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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,864 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,864
Reviews: 1,065
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 10.78%
Wants: 67
Gots: 77 | 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: 1,864 | Reviews: 1,065 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cameraman
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A hazy amber color that fades towards the bottom of the glass. An inch thick head forms and it laces slowly along the sides of the glass. A very stong malty sweetness, with touches of dried fruit in the aroma, then a the sweeping scent of citrus comes in to blend the aroma, though it is not to overbearing. That maltiness starts out in the flavor, then a burst of bitterness comes out and stays with you till the very end. A very tasty beer. A heavy feel, much like a barleywine, then it slowly fades as it reaches the back of the palate. A very good beer, great to sip on and forget the day. The solid flavor and beautiful aroma, makes you want to drink another or go by another bottle.

cameraman, Feb 03, 2007
Photo of jaluria
3.48/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appeared a slightly murky, heavily carbonated, soft-orange and yellow color with a thin head that dissipated quickly. Aromas of alcohol, malt, and hops. The flavor was as expected for this style with a nice balance between malt and hops, though hops grow in strength as the session continues. Crisp and flavorful with a hoppy finish. A hint of fruit comes out in the finish as well. Interesting and enjoyable, but too thin and hoppy for the style. I would definitely enjoy another, but not if I was in the mood for a bitter or ESB.

jaluria, Feb 01, 2007
Photo of Romulus141
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Hefe-Weisse glass.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful amber with a slight tint of orange. The initial head is fluffy. It dissipates after a pour, leaving a layer of foam. Lacing is apparent and viscous. Just by sight alone, I could tell this was going to be a quality beer.

Smell: This has a nice sweet smell. There are notes of citrus. The smell is full, but not overpowering. A very nice balance that complements the appearance.

Taste: A wonderful splash of bitterness followed up with a bready taste that finishes incredibly crisp. There is a slight citrus note within the flavor, as the aroma suggests. The flavor comes in an intense burst, and fades quickly. The hops flavor from this brew is noteworthy. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel: There is a nice density, and thankfully the carbonation is kept to a minimum. When it comes to the other ESBs I've tried, I've been irked by a thin mouthfeel and overcarbonation. Not so with this one. It's actually somewhat dry too, without any oily characteristics, which is nice.

Drinkability: This is a beer to savor, but it's not so heavy that you can't drink a couple in one sitting. I wouldn't session with this, as it's way too good to waste like that, but it goes done smoothly.

One of the best ESBs I've tried. This was my first sampling of the Rogue brewery, and I hope to try more. Recommended.

Romulus141, Feb 01, 2007
Photo of isaac
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle to pint glass.

A - Dark amber/copper body with visible quite carbonation and a rather large-bubbled, off-white head (2-fingers), sinking into slick lacing.

S - Mild, resiny smell with notes of pine and malty sweetness.

T - Smooth, savory taste with just a hint of sweetness from the malts and dry, bitting bitterness (in a sort of lemon or orange rind sort of way) from the hops. The finish nicely combines the two.

M - Relatively high carbonation and hops-bitterness make this beer quite dry and refreshing, if not a bit watery. There is also noticable warming from the alcohol, which seems strange for it only being 6.5%...

D - Concidering that less than a year ago I couldn't take more than a few sips of this beer due to its bitterness, I like it a whole lot more now. I would even go so far to say that they could up the IBUs on this one... I guess that's what happens when you get use to DIPAs. Nonetheless, very enjoyable.

isaac, Jan 27, 2007
Photo of oelergud
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
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 instrumentality
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rogue was the company that really got me interested in the craft brewing industry. Oddly enough, the first beer of theirs that turned me on to them - Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar - doesn't really interest me much anymore. In fact, as a whole, the majority of Rogue's beers are just average for me. However, I've had a couple of brews of theirs that were good enough to convince me that I should at least try anything they have to offer once.

I'm going to try something different in this review - writing in the present tense. Since I'm reviewing as I consume, I figure this is the more natural way to go.

My first bottle of Brutal Bitter Ale has now found a home in my Stone IRS tulip glass. A clean copper body rests beneath a very bubbly, almost champagne-like head that quickly dissolves to lace with a thin halo encircling it. The remnants of the head cling to the glass. The lace looks more even and uniform than that of most beers I've seen, giving it an appearance of freshness and quality.

The odor of this beer blows my mind. My sense of smell is not that well developed, but I have no trouble picking up a variety of intense odors from this brew. The strongest presence is from sweetness, but it's a complex sweetness made up of citrusy tangerine as well as a caramel quality, so rich I'd almost say there's a hint of hot, melted butter in there. Suggestions of grapefruit and pine linger beneath the surface.

I can't remember the last time a beer's odor made me so anxious to see how it tasted. Fortunately, it won't take much effort for me to satisfy that anxiety.

I take a large gulp in my mouth, hold it, and feel a light burning sensation from alcohol. As I slowly swallow, pine and grapefruit emerge, then fade into a very subtle burnt toffee flavor, which in turn transforms into a mild tangerine sweetness. The aftertaste is reminiscent of the burnt skin of a roasted marshmallow.

The next few sips don't lend much additional insight into the beer's flavors. While I do enjoy the taste, my overall reaction at this point is disappointment. The beer tastes fine, but the fantastic odors raised the bar on my expectations, and the taste just doesn't measure up. All of the odors do translate to my taste buds, but the mouth watering sweet qualities (which, ironically, are often a turn-off for me in other beers) become far less potent, while the bitterness, although perfectly fine in and of itself, dominates the other flavors.

Warning: Pour carefully, and watch out for falling chunks.

The mouthfeel, now that I'm pretty far into the bomber, is actually pretty good. There's a mild alcohol burn and a bit of bitterness, but the burnt marshmallow flavor seals it off cleanly. Oddly, the last trickle of liquid tastes so clean it's almost like water.

Rogue's Brutal Bitter is definitely one of their better offerings of the ones I've tried so far, but the odors tell me it has the potential to be so much more. It's mild enough to be easy to drink, but a little more emphasis on the sweet citrus and caramel notes are needed to really give it the full-bodied, rich flavor it deceived me into believing it possessed.

instrumentality, Jan 24, 2007
Photo of IronDjinn
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 22 oz. bomber, purchased both in Calgary and Edmonton from time to time.The purple and orange label colour motif reminds me of Halloween...

Pours out a hazy marmalade hue, tall chunky off-white head that recedes slowly and leaves all sorts of crazy lacing along the way.

The aroma, surprisingly enough, is quite subtle. Mild caramel malt, and faint citrusy hops. Am I missing something here?

Then we reach flavour country, and everything starts to come out of hiding. Hops predominate from the very beginning, but in layers. Not the tongue-ripper I was expecting either, the brutal part is in jest. Tangerine, grapefruit, pine, and it gets more oily in texture as it reaches the finish. There is malt behind all of that somewhere, biscuity and semi-sweet, but it is easily over powered. Still, the hops behave themselves, are very user-friendly and won't bite your hand off (or your tongue). I can dig it.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied but slick, oily from the hops.

An easy drinker for having the name "Brutal" in the title, very enjoyable. I plan on grabbing it once again off the shelf next time I see it.

IronDjinn, Jan 15, 2007
Photo of bluejacket74
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a mug, the beer pours an amber color with about an inch and a half puffy white head, head retention is good. It smells mostly like hops (grapefruit), but there's some apple and caramel in there too. It tastes mostly like hops (grapefruit and pine), but with a bit of malt too. There's a good amount of hop bitterness, with a lingering bitter aftertaste. Good flavor to this beer, but more hoppy than I expected for an ESB. Mouthfeel is medium, with a medium amount of carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's easy to drink. I think this is a pretty good beer, I'd definitely buy it again.

bluejacket74, Jan 14, 2007
Photo of number1bum
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber, a cloudy amber with a frothy beige head. Nice lacing and decent head retention. Smell is all hops and just a tad piney and citrusy. The taste too, is primarily hops, although there's enough malt sweetness to balance the hop bitterness. Finishes dry and bitter. If you dig hoppy beers you'll love this one. If not, beware.

number1bum, Jan 13, 2007
Photo of shadow1961
4.55/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I dropped by the Eclectic Cafe in Brainerd, MN, which has a decent
selection of Rogues in bottle and on tap.

Rogue's Brutal Bitter pours out (according to my notes) a
rocky head over a cloudy yellow brew. The nose is rich
with citrus and herbal notes. The carbonation was active,
and the brew was full of all sorts of flavors beyond malt.
There was hop, of course, but also hints of citrus, pine, and
vanilla. The aftertaste was not unexpectedly of pine and hops.
It was clean, with a big hop flavor that at the same time wouldn't
make a sidewalk pucker if you poured some on it. This is what we
call balance. Super good.

shadow1961, Jan 08, 2007
Photo of jcdiflorio
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

served into pilsner glass from 12oz. brown bottle long neck crimped-on cap with painted label.

Hazy,clouded medium copper color. Thick,rocky head very chunky looking,good retention leaving thick curtians of lace down the glass.

Good clean aroma very citrusy,sweet and carmelly nice balance to aroma,very inviting.

Intense citrus taste,some pine and grapefruity,good clean mid taste. Crisp,sharp hop bitterness. Leaves a pleasing bittersweet taste on the palate.

A suprizingly light mouthfeel,airy feel to it. Mouthwatering,really makes the tounge swell. Good drinkability,refreshing wish I has another. Reminds me of an IPA. Very good beer would drink this one again.

jcdiflorio, Jan 07, 2007
Photo of techdiver
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
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 GregBrewski
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark copper color with a descent head of moderate retention, no lacing left on the glass. The nose was mostly of sweet fruit and malts, some hints of spice from hops and slight hints of alcohol. The taste is smooth, sweet, and light in the front, that gives way to a citrus bitter hop-y flavor in the finish. Not as hopped or bitter as an IPA, kind of like a toned down version of one, while maintaining excellent beer qualities.

GregBrewski, Dec 21, 2006
Photo of ultralarry2006
3.65/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle. Leaves a tan one finger head with decent retention, and leaves some spotty lacing. Body is a hazy, dull, peach-tinted gold.

Smell - apples, butterscotch, some horse blanket, some medicinal alcohol, and some toasty malt.

Taste - same as the smell. Sour fruit such as sour apples and sour pears, sour medicine, horse blanket, over a barely-there toasty malt. No hop presence on the palate, or in the nose either, though I had expected some, so this is more sour than bitter.

Mouthfeel - full bodied, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability - this is good, but not great. It is sessionable.

ultralarry2006, Dec 18, 2006
Photo of barefootbrewer
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

First of all….Thanks Brad!

This beer poured a golden/amber cloudy color with a creamy looking off-white thick head….not much lacing. The smell hit me as soon as I cracked this puppy open…..HOPS! Upon further investigation, there is a noticeable caramel scent as well. The taste is definitely bitter but the full malt helps keep it in balance. The mouthfeel is full and works well with this beer. I must admit I was a little scared by the name Brutal Bitter, but this is much more drinkable than I would have imagined. Quite a delight!

barefootbrewer, Dec 15, 2006
Photo of Gatch
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Great on the palate and the low carbonation helps it go down easy. Abundance of hops is definitely noticeable. The copper color is nice too. Haven’t had many bitters, but I’m sure this is one of the better ones out there. Reminds me of an IPA, which didn’t make it stand out much. Definitely going to try as much as I can from Rogue.

Gatch, Dec 12, 2006
Photo of foureyedgeek
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. According to the Rogue website this is a cross between a Very Extra Special Bitter and an Indian Pale Ale. Pretty unique.

Nice looking beer, a hazy golden amber body capped with a frothy looking head, two fingers easy, that falls to a tight foam, not a ton of lacing, but a decent amount. The head on this one sort of sits like an island, just inside the walls of the glass.

Smells of hops, citrusy, almost like pineapple. A little bit of caramel from the malts make the nose sweet as well.

Quite malty to the taste buds, with the hops coming on nicely as it moves back. A little bready, a little citrus. It has a nice hop presence which is prominent, though not exactly brutal. Not really a bad thing, other than a slight misnomer, I wouldn't call it balanced but its still has a a good malt backbone. The hops linger nicely after you swallow.

Mouthfeel is drying with a slight boost of creaminess from the everlasting head.

Rogue calls this an imperial bitter, which makes it sound like it wouldn't qualify for 'session' status, but I find it to be very drinkable. I guess its just a matter of names. Either way, it's another Rogue beer I'll come back to.

foureyedgeek, Dec 10, 2006
Photo of hckyfn9999
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden copper color with a nice cream colored head and some good lacing too. Aroma is citrus hops, toffee, and caramel. Taste is very hoppy for an ESB with some citrus and pine hops present as well as some sweet malt. A very drinkable beer. Despite the hoppiness for an ESB this is a very solid brew.

hckyfn9999, Dec 10, 2006
Photo of dedrinker
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This came on tap at my local recently. It was a deep golden, and smelled all lemony with some small pine notes. Taste was very similar with a shy malt demurely hovering in the background. This is really good, though not quite "brutal." A pleasant pint that had good hop presence that asserted itself without being pushy, like this guy Jerko I know.

dedrinker, Dec 07, 2006
Photo of beermanbrian
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy gold colored beer. Looks almost like iced tea. No head and just a thin halo of foam arount the outside. First whiff hinted of citrus and then changed to piney hops. Not overpowering but definately there. Once you get past the hops taste it has a very bready malt flavor. Oily mouthfeel and the carbonation level is a little high. I'm just not sure about this one. It's a good beer, but i can't quite get on board and call it anything special.

beermanbrian, Dec 07, 2006
Photo of jhollick
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Interesting offering from Rogue. When Rogue claims something is bitter, that gets my attention. However, this turned out to be a very well balanced imperial style ale. The aroma is strong of hop oil with some buttery and caramel smells coming through as well. Substantial in the mouth, a bit dry after the swallow.

Taste is very smooth, striking a nice balance between the hops and malts. It tastes very fresh, almost as if the hop oil essence was squeezed right into the beer. That makes this one quite a change from the usual scene, but it also would keep me from guzzling it all night. The acidity is nice as well, with the grapefruit flavor providing a bit of sweetness. As shocked as I am to say it, this could be a nice beer to introduce someone to the style. I never expected to say that of a Rogue beer. Thumbs up, solid effort.

jhollick, Dec 06, 2006
Photo of demcorhip
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was the first brew in a bitter session with chonyr and raider that featured this bitter and many IPAs and DIPAs. Much thanks to CBA for this ale.

An amber coloured ale, poured with a 1 finger white head. Decently carbonated and finely laced.

Pleasant scents of mellow caramel and bready malts wafted up from my glass. Hoppy, bitter yet fruity, floral and earthy aromas complimented the malts.

Toasted bready malts sweetened with a touch of caramel sweetness. Balanced by floral, citrusy hop bitterness that tries to linger on the finish. A tasty brew.

As said before, a tasty and bitter brew. Well balanced, the touch of malt sweetness meets a fine and complimentary counterpoint in the lingering, bitter hops.

A very drinkable and sessionable bitter. Nothing brutal about this one. Almost bitter enough to be an IPA, which was why it was included in this session. Would be a great crossover beer to introduce a drinker to hoppier beers. Would'nt turn down the chance for another or more.

demcorhip, Dec 01, 2006
Photo of mrmanning
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle at Chaucer’s in London- This one is amber through and through. The head is unimpressive and fails to leave the lace I expect from most rogue beers. Strong grapefruit and citrus fruits in the nose, with some leafy/pine. Bad ass hop profile takes the fillings out yer’ teeth as it enters the mouth. Pine/grapefruit/oranges with a thin malt spine, finishing astringent and enjoyable. Yep, it is certainly bitter. A nice one.

mrmanning, Nov 29, 2006
Photo of CreamAle128
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Nothing to complain about! a little cloudy which means some yeast remains. NICE!

Smell: Smells of piney hops, some bready malt, and very fresh

Taste: Instant bitter taste, more bready malt, fresh oily hops, slightly citrusy, it kind of tastes like rogues imperial IPA, only weaker. I can't disect these highly hopped beers well, but I enjoy this very much.

Drinkability: Surprizingly light, but the bitterness and hop might prevent a person from drinking gallons of this stuff. enjoy!

CreamAle128, Nov 26, 2006
Photo of tcfishler
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Definitely hazy, dull gold-amber. Smallish, short-lived creamy tan head.

Deep, highly aromatic nose of toasty bread and floral/piney hops.

Hops right from the start in the mouth, suggesting fairly sweet citrus. Also notes of toast and yeast, lemonl-like liveliness, and late arriving roasted malt. Hop character is one note and doesn't evolve, perhaps because of the use of only one variety. Finish is soft, with the sweetness winning over the bitterness.

I love the freshness and balance of this beer, the latter being an aspect that surprised me given the name. This brew definitely could be a go-to for me.

tcfishler, Nov 21, 2006
Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,864 ratings.