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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,089 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,089
Hads: 2,068
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 14.71%
Wants: 83
Gots: 170 | 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: 1,089 | Hads: 2,068
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 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 ]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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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!!!!.

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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.

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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.

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

I was a little surprised when I ordered this, I was expecting an English-Style Bitter... this is definately not that. More of an APA in my opinion, Brutal Bitter is a cloudy orange-amber with a thin, but persisant layer of foam on top. Aroma is very hoppy... almost as if you're smelling citrusy hop resin. Flavor is also dominated by citrusy hops, with just a hint of sweetness. Mouthfeel is oily, with a medium body, and quite a bit of carbonation. This one doesn't have quite enough malt for me, but it's definately a very tasty brew.

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Photo of bcm119
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a beautifuly fine, off-white head. Clear copper in color. Aroma is very fresh and alive with a young, citrusy/pine hop smell. Nose is bright and clear with tangy hop flavors, that barely allows a slight raw grain/bready malt flavor to peak through as it warms. The body is surprisingly light for such a flavorful beer, and the finish is nice- cool and slightly fruity, then quenchingly bitter, with a slight minerally aftertaste. Interesting beer, very drinkable and complex enough to keep you tasting/sniffing, until you suddenly realize your glass is empty.

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

A great beer by a great brewery. The name on the bottle says it all. If you can't stand the brutal assault of hops and malt in your mouth, this beer probably isn't for you. The deep, amber color accents the glass nicely. Not much lacing to the glass though. Great aroma that tickles the nose with anticipation of a great tating beer. A must have. Althugh, I do find the new bottle stencil to be quite annoying.

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Photo of cokes
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

New(er) version.
The IBU's are apparently bumped up a notch not so long ago. Let's give it another whirl.
Hazed-filled pumpkin under an everlasting topping of slightly sooted snow.
Bread crust and lemon-rind touting aromatics.
Begins with a lightly toasted white bread, covered modestly with butter. Toastiness lingers throughout, but is forced into submission by the lemony, Crystal hops. Just touches of pine and grapefruit, but lemon is the featured player. Doughy yeast is thrown into the fray and strangled immediately. Juicy and lightly fruity, but not sweet at all.
Not excessively bitter, in fact, I don't find this any more bitter than the "tamer" old version. Just more lemony. Seems a touch thinner as well, though it still boasts a creamy medium stature.

I can pick up on a few more of the ESB traits here. But this is still basically an IPA to me. And good one.
"Old" version.

I was fiending for a hop fix, and this one delivered. Not a traditional ESB, because it is fixed up in the good ol' NW fashion. Hops anyone?
Murky golden orange with some yeast floaters. Just barely translucent.
Huge pine and grapefruit notes on the nose. Malts don't stand a chance to appear.
Rushes into the mouth with hop bitterness. Like chewing on a christmas tree, then sucking on a grapefruit. Toasted carmel malts try to take a stand, but are demolished like a ramshackle house in a catgory 5 hurricane. Some toasted debris lingers, mingling with the storm surge of additional hop devastation. You better hope your taste buds are insured. Fortunately, the storm is short lived, and leaves just a lingering memory on the finish.
In general, this beer should rate around a 4.5+. But it ventures too far into american IPA range to qualify as a fantastic ESB. I gave it some leeway, because I really like it.
Medium bodied and so smooth in the mouth. After a single sip, you need the next hop fix. I am getting the shakes after this one is gone.

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Photo of Bierman9
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap with the Bros and JohnnyP at Redbones.... Poured a medium-to-dark copper color, with a hint of haze, but very little head at all, and minimal lacing. A robust floral hop aroma hits the nostrils. Body/smoothness/mouthfeel etc were all about medium (good). Hop flavor is in abundance here, in a very citrusy-grapefruit way. I thought there was Cascade involved, and I read here that the hop is a Cascade/Hallertau cross. Pretty good bier!

overall: 3.9
appearance: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


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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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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,089 ratings.