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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

1,824 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,824
Reviews: 1,063
rAvg: 4
pDev: 10.75%
Wants: 65
Gots: 62 | 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: 1,824 | Reviews: 1,063 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bditty187
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful golden-copper hue with tawny highlights, specks of sediment are suspended and a small amount of animation slowly saunters towards the rocky white head that reached almost two fingers in height. The head retention was decent, it faded to a finger quickly but the foam that remained lasted for a long time. Subsequent lacing was widespread, very webby. This is an attractive looking beverage. I didn’t think the potency of the nose was that powerful; however the aromas I could detect were awesome! The combination of hops were lovely, spicy, pine needles, grapefruit rinds, citrus fruit zest, and a bit of rounded candied fruit. A suggestion of caramel malt was also noticeable. The invitation is clear; I couldn’t wait to take my first sip yet I wanted to smell it more. The palate is very impressive. First of all, the name Brutal Bitter is stupid; this is a succulent, well-crafted ale and not some one-dimensional hop monster hell-bent on domination. Yes, it is bitter. And yes, the hops are the focal point but the blend of hops is gorgeous! The taste is sometimes piney, sometimes grapefruit rinds, sometimes citrusy flesh, pleasantly leafy at the back. The malt plays a secondary role, vague notes of caramel and hints of toastiness occasionally shine through before the finish. The long aftertaste of dry, lots of leafy hops, this is so appetizing. This is the biggest “small” beer I have ever tasted, of course it was brewed Rogue-style, thus the “imperial” tag. The mouthfeel was uneventful, I’m not saying that is a bad thing; moderately high carbonation and it doesn’t seem forced, medium in body. Exceedingly drinkable, I really wish this were available locally as I would quaff this regularly. I am at least glad I bought a 22-ounce bomber in Loveland, CO. Still, I wish I had more. Recommended.

bditty187, Apr 28, 2004
Photo of kmo1030
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

big white fluffy head over a cloudy deep amber ale. real nice fresh hop nose, with grass, pine, grapefruit and spice. not as brutal as the name states, but very highly hopped and very good. piney hops dominate with lemony citrus with something reminiscent of a barelywine type maltiness underneath, probably the yeast and slight fruitiness. i want to give this a little bit higher rating for taste but i don't think it deserves a 4.5. real smooth drinking though with full medium body, and good carbonation. this seems a lot more like an IPA than an ESB, i'm not taking points off for that though, cause it's still damn good.

kmo1030, Apr 28, 2004
Photo of jwilli7122
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a cloudy tangerine-copper color with a large, puffy white head and moderate lacing.
Smell is mainly spicy hops,
Strong malt tastes, with some breadiness, a medium hop spiceyness, a mellow earthiness, and a hint of fruit flavors: lemon, peach. Fairly full bodied for this style. Extremely smooth and very enjoyable
Brutally bitter? Not quite. Tasty? Absolutely.
Without question the best ESB (if that's what it is) I've ever had.

jwilli7122, Apr 24, 2004
Photo of luvND
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pres: 22oz bomber collector's bottle

Appearance: Copper color with significant chill haze. Head is short lived and thin.

Smell: Hop oil essence! Very pleasing. Reminds me a bit of Sierra Nevada Celebration.

Taste: Way bitter, but a nice malt backbone. Bitterness remains long after the swallow, but is not unpleasant. A little heavy on the hop for what I expect from an ESB/strong bitter.

Mouthfeel: Nice. Good level of carbonation. Very smooth, full, but not overly dense.

Drinkability: A 22oz bottle is perfect. 12 wouldn't be enough, but more than this may put you on hop overload, depending on your tolerance. The strong bitter aftertaste, though not unpleasant, limits the amount you can drink.

Overall: Another stellar offering from a great brewery.

luvND, Apr 19, 2004
Photo of granger10
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured an orangish color with copper highlights. Head was an off white color and airy in thickness. Smell was extremely hoppy, very floral and decently bitter. I was thinking that this was going to be just like an ipa. But I was surprised to find a balance character that was totally different from the nose of this beer. Caramel sweetness upfront. Slightly bitter hops come next but are soon washed out by a floral character. Finish is slightly on the sweet side and lingers for a bit. Very thick and chewy body. This is my first real ESB and I need to try more to compare but this was an awesome beer.

granger10, Apr 17, 2004
Photo of gentlebubbles
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally remembered I had this beauty lurking in my pantry. Though spring is approaching, the bottle is still cool enough to call cellar temp.

I crack it open and pour a beautiful clear amber under frothy white head. Entrancing sweet citrus scent, followed by the grapefruit taste, sweaty bite, metallic finish. Mild carbonation, mellow malt.

The best Americanized bitter I've yet to find.

gentlebubbles, Apr 09, 2004
Photo of shirfan
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A shade between amber and gold, with a moderate but clingy white head. Slightly cloudy.

Aroma primarily of pine resin, with a bread-and-fruit followup.

Taste achieves an excellent level of balance. Adequate hops (or a single hop strain, per the bottle); enough to keep hopheads happy, but not a dumptruck full per bomber, as with some other Rogue ales. Malt is allowed to have its say.

Fairly neutral between sweet and dry; malt flavor shines through and plays off of the moderate hopping. Marris Otter demands another sip as soon as you've put down the glass; a hint of toffee in the finish and the faintest whisper of diactyl.

No offensive yeasts here, although the last pour from my bomber produced something as murky as any respectable german wheat beer.

If I could tailor a session brew to my own specifications, it would be damn well near this one. Very, very impressive.

shirfan, Apr 08, 2004
Photo of oberon
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep hazy orange with a real nice fluffy head that leaves some great lacing,aroma hops hops and more hops,very citric and resiny.Taste is definently hop tilted very zesty,oily and dry I get a slight dry maltiness but not much.Iam not a hophead but gotta give this brew props,by far the most hoppy ESB I have ever had.

oberon, Apr 07, 2004
Photo of beergeek279
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on draft at D's. The color was copper, with a wispy white head. The smell was a strong citrusy hop. The taste was quite bitter, certainly more so than other ESBs, and unlike other ESBs had a citrus character to the hopping. Mouthfeel was average. As for drinkability, though the IBUs numb the tongue after a while, I wouldn't have been disappointed drinking a few more.

Certainly amongst the best ESBs I've ever had...Rogue didn't forget the B stands for bitter, that's for sure!! From everything I've heard about this beer, I surely wasn't disappointed to give it a try, and I'll have it again when I see it around.

beergeek279, Apr 06, 2004
Photo of mikeys01
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap today at the Moan and Dove, Amherst, MA. Poured into the glass a just slightly hazy orangey/light copper color with plenty of white foamy head. Smells nice and citrus hoppy, plenty of bright grapefruit here, though a bit of maltiness is detectable as well. Taste is right up front bitter and hoppy, with grapefruit and pineapple plantations springing to mind, but without being offensive, and is much more balanced with sweet pale malt than expected. Mouthfeel is certainly no more than medium, this is a very drinkable Bitter, if it can be called that, I'd call it much closer to an IPA. Wish I could find it on tap more often!

mikeys01, Apr 04, 2004
Photo of 99bottles
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very nice indeed. I tried a pint of this at KClinger's instead of the 15th Anniversary (I think it was 4X4 Pale Ale at the time). I think I made the right choice.
Appearance: Brutal bitter pours a deep orange-brown color, with a thin lace that faded. Looks like I'm in for a treat.
Smell: There is a good smell of hops in the nose. Some sweet malts play second fiddle to the resinous hop smell.
Taste: Mmmm. Smooth. This is one craft brew! The flavors are balanced so nicely in this beer. A sweet flavor of malt covers everything, with the hops dancing around in the mouth. You swallow, and you're left with a satisfying but not puckering bitter. Next sip, yor swimming in sweet malt again, but you notice something more. Absolutely wonderful.
Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Good weight in the mouth, thick enough to satisfy but not so much that it would hurt the drinkability. I'd easily get more if I could. Really well put together. Rogue does it again!

99bottles, Apr 01, 2004
Photo of TastyTaste
4.83/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from one of Rogue's signature screen-printed brown bombers. Hazy copper color, creamy white head. Smells of cotton candy sweetness and hops bitterness. Very appealing. Taste is very remarkable. That same sweetness is evident when in the mouth, but there is an avalanche of bitterness that leaves your mouth tingling, and your throat feeling cold. A great beer, maybe almost an IPA, but as a bitter it is just awesome.

TastyTaste, Apr 01, 2004
Photo of LuckySevens82
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber.
Pours a dull orange, perhaps copper with massive carbonation, this, of course, leads to a very nice 2 finger head. This beer has great lacing. The head sticks to the glass from the top all the way down to the very last drop.
Smells very malty with some hops aromas (I have read reviews where the aroma is nothing but hops, my beer was hoppy but not nearly excessively so...certainly not as strong as a good IPA). Nice citrus as well.
Taste very much is influenced by the hops. There is some malt characteristic to the brew but the major flavor comes from the Crystal hops.
At 6.5% abv, this isn't a session, but this is a very nice brew that I could see myself picking up on occasion. Rogue has once again proved that they consistently make quality brews.

LuckySevens82, Mar 29, 2004
Photo of watermelonman
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured to an almost glowing brown color with a medium fluffy head. The lacing is minor but it looks good.

It smells crisp for the style. The taste is a bit bitter but delicious, and definitely not overwhelmingly bitter.

Overall this is a very nice beer. It's exactly what I would expect from a high-quality American brewery taking on this classic British style.

watermelonman, Mar 24, 2004
Photo of ChappyCubsFan
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bitter, yes. But brutally bitter, not really. It is a nice change from the real hoppy brews I'm used to and that I thoroughly enjoy. This one has a consistently bitter taste with a smooth hop flavor and some interesting citrus taste. It pours a creamy golden color and it's got a nice aroma and lacing too. I had forgotten about what a nice change of pace this one is from an IPA or double IPA. It's almost at a mid point between a good, hearty IPA and a good, semi-hoppy pale ale.

ChappyCubsFan, Mar 19, 2004
Photo of BeerManDan
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a nice golden color. Was prepared for a big bite with a lot of bitterness, but, instead received a surprised expereince. The smell of hop's and citrus filled the nose and the taste was a medium hoppy flavor with a hint of citrus on the palate. There was a well balance of bitterness and sweetness in this beer. Maybe because I drank it on tap, that it was a little mellow to be called "Brutal Bitter"!

BeerManDan, Mar 17, 2004
Photo of MuddyFeet
3.53/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Great color: A burnt orange which made the appearance look great. Almost as bitter as some Australian bitters I had while Down Under. The hops are noticable in both the taste and the aroma. Unfortunately, I think this beer is too bitter for me to handle more than a couple of these.

MuddyFeet, Mar 13, 2004
Photo of RedDiamond
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a fabulous beer, though it strays so far afield from the English tradition that it is puzzling why Rogue bothered to call it a bitter. Perhaps the “Brutal” adjective describing it is an appropriate corrective measure. My pint at Rogue’s Public House in downtown Portland was dense saffron color and served with a skinny white head. I was immediately impressed with the substantial malt body – a Rogue hallmark – which was solid enough to uphold the profuse citrus-hop flavor.

I’m no hop authority, but I had no difficulty in promptly ascertaining the absence of Fuggles or Goldings hops. Sure enough, a quick inquiry into Brutal’s vital statistics reveals that it’s brewed exclusively with Oregon grown Crystal hops. Stylistically, I’d call this an American pale ale with a strong northwestern accent. But I won’t nitpick style boundaries further except to say that traditionalists won’t find what they’re looking for in this “bitter” and you still have to call it something.

Your timid friends will also be put off by the unapologetically bold character but of course, who needs timid friends? I enjoyed the heck out of Brutal Bitter for its forward leaning hop potency with its juicy overtures to grapefruit. The light fragrant aroma belittles such potency, but the finish is sharp as a Gerber blade. I’d love to see this on cask.

RedDiamond, Feb 23, 2004
Photo of merlin48
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber pours a slightly hazy, orange amber color. Beige head has good retention and lasts for several minutes. Puffs of lace are left all over the glass. Aroma shouts out loud, with bigtime westcoast hops. Grapefruit and spruce pine are here in spades. Mouthfeel is a mouthful of the same hops. Sour and bitter, plenty of bite, and lots of carbonation. Taste kicks off with the same hops bitterness. Lots of pine and sour grapefruit, a hint of mandarin orange...a hop lover's delight. The English malts keep a low profile here. I was expecting some malty nuttiness like an English ESB, but this one is closer to a big IPA. Hop oils and resins are in abundance. Some malt flavors try to emerge as it nears room temperature, but just can't make the journey through the enormous hops profile. Plenty of flavor here, especially if you enjoy big westcoast hops, but I was hoping for a more assertive malt profile out of the Brit floor malts. Very enjoyable and highly drinkable for what it is.

merlin48, Feb 17, 2004
Photo of Crosling
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A beautiful color. A hazy orangish peach that glows. The head doesn't disappoint with the retention or the lace. Both were fantastic.

Mandarin oranges, lemons, spruce, and grapefruit. Very delicately hopped aroma. Looking forward to this one.

Big bouquet of hops throughout the beer. Tons of grapefruits and lots of other spicy fruits. Malt presense is high but intolerant compared with the high hop rate. The hops are citrusy, resiny, oily and juicy. Pretty delicious.

Crosling, Feb 16, 2004
Photo of CortexBomb
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a lovely off reddish brown and hazy with a massive head. The initial smell is hoppy floral with a hint of citrus in the background.

Taste is not anything that I'd term brutal at all though, this is one smooth drinking heavily hopped ale! The taste starts out with a healthy dollop of hops with a tad of pine, and then switches over to a pungent ruby red grapefruit with smooth malts also present, and then finishes with a tingly, yet not overstated amount of bitterness that hangs around for a bit, but doesn't wear out it's welcome.

Mouthfeel is medium decent, it's definitely 'right' for the beer, but I generally like em thicker. Drinkability is not an issue with this, some bombers are a war to get through, this one ended up polished off in pretty short order, Brutal Bitter is definitely on my 'buy again' list!

CortexBomb, Feb 12, 2004
Photo of Hagbard
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a hazy dark amber color into my pint glass, leaving a fluffy, thick, off-white head. The aroma was floral hops with hints of unidentified citrus fruits. The taste was very smooth with a wonderfully complex arrangement of floral hops and citrusy fruits. The bitterness is definitely there, but is softened nicely by the floral/fruity aspects. Also, there seems to be a healthy malt presence that contributes to the softening of the bitterness. The aftertaste is fruity with the same soft bitterness combination. There is a healthy dose of carbonation, which contributes to a fairly substantial mouthfeel. It is extremely drinkable, I could have easily spent the night drinking many of these. Unfortunately, it was a work night so I only had one 22oz bottle.

The is a wonderfully complex tasting and extremely drinkable beer. It was my first foray into the ESB world and I wonder whether they all taste this good...

Hagbard, Feb 12, 2004
Photo of rajendra82
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours out hazy orange amber with a rough frothy tall head that stuck around a while. Smells of grass, pine, and yeasty sourdough bread. Malt profile is not as complex as Fuller's ESB. Generally pale and caramel malts that are easily dominated by the American hops. Tasted pine and spruce with a distinct snap of hop bitterness and a hint of citrus flavors. Little too harsh for the style and to make a good session beer. Would be a great IPA. Just not as good as a bitter.

rajendra82, Feb 09, 2004
Photo of RootedFool
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased a 22 ounce bottle at the North Coast Co-op in Arcata, California.

Pours a radiant amber with a soapy orange head that subsided quickly, leaving pizza-crust-bubble-like lacing on the glass.

Smell is faint to my nose. What finds its way through is a gritty, lemony hop bitterness with a thin sheet of malts backing it up.

I expected the mouthfeel to be thicker, but it's got sufficient body -- just not perfect.

Fist sip: blew me away with the flood of hops.

Second sip: I taste the subtle malt notes before the symphony of hops.

Long-lasting aftertaste of dry, toasty hops with a citrus crust.

Not a bad beer for my 20th review. In fact, it's quite good. Will try it again for sure.

RootedFool, Jan 31, 2004
Photo of winomark
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy medium copper with a light frothy and sticky bone-white head.

Aroma: Hoppy, hoppy, hoppy. Good citrus and bitterness in control. Awesome!

Taste: Slight malt is attacked by massive hop bitterness and dryness. Spicy hop finish. My kind of brew!

Mouthfeel: Flavorful, bit amazingly light. Hoppy dryness throughout. Nice, but needs more body, IMO.

Drinkability: A great beer for a hophead. Good bitterness, but still slightly balanced. Hunt for this one if you love hoppy bitterness.

winomark, Jan 25, 2004
Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,824 ratings.