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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: 1,065
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.
View: Beers (53) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 439 | Hads: 1,065
Reviews by MNAle:
Photo of MNAle
2.36/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is an updated review of the 2015 version of Bitter Brewer. I had previously only done a rating for this beer. This beer has been a favorite for several years, but this year's example is hugely disappointing. No, not just disappointing; it is a major departure in the thin hop water direction of session ales. I've put my former numerical ratings below for anyone who is interested. My current ratings are what is reflected in this review. I sincerely hope Surly reconsiders their direction for this beer.

Hazy orange. White head, dissipates quickly, little/no lacing. Faint somewhat citrusy aroma. If the dry hopping was for aroma, it didn't do much. Initial taste is mild, transitioning to a very bitter, piney, orangy, borderline unpleasant aftertaste that hangs around much too long. So long, in fact, the astringent bitterness is still there long after I would like to take another drink. Mouth feel is thin, watery. Overall, this is a significant step backwards for what used to be one of my favorites. I'm unlikely to buy it again.

Old rating, with my notes (I did not enter these notes as a review here; they're just my notes):
A bit too high in American hopiness to be a true English-style bitter, but otherwise, it is reasonably faithful to the style. My 2nd favorite local bitter, and overall it has the advantage of not being an ESB. I wish this was a year-round offering from Surly.

L: 3
S: 4
T: 4
F: 3
O: 4.25

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More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -0.7%
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!

 1,070 characters

Photo of blackearth
3.32/5  rDev -17.6%
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.

 486 characters

Photo of newk340
3.83/5  rDev -5%
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.

 347 characters

Photo of supa0525
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of danthehopslamman
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of NWer
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

 321 characters

Photo of DaftPatrick
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of warnerry
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

 516 characters

Photo of Ravenz98
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of ISUNO
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of 77apm
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of Billolick
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Guinnsslvr
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of badbeer
3.76/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

 330 characters

Photo of Mora2000
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

 348 characters

Photo of Grafter
4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

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Photo of ryancl
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of SjConroy
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
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.


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Photo of bsp77
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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Photo of deebo
3.87/5  rDev -4%
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.

 713 characters

Photo of MNMike
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of mjtiernan
4/5  rDev -0.7%

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