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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: 84
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 tdm168
3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - orange with a huge, towering, white head that has good retention

S - faint bread, some citrusy hop aromas

T - faint bready malt, citrusy, pineapple, grapefruit, mildly bitter finish

M - medium bodied, well carbonated

This is an easy drinking IPA, but there isn't much here. The flavor is good, but simple. Despite the "brutal" promise it just doesn't deliver. I get more citrus than bitter. Overall, not a bad beer and it may be worth a tick, but it's not one that I'll purchase again.

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Photo of fatmusic14
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bomber found at my local store. Poured into a GD pint glass.

One of the prettiest pours I've seen in a long time. Off white creamy head, about half an inch. Little lacing. Color looks like a dried apricot and fried chicken. SO golden brown, really really nice.

Smells kind of generic for an IPA, but not really in a bad way. Smells fresh, hops, earth, piney. Some citrus (maybe grapefruit, but nose is a little more tart). Not quite what I was expecting.

Tastes fantastic. Heavy citrus, hops, floral in nature. Not overpowering as the name might suggest, really smooth and well done.

Mouthfeel is better than expected. Highly drinkable (name is kind of misleading, but I'm ok with that). Great carbonation, bubbles dancing throughout the whole pint. Great tastes, during and after.

Overall I'd recommend this to anyone. A pleasant surprise

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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.44/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured entire bomber into a 34oz mug. Cloudy light orange with a thick, foamy white head that sticks around everywhere. Smell is hops and flowers, but subdued by malty sweetness. I found this rebranded as Brutal IPA, and it is an IPA, so I was expecting a more hoppy taste. The hops are more of an equal presence in the flavor, instead of the overbearing leader. This beer seems to follow its name more than its style; it's more akin to an ESB than an IPA in my opinion. Still a great beer, fullbodied despite the average %abv. A solid offering from Rogue (would you expect anything else?)

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Photo of skifreaky
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've consumed a lot of IPAs and I have to say that this has been one of my favorites. It has a nice cloudy appearance with good head, a floral and fruity aroma, a good amount of hops with a nice strong bite, and a very satisfying beer to drink both going down and after. If you are an IPA fan, you will like this beer.

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We pour a pumpkin colored brew holding a two and a half finger head of creamy off white bubbles. This shows great retention, leaving sticky, honeycomb lacing down the glass. Carbonation appears moderate. There is a definite haze throughout, with flecks of yeasty sediment from the last quarter of the bottle. The nose gives clean pale malts, fusel booze, lightly browned red apples, marshmallow sugars, cloudy muskiness, bright lemon, and sticky pine for hops. There is a high sweetness in the form of tart citric candy and bittering hoppy rind, but in the sickly sweet kind of way. Warmth brings light plastics, a chalky grittiness, and more floral hop aromas. Our first impression is that the advertised bitterness delivers, with the feel giving surprising airiness. As we sip, pale and caramel malts, with soured chalkiness, meet with bittering floral and grapefruit hops. Booze comes to the peak, with a pale wash of gritty malts, mineral, bready yeast, and those same bittering hops. The finish takes an interesting turn, with the hops quickly becomes subdued by a mineral water wash, more pale malts, light phenolic plastics, and floral notes of hops without the bitterness. The aftertaste breathes of light lactics, plastics, yeasty muskiness, mineral, and faint spiciness of earthy, soapy, and citric hops. The body is lighter, and the carbonation is medium to high. The bubbles don’t prickle the palate as much as coat and pad it. There is good foam, cream, slurp, and pop on each sip, with the lip left with a brush of froth. The entire sip is airy and light. The abv is appropriate, and the beer drinks nicely.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was the drinkability due to the interesting design of the sip. The bitterness expected came all at the start of the sip, with a bit of flow through the center of the mouth. By the finish, however, most of the bitterness and overt hoppiness was washed through by waters and a sweeter malty mash. In this sense, you get all the bitterness of a “brutal IPA” but not the intense flooring pucker through the aftertaste and feel. This makes the beer very drinkable, and keeps you sipping easily throughout.

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Photo of StJamesGate
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at WJ Kavanagh's, Dublin.

Hazy honey blonde with lumpy white carpet that webs.
Passionfruit, wax, flowers and orange sherbet - booming fresh nose.
Melon, more passionfruit, Orange Whip, a touch of toffee and a bit of hoppy grassiness at the end.
Resiny finish and slightly woody linger.
Medium, round, some chew, and sticky.

Nothing brutal about this: sweet, sweet, citrus/tropical fruit fiesta that recalls Lagunitas for being compellingly gluggable. Not particularly English, in spite of the malts. Plenty of resiny hops without the IBU hit, which makes me madly curious about Crystal. Well-integrated and sooo easy.

Rogue's best next to Shakespeare.

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Photo of CHickman
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours cloudy orange copper color with sediment floating in it like snowflakes in a globe, a massive 2 finger foamy off white head that faded very slowly and was full of big bubbles of all sizes, leaving decent lacing and a foamy layer on top.

Smells of big hops up front with grapefruit and pine leading the charge, followed by orange peel, lemon zest, guava, citrus hops, flowers, floral hops, biscuit and light grains; smells like fresh wet hops were added and has that hop oil nose – damn inviting nose.

Tastes like it smells, big hops up front including citrus hops, grapefruit, orange peel, lemon zest, guava, piney hops, fruit like pear or apricot, floral hops, herbs, biscuit, light grains, wheat bread, brown sugar, caramel, light spices and fresh cut grass; fresh hops essence is in the flavor profile as well, but this only has mild bitterness which leads me to question the name…it’s not brutally bitter, it’s quite the opposite and very quaffable. There’s a little spice nip, but the malts add great balance to let the hops dance on your taste-buds and let all the complexities come through.

Mouthfeel is creamy and buttery smooth, with light almost watery carbonation, a medium chewy body, and a sweet finish that’s full of citrus notes and only slightly bitter.

Big time IPA, nope; very above average IPA, yep; could it not be an IPA, yes indeed; no matter how bad they labeled this brew did I enjoy it, definitely. This was a different beer from when I first tried it years ago, but it was really good and a session beer for me. This is a cross between an IPA, and ESB and an English Pale Ale, but it just tastes good. Ignore the classification and pick up this Rogue classic, sit back and enjoy a craft beer pioneer. Highly drinkable, I’m not waiting years to have this again, I really enjoyed it.

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

Bottle. Pours a great amber with a slight haze. Fine, creamy, white head. Good duration. Aroma is hoppy, lots of pine and grapefruit. Some good, clean maltiness as well. Medium carbonation, fine creaminess. Flavor has a very nice malt base, some sharpish hops. Relatively bitter, some caramel and a good, lasting flavor of pine and fruity hops. Nice.

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Photo of chinchill
3.72/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap (& from a bottle in August 2015).

A favorite some years back after a visit to Oregon, I found that it was not as exceptional as I remembered. Still, a solid, spicy/herbal IPA. Only moderately strong and medium bitter; certainly not 'brutal'. The flavor seemed stronger than the aroma. Appropriately hoppy with some good balancing from malts.

Feel: medium body and carbonaton; smooth.

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

Though i would pop my reviewing cherry on this hop bomb.

A - Poors Hazy almost amber color.

S- Smells resinous dank greenery, some sweet malt notes

T- Hoppy with a piney/citrus hop bite. toasted sweet malts, Finishes with a orange peel bitterness thats not over the top and quite pleasant

M- Medium Body, the carbonation was a little thin but in this case it works, lets the hops shine.

O- A Extremely well balanced ipa(doesn't make my mouth feel abused afterward) pity its so expen$ive here.

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Photo of t2thebro
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- murky orange with hints of amber color, full two finger head. Sticky lacing.

S- light biscuity malt, and earthy sweet grass smell.
Some orange zest and apricot scents.

T- this beer has maybe the strangest bitterness I have tasted. There is a balance in the hop, and alchohol bitterness. Neither dominates but both are subtle flavors to balance a huge hop bill. Starts fresh, fruity, grassy and ends with a defined earthy pine note. Makes for a long stretch of differing flavors. Wonderful balance in hops not so much grains.

M- medium to low carb, smooth.

O- I think rogue is over rated from time to time but this is a great beer. If I could get it in six packs I would definitely pick it up from time to time but at $7 for two glasses I can find a comparable beer for much less cost. Strangely amazing balance of hop flavors, which compliment each other well. This is a hop ale not an ipa, brewers need to get off the ipa fad and use either a apa or hop ale label. Not an India pale ale.

Beer snobs unite!

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.03/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

Pours out a lightly hazed typical orangish amber color with about two fingers of white foam that lasts for two to three minutes, leaving behind medium amounts of lacing. Medium body and carbonation levels.

I don't understand what is so "Brutal" about this beer, and I'm not even sure it passes as an IPA. It smells and tastes of a very green, zesty, and leafy medium-light hopping with orange peel and herbals being the central focus over a lighter toasted / crackery malt that presents the flavor and aroma spectrum of a fairly good PA, but most certainly not an IPA, much less a "Brutal IPA". If the label didn't lie to me, I'd have almost nothing negative to say about this one. It really pushes my buttons when labels misrepresent the bottle contents like this.

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Into a tall glass. Three fingers of head, dark straw, little hazy body.
A spruce and citrus smell. Nice and strong.
Starts with solid maltiness, moves towards a stronger bitterness. Pine and lemon shine through. Great complexity and balance.
Medium body and moderate carbonation. A medium bitter finish.
An excellent IPA, can't go wrong with this one.

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Photo of dmatsui
3.35/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a Chimay Goblet. Tulip was dirty, so sue me.

Two-finger off white head, good retention. Looks like a typical, unfiltered IPA.

Mostly malt characteristics in the nose but with some grassy hops, There's a sweet, raw honey-esque sweetness.

Good spicy hops, clean malts and good mouthfeel. The hops are not particularly strong or robust, but very clean. The mouthfeel is perfect.

Overall Brutal is a fairly standard IPA in my opinion but very well balanced and is definitely a quality brew.

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Photo of thatruth
4.53/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz from Cornwall Corner Store poured into a pint glass at Dave's.

Pours a champagne color with a pear like tint. Middle finger head with chalky, off white lacing: both which last for days. Light amber-copper color with orange peel hues.

Smells hoppy, but not brutally so. I've smelled hoppier. Although, the quality of the hops on the nose is superlative. Equally wheaty as it is citrusy.

Mouthfeel is simply flat and dry with a quick finish. Aftertaste quiches your thirst as you pine for another sip.

Taste- Kindly spicy. Hops are exotic. The hefty bready taste adds to this one greatly and makes the brew filling and makes you want for more. A hearty brew.

Overall - A badass brew. Impressed for the 8 bucks I spent. Great color, great look, great taste.

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Photo of dbell23
4.6/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Libation Station for having this on draft. It's now called Brutal IPA. Poured from a growler into a tulip glass. Hazy amber orange in color, with a two finger head with good retention and great lacing.

Smell is sweet hoppy with malt undertones. Not hoppy like an ipa but more sweet hoppy with malt. Doesn't smell like an ipa.

Taste is really good. Slightly hoppy to start with sweet citrus hoppy in the middle and a really nice hoppy finish. Not hoppy like an ipa just really smooth hop flavor. This is an incredibly balanced beer. Almost perfect hop malt balance.

Mouthfeel is almost perfect as well. Really smooth with an almost oily mouthfeel.

Overall this is one of my favorite Rogue beers. Brutal? No. Ipa? No. Really good beer? Oh yeah. It's definitely an esb. If you go by the name and are expecting a smack in the mouth ipa you will be disappointed. If you like a great esb you'll really like this beer. Far be it from me to give advice to Rogue's marketing department, but if they called this what it is-an esb, they'd sell more beer.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a hazy honey amber with a white finger width head, good retention, resulting in a consist, somewhat sticky lace.

Smell - Notes of floral hop, citrus, toasted bready malts and fruity esters.

Taste - Hits strong with toasty malt notes, and hops that are both floral and citric. Superbly balanced. Finishes with a soft orange peel bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied and a nice, lively carbonation that bites at the roof of the mouth.

Overall - Just like the Lagunitas DayTime I had last night, this is really not an IPA despite what's on the label. Hell, Rogue's own website classifies it as a Bitter. Why'd they change the name from Brutal Bitter to Brutal IPA? To cash in on the IPA craze? If so, for shame on my favorite brewery.

I might just be splitting hairs here. Regardless, this is one hell of a beer.

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Photo of southeastmat
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Great burnt orangish color. A little hazy and small amount of head. It's a pretty IPA.

S: Huge grapefruit. A lot of tangerine on the back end. Resinous effect and nary a whiff of malt. It almost smells sticky.

T: Whoa, what a nice balance in this beer. That brutal label is a little misleading. It drinks so well you don't notice the huge IBUs in this brew. Doesn't pucker the lips. The only drawback is the after taste which for me is a bit too sweet for an IPA.

M: One of the chewier IPAs I've had, even without the malt character. A little syrupy for me.

O: It drinks amazingly well. For folks looking for a hop bomb, it's not here. If you want an IPA that you can come back to and maybe have more than one - this is it. Fantastic offering.

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Photo of IronLover
4.09/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Weathered copper orange in color with and murky. Poured with a thick, dense foam that quickly reduced to a wispy cap. Pungent, ripe, citrus hop aromas, orange, pineapple, and apricot, with sweet bready and caramel malt beneath. Creamy smooth feel in the middle on the tongue, and a tangy, puckering bitterness on the edges of the mouth. Flavors are a bit more balanced than aromas, but are still hop forward. Pungent ripe citrus hop flavors up front with pine hop flavors beneath. A solid sweet caramel and bready malt flavor props up the bitter hop character. Finishes semi-dry with a sour bread and bitter pine hop aftertaste.

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Photo of TheRougeBastard
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed straight from the bottle, my first impression was the drinkability and lack of bitterness most IPA's have! Certainly not what I expected with "Brutal" in the name! Now I'm a big, HUGE fan of Rogue's Dead Guy and Double Dead Guy Ale's, but unfortunately this entry is not at that level! While this IPA could easily be enjoyed on any given Sunday, it is simply an o.k. or average entry into the already crowded IPA scene. The taste was average, not really dry like some IPA’s. This is the kind of beverage that could be used as “spacer” between higher ABV choices and do well extended one’s evening.
UPDATE: I don't know if they changed anything else when they updated the name & labels or if I just lucked into a real fresh one because I am really enjoying this one!

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Haven Gastropub in Pasadena, CA.

Pours a hazy honey orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of citrus fruit, citrus zest, and honey. Taste is much the same with a malt finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink but it’s definitely not brutal in any sense.

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Photo of crazyfraser
3.67/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is kind of a little cloudy/goldy/amber.

Smell is very nice, hoppy, citrus zest.

Taste is a little hoppy, not very bitter at all, very light.. Taste is on the small side, I like a little more, I guess that all i can say is that I was hoping for a little more in the flavor department. but don't get me wrong, what flavor is there is good, I just want more of a punch when it come to IPA's I guess that why I like Doubles.

Mouthfeel is nice, very smooth, easy to drink

Overall, decent, I would recommend for a newbe

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Photo of Ungovernable
4.01/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got a 22 oz. bottle marked Brutal IPA. I didn't know it was the same thing as the Brutal Pale Ale, or I probably wouldn't have bought it. Anyway, I did, and here's what I think:

A: It pours a really orange-y copper. Nice color. Very little head.

S: There's an IPA hoppy smell, but it's far from (pleasantly) pungent. The smell is kind of on the subdued side of what I wanted from an Oregon IPA.

T: The taste starts off on a great note. There are lots of hops. It's pleasantly citrusy. The bitterness is decent. Then, it kind of turns to this soda-water bland fizzyness in the back of my mouth as it goes down. Honestly, I think this kind of kills this beer as an IPA.

M: It's full-on at first. Then, the bitterness stays on the tip of my tongue and there's that soda-fizz around the back of my mouth.

O: I think Rogue should have kept this as a "Brutal Pale Ale." By calling it an IPA, I have expectations that aren't met. I expect a lot from Rogue. If this taste got clearer and that soda-water flavor went away, this would be a decent IPA that would sit with other major west coast brewery's IPAs. I rated it as a 4.0 overall as a beer instead of as an IPA. If I was rating this as an IPA, I would have rated it much lower -- maybe a 2.5.

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Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Pours a hazy golden orange color with a light head and minimal lacing.

Smell – Piney hops, with a very light touch of citrus and sweet apricot.

Taste – Light hops (definitely not “brutal”), malt, and a small hint of grapefruit.

Mouthfeel – Good carbonation; goes down easy.

Drinkability – An easy drinking IPA. Not at all “brutal bitter”.

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Photo of Intrinsic
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brutal's colour is very nice, a dark amber-orange with an off-white head. Not very good retention however, and the lacing is just barely there. I can't say that the smell is all that impressive. It just barely registers a light hoppiness and nothing else. The taste is completely the opposite, with earthy bitter tones dominating the hop spectrum, and an interesting bready malt up-front. Medium-bodied, well-carbonated, and a dry finish. Not too shabby!

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