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Bitter Brewer - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

820 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 820
Reviews: 414
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.19%
Wants: 220
Gots: 53 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  4.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-05-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 820 | Reviews: 414 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of deebo


3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

Serving type: can

07-16-2011 23:59:39 | More by deebo
Photo of StonyB

New Jersey

3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Many, many thanks to BA Beerloco for generously providing me with this beer. You're a class guy, Alan...

Appearance - Moderately brisk pour into my standard pint glass reveals a hazy, rich orange-brown. Cloudy but not opaque. Half-finger of foam settles in and takes up shop.

Smell - Pleasant toffee and lightly toasted malt aroma. Very slight hop and fruit presence.

Taste - Caramel up front, slightly tart fruitiness follows. As befits the style, very easy to drink, with hops hiding in the background and no alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel - Somewhat creamy, but fairly thin.

Drinkability - Pleasantly mild and low ABV, so quite sessionable.

Surly's rep precedes itself, so if I'm slightly disappointed it's for that reason alone. But as an American example of an English Bitter, it's well done and very drinkable. Recommended.

Serving type: can

06-02-2009 22:02:44 | More by StonyB
Photo of shadow1961


3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Surly Bitter Brewer pours a thin disk of foam over an orange brew. Carbonation is steady and the nose is fresh pine hop aroma. The flavor is light toasty English malts with apricot notes and grapefruit rind hop bitterness off the back. Mouthfeel is light and crisp with that grapefruit rind persisting in the aftertaste. At 4% alcohol by volume, it nods to the great English tradition of brewing light, yet flavorful ales yet in this case with a healthy addition of American hops. Very interesting and flavorful!

Serving type: can

05-16-2009 06:38:58 | More by shadow1961
Photo of papat444

Quebec (Canada)

3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to kjyost for this.

Poured from a 16oz. can, canned on 05/07/13.

Appearance: Chilled haze on an orange-copper body, 2-3 fingers worth of head with patchwork of lacing left behind.

Smell: Ripe fruit (oranges or peaches, both?), plush and fleshy.

Taste: Malty at first, bit of minerals, mild saltiness, fleshy fruit, biscuity, dry orange finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bitterness, full body for the style.

Overall: Having had benchmarks from the origin of the style, this doesn't quite measure up. Still, it is a well made ale and glad to have tried it.

Serving type: can

07-21-2013 02:51:19 | More by papat444
Photo of PHBoiler


3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured 16 oz can into Surly Pint glass

Golden almost amber body with a finger width white head. Lacing was relatively good throughout the drinking experience.

Smell is not overpowering. Light piney hop scent.

Taste is indeed bitter upfront with some creaminess and caramel flavor in the body. Solid ESB that drinks very smooth.

Serving type: can

09-16-2013 15:26:44 | More by PHBoiler
Photo of Beerandraiderfan


3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

Serving type: can

11-06-2010 00:41:46 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of morimech


3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light copper with 1 inch of creamy white head. Retention is good as well as large amounts of lacing.

Has a distinct citrus hop aroma. I do not smell much else. I expected a nice bready malt aroma but none was found.

Mainly hops in the taste as well. Some biscuit malt is noticed right at the finish. Not that well balanced but the hop flavor is pleasant.

Has a light body with low carbonation.

Has a nice hoppy flavor but not much of a malt backbone compared to most Bitters. Has a low ABV and the lighter body makes consumption extremely easy.

Serving type: can

06-07-2008 18:48:15 | More by morimech
Photo of JohnGalt1


3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The wife and I shared this gem courtesy of Kbeals... thanks a bunch Kevin!!

Pours with a thin white head atop a slightly hazed orange brew.. only splotches of lacing..

Nose is nice... light lemon with some herbal tea elements.. grainy pale malts and hints of flowers...

Flavor begins with a minor bitter astringency that is nearly perfectly balanced the pale malts and bits of biscuit.... Does the brewer use "tea leaves" in this brew? Really makes me think of the tea I have at work everyday... body is pretty lite as it should be.. carbonation may be a tad high for the style, but what do I know?

Doesn't seem too English to me.. but I dig it.. and that is enough. I loooove session beers... Love them.

Thanks again Kevin.. this is a "new to me" Surly Brew... your return box is gonna be nice. :-)


Serving type: can

10-20-2010 05:46:38 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of Tballz420


3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Somewhat hazy, dark-gold to coppor. Decent white head and some sticky lace. Scent has a lot of sweet malts, fair amount of fruit tones. Some floral hops. I guess the first word that hits my mind when i taste it is "english," which makes some sense i guess. Although bitters arent a style im overly familiar with, this reminds me of some other beers brewed in england that i've come across. Biscuit malts, touch of bitter hops. More floral elements arise as the beer continues to be consumed. Fairly wet mouth. I dunno, not bad. Certainly a good session beer

Serving type: can

06-20-2010 03:00:09 | More by Tballz420
Photo of jegross2


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Bitter Brewer from the Surly Brewing Company.
Score: 87

Canned 04/05/12. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 05/28/12.

Appearance: Pours a clear and clean-looking golden color with two fingers of foamy/soapy off-white head that slowly recedes into a thin layer with clumps of foamy head splotched around. Average lacing and retention, but some residual head seems to cling for a bit. 4/5

Smell: Bread dough, wheat biscuits, floral citrus, a little lemon pine. There's grassy straw hops and a distinct white tea/iced tea aroma too. A little red apple and a hint of dried banana and fruity yeast -- but not in a hefeweizen way. 4/5

Taste: Hoppy lemon iced tea is my first impression. There's some bitter orange flavor and barley in the tea flavor too. There's almost like a crescendo of the lemon flavor at some point towards the finish with each sip. Largely crisp in flavor, but there's some residual bitter lemony grain flavor lingering in the aftertaste. There is ample fresh and bitter grassy hops flavor too, but the hoppiness is much more mellow and less in-your-face than a pale ale or IPA. 3.75/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, medium carbonation. Oily mouthfeel. Modestly dry and bitter (but not super bitter) finish. 4/5

Overall: There is not too much going on in this beer -- what you smell is what you get -- and the flavors are relatively subdued overall, but Bitter Brewer is a very nice light and refreshing sessionable summer beer that's low in ABV (4%) without being low in quality. This beer is perfect for the 90+ degree weather we are experiencing in Chicago today.

Recommendation: Fans of lagers and summer beers should give this one a whirl as an alternative reward for mowing the grass on a Sunday afternoon.

Pairings: Tangy barbeque-slathered chicken on the grill.

Cost: $8.49 for a four pack.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2012 19:43:31 | More by jegross2
Photo of supercolter


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is another good brew from Surly. Appearance is good, with a copper color and a finger an a half head that dissapates slowly.
Smell is pleasant some light hops that smell very good. A bit of citrus is the only other. Taste isn't as good, the floral hops don't taste as good as they smell. Taste hangs around for a little while.
Mouthfeel is light but ok for the style.
Decent drinkability.

Serving type: can

08-01-2008 01:29:12 | More by supercolter
Photo of dpnelson1978


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz. can into glass pint.

$3.00 / ea.

A: Bright orange body topped with a huge rocky head of moderate retention that leaves heavy sticky lace and a thick rocky cover.

S: Floral hops dominate with hints of bready malt not far behind. Simple but effective.

T: Distinctive bitter flavor with resinous qualities dominates from start to finish and beyond. Hints of grapefruit citrus poke through over a bready backbone.

M: Light body with light to moderate carbonation. Very light bite with noticeable tongue tightening bitterness.

D: If bitter session beers are your thing, this is the one to try. The flavors are solid, the abv low and the hops cannot be denied.

O: I enjoyed this one noticeably more the second time I tried it. I can only assume that my palate changed, but I'll be sure to try this one again in the future.

Serving type: can

11-06-2010 03:52:27 | More by dpnelson1978
Photo of Schmaltzy


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Clear golden color with 1 finger of white head with decent lacing left on my glass.

S- Mild hops with a decent malt scent that overpowers the hop scent, really light but wasn't expecting much.

T- Light almost a lighter light IPA, starts with a mild malt flavor and finishes with a mild hop bitterness. Very watered down and missing a mid pallete.

M- Light body with good amounts of carbonation which make this a very nice, light refreshing beer.

D- Easy to drink this beer, just finished the can after throwing the baseball around and it was refreshing as well, I just like my beers to have a little more body, but not bad. This beer slightly reminds me of The Bruery's Humulus XPA for some reason, I don't know just light beers.

Serving type: can

07-01-2010 23:00:10 | More by Schmaltzy
Photo of elgiacomo


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz canned June 6, 2011. Served at around 45F.

Pours lightly hazy amber with a one finger white heat that recedes to a small cap and leaves some nice rings of lacing behind.

Aroma is lemon, apricot, some grass and bread. Moderate strength...kind of weak.

Flavor is lemon, orange, apricot, and some grassy hops, cracker & bready malt backbone, finishes with a real nice bitterness.

Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied, with ample carbonation.

Man this hits the spot after a long day of work on a sticky Georgia summer day. Nice flavor and surprising bitterness for a low ABV session brew.

Serving type: can

07-19-2011 02:59:19 | More by elgiacomo
Photo of vtblackdog


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from the can into a pint glass.

A - a coppery clear color with a fluffy white head that sinks back fairly quickly into the brew.

S - A very balanced hop/malt aroma. So well balanced I get a sweet background.

T - Taste is not as expected based on the nose. Bitter as advertised but a bit weak in all other areas.

M - All I can say is thin.

O - Nose is great but goes downhill from there with me. A good summer beer.

Serving type: can

06-26-2011 23:27:38 | More by vtblackdog
Photo of corby112


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear golden orange/amber color with a two finger, frothy off-white head that slowly fades into a thin ring. A decent amount of lacing left behind.

Sweet citrus hop aroma with subtle grassy pine countered by pale malt character. The nose is almost all citrus with hints of grapefruit, pineapple and lots of orange peel.

Medium bodied with lots of sweet citrus hop flavor up front that lingers over the pale malt backbone into a slightly dry finish. The hop profile is one dimensional without much bitterness and not very dry. More sweet than anything with hints of tropical fruit and citrus peel countered by biscuity malts. Well balanced but not overly complex.

Serving type: can

11-20-2011 07:55:44 | More by corby112
Photo of bbothen


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light orange/rust color with a bubbly 2 finger head. Lots of stickiness on glass.

Nice hoppy citrus/grapefruit aroma with some orange zest & a bisquit like malt scent.

Full grapefruit/citrus hoppiness, mellow maltiness, understated hop earthiness, bready malt backbone.

Light, maybe medium bodied, mild carbonation, lingering dryness.

Easy drinkin bitter. Less filling, tastes great.

Serving type: can

09-22-2008 23:24:34 | More by bbothen
Photo of THECPJ


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: orangey gold with a 1 finger off white head

smell: grass, pine, hops, malts

taste: grass, pine, malts, dry bitter finish

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body,

overall: nice english bitter. easy to drink. definitely recommend this beer.


Serving type: can

07-29-2011 16:44:48 | More by THECPJ
Photo of SPRichard

New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

12-24-2012 15:31:04 | More by SPRichard
Photo of Andreias21


3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

08-14-2013 22:56:11 | More by Andreias21
Photo of bashiba


3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

05-14-2012 22:02:21 | More by bashiba
Photo of dtx00


3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

07-07-2012 21:01:37 | More by dtx00
Photo of hop_chomper

3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

08-19-2012 15:53:54 | More by hop_chomper
Photo of TexIndy


3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got in a trade with pitmonkey - many thanks! Poured from a 16oz can (no dating info but April seasonal release) into a pint glass. It was a very haze orange with a ton of yeast bits floating around. Mini carb geyser in center and good lacing. It has a thick off-white head that slowly settled into a slightly broken foam with a thick collar.

The aroma was heavy floral hops, grapefruit and tea. Like a hop punch in the face - in a good way. Based on the aroma, I was expecting a heavy hop bit but it was actually very subtle. The taste was really lacking in hop bite which was a big surprise. I don't drink tea but based on other reviews and my limited experience with it way back leads me to believe the dominant taste is tea. Makes it sorta watered down for me. What is there is good but wanted more hops. Of course that would make it more of a IPA of ADIPA so maybe this one is right on for the style. Mouthfeel hurt some by the watery feel.

Overall, a rather interesting beer. The aroma leads you in one direction and the taste in another with both of them good. Recommend. Another great one from Surly.

Serving type: can

12-01-2008 02:47:33 | More by TexIndy
Photo of BuckTuckian


3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

06-26-2014 12:53:24 | More by BuckTuckian
Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 820 ratings.