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Bitter Brewer - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

959 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 959
Reviews: 426
rAvg: 4
pDev: 11.25%
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 959 | Reviews: 426 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Greggy
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

** Updated 6/7/08

A- Pours a 2 finger head, not to thick, and recedes into some lacing. Nice amber color that is just slightly cloudy.

S- Nice hop aroma giving some piny grapefruit notes and some light maltiness. I also pickup what smells like furniture stain.

T- A bit thin right off the boat, and almost watery feeling, but recedes into some dry hoppy finish with some residual piney maltiness.

M- Low carbonation as per style, with a nice light dry hop finish.

D- Overall, this is a good transition beer for those into the craft brew world, and even those who aren't. A great beer for a warm afternoon.

Greggy, May 21, 2008
Photo of Imstillthegman
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to brdc for this can, an extra he threw in on a recent trade.

Pours a lightly cloudy golden color with a nice two finger off-white head. Decent lacing.

The aroma is filled with herbal tea, along with some well-done toast and some citrus.

The flavor follows those same lines and adds a touch of graininess. The herbal and floral flavors are very enjoyable and not usually joined by any bitterness, which this brew has.

The mouthfeel is just a tad thin, but still very solid. Good carbonation keeps it exciting. Low abv + lots of flavor = excellent session beer. Thanks, Daniel, for the opportunity!

Imstillthegman, Sep 22, 2008
Photo of Cavery
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Can dated 6/6/11, courtesy of my brother Klym in a recently family trade. Always happy to give another Surly can a tick! There's something cool about just having these among your other beers.

16 oz can into generic snifter

A: Nice looking sappy brown red and yellow body with soap sud foams that form a ring around the glass. Islands of patchy lacing form, and then melt away like icebergs adrift. A slight murkiness that may be from having this a bit colder out of the can than it should be, I'll give it a few minutes before moving on.

S: Animal feed, cigar wrappers, firewood, and bunches of pine needles. Unusual in the nose, and I quite like it. It would seem suggestive of a malt presence, but the hops are still there in a mellow way. I find this nose really familiar yet hard to pinpoint, I spent about 5 minutes on this category before I came up with the initial descriptors. It's oh so familiar yet oh so elusive. Freshly cleaned horse trough as a final statement.

T: Old tree bark with an initial taste that reminds me of those candied black jelly beans. The flavor quickly picks up interrupting the old black licorice jelly beans to transition to a much fainter hop and mothballs bitterness. This is quite a pleasant surprise. I wish I was more familiar with the style, as the balance of flavors seems to be very solid. A tad bit of wateriness sneaks through, but not in a way that compromises the flavor. It just adds to an ease of drinking. Dried old leaves crunch in the finish, and catch fire for taste of a wildfire in fall.

M: Light but creamy in the mouth, good feels from a thickness of ingredients. The bitterness hits first in a faint smokey-airy sort of feel, then transitions into a much more solid chewiness. Slow release of small bubbles helps maintain a strong chewy sensation throughout. The ease of drinking certainly comes from its low alcohol feels and flavor compatible carbonation. Bitter, but sessionable.

O: I really liked this, I think the flavors really popped off the body in a very unique and clean way. It was like taking a hoppy trip to a farm, setting fire to it, and then making a clean low ABV getaway. I enjoyed thick bitter flavors and chewy mouthfeels, but I don't feel trashed. I need to drink more bitters, as this one left me with a craving for more bitter sessionables.

Cavery, Sep 23, 2011
Photo of garymuchow
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There is a wonderful hop presence in the aroma that reminds me of opening a fresh pouch of hop pellets (fresh and grassy). Underneath lies a sweet fruit (light citrus and fresh). Wonderful.
Big full, large bubbles off white head. Amber of orange (dull gold), largely clear.
Flavor is more malt dominated with a soft hop flavor in the front lasting through a longish finish. Slight fruit quality. A touch of bitterness, but hops are stronger in flavor and it's similar to the aroma.
Thin and close to water like, but not in a bad way. Smooth, anyway and lower carbonation (fine by me).
Easy drinking, flavorful, interesting tastes. Yum. Great for the summer.

garymuchow, Jun 08, 2008
Photo of scottfrie
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16oz can into SN tulip pint glass. Big thanks to thecaptain073 for the chance to try this one.

A: Pours a clear orange-amber with a billowing off-white head made of large bubbles. Head receded into a thick oily film that left a network of spotty, sticky lace.
S: Light notes of toasted malt, dry grains, and light citrus hops. Hints of citrusy orange as well.
T: Follows the nose with notes of dry malt and a juicy citrus sweetness. Hints of tangerine, orange, pine and bready yeast. Finish is sweet, citrusy and faintly bitter.
M: Crisp and clean feel with a medium body and a refreshing and dry finish. Low bitterness. Carbonation is very soft.
D: A very light and delicious beer. Beers like these are my "light" beer equivalents to BMCs. A very delicious and sessionable beer.

scottfrie, Aug 03, 2010
Photo of andrenaline
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes...

A - Pours a nice golden colour, finger of head with solid retention and some sporadic lacing.

S - Sweet citrus, musty leafy green notes, wheat grass, wet cardboard, dark malted milk and caramel.

T - Leafy green hops, quite grassy, bitter is an understatement with loads of sour lemon citrus, hints of lime, nice caramel lingers alongside the leafy greens for a nice balance.

M - Full bodied with plenty of carbonation, goes down smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

O - This stuff is incredibly tasty and leans more on the hopped up english bitter than a traditional bitter. Loads of flavour, insanely drinkable, and an all around scrumptious ale.

andrenaline, Feb 05, 2012
Photo of brdc
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Blue Nile in Minneapolis.

Poured into a Surly pint, it is a very light golden, as light as the Cynic, with a creamy white head.
Citric aroma, with multiple layers of orange, limes, very fresh and lightly hopped.
Very light on the palate, refreshing and quaffable, quite hoppy and bitter to start, but then tart, minimally malted, and then acidic with citric fruits all over again.
I tried only one, but imagine this would be a great session beer.

brdc, Jun 24, 2007
Photo of gford217
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can courtesy of MeLikeBeer poured into a snifter.

A: Pours like a hazy iced tea with a decent off-white head that shows good retention and lacing.

S: Smells a little like iced tea too with leafy hops and some spices on top of the malt background. Definitely some citrus and pine hops with lots of grassy scents in there.

T: Taste also has pine and citrus hops, mainly grass and leaves. Definitely get oranges, grapefruits and lemon zest in the taste. The hops were a bit tart and balanced out well with the sweetness of the caramel malts.

M: Mouthfeel is medium and very (you guessed it) bitter with strong carbonation.

D: This is definitely a drinkable brew despite the bitter connotations and taste. It tasted like a beer version of a nice iced tea on a summer afternoon.

gford217, Jun 11, 2008
Photo of sholland119
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a very clear light copper. A thin white head but very nice lacing.

S-Toasted, bready grains with a bit of citric sourness.

T-Simple but delicious. A grainy malt in the front, mixing with a grapefruit bite in the finish.

M-Lingering bitterness but otherwise dry and crisp.

D-Very nice sessionable beer. Nice bitter bite balances some graininess for a tasty, low ABV brew.


sholland119, Nov 03, 2008
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this brew in a trade with tytoanderso, Thanks Tyler!

16oz can served in a standard pint glass.

L - slightly cloudy, burnt orange color with a light tan head that left a little lacing.

S - tea leaf and floral hop aromas.

T - bitter orange-tea flavor with some sweetness near the tail end.

F - light/medium bodied with a smooth feel.

D - easy drinking and pretty tasty.

JoeyBeerBelly, Jun 21, 2008
Photo of argock
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 16oz can into a clear glass mug. Canned on 5/17/11 on bottom of can. Once again, Greg provides in a stunning display of beer-buying overachievement.

A: Great-looking light amber with 1-2 finger, off-white rocky head with decent retention and several lace streamers.

S: Wonderful hoppy aroma, mainly of pine/evergreen, but also with some herbal, almost minty touches and a bit of lemon-orange citrus as well. SOme pale maltiness comes through, but not a lot. A great twist on a sometimes boring brew.

T: Very hoppy with more malt flavor than the nose gives away. Crackery pale maltiness plays well off of the piney, herbal hoppiness. I really enjoyed the crisp flavors in this brew -- not overly complex to be sure, but very good at showing off the malt and hops flavors it has.

M: Smooth and easy to drink with a nice crisp dryness in the finish. Body is light-medium.

O: A very interesting light-bodied hoppy brew. Nice work on this one Surly -- a superior session brew which showcases a lot of flavor in a highly drinkable package.

argock, Jun 29, 2011
Photo of porterwoobie
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served out of a 16 oz can into a standard pint glass.

A: orangish-amber color, one finger of head with some lacing

S: citrusy hops with an orange peel scent

T: slight maltiness at first, followed by subtle hop bitterness that lingers in your mouth

MF: smooth, light bodied.

Drinkability: i enjoyed this beer. and at 4%, i can enjoy that much more of it.

porterwoobie, May 09, 2009
Photo of yourefragile
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can, canned 6/6/11. Thanks Doug!

Pours a clearish, hazed dark copper colo with a quickly fading light tan head. Some sparse rings of lacing. Aroma is earthy and floral hops, tea, and biscuit malt. Flavor is balanced, smooth and finishes with an earthy bitter bite. Body is biscuit, bread, tea and earthy hops. Medium body with moderate carbonation. An odd beer, regardless of style classification, but very enjoyable for the ABV. Full of balanced flavor and mild citrus hops in the finish; nothing remarkable, but highly recommended if you've never had it.

yourefragile, Jul 09, 2011
Photo of cvfish
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - This beer poured a golden orange color that produced a fluffy white head that had good retention and laced the side of the glass very nicely

S - The aroma of this beer was quite simple, but complex at the same time, one word = hops, but the hoppiness was nice and complex with a varied array of different aromas

T - The taste of this beer was a brutal explosion of hops, started with a nice pale malty beginning that was quickly overshadowed by a mix of delicious fruity hoppiness

M - The mouthfeel of this beer had a medium body and a light to moderate amount of carbonation

D - This is another example of a well done beer by Surly, I wish these guys would bring their beer to Louisiana, they are some of the best

cvfish, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of jamie2dope
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to Todd for sending me home with a can of this stuff. Poured this beer in to an English pint glass. Color was a hazy dark orange, with a large, frothy white head. Floral hops kick off the nose, followed by some biscuit, bread crust, and some dry grain. Taste is very similar to the smell, all of the above mentioned smells were also present in flavor, with the floral hops asserting themselves more. Definitely seems to be a medium sized beer in body. Drinkability is really something. The low alcohol content along with the high level of complexity make it an excellent session brew. Surly has not disappointed with any of their beers so far. I especially love the style; It is one that I rarely get a chance to try, so I am very happy that I had the opportunity. Now my only problem is that this glass is becoming empty far too quickly. Get Surly.

jamie2dope, Mar 24, 2009
Photo of TurdFurgison
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at the HopLeaf in Chicago, served in a goblet (odd choice, I expected a pint glass for a bitter). The beer was slightly hazy copper colored, almost no head. The aroma is toasted malts and a little bit of pungent hops. The taste is sharp with hops bitterness at the beginning of each sip, leaving a beautiful biscuity after-taste at the end. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, very easy to drink. Another winner from Surly in my opinion.

TurdFurgison, Jun 10, 2008
Photo of mwagner1018
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- (poured into an imperial pint glass) Pours a nice deep golden color with a light copper hue, huge 2-3 fingers of frothy white head. Nice scattered lacing throughout beer.

S- Crisp earthly aroma, light floral aroma, nice herbal note and fresh cut wet grass, light hoppy note.

T- Clean hops up front, nice earthy grassy note, light malt body, notes of lemon peel, and light fruits, dry bitter finish.

M- Light clean body, crisp and dry on the finish.

D- Very nice sessionable beer, low on the ABV, great drinkable beer.

mwagner1018, Aug 24, 2010
Photo of timbro81
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to dfried for the opportunity. Pours a light copper/orange color. Nice fluffy head that settles to a nice little layer. Proper amount of carbonation for the style. Small amounts of lacing that travels down the glass. Smells of light toasted malts with a light yet fair amount of earthy floral hops. Mouth feel is light and clean. Nice level of hops throughout the mouth. Citrus hops up front, that transitions to a more floral type. I touch of toasted malts comes in for the aftertaste. I really light and highly sessionable beer. Utterly fantastic.

timbro81, Jun 28, 2008
Photo of indiapaleale
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour - golden orange with yellowish hues and a big fluffy white head. Looks like a hand-pulled pint coming into the glass as the carbonation seems low and the beer is very clean.

Aroma - slight lemon citrus smell along with some hints at toasted bread, honey and caramelized sugars. Not a huge nose on this brew but its inviting nonetheless.

Taste - a citrus bite is the first to hit the tongue followed by a mellow sweetness and then a bitterness that is more sharp then the pungent and tongue numbing type given off by a massive amount of hops. Its hard to explain. Bitter Brewer is very easy to drink and drink quickly at that. It goes down super smooth and has an outstanding "session factor".

Overall - This has a great refreshing flavor quality to it that is hard to beat on a hot day. Not a powerful brew but tasty and definitely the type you'd want around when you fire up the grill.

Availability - May-July

Would I buy more of it? - yep, one more that I'd love to have on a camping trip or at a Saturday afternoon BBQ.

indiapaleale, May 05, 2010
Photo of homebrewhawk
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Dansting for this one. 16oz can served in a shaker pint. Poured a clear gold with less than a finger of fine bubbled, white head. Fresh citrus hop aroma. Light bodied with some malt backbone. A little malt sweetness. Nicely hopped, but not overly bitter. Lingering hop dryness to the finish. Very drinkable. Making a flavorful, lower alcohol beer is a tribute to the skills of the brewery IMHO.

I wish more breweries would make beers like this instead of taking it to the other extreme of alcohol and hops. One session beer in the lineup isn't too much to ask, is it?

homebrewhawk, Aug 15, 2009
Photo of hardy008
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours a hazy light orange color with a foamy white two finger head.

Smell - Has a strong aroma of floral and citrus hops. Smells strongly of grapefruit peeling.

Taste - Floral hops and a grapefruit peeling flavor from the citrus hops dominate this beer. There is a little bit of sweetness as the beer warms, and some malt flavor comes through. Leaves a bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Lightbodied, clean, and crisp.

Drinkability - A nice drinkable beer, gets a bit sweeter as it warms. Finishes dry.

hardy008, Jun 01, 2009
Photo of capra12
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed solo courtesy of Speedwayjim, poured into an east end pint glass.

Appearance: Poured a rather foamy 1 finger head, orange/ tan slightly cloudy. spotty/weblike lacing.

Smell: citrus/ grassy hops with a hint of pine.

Taste: Opens with a subdued hop profile which consist of citrus/ and earthy hops. There is a subtle malt profile that is around but doesnt influence/mask the bittering hops which emerge in the middle end but arent overwhelmingly hoppy. There is a very subtle tea/herbal profile that comes and goes in the open to middle. The aftertaste on this is citrus/grassy with a fair amount of bitter.

Mouthfeel: moderate carbonation, with a light body and leaves a slightly dry palate along with a coarse body but clean also

Drinkability: I would have this again and recommend this to someone who seeks a citrus/grassy hop/bitter brew that has a clean and light body. Very enjoyable.

capra12, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of mhewes
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A : Poured a nice golden color with a thin white head

S : Lots of hops and pineapple. Some malt to the aroma also

T : Lots of citrus hops along with some fruit flavors. The malts that are present do a good job to balance out the hops

M : Good carbonation

D : Really good and easy to drink. One I wouldn't mind having on a regular basis.

mhewes, Jun 15, 2008
Photo of MNishCT77
4.11/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

16 oz. can purchased in the greater Washington D.C. area, canned ~three weeks ago on 5/7/13, poured into my FFF Teku tasting glass , drank on 6/1/13 over an hour.

A: 4.00 - golden-orange coloration, mininmal clarity with slight haze when held up to the light, 1/2 finger white frothy head subsides into subtle glass lacing, minimal alcohol legs (to be expected for a 4% beer)

S: 3.50 - as the can portends, some orange/marmalade notes on the initial sniff with some light bready/biscuity aromas with little hop presence, which was surprising due to its alleged dry hopping and the pedigree

T: 4.25 - mild bitterness on the front of the tongue (at 40 IBUs) with malt characters predominating in the middle of the mouth --> again, orange, marmalade, honey and biscuit notes are apparent with very little hop flavors considering that this beer was allegedly dry hopped

M: 4.50 -light bodied (appropriate for style), 4+% is not apparent at all; fine carbonation coats the tongue

O: 4.25 - I am willing to chalk this up as Surly's session beer and, to be honest, as much as I like IPAs/DIPAs, it's their aroma/flavor and not their bitterness that appels to me, so an ESB is not a favorite style; this is a solid sessionable offering, but, with all the more flavorful options from Surly out there, I won't be buying this one again as, unfortunately, this is their most underwhelming beer on my palate

MNishCT77, Jun 01, 2013
Photo of Powderhornphil
4.11/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the can into a snifter. It's only 4 percent but the snifter is fun. Pours a rich orange with one finger of head, recedes to some lacing.

Smells of orange rinds and marmalade. Delicious but also mild. Hints of grainy cracker are there as well.

Taste follows the nose. And while the flavor starts mild, it finishes with a burst of lemon, honey and orange.

Mouthfeel is medium which is something to be said for a beer so light in both abv and calories.

Great summer seasonal. One that I likely overlooked for too long.

Powderhornphil, May 27, 2013
Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 959 ratings.