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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

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1,821 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,821
Reviews: 1,062
rAvg: 4
pDev: 10.75%
Wants: 65
Gots: 61 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Rogue Ales visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
**NOTE: This beer is now called "Brutal IPA" **
It has also been bottled as "Portland State IPA" (2010).

An Imperial bitter with exotic traditional floor malts, citrusy, hoppy flavor and stupendous hop aroma. Rogue brewmaster John Maier describes his Brutal IPA as a cross between a Very Extra Special Bitter and an Indian Pale Ale. Hedonistic!

8 INGREDIENTS: 2-Row, Carawheat, C15 & Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Rogue Farms Alluvial™ Hops; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast.

22oz Bottle & Draft / 15° Plato / 46 IBU / 81 AA / 13° Lovibond

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-28-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,821 | Reviews: 1,062 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of wedge
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Bottle

Golden orange with a thick, frothy head. Pleasant hoppy aroma - fresh citrus rind and floral with sweet malts and a touch of grain. Full of hoppy flavor yet somewhat mellow. There's a solid rich maltiness structuring the whole thing - seems very balanced. Floral and sweet - slightly nutty. Mouthfeel is far from brutal, in fact I didn't find it to be very bitter at all. Medium and smooth. Super-drinkable.

For using only crystal hops, this is a complex ESB. Very enjoyable.

wedge, Mar 26, 2006
Photo of bignick
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at TPH in Brookline 5/1/06. Served in a pint glass.

Reccomended by BA BarroomHero. We discussed how Rogue beers tend to be hit-or-miss. This one was a definite hit.

Brutal Bitter is unlike any "bitter" that I have ever tasted, in that it tastes like a very nicely balanced IPA. It is absolutely delicious. The hop bite is consistent from front to back of the mouth, and balanced by an only slightly sweet malt backbone. It is a very good beer, and despite its ABV, I can see it being a nice session beer with the hoppiness keeping the speed in check.

bignick, May 02, 2006
Photo of techdiver
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy deep amber with a modest head that dissipates quickly.

Nice hoppy, grapefruit smell.

Taste is fairly well balanced, not as heavy on the hops as you would find in an IPA.

Medium to full bodied in the mouth, a pleasure to drink.

A very tasty and drinkable brew.

techdiver, Dec 31, 2006
Photo of Phatz
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

New name for the Brutal bitter: Max's Taphouse 20th Anniversary Bitter Ale

Appearance: This beer pours a faded orange color with a large off white head and decent lacing. Very active with carbonation bubbles rising constantly and maintaining a frothy cap on the beer. Very nice.

Smell: The aroma is easy and light but pleasant. Citrus hops, a hint of lemon and orange as well as a sweet apple juice and a bit of lightly caramelized malts, land in the back of the nose.

Taste: Extremely quaffable. The magnificence of this beer lies in its subtlety. It is so well balanced that you really don't notice much but the urge to continue enjoying it. It is far from what I would consider 'Brutal' though. I would describe it as 'Easy Bitter' or ‘Velvet Glove Firm Bitter’ but that wouldn't sell as well. There is a strong bitter aftertaste causes each sip to bring on the next one. Okay so I am getting ahead of myself. It starts off silky smooth with a light but firm hop tingle and a sweet malt backbone. Through the middle it remains solid and finishes very easily with a wonderful lingering citric bitter aftertaste, but after the first wave of lip smacking pine bitter there is also a residual caramel sweetness. MMM!

Mouthfeel: Solid all the way through creamy and spicy / tingly from beginning to end. This is a beer that feels constantly active in you mouth. Tingly around the edge but slick through the center.

Drinkability: This is what I love about ‘Brutal Bitter’ it is so easy to drink. I haven’t often repeated myself since I joined BA I have been attempting to try new things and with the exception of my regular always have beers I usually pick op individuals or bombers of beers I haven’t yet reviewed. This is however, about the fifth or 6th time I have bought Brutal Bitter, it always gets consumed with friends before I can review it just so often suits. So I finally get to review it =)

Hope this is helpful.

Phatz, May 20, 2006
Photo of gunnerman
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a pint glass, looks is very reddish brown with a nice foamy head that leaves some lacing on the glass. The smell, this is where this comes alive, it smells very hoppy with citrus smells of oranges that are not ripe just yet. The taste is very bitter, I can taste earthy dirt, maybe some cypress tree bark as well, very strong and rich and leaves a good after taste as well. I enjoy this brew just for its sipping behavior, I love to sip one of these after a good meal. Great job Rogue on this fine brew, nothing else like it.

gunnerman, Aug 19, 2006
Photo of Dithyramb
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on cask at the real ale festival in Baltimore (review from long thought dead notes)
Slightly hazy amber, ripe peach looking brew. Fluffy, long lasting off-white head with excellent lacing.
Grapefruity hop aromas
Biscuity malt undertone balances well with some citrus inspired, though simple bitter flavor. Dry hopping allows for a long bitter mouthfeel that stays with you.
Overall, expected more of a hop punch from a west coast "brutal bitter" though it may have lost some umph in the cask variety. Great session brew nonetheless. Worth having several.

Dithyramb, Dec 05, 2005
Photo of ghostwalker
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy orange/brown. Maybe 1 finger of head. Head falls off fast, no lacing.

Nose is all hops. Nice, juicy grapefruit smelling west coast hops.

Taste is outstanding. Brash, bold hops with an oily hop finish. I can tell that the malt backbone is there, but it never really comes through over the hops.

Mouthfeel is tangy and sharp. Tasty!

Drinkability is very good. Would be great with almost any meal. Easy to drink and easy to enjoy.

Overall, very nice but tastes more like an IPA than an ESB.

ghostwalker, Nov 22, 2005
Photo of plaztikjezuz
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a bright copper with orangish hues from the light, pinky thick white head.
the aroma of hopsack lofts out of the bottle and smacks you across the face followed by a firm base of malt.
the flavor is rich with malt and hops, spicy, little pepper, grassy, drops off to a lingering hopsack.
this is a great beer love the flavor, but brutal is correct, since i started drinking it, i think i am having an alegric reaction to the hops or something. skin is atarting to itch and turn red. like what happens with me and red wine :-(

plaztikjezuz, Sep 08, 2006
Photo of feelmefoam
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a nice golden grain color, very hazy but sparkling in the light. With a nice amount of carbonation running up the glass, this beer has the appearance of a bubbly wheat beer. Two fingers of off-white foam came with the pour, leaving a moderate amount of lacing down the glass.

Brutal Bitter presents a nice hop aroma in the nose, specifically putting forth a nice grapefruit scent mixed with some other citrusy/spicy scents.

This is certainly a tasty beer; the hops are up front and clean with a nice citrus and grapefruit flavor. Although this beer is advertised as "brutal" that is not the adjective I would use to describe it, as the hop presence is certainly not overwhelming. Maybe a better adjective is scrumptious. Either way, after the nice hop kiss there is a slight showing of pale malts used to balance out the flavor. Very tasty.

A smooth, crisp, medium body accentuated with a decent amount of carbonation allows the beer to dance around on your tongue a bit before you swallow.

A very drinkable, flavorful, yet not intimidating beer that I could drink several of in one sitting. Its bark is worse than its bite, but I don't mind at all, because the bite hurts so good.

feelmefoam, Nov 17, 2009
Photo of Biscuit033
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Light amber(almost orange) with three finger head that settles nice to a small but frothy layer. There is moderate lacing.

S: Caramel malts and a light piney/earthy nose.

T: Caramel and toffee malts with a touch of citrus and pine notes. There is plenty of malt taste and feel here and those the overwhelming hop flavors aren't present they keep the malts balanced.

M: Nice carbination and body with a crisp, clean finish.

D: This is a great ESB. But in the tradition of sesionasble ESB's this is a bit high on the ABV. This is a beer that I would choose over most other ESB's.

Biscuit033, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of Stoneman78
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle at the Rogue Public House in San Francisco:

a- pours a cloudy dark red/amber, with small, white, creamy head and fair lacing throughout
s- Wow, what a great blend of hops and pine scents, really impressive aroma that is not too overwhelming
t- Taste too is dominated by pine and citrus flavored hops, some sweet malts in the background as well, slight warming alcohol presence
m- full-bodied with light carbonation, smooth dry finish
d- Strong red ale that is not too high on the abv, i could definitely spend a night drinking this beer, the red ales have really been the only Rogue types that I have been overly impressed with (including the St. Rogue Red), I would buy this beer again if I found it in San Diego.

Stoneman78, Aug 20, 2007
Photo of hanco005
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz single bottle purchased at Cellar’s at Larp and Lex, poured into a pint glass

A—light copper and cloudy liquid with a tan 1 inch pillow top head, fades down in a few minutes, moderate bubbly lacing is produced

S—citrus and floral hop tones with some sweet sugar malt notes, it’s all balanced well for an inviting aroma

T—moderate bitterness with floral flavors as strongest, some mild sweetness lingers until the bitter dry finish wraps this one up nicely

M—a little rough, but it adds to the experience, medium bodied, lighter carbonation

D—a solid ESB, very refreshing…I would have this again and again.

hanco005, Aug 08, 2006
Photo of RedHaze
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle.

Pours a hazy coppery orange with a one finger head that settles slowly to a nice cap. The lacing is thick and very sticky, leaving behind a nice sheeting of lace behind.

Smell; lots of toasted malts, with some caramel and some mild hints of brown sugar. The hops are evident, but not quite as strong as I was expecting, with some grapefruit and oranges.

Taste; the hops hit a little more upfront in the flavor that they did in the aroma, with grapefruit, oranges and a little bit of pine. Bu then the malts to an outstanding job of balancing it all out with a nice biscuity, caramel with a little sweetness on the back end. I was expected to be blasted with hops, and this is a bit closer to an ESB than I was expecting from Rogue. I'm a bit surprised that this is so balanced.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a nice rich/smooth creaminess, and the drinkabilty is reall great for me.

RedHaze, May 12, 2007
Photo of jminsc76
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Into a pint glass, pours a big, thick, creamy head that sticks around for a long time. The lacing is almost ice cream-like around the inside of the glass. The body a murky orange-ish/yellow with plenty of rising carbonation.

Aromas are fairly tame, exhibiting hints of citrus, some orange peel, and a little bit of grapefruit. Also a slight aroma of breadiness or biscuit. As it warms and I agitate, more floral notes start popping through and the bouquet improves.

Flavors include an excellent balance of malt and hops (like any good bitter should), with some slight caramel and orange on the front end and more apple and kiwi on the finish. The hops really start coming through as it warms. The great part is it transitions from a British-style bitter to an American IPA over the course of the session.

The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, exhibiting a light and tingly feeling to a soft and chewy consistency as it warms.

This is an excellent brew. Complex, enjoyable, and constantly surprising me.

jminsc76, Mar 26, 2010
Photo of 99bottles
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very nice indeed. I tried a pint of this at KClinger's instead of the 15th Anniversary (I think it was 4X4 Pale Ale at the time). I think I made the right choice.
Appearance: Brutal bitter pours a deep orange-brown color, with a thin lace that faded. Looks like I'm in for a treat.
Smell: There is a good smell of hops in the nose. Some sweet malts play second fiddle to the resinous hop smell.
Taste: Mmmm. Smooth. This is one craft brew! The flavors are balanced so nicely in this beer. A sweet flavor of malt covers everything, with the hops dancing around in the mouth. You swallow, and you're left with a satisfying but not puckering bitter. Next sip, yor swimming in sweet malt again, but you notice something more. Absolutely wonderful.
Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Good weight in the mouth, thick enough to satisfy but not so much that it would hurt the drinkability. I'd easily get more if I could. Really well put together. Rogue does it again!

99bottles, Apr 01, 2004
Photo of oelergud
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice looking almost glowing deep orange body, cloudy from all the small floats. Good fluffy head that falls somewhat rapidly to a thin float but still leaves good lace.
Smell of fruits and hops, very faint green apple, grain and bread.
Taste is bready and generously hopped. Good pine presence and abit of citrus. There seems to be a brief cookiedough taste that is gone before you knew it was there. Aftertaste is surprisingly short and gentle.
Good full body and what seems to be a dry finish but it's really just the bitterness that makes it seem so.
Very drinkable and a must try for fellow hopheads.


oelergud, Jan 27, 2007
Photo of gwood
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz to pint glass...

Pours a hazy burnt orange with a nice two fingered off white head. Not much in the way of retention or lacing. Smells of sweet malts, floral hops, mellow sweet fruits, followed by slight grassy hops again. The nose is subtle, but with some work I was able to drum up some really nice notes.

What a well balanced beer this is for the style. Extremely clean and single minded hop signature with this brew (all crystal according to the bottle). Sweet malts are present and well accounted for and fight at the middle and the finish for some time in the spot light. They do make a couple of rreally solid appearances.

Carbonation is just perfect and doesn't cut off the lingering and somewhat changing finish. Mouthfeel is right in line. An extremely drinkable beer that hides it's kick quite well. Great beer for burgers and BBQ!

gwood, Oct 12, 2007
Photo of NEhophead
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Creamy white, mellow head that leads to a semi-intact sheet. Trails of thin and spotted lace with good strength. Crisp copper color with a slight haze.

Hefty floral hop aroma, nicely balanced with a semi-sweet caramel scented backbone. Touches of juicy hop resin: lemon, pine, and grapefruit.

Earthy, unsweetened caramel maltiness met by a swarm of hop intensity. A grainy, husky hop profile; dark floral hop flavors with a hint of pine and pepper. The bitterness is truly 'brutal' in intensity with a dry finish. An aftertaste of floral hops and pine-infused wheat.

Medium bodied; gritty and a little heavy mouthfeel which backs up the intense flavors.

What a powerful and pleasant tasting brew. This borders an IPA in terms of hop presence. A classic offering from Rogue, that I always end up going back to for more.

NEhophead, Feb 25, 2006
Photo of BretSikkink
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darkish amber brew with some copper highlights, not quite clear but hardly hazy. Head aplenty, white bubbles.

Nicely assertive citric hops with a piney backing; all alpha oils, with few malt grains.

Chewy maltiness actually makes a decent stand until the bitter hops hone in mid-drink and hold on voraciously until way after the mildly sweet finish.

Extremely well balanced brew that leans hard toward hop bitterness but never relinquishes drinkability. I love it, and will drink it socially at almost any chance.

BretSikkink, Sep 08, 2007
Photo of Kendo
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bomber bottle into a Sam Smith's pint glass, Brutal Bitter appears hazy orange-ish amber, with a 1-finger bubbly white head that settled to a white film. Foamy lacing clings to the side of the glass.

S: Fruity -- grapefruit and orange -- and piney hops dominate, but a bready malt undertone is present as well. Nice balance, even if the scales are tipped in favor of the hops.

T: Mild biscuity malt at first, then a fruity and piney hop presentation follows. Finally, a dry, minerally hop sensation wraps things up, coating the back of your tongue and cleansing the palate nicely. Alcohol warmth is noticeable on the way down. The more I drink, the hoppier it gets. Methinks I like this Crystal hop hybrid they've come up with. . . .

M: Good carbonation, medium bodied but just slightly chalky.

D: Excellent. It's not a heavy beer, but it's got lots of flavor and a nice dry hops finish that really encourages that next sip. I could drink more than a couple bombers of this and be happy about it.

Notes: If I were going to try and brew my own version of the perfect English Ale, it would be a lot like Rogue Brutal Bitter -- i.e., a slightly hopped-up Americanized version with a creamy mouthfeel and good, balanced flavors. Well done, Rogue. . . .

Kendo, Nov 10, 2006
Photo of BlindPig
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- 2½” off white head, which fades pretty quick. Darker golden/copper color that is cloudy. Thick lacing which slowly goes to just a nice lacing. See light carbonation if you look closely and head sticks to side of glass on way down.

Smell- Hops. Sweet, citrusy with a light malt background maybe light woody.

Taste- pretty bitter aftertaste. Light carbonation. Citrusy hops and very upfront with them. Very bitter taste and after taste

Mouthfeel- medium/ thick body, light carbonation. Has a heavy feel to it.

Drinkability- Really like it. Seems more bitter than the Ruination but not as good of a flavor.

BlindPig, Jul 24, 2006
Photo of Fugazme
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Murky copper/orange color with flickers of light peaking through.
Head is creamy white and dissipates quickly into lace around the glass and over the beer. Look is good.

First whiff is floral and hoppy. Citrus. Next whiff is near the same but a touch of spice comes through... maybe cinnamon.

Bitter is right. Bitter in a good bitter way. Bitter heaven. Damn good!
Hoppy and bright and delicious. Feisty. Lingering. Some acidic aftermath on the palate, but overall very good. I'm buying two next time.

Fugazme, Nov 11, 2005
Photo of montecristo2
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a golden color with a two and a half fingered rocky head.

A good aroma-smells of citrus/grapefruit.

Tasty-tastes of citrus hops. A low IBU for a "brutal" bitter, but I don't care, cause this beer tastes awesome. I do enjoy IPA's, but this is very tasty and extremely drinkable.


montecristo2, Sep 24, 2010
Photo of curtisb8
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appreance: Nice, amber brown appreance, white medium body head.

Smell: Citrus, grapefruit, with a hint of oak

Taste: Citrus bitter upfront, hoppy finish, with a smooth finish

I could have a few of these through the course of a night, definitely worth a try.

curtisb8, Jan 29, 2006
Photo of msubulldog25
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap (pint glass) at Capt. Ankeny's Portland, OR:

A: Hazy light orange, moderate head w/ lots of lacing around the glass. Gentle steady carbonation.

S: Fresh citrus and piney hops.

T: Of course, lots of hop bittering. Hints of orange zest and grapefruit, mild malt sweetness in the finish. Nicely balanced and intensely rich on the palatte.

M: Bitterness lingers towards the back of the tongue. Medium to full body. A little heavy, not a "refreshing" beer.

D: Quite enjoyable. Great at the pub today for lunch, watching World Cup with friends. A bit heavy on the abv for atrue session beer, but I could have easily enjoyed one or two more...

msubulldog25, Jun 21, 2006
Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,821 ratings.