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Bitter Brewer - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

Educational use only; do not reuse.

992 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 992
Reviews: 428
rAvg: 4
pDev: 11%
Wants: 224
Gots: 67 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-05-2007

No notes at this time.
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Ratings: 992 | Reviews: 428 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of argock
4.12/5  rDev +3%
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.

Photo of pdeme
4.85/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Color is dark orange with head the disappears quickly. It has a lot of earthly smells to it along with some citrus. The taste has a lot going for it considering the lower ABV. Very easy to drink. I was put off by the name of the beer for awhile, but after receiving it as a gift it is my go to session beer in the summer.

Photo of vtblackdog
3.82/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

Photo of TCMike
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a glass it produced a 1 finger white head. The color was an orangey/honey shade.

The aroma was of citrus, floral, and light hops.

It is low carbonation, and has a medium mouth-feel.

The taste is of tropical citrus, floral, a little bready, and light hops. The hops taste great, but are not bitter.

Easy drinking, low abv, and down right tasty.

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

16oz can poured into pint glass

Pours with a one finger creamy off-white head. Head dies out rather quickly and leaves a decent amount of lacing. Hazy dark golden color with a decent amount of small particulates.

Smells of roasty, grainy, toffee with a definite tropical resinous hop presence.

Taste is fruity, bready, grassy, light and a bit sweet.

Rather light bodied with low to moderate carbonation.

Overall, a great summer beer. I can't get enough of this stuff when it's hot out. Tons of flavor while still being extremely quaffable. Will keep a stock of this in my fridge when it's in season.

Photo of djeucalyptus
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

big thanks to mnbearsfan for this one! been wanting to try it for a while now...

pours a nice, golden caramel hue with a frothy off-white head that fades pretty quickly but looks nice and leaves a thin cap that leaves bits of lace.

aroma is pleasantly caramely with some nice malt and a touch of earthy, herbal undertones. a hint of green bitterness. smells great.

taste is surprisingly strong with some nice clean light malts, some green hops, and a nice hoppy bittter finish.

mouth is a moderate body for the abv, with clean, crisp, pleasant carbonation.

all in all, I love it. a bit more potent than many bitters I've encountered, and one of the most flavorful 4% abv brews I've had in a while, but that makes is insanely drinkable and makes me wish i had a few more.

Photo of seeswo
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a translucent golden-brown. The nose is mild hops, mild malts and big orange, like tangerine. Nice. The taste is very low key citrus, slightly bitter hops and some proinounced malts. A lot given the ABV. Goes down crazy smooth, like the younger sibling of a good APA. Good carb and nice medium mouthfeel for the ABV/style. Overall, this is one of my favorite under 5% I've ever had. Very good stuff. Surly can brew some beer.

Photo of iadler
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A golden copper with a one finger head that dissipates quickly with some thin lacing

S- Floral and citrus hops including mandarine, grapefruit and toasted malt

T- Citrus bitterness upfront with a good deal of manderine, lemon peel, grapefruit, as well as some floral and pine notes. Balanced with some toasted malt

M- medium carbonation and mouthfeel. Finishes dry. Very drinkable.

O- a very sessionable beer and perfect for warm weather. Not one of my favorite surly offerings, but still a great brew. Could see myself drinking a few of these on a hot day

Photo of TCgoalie
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a golden orange yellow color with a decent white foamy head upon reaching the glass. Some head retention with a touch of lace.

The super tropical citrus hop aroma reminds me of FFF's brews. Some grainy smell is hiding in the background.

Tangerine and lemon zest provide a clean taste well deserved for a sunny summer day. There is almost a wheat profile in there with a nice floral aftertaste.

The feel is very light and crisp. I believe that some more body would be nice.

This is a very nice summer session ale. If you can drink sun, flowers, and citrus fruits, it would match this brew.

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a pint glass.

A - Pours a slightly hazy copper color with some nice yellow and orange hints on the edges of the beer. There is a thin about 0.5 inch white head that builds up with some dense bubbles.

S - Nice Brit malt aroma with some awesome notes of grassy and slight citrusy hops. A very typical toasty bread note that has a nice grassy hop finish quite simple yet delicious.

T & M - Flavor of toasty bread, fresh malt grain. There is some nice earthy malt notes present as well. The malt is slightly sweet and caramel but the bready notes are more prevalent. There is some nice hop bitterness that is slightly citrus but very traditionally English. I quite enjoy Bitters like this and Honkers Ale quite delicious and unassuming at the same time. Very easy to drink.

O - Delicious brew after some nice hours of yard work. Well crafted malt and hops with a great malt backbone that is complimented by intense bitter hops.

Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 06/11/11 notes. Poured from a 16 oz. can into a pint glass.

a - Pours a hazy orange color with two inches of fluffy white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of citrus hops, floral hops, oranges, fruit malts, and light toasted malts. Pretty nice nose.

t - Tastes of oranges strongly, also citrus hops, floral hops, light bitter pine hops, and fruity malts.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

o - Overall another good beer from Surly. This one had a lot of orange and citrus to it. Was a great beer to have at the beach; would certainly like to have it again.

Photo of camil1mj
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Courtesy of my new BA friend Romulux. Poured from a can into a tall pilsner glass.

A: pours a deep, beautiful orangish red. 2 fingers of white head that quickly dissipates.

S: A wonderful blend of citrusy hops with a floral note.

T: Crisp bitterness giving way to a wonderfully hoppy aftertaste.

M: Typical to the style. Light bodied and crisp. Medium carnation.

O: As recommended by Romulux, a great bitter and refreshing Summer beer!

Photo of zeledonia
4.21/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Canned 25 May 2011. A fortnight old!

Pours a dark amber/brown, a color that plays some tricks on me. Out of the light, it looks pretty brown (like mud) with some reddish highlights. In the light, it's a dark coppery amber. Fluffy off-white head that almost overflows my tulip glass, average retention, fantastic lacing.

Smell is rather faint; predominant aromas are resiny hops, followed by a warm buttery waxy scent, and a slight thin soapy odor.

Yum. A surprising combination of flavors, rolling through in waves. Starts out dry and slightly fruity (not sweet). Then quickly transitions to a gentle earthy bitterness with a bit of pine. I don't like overwhelming bitterness, and this plays the balance well, with enough to bring in some solid flavor, but not so much that it hits you in the face. Finishes with a mild yeast-spiced citrus sour, which blends with the resurgent bitter as it fades away. It really has two finishes, one clean and dry as the dominant flavors disappear, and a second that lingers on and on. The complexity of this beer is truly impressive.

Medium-bodied, average carbonation. Forms a thin slick in the mouth that holds those lingering bitter and sour flavors all the way through to the next taste.

I'm impressed. This beer brings wonderful flavors and complexity, in a tidy little 4% ABV package. Tasty and refreshing. I will be drinking more of it.

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 smakawhat
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of the can into a nonic pint glass. Canned May 13th 2011.

A Foamy three finger head is produced off the pour from the can that is perhaps off white. Head on build up seems small but grows. Body is a hazy murky orange color with a hint of brown, kind of swampy looking, with some tiny rising carbonation. Lots of clumpy sticky retention and bubble bath character.

Orange, cinnamon, marmalade with a clean refreshing spritzy quality. Feels like Italian orange soda, with a small hint of bitter and malt behind it. Just flat out wonderful, this is just an exceptional nose here.

Taste is wet, mild, and slightly bitter. A surprising mild baked bread quality and orange mouthwash finish, almost very rinsing agent like. Mild palate coating, a hop bent strangely surrounded by mild orange/marmalade citrus that is hard to pinpoint.

Overall extremely nice and super sessionable drinking brew, I just wish it had a little less wet character in feel to it, but that would be hard to pull off, and that probably wouldn't represent the style very well. The nose on this is just flat out fantastic.

Photo of MattyG85
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16 oz. can into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Canned on 5/25/11.

Appearance: Deep golden orange with lots of rising bubbles. Solid finger and a half of off white head that has great retention and a good amount of lacing.

Smell: A sweet citrus aroma with lots of orange and lemon is backed by caramel malts and piney hops. Smells like orange marmalade jam on toasted bread. A very interesting and appealing aroma.

Taste: A sweet and slightly tart blend of citrus fruit followed by bready caramel malts. Hop bitterness is light but enough to balance the sweetness. Tastes sweet but not to the same level as a citrus packed DIPA.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with a medium level of carbonation. Very crisp.

Overall: A very good summer brew that is lighter but packed with flavor. Good balance in the citrus sweetness, bread, and hops.

Photo of claspada
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance has great lacing; this is gonna be nice and sticky...
Aromas are initially of orange and clementine and then you get some fresh cut grass and notes of more lemony citrus. There is a slight bready pale malt in the background as well as it warms.
The tastes begin with a nice full pale malt backbone but quickly shifts to the hops flavors. The hops are earthy and grassy with slight grapefruit and pine as well. The lemon rind is also a nice ever present flavor throughout this beverage.
The mouthfeel is medium to full with adequate carbonation. Finishes fairly crisp and lightly sticky from the ample hopping.
Overall this is a great great great beer in the English Bitter category. This passes 21st Amendment Bitter American as my new favorite beer under 5 ABV. Extremely drinkable and crisp. If you enjoy a nice pale ale/bitter with English style hopping, you must seek this out. Highly highly recommended.

Photo of smm
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Deep orange with a 1/2 in tan head

S- A sweet, light, citrusy aroma wafts out as soon as you crack open the can. A bit bready.

T/M- Nice and light, tangy floral citrus moves into a mild hoppiness. Finishes very malty, like a packet of british cookies. The finish is so tasty and lingers on your tongue.

O- Its been years since my last experience with Bitter Brewer, I had tried a can which was far past its use by date and it really put me off. A wonderful balance of flavors, light and crisp, perfect for summertime.

Photo of Penguin3200
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First bitter brewer of the season. Pours orange golden hue into pint mug. Nice carbonation and nose of caramel, and a little bitterness. Bitter hit on the palate with good mouthfeel, fruit caramel and malts.

Nice summer brew for the season and low abv make it very sessionable.

Thanks again surly.

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pouread into a Surly Imperial Pint Glass from a 16 oz can.

A- Orange, woody appearance, very carbonated off white three finger head, big bubbles, very clear, golden hue.
S- Wow, very appealing citrus aroma, hints of pine upfront, nice hoppy profile, hints of malts, caramel, very nice sweet aroma.
T- Very smooth and refreshing, perfect summer beer, very mild bitterness, slight citrus and pineapple taste as well as bready malts, very sessionable beer.
M- Medium mouth feel, nice carbonation, clean and crisp, I want another.
O- What can I say Surly continues to produce delicious beers that are never a letdown, bitter brewer is a solid beer that is easy drinking, I will continue to drink this beer till it’s out of season.

Photo of TIMMYJ21
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First run of the Bitter this year canned 05/19/11, in fact drinking one as I type.

A-pale orange in color puffy head, leaves a nice lace down the side of the glass

S-very nice aroma, to be expected in all surly brews, nice pine aroma with some citrus and floral notes

T-Mmm orange, not to hoppy, but still taste the nice bitterness, slight sweetness, with a little toasty bread like taste

Very drinkable beer, can consume a few of theses no problem with the low Abv 4%

Photo of evanlarkin
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Found a single 4pk of this hiding in the liquor store the other day! No date. Accompanying my stir-fry lunch.

a golden-orange, pretty much clear. Little visible carbonation. A finger of head at first, but it disappeared leaving no lacing.

Fruity, kind of reminds me of mango or pineapple, like fresh tropical fruit juice. Sweet and tangy aromas.

Maltiness gets you first, which gives way to a dryish pineapple flavor. Despite the smell, not really sweet at all. Taste gives way to a pleasant and balanced bitterness, again reminding me of pineapple.

Feels like fruit juice, but it doesn't stick to you like orange juice does. Very clean and crisp.

Super-high. This tastes refreshing, smells refreshing, just feels refreshing. Right now I'm drinking it to rebel against winter, which pretty much says that it's a fantastic summer beer.

Oddly enough, I didn't care for this beer as much when I first tried it last July. Maybe my palette just needed some development, because now I think this one is fantastic.

Photo of Vittorio
4.74/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a great beer to quaff after having done a quick 8 miles.

Pours clean, light orange and clear with a thin whitish head that dissipates quickly. Very much more hoppy than any 'English bitter' ever I've had but, then I really like the resiny hoppy flavour of this 'bitter' . Clean over the palate but with a bit of a treacley feel at the back of the throat.

Has a nice clean mouth feel with a slight 'burn' which adds to the somewhat high 'fizz' factor. Could be that I'm opening these cans at 7000 feet and they're canned at 700 feet that causes that.

An excellent 'session' beer. Too bad its not available here in New Mexico.

Photo of EgadBananas
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pale medium orange in color, with a fluffy off-white finger and a half of head that sticks around leaving spongy lacing.

Aroma is hops, lots of sweet and tart orange, and a hint of caramel malt sweetness.

Slightly citrus sweet, grassy and a mild bitter finish.

Feel is crisp, nicely carbonated, light in body.

Great drinkability. Low ABV, as expected, and an overall enjoyable brew.

Photo of soze47
4.72/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up a large variety of Surly when in St. Paul. I've loved every kind so far. Bitters are usually not my cup of tea, but we'll see.

Appearance: Pretty copper orange with a lot of carbonation activity. Fluffy head is very sticky on the glass.

Aroma: Very nice smelling. The hops are pungent, but in a very gentle way. Grassy and floral smells turn fruity in your nose as a not too strong maltiness comes in. Smells like summertime.

Taste: Same as the nose, balanced yet subtle flavors play off of each other well. Good amount of hop flavor, but not a ton of bitterness. The malt does just enough to cut any residual bitterness left, yet not overstate its importance. The malt lets you know its there while the hops go from grassy to tangerine like. Great taste.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: The mouth feel is very light and crisp and the finish is nice and dry. For all the flavor this one packs, it could be a session of the summer candidate.

Overall: Fantastic take on a style I don't usually enjoy. Maybe it is the American hops providing some great flavors the English varietals just can't deliver. Surly seems to not know how to a mediocre beer.

Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 992 ratings.