My, my, the Skull Splitter from The Orkney Brewery conquered me. The Orkney Islands was historically the home base for the Vikings in their pirating expeditions (i.e. away games) and has a human timeline that goes back to the Neolithic Age. Apparently the King of Norway put an end to these raids by conquering the islands and subjugating the natives and importing his own Nordic tribe. It was sort of a successive conquering over the centuries by the Norwegian kings and finalized by Norwegian king Olav Tryggvasson in 995 when he stopped on his way from Ireland to Norway. The King summoned the ruling earl Sigurd the Stout of Orkney and said “I order you and all your subjects to be baptized (Christianized). If you refuse, I’ll have you killed on the spot and I swear I will ravage every island with fire and steel.” (Wikipedia). The earl, was the son of Hlodvir, who was one of the five sons of the Skull-Splitter himself Thorfinn. Sigurd the Stout converted on the spot.
In my family lore, it appears that my Dad’s paternal side was from either Norway or Sweden but then immigrated at some point to Germany. My last name is Bierker which sounds about as German as any name. But, the odd thing, any German who has my last name–and there are not many in the Fatherland–are related to us as a rule. The name appears to been Germanized from Birker (a Nordic name) to Bierker by the adding of the “E.” I found no evidence as such on the web for any of this so take it for what it is worth. I am just not making it up, though. Google kept changing the search term of “Birker Name” to “Biker Names” (the nefarious kind like the Hells Angels). So, given the pagan Viking past, maybe the Biker-Birker connection is more than just mere coincidence. I just like to note that I have Teutonic blood and leave it at that.
Now that the history and family genealogy lesson is over, let’s get back to the beer. Seriously, though, the history is fascinating. Who thought there would be so much depth at first sip, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. The Skull Splitter at an 8.5 ABV is strong, but it hardly is king of the hill in terms of potency compared to what else is out sailing around the microbrewery seas. BUT, it smells and tastes of spirit, yet is surprisingly mild and enchanting. The beer is a very unusual combination of strong and mild…probably as good a balance of any beer I have had within the last couple of years in my own expeditions both here in Pennsylvania and distant lands. It as if the beer itself has been Christianized and civilized. Stout and Sweet, but not too Stout or Sweet.
I found this video on YouTube about Skull Splitter. Stick with the guy, for all of his fumbling around, it is a good review. I just like that he just downs a beer and tells you what he is thinking while drinking. His “malt forward” descriptor is right on and good to remember. I hope he doesn’t always drink alone, though. That is not a good thing. We all need a tribe to hang out with in life as we sail to eternity. So, on this prior Thursday night, my wife and I hung out with a favorite couple and had a marvelous night of fine food, fellowship, and drink.