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Bitter Brewer - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

Educational use only; do not reuse.

439 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 439
Hads: 1,064
Avg: 4.03
pDev: 16.87%
Wants: 234
Gots: 92 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  4.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-05-2007

No notes at this time.
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Reviews: 439 | Hads: 1,064
Photo of SaisonRichBiere
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours hazy light orange with a small retaining head. Smells a bit yeasty and bready with big orange zest and musty hop bitterness. Taste is bracingly bitter and refreshing with hints of bread and citrus. Feel is soft, crisp, and bubbly. Great english bitter.

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Photo of AllDayIPA23
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't have much experience with this style of beer, but I can't imagine this not being what it is supposed to taste like. As in the name, this beer is quite bitter. Lots of strong earthy flavors. Good use of malts.

I would definitely drink this again, and it was good enough to make me seek out more beers of this style.

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Photo of beertunes
3.36/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to GaryMuchow for this one. Poured from 16oz can into 10oz goblet. Poured a cloudy straw yellow color, with 1/4 inch of white head that instantly dissipated, leaving no lace.

The aroma was lightly malty with low hops, very balanced, and kind of on the neutral side. On the tongue though, the grains showed through nicely, providing an earthy base for the lightly floral, lemony hops. There was a pleasantly strong citrus-bitter finish.

The body was the typical medium-light of the style. Drinkability was good, I could easily see pouring a few of these down as part of my regular rotation. Overall, a crisp and enjoyable beer that's worth your time i you have a chance to grab one.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours lightly orange tinted amber under a 2” finely bubbled foam collar that slowly recedes and provides thick lace. S: Spicy, grassy, fresh mown grass. T: Grassy flavors over biscuit and light nuts with a slight astringency on the end. F: Creamy smooth with a medium body and carbonation. O: They have nailed the classic ESB and added slightly more aggressive hops.

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Photo of Sludgeman
3.73/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a large stemmed tulip at the new Surly facility.

Definitely bitter, maybe the lowest ABV on today's menu. This one was served too cold. Please let it warm up before judging it. Would be much better if served on cask. 3.5
A – Pale cloudy yellow like a bad piss (get to the doctor!) 3.25
S - Peach and gooseberry marmalade, grassy herbal, a bit of peppery, citrusy - definitely lemon 4
T - Grassy and resinous, citrus rind, but not fruity in anyway 3.75
MF - Medium light and bone dry bitter and lasting in the palate. 3.75

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Photo of oldsailor
4.34/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I was very impressed with this beer. Very smooth, almost silky feel was unexpected but pleasant. Really nice golden color and poured with a fairly thick, creamy head. Smell was almost sweet. Overall, I've decided that the one I still have is not enough and while I'm still in Minnesota I'm going to go grab some more to take back home. Don't pass this one up if you see it, it is awesome!

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Photo of larryi86
4.19/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thank you garymuchow for this
16 oz can dated 5/13/15 poured into a pint glass

A- A slightly hazy golden straw color with a two finger white head/

S- Citrus, some lemons, some sweeter fruitiness, herbal/floral hoppiness, very tea like.

T- Upfront the taste is not too aggressive, toasted malts, some citrus, floral, the finish however is piney and aggressively bitter to a point where I feel it is more like an IPA.

M- Smooth, light to medium body.

O- When I saw this was an English Bitter I was not expecting such a bitter finish in a 4% beer, I thought it would be more balanced, but I still really enjoy this beer. Lives up to the high quality I have had with everything else from Surly.

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Photo of pagriley
3.96/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pale hazy, and almost like a wheat.
Assertive pine on the nose with a hint of citrus
A touch harsh in the bitterness, not much else on the palate
Good carb and refreshing mouth feel

Overall a solid beer.

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Photo of cl3
4.09/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great beer. Pours a bright clear orange color with a bright white head. Smells slightly biscuity with with a bit of citrus from the mandarina hops. Bitter, as advertised, with a little bit of fruitiness. Great carbonation that stick around even with an aggressive pour. A real easy drinker. Perfect for warm summer days.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.39/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazy grapefruit color with a thin white head. Smells of lots of citrus fruit. Quite bitter with very juicy citrus fruit with a grapefruit mango presence. Wonderfully light body and quite refreshing. I could drink many. The 4% alcohol will allow for that. There is a malty cracker taste that makes it unique as an English Bitter. Lots of carbonation adds to the zesty yeast taste. I like!

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

sometimes its not the most complicated beers that end up tasting the best, or being the most enjoyable. this little brew is a gem, and after visiting surly and having their beer around town for a few days, this stands out as one of their best. its pale and bright in color at the same time, hazy and heady, and has a bright tropical hop aroma, not at all what one would expect when thinking about an english bitter style. this has so much life to it, and not a real robust yeast flavor, which make it more american i think than english, especially considering its hopped like an ipa. to me, this was almost more of a session ipa than anything else. the hops hint at mango and pineapple, and there is only moderate hop bitterness here. there also isnt any of the crystal malt that has seemed to define the bitter, maybe some maris, but this is not at all about the grain. delightfully light on the palate, dancing carbonation and a zippy finish make it a perfect beer for warmer weather. pint cans are awesome for beers like this, and if it was sold here in colorado, it would be in my fridge all season. not sure how well it fits the english bitter category, but the beer in the can is just exceptional. love the hops on this, refreshing and palate cleansing and distinct.

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Photo of mmahanna41
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

My first "English Bitter".... 16 oz can into a tulip. This beer is interesting to say the least. I don't know exactly what I was expecting, especially after pouring this light blonde super cloudy liquid into my glass, but it was not this (and it turns out that was actually a good thing, I think?) Taste was odd, but in a good way.... So buttery the feel was actually louder than it's taste. After half of my swigs I was so distracted by the feel, I forgot to pay attention to the taste. I'm not sure if I'm a fan yet, but I know I didn't hate it and with 3 of 4 cans still awaiting consumption, I can guarantee they won't be sitting around long. I have never been so confused as to if I really liked, kinda liked, or maybe didn't like a beer even after drinking a full pint. Having said all this non-sense.... Without I doubt, I recommend you try this unique beer for yourself!

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Photo of ta_hagen
4.87/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bitter, Bitter, yummy in tummy... Interesting taste. It has this buttery characteristic that reminds me of Abrasive. Also has a gritty maltiness but litter IPA, but so good.

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Photo of AirBob
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Notes from 1/16/15

A - 2 fingers of fluffy white head. Excellent lacing. Good rendition. Hazy honey-orange body.

S - Orange marmalade. Iced tea. Lemon flesh. Honey. Lemon oil.

T - Follows the nose with a sweet back and clean finish.

M - Medium-low carb

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Photo of CraigP83
3.92/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bready, with a hop presence at the end. Lighter in color. A little sticky honey flavor and orange zest but the low ABV might make a good choice on the boat

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.89/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served from the can in a Second City glass.

Starting the Super Bowl evening off right with some badass K-Tina K-So (patent pending) and a Bitter Brewer. This stuff pours a mostly clear brass-tawny topped by a finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises grass, sharp flowers, light biscuit, and a touch of resin for the sake of it. The taste brings in more of the same, the bready biscuit somewhat tempering the grass, but still allowing those hops to shine. The body is a rather light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a crisp finish that keeps the grassy twang from malingering. Overall, a very enjoyable little beer, something I could easily see myself having more of in the future (if not tonight, even).

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Photo of kkleu357
3.66/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a light golden color. Light sweet aroma. Interesting taste. It has this buttery characteristic that reminds me of Abrasive. Also has a gritty maltyness to it. It’s decent.

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Never heard of this beer but bought due to my other Surly beer experiences.

Aroma (5): Great aroma, made me want to drink right away
Appearance (4): Good bright orange color.
Taste (4): Good taste. Bitter enough, not much maltiness
Palate (3): Weird Palate. Not much "body" Didn't bother me, just the first thing I noticed.

I like this. I could add this to my regular rotation.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.96/5  rDev -1.7%

Canned 6/26/14, poured into a tulip

A- pours a clear, deep golden color with a small fizzy white head that reduces to a film skimming the top 3.75

S- lots of floral hop aromas up front with some earthy & herbal notes, sweet honeysuckle, orange marmalade, tangerine peel, finishing with a bready & caramel malt. Subtle overall, but complex as it warms 4

T- hop flavors of tangerine & rose hips mix with a honey-like sweetness, a hint of lemon tartness, toasted bread finish with a grainy linger 4

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a smooth finish, high drinkability 3.75

O- very flavorful session beer that emphasizes orange and floral hop notes, balanced out by some toasty malt, very good 4

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.79/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Canned 6/26/14 and poured 9/1/14. $3.19 single picked up at Four Firkins.

Appearance: Fairly aggressive pour gives off a very short lived head with a few soapy bubbles on top. The color is orange-y with quite a bit of hop hazing. (3.5/5)

Smell: Very hoppy, surprisingly. Earthy, floral, and herbal. Not so much of a pine nose on this one though. A semi-sweet malt aroma in there as well. Pretty nice. (4/5)

Taste/feel: Huge carbonation. I've had a few English Bitters, but it's been awhile -- knowing Surly, I'd assume they got this feel of this one right. A pop/soda-like carbonation with an almost watery body, maybe a little heavier. The taste is earthy and herbal hops initially, and then a biscuity malt flavor on the finish, which is quite dry. It tastes a bit like a sessionable IPA, but with an English Bitter malt character. (3.75/5, 3.5/5)

Quite good for what it is. Has a nice, fresh hop profile throughout with a nice malt flavor at the end. Not a super bitter beer, but definitely more bitter than sweet. Bitter Brewer is pretty tasty, but it reminds me a little too much of a session IPA, which is a style that I'm rarely impressed by. Still worth checking out, though maybe not at the price of $3.19 a can.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%

Poured into an English pint glass, a massive head is produced, frothy, wispy, and leaving lace everywhere as it recedes. The body is a hazy golden color with light carbonation. 4.1

Sweet and floral hops work the nose, but they seem a but subdued. I'll attribute this to the 2 month old can. There's a sweet, slightly caramel maltiness and a bit of orange aroma. 4

To the tongue, there's immediately fruity flavors like berry and pineapple, but they too are subdued. This leads into a more piney flavor, subtle vanilla and some sweet malt.

As far as the body, this thing is very thin and drinks light and easy, with a slight creaminess, until a wave of bitterness near the finish that lingers. 3.6

I like the fruitiness of this beer, especially fresh on tap, but the body is a bit too thin and the older can doesn't hold up quite as well. 3.65

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Photo of barczar
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%

Brilliant golden brew with grassy, dank, resiny aromas that are contrasted by grapefruit add tangerine, with a hint of biscuit malt. Flavor reveals sharp grapefruit, with a touch of tangerine sweetness,a light, crackery malt backbone, and a minerally, slightly bitter finish. Would've liked more citrus than minerally notes. There's a clash between tart lime and mineral characters that doesn't suit my palate.

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Photo of deedric
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At Great Taste pre party (so I won't get technical). Seems to be a nice representative of the style. Served too cold. Nice appearance, light copper. Aroma of pine. Mouthfeel is very reminiscent of the bitters do old. Lower carbonated as expected. Biscuity back flavor.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.04/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Copper orange, clear, with a large white head that bubbled off quickly and reduces to a thin film, with mild lacing.

S - Surprisingly strong hop note, mostly of pine. Malt is also present, a quality of bread.

T - This is a subtle brew, but offers both cracker flavors and bread in the malts and an element of grass from the hop. There is a hint of citrus and pine, but it buried deep in the mix. Most important is the bitter shift at mid-point, where we get a more standard bitter.

M - For as bitter as this is, the brisk carbonation and light body and ABV keep things bright and easy. A true session beer.

O - Where I've found most bitters lack something at their core, this bitter is robust and fully realized, ultimately quite satisfying. This is not my favorite style, but this represents an exciting entry that I'd actually reach for when looking for a brew by the lake where I need to keep my edge.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Canned on 05/12/14
L - hazed amber/orange color with a frothy ivory head
S - citric American hops - grapefruit and orange rind, heavy toasted grain, caramel
T - huge toasted malt, biscuit, orange and grapefruit rind, very much like toast and marmalade as the can reads
F - thinner body, refreshing, finishes more bitter than expected while being modestly dry
O - definitely an Americanized version of the style. I do like it, but it isn't going to be a seasonal purchase for me; however it was nice to come back to it after 5 years.

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Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 439 ratings.