Bitter Brewer - Surly Brewing Company

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Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

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987 Ratings

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Ratings: 987
Reviews: 427
rAvg: 4
pDev: 11%
Wants: 223
Gots: 65 | FT: 3
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)
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Photo of InspectorBob
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Sam Adams glass. A hazy orange/amber color with about one finger of hesd with good retention and nice lacing throughout.

Aroma of grapefruit and orange. A nice balance of hops and malts.

The mouthfeel is light/medium bodied with some nice carbonation and some bitterness on the finish.

Very refreshing.

Could drink alot of this, a nice session beer.

Photo of
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Cafe 28

Slightly hazy, golden colored liquid. Topped with a small, white colored, creamy head. No lacing or legs. Brewed with glacier and warrior hops. "Lawnmower beer for hopheads".

Nice aroma, mainly grassy hops. Touch of yeasty/bread. Very nice.

Taste is similar, grass seems to be dominant flavor. Bit of bread and caramel to offer some balance.

Very light bodied, could be just a touch heavier. Carbonation seems pretty light as well. Nice and dry. Smooth and refreshing.

A highly enjoyable summer beer for the hop lover. I would/could drink a bunch of this on a hot day. Reminds me just a bit of Gumballhead - great flavor, light body and low ABV.

Photo of Parrotbeak
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Copper with a yellow hue, and a thin, white head that remains.
Smell is an almost even balance between malts and hops. Some light caramel, toffee, and nutty tones in there, as well as some light citrus notes.
Taste is nutty malts up front with some hops following close behind. More light caramelly and nutty tones, with the malts carrying through to the finish, along with some ample bitterness.
Mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth, though there is a crisp bite that comes in near the finish. light body.
Very good drinkability. Quite refreshing on a hot summer night, and the relatively low ABV helps.

Photo of mothman
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Sam Adams Sensory Glass

1 finger fizzy off white head. Decent retention with minimal lace. The color took me a few tries to distinguish. It is a dark orange/brown pumpkin.

Aroma: very bitter hops. caramel. Very bready. A very sweet, inviting beer. Wow, it makes me want to drink this badly.

Taste: The beer is very pleasing and quite satisfying. I am normally not the biggest fan of the style but the boys of Surly got another one done right! Mild hops, mostly floral. Not to bitter like an ipa. Bready. Some citrus. Very good.

Mouthfeel: A little bitter but nothing compared to an IPA. Almost a touch sweeter. Medium bodied. Good carbonation. Ends with an IPA aftertaste... sticky and full of floral hops.

Overall, I am really digging this beer. It seems to be just right for me at this point in time. Easy drinking. Tasty. Not to filling. I will be drinking more of this.

Photo of xnicknj
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz can poured into pint glass - thanks to biglobo8971

Pours a clear burnt orange with a frothy white head, which slowly fades into well retained film and plenty of patchy lacing along the glass.

Lightly toasted malt in the nose with hints of citrus and pine hops, along with some breadiness.

A hit of bitter hops right up front with piny resin, which is quickly mellowed by some bready malt backbone. Hints of burnt sugar, toasted grain, and doughy bread throughout. Slightly sweet tones permeate the profile. Finishes with some lingering bitterness and dry tones.

Lighter medium body, slightly creamy, mild carbonation, overall extremely smooth and pleasant. Drinks exceptionally well, with plenty of hop bitterness tempered by slightly sweet malt profile. The nose was a little subdued, but everything else is right on point.

Photo of budgood1
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours out of the 16 oz. can a dirty dark peach colour with bronzed hues. a thin fine head appears and sticks a bit to the side of the glass leaving fine rings of lace. citrusy aroma, somewhat bready and toasty, also. taste is a nice balance between toasted maltiness and a citrusy hop bitterness that lingers on the tongue for a long while...making me long for another sip well before i should wanting another. it's a simple yet complex concoction as the malts and hops play well off each other making it seem like there is more going on than there actually is. pure genius. the body is on the light side as a low ABV bitter should be, yet the mouthfeel is lively, crisp and refreshing. drinkability is certainly skewed towards being a sessionable ale. in other words, very good.

a very tasty offering here. surly again impresses me with a twist on a style that sometimes isn't respected in america. recommended.

Photo of facundoCNB
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a clear light amber pour with 2 fingers of fluffy white head. smells of caramel, pine, orange peel. a nice refreshing citrusy hop taste with a hint of breadyness and sweet malt. dirt, pine, caramel taste. light body with a bitter aftertaste, yet somehow nicely refreshing, soda-like carbonation, decent lacing.

this is an excellent session ale, and a great esb. perfect for the summer heat! great taste, great mouthfeel, and looks excellent.. though, not too great on the nose, session beers are very hard to get this high of a rating. job well done by surly.

Photo of Scotchboy
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A pint can of awesomeness sent by Aaron (thanks man!) poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A: Beautiful sunset gold with a large slightly off-white head...also, this thing poured with a ton of floaties....didn't notice that at first.

S: Floral hops with a citric edge, very American smelling, with a pale malt graininess underneath. Smells very refreshing.

T: Taste is similar to the nose, the hops are there for flavor but the bitterness is low; flowers, tangerine and grapefruit rind blend with notes of toasted bread, malted pale grains, and hints of caramel.

MF: Light to medium and refreshing, with lower levels of carbonation. Very drinkable.

O: A seriously drinkable summer beer in my opinion. This IS the beer I would reach for if I was looking for IPA flavor without the oppressive bitterness.

Cheers Aaron!

Photo of mynie
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Pours roughly the same color as the can, a very bright shade of orange topped with a fluffy white head. Smells of Surly yeast, citrus hops, and white bread. Certainly an American take on an ESB--and that's in no way a bad thing.

Tastes very much like it smells, almost like a very light west coast APA only with Surly's excellent yeastmanship helping hold everything together. The hops are subtle yet variegated, the malt is sweet, and the balance is superb.

Photo of N_Schleret
4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a cloudy amber color with a half finger head that dissipates to a sudsy top.
S: Hops as soon as I open the can with a sweet malt backbone.
T: light malt, hops, and bitter.
M: Light body, medium/light carbonation, very crips.
O: Very easy to drink for the summer. Great to bring to the camper for the weekend and drink a handful.

Photo of mully
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
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 mdaschaf
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
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 Sammy
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Bobby for bringing with you on your visit. Pours mostly big creamy soap bubble white head, onto light yellow body.Some citrus and fresh grainy malt in aroma, remembering that this is one season later. Lots of lace layers and dots down my glass. A flavorful bitter, and the can lists but 4%. Satisfying this warm summer day, creamy mouthfeel, and drying finish.

Photo of prototypic
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to lightindarkness for this one. Much appreciated, dood.

Appearance: It pours a clear, light copper color. The head is foamy, white, and stands roughly two fingers tall. It didn't stick around too long and left a very light web of lace on the glass.

Smell: Hops kick it off and have an interesting aroma. They're a little floral, but mostly earthy and grainy. There's some citrus pineapple and grapefruit scents there, but they're not very strong and have a subtle effect. There's a very faint caramel malt aroma that emerges late. All in all, it's very straight forward and uncomplicated, but has a nice smell nonetheless.

Taste: Caramel malts actually lead the charge here. They're sweet and give it a nice base. Citrus pineapple and grapefruit flavors are sweet and complementary. Not a strong fruit flavor at all, but it works weel. The hops kick in and really take over. They give this beer a lot of pizzazz. They mostly floral and grainy, but they do have a solid bitter bite to them. Easily the highlight of the flavor profile. It finishes bitter and a little dry.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It is light bodied, but it's not far from medium. Mouthfeel is smooth, but not silky. Carbonation is not really high which helps. Drinkability is very high. This is a really easy drinking English bitter. I could drink quite a bit of this and be more than happy to do so.

This is a nice English Bitter. Surly did a good a job with it. This style (by my standards) is dominated by a wealth of mediocre beers. This is a good one that's perfect for a session. Too bad I can't easily get more. Damn limited distribution.

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - slightly hazy copper, thumb of fluffy head dissipated slowly, lots of random sticky lacing
S - big aromas of mandarin citrus, herbs, and grainy malts, some grassiness, definitely interesting
T - start with a prominent mineral flavour, gives way to gentle citrus, fresh grass, and perfume, a prevalent grainy malt backbone, definitely unique
M - light and well carbonated, a bitter and mineral residue feel lingers along with a prominent bitter
O - definitely a unique brew with a pleasant hop mix and a prominent bitter finish, well crafted

Photo of MMAJYK
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice light honey color; golden brown and somewhat clear. Head is 1/2" and fizzling down to nothing in a hurry. Lacing is just a little spotty down the glass and a light film on the surface of the liquid.

S- Caramel malts and honey-like scents mixed in. A little bit buttery, but not bad. Hops are very earthy and seem fresh.

T- Mild and light with a wonderful bittering hop hitting midstream and finishing dry. The hops are quite earthy and "dirt-y" but just making them jump out at you more. Maybe harsh is a better word, but in a good way.

M- Light and thin. Carbonation is medium to high.

D- Very drinkable. I really like this brew for the fact that it adds some balls to a lighter beer style. Leave it to those boys in MN to nail it. Great job!

Thanks a bunch to pitmonkey for trading this to me!!

Photo of Maction
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Into an imperial pint glass, it was semi-opaque with golden edges surrounding orangey amber. A foamy off-white head collapses quickly, but still leaves lace down the side of the glass.

S: At first whiff, shortbread and cream, and then some spicy berry underneath.

T: I initially get a sweet bread-like flavor, a buttery middle, and mineral water finish

M: The mouth feel is just slightly heavy, and the carbonation cuts out quickly, again like a nice imported sparkling mineral water.

D: Rich but refreshing, this would be one of my go-to summer beers if it were locally available.

Notes: Thanks to mnjeff for the trade!

Photo of jsanford
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can poured into a Pint Glass.

Pours a clear copper with a 2-inch fluffy white head that leaves some spotty lacing as it dissipates. Big, fresh, and pungent hop aromas of grapefruit, orange, and pine with a slightly sweet toasted caramel malt backbone. Taste follows the nose closely, lots of pungent, floral hops with a nice toasted malt character. Mouthfeel is light and crisp, with sharp carbonation. Great beer, uniquely American take on the English Bitter style.

Photo of blackie
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: standard pint, a light copper-amber in color, low head

s: the nose is very much tealike, some light toasty malts metallic hops and some grassy citrus, pretty simple stuff

m: light bodied with a moderate level of carbonation

t: very light toasted malt body with a very prominent tea flavor, metallic hop bitterness really stands out against the low malt back, some citrus

d: a straight session beer, not the most interesting thing out there but it does fit the style

sampled at Stub & Herbs, Minneapolis

Photo of AmberMan22
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had heard this beer been called 'Diet Furious' but when I got to try it, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It pours a surprisingly hazy apricot in the thicker part of the pint glass, reaching a lemony color toward the periphery.

The smell is predominately (but far from overwhelmingly) hoppy. Just light, crisp, and hoppy.

This doesn't taste like diet furious. It tastes like sessionable furious. Surly has done it again with an easy drinking, yet tasty and hoppy beer. Perfect for these hot summer days, with a relaxing low ABV.

I didn't give the mouthfeel much thought while I was drinking it, but it was far from thin. For a 4% ABV beer, this has a very appropriate, middling heft to it.

As I said, a fantastic summer drinker -- though likely not worth multiple repeat purchases considering the price. I'll stick to Furious or Bender for this kind of money.

Photo of GbVDave
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 16oz pint glass at Hopleaf 7/17/08.

A: Served a clear golden color capped with a creamy 1 1/2 finger head that's bright white. Slightly lacy.

S: Aromas of toasted grain, caramel malt, and a bit of citrus hops.

T: See above. Toasted grain and caramel, initially, then a wash of bitter hops.

M: Starts off with some dry toasted grain and sweet caramel and then finishes with a big bitter blast of hops.

D: Completely sessionable. Very clean and refreshing with a low abv...let's drink!

Photo of gatornation
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours an amber copper color with a beige head and ring some nice lacing on side of glass..smell is crisp malts first then some hops with citrus and some toffee ..the taste is malts and some mild bitterness as it warms... some hop and citrus mixed in as well with some bread and toffee..the mouthfeel is thin but with flavor..what impressed me most about this brew was the flavor it packed @ 4.5% ABV,,wow it was damn good ..crisp and refreshing..i want another one...recommended of course

Photo of bigfnjoe
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a tallboy can into a pint glass

A- pours a cloudy shade of orange with a two finger white head. The head is very puffy, and there are a lot of bubbles up the glass. Looks find

S- awesome citrus hop aroma, much more aggressive than I expected from a tiny, 4% bitter. Insane!

T- as expected with the age of this (5 months, refrigerated for the last month), the hops are faded. But I can tell there's a nice citrus backbone, along with a nice biscuity sweetness to it. Lovely

M- body is overall pretty thin, nothing to see here

O- awesome sessionable beer. I can't wait to order a bunch of this when it drops fresh next year!

Photo of lightindarkness
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an orange amber color with a sudsy white head on top that sits down to patchy froth.

Nicely juiced aroma comes out over light malt background. Big peach and marmalade with a strong floral sweetness. A little deeper toffee and vanilla cake-like smell comes through too.

More juiciness in the flavor. Lightly bitter with good citrus notes. More cake-like malt character without being too sweet. Caramel, nutty, marmalade and peach, then a little buttery at the finish with more fading bitterness.

Nice lighter medium body with a fading full carbonation through the swallow. Leaves a little slickness, but not much.

Really easy to drink. Good flavor, not crazy great, but solidly good. I could seemingly put back a few of these without trouble.

Photo of Wisconsinality
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16oz can poured into Imperial pint.

Thanks to beerwolf77 for graciously hooking me up with a can of this.

A- Pours a dark golden apricot that has just the slightest haze to it. A decent finger and a half worth of head that leaves a nice cap on the beer and some soapy lacing.

S- Some faint hops, good malt and maybe even a little wheat. Nice and bready, almost smells like cherios.

T- Nice and bready. Good amounts of malt and some caramel. Just a little bit of hops on the tail end round it out. This beer makes me get why they call beer liquid bread.

M- Medium bodied that is crisp and refreshing. A good amount of carbonation but feels very smooth on the way down.

D- Every sip makes me want to take another. Very nice flavor and good mouthfeel makes this another winner from Surly. Not bitter from the end result.

Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 987 ratings.