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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,765 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,765
Reviews: 1,060
rAvg: 4
pDev: 10.75%
Wants: 60
Gots: 49 | 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: 1,765 | Reviews: 1,060 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2006 06:31:53 | More by Phatz
Photo of Imstillthegman


3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very cloudy copper with lighter orange hues on the edges. Light head that doesn't last very long. Leaves light lacing. The smell is fairly subdued with a light citrus scent from the hops about all I can notice. The citrusy hops are more dominant in the taste. A touch of sweetness up front quickly overtaken by the hop bitterness. Medium body with low carbonation as is usual for this style. Nice brew to celebrate a great beer bar.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2006 16:31:20 | More by Imstillthegman
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4.43/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with a medium amber color and a beaten eggwhite head; boistrous lacing all over the pint glass

Smell: Fruity aroma with apricot and grapefruit esters

Taste: Apricot flavors on the front end are joined by a steady progression of piney bitter flavors; a touch floral on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium/heavy bodied with low carbonation

Drinkability: Superb drinker - nicely balanced between the fruity and bitter flavors

Serving type: cask

05-11-2006 00:52:39 | More by brentk56
Photo of WeisGuy

New York

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

a - cloudy dark amber color; off-white head, about a half-inch high, leaves pretty quickly; nice lacing

s - hops dominate with fruity hints

t - a nice sweetness to start, then the hoppy bitterness midway through that only become more prounounced and moves back on the tongue, then sweetness again on the tail end; wonderful balance of sweet and bitter

m - can definitely feel the carbonation in the mouth; very lively; clean feel

d - very drinkable, I could certainly drink several of these and not get tired of it; the taste, as other have said, could pass as an IPA, but it's very well balanced

Overall, another excellent Rogue offering. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and really wish I had another.

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2006 00:06:02 | More by WeisGuy
Photo of heyitsbyron


4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured a single bottle ($1.35) into a pint glass.

Sold head, nice and tight, lingers awhile. Copper color, clearer than I expected. Not totally sparkling, but pleasant anyway.

Piny resinous hops, but mild too. Maltiness fills the nose. Fruit and floral flavors remain in the background only.

Thin and perhaps a bit washed out. Nonetheless, I like it very much. Hop flavor is way down compared what I had thought, and it sort trails off into a mild fruit juice flavor. It's sweet and though all these adjectives seem unpleasant, it really hits the spot. Not "brutal" in my opinion.

Standard in the mouth. Average all the way around, from carbonation to body. Makes for quick drinking.

I could and probably will drink 6 of these in a sitting sometime. Outstanding in terms of value, drinkability, and taste. Won't knock you down, but you get a lot of flavor along the ride. Exceptional.

Serving type: bottle

05-08-2006 02:42:10 | More by heyitsbyron
Photo of evanackerman


4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

beer pours a hazy orange with a two finger head that sticks and leaves lacing.

aroma is dominatied by hops of the fruity variety.

taste is very unique, at first i thought this tasted like so many IPAs out there but then i was hit by some kind of roasty flavor that i know is familiar but hard to describe, almost like a toasted sunflower seed, whatever it is it contributes a unique quality to this beer and sets it apart from the masses.

mouthfeel is medium viscosity and a bit astringent, but very good.

overall, this is another winner from Rogue, very tasty ale, tasty to the extreme, these guys are great ale makers! definitely try this one!

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2006 20:45:50 | More by evanackerman
Photo of sinstaineddemon


4.43/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - a rich honey color, with 3/4 finger of off white foamy head, that slowly laces and craters, moderate carbonation is clearly visible

S - ooh, i love my IBU's and this smells like its gonna be good, a hoppy bitter aroma with hints of honey, and a faint hint of spiciness, hard to place maybe ginger or clove

T - ohhh yeah, that hits the spot, this is just how i like'em, bitter and sweet, smooth and refreshing, has a great bitter kick to it the whole way through, but there is a sweetness to it in the background, like honey (a recurring theme), man, these hops are great, i wish i had got more than one 12 oz'er, i will DEFINITELY get more of this

M - so smooth while so bitter while so sweet, what balance, a great ESB i love this, this is in my top 5

D - high, if you like you're IBU's, so poundable, must .... drink...more brutal bitter ....(Homer drool noise)

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2006 03:21:58 | More by sinstaineddemon
Photo of crwills

Ontario (Canada)

4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Got a couple bottles of this to try from Beers of the World in Rochester, NY.

Pours a cloudy orange, quite nice and unique looking, very bright with a good, white 1/2 inch head.

Aroma is powerful American hops, grapefruit. This is going to be very bitter.

Taste is dry and hoppy, with some yeastiness and a bit of unidentifiable spice. Citrus is actually quite reserved, making this a very easy-to-drink brew. Bit of alcohol presence. Dry, crackery aftertaste (again, makes it an easy drinker), and a light, refreshing mouthfeel.

Did I mention I could drink this all day?

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2006 19:02:07 | More by crwills
Photo of Enola

North Carolina

3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brutal Bitter poured with minimal head. The color is just a shade lighter than is typical with the style. Not a lot though. The smell is piney and sweet. The taste is very good. There is a hoppy presence with a good lasting bitter aftertaste. The mouthfeel is smooth. There are no overpowering harsh tones. A drinkable brew. Very good for the style. Probably not as aggressive as others. A subtle example of an ESB.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2006 20:57:31 | More by Enola
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-02-2006 03:18:41 | More by bignick
Photo of Golden2wenty1


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

Picked up a single at Riley's here in Madison.

Pours a bright hazy golden orange with a few fingers of white foam. Nose is juicy with citrusy hop oils and apricot. Taste starts off with that oily hop bitterness then releases into sweet, bready caramel malts. Mouthfeel is smooth and velvety. This is my first ESB so I didn't know what to expect. Frankly, if I was told this was an IPA I wouldn't have known any better. Regardless of the style, this is a tasty, refreshing, hoppy ale that I would recommend to any hophead.

Serving type: bottle

04-25-2006 02:37:58 | More by Golden2wenty1
Photo of taez555


3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a hazy golden yellow body with white head.

Nose has some oily hop, fresh hop smells with touches of wonder bread.

Medium bodied with a very fine, almost cask like carbonation. An interesting leafy, very citrus rind and peel hoppiness. Soft caramel malts, biscuit and bread. Bitterness is surprisingly tame with an almost water touch. More of an implied bitterness than an actual bitter quality. There's more of a lemony, citrus hop taste than bitterness. Ends with a lingering soft bitterness.

Brutal may be a serious overstatement of how truly bitter this is, especially in a world with 100+ IBU beers, but beyond that misnomer it's a damn good beer. Could be amazing on cask.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2006 00:24:03 | More by taez555
Photo of TheBungyo


2.75/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a golden orange, with a nice 1/2 inch white head. Nose is awful, like rancid chicken soup or boiled corn. Yuck.
Taste is better, but this doesn't taste like a bitter to me. I'd almost say an IPA, but it isnt hoppy enough. Taste is a cross of lemon and grapefruit and that's it. Very one dimensional. Mouthfeel is pretty good but at this point who cares? Nope, don't want to buy it again. I'll opt for a real IPA or bitter if the mood strikes me.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2006 06:40:31 | More by TheBungyo
Photo of RoyalT


4.63/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This is a deep, rich, thick orange in color with a modest head. The head was OK, but the body is just gorgeous. It looks like that Lite-Bright orange, a solid, cloudy orange with a light in the background barely shining through.

Smell – Ah, I love the scent that the Crystal hops give up. It is very sharp and distinctive and a bit rank, like some aged Indo. The lightly-toasted malt backbone is not to be ignored.

Taste – This is so good it’s hard to put down. The hops are tremendous at the taste and very tell done. They provide a perfect balance to the toasty malts. It almost tastes dry-hopped though because the Crystal hops are so dominant in the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel – This medium-bodied ESB has great carbonation and really isn’t “brutally dry” as the name would suggest. It’s much more easy in the cheeks than the bottled version.

The key here is the smoothness, which also enhances Drinkability. It goes down in long, beautiful swallows. It’s almost therapeutic to the tongue and cheeks. I haven’t found a beer that I enjoy holding in my mouth more than tapped Brutal Bitter.

Drinkability – It’s hard to find fault in this ESB. It goes down like silk and is one of the smoothest tapped beers that I’ve ever had.

Serving type: growler

04-20-2006 01:14:54 | More by RoyalT
Photo of aforbes10


4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

had a bottle of this at our April beer club meeting. cloudy, white head. very hoppy odor, fresh smelling. good, bitter taste. lots of fresh lip smacking hops. bitterness goes away after the first couple of swigs and leaves just the hoppy ale flavor. nice crisp mouthfeel. good and drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2006 19:03:12 | More by aforbes10
Photo of scruffwhor


4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 220z bomber.

Appearance- Poured a one finger head into my Carlsberg Imperial pint glass. The head slowly moves to a film, then nothing for al 22 ounces. Color is a dark, cloudy orange peel.

Smell- A mix of amber mlats, citrusy, floral hops, and soup broth.

Taste- Starts out with a good balance of grapefruity hops and medium bodied malts. This balances out to some bitter iced tea. Not bad for a bitter.

Mouthfeel- Definetly bitter...as the style name would imply. The bitterness looses some bite as you let it warm up. Thats when the iced tea flavor hits the middle of the tongue.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2006 02:48:52 | More by scruffwhor
Photo of dirtylou


4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz single, Steve's - University

appearance: pours a super hazy pulpy amber-peach into one of my Sweetwater pint glasses...huge yeast presence in the bottom of the bottle, a cloud-like white head forms with strong retention and lacing

smell: fresh hop presence, grapefruit, orange, lemon zest, yeasty...sweet toasty malt backbone evident, slightly peppery, nice and floral

taste: i really haven't had that many esb's but this is my favourite thus far...a very pleasant citric hop presence backed by gentle sweet malt, a peppery spice, slightly bready, touch of pine, yeast. solid esb from Rogue and a nice beer to enjoy after cooling down from the afternoon jog (i think its a soft j)

mouthfeel: a little chalky, pulpy, slight hop bitterness

drinkability: very drinkable, refreshing

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2006 00:44:25 | More by dirtylou
Photo of akorsak


3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I am drinking a 650 mL (22 oz) capped bottle poured into an Ommegang Witte glass. The ale is slightly below room temperature.

Appearance: The ale is a light orange color. The body of the ale is very hazy to the point that one can't see through it. There is minimal head and a smattering of lace around the ale.

Smell: Funny thing is, when I smell it I don't find anything. No malt sweetness, no hop bitterness, nothing.

Taste: The ale has a fruity taste to it, one that conjures up an orange (?!?). Not too shabby, although there is little malt character and the hops clearly dominate.

Mouthfeel: The ale sits smoothly on the tongue, with the hops giving a fruity bitterness that really takes control of the beer.

Drinkability: Pretty drinkable, although I'd like more malt assertiveness to combat the hops.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2006 00:44:03 | More by akorsak
Photo of jhammerly


3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pouring a dark gold body with a frothy head that leaves clumps of foam lacing the sides as it dwindles down slowly. Good head retention. The citrus aroma of hops stand out with a hint of pine. As the name states, this has a bitter taste with some sweet malt flavor to balance things out. A medium body that has good drinkability, but maybe too heavy for a session. This is a good beer that is in the vein of an English IPA.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2006 01:34:11 | More by jhammerly
Photo of russpowell


4.6/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours deep honey with an off the charts beaded san colored head. good lacing and head retention

Smell: earthy hop notes &honey malt notes

Taste: Piney & citrussy hops (grapefruit) with a sweet malt up front. Great hop finish, perhaps a little too much for the style, but it works for me

MF: Rich & ballanced, good carbonation

Very drinkable, think this is more like a DIPA, would love to ty this side by side with SNCA, yummy

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2006 03:26:09 | More by russpowell
Photo of redelephantdane

North Carolina

4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a- orange, leaf color, thin lacing, 2 inch head.

s- really sweet, citrus, pear, some malts.

t- biscuit, soy, a little bit of hops, good balance, some malts

m- really dry, nice refreshing, leaves you wanting more.

d- i could really drink a lot of this if i wanted to.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2006 21:00:18 | More by redelephantdane
Photo of custardcb


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

Big old 22oz bottle poured ever so smoothely. Built a nice two finger head with some large bubles that was rather frothey. Nice golden peach color and is a bit hazey. The nose is a little hoppy with some citrus and other fruitey aromas.

The taste doesn't live up to the name of being brutal but is beautifully bontiful of hops and only the slightless twinge at the end while being a little dry. The higher ABV is detectable but isnt too harsh. Pretty drinkable overall and this is just a very good beer.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2006 04:36:45 | More by custardcb
Photo of abcsofbeer


4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22ouncer. The color is a hazy orange that hints at copper with a good deal of carbonation. The rising bubbles indicate the opposite of the style. The head is fairly thin, light tan in color, and leaving no lace to speak of.

The aroma is sweet and citrusy, but not overpowering like an IPA. The taste is excellent and very well blended. I enjoyed the well hopped taste that accompanies the mild fruit flavor and citrus oil. Overall, this beer goes along with my favorite style, the IPA. Very good beer from Rogue.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2006 00:32:37 | More by abcsofbeer
Photo of nortmand


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

Light copper pour with white head and good lacing. Slight chill haze.

Huge orange aroma. Background of pine resin. Pure cascade.

Rounded citrus flavor up front. Thin maltiness midtongue. Clean bitter in the back of a tongue. Leaves a grainy aftertaste. A bit of funk in the aftertaste as well.

A bit thin bodied, but very nice otherwise. Plenty of flavor and very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2006 23:43:27 | More by nortmand
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a light hazy brown color ale with a huge bubbly head with slightly better then average retention. Aroma of cirtusy hops is clearly dominant. Taste is huge on cirtusy hops, which provide some bitterness, but is well back by some malt. This beer really seems to be halfway between an ESB and an IPA. Interesting and would definitely like top try this again.

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2006 17:09:19 | More by Phyl21ca
Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,765 ratings.