Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,095 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,095
Hads: 2,094
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 14.71%
Wants: 88
Gots: 186 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Rogue Ales
Oregon, United States | website

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: 1,095 | Hads: 2,094
Photo of beernut7
3.48/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Being a rogue brew I was expecting a certain level of hop overkill, and I was far from disappointed. Pouring a hazy honey color with a creamy head, the HUGE sharply spicy aroma hits one in the face with reckless abandon. The first flavor brings the grapefruitiest hop flavor in existence stopming on what might be a decent amount of malt--we may never know. Brutal is definitely an accurate portrayal of this ale. More on the level of an IPA than any bitter I have ever tasted. One must be in the mood for this beer, not one for the faint of heart.

 548 characters

Photo of far333
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden color with an orange head. The head was nearly two inches high. Not sure if that's typical or if the barkeep gave me a bad pour. Didn't expect that for a cask beer. Nice lacing down the glass as I drank. Aroma of citrus and pine, followed by a hoppy flavor with citrus tones. Taste is very hoppy from start to finish, but not overpowering, even when served at the appropriate temperature for a cask beer. A pretty drinkable beer, but with aroma and flavor just a bit above average for my tastes, it's not one that I would choose often.

 542 characters

Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour was a nice looking copper amber with a huge ivory head. There was a bit of cloudiness, likley from the chill hazing. The head lasted quite well into the glass and produced very fine lacing. The smell is of fruity hops with a good bitter sense of rind. There was a fine sense of fullness in the feel and a bit of an oily finish, likely from the hop endowment. This is a very good bitter.

 395 characters

Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much as I love cascades hops, it was nice to have a hoppy brew dedicated to another variety - crystal. The bottle noted a coffee aroma, of which I got none. The aroma was sweet, almost candy-ish, hops. Nice balance of malt and hops, although there was the slightest touch of metal at the front, but not enough to be a problem. Very smooth and even tempered for the hops punch. Perhaps a little on the hoppy side for an ESB, but what else would you expect from Rogue?

 466 characters

Photo of wofat
4.11/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a golden amber ESB with a light and creamy head. It suprised me in that it looked like a slightly darker version of a weiss beer. I was a bit surprised at what I think is a lack of real big aroma that I would expect, mild but pleasant hints of fruit and coffee.

This is a smooth bitter. Light roasted flavor combined with a very smooth crystal hop and dry, bitter finish. Do I detect oranges? The cara wheat really comes through in this ESB.

This is a good, medium bodied beer who's little tiny carbonation bubbles really carry that flavor straight to your tastebuds! This is a beer I could really drink all afternoon... err... morning. Since I am drinking this in my hotel room with nothing better to do, I may just have to run back out and pick up a couple more!

Smooth and tasty!

 800 characters

Photo of scottum
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Better on tap than bottled. This is truely an awesome brew. Finally a bitter than means bitter. The hops are fantastic! Finding this on tap in Boston is a hophead's dream. Very balanced. A bit of sweet malt does the balancing trick quite nicely. The real show however is the hop hop hop hop fest.

 296 characters

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.

 408 characters

Photo of 49degrees
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I kicked off my first venture to the Issaquah Brewing Company (AKA Rogue Brewery) this past week with a bit pint of Brutal Bitter Ale. This extremely strong, bitter, and flavorful beer was a joy to behold.

It poured a nice deep copper color and gave off a large white rocky head that quickly flowed over the edges on the draw and lasted for considerable time in the glass while drinking. In addition to the long last head, the lacing on the glass was fairly extensive from the first to last drop.

Just like the Imperial India Pale Ale (I2PA) from Rogue, the Brutal Bitter doesn’t slug you in the face like some of the most exuberant bitter beers recently brought to market by other brewers. It’s that refined stance that this Brutal Bitter takes that helps make this an enjoyable and very drinkable bitter beer. This one also presents a unique characteristic that gives it a very smooth body like that of an English Bitter with an added malt hit, but still manages to rear the fierce bitter hit that makes this a truly enjoyable ale. In addition to the extensive hoppy characteristics, the Brutal Bitter has a nice blend of citrus fruit, which helps keep the palette tingling, and the flavors ever expanding to further the enjoyment.

Rogue’s Brutal Bitter is a very drinkable bitter beer; so much so, I grabbed a case of it on the way out the door. If you’re a bitter beer drinker, this one is sure to please.

[ STATS:>> SERVING: 16 oz. pint / ABV: unlisted / PRICE: $4.00 USD ]

 1,500 characters

Photo of Quaffer
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle

Appearance: This beer was a perfect copper color. It had a huge rocky, light-colored head that persisted for quite awhile. It left a respectable amount of lace on the glass.

Smell: Strong odors of sharp hops, combined with a fruity sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Kind of thin. Would have liked a fuller, smoother texture.

Taste: The first drink of this beer was like a slap in the face. A very strong hop bitterness. There was a sharp aftertaste of bitterness as well, reminding me of grapefruit. I think the bottle said 76 IBUs. I would've thought it was even higher after tasting. I didn't detect any malt flavors, even though they have to be there to balance out those hops.

UPDATE 08/11/03
I tweaked the "taste" and "mouthfeel" numbers up a bit after finally revisiting this beer. I think that I was a little hard on it the first time, considering how much I enjoyed it this time. I still think there needs to be more malt to balance out the hops, though.

 980 characters

Photo of aaronh
4.14/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Cask conditioned at Fathead's.

Deep amber color. Sizeable creamy head that lasts the entire glass. Hints of sweet malt and hops in the aroma. Smooth malt sweetness with a pronounced smooth grapefruit flavor. Decent bitterness onthe finish cleans things up. The aftertaste hits you with more pink grapefruit flavors. The mouthfeel is very smooth, which leads to an excellent drinkability. Who knew Brutality could be so smooth? An excellent offering from Rogue.

 463 characters

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at Redbones and re-reviewed 12-02-03.

This beer poured a cloudy/hazy, red-brown, light chestnut color with white foam that clung to the glass well. The smell was a very nice, fruity, floral hop aroma balance with malt. The taste was sweet malt and dry hops, both floral and bitter, nicely balanced and not over the top. The mouthfeel was smooth and sweet up front with a dry finish. The body was medium-full with medium carbonation. This was a very nice brew and a fine job.

 492 characters

Photo of paceyourself
4.59/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very cloudy amber pour with a small tight white head that slowly fades.Great aroma of lightly roasted coffee with a floral background. The sweet fruity flavors are sharp at first then a strong oily bitterness takes over and hold your attention for some time. This is a excellent bitter and i enjoyed the whole bomber but while drinking this i wondered how this would be on draught, it must be incredible. Another winner from Rogue.

 431 characters

Photo of DarthMalt
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hops come out STANKIN' like hot, sweaty armpits of a female mud wrestler on this one. But hey, it's "Brutal Bitter" right?

Your typical Rogue pale base (Yellow Snow, BuckwheatAle) lies underneath, plus the full-hop Nelson.

This beer is a good way to peg your buds on the hop scale...or for hop heads get back to the good old days of frying their tastebuds.

Brutal Bitter delivers.

 389 characters

Photo of mzwolinski
4.51/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was ready to dislike it with the first sip. Well, with the first sniff, actually. Massive citric hop aroma and little else. The taste, too, struck me as overpoweringly bitter. "Another novelty beer," I thought. To be admired, perhaps, but not enjoyed regularly. But this beer has a lot more going for it than first appearances. Actually, that might be a bad way to put it, because its appearance is quite lovely. Hazy sunset orange/gold with a fluffy three-finger head, and a good lace once you start draining it. And drain it you will. Because once you get past the first sniff, and your first sip, you will discover some real complexity in this beer. The massive grapefruit-liek citric hop aroma doesn't dissapear, mind you, but it makes room for more floral hop scents, and perhaps even a bit of honey-like malt sweetness. The taste, too, develops. Malt becomes more evident mid-palate, and the undeniably bitter finish gives way for a slightly sweet, though acidic, fruity aftertaste. The body is full and slightly chewy, but the drink is almost creamy smooth. The crystal hops are an unusal choice, and really make themselves known throughout this beer, but not to the detriment of balance. Strong enough to pair against any meal, yet refreshing and enjoyable on its own. A very fine beer.

 1,296 characters

Photo of CharlesRiver
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Rogue just keeps impressing me with their brews. This one is a personal favorite of mine as I love IPA's and Bitters. This beer is well balanced and smooth. Everytime I have this on tap I think how great it would be to have it on cask. Hops and malt blend perfectly to make this beer very tasty and drinkable. I recommend to everyone.

 334 characters

Photo of mickstepp
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I picked up a single bottle just as a test and now I wish I had purchased several. Pretty pumpkin color that stays a little cloudy. Head stays but is not substantial. Has a clean aroma almost like a wheat beer. Very, very tasty and drinkable. Hops are present but not, as the name would suggest, brutal. Light to medium body. A real thirstquencher. I can see how it would be easy to throw down way too many of these on a hot day. This was my first Rogue. Now I intend to work my way through them all.

 500 characters

Photo of inebrius
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy pumpkin under a thin bone head. Earthy and toasty aromas mingle with a suggestion of newly opened cans of Tuna fish, not disgusting or anything, just odd. A tingly draught is ramped up hops over a stable malt base to finish long and inviting. Peppered Tuna salad on stone-ground wheat crackers would pair exceptionally well with this easily drainable brew. The only thing brutal about it is that its not readily available in SC.

Cheers to Billy Stout for the sample!

 482 characters

Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a tenebrous yellow-orange color with an exorbitant and frothy head with the lace in thick sticky sheets. Nose dominated by the malt with hints of citrus also some floral aroma’s to seal off the nose. A rich grain sweetness at the start, with a moderate mouth feel, finish is perky in its acidity, spicy in its hop presence, droughty somewhat alcohol bitter aftertaste, quite a quaffable brew tis true.

 417 characters

Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orangeish color with some sediment and an off-white head. Aroma of mostly citrus with some toasted malt thrown in. Taste shows a well hopped beer with plenty of malts to balance with the bitters winning in the end. Another solid, drinkable Rogue with plenty of character.

 284 characters

Photo of yen157
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was one beer chosen to help teach my girlfriend about beer and what can be done with hops.

Poured a very hazy orange / amber with a soft, off-white head. Smelled of strong grapefruit with some pale malt hiding out in the background. This beer is catagorized as an ESB. This is certainly an American ESB. The difference between this and it's Brittish counterpart are as clear as an American IPA and a traditional version. It had a very pronounced hop bite (as expected) which was quite raw when compared to what's on the market, but not even close to Riverhorse Hop Hazard even though this beer was much more bitter. Some malt and vanilla flavors were found hiding behind the hops to balance.

My only problem with this brew was a retronasal soapiness that developed as the beer warmed. I guess it was because I was focusing on it, but by the end it was nearly too much. An otherwise pretty damn good beer left a bad taste in my mouth (literally) as a last impression.

I would buy this beer again, but I would have to make sure I drank it quickly and while chilled!!

 1,079 characters

Photo of JahNoth
4.65/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The name brutal need not be there because this beer is everything but. English malts meet northwest hops in a most delectable way. After the almost tea-like aroma, there is a lovely hint of grapefruit. As the beer warms the malt characteristics come alive making this a complex but extremely palatable ale.

 306 characters

Photo of Mark
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this with lunch at a nearby alehouse. I remembered this is a favorite of Johnny P. so it was a no brainer. Dark amber with a thin head that left decent lacing. Subtle hoppy nose screamed refreshing. While it had a hop bite it was not as hoppy as I expected. I still enjoyed this beer and it had a very full bodied smooth character to it. Had a bit of a kick to it. Rogue is allright.

 392 characters

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was very unsure what to expect from this beer, and I had doubts when I bought it, I do not know why. Lest I feared, for yet again, Rogue Ales did not disappoint me, they are a great Brewery – Quality really shines through all of their beers that I have had so far.

It poured with a very slight hazy look. A deep amber color, with a fruity looking orangey peach hue, so reminiscent of English ESB’s I used to drink. It looked great, good enough to eat. Aromas are resplendent (I let the beer warm). A very strong hoppy nose, with some fresh, citric and grapefruit tones. This beer so reminds me of home, which is both disconcerting and to an extent, depressing. For it reminds me of many hoppy English ‘Session’ Bitters I used to drink back in my local with friends. I really, really like this beer. First tastes are of a biscuit maltness that very quickly makes way for a massive assault on the senses. The nose is of Hop-gasmic proportions. I laughed when I read the bottle, for it lists 6 Ingredients, “….Cara Wheat, and a Single Hop (Crystal)…”. Ha!! I know what they mean, one Variety – but there is more than one hop in this bottle I can tell you!! It tastes like a whole field. The beer has dry-hopped characteristics; again, that reminds me so much of English Bitters. The finish….. Well it doesn’t!!… It just keeps going on, and on, and on….. A long persistent hoppy bitter finish to really savor. This is an immensely fruity beer, a terrific, superb, highly quaffable hoppy drinking Bitter-Ale that my mates back in England would adopt if they could. I hate to keep saying it, but this really reminds me of great hoppy English Bitters I used to drink – I dearly, dearly love this beer, and it is now very close to my heart, for it transports me all the way Home from a comfy armchair seat in my Long Beach Apartment. Rogue Ales, are definitely now high on my Christmas card, and ‘To Visit’, List.

A not-so Brutal Bitter at all … ....but rather, a highly accomplished, extremely quaffable, hoppy Bitter Ale. I bet the Ex-Pat Brits love this Beer.

Cheers Rogue Ales! You have made one Limey, VERY Happy this weekend!!!!.

 2,156 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazy, deep amber in color. The ivory colored head is thin with limited retention. The aroma is a very nice combination of sweetish toasty maltiness and cascade hops that appear more piney than citrusy. The body is medium/light with a very fine and gentle carbonation which gives it a very smooth and lightly creamy mouthfeel. If they were going for an "English" look & feel, they've certainly achieved it. Very nice. The hops flavors really come through in the flavor, giving it complexity with notes of citrus fruits, pine resin, light earthiness, and at times, even mint. The malt is very lightly caramel-like, bready and softly toasty - the Vienna malt shows and adds a nice richness. Bitterness is, of course, well represented in any Rogue beer, but this is clearly balanced more to show off malt & hops in a drinkable session ale. A unique beer that puts an American-hop spin on an English bitter.

 912 characters

Photo of RonfromJersey
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big billowly head, full of craters and bubbles of all sizes. Body is a cloudy orange. Excelent lacing. Nose is a orchard full of grapefruits. (I do not smell coffee, no matter what the label says). Despite that nose, the taste, at first, has a strong,deep malt character. The malt fades, leaving a hoppy mouth full of citrus fruits. My first impression of the name was that brewmaster John Maier would simply overwhelm with hops, but this beer is far more complex than that. Not a typical ESB, many brewers would label this an American IPA. Whatever. This is Rogue. Toss the style book and enjoy this on its own merits.

 623 characters

Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,095 ratings.