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Bitter Brewer - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

931 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 931
Reviews: 424
rAvg: 4
pDev: 11.25%
Wants: 220
Gots: 66 | 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: 931 | Reviews: 424 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Sammy, Aug 04, 2008
Photo of t0rin0
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%

t0rin0, Feb 26, 2013
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.96/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at the 2013 Firestone Walker Invitational held at the Paso Robles Event Center in Paso Robles, CA.

Pours a murky dark orange with a foamy bone head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus and tea-like flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

UCLABrewN84, Jun 03, 2013
Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

djrn2, Jan 19, 2012
Photo of Thorpe429
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, IL.

A: Poured a nice copper color with an off-white head and some pretty good lacing.

S: Lots of mild citrus scents melding together atop a nice bready malt base.

T: Slight bitterness and a little bit of malt. Nothing super complex, but blends together nicely.

M: Light-bodied and well-carbonated.

D: Quite drinkable, as is the tradition of the style. Not my favorite of Surly's, but a solid attempt at this style.

Thorpe429, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

zestar, Jun 05, 2013
Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

nmann08, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

acurtis, Jan 19, 2012
Photo of brentk56
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy gold/copper color with a sturdy little head that swathes the pint glass with some shards and dots of lace

Smell: Tea-like aroma with toast and citrus elements

Taste: Opens with a fruity/toasty flavor that blends the malt and hops in an English/American blend; after the swallow, the tea-like elements combine with the fruit to provide a full-flavored finish

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Though better on tap, this is a very nice session beer out of the can as well.

Thanks, tempest, for the opportunity

brentk56, Sep 20, 2008
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Orange Crush with no detectable haziness (unlike the on-tap version). The hugely sticky head is the color of lightly toasted marshmallow and looks fantastic, both right after the pour and as it melts. Scattered sheets of soon-to-be-crusty lace please the eye as well.

The nose is oddly muted. What is appreciated is nice, but there's so little of it present that the above score is my only option. Each sniff delivers a barely toasted maltiness, coupled with a slightly more prominent hoppiness that is on the tropical side of the fruit bowl.

It looks like the boys at Surly are serious about including something less *full throttle* in their lineup. For some reason, I expected the canned version to be more bitter and much more pungent than the on-tap version. Let's call it Surly Conditioning Syndrome (SCS). It isn't, but it's still delicious beer.

An ABV of 4.0% and 37 IBUs means that multiple cans could be consumed in one sitting. Hey, that sounds like a session beer. As the ounces speed by, it becomes apparent that the genius of BB is that it's both delicious and remarkably well-balanced, without leading to palate fatigue. Try *that* with a few cans of Furious. Thank you, I think I will.

The Golden Promise malt lays down as solid a foundation as possible given the constraits of the ABV. The hop bill includes Warrior and Glacier, two varieties whose flavor profiles I'm not that familiar with. There's lots of ripe apricot, backed up by bitter orange and white grapefruit, bringing things to a tangy, snappy close.

The mouthfeel is perfectly calibrated for sessioning. Not that it's perfect (it's a little thin for me), but it feels right and has an ideal amount of carbonation. And the quality train keep rollin' along.

Other than an aroma that failed to meet me halfway (despite being dry-hopped), Bitter Brewer in the can is pretty close to the beer that I enjoyed from the tap last Fourth of July. Too bad it isn't in the same league as Furious, Bender and CynicAle. Then again, there are but a handful of breweries that can bring a trio like that to the table.

BuckeyeNation, May 31, 2008
Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With full flavor, light body, and ultimate ease of drinking- Bitter Brewer is an ideal session beer.

Fruity malty aromas give the impressions of bruised oranges, and lemon-honey tea.

The copper-golden color actually looks orange when it hits the light just right. With bright clarity and froathy carbonation, the beer lathers an eggshell white head that reduces to a thin but consistent sheet, leaving nice random patterns of lace behind. Very clear, otherwise a classic pale ale appearance.

Flavors take the malty notes from caramel-bready to toasty, toffee, and mild grain. Fruity esters give the flavor of apples and oranges. But the hops give even more character with orange zest, lemon grass, and mint. The lable suggests marmelade flavor, and justifiably so.

Light in body, the initial sips seem creamier/froathier. But then the beer makes a quick transition to a light minty finish with clean bitterness and fleeting hop (citrus) taste. Very easy to drink.

Thanks Shango42!

BEERchitect, Aug 03, 2010
Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev 0%

Texasfan549, Aug 09, 2014
Photo of mikesgroove
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, I never thought I would be landing this one anytime soon. Big thanks to Jay for sending this along on our last trade. I have been dying to try this, but never got around to seeking one out. Big, tall Surly can, poured into a pint glass at fridge temperature and consumed on 08/10/2008.

Poured a very bright, light orange color with a tall white frothy head that lasted for a few minutes before settling down to a thin half inch layer that stayed with it throughout the rest of the session. Nice carbonation bubbling up through the hazy golden body.

The aroma was very light. Nice touches of light citrus fruit, lots of tea and herbal like qualities as well. Very light though in overall aroma and profile. The taste was more of the same. The hops here tasted like green tea, with a light grain like malt flavor that was hard to place. This was definitely an interesting beer. Some light bready taste in the back as well. Very light profile, with lots of carbonation and a somewhat slick feel to it. A true session ale as it drank like it was tea, and I easily could have put down several of these without much of an issue.

Overall this was not a bad one at all. Truly a session beer. Now as for the style to be honest I am not sure about that one. It was weird, like a hybrid light ale. Still though I would not turn this one down at all. A solid offering for sure and something a bit different.

mikesgroove, Aug 12, 2008
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev 0%

kjkinsey, Aug 07, 2014
Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev 0%

GRG1313, Jul 21, 2012
Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev 0%
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.

womencantsail, Mar 22, 2010
Photo of spycow
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

spycow, Jan 12, 2013
Photo of Knapp85
4/5  rDev 0%

Knapp85, Jul 04, 2013
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.75/5  rDev +18.8%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of largadeer
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Dark orange-amber with good clarity. The head and carbonation on this stuff is incredible; the torrent of bubbles streaming from the bottom of the glass is downright impressive. When the head does eventually start to settle it leaves behind huge sheets of lace. Damn impressive overall.

Smell: Biscuits, citrus, bread and butter, definitely has that signature English ale yeast aroma. Very floral. Subtle fruitiness as it warms. Nice complexity for such a light brew.

Taste & mouthfeel: Mild fruity sweetness (papaya and peach) and grapefruit-like hops. A light biscuity malt backbone keeps this one well rounded. Highly effervescent with a body on the fuller side of light. Drying in the finish with a nice hop bite that doesn't linger on the palate too long.

Drinkability: A perfect session beer if I've ever tasted one.

Notes: This is one hell of a good bitter and yet another stellar brew from Surly. These guys are on a roll it seems.

largadeer, May 16, 2008
Photo of zeff80
4.6/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Poured out a clear, golden amber color with a one-finger, khaki-colored head of foam. It left thin rings of lace.

S - What an aroma. Pine, pine, pine and more pine. Plus, it was phenolic, too.

T - It had a great pine taste with some nice caramel sweetness. It tastes like an IPA. Can says 37 IBU but it seemed much more bitter than that.

M - It was crisp, sharp and crackled on the tongue. A light to medium bodied ale.

D - Unbelievable. I tried this not because I like the style but because I love Surly. Man, it was worth it! Best Ding-worthy session ale ever!!

zeff80, Jan 08, 2011
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev 0%

JAHMUR, Nov 17, 2011
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired via trade from brdc so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 16oz. can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of pale hops, nuts, caramelized malts and some spice.

T: The taste hits with a strong but pale hops bitterness up front. There are complimentary flavors of caramel, nuts, spice and some citrus along with a hearty malt character that provide some balance. The after-taste is hoppy and slightly bitter.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, mild kick, very good representation of style, this is yet another really good beer from Surly. It's a very flavorful session beer with good substance.

TheManiacalOne, Aug 14, 2008
Photo of Kegatron
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can into a pint glass.

Pours a clear dark copper with a finger of half foamy/half creamy off-white head. A nice looking thin layer of retention skims along the top and leaves beautiful rings of sticky lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is a fresh smelling mesh of light pine and citrus notes in front of toasted and caramel malts.

The taste profile is very similar to the aroma with toasted caramel malts and citric fruit tang surrounded by just the right amount of dry hoppy bitterness. The mouthfeel has a light medium body with a smooth and creamy feel with just a touch of suspended hop oils. Finishes slightly bitter and dry.

If there's one thing Surly does well, it's creating full flavored beers and this is no exemption. Packed tight with flavors and easy sessionalbility, I could go at this all night.

Kegatron, Jul 22, 2008
Photo of russpowell
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received in a trade with feloniousmonk, Cheers Al!

Pours amber/orange with 3+ fingers of whipped up cream colored head. Good lacing& super head retention

S: Leafy & herbal hops

T: Leafy & herbal hops, & a slight fruittyness up front. As this warms I get dryness & a bit of caramel fighting through leafy & minty hops. Finishes with some mineral taste, leafy & citrusy hops

MF: Medium bodied with low carbonation, fairly smooth & with good balance

Drinks very easy, I could easily drink 3 or 4 before moving on. A good, not great take on the style. I put it up against most canned or bottled bitters I've had. Hops are a bit too dominant, but not perfection, but pretty good. Maybe if I had this on cask...

russpowell, Jun 10, 2008
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Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 931 ratings.