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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,942 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,942
Reviews: 1,080
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 10.78%
Wants: 78
Gots: 112 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,942 | Reviews: 1,080
Photo of BeerFink
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy burnt orange color with stickly looking white head. As the brew is consumed, sticky rings of lacing are left behind. Hops are potent in the nose, presenting very bitter citrous and some pine. Some sugary caramel is also apparent in the aroma. Sweet caramel and toasty malt are first on the palate, but they are quickly overcome by oily hops. Hops are pungent and slightly spicy, but the bulk of the presence is made up of very bitter citrous rind and a lingering pine flavor. The toastiness is short lived, but the caramel is able to hold on til the end. Hop oils dominate the finish leaving a slightly dry, bitter aftertaste. A little heavy for an ESB, but that's ok by me. A hell of a good beer regardless.

Photo of silver0rlead
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy golden-orange with a big white head that leaves nice lacing down the glass. The smell is a citrusy hop aroma followed by a sweet caramel malt background, quite excellent for an ESB. The taste, at first you get a mildy sweet malt character (perhaps toffee or caramel, a sticky sweet flavor) followed by a complex hops taste. The hops begin with a floral taste, then a citrusy lemon rind taste that leads into an earthy, grassy hops bitterness. This is a bitter brew, but its balanced by a sweet malt character that makes this complex and highly drinkable. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth and is perfect for an ESB. The drinkability is high and this could make an excellent session beer, as the alcohol is hardly noticeable. Probably my favorite ESB, an excellent brew from Rogue.

Photo of beersarang
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper orange with light tan head. Nice retention, slight chill haze.

Nice grapefruit/lemon hop aroma, hints of alcohol.

Pretty big beer from the beginning, strong malt background, good citrusy hop flavor and bite. Hop bitterness is very India pale ale esque, but this is just shy of being an IPA. Overall quite not overly complex, simple hop bitteness, malt background, and mildly noticeable alcohol. Overall well balanced. However I do feel that this shouldn't be classified as an ESB because it is not truly an English style ESB. It definitely tends more towards and American styled Pale or IPA because of it's citrus hop character.

Smooth and drinkable, coats palate and goes down easy.

Photo of whartontallboy
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great big ESB, but I'm not sure it's brutal. Pours a deep coppery orange with a thin white head that leaves a lot of lace. There's a lot of hop in the nose, but there's also a fruitiness that keeps things nicely rounded out. It does smell quite bitter, and the taste doesn't disappoint in this department. Huge bitter hoppiness with a sweet piney fruitness that pulls it all together. Quite a good ESB; I dig this much more than Rogue's Younger's. Definitely worth picking up.

Photo of phunknerd
4.48/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ye Gods, a monster among us! This is, as has been said numerous times above, a big, scary ESB. (Although I don't disagree totally with the comparisons to IPA.)

Appearance: It looks slightly like the o.j. of satan. Cloudy, light-bronze, and I noticed some sediment at the bottom of my glass. (Did I get a bum bottle or is it actually unfiltered?)

Smell: Not the strongest of aromas, but I smoke, so this is probably not my strongest suit. Hints of citrus are about all I can detect.

Taste: Here we go! A massive blast of hops, citrus, pine, and something else I honestly can't put my finger on, are only partially ameliorated by a little hint of malt at the beginning. Sort of like an apology for the delightful ravaging to follow.

Mouthfeel: Slightly astringent, but surprisingly clean and pleasant. A pleasant bite, all double entendres aside.

Drinkability: I rated this somewhat lower simply because it just doesn't seem feasible to drink three or four at a time. It's an absolutely first-rate beer, but one's taste buds need a rest after a bomber.

Photo of amicar
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy almost orange color with minimal white head. The smell is of citrusy and fruity hoppiness and burns out the nostrils. The taste is an immediate slap in the face of citrus and pine and a solid bitterness that eventually gives way to a malty undertone with tiny bits of residual sweetness nicely balanced. Feels smooth and silky in the mouth. For all the hoppiness, not too course. The overwhelming hoppiness may limit the ease of drinkability in this one.

Overall, a nice monster of hops; Not for the timid.

Photo of woemad
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at The Elk Public House in Spokane for $4.

Poured a hazy orange with a big, creamy white head. Lots of lace.

Smell was of sharp hoppiness, with a very well balanced maltiness. Smelled good!

This was a really tasty beer. Probably my new favorite ESB. Most American examples seem to be very medicinal in flavor. This is like an IPA that someone put too much malts into - I mean that in the nicest way possible. Definitely the most flavorful beer I've had all week.

No complaints in the mouthfeel department. This was a medium bodied ale with just the right amount of carbonation.

If I hadn't had to go to work in half an hour (and I'd had more money - $4 a pint is a bit much for more than one), I could easily have had several more. This is a great beer.

Photo of RushLimbmalt
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange color and has sticky white head. It's aroma is very hoppy and piney. The first sip brings a decent wave of bitter hops that carry on to the finish, but there is enough malt to balance the flavor well. It is a decent ESB, but not a Fuller's.

Photo of maxpower
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle pours a cloudy golden orange with a huge foamy off white head that leaves a sticky lacing in my glass. A good dose of citrus in the aroma, fruity grapefruit, pear, pineapple and caramel flavors, medium to full bodied with a soft and creamy mouthfeel, finishes with a lingering bitterness.

Photo of trancefishy
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

nice oktoberfesty colour, as in, fall time pumpkin orange. big ol' head with big ol' bubbles, dies down but leaves some soap bubble lacing.

aroma is a nice pale ale kinda smell, hops poking through

taste is all about the aroma hops, and i can't think of hte name of them. have brewed with them for sure. tastes much like picking off a bit of hops and chewing on them, while swigging down some pale ale. i can't taste anything else but hops. is my taste off?

mouthfeel is good, as is carbonation, though, it's a bit turbulent, like soda pop i guess.

good stuff, first time having it, and i like it. will get it again next time i'm out west. i don't understand how this is not an IPA, though, it doesn't have any realy malty characteristics, it tastes like alcoholic hop tea, but, i like it.

Photo of RenoZymurgist
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a clear copper with a thick white head that subsided slowly. The aroma is a blend of citrusy and almost noble hops with some malt sweetness that is more toasty than caramel like with a fruty ester touch to it as well. The flavor begins with a smooth slighty sweet, toasted malt flavor that gets quickly overtaken by a rush of a citrusy, earthy hop bitterness. The malt and hops flavors intermingle very nicely reminding one of a well crafted English Bitter but the hops are definetly at American levels and the Gravity is higher than a normal ESB as well but this beer is very well crafted. The mouthfeel is crisp lending a refreshing quality to an otherwise overpowering hop bitterness, the carbonation is good as well as the head has nice retention but the beer dosen't have too much carbonic bite. Very drinkable this beer is good but it's high gravity makes it hard to call a bitter but if you drink it in place of an IPA then you will be pleasently surprised.

Photo of oracle
2.32/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

this was a 22 oz bomber serverd in a chalice glass. I allowed it to warm 10 full minutes on the counter before tasting, as somebody had adjusted the fridge to be far too cold.

Beer poured a very cloudy (with rather large flakes of sediment) even though I was careful with the bottle.

Smell was charateristicly hops. Noticably lacking was any kind of malt.

Tasted like it smelled but only more so. This beer is very appropriately named. I tasted pure bitterness and nothing else. No malt, no orangy or grapefruity flavors like you sometimes find in very hoppy beers. The best way to describe it was bitter but yet strangely devoid of any actual flavor.

No thanks.

Photo of zacharius
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a hazy orange color with a foamy lacy head. The aroma of this beer is basically hops but with a complex floral smell. Taste is again mostly hops but there is a sweet caramal undercurrant to the taste. The bitterness is there but the hops seem to me more noble type rather than typical NW hops. This beer is medium bodied and moderatly carbonated with makes it slide down your throat. Drinkability is good and you wont' get bored of this one.

Photo of mntlover
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lightly hazy burnt orange color with a decent size head that falls to a ring with some clumps of bubbles floating in the middle.
Aroma is caramel malt with nice citrus hops thrown in. Nothing to exciting but not bad wouldn't call it stupendous like rouge does.
Taste like the smell a nice caramel malt flavor with a good dose of hop flavor orange, grapefruit rind mixed with some melon and a touch of pear. Don't know about brutal bitterness but it is pretty bitter certainly by comparison to other ESB's .
Mouthfeel is good little lighter then medium carbonation is good adding to the hops a little tingle.
Drinkability is good also a nice ESB in my book, not my favorite style but this is pretty good.

Photo of neonbrown82
4.83/5  rDev +21.1%
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.

Photo of IceAce
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours orange / bronge, slightly hazy, and topped with a single finger of comfortable foam.

Despite the name, the taste is anything but Brutal...but it is a nice ESB. This brew finishes with a mild hop fade nicely supporting its quality malt.

Mouthfeel is thick without being chewy and drinkability is well above average.

Photo of Troyone
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured with a three inch head that dissipated to half an inch with a good proportion of lacing, has lots of carb action, and a wheat apple juice hazy type of color.
Light cookie toasted caramel malt smell with a resin orange hoppy aroma.
A light sweet and moderate bitter taste; toasted caramel malt and pine orange background with hints of butterscotch, honey, and light cola.
Has a medium body, dry and slightly watery texture, soft and lively carbonation, and although this has a slight metallic feel the finish is chalky smooth.
Maybe the best ESB that I've had in a bottle, definitely a session beer.

Photo of Suds
3.59/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Twenty-two ounce bomber: pours a fizzy, hazy orange color with a decent white head. Serious West Coast hop aroma, piney and grassy, with very little malt aroma to balance it…maybe just a touch of fruity yeastiness. The taste is similar…excessive hoppiness and expected bitterness. Hops, hops, and hops…somewhere underneath there’s the shadow of malt. I did not think that this was a very well balanced beer, but it’s good nonetheless. Surprisingly drinkable for the lack of complexity. I really expected more, and just wasn't very impressed with this one.

Photo of stjarnflikka
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Oliver Twist!

Pours a hazy, orangelike beer with some head that rather quickly leaves a nice lacing behind. Lots of yeast left in the bottle after the pour, not as much in the glass :)

Smell is mainly hops, very dominant here, together with some sweet citric fruit (maybe oranges). Find some yeast in there to.

Taste is bitter :) this really has no match in my book, bitter with lots of citric hops, some yeast and a touch of alcohol and carbonation to lift the heavy lid of hops. Really chewy taste, very bitter, very nice. Long soothing bitter aftertaste that seemed endless along the barcounter.

This beer really live up to its name. Brutal bitter is a damn good brew, damn tasty and damn well balanced.
This feels like a brew that dancing along the mountainedge, either to bitter or perfect. To bad i had to pay about 12$ for this bottle ;)

Photo of rowew
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz long neck bottle (woohoo! six packs of Brutal Bitter!!). No information or freshness info on bottle.

Appearance: Copper colored with a slight haze. Large off white head.

Smell: Mmm... hops, hops, and more hops. Smells like a mixture of grapefruit and pine. Did I mention the hop aroma?

Taste: Very nice malt base (tastes slightly carmelly). Great hop flavor that leaves a nice bitter finish. Low carbonation and smooth mouthfeel.

Overall impression: Great ESB - nice bitter hops flavor. Even with all the hops it is nicely balanced .. I think this could be a great session beer.

Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy, cloudy orange fuzz hue. Still as can be. Has a fresh fruit aroma, orange and lemon dominated nose. Juicy and sweet, with some hints of citrus and hops. Ultra-smooth, a lingering bitterness after each sip. Medium bodied with a slight warming affect; oily slick hops dominate the body; English-malts combined with the hop-blast and fruity tastings make this well balanced. Extremely clean, oh so smooth; and hops? With Rogue, do you need to ask about them? They are there, my friend! Awesome stuff.

Photo of jimdkc
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was in Portland, OR earlier this week on a business trip and stopped by the Rogue Ales Public House. Wanting to try as many of their products as possible, I took advantage of their "sampler" offer: A 4 oz. sample of any 4 of their beers for $5. Of the 4 I sampled, this was my favorite, and I took home a bomber of it even though I had very limited space in my luggage!

Pours a hazy, orange-amber with a thick, rich white head with good retention and leaving fine lace, mostly at the top of the glass. Aroma is a clean, citrus aroma with maybe a little yeasty scent. Initially sweet malt flavor up front followed by big hop bitterness on the back of the tongue. At the same time, you notice the spicy, orange-rind flavor of the Crystal hops. A nice bitterness and orange-rind taste linger after the swallow. Very smooth mouthfeel with medium body. (I think the on-tap sample was a little smoother, but this is a review of the bottled product.) Another excellent Rogue ale!

Photo of twelvsies
4.76/5  rDev +19.3%
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.

Photo of tar
3.43/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear, copperish amber, with a few finger thick white head. The head leaves behind a nice trail of lacing throughout consumption. The aroma is pleasant--malty sweet and mildly of spicy hops, although a bit underwhelming, especially given the bottle's claim of "a stupendous hop aroma". Nice hop flavors leave the tongue with a bit of a tingle. Some malty sweetness comes through nicely as a "second" taste, but this soon gives way to a good bitterness in the finish. Overall, despite the name, this is a very well balanced beer which is certainly not dominated by any one flavor component. A nice medium bodied beer, it feels smooth, almost oily in the mouth. This is a pretty good beer, its not going to be listed among my favorites, but I certainly wouldn't mind having it again.

Photo of Skidz
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours out bright gold and sits golden amber in the glass with a large off-white head. Nice and bright in the glass. Fades to a light skim on the surface.

Smells nice a malty up front, filled with aromas of golden raisins caramel and apples. Hop aroms is mildly citric with hints of orange rind and lime. Both combine to create a tangy, taffy like aroma.

Tastes lightly malty up front, smoothed out flavors of caramel, pears and grape skins all placed into a nice toasty package of crisp, crackery flavors. Hop bitterness finds it's place and provides a few faint hints of oranges and some scant grassy and herbal flavors. Finish is well bittered with lingering flavors of citrus and some nuttiness.

Smooth all the way through with a pleasant and well-balanced carbonation all bundled in a medium body. Hard to swallow, 'cause it feels so good in the mouth.

Addictingly drinkable, glass touched the table only so I could type. Bottle gone moments later. I have no problems drinking this absolutely tasty brew.

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
89 out of 100 based on 1,942 ratings.