Bitter Brewer - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,021 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,021
Reviews: 436
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 11.03%
Wants: 231
Gots: 83 | 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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,021 | Reviews: 436
Reviews by MNAle:
More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue VI:

Hmm ... brewed in the tradition of a traditional English Bitter, but made with American hops. Guess that makes this an American Bitter? Love that angry brewer on the back of the can! Anyway ...

Hazy amber, with bright orange hues and a solid white foam lace that gently clings to the glass. Aroma is oh so pleasing on this one. Floral, woody, dense with jam-like oranges and a light grainy note in the back. Body is very light and fluffy with a lively level of carbonation that complements a prickly hop presence that's snappy, bitter, but clean and crisp. Not sharp. Full of complexities, like pithy, coarse wheatgrass, floral bouquet, rosemary and bitter orange peels, with a grainy breadiness beneath and some mineral notes. No real sweetness to speak of, it's all about the raw hop bitterness. Bone dry finish, with a strong biscuit flavor in the linger. Some bicarbonate, too.

We need more beers like this. Session beers, that are moderate in alcohol, packed with flavor and keep you grabbin' for more. Get bitter!

Photo of blackearth
3.32/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served on-tap in a pint glass at Stub & Herbs in Minneapolis, MN. Has a bright amber body with a thin white head. Toasted malts dominate the aroma with hops coming in a distant second. Medium bodied with a spicy carb bite, this beer has woody hop flavors up front followed by malt sweetness, then a fairly long hop finish. Drinkability was okay, but half way through I was looking forward to a differnt beer. This is the first Surly offering that I didn't fall immediately in love with.

Photo of newk340
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: a translucent golden amber with subtle carbonation.

S: hints of hops and wheat gently tease the nostrils.

T: smooth blends of hops that tickle the tongue while citrus hints spatter the throat with the swallow.

MF/D: an initial buzz of carbonation that dissipates as quickly as it hits the tongue for a smooth swallow. excellent session beer.

Photo of NWer
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A nice pour into my nonic. Very good head retention with a very nice lace.
What there is of the aroma is mild citrus.
Very pronounced orange zest flavor up front and holds throughout. Dry and bitter. Stinging carbonation on the aftertaste.
A good representation of the style.
Very enjoyable. Another fine beer from Surly.

Photo of warnerry
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours clear orange brown with one finger of quickly dissipating off-white head. Leaves some nice lacing.

S - Smell contains both bitter and sweet citrus notes and a nice grain character.

T - Taste follows the smell pretty closely with a more prominent bread character. Finishes with a nice clean bitterness.

M - Medium mouthfeel with relatively low, but good carbonation level for the style. Bitterness is subtle, but lingers nicely.

O - A very welcome flavorful low abv brew. The citrus notes are quite nice.

Photo of badbeer
3.76/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Goldish copper color with a white head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of tangerine, apricots, and some perfume notes. Taste is immediately of apricots, followed by some sort of sweet candy that I'm not sure of the name of, followed by some tangerine in the finish. Light bodied and on the lower side of medium carbonation.

Photo of Mora2000
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hophead101 for sending me this beer.

Pours a slightly murky yellow with a white head. The aroma is wet grass with some oranges, but overall it is a little faint. The flavor is pineapple, orange and some grassyness. The beer is slightly bitter. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Overall, a lot of flavor is a 4 percent ABV package.

Photo of Grafter
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a Duvel tulip

Appearance is a golden amber color with a nice white one inch head at the top.

Smells strong malt and hops a nice citrus malt the whole thing kind of reminds me of fresh biscuits with marmalade and damn it is making me hungry

Taste a lot like it smells a great citrus front which fades into the malty under tone damn that is tasty and finally it leaves a slight bitter finish on the back of your tounge.

Mouthfeel is very creamy the carbonation level seems spot on just a nice light creamy beer.

Drinkability is through the roof I could sit here in this warm spring sun and drink these till I come to the realization that I am laying on the floor and have spilt some of this wonderful beer. Lucky since t is only 4.5% I can have quite a few.

Overall a very enjoyable beer.

Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to darkerthebetter for handing me this brew when he & the missus were over for dinner. Pours with athick head that settles nicely. Light brown in color. smells mostly malty with a hint of spice. Taste is a nice blend of malt & piney hops. Mouthfeel is very smooth. Lots of flavor with a low ABV makes this extremely drinkable. Highly recommended.


Photo of bsp77
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from can into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Dull orange-gold, very thin head, looks flat but expected for style.

Smell: Citrus due to dry-hopping, leading to a stronger smell than typical for style. Also, faint malts detected.

Taste: Clean toasted tea-like malt taste balanced by metallic hop bitterness. Light citrus flavor that is less evident in the taste than smell.

Feel: Low carbonation, firm and dry. This is where most American attempts fall short; Surly nailed it.

Drinkability: Very easy to drink and at 4% abv, it is an ideal session beer.

Photo of deebo
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Golden orange color, hazy with white foam that laces the glass

S-Orange marmalade and citrus hops. Smell is like a sweet citrus pie

T-First you get the hit of sweet, apricots with a fair amount of malt backbone. Quickly the hops take over and the aftertaste is bitter yet sweet at the same time. Hop flavors are citrusy with a hint of pine tree.

M-Moderate to high levels of carbonation. Medium bodied. Smooth for the style.

D-The bitterness of this would limit my consumption. But is good for the style.

O-Another well balanced beer from Surly. Has a lot of flavor for a 4% ABV beer. My preference would be for a slightly less bitter hopped taste, but those who are fans of this style will likely approve.

Photo of ehammond1
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can (2011)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, stig!

Hazy, dark burnished orange and light brown, with a thick off-white head that eventually leaves spots of lace down the glass.

The aroma is interesting and distinct: fresh honey, lemon citrus, and freshly baked bread combine for a robust, pleasant, appropriate aroma.

The flavor follows the aroma similarly, though the sweet honey characteristics are lost, with the lemon citrus flavors from the hops and bready, caramel malt flavors pushing through more aggressively. Moderate bitterness. Incredibly drinkable.

Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation.

A delicious bitter. I would love to have more of this.

Photo of MattyG85
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16 oz. can into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Canned on 5/25/11.

Appearance: Deep golden orange with lots of rising bubbles. Solid finger and a half of off white head that has great retention and a good amount of lacing.

Smell: A sweet citrus aroma with lots of orange and lemon is backed by caramel malts and piney hops. Smells like orange marmalade jam on toasted bread. A very interesting and appealing aroma.

Taste: A sweet and slightly tart blend of citrus fruit followed by bready caramel malts. Hop bitterness is light but enough to balance the sweetness. Tastes sweet but not to the same level as a citrus packed DIPA.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with a medium level of carbonation. Very crisp.

Overall: A very good summer brew that is lighter but packed with flavor. Good balance in the citrus sweetness, bread, and hops.

Photo of Soonami
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Chad (Kaydogg) for sharing this at one of our many tastings.

Bitter Brewer looks a like a typical bitter if a bit paler and more golden than most, but my how it distances itself from its more modest English roots with huge orangish fruit flavors. It's in the nose and rules the taste buds. The beer is appropriately dry with a little bready malt, but also very crisp from the tangy hops. This is a beer that should catch the attention of BMC and craft drinkers alike. It's very hoppy without being stupidly bitter

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.76/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark golden color, good head, good retention. Aroma was kind of macro-ish.

Good bitterness for a 4% beer, not really hoppy, but definitely bitter. Subtle floral hopping. Cascade maybe in a light amount. Light mouthfeel, never heavy, just a resonance of mild bitterness. Definitely comes across good, just as advertised.

Scored these at Buckbean for only $1 a piece, proceeds to charity, these were the Surly beers that didn't make it from Canfest.

Photo of brow1901
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark and deep orange in color with a big fluffy head. The head has good retention and some lacing. Some sediment in the bottom of the glass, but the beer isn't too cloudy.

S- Smells strongly of citrus hops. The smell reminds me of furious just toned down a notch.

T- The taste is more about the malt than the hops. The dry hopping leads the senses in diferent directions. The beer smells like an IPA but tastes like a bitter. Nice light malt flavors.

M- Not much carbonation so the mouth is a bit thick, but it leaves the throat with a nice smooth dry and good flavor.

D- Very drinkable being 4% a couple of these 16oz. cans won't knock you over.

Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Can purchased from France 44 via mail order.

Pours a hazy light copper color with a bright white head that leaves solid lacing.

Smells of crisp pale malts with large amounts of floral and light citrus hops. Also present are mild amounts of breadiness and larger amounts of tea-like herbal hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though the hops aren’t quite as robust. Mildly dry pale malts up front are joined quickly by light citrus and leafy hops. Midway through faint hints of bready flavors come into play, fading into a moderately bitter ending. Mouthfeel is good, with solid carbonation.

Overall this is a very drinkable beer and the hops in the nose are great. Well worth a shot.

Photo of pwoods
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Mully for hooking me up with a bunch of this.

16oz. can poured into an imperial pint.

A: Pours a nice amber orange color with decent visibility. As always with Surly, a nice strong head forms, holds very nicely, and produces great lacing.

S: Hmm... Odd. The first can that I had a couple days ago Simcoe style weed/catpiss combo going, lol. This is had just a tiny touch of that in the back but more of a tea like fragance as the main show. A touch of citrus and grainy sweet malts. Malts smell like steeping homebrew grains.

T/M: Bitterness is at a good sessioning level. Hops are more floral, earthy, and grassy but with a bit of that funky twang. Malts taste exactly like they smell. A touch of dryness in the finish. Body is medium light and carbonation is just right.

D: Just a tasty and drinkable brews. Nothing mind blowing but definitely another well above average brew from Surly. Though, the more that I drink of this, the more I like it.

Photo of LXIXME
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium white head slowly settles into a pretty decent lacing above a particle filled honey colored beer.

Light sweet malts behind a citrusy pepper like spices aroma.

Bitter dry hops taste with very light spices combined with a light backdrop of earthy grain malts taste. A light drying taste to this beer, very welcoming and makes you want to take another gulp.

Not a big bold or overbearing taste but rather a lighter subdued taste that is quite good.

This is an excellent beer to expand the horizons of American light lager drinkers, I know from past experience that when Bud drinkers try something from Stone or Rogue its basically like culture shock to them, but this beer in its light but yet solid taste of dry hops, etc. one might just find another convert to the world of great ales and lagers.

Photo of mully
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Creamy white head leaves some thin lace while covering the orange tinted clear tan color

mildly floral, some carmel malt is aparent also some herbal hops

great for what it is.. It seems like this is balance but the hops start creeping up. Carmel malt and some sharpness. A beer this easy to drink should not taste this good.

clean mouth feel, full but does not linger

I am glad this beer has a low abv, other wise it would get me in some serious trouble... As it stands, it's great.

Photo of quirkzoo
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to biglobo8971 for including this one in the Growler+ BIF

Pours a slightly cloudly light brown with fluffy white head. Aroma is subtle and nice. Some mild hops (nothing too fruity or piney) up front with a solid malt backbone. The taste is all about balance. Really nice hop bitterness with just enough complexity to keep you going back for more. Mouthfeel is on the lighter side which contributes to its drinkability. Overall this is a really nice brew. If I lived within distribution this would definitely be an everyday favorite. Nothing amazingly out of the box but that is not what they are trying to do here, just a solid brew.

Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.65/5  rDev -8.5%

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

Photo of mdaschaf
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes. Thanks to Shane for sharing this can last night, been wanting to try it out for a while.

A: Pours a slightly hazy orange with a frothy white head on top. Great retention and moderate lacing.

S: Surprisingly floral and hoppy. For an English style, I was not expecting there to be this much hop presence. There is also some sweetness and some bready malt.

T: The flavor profile is not as citrusy as expected based on the aroma, but there was a little bit of floral/citrus there coming through as some orange. Certainly has some bitterness and a bit of sweetness on the midpalate with some doughy malt. Finishes bitter.

M: Light to medium bodied with medium carbonation. Slightly bitter finish as the name suggests.

O: Again, a bit hoppier than I was expecting, but for me thats a good thing. I look forward to tying more in this style to see if this is an aberration. Extremely easy to drink.

Photo of GilGarp
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pint-sized can served cold into a smaller-than pint-sized pint glass.

Bitter Brewer is a slightly hazy golden orange color with thick sticky head.

Aroma is fresh and very hop-forward. It has great American hop character which is unlike every other English bitter I've ever had. Really pleasant to my nose.

Flavor is a little more mild than the aroma would have you expecting but it's still really well bittered with hops. A little toasted malt and caramel flavors blend with the citrusy American hops really nicely.

Mouthfeel is very light in body but well carbonated and balanced. Each sip leaves me wanting another.

Overall a great session beer. A perfect blend of English malt and American hops. Who knew the two would get along so well together?

Photo of SoCalBeerIdiot
3.75/5  rDev -6%

Not sure I'd call this an ESB but it's pretty good for what it is.

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Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,021 ratings.