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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,085 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,085
Hads: 2,051
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 14.71%
Wants: 80
Gots: 162 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Brutal Bitter Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,085 | Hads: 2,051
Photo of Elemental
4.67/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Woo hoo - this lives up to its name brutally bitter. Who'd a thought that there is only one type of hops used in this beer (crystal). The taste is light but with a large amount of bitterness. The taste is great all the way through from the beginning to the end. It has a wonderful aroma with a hint of coffee and citrus. Lots of head to bring out the hopiness with a light amber gold color.
Excellent beer.

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Photo of hossua34
4.67/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Murky, hazy caramel color. Looks like cider. A medium-large head that fades pretty fast but leaves a lasting layer of bubbles. Could have a little more lacing, but overall very good.

S - Bitersweet fruity smell; I detect what smells like passion fruit and pineapple. Caramelly, citrusy, malty-hoppy goodness. Amazingly well balanced. I don't see how it could smell any better.

T - Very fruity and hoppy. Hints of passion fruit and grapefruit. The tartness is nicely tempered by a burned sugar, malty-sweet finish. A little on the hoppy side but not unbalanced.

M - Fantastic mouthfeel. Thick but not too thick, smooth, and evenly carbonated.

D - A tiny bit of a sour aftertaste, but it's not a huge concern. Hearty and filling, but it's totally possible to not sip this brew; one of the best from a fantastic brewery.

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Photo of loren01
4.67/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Pours an orangish color, good frothy white head, good lace all the way down the glass
S: Smell is very pleasant. Smells of citrusy hops, slight bit of yeast smell as well
T: Taste is sligtly malty up front with a nice crisp citrusy hop taste toward the end. I expected a more bitter beer with the name and all but its actually pretty well balanced out which is fine.
M: Medium bodied beer with medium to high amount of carbonation
D: I love this beer!! One of my all time favorite beers from Rogue I would have to say.

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Photo of mikesnotesonbeer
4.68/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Cloudy, orange-gold.
S: Hoppy and citrusy. Light pine.
T: Citrusy upfront, with a nice hoppy finish.
M: Refreshingly crisp, though a little dry.
O: It’s hoppy, but not enough to be off-putting. This is an IPA that both a novice and a connoisseur can appreciate.

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Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.7/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in nonic

Look (4.5/5) Pours a very hazy deep-gold to orange color. The head is really great! Pours a huge three or so fingers that rises a bit slowly with a cascade. It comes up big and off-white. Great stand and great lacing. Nice carbonation on the glass.

Smell (4.5/5) The nose if obviously hoppy. It had some bready malt in there. Hops pine and resin with some grapefruit; pretty standard north-west flavors. Some light fruitiness comes through, but the finish is very dry with a hint of gypsum.

Flavor (5/5) Really good. The malt (bread crust, lightly sweet) gives a great backbone. The hop flavor is pretty strong and complex. The same as on the nose. Bitterness is a little less than expected, which really puts the balance between the hop flavor and the light sweetness of the malt which work well.

Feel (4.5/5) Medium-light body with medium-high carbonation make for a fluffy feel and dry out the finish a lot, which is really nice because there is a bit less bitterness.

Drink (4.5/5) a really great brew that finds some middle ground between an APA and an IIPA. Highly drinkable!

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Photo of Deconstructionis
4.7/5  rDev +17.2%
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.

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Photo of Ralphus
4.71/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lets just preface this whole thing by saying that when this beer is good, it's amazing. However, it does vary quite a bit from bottle to bottle. I've had some that were downright delicious and others that bordered on peculiar. Temperature plays a big factor as well.. this beer seems to best about 5-10C below room temperature. This review assumes a great Brutal Bitter. If your experience differs - try a different bottle.

Off the pour, when it's good, this is one of the best looking beers around. It has a BIG creamy white head that stays around for a long time and leaves chunks of lacing all the way down the glass. Combine that with a very respectable amber body and you have a winner in the looks dept.

In the smell there's a mixture of piney hops and fruitiness. It's also very good and really just a sample of what's to come. For this beer really shines in the taste dept.. big fruit and caramel taste up front followed by respectable amount of piney hops towards the end. Excellent balance and mouthfeel allow this beer to go down in gulps.

As a result - drinkability is very high. Dangerously high even.

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Photo of rjimlad
4.72/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a thick and persistent head. Opaque caramel colour with moderate carbonation. The initial esters were a potpourri of floral and fruity notes. I kept sniffing it to see how many things were hidden away in the aroma. Very rich.
Flavour is astonishingly rich and fruity. Grapefruit abounds but also a hint of toffee maybe or caramel that prevents too much puckering. This is a massively flavoured bitter. The label says it's Hedonistic and it is. It's almost too much flavour which makes the drinkability score lower but everything is balanced perfectly. Awesome.

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Photo of drpimento
4.72/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Watch out Brits, Rogue's giving you a run for your money with this beer! If they had this on a beer engine, it would be an example of divinity on earth. Poured with a creamy, yet frothy and foamy off-white head that lasts forever with loads of lace. Color is an amber hued copper. Aroma is very malty caramel with lots of hop in a mix of British and American hop fragrances. Enticing! Flavor is vedy, vedy British with perfectly complimentary American flavs - rich malt, toffee, caramel, hops, bittersweet. a slight bit toasty. Body is to die for: full yet not too heavy. Finish is just right so you want to have another sip. Session beer extraordinaire.

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Photo of saintwarrick
4.75/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A little stronger than most ESBs I have had before. This beer pours a golden amber with a great head that's not too sticky. The aroma is pure hops and hop oil, but the English malts also shine through. Taste is a perfect 10, smooth, bitter (but not too), only slightly dry with grapefruit, butterscotch and a little light citrus taste there as well.

A well crafted beer and great balance, the American hops and the English malt really create a uniquely drinkable beer.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.75/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This hazy reddish-amber colored beer throws out a hefty and rocky head with good retention. Lovely hop boquet. Oily and flowery. I love this taste. This is the first time I've tried the Brutal Bitter and it has exceeded my expectations. There's such a great refined bitterness. A very nice spiciness to it. Some definite citrus undertones. Must have a nice malt load as this beer doesn't seem unbalanced. I am not a big fan of the Bitter style and sub-styles (unless I am having a nice bitter out of a cask at a brewpub). But I would have to say this is one of the best, if not THE best, bitters I've had from a bottle. I could throw back a lot of these.

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Photo of twelvsies
4.76/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a very bright hazy orange color. Big huge rocky head afloat that laces quite nicely. Retains extremely well. If you pour it right, a little foam shape will sit on top of the beer all the way down to the bottom. Spicy hop aromas waft up from the glass and citrussy notes remind me of a standard IPA, but a little more subtle and a tad more musty and dusty. The taste of this brew seems at first to be subtle and mellow, but the finish really attacks the palate with super musty bitterness. Wow. I'm picking up on tastes like iced tea and spicy herbal hops. A real floral approach to hops, and toned down a bit. The hop bitterness is there for sure though, in full affect. What a great sensation... A mellow wheaty malt is present and adds a very subtle sweetness. This beer hits the palate with flavors from very subtle, like the mild sweet malts, mustyness, and floral hop flavor, to the extreme spicy bitterness that really defines this beer. The best part about all this though is that no particular flavor overpowers another, which creates an awesome complex brew. Aside from the taste, this beer has a mouthfeel which is simply awesome. One of the top few I've come across for sure. While it's fairly light to medium bodied, it's just super velvety smooth. Can't really describe it, you gotta go try it for yourself. Super dry as well, you'll need a glass of water after this beer. I'm so pumped that I finally tried this beer. I find it to be very unique and different than a lot of the other beers in my general rotation, and I'm sure it'll be an old staple for me soon enough.

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Photo of Murph
4.78/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful hazy copper color with a thick creamy head that persists for about 20 minutes. Bitter grapefruit/fruity hops smells are abundant as is the smooth, creamy malt that is the backbone to this beer. Sweet, creamy, slightly toasty malt flavors start off on the tongue while the crystal hops play in the background. The hops come to the forefront towards the end of the beer making for a lingering bitter finish. As the beer warms the malt flavors become more pronounced and really make this one smooth brew. Not sure if I have had any brews made with this hop variety before but I definitely like it, somewhat cascadish but different at the same time. The brews is smooth, creamy, and crisp as it rolls across the tongue. This is one extremely drinkable brew. Possibly my favorite Rogue offering to this point, along with the Shakespeare Stout, this is one seriously awesome brew.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.79/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - This one is a hazy orange with a nice thick white head. Good lacing and retention, but nothing mind-boggling.

S - Wow. Hops out the ying-yang. This is floral, breezy, and fresh with a contrasting sharp hop note. Fresh bread, yeast, and grassy hops. Nice!

T - Super hoppy and bitter! This is a hop-heads wet dream, but its also very balanced and relatively even keeled.

M - Medium bodied, ridiculously fresh, and tingly with effervescent carbonation. This produces an odd fuzzy sensation on my tongue that I really like.

D - Super-session material for sure. This is one of the best all-arounders I've had in a long time. This (other than the easy going, but far from bland appearance) is a jack of all trades, and pretty much a master of them too. Ridiculously good beer.

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Photo of Naerhu
4.79/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a screamingly good beer. It makes me giddy.

Distinticive hop aroma tearing out of the bottle upon opening.

A - Opaque orange body and frantic off-white head.
S - I am floating on a bed of extra spicy hop aroma.
T - This is a bitter, but complex and soft brew. The bitterness is smooth, unlike any other beer. There is a long oily-sweet after taste that pulls on my soul.
M - The beer is of medium body. The brilliance of the complexity comes from the malt integrity.
D - This is amazing.

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Photo of rugbycritic
4.8/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is awesome stuff. Great hops, great malt, great alcoholic warming. This is legendary. It's the one we go to after a few, then stay for the evening.

Wonderful warm amber reddish darkness, sparkling white head with massive nose, a bit craggy if you will, with lace. The first taste on a clean palate is stunning. First is hops, then warmth, then hops, then a bit of sweet, then hops, then just nirvanna

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Photo of Godspeed
4.8/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Until this past weekend I had trouble locating this particular Rogue beer. The local package stores I frequent never had it in stock, despite carrying most of the other selections from this fine brewery.

Needless to say I was surprised to see a whole shelf dedicated to this marvelous concoction at Trader Joe's in Cambridge: a grocery store with a small but impressive selection of micros. They had Brutal Bitter in stock, and plenty of them. All in 22 ounce bomber form.

I tipped the bottle, and out flowed a hazy orange liquid. The bubbly head materialized soon after and then diminished slowly, leaving a thin oily lacing. I swirled the newly poured beverage and sniffed. Orange rinds and grapefruits wafted through my nose. I found the tart, hoppy aroma to be quite enticing. I took a sip and was surprised at the smooth, fresh character of this beer. Not at all what I expected from an ESB. Creamy malt sweetness with a citrusy, crisp hop flavor. Overall very well balanced considering the powerful hop presence. Very, very drinkable. Yes, I could see myself downing several of these in rapid succession.

In retrospect I guess I had modest expectations. To be frank, "Brutal" and "Bitter" are adjectives I normally wouldn't associate with such an appetizing beverage. Well I couldn't have been more wrong. This is a session beer like none other. I dare say it's my favorite Rogue brew.

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Photo of rogueleonardi
4.8/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Cloudy amber orange color, with a thick off white head

S - Has a great balance between Sweet and Spicy. The malt is sweet smelling with strong citrus and floral scents from the grapefruit and hops.

T - Delicious, lots of citrus flavor from the grapefruit. The hops add a nice bitterness that hangs around for awhile. There's a definite sweet taste that I can't really put my finger on. (I think my taste buds are just using it as an excuse to have another very soon)

M - Good carbonation, nice bitterness that sticks around for awhile. Goes down easy with no hint of alcohol.

O - This is a very good IPA, and is exactly what a west coast IPA should taste like. Tons of citrus, little malt, and strong hop bitterness.

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Photo of Shiredave
4.8/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The more I drink this beer, the more I like it. I just had to come back and raise my scores. Its nice to have it available in 12oz bottles now, tho I never had a problem drinking 22oz of it.

Bright copper with a firm white head draping the inside of the glass. Great retention ; 1/2 in. head kicks up w/ a few swirls. Slow, sparse carbonation.
Intensley flowery and piney aroma, rich vanilla and warm jelly sweetness sucks your nose into the glass.
Flavor is sharp up front - grapefruit and bitter spruce tips take a juicy bite on the tongue and dominates. Crystal is apparently one potent cone! The hop outshines the underlying grainy malt, but doesnt overpower it..
Medium body struggles to balance the FULL Hop flavor. Honey and bread notes come thru faintly but cant gain a foothold against all the hop going on untill the finish where malt sweetness coats the mouth surounding the sharp bittering.
I love this beer. Cask conditioned, it was near perfect having more balance, mellower bittering and fuller, softer mouth feel.
Amazing "One Hop" showcase Ale.

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Photo of HoppyBastard
4.81/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber to a shaker pint glass.

APPEARANCE: Cloudy, hazy and has a slightly orange color with about an inch-plus creamy head and a fair amount of lacing.

SMELL: Assertive combination of bread and citrus, floral hops.

TASTE: Citrus and biscuit malt flavor, then you get the hops. This brew has less pronounced hop profile than most IPA's and is very well balanced. It has a delicious aftertaste that really stays with you, in a good way. As the beer warmed it tasted even better.

PALATE: Medium bodied and chewy bread.

OVERALL: This beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy! I think this is the finest IPA ever because it has found the perfect balance between malt and hops. I have some constructive criticism for Rogue Ales; I would appreciate a six pack of 12 ounce bottles option as opposed to the 22 ounce bomber. In addition, this beer is too expensive compared to other similar beers available. You made a great beer but are your own worst enemy. Apparently, "Dare, Risk and Dream" only applies to the Brew Master, not the Sales/Marketing Department.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.82/5  rDev +20.2%
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.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.82/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is far from a typical ESB but then again when does rogue go down the middle of the road. Much lighter in color bordering on golden. Unfiltered appearance, subtle head but it retains and laces nicely.

Pick up some grapefruit and of course a big fresh hop presence.

It actually comes across pretty smooth. I didn't pucker and got a sweet fruit/peach type middle. ended very bitter, hopped up to the hilt. A Damn pleasant experience. Bitter as hell but balanced? huh? how do they do this time after time.

If it wasn't for the price I'd gobble Rogue's lineup of beers all the time. They all seem to have this amazing mouthfeel and drinkability no matter what the style. This is no exception. I need to get a keg of this.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.82/5  rDev +20.2%
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.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.83/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This weekend has been an awesome weekend for beer. I just got back from the grocery store after having been pleasantly surprised by this 22oz gem on the shelf. This is one of the few Rogue bombers that has eluded me since I started drinking better beer a little over a year ago. This is much better than the Younger's Special Bitter, in my opinion.

It pours to a cloudy dark golden/amber color with a perfectly retaining head bursting of hops aroma. The taste was slightly bitter, but not brutally so. In fact, the bitterness seems to come hand in hand with a sweetness across my palate. This is one beer that has lived up to its hype of drinkability.

I went to the store to pick up a six pack of Three Floyds Pride & Joy since I liked it so much when I tried it last night, but I was shocked to see that the store I used to work at (which used to sell 3F's products) didn't have any 3F's in stock. I was very pleased when I saw this, though, and it seems to be filling the same void. Very highly drinkable, very balanced... enough hops to get me off, enough malts to keep me tongue happy, and just a beautifully crafted brew all around. I suggest you seek it out if you can.

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Photo of jeffboo
4.83/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one hits it pretty well for me, an American style hop dream.

Grapefruits bouncing off the wall, bouncing into the creamy, frothy, lake. Splash, Splash, as they dance in the copper colored pool. Pine trees surround this lake next to the grapefruit grove. A light breeze blows in other citrus aromas throughout the air but the grapefruits are the ones having fun in this lake. Plunging into this body of water, one is overwhelmed by the complexity of it. It is sooo sweet and lightly toasty, and intermingles nicely with our fruit friends.

As I awake, I feel drawn to the grapefruit in the bowl on the table. I'm not sure why but I know that this is my mission.....find this place from my dream..................

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,085 ratings.