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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,943 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,943
Reviews: 1,080
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 10.78%
Wants: 78
Gots: 112 | 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: 1,943 | Reviews: 1,080
Photo of nlmartin
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a slightly cloudy copper coloration. The head was thick and creamy off white. Streaks of lacing left behind on the glass.

Smell: Floral hoppy smells float on a bed of malty sweetness.

Taste: This has one hell of a hop punch. Truthfully I did not expect it to hit like this. A very nice sweet malt base supports the hops.

Mouthfeel: This is one slick light to meduim bodied beer.

Drinkability: This is one well balanced beer. I wish I had tried this one sooner. This beer will be on my frequent buy list.

Photo of bigblueheron
3.35/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The presentation was a 22 oz bottle poured into a room temperature glass. Rich honey-amber appearance and fresh smell adhered to my expectations. I was anxious for a taste. It started out great, but what a bitter finish punch that lingered forever. I don't doubt this is a well-regarded example, but I didn't have my game face on for this experience.

Photo of curtisb8
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

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

12oz. bottle with the picture of the usual Rogue guy, but this time he's wearing a purple shirt and crooked sunglasses. Like all of the Rogue bottles, no date on the front or back.

Appearance: Poured a hazy golden orange color with a nice head of white foam that dissipated fast. When it dissipated, it did leave some fizzy bubbly rings around the mug though.

Smell: The only thing I could detect was some sweet grapefruit and that's it. A little lacking in the aroma department.

Taste: Up front I detected plenty of citrus fruits, most predominate the grapefruit. After those citrus fruits, there was this bitter piney hops taste in the back. Not a strong hops flavor, not a light hops flavor, but just right. Nice!

Mouthfeel: Nicely carbonated, not too dry, and some sweetness in the background. Those bitter hops do linger on for a while after you finish this beer.

Drinkability: Overall a nice light refreshing ESB from Rogue. One of the better offerings from Rogue and might be something I might enjoy again. Very Good!

Photo of nvsblman
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy copper with about a half finger of white head. Some sticky lacing as I drink this. Piney aroma with a little caramel. Piney and grassy hops up front with a nice sweet malt background. Lingering piney aftertaste. A little creamy and well carbonated. This is very refreshing, I'll defintely be enjoying this one again!

Photo of jorjoria
4.31/5  rDev +8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just picked up a growler at Finger Lakes Beverage Center.


A: Has a nice caramel color but very little carbonation and practically no head. (This could be because the keg was a little flat)

S: Great raw hoppy smell.

T/M: The hops cut through in a big way. The beer is very crisp and lingers on the back of tongue. Despite the hoppiness the beer is very well balanced and pleasure to drink. I'm really going to enjoy this growler.

Photo of kmpitz2
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid lightly ambered golden color with a few fingers of off white head that falls to just under a finger. Nose is light bready and toasty, with modest caramel and moderate earthy British hop following. Flavor is very nice. More caramel comes through, but the earthy hops are full on. After swallowing, there is a crisp, almost lenony herbal character to the bitterness that really makes it nice on the finish. Burps are really nice british toasty caramel malt. Bitterness hangs on just a slight bit into the finish, making me want more. A tasty tasty brew. Feel is solid moderate with a moderate carbonation. Good balance between the two. I think this brew is doing what it needs to on all counts. Flavor is really working well for me. I'm not usually a fan of the British hops, but they are in harmony with the malts in this, not surprising with the style. I will definately have this one again.

Photo of clvand0
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes. Pours a light amber color with a moderate head that falls fast and leaves a little lacing on the glass. The aroma is very hoppy (mostly floral) with quite a bit of caramel malt backing things up. The flavor is very much the same. Lots of floral hop flavors along with a solid malt backing make for a fairly tasty beer. Body is moderate and the drinkability is good.

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

What you have here is a solid bitter. This is a well balanced bitter that is not as sweet as I like on the initial tasting but gets the bitter part just right.

A dry butterscotch taste is followed by a dry bitter bite in the aftertaste. The two compliment each other well. This is what I like in my bitters.... interesting and complex flavors competing with each other. You get something different in the initial draw compared to what you get in the aftertaste.

Just fantastic!

Please pick this up if you see it on the shelves! It is worth it!

Photo of Terp96
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have heard so much about this that I had to try it. Why is Rogue getting $5.99 for a bomber these days anyway? Must be the free range water.

Brutal Bitter pours a nice hazy apricot color with a decent amount of head and exceptional head retention throughout.

Smell is underwhelming for a Rogue product. I am used to being hit in the face with something when I open a bottle of Rogue but this beer lacks that punch. I know the style is not one that takes the senses to extremes but I expected more hop and more malt aroma.

The taste satisfys. This is not Fuller's ESB. This may be Fuller's on steroids. The beer becomes increasingly bitter/dry as you progress. However, it is well balanced with the sweet malt backbone.

Mouthfeel is good as well. This beer is slightly syrupy and oily. It is not overwhelmingly warming but it does manage to dry your palate over time.

Brutal Bitter has some very good qualities and is very drinkable IMO. However, I am not sure if this one really fits in the style in which it is classified. I have had better Rogue products.

Photo of Tupperwolf
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a summery, hazy strawberry blonde color into my nonic with a fluffy, sticky 1/2" yellowish head that ends up covering my beer in a complete, soapy froth. Looks like it wants to climb up the walls - and does as I drink, leaving behind a thick, soapy residue of lace. In fact, it looks so good the further I get I'm bumping it up to a crazy 4.5.

Wow, definite punch of fruity hops in the nose! It comes in alongside caramel and sweet grain scents, slick and inviting.

The scent is sweet but the taste has a rounded, full flavor that starts and finishes with the sprucey, fruity sweet-bitter hops but has a creamy, malty, almost woody tasting middle that sets it apart from an IPA.

The mouthfeel has a nice bitter-tart astringency with a soapy carbonation (I just can't help but use that term for the way this one's carbonated!) that's pleasing. A lazy creamy bitter aftertaste hangs out afterwards.

I think this is a pretty slick offering from Rogue; It's a bit more aggressive in its style than the other ESBs I've tried recently, and can't help but wonder along with other BAs how well this fits into that category, but as far as beers go, this is handsome and tasty.

Photo of marksto
3.45/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours cloudy gold due to bottle conditioning. Nice "Americanized" example of the style. A fragrant hop aroma gives way to a pleasantly bitter flavor balanced well with assertive maltiness. It's an ESB with a U.S. flair in the form of American hops. Not as exceptional as some of the other Rogue products I've had, but very nice nonetheless.

Photo of joecast
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ok, first off, im no style nazi. i dont care if you put your beer in a white can with a blue stripe across it with "beer" on the label. that being said, this aint no esb. this is an apa and a damn good one at that.

pours a hazy as hell orange/amber color. looks great though as light reflects of every spec giving it a glowing look. thin off white head sticks around fopr the duration.

being single hopped with crystal is not a bad move by any means. i would lean towards centennial, but what do i know. brutal bitter still has a very good citrus aspect to the aroma. still lets through a bit of sweet maltiness as well.

ok, i think im showing i dont know s**t about beer (or have a really bad memory), but im picking up fullers esb, just more citrus, in the taste. yeah, i know, i thought the same thing for dead guy but im trying to be honest. might be some dull yeast if i try to pick out anything else, but really, this is a sweet sticky malt and citrus hop brew mostly with a good dose of bitterness.

a good mouthfeel, and would probably get filling if made into a session as its a bit sweet in the finish. but man, have a pint of this, and you wont be disappointed.

Photo of Dithyramb
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of Bitterbill
4.62/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle(room temp) with a quickly diminishing head.
The beer is a cloudy medium gold.

The smell is a wonderful mix of hops and malt...you can just about taste the beer from the aroma alone and you *know* it's gonna be good.

The taste is a wonderful balance of the sweetness and bitterness with the hops taking over in the aftertaste and leaving me wanting more.. That's how drinkable this brew is. A *must* try if you see it in your local store.

Photo of orfeu
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy amber with a fluffy, off-white eggshell colored head. Aroma is floral hops, fruits (peach, apple...?), slight whiff of candied ginger. Taste is earthy hops, bready; toasted biscuits; pleasantly bitter hop finish. Chewy and satisfying mouthfeel. Excellent balance between bitterness of the hops and bready malts. Plenty of hops, for sure. A damn excellent session brew for hopheads.

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

Appearance - This beer arrived copper colored with an offwhite, one finger head exhibiting light retention and light lacing.

Smell – A spicy, caramelly, smells here. This smells more like a Belgian style to me than an ESB.

Taste - This beer has a much fruiter taste than I expected and is almost more focused on the malt than the hops that provide a medium length bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - The mouthfeel is chewy.

Drinkability – This is an outstandingly drinkable beer. I could envision drinking these all night.

Photo of Derek
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This bottle was a little gusher.

A: Rusty orange, pours with plenty of white head, not much retention, but some nice lace!

S: Grapefruit from the hops, with a little fruityness from the yeast.

T: Nice pale english malt, with strong hit of grapefruity hops. I'm surprised there's 59 IBU's, it seems really well balanced, and the bitterness is very smooth. The 6.5% ABV is surprising as well... it's not very apparent.

M: Light to moderate body, a little creamy, moderate to high carbonation (perhaps a little much for a bitter).

D: Truely exceptional. Too bad it's finished.

Photo of ghostwalker
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of BurnsTau
4.34/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a medium amber with a decent amount of head. Good lacing through the last sip.

The aroma is great. Hops are immediately recognizable and are just awsome.

The tastes is obviously of hops, definitely a good balance here, but more on the hop side. A good mouthfeel, not too thing, I think about just right. This beer is excellent and definitely lives up to the other Rogue beers I've tried.

Photo of Fugazme
4.32/5  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.

Photo of putnam
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

20 year old copper penny colored with a quick, scaly, sticky top of off white. Aromas of lemon peel, cinnamon candy and crunchy dried herbs. A mouthful is a bitter tonic of sticks and herb infusions along with sugary caramel flavored alcohol. The finish is dry and balanced. A common style with signature Rogue bitter sweet flavors.

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

Brutal Bitter Ale pours a hazy deep golden amber from a 650ml very dark brown glass bottle with a pry off cap. Head went to over three fingers before settling out to a full firm carpet of light tan foam and ample lacing along the walls of my 26oz beer glass.

Nose is a most fragrant floral hops with no hint of anything else. Palate is a bitter beyond bitter... slightly citrus with just a touch of pine... soberingly well done bitter.

Rogue Brutal Bitter Ale should satisfy the most demanding hop head among us.

Photo of numenor1
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, muted orange with a creamy head that holds a decent collar. Smells a bit of lemons, pale malts and typical rogue yeast. Taste is up front sweet pale malts, a touch grainy, then it melds with citrusy, piny hops, with a fair bit of spice. Hops do carry the show, but for all the flavor there is very little bitterness. Dries out in the finish with rogue yeast and slight pith. Very nice beer, more of an IPA to me than an ESB (no typical musty fruitiness and too much carbonation), but altogether refreshing. I do particularly like rogue's yeast. Body is medium with fairly spritzy carbonation, working to nice effect. Eminently drinkable. I still prefer their american amber to this by a long shot.

Photo of garymuchow
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma shows a nice malty base with ever increasing sour/grassy hops. Nice blending. Familiar aroma to other Rogue beers.
Orange/brown amber. Somewhat cloudy. Smallish head but settles slowly and shows lacing.
Boy, they sure like the hop thing at Rogue. This is another hop fest. Sour, bitter, grassy. Pretty intense, with only mild malt balancing and virtually no malt taste. It does increase in time and it's soft and mild. Long dry finish.
Soft carbonation that lends a fullness. Medium to heavy body.
Another enjoyable beer from Rogue. Must like hops.

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
89 out of 100 based on 1,943 ratings.