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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,863 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,863
Reviews: 1,065
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 10.78%
Wants: 67
Gots: 76 | 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: 1,863 | Reviews: 1,065 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of appenzeller
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy dark gold with big, pillowy white head. Aroma is more subdued than expected, hops forward but not overwhelming. Taste is well balanced for an IPA, discernible underlying maltiness with hops dominating through the taste. Highly resinous and oily taste, mouthfeel is the consistency of a hefeweizen, fairly thick yet refreshing all the same. Average to good drinkability for the style.

appenzeller, Aug 08, 2010
Photo of TheDeuce
3.3/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Rouge Brutal Bitter Ale...on tap at Mugs Ale House

Appearance-Amber with gold notes in the color on the pour into a pint glass, medium to large head sizes up, disappears after a few seconds.

Smell-piney with hops but also very noticeable malt, still a dry pungent smell befitting a powerful beer.

Taste/Mouthfeel-bitter is right, hop flourish mixed with alcohol makes for a dry tart hop smash, full mouthfeel, rash finish of burnt malt and fruity pine.

Drinkability-rash but no big flaws

Overall-decent, a little much on the rashness but it balances out ok, certainly worth a try but not overwhelmingly great.

TheDeuce, Aug 01, 2010
Photo of rfgetz
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazed coppery gold color with minimal ring of head. Scent is very mild, light herbal and citrusy hops, musty grain smell and bready yeast. Taste is a little more aggressive with some citrus up front, evolving into a strange mangled bitter rush of pine and herbal hops - almost juniper and gin like. A slight crackery and carmel background smooths out the finnish just a touch. Medium bodied, lightly carbonated, slightly harsh lingering tastes. Like many Rougue Beers, comes out mild where it should be aggressive and aggressive where it should be mild, lacks balance.

rfgetz, Jul 29, 2010
Photo of malloyca
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The 22 oz bottle was labeled Brutal IPA, rather than Brutal Bitter Ale, but it looks like they are the same thing. Poured a clear, amber-gold color without a large head. There were aromas of clove and orange, little maltiness and some mild hops. Fairly restrained as far as American IPAs go, this lacked overwhelming, mouth drying hop flavors, but had good depth of flavor.

malloyca, Jul 26, 2010
Photo of nazbotica
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Well for once the title "Bitter" seems appropriate for a beer of this style. I drank this beer from a standard pint glass.

A - The beer poured a hazy dark gold, almost a dark khaki color. Even up to natural light it is almost completely opaque. It is topped by a two finger head that slowly subsides to one finger and sustained until I began drinking.

S - A pungent piney aroma hit me mid-pour. The slight biscuity malt note was almost completely obscured by a strong Centennial hop smell.

T - The first taste that hits you is a buttery toffee flavor that is characteristic for the style, but, as with the smell, that taste is completely overwhelmed by rush of harsh, piney bitter hops flavor. This could be a bit more balanced, but I really like the taste this bitterness leaves in my mouth. It is sort of minerally like spring

M - The body is thicker/heavier than I expected. Although a low carbonated beer, it is initially quite creamy and soft on the palate, which matches well with the toffee flavor, however brief this is.

D - Overall I like this beer. This is my first Imperial Bitter, and I am not well acquainted with the style. It is definitely a more bitter, "Bitter" than I am used to, which is inline with the Imperial tag and the fact that it is an American beer. We Americans seem to take everything to its extreme. As I said before, would prefer more balance between malt and hop, particularly the harsh, dry finish. However, any fan of hoppy beers, as I am, will probably enjoy this one.

nazbotica, Jul 25, 2010
Photo of JayQue
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one may be labeled "Brutal" because of its dry, hoppy presence - little malt balance. Of course that works for hop heads like me!!!! Poured into a 25 oz Hooters mug. Hazy orange color with lots of sediment. Huge white head, especially on the opposite side of the glass. Thast is citrus hops, tangerine and grapefruit - bitter - little balance

Mouthfel is crisp, dry and bitter. Not everybodys cup of tea, but it works for me!!!

Drinkability was good. I drank the bomber...could have had more.

JayQue, Jul 25, 2010
Photo of Naugros
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An amazing head and the lace is sticky as all hell. I may need to scrub the glass to get it off. The cloudy pale orange seems perfect for this beer. Oh yeah, careful pouring this one or you'll be sucking suds or swabbing the deck...your choice. The suds are tastier and where I opted. Drain your glass and you'll have a quarter of it still full with beer clouds. I've never seen head retention like this outside of Belgium. Very impressive!

The smell is ALL hops. Nothing else can get through. Hmm, after a few more snorts of this, you can sense the sweetness of the malts. Nice. If you get your nose too close you will have suds hanging off your nose. Do it on purpose and amuse your friends. Still, you have to appreciate this aroma. From it you can tell that the boys at Rogue used a few types of hops and not the omnipresent Cascades. If you read the side of the bottle, they tell you what they used. Duh! Rogue always does this and I love them for it. Willamette hops should get their props as they make this beer a little more sophisticated than the Cascade teas that everyone else loves to brew.

"Brutal" bitter? No, I've had some brutally bitter beers and this is not brutal. I really like this one and I'm not a hop head. Yes, the hops are prevalent, but there's a nice sweetness up front that gives this beer some balance. The malts almost give an impression of potato bread and the hops lend more than bitterness, there's also a citrus tang that doesn't end in pithy yuckitude.

As mentioned above, there's no harsh aftertaste or lingering bitterness. It's got an easy-going medium body.

This went down so easily it's scary. But then my fears are alleviated as I scroll up to the top of this page and see the ABV is just over 6%. I could take down a few of these 650s and be able to type. I keep reminding myself that this isn't Stone...it's Rogue. They don't feel the need to showcase Cascades or bump the alcohol up to insane levels. Not that there's anything wrong with either, it's just not Rogue's style and it's a refreshing change of pace for what is becoming the norm in American craft brews.

Naugros, Jul 09, 2010
Photo of bmwats
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 650 ml bottle, into a becker.

A: Deep golden color. Carbonation rises throughout. Pours a large cascading frothy white head. Settles very slowly, leaving little peaks and craters, and sticky carbonation on the sides of the glass. Never fully settles. Almost like an ice cream float type of thing going on. Substantial amounts of dry sticky spider web lacing.

S: A little malty, very hoppy. Maple syrup, pine nuts, and a touch of bittersweet chocolate. Some oak, and a bit of a floral component as well.

T: More malty than the nose gives off. I think that's because the hops and pine squeeze it out in the nose. Anyway... very hoppy, as you might expect. Piny and bitter. Does have a hint of sweet honey or caramel very subtle, but pervasive.

M: Bitter hops really infiltrate the palette. A hint of sweet in the smart, very dry in the finish.... bitter throughout.

D: The bitterness will compel you to sip it slowly.

Atmosphere is great on this. Pretty formidable appearance, and a full nose. Flavor is very well balanced given it's nature. The hops are not too overwhelming to overshadow the other components (kinda' seems that way in the nose, but doesn't end up that way). Overall, this is a really good quaff.

bmwats, Jul 04, 2010
Photo of callmescraps
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I often pass on the rogue, but this was at a decent price point. So I'll give it a bid.

Appearance- A little cloudy orange/gold. Half inch of off-white soapy head. Almost yellowish. Minimal lacing.

Smell- Plenty of grapefruit up front. Definitely some pineapple in the background as well. Nice and fruity. A hint of graininess as well. Maybe some apricot.

Taste- Some nice hoppiness. The fruits are subdued. It's got a big bitter finish. A little grainy. Orange peel. A strange vegetal on the end. Pale malt sweetness comes in as well.

Mouthfeel- Nice. Not too thick. Goes down well.

Drinkability- No issues on that. Would buy again.

Certainly a good beer. Nothing special or particularly noteworthy. Better beers in this category readily available.

callmescraps, Jun 30, 2010
Photo of railcaider
4.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

When poured into a glass, this beer is an opaque amber color that's just shy of orange. The head is white and holds well for the entire duration of the drink, with just the enough carbonation to give a mouthfeel that nice and thick while still being very smooth.

The strongest smells present are sweet citrus and raspberry, but there's also a richer layer of aroma reminiscent of honey and vanilla. The first taste is a sharp hop bitterness tinged with fruit. While the strength of the bitterness is comparable to that of an IPA, it's balanced out by the fruit tastes hinted at in the smell. This is definitely one of the most flavorful bitters that I've had.

Rogue Ales generally makes excellent product, but this beer in particular stands out as one of their finest. In terms of taste and body it's similar to their Dead Guy Ale, but with more of an emphasis on hops. The complexity of the flavor is tempered by the balance between the elements present, which makes for one great beer. This one has quickly become one of my favorites and I make sure to stock up on it when I get the chance.

railcaider, Jun 18, 2010
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured in to Duvel tulip

A - Hazy orange with half a finger of bubbly white head.

S - Some bitter hops up front with bready malts. Some citrus and sweetness.

T - Bitterness from hops up front but not a typical IPA hop palate. The hops did not have a distinct flavour (citrus, pine, floral, etc.) they just contributed general bitterness. Bready malts provide a good balance and a hint of sweetness to this ale. Bitter on the finish.

M - Light body, Slight chew.

D - A good beer but not one I would crave to drink again.

TheSevenDuffs, Jun 17, 2010
Photo of bartle
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful clear rusted orange with a very thick and frothy cloud white head. Great retention and looks amazing to see it lace all the way to the bottom of the glass.

Smells of clementines, light specks of lemon zest, some caramel malt and a nice splash of pine. Deep within there is a sense of sugared cereal. Nice.

This is full of bitterness. Not a tongue burner, but pleasant on the palate for hop lovers. There is a lot of great citrus flavours, grapefruit, clementines, a touch of honey and grain, with a floral backing from the hops that leave a very nice hop flavour on the tongue.

It seems to be on the higher side of carbonated, but that adds to the drinkability of this beer. It goes down clean, full mouthfeel without being too rich. It's a great summer rainy day beer or to pair with a nice curry.

bartle, Jun 13, 2010
Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.43/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Passed this by many times at the LCBO. Never again. A tall, 650ml bottle with what looks like a (still-living) Weekend at Bernie's character.

Poured into a nonic glass. A lovely apricot orange hue, slightly opaque. A good inch and a half of head, that receded into a sturdy, 1/4 inch head that creeps along the sides of the glass. Lots of lacing in patches. Brilliant.

Nose is a malty, earthy, hoppy affair, with notes of pinapple, apricot and grapefruit. About what I'd expected from a West Coast IPA.

Taste is superb, very enjoyable. Earthy and malty up front, with a touch of toffee or caramel. Not horrifically bitter; a good balance with a malty, fruit backing. The finish, in particular, is surprisingly citrussy, with notes of orange, pinapple and peach. Finishes slighty dry, invites you back for more.

Mouthfeel is slightly creamy, with steady, thorough carbonation. The longevity of the head is doing wonders for this brew.

Wow; great stuff, highly enjoyed sipping on this one. Not nearly as bitter as I'd expected, but I rarely go for brews whose sole marketing feature is their IBU count. Rogue's put together a fine product here; I'll certainly be back for more bottles of this, and whatever else I can get my hands on. A tip of the cap.

JohnnyBarman, Jun 12, 2010
Photo of kaseydad
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I thought this was different from Brutal Bitter but it looks like the name has changed as has the recipe. I liked the old silkscreen better. But I digress...

Pint glass pour and a hazy apricot colored ale is produced with a heaping scoop of egg white foam. Major lacing throughout session. Malty aroma with some sweet fruits (mango, pineapple) present. Very pleasing aroma. Taste is a rare combination of a bitter hop bite but a sweet finish. Grapefruit kick to the buds on the initial sip, but a floral, fruity swallow. Just a tad bitter aftertaste but not much to speak of. Dry finish but salivating occurs. Nice drinkability which makes me think the recipe has changed a little. I recall this being much more bitter in the past. There is a more pronounced floral aspect to this brew from what I recall. I like this subtle change...if this has occurred and recommend giving this brew a try. I'll be seeking this out again.

kaseydad, May 23, 2010
Photo of drtth
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Samuel Smith's nonic imperial pint glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As poured the beer is slightly hazed apricot color with a ¾" ivory white head with lots of large and small bubbles. As the head slowly recedes there are partial sheets and patches of foam clinging to the sides of the glass. Throughout most of the beer sipping leaves lots of speckled lacing and the rings and sheets of foam still cling to the sides of the glass.

Smell: The aroma is fresh, lightly toffied and lightly citric, with hints of grapefruit and a bit of pineapple mixed in.

Taste: The flavor is rich with sweet toffee malt character nicely supporting the hops that dominate and provide grapefruit bitterness tinged with pineapple.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium bodied and soft with gentle persistent carbonation that continues to feed the head in dozens and dozens of small streams of bubbles. The finish begins with the sweet blend of hop flavors and sweet toffee from the malt. Then the malt fades from the scene leaving the grapefruit and pineapple to take over. Next the pineapple fades away leaving the grapefruit. As that fades all that is left is a dry bitterness in the back of the palate.

Drinkability: This is a very drinkable beer. Each sip leads on easily to the next and each glassful invites another. I can certainly see myself having this beer again in the future.

drtth, May 15, 2010
Photo of srandycarter
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Murky apple juice, near white head, about an inch, retains for awhile. Reduces to ring. Some cling lace, mostly near that ring.

S - Deep sweet malt for me, with hops making a presence but secondary.

T - Stop. Turn them around for taste. TONS of bitter hops, with a sweet malt finish that doesn't even come near quashing the hops.

M - Med body, nice coating, not very balanced, obviously.

D - Gets in my hop fix. Nice offering.

srandycarter, May 07, 2010
Photo of magine
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

Pours a dirty, cloudy near orange color. Has a white head that settles to a lace head. Has some lacing, not much.

Brew smells of fruits, grains and wheat.

Brew is bitter, has a smooth mouthfeel. Has a grainy, bready fruit base in the flavor. Finishes dry. Very unique taste and feel to it.

This is a very drinkable brew despite its "brutal bitterness". I really dig this flavor and the mouthfeel. This is a nice drinkable brew. Enjoyable.

magine, Apr 25, 2010
Photo of ujsplace
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a nonic

Pours a hazy orange with thick yeast particles suspended throughout. Creamy white head with nice lacing.

Smells of bready yeast and citrus and a hint of malt sweetness.

Big hop bitters - citrusy... grapefruit and maybe a hint of lemon. Biscut-like bready yeasts.

Medium mouthfeel - nice carbonation, crisp.

This is a very drinkable - yet bitter brew. Not overly hoppy, which makes it drinkable for those who are not hopheads.

ujsplace, Apr 25, 2010
Photo of ritzkiss
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from the LCBO, pours a hazy light golden orange with a good three fingers of head built up from the pour, terrific retention as a layer of bubbles sticks around for the whole 22oz and leaves sticky lacing down the glass.

Nose is light grapefruit and lemon, some pine and floral hops. Not much malt coming up off the nose. Not overpowering or particularly exciting.

Floral and citrus hops dominate with a light honey and caramel sweetness running through, slightly herbal and grassy. Nothing 'bitter' about this style wise, pale malt, fruity/floral 'west-coast' profile. Not too much bitter about it in the taste as well, pretty mild bitterness, less than robust hop profile. Easy drinking.

Reminds me of an Ontario IPA which isn't really a compliment. Not terrible but nothing I would desire except in a pinch when there's no better IPAs around. Just not enough punch, though I suppose it is an easy drinking IPA which would pair well with meals. Some good, some bad.

ritzkiss, Apr 20, 2010
Photo of pootz
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Re review of an old favorite:

22oz bottle: Pours a beautiful clouded amber orange with an impressive sticky 3 finger cap.

Aroma is intense, apricot-grapefruit-grass over substantial caramel tones.

Rich body, silky smooth mouth feel, Big caramel malts in the front (not cloying though) surprisingly delicate fruity notes in the center mingle with increasing resinous bittering...finishes balanced and clean.... lightly drying with lasting metallic bittering.

A very fine ale, nicely executed and easy to drink.

pootz, Apr 20, 2010
Photo of dgilks
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rich, caramel malt aroma. Light notes of grapefruit and cinnamon.

Mostly clear, gold colour with a fluffy, off-white head. Decent head retention.

It's not back. The malt is fairly laid back in the flavour with it playing a supporting role. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to have a star to support. The hops are reclusive, sitting back with just a moderate bitterness and a light sprinkling of citrus hop flavour coming out to play. It's okay but certainly nothing special. A light twang in the background suggests that there is a possible infection but it isn't significant enough to pick what it is.

Medium body with moderate carbonation. It's okay.

At the end of the day, this is a moderately decent beer. There isn't anything particularly wrong with it but it lacks the 'brutal' Rogue character I expected.

dgilks, Apr 14, 2010
Photo of arizcards
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stopped in at the Rogue Ale Public House in late March. Had a pint for $5.75.

The beer poured a beautiful orange color with a nice 2 inch sustaining head that left a nice trail of rings in my glass. Nose is of floral hops and citrus. Taste is pretty much as advertised, a blast of floral hops and that hint of citrus lingers afterwards. Mouthfeel is a perfect combination of the lively hops dancing on my palate yet is very smooth and has an almost creamy fullness. Overall drinkability is good. ESB is not my favorite style but this beer does the style proud!

arizcards, Apr 11, 2010
Photo of mintjellie
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy golden orange body sits below a towering off-white head. The head is extremely retentive and almost completely coats the walls of my glass with lace as it slowly dissipates. Biscuit, floral, and pine notes lurk behind it's juicy & ripe mango aroma. It's a tropical paradise in your mouth as the flavour of mango and passion fruit explodes on your palette across a bread & caramel backdrop. Contrary to its name, the lengthy and firm bitterness it finishes with is more moderate than brutal, with just enough malty sweetness to provide the perfect foil to it. Very balanced.

Medium bodied with an oily & resinous mouthfeel. Its slickness is especially noticeable between sips. More carbonation than the typical English bitter, but it's use of American hops make it far from typical to begin with. Some of Rogues other offerings like Hazelnut Brown Nectar or Mom Hefeweizen have left me slightly undewhelmed in the past, especially at the premium price point their brand commands. At $6.10, Brutal Bitter is worth every last dime you pay for it. Delicious.

mintjellie, Apr 10, 2010
Photo of Lukecook
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a pint glass

A-Golden orange in color with a nice creamy head, decent lacing.

S-Citrus, pine, and bready malts.

T- Mild citrus and bitterness,bready malts, nice dry finish.

M- Light to medium body.

D- Good beer, the beer was refreshing and crisp, I would definetly buy it again.

Lukecook, Apr 09, 2010
Photo of andyfrancis
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Looks like a glass of cloudy apple juice, with an off-white head that disappeared almost immediately. Floral and citrus in my nose...just a hint of sweetness. Slighty heavier than I expected, but it does have a clean finish. True to it's name, it is bitter, but not overbearingly so. I'd gladly drink this again, but won't make it a point to seek it out.

andyfrancis, Apr 07, 2010
Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,863 ratings.