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Bitter Brewer - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

822 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 822
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)
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Ratings: 822 | Reviews: 414 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Wisconsinality


4.1/5  rDev +2%
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.

Serving type: can

07-11-2010 01:42:33 | More by Wisconsinality
Photo of optiontwo


4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Surprised when I checked my reviews and saw that I hadn't done this one yet.

All of Surly's cans are awesome but this one is especially cool. Poured into a tulip, perhaps a little too cold.

A: Half inch egg shell white head dissipates quickly but I've had cans that weren't so cold that had great head retention, so I'm not gonna hold it against this one. A slightly hazy orange color in the glass.

S: At first there is a sweet bread like aroma, then is more dry cracker or biscuity. After that initial hit it becomes very floral in the aroma with twinges of citrus. Very different.

T: For a 4% "session beer" this is incredibly complex. There is definitely a sweet yet dry malt character that has a lot going on and I personally wouldn't have thought this but the can puts it well "intense toast and marmalade character" That combined with the different citrus flavors in the finish and also the fact that the floral aroma also comes through in the flavor, makes this a great beer. The floral part of the flavor is really interesting, because of the fact that you can taste flowers but the beer is bitter (naturally) its almost like eating a handful of wildflowers.

M: Light, but still has enough body to be ever so slightly creamy going down, and bubbly.

D: One of the things I love most about this beer is the drinkability. At a BBQ I don't have to be drinking PBRs all day and sacrifice flavor just because I want to have more than two and not be wasted.

O: Again, surprised I haven't review this yet seeing as I've been enjoying it the last two summers but I suppose it's appropriate because this summer I've been drinking more than ever. Love this beer. Love Surly.

Serving type: can

07-09-2010 17:09:48 | More by optiontwo
Photo of crossovert


4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

16 oz can.

Pours a med-dark amber/gold with a soapy white head that dissipates quickly.

The smell is fruity and lightly hopped with a malty backbone.

The taste has a bit more citrus than normal, a bit yeasty note, some ok malts, not my favorite though. Not any bitterness at all.

Its a good session beer, a flavorful one at that. Probably the best session beer if you stick by the "4%" hard rule.

I had 3 more of these, and I totally appreciate this brew so much more, just fantastic.

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2010 01:56:00 | More by crossovert
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 AshHousewares


4.85/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Would it be total blasphemy to call this a Furious-Light?

Decent hops, strong citrus, perfect bitter hit at the end. This beer is extremely drinkable. Incredibly aromatic but surprisingly light and refreshing.

A perfect cold lighter beer for the summer.

Serving type: can

07-01-2010 18:49:34 | More by AshHousewares
Photo of wisrarebeer


3.03/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Prachna's.

A: good light brown color
S: mild to medium, with light roasted malt and some grapefruit
T: good, nice malt with somewhat mild grapefruit finish, a bit unusual after-taste (acrid, almost sour), off-taste?, also a bit watered down
M & D: average

I've had BB recently in a can and it was much better overall. I'm wondering if the barrel was just older.

Serving type: on-tap

06-27-2010 16:32:42 | More by wisrarebeer
Photo of beerwolf77


4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from the can into my pint glass the beer is clear golden yellow brown. Two full fingers of white head fill the top of the glass. A solid web of sticky lace is left behind after settling.

The aroma is very mild in the nicest way I can put it. Gentle wafts of hops and malt tickle my nose like a kittens whiskers. Toasted malt is a bit stronger than the hop profile yet there's a nice citrus kick.

The flavor is again easy as apple pie. I wouldn't call it muted just not in your face. The malt is at the front just like the nose. The hops come on in the finish to give the beer a nice bitterness.

Light to medium body with very light carbonation.

Overall this is the definition of drinkable. Just enough flavor and body to make it substantial. With the low ABV I could drink this all night and not get drunk.

Serving type: can

06-23-2010 23:18:59 | More by beerwolf77
Photo of drabmuh


3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a shaker pint glass. Beer is dark yellow and amber. Beer is mostly clear and forms a thick white head of small bubbles that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. Carbonation levels are moderate. Looks good.

Beer has a soft aroma, mostly nutty and mildly bitter. Kind of smells like Sierra Nevada Pale ale but lighter.

Beer has a medium body and is a little nutty and only mildly bitter. I get that bitters should be around 35 - 45 IBUs, this nails that. It gets better the more I drink it. There is some graininess on the palate. It is pretty good. I enjoyed it and drank a couple.

Serving type: can

06-22-2010 16:41:29 | More by drabmuh
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 sliverX

S. Georgia & S. Sandwich Isls.

4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to Meagan on the trade.
Poured an orange/light copper brew, a one finger cap of white foam for a head retained well from the start. Some nice lacing hanging around as well.
Smell is sweet bready, perfume, floral characters. If there was beer soap this would be what it smelled like and it's beautiful.
Taste is floral hops with a slight pine backing that intensifies as time passes on the tongue, there's a bread crust like character hanging around in the middle.
Mouthfeel is a touch fuller than water, don't feel much carbonation on the tongue, the hops dry the palette a bit making you just keep going back to the glass.
Drinkability this is full of hop flavor and 4% crisp refreshing now this is what beer should be for the masses, looks like I should be in England...

Serving type: can

06-20-2010 01:17:25 | More by sliverX
Photo of yeahnatenelson


3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brought to me by my pal Sean - What a great guy!

Appearance -- Pours a deep honey/amber hue, clear, with one finger of stiff beige head.

Smell -- Lots of citrus from the dry-hopping, along with some grassy hop aroma and bready malts.

Taste -- The citrus flavors are all but absent in the flavor. Hop profile is quite grassy and bitter. Bread and biscuit flavors are soon followed by a dry, grassy, and bitter finish. No trace of sweetness throughout the brew.

Mouthfeel -- Lighter-bodied, dry finish.

Drinkability -- Quite refreshing, true to style, but a little ho-hum. Not my favorite Surly offering, but I'm certainly glad I got to try it.

Serving type: can

06-15-2010 00:54:53 | More by yeahnatenelson
Photo of herman77


3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Slight haze orange/apricot color. Thick fluffy beige head that dies down after a moment or two. Nice lacing.

S: Slight malt and orange citrus. A touch of earthy/grassy malt. It does kind of smell like a piece of toast with orange jam on it. Not the strongest nose even after letting it warm up for awhile.

T: Hints of orange citrus up front then the light malt flavor comes through. Herbal/grassy hop bitterness rounds out the dry finish. Next to nothing for sweetness (not that this is bad). All the flavors are pretty toned down since its low in abv.

M/D: A little on the thin side, pretty smooth over the palate, lower carbonation. Very easy drinking, not to flavorful since its only 4%abv. A great "light" beer for the summer. Mellow, easy drinking flavors makes this very sessionable.

Serving type: can

06-07-2010 01:11:29 | More by herman77
Photo of gatornation


4.1/5  rDev +2%
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

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2010 01:04:24 | More by gatornation
Photo of Merchant46


4.68/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: A pleasant light amber color. Thick white head that dissipates quickly but maintains a presence. Usually few bubbles.

Smell: A fresh baked bread smell dominates.

Taste: Wonderfully earthy, with a bitterness that avoids being fruity or floral, that lingers nicely.

Mouthfeel: A little thin for an ESB, but actually seems appropriate for this beer.

Drinkability: I never have just one around, bcz I always want another (at least). The relatively low alcohol content is nice, considering how much of this beer I like to drink

Important note: You will really sell this beer short if you drink it ice cold. I usually take a can out of the fridge a half hour before I want to have one, then take the next one when I'm opening the first.

Serving type: can

06-07-2010 00:03:17 | More by Merchant46
Photo of brewdub17


4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Nice looking dark copper-orange color. Light head retention.

Smell: A very bitter but fresh smell with light amount of citrus aromas mixed with floral scents.

Taste: Good malty texture with not much of an initial hop presence. After the malty character comes the immense bitterness which tastes great and original.

Mouthfeel: Takes a while for the taste buds to get accustom to but once they do it covers the pallets of the mouth gently and with intensity.

Drinkability: A very low ABV and almost no taste of it makes it wonderful for a long beer session. Great flavors are still present even with such a low ABV.

Serving type: can

06-05-2010 19:56:12 | More by brewdub17
Photo of portia99


4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very fresh 16oz can received in trade with Scoobydank as a great extra. Thanks Bill! Poured into a Portsmouth tulip.

A - Pours a beautiful, crystal clear copper color in the glass with a finger of light, fluffy white head. Head fades but never really disappears - just leaves a thick layer on the surface with a nice collar and some lacing left behind too.

S - Toasted malt aroma with some light citrus on top. Maybe a bit of orange blossom honey in there. Overall a light, crisp and refreshing aroma.

T - Follows the aroma pretty closely. Toasted malt backbone with a nice fruity, citrusy orange character. A well balanced hop bitterness and some addtional slightly herbal/grassy hop flavors too. Pretty good stuff.

M - Light and refreshing. A crisp bitterness with a really nice semi sweet, fruity citrus presence. Carbonation is on the light side, but still has a good lively feel to it and matches well with the flavors.

D - This is very good. Light enough for hot weather sessions and flavorful enough with some unique flavor components that really work. I wouldn't call this a traditional English bitter, but it is an excellent American interpretation. Would love to get more of this.

Serving type: can

06-05-2010 00:48:59 | More by portia99
Photo of camp0474


4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into nonic pint glass.

A: Pale orange with a slight haziness. Nice off-white head dies of quickly. Some decent lacing.

S: Toasty smell with some mellow citrus/floral hops, smells a bit orangey. Overall smells resemble a piece of warm toast covered in orange jam or marmalade.

T: Very much like the smell. Subtle citrus hops up front quickly joined by the light toasted malt flavors. Then ending with some nice floral earthy hop aromas. Surprisingly complex for what it is, you just have to pay attention... overall very subtle flavors.

M/D: Light-Medium Body. Low carbonation. Slightly dry bitter finish and not in a bad way. Very smooth. Light body and balanced flavors make this beer extremely drinkable. Awesome session beer. Who says a 4% ABV beer can't taste good.

Somewhat hard to review this beer instead of just keep drinking it.

Serving type: can

06-01-2010 03:06:32 | More by camp0474
Photo of Aguirre


4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had a couple of cans of this in Minneapolis this weekend while I was up there for a wedding and brought some home. This beer is awesome.

Pours a clear copper with a tight white head.

Smell is light, and biscuity. The hops are soft and floral.

Taste is exactly what I want out a beer like this. The can describes it as "toast and marmalade" which is a better job than I can do. It's got a strong malt body without being too heavy and the hops are well balanced and come in through the finish, earthy and delicious.

If it were readily available, I'd keep a few cans of this stuff around all the time for football or baseball games, or just relaxing after work. I love the low ABV, you can drink it all day.

Bitter Brewer is a fantastic beer I highly endorse. I think my macro loving friends would like this beer and it's a also great example of a style too few breweries attempt...maybe because it's hard to make one with the character and uniqueness Surly has done.

Serving type: can

06-01-2010 02:18:06 | More by Aguirre
Photo of Parrotbeak


4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

Serving type: can

05-31-2010 02:20:57 | More by Parrotbeak
Photo of indiapaleale


4.1/5  rDev +2%
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.

Serving type: can

05-05-2010 00:39:54 | More by indiapaleale
Photo of womencantsail


4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Alicia for sending me yet another Surly can. Enjoyed with lunch today.

A: The pour is absolutely beautiful. A hazy burnt orange color with a fluffy cream colored head which clings to glass.

S: The nose has a nice sweet citrus aroma with a mild pine and some bready malt notes. There's also perhaps a slight grassy hop scent to the beer which I notice when I got to take a sip.

T: The flavor is subtly hoppy with sweet orange and miscellaneous citrus along with a mild bitterness on the finish. There's also a toasty, biscuity malt flavor which is the backbone of the beer.

M: The body is perhaps a bit thin with a low to moderate carbonation.

D: This is a fairly new style to me, but one that I'm enjoying more and more. I really like the subtle flavors and mildness of it which make this beer a really easy drinker.

Serving type: can

03-22-2010 21:43:28 | More by womencantsail


3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A three finger head is easily achieved with a vigorous pour. It quickly turns rocky with off white bubbles that leave scattered lace as they slowly fade. Body is a rich honey amber in tone. Nose is immediately noticeable with fragrant and rustic hops that are very vibrant. As you continue to smell you get a floral citrus character also along with sappy sweet pine notes. With first sip you get a slight piney hop bite but it quickly yields to a thin almost watery body. Super easy to drink as it is so smooth. This kind of reminds me of a hoppy pilsner. A little on the light side though. Mouthfeel is a soft bitter hue that really hangs on the tongue. As I said, this beer is very easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2010 19:11:57 | More by SPLITGRIN
Photo of capra12

New York

4.1/5  rDev +2%
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.

Serving type: can

03-09-2010 03:33:25 | More by capra12
Photo of steve8robin


2.9/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Extra in a trade...

A: Perfect. Golden copper with a thick white head that slowly fades.

S: Smells super hoppy. Super grassy with grapefruit.

T: Super hoppy and grassy. Not much else going on in this brew.

M: Not bad. Somewhat refreshing.

D: Not very smooth. Hops really overpower this brew.

All in all, not being a super hop guy, this brew did not do much for me. Too much of that grapefruit / grassy flavor. If you like it dry and hoppy, this is definitely a brew to try. If you like malts and sweets, then avoid this beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2010 06:00:27 | More by steve8robin
Photo of Mora2000


3.9/5  rDev -3%
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.

Serving type: can

02-10-2010 17:32:27 | More by Mora2000
Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 822 ratings.