in the celebration by creating a beer for the occasion – Old Speckled Hen. Even though the Abingdon MG plant closed down the following year, the commemorative ale was so well received that its production continued. Since then Green King has launched a family of Hen beers, including Old Crafty Hen (a 6.5 percent winter warmer); Old Golden Hen, a light golden ale that weighs in at 4.1 percent; and Old Hoppy Hen, a pale ale released in 2014 and inspired by American craft pale ales.

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