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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,900 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,900
Reviews: 1,071
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 10.78%
Wants: 71
Gots: 97 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-28-2001

**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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,900 | Reviews: 1,071 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ericj551
4.59/5  rDev +15%
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.

Photo of gunnerman
4.32/5  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.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.23/5  rDev +6%
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.

Photo of cjgator3
4.67/5  rDev +17%
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.

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.82/5  rDev +20.8%
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.

Photo of MmmIPA
4.36/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Photo of jdoolin
2.84/5  rDev -28.8%
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.

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.

Photo of hanco005
4.32/5  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.

Photo of malthead
3.57/5  rDev -10.5%
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...

Photo of acrawf6
4.35/5  rDev +9%
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!

Photo of MiScusi
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Appearance was a translucent orange, with a big fluffy white head. Left very nice lacing the entire way.

Smell was mainly of floral hops.

Taste contained a pretty strong bitterness, with floral and grassy hop notes as well. Some caramel peaks through as it warms up, but barely.

The feel was a little too carbonated, but pretty nice and light but not watered down body. Drinkability is good.

Photo of Padron4KM
3.47/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

hazy orange with a solid 2 finger head and nice lacing.

Lemon cookie aroma

Flavor is grapefruit with some pine and a touch of sweetness.

Tingly bitter finish.

Name is a little misleading, not brutally bitter, but nicely bitter.
Very tasty well balanced beer.

Photo of FranklinPCombs
3.33/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orange amber color, murkey with a decent beige head, little lacing. Smell was dominantly burnt chocolatey and mossy notes up front, with a bit of malt and cherry finish. Taste was slightly bitter, but more what I would describe as sharp and chalky. Same burnt taste, but most everything is masked by the "bitter". The mouthfeel is, again, dry and chalky, and there is a strange sharpness on the back, but had decent body. I was looking for a much more balanced beer, but this one didn't deliver that.

Photo of BlindPig
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of veech
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one excellent beer and the only thing bitter about the entire experience is me in that I didn't have this available in my area sooner. Pours a slightly hazy deep golden orange with a good 3 fingers of head, resilient carbonation and nice lacing. The floral hoppiness of the nose is very well balance by just the right amount of malted barley. The balance is even more evident in the taste. It starts out a little hoppy, but the substantive body of the malt evens everything out. This results is an excellent drinkability. A 6 pack was $10.69 @ Kroger which is a little spendy for a beer that's not high gravity or high alcohol, but damn is it tasty. Yet more praise for Rogue.

Photo of wingman14
4.14/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange with a nice white head. Smell is very hoppy with notes of citrus. Very strong and inviting smells. The taste is more a mix between an ESB and an IPA, neither the bitter or hop presence are overpowering, it is a very good balance. This is a medium to full bodied brew, with a clean finish. No huge aftertaste, quite mellow. This has a fantastic mouthfeel, pretty smooth, and very easy to drink. I stayed away from this selection even though I am a huge Rogue fan, and now that I have tried it I am disappointed that I didn't pick it up soon. Another great beer from the folks at Rogue!

Photo of SwillBilly
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle

Appearance: Pours a deep, murky amber with a minimal off-white head that dissipates quickly to a wispy lacing topping the beer. Visible yeast particles float through the beer and are present in the bottom of the glass.

Smell: Aromas of baked sweet potato with a slight apricot like fruitiness making an appearance. Slight hint of orange peel.

Taste: Begins with an impressive hop bitterness right of the bat that transitions to a malty sweetness that balances out the hops. Finishes nicely balanced with a pleasant citrusy hop bitterness lingering on the tongue.

Mouthfeel. Medium mouthfeel with ample carbonation and a dry finish.

Drinkability: Brutal Bitter lives up to its name, more like an APA/IPA than an ESB. Nicely balanced with a hoppiness that I like and a good malt backbone. Lively carbonated and a dry finish makes you you want to drink this rather quickly. Very easy to drink, alcohol is not present in the flavor profile. Definitely sessionable. Brutal Bitter is one I will seek again and you should too.

Photo of Gaisgeil
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not exactly an ESB yet not an IPA either, this one walks the line. Pours a deep gold in color, looking like it could be either with a thin white head with decent retention. Nose is pretty hoppy, more hoppy than any ESB I've ever had for certain. Taste follows that theme, fairly malty, but not enough to balance the pretty extreme bitterness for the style. Quite nice though overall and nicely drinkable.


Photo of dreadnatty08
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light orange amber color. Bottle conditioning gives it a real hazy translucency. Head is minimal, not much to speak of. Aromas are dominated by I believe floral and citrusy American hops. The description of the beer claims its made solely with crystal hops. Hops are dominated in the brew with an intense flavor and bite at the end. Slick in the mouth, carbonation is medium, a great mouthfeel. A bit heavier than a typical IPA which I suppose is all it sets itself apart from that style. A joy to find locally though limited, and with a high price tag at $10 a 6er. Something I would love to try again but most other IPAs would offer the same experience.

Photo of
3.62/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber. Beer poured a hazy amber color, with a large, off-white head. Carbonation was not very lively. Aroma was a nice balance of malt and citrus. Flavor leaned towards the hop end, with some malt taste coming through in the middle. Finish was bitter (surprise!). Mouthfeel was fairly light, with more carbonation than was apparent on the pour. Drinkability was fairly high, as the beer was quite drying. Each sip left you wanting another.

Photo of superdavex
3.72/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is like you typical dark gold ESB hue with a decent level of carbonation. It leaves a nice sticky lacing.It smells like an IPA with a hoppyness that exceeds that of your everyday ESB.It tastes like a malty IPA also. Very hoppy and very bitter backed by a decent amount of malt to push it back into the ESB category and out of the IPA. A thin mouthfeel feeds into the drinkability category which is excellent. A very unique beer.

Photo of CaskofFlyingDog
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: It has a good head and has great lacage. The color is an orangy brown haze.

Smell: It's excitingingly fruity and refreshingly beery. That's all I can come up with.

Taste: Hop heaven with a little apricotish bite if you search for it.

Mouthfeel: This is surprisingly smooth, light, and thin. It's almost "fluffy."

Drinkability: Easy as hell to drink. You may get tired of being so bitter after a while though.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks great, a captivating dirty orange color, plenty of carbonation and long-lasting head that features tight, compact bubbles.

Hops and malt fight for dominance in the aroma, with both coming on strong and fragrant. Smells more like a barley wine than an ESB.

Flavorwise this is not your typical ESB, and this is a great example of a beer that blurs style distinctions. My first sip reminds of a double IPA, with a robust, grapefruity sourness thanks to the hops...and then the strong malt essence kicks in, and this reminds more of a barley wine, as there's an earthy molasses swing to it...and with both malt and hop elements well-balanced and assertive, it certainly sits easily in the ESB category.

Doesn't really matter. Whatever it is, it's great. Combined with a slick and creamy mouthfeel, and a piney finish, this goes down well (and too quickly!) as long as you appreciate bitterness in abundance. Impressive.

Photo of Drew966
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brutal Bitter Ale pours a hazy copper with a white head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. Citrusy/pine like aroma. Extremely hoppy flavor, in that typical northwestern U.S. fashion. I like this, in fact, I think I like it better than the double IPA's that seem to be popping out of every micro brewer around (I know it's not the same style, but this is a great hoppy beer). Excellent beer, highly recommended.

Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
89 out of 100 based on 1,900 ratings.