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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 TheBeerWolf
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a orangish amber color. The head poured white and left pretty quick with mine but left some lacing.

S: The first thing that hits you is the piney hops and then citrus aromas.

T: Wow! Lots of hops man. The bitter hops were the first thing that hit my tongue. Toasty malt notes are there too with a sweet cirtus aftertaste. The bitterness pretty much dominates as the name implies. If you like the more bitter beers you will enjoy this one otherwise might want to pass on this.

M: The moutfeel is kind of oily from the hops. Quite a bit of carbonation but as others have said not too dry.

D: Not too bad but the bitterness might be too much for some. But then again you would not be buying this style if you did not like bitter right? Me personally after having one of these I would move to something a little less bitter.

Overall a good quality beer and if your in the mood for a bitter can't go wrong with this one.

TheBeerWolf, Sep 12, 2006
Photo of nicefix
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wicked copperish amber color. Cloudy with a thick chunky off white head. Very attractive.

Big oily piney hop aroma. Quite pleasing.

The taste reminds me of a big American IPA. Very hoppy, floral, piney. With a malty bitter slightly sweet finish. I love the taste.

This is a fantastic beer. Right up the hophead's alley.

nicefix, Sep 10, 2006
Photo of Applesauce1
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got the Brutal Bitter at the Pit Stop in Nelsonville, OH

Appearance: poured it into my Arrogant Bastard pint glass and got about a half inch head; the head disappeared a little quick but still looked good; bronze color

Smell: hops and something else (not sure), not bad, but nothing great

Taste: this is the stuff; hoppy with some unique malt (very similar to bitterness you get from Rogue's American Amber Ale) I think all of Rogue ales have a similarity in the same way Sam Adams' beers do. There may also be hint of orange in here. Excellent!

Mouthfeel: medium to full bodied; good carbonation
Drinkability: could drink at least two in a night

This is another quality beer from Rogue. I'll have to visit the brewery sometime.

Applesauce1, Sep 09, 2006
Photo of plaztikjezuz
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
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 wl0307
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ever since my first encounter with this beer served on cask last year at the BSF bar, GBBF05, my mind has been pre-occupied with the explosive flavour that it showed. No cask this time round at the BSF 06, but I did manage to get a bottle for take-away. No freshness info. printed on the bottle, served cool in a straight imperial-pint glass.

A: translucent dark reddish-orange in colour, coming with a thick layer of off-white foam with ve...ry good retention; constantly gentle streams of carbonation full of medium-sized bubbles.
S: Goldings+Challenger like fruity hops with sweetened citric-zests and tangerine juice, plus juicy peaches and longan-fruits, caramely malts, a fatty and slightly piney body of fresh hops, and a flow of warming alc. behind; smelling more like an American IPA to me, maybe due to the big and aromatic hoppyness on the balance.
T: a tannic, fat, oily smooth flow of sweet-citric hops lubricates the tongue so smoothly, followed in no time by plenty of longan-fruits, marmalade, caramely malts, as well as a flowery honeyish edge of late-harvested Muscat wine hidden down the sides of the tongue... slightly piney and tannic hop bitterness gradually builds up--not harsh but rather soothing, leading towards an aromatic, tangy bitter-sweet aftertaste full of malts and soft hoppyness and lingering forever down the throat...
M&D: the softer-than-soft mouthfeel results from consistently creamy carbonation, on top of a solid body and a full flavour profile... perhaps because it's served at the temp. more like a cask-conditioned ale, the mouthfeel overall really is smooth and great... Not as "brutal" nor bitter as my first encounter last year, yet the end result with an utterly harmonious balance b/w malts and hops makes it a great beer to quaff or sip, depending on one's mood. If given less sweetness on the nose, it could've been an impeccable premium bitter. Top quality stuff by Rogue, firmly in my top ten Premium Bitters.

wl0307, Sep 08, 2006
Photo of PCaravan
4.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've been waiting for a while to try this one and finally found it.

Amber gold in color that pours a thin white head that quickly fades but leaves a ring of foam around the edge of the glass that clings.

Clean smooth and strong floral citrusy aroma but not overpowering.

Taste is primarily of the hops and of the same profile as the aroma. Bitterness is substantial but very soft and smooth and lingers in the finish. Nice balance.

Mouthfeel has a nice carbonation level and has a very creamy feal.

Highly drinkable due to it's soft, smooth, and balanced bitterness.

Reminds me a lot of a American style pale ale but not nearly as pungient or rough as many of those (and I like them too).

PCaravan, Sep 07, 2006
Photo of TrickKnee
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Never being a big Bitter fan i was a little curious to how i was going to like this, thinking it was going to compare to a fullers, however I must say it was very good. Poured a nice amber color with a very sweet smell. Overall not as bitter as some people might think, i have had regular IPA that had more of a bitter taste than this. Was definitly another great output from Rogue.

TrickKnee, Sep 03, 2006
Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a bright orange copper with ample bubbles clinging to the sides of my pint. These were releasing and steaming upwards, sustaining the uneven film of creamy dirty white that left some messy steaks of lace. Half way through my pint, the head was nowhere to be found.

Upon smelling, I let out a long, drawn out, “Wow.” There’s a huge amount of dehydrated pineapple here nestled atop a base of honey, mushrooms and diner rolls. Very nice.

The flavor begins with an intense woody hop that has elements of birch bark, mushroom and juniper. The malt base consists of a soft oat and cantaloupe. In the finish, the hops dry out even more and reveal a residual coffee. Seemed way to strong for the style.

The mouth feel is medium bodied with a very active mini-carbonation. For the flavors involved, this seemed a bit much.

Although this is a very tasty beer, I am uncertain as to how this fits in with it’s stated style. Other ESBs I have had have been far more subtle and delicate where as the hops in this one really stand up and cause quite a commotion. Perhaps this one is better touted as a Double ESB?


So I finished my review and proceeded to get lost in the BA forums (like ya do). When I finished my pint, I got up to pour the rest of the bottle into my glass. Not realizing this was bottle conditioned, I just tipped the bottle back and got all the goodies on the bottom into my glass. It looked really terrible, but upon tasting, the grains were really amplified and there was an expected nuttiness to it. Although it tremendously and negatively impacted the appearance, this really balanced out the hop profile of this one quite a bit.

DarkerTheBetter, Sep 01, 2006
Photo of bruachan
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

this is one of those beers i see all the time and don't bother to pick it up precicesly because of that. i finally did; let's see how it is

toasty malt aromas, with caramel and some nice sweetness. flavors from the vienna malt shine through, though hops overshadow them to a certain degree.

crowning a nice copper body, is some great lacing and a thin foam, which is sustained by carbonation that really is too intense to fit the ESB mold. also, Brutal is definitely too bitter and hop-focused to be a real ESB. that's not all i'm considering, however, in my rating

bruachan, Sep 01, 2006
Photo of clabaugh
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured a cloudy burnt orange out of a handsome bomber bottle. A fluffy white head rests on top. The head, inflected with yellowish hints, retains lustily. Lace clings in clumps to the glass.

Smell: Citrusy hops interspersed with clean, bready malts. Caramel, and nectar, with some hoppy vigor that is very refreshing.

Taste: Boldly malty and hoppy at once. Thoroughly flavorful, yet in excellent balance. Bitter, floral hops meet up with caramelly, toasty malts and throw a taste party.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, spruced up with carbonation. Enduring bitterness. Refreshing.

Drinkability: Per the style, a highly drinkable beer. Refreshing, with fine flavor, and relaxing properties.

clabaugh, Aug 31, 2006
Photo of Deconstructionis
4.72/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorites beers.

It's a cloudy bright amber, almost orange in the light. with a thick finely beaded head that not only persists but will cling to the edge of the glass above the "water-line." This is a bottle conditioned ale so there is some sediment

The aroma is rich with prominent hops and a toasted malt/ fresh yeast bread character.. The taste is boldly bitter and the hops are upfront (of course), but it's not overly dry as the rich malt balances well. It's medium body with somewhat more carbonation than the ales of this type you'll get on tap in Britain. Very drinkable. ESBs are not everyone's favorite but for fans of this style-- this is a world-class offering.

Deconstructionis, Aug 28, 2006
Photo of egajdzis
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a cloudy amber color with a tight white head and nice lacing. Nice citrus (predominantly orange) hop aroma. It's nice having a brew with one type of hop, it helps you learn what each nop smells/tastes like. Bitter grapefruit flavor. Nicely balanced

egajdzis, Aug 28, 2006
Photo of jettjon
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, cloudy pale reddish-orange-brown with a few tiny bubbles rising up. Smallish brow tan head, quickly fades to a thin cap, leaving decent lacing. Nose is bold strong hops and malt. Taste: yep, hops all right, pushing IPA status. However, the hops is rapidly dominated or balanced by the malt. Finishes bitter, lingers on the palate, dry and bitter. Mouth is semi-creamy, semi-syrupy, substantial yet watery and smooth. Good drinkability due to mouthfeel and flavor balance.

Overall: A good bitter ale, nice hops presence with good flavor balance. Definitely recommended, especially for hops lovers.

jettjon, Aug 26, 2006
Photo of Toddv29424
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours with a traditional dark gold color, but has a very unconventional cascade effect when poured vigorously. Smell is a well balanced blend of hops and malt, with the hops slightly overpowering. There is a surprising amount of hops for a Bitter, but I would expect nothing less from Rogue. They give it a very fruity taste with a perfect amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel is also great, again with a good balance of flavor and carbonation.

Toddv29424, Aug 20, 2006
Photo of ericj551
4.58/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served room termperature, Brutal Bitter pours a cloudy light amber with a bubbly white head. The aroma immediately brings to mind sweet, hoppy unfermented wort. I've never noticed it before but thats all I can smell with this beer. The taste is sweet and malty at first, than changes quickly to a nice bitterness with a lot of hop flavor. Just like Dead Guy and the Old Crustacean barleywine, if the price were more towards the norm for the style, these would definitely be in my fridge every night.

ericj551, Aug 20, 2006
Photo of gunnerman
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
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 IntriqKen
4.28/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Goat Hill Tavern, Costa Mesa.
Pours a crystal clear golden with a half finger head that melts to fine lacing.
Aroma is very hoppy....sweet fresh citrus hops.
Mouthfeel is refreshingly drying with the sharp bite of ample tiny carbonation.
Taste is at first a very fresh sweetness that follows up immediately with a burst of grapefruit and orange rind hops. Both the grapefruit and light malt intensify as the beer warms.
Wonderful thirst quencher and great session beer.

IntriqKen, Aug 17, 2006
Photo of cjgator3
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a coppery amber color with a large creamy white head. Aroma is hops, hops and more hops! Citrusy hops dominate the taste as well. Under all the hops, you can pick up some sweet malt. Mouthfeel is smooth and slightly chewy. Overall, this is an absolutely delicious brew for hopheads like I.

cjgator3, Aug 16, 2006
Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.85/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Best ESB ever?

Pours a hazy apricot color with a dense cap with incredible retention. chunks of lace stick to the glass, very nice. The amount of haze surprise me, even though I let it sit for 24 hours and poured carefully, it looks like a hefeweizen. Lots of sediment stuck to the base of the bottle.

The aroma is hoppy, very floral and citrusy with a delicate malt base. The taste is the same with a good does of bitterness throughtout. Lots of grapefruit and a bit of pine mingle with a soft bready malt base. Mmmm its too drinkable. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with tiny carbonation bubbles. The finish is bitter and long but also balanced with some malt sweetness.

This beer is so damn quaffable. Crystal hops are very tastey. Its pretty much in IPA territory to me. Still its perfectly balanced... a session beer for a hophead.

CAMRAhardliner, Aug 14, 2006
Photo of MmmIPA
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber poured into a pint glass.

A-Faint color,amber,Huge head

T-Very hoppy,citrus with some pine.

S-Very hoppy smell with hints of citrus.


D-I loved it!I thought it wasnt really bitter but then maybe ive been drinking Bitter beers for the past 2 weeks.I would love to have it on tap.I want more and Highly recommened to anyone who likes a bitter beer.


A year and some days later I try this beer again since im a better reviewer now.

Amber hue with a small white head that fell pretty fast to a ring and some small patches.

The aroma is piney hops.You can also smell some malt in there as well.

The taste is bittering hops and some of the hop taste taste like "tea".I think this bottle isnt the freshest.The bittering hops still make you pucker.Grapefruit is in the taste also.

The mouthful is pretty awesome on this beer.It is in between of thin and thick.Very easy to drink and goes down very smooth.

This stuff is still awesome and im glad I got to try it again.This is the epitomy of a ESB in my book.

MmmIPA, Aug 14, 2006
Photo of jdoolin
2.83/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Presentation: 22 oz bomber, poured into an imperial pint glass.

Appearance: Deep copper with a nice three finger head that never completely went away.

Aroma: Hops. The Crystal hops dominate the aroma. The malt is there, but overpowered by hops.

Taste: This has a wonderful flavor. Nice caramel malt and prominent hop flavor. But I don't taste the balance that an ESB should have. The hops weigh far more than the malt in this beer.

Notes: This tasted like a very good IPA, but did not have the balance I was expecting, for an ESB. A great beer, but didn't fit the style as well as I would have liked.

jdoolin, Aug 10, 2006
Photo of Byeast
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: orange copper , hazed . creamy off white head

Smell: lots of raw hop smell , some citric/tangerine like hop and piney aromas.

Taste: very hoppy , citrus rind , some sweet maltiness , fairly bitter but not quite overpowering , lots of raw hop flavor

Mouthfeel: a bit creamy , full

Drinkability: a good brew to grab if your in need of a hop injection.

Byeast, Aug 09, 2006
Photo of hanco005
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
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 malthead
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orange, amber color, but little head. Smell is citrus, lemony hops... grapefruit. I don't get the caramel flavor I expect from an ESB, either in the taste or smell. So, good smell and all, but taste just doesn't do it for me. I realize the "Brutal" part of the name is referencing the sharp citrus hop presence, but... the traditional ESB "Bitter" part is kinda lacking. Light and very drinkable, but I'm afraid it's not what I had expected in an ESB... needs more malt, in my opinion, but given my name, maybe I'm a little biased...

malthead, Aug 05, 2006
Photo of acrawf6
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Love getting a pint of this at Lager's (Metairie, LA)... only place i know where to get a pint of this, or even a bottle at that matter.

Served a nice orange amber with a just slightly tan head with a little good lacing.

Smell. Nice good smells of hops, good esb aromas that are caramel smelling just slightly piney. Very nice.

Taste. Very good. I almost look at this beer differently of other esb's because it just seems more potent than others of it's style. Good tastes of a caramel sweetness and some citrus notes. It really is quite nice.

Mouthfeel is good. Mouthfeel is good, fuller than others in it's style. Good amount of carbonation, great balance.

Overall, i think this is a great beer, better than the style it claims to be. Has a very solid flavor others do not have, i need to check, buy i would guess they have pacman yeast in this beer too. Very good!

acrawf6, Aug 04, 2006
Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,864 ratings.