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Brutal Bitter Ale - Rogue Ales

Not Rated.
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,082 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,082
Hads: 2,038
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 9.43%
Wants: 79
Gots: 154 | 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
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Reviews: 1,082 | Hads: 2,038
Photo of dcoux09
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had a Fuller's ESB at the Red Lion near Westminster in London, an this kicked it's ass. I often feel that many IPAs are too hoppy and unbalanced, however, I really enjoyed this brew. When it was poured, it looked almost like apple cider with an off white head, which strangely enough reminded me of the bitter/sour taste of a pressed cider. I expected this to be another decent IPA, but it was really wonderful. It was more sour that bitter in my mind, which was a pleasant surprise, but it was well balanced with a creamy feel. It was much more complex that a Fuller's ESB, and for that, I really enoyed it. Great brew, would definitely recommend. (650 characters)

Photo of boyermi206
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Light orange/tangerine kind of murky not all that clear.

S- smells good, malty but more fruity, "crisp" smelling I want to say apple smell.

T-citrus dominates but again I am getting some apple taste

M-a little thin, but not bad, probably just the right amount of carbonation.

O-I really like this beer, something I will buy again and look forward to. I can only imagine that thi beer would be exceptional on tap. (418 characters)

Photo of jercasper
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

A great IPA. Didn't find the balance of flavors to be as even as one might taste in other IPAs but not enough to deter me from ordering this IPA gem again. (156 characters)

Photo of GoblueMS
3.76/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I have recently tried this as it is now available here in MS. Rogue has been around a long time, and I have never had opportunity to try any Rogue IPA offering (not even sure that they offered IPA). Bought 7 bombers last night at a local grocery for 99 cents each--WOW!! And they were not "ruint" as they say around here! Every once in a while we quality ale quaffers win big, and this is one of those times. From a bomber to my 20 oz. mug.

A: Thick creamy head two fingers high diminishing to a thin layer. Love the unfiltered aspect.

S: A bit malt forward, with hops slightly subdued.

T: Smooth with the yeast adding body to the ale (filtered ales tend to taste and mouthfeel thin).

M: As mentioned smooth. Definitely a decent brew. I like this particular style of IPA, though others on my favorites list are more aggressive on the pallet.

O: What a find at 99 cents!! Even though it has a lower alcohol content, sometimes that is just what the doctor ordered. Rogue knows what they are doing, and they have been in the business a long time. This ale is worthy. (1,068 characters)

Photo of nazbotica
3.82/5  rDev -5.2%
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. (1,514 characters)

Photo of mikesnotesonbeer
4.68/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Cloudy, orange-gold.
S: Hoppy and citrusy. Light pine.
T: Citrusy upfront, with a nice hoppy finish.
M: Refreshingly crisp, though a little dry.
O: It’s hoppy, but not enough to be off-putting. This is an IPA that both a novice and a connoisseur can appreciate. (269 characters)

Photo of Godspeed
4.8/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Until this past weekend I had trouble locating this particular Rogue beer. The local package stores I frequent never had it in stock, despite carrying most of the other selections from this fine brewery.

Needless to say I was surprised to see a whole shelf dedicated to this marvelous concoction at Trader Joe's in Cambridge: a grocery store with a small but impressive selection of micros. They had Brutal Bitter in stock, and plenty of them. All in 22 ounce bomber form.

I tipped the bottle, and out flowed a hazy orange liquid. The bubbly head materialized soon after and then diminished slowly, leaving a thin oily lacing. I swirled the newly poured beverage and sniffed. Orange rinds and grapefruits wafted through my nose. I found the tart, hoppy aroma to be quite enticing. I took a sip and was surprised at the smooth, fresh character of this beer. Not at all what I expected from an ESB. Creamy malt sweetness with a citrusy, crisp hop flavor. Overall very well balanced considering the powerful hop presence. Very, very drinkable. Yes, I could see myself downing several of these in rapid succession.

In retrospect I guess I had modest expectations. To be frank, "Brutal" and "Bitter" are adjectives I normally wouldn't associate with such an appetizing beverage. Well I couldn't have been more wrong. This is a session beer like none other. I dare say it's my favorite Rogue brew. (1,402 characters)

Photo of curtisb8
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appreance: Nice, amber brown appreance, white medium body head.

Smell: Citrus, grapefruit, with a hint of oak

Taste: Citrus bitter upfront, hoppy finish, with a smooth finish

I could have a few of these through the course of a night, definitely worth a try. (267 characters)

Photo of TheLocust830
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pilsner glass.

a-hazy copper. Looks like some sediment was stirred up on the car ride. 1 finger head dissipated down to a foam that will not leave along with some very sticky lacing.

s-sweet citric hops, maybe some wet grass or dull piney scent over that.

t-far from brutal unless you are not a hophead. at first is a jolt of tart sweetness, then the hops kicks in in great balance. the hops taste seemed almost the opposite the smell, more pine than citrus. bitter aftertaste recedes quickly leaving me craving another sip.

m/d-seems fairly high carbonation and still very fizzy to the end although it didn't last that long. very drinkable, i could drink it like water and i recommend doing just that. delicious. (746 characters)

Photo of fl0w
4.51/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed in a pint glass from bottle.

Orange/copper appearance, inch and a half white head which receded rather quickly, with little lacing.

Wonderful smell, strong fresh hops and a bit of citrus. Wish I had a better glass for this smell, I had my nose in this the whole time, the smell was really that good.

The taste was great, more citrus, maybe grapefruit, giving way to hops. While less bitter then I expected, it did have a great hoppy bitterness in the aftertaste. For those put off thinking this is going to be too bitter, it isn't. The bitterness is just right.

Mouthfeel was bready, slightly dry, with the perfect amount of carbonation.

I could definitely drink a few of these, was disappointed I only had 2 (722 characters)

Photo of KChardstock
3.08/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I bought this bottle a few days ago after having their shakespeare, and chocolate stout. good stuff. but this one not so much. brutal bitter pours great into a a nice fluffy foam. foam retention is good and locks in taste. the appearance is an orange haze with dense carbonation. the orange appearance is followed up with a citrus flavor. The taste is infact bitter, but not very brutal. i liked this beer, but it didn't strike much of a fancy. (444 characters)

Photo of taverncast
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

3 out of 5 stars - some confusion over what happened with the recipe - the beer has changed names in the past year, and seemingly even the recipe, although differing sources have differing information on this. We tried both labels, and found a significant difference in the two bottles.

The original label, Brutal Bitter was a drinkable, malty, but very low IBU bitter with a mild hoppy, sweet nose, malt and sugar flavors and a slightly bitter finish.

The new label, Brutal IPA was distinctly different - having a pronounced hop and fruit smell, and heavy grapefruit flavor with melon overtones - so pronounced in fact that the beer took on a wheat beer character.

Check out our full audio review of both beers: http://www.taverncast.com/shows/taverncast-on-tap-02.mp3 (773 characters)

Photo of drinkHoppy
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

From a 22oz(right?) bottle. This was in the fridge at my store for probably two years now, so I grabbed it. Obvious amount of sediment in the bottle.

Appearance: Copper/amber/orange. Light but opaque and obviously cloudy with sediment. You can pour a nice sized head without much effort, but notice it quickly start to fizz away. Settles to a thin layer but lasts for much of the glass, not all of it. I really had to stir around the last few sips, and saw what looked like red strings in the bottom, part of the sediment. Cool looking!

Smell: Pleasant smell. Hoppy. Grapefruit and citrus, the obvious stuff.

Taste: Just how it smells. Smooth, great tasting beer if you like hops (and i do). On the strong side.

Mouthfeel: Great carbonation, you feel it on your tongue! I enjoyed every sip actually, but then it lingers. A bit slimy but tasty.

Drinkability: I gave this a low score on drinkability not because it was hard to drink this beer, it tasted great, but because two pints was enough for me. I could have more but still only a few. (1,048 characters)

Photo of tinusch
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured into a weizen glass. pours thin and nearly headless - just a thin cap of white froth atop a clear, amber-honey-colored complexion. smells very subtly - some sweet, earthy fruitiness, an almost-sour yeasty twist reminding me of a farmhouse ale. almost.

light and prickly on the tongue, caramely and bready upfront, a little dry and almost walnutty, light sweep of floral hops at the back end, just a touch of the sourness from the smell. overall a quick, buttery husky toasted malt presence with light, perfumey and almost powdery hoppiness fringing the edges for a brief sweet and bitter finish.

a little watery and fizzy as far as body goes. becomes more enjoyably thick and sticky as it warms though.

i mainly felt compelled to review this beer as a vehicle to spout my thoughts on the name change. i'd never had this beer as "rogue brutal bitter" - i purchased this brew for the first time as "rogue brutal ipa." maybe that speaks to the success of the marketing strategy: that i'd probably seen the brutal bitter in stores countless times and never considered picking it up until now that it has a more palatable name and fire-engine-red labeling. that said, this aint no "brutal ipa," and hardly an ipa at all now that i dwell on the matter. the name "brutal ipa" pretty explicitly suggests a beer much, much unlike what's contained in this bottle, and while i wasn't unsatisfied with the brew, that name has simply got to change.

but call it what you will, my bomber is now empty and i could easily quaff another. (1,531 characters)

Photo of cougznthebear
4.27/5  rDev +6%
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. (500 characters)

Photo of kcsc007
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 ML bottle poured into a room temp pint glass. I purchased this bottle in Bozeman, Montana.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. Right after the pour, I could clearly smell the hops exploding from this brew. It appeared opaque, like a traditional hefeweizen, with a blonde color, like water steeped with hay. Very similar to a Marzen. Pretty average bubbly head dissapating after 10 minutes or so.

The taste was certainly hoppy, with floral overtones, but overall well balanced between the malt and hops. Surely a bitter, but not over-resiny in flavor; the hops were mild yet present. A slight tinge of metallic flavor on the roof of my mouth near the back. The front of my mouth feels very satisfied, with a lasting, savory flavor. It felt surprisingly full in my mouth, thicker and more broad than some other ESBs. Again, this beer reminds me of a more bitter Marzen.

I highly recommend this beer, even if you are not a fan of ESB/Bitters, although I should think 1 or 2 pints would satisfy anyone's palate. Don't be fooled, this brew is not as brutal as it seems. (1,083 characters)

Photo of ArodGetsSick
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into 4 oz snifter from 650 ml bottle.

appearance: poured a straw-amber color, with an orange glow. Nice two finger head.

smell: smell is very sweet,smooth, and pleasing.
Smells pops with mellow hops, kind of malty. Also a slight linger of melon.

taste: An initial bitter taste, though very easy on the palate. The bitter seems to go on a spectrum to another bitter tastse that rest nicely on your tounge. Tatse plentiful in the hop department, although an extrmele balanced beer. Taste some slight malt. I detected some pine, and even some grapefruit.

mouthfeel: taste very full and smooth. Seems very carbonated, a great lean sip.

drinkability: very easy to drink, I could have easily drank the bottle myself. (722 characters)

Photo of AleBop
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm impressed by this IPA. Very clean and distinctly bitter flavor will have me buying again. IPA's are my ales of choice and I'm always looking for another good one to add to my choices. I tend to like quite hoppy ales and Stone IPA is my standard purchase available everywehre I shop. Lagunitas IPA and Pliny The Elder are topping my list of favorites at this time. Enjoy Hop Stoopid too. (390 characters)

Photo of Narbage
3.04/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

I was really looking forward to this beer. I really was. As it turned out it was an okay ipa but my expectations were far higher. I was slightly disappointed that it was not as bitter as I was hoping. I wish the beer was hoppier than it was.It was not worth the 9 dollars considering the abv was low for this IPA. Overall it was an okay beer to drink it just doesn't stand out like other IPAs. (393 characters)

Photo of SWOhio-aquifer
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This beer fits my palate so well.

Why: Uh.. It is just good. Kind of like dead guy with a little less malt a touch more hop.

Balanced-yes. Bitter-no.

Used to be my go to. I remember drinking a ton of it one summer building kayaks and other wood working endeavors.

Just something about it. I recently picked up a six pack. It been years since I have had.

Still great. Should be up their with dead guy but the name throw people a lot. Kind of like the saying don't judge a book .; you know the rest. (510 characters)

Photo of Rodan
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a little hazy. It's on the dark side of amber

Smell and taste have similar profiles. There is a combo of caramel, apricot, lychee, and in the taste a well rounded hoppyness. This beer isn't Brutal at all, but it is a nice bitter. It isn't as malty as most English bitters. The hops are more aggressive, along the lines of an APA, but ironically not as present as Three Floyds Pride and Joy "Mild" ale.

I think the name might scare off some folks that would like this beer. People just getting into the craftbrew craze, sometimes shy away from the word bitter, and adding "Brutal" to it isn't going to help the issue. I will buy this again, and serve it to guests. I just won't tell them the name until they've tried it. (731 characters)

Photo of phunknerd
4.48/5  rDev +11.2%
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. (1,076 characters)

Photo of MaryMoTu
3.99/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this bottled as 'Brutal IPA' so I was expecting my eyes to water from the hops, but it turned out to be really well-balanced, quaffable, and almost more like an ESB than an IPA. Poured out caramel gold with great head retention and some lacing. Subtle sweet notes on the nose. Very smooth flavor with crisp citrusy tastes well balanced to hints of sweet malty flavors. Not overly bitter at all. Light to medium and smooth mouthfeel. Overall a delicious, drinkable beer. I would definitely place it more firmly as an ESB than an IPA. (538 characters)

Photo of Djedhead360
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Cloudy orange,light
Smell:Malty with strong hop flavor and Soapy aftertaste/bitter
Taste:smooth malty hopy
Overall: good beer drinking out of Tulip a little watery good carbonation and taste a nice light drink. Definitly a good barbeque beer with some steak (285 characters)

Photo of bigblueheron
3.35/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The presentation was a 22 oz bottle poured into a room temperature glass. Rich honey-amber appearance and fresh smell adhered to my expectations. I was anxious for a taste. It started out great, but what a bitter finish punch that lingered forever. I don't doubt this is a well-regarded example, but I didn't have my game face on for this experience. (350 characters)

Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,082 ratings.