Bitter Brewer
Surly Brewing Company

Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer
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Bitter - English
4 | pDev: 11%
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer
Notes: Brewed with a significant portion of Simpsons Golden Promise, the malt character comes across as toasty, and the flaked oats provide some additional mouthfeel to offset the bitterness. The hops provide an orange aroma and flavor, almost like marmalade. The current signature hop is Mandarina Bavaria, a new aromatic varietal coming out of Germany that has distinct tangerine and orange-like notes.
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Reviews: 446 | Ratings: 1,090 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Comes out golden, somewhat a darker shade. Good 3/4" white head, solid retention. Aroma came off as grain more than hops. No different than a BMC with ale yeast it seemed.

Taste was substantial for a session beer, good bitterness, earthy floral hops, light body, pale toasted malts.

A great beer for golf. Good format. Would bang again.

Apr 28, 2016
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BeerGeek50 from Minnesota

3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pale yellow but a bit hazy pour. Thin white head. Citrus, pineapple, almost candied citrus on the nose. Flavor is orangey/grapefruit. A bit odd. Not what I was expecting.

Dec 27, 2015
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SteveB24 from New York

3.86/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I wasn't blown away by this beer, but i have to say its very impressive that they managed to pack a nice, fruity flavor into such a light beer. pleasant aroma as well, very fizzy. this would be a great choice for lawn mowing.

Dec 14, 2015
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Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

3.06/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Can. Hazy, light orange body with an inch plus of white head. Aromas of citrus, earthy hops, pine, alcohol. Bitter indeed. Resinous, earthy hops. Light, even thin, bodied with aggressive bitterness, peaking mid to late palate. Not the easy drinking, session beer renowned in England.

Nov 28, 2015
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Strix from Wisconsin

2.84/5  rDev -29%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Murky light orange, decent initial head that eventually vanishes with no trace.

Kind of a vague pine and marmalade scent

Marmalade, grain, tea, pine. Kind of slow to develop, not much going on, but a dry bitter finish.

Medium mouthfeel, lightly carbonated.

Part of my problem is probably that this isn't my favorite style. I just wasn't digging the flavor profile here, nothing going on when it's in my mouth, then a somewhat metallic aftertaste. I've had many fine brews from Surly, probably won't be back to this one.

Oct 29, 2015
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SaisonRichBiere from Michigan

4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours hazy light orange with a small retaining head. Smells a bit yeasty and bready with big orange zest and musty hop bitterness. Taste is bracingly bitter and refreshing with hints of bread and citrus. Feel is soft, crisp, and bubbly. Great english bitter.

Sep 13, 2015
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AllDayIPA23 from Georgia

3.94/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't have much experience with this style of beer, but I can't imagine this not being what it is supposed to taste like. As in the name, this beer is quite bitter. Lots of strong earthy flavors. Good use of malts.

I would definitely drink this again, and it was good enough to make me seek out more beers of this style.

Aug 28, 2015
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BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.36/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to GaryMuchow for this one. Poured from 16oz can into 10oz goblet. Poured a cloudy straw yellow color, with 1/4 inch of white head that instantly dissipated, leaving no lace.

The aroma was lightly malty with low hops, very balanced, and kind of on the neutral side. On the tongue though, the grains showed through nicely, providing an earthy base for the lightly floral, lemony hops. There was a pleasantly strong citrus-bitter finish.

The body was the typical medium-light of the style. Drinkability was good, I could easily see pouring a few of these down as part of my regular rotation. Overall, a crisp and enjoyable beer that's worth your time i you have a chance to grab one.

Aug 20, 2015
Photo of pat61
pat61 from Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours lightly orange tinted amber under a 2” finely bubbled foam collar that slowly recedes and provides thick lace. S: Spicy, grassy, fresh mown grass. T: Grassy flavors over biscuit and light nuts with a slight astringency on the end. F: Creamy smooth with a medium body and carbonation. O: They have nailed the classic ESB and added slightly more aggressive hops.

Aug 12, 2015
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Sludgeman from District of Columbia

3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a large stemmed tulip at the new Surly facility.

Definitely bitter, maybe the lowest ABV on today's menu. This one was served too cold. Please let it warm up before judging it. Would be much better if served on cask. 3.5
A – Pale cloudy yellow like a bad piss (get to the doctor!) 3.25
S - Peach and gooseberry marmalade, grassy herbal, a bit of peppery, citrusy - definitely lemon 4
T - Grassy and resinous, citrus rind, but not fruity in anyway 3.75
MF - Medium light and bone dry bitter and lasting in the palate. 3.75

Aug 11, 2015
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oldsailor from Connecticut

4.34/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I was very impressed with this beer. Very smooth, almost silky feel was unexpected but pleasant. Really nice golden color and poured with a fairly thick, creamy head. Smell was almost sweet. Overall, I've decided that the one I still have is not enough and while I'm still in Minnesota I'm going to go grab some more to take back home. Don't pass this one up if you see it, it is awesome!

Aug 08, 2015
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larryi86 from Delaware

4.19/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thank you garymuchow for this
16 oz can dated 5/13/15 poured into a pint glass

A- A slightly hazy golden straw color with a two finger white head/

S- Citrus, some lemons, some sweeter fruitiness, herbal/floral hoppiness, very tea like.

T- Upfront the taste is not too aggressive, toasted malts, some citrus, floral, the finish however is piney and aggressively bitter to a point where I feel it is more like an IPA.

M- Smooth, light to medium body.

O- When I saw this was an English Bitter I was not expecting such a bitter finish in a 4% beer, I thought it would be more balanced, but I still really enjoy this beer. Lives up to the high quality I have had with everything else from Surly.

Jul 26, 2015
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pagriley from Illinois

3.96/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pale hazy, and almost like a wheat.
Assertive pine on the nose with a hint of citrus
A touch harsh in the bitterness, not much else on the palate
Good carb and refreshing mouth feel

Overall a solid beer.

Jul 18, 2015
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cl3 from Wisconsin

4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great beer. Pours a bright clear orange color with a bright white head. Smells slightly biscuity with with a bit of citrus from the mandarina hops. Bitter, as advertised, with a little bit of fruitiness. Great carbonation that stick around even with an aggressive pour. A real easy drinker. Perfect for warm summer days.

Jul 12, 2015
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GoBearsWalter34 from Illinois

4.39/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazy grapefruit color with a thin white head. Smells of lots of citrus fruit. Quite bitter with very juicy citrus fruit with a grapefruit mango presence. Wonderfully light body and quite refreshing. I could drink many. The 4% alcohol will allow for that. There is a malty cracker taste that makes it unique as an English Bitter. Lots of carbonation adds to the zesty yeast taste. I like!

Jun 20, 2015
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

sometimes its not the most complicated beers that end up tasting the best, or being the most enjoyable. this little brew is a gem, and after visiting surly and having their beer around town for a few days, this stands out as one of their best. its pale and bright in color at the same time, hazy and heady, and has a bright tropical hop aroma, not at all what one would expect when thinking about an english bitter style. this has so much life to it, and not a real robust yeast flavor, which make it more american i think than english, especially considering its hopped like an ipa. to me, this was almost more of a session ipa than anything else. the hops hint at mango and pineapple, and there is only moderate hop bitterness here. there also isnt any of the crystal malt that has seemed to define the bitter, maybe some maris, but this is not at all about the grain. delightfully light on the palate, dancing carbonation and a zippy finish make it a perfect beer for warmer weather. pint cans are awesome for beers like this, and if it was sold here in colorado, it would be in my fridge all season. not sure how well it fits the english bitter category, but the beer in the can is just exceptional. love the hops on this, refreshing and palate cleansing and distinct.

Jun 03, 2015
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mmahanna41 from Illinois

3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

My first "English Bitter".... 16 oz can into a tulip. This beer is interesting to say the least. I don't know exactly what I was expecting, especially after pouring this light blonde super cloudy liquid into my glass, but it was not this (and it turns out that was actually a good thing, I think?) Taste was odd, but in a good way.... So buttery the feel was actually louder than it's taste. After half of my swigs I was so distracted by the feel, I forgot to pay attention to the taste. I'm not sure if I'm a fan yet, but I know I didn't hate it and with 3 of 4 cans still awaiting consumption, I can guarantee they won't be sitting around long. I have never been so confused as to if I really liked, kinda liked, or maybe didn't like a beer even after drinking a full pint. Having said all this non-sense.... Without I doubt, I recommend you try this unique beer for yourself!

Jun 02, 2015
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ta_hagen from Minnesota

4.87/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bitter, Bitter, yummy in tummy... Interesting taste. It has this buttery characteristic that reminds me of Abrasive. Also has a gritty maltiness but litter IPA, but so good.

May 24, 2015
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AirBob from Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Notes from 1/16/15

A - 2 fingers of fluffy white head. Excellent lacing. Good rendition. Hazy honey-orange body.

S - Orange marmalade. Iced tea. Lemon flesh. Honey. Lemon oil.

T - Follows the nose with a sweet back and clean finish.

M - Medium-low carb

Apr 18, 2015
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CraigP83 from Minnesota

3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bready, with a hop presence at the end. Lighter in color. A little sticky honey flavor and orange zest but the low ABV might make a good choice on the boat

Apr 17, 2015
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TMoney2591 from Illinois

3.89/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served from the can in a Second City glass.

Starting the Super Bowl evening off right with some badass K-Tina K-So (patent pending) and a Bitter Brewer. This stuff pours a mostly clear brass-tawny topped by a finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises grass, sharp flowers, light biscuit, and a touch of resin for the sake of it. The taste brings in more of the same, the bready biscuit somewhat tempering the grass, but still allowing those hops to shine. The body is a rather light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a crisp finish that keeps the grassy twang from malingering. Overall, a very enjoyable little beer, something I could easily see myself having more of in the future (if not tonight, even).

Feb 02, 2015
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kkleu357 from Wisconsin

3.66/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a light golden color. Light sweet aroma. Interesting taste. It has this buttery characteristic that reminds me of Abrasive. Also has a gritty maltyness to it. It’s decent.

Sep 29, 2014
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NickTheGreat from Iowa

4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Never heard of this beer but bought due to my other Surly beer experiences.

Aroma (5): Great aroma, made me want to drink right away
Appearance (4): Good bright orange color.
Taste (4): Good taste. Bitter enough, not much maltiness
Palate (3): Weird Palate. Not much "body" Didn't bother me, just the first thing I noticed.

I like this. I could add this to my regular rotation.

Sep 18, 2014
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Treyliff from West Virginia

3.96/5  rDev -1%

Canned 6/26/14, poured into a tulip

A- pours a clear, deep golden color with a small fizzy white head that reduces to a film skimming the top 3.75

S- lots of floral hop aromas up front with some earthy & herbal notes, sweet honeysuckle, orange marmalade, tangerine peel, finishing with a bready & caramel malt. Subtle overall, but complex as it warms 4

T- hop flavors of tangerine & rose hips mix with a honey-like sweetness, a hint of lemon tartness, toasted bread finish with a grainy linger 4

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a smooth finish, high drinkability 3.75

O- very flavorful session beer that emphasizes orange and floral hop notes, balanced out by some toasty malt, very good 4

Sep 10, 2014
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SerialTicker from Michigan

3.79/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Canned 6/26/14 and poured 9/1/14. $3.19 single picked up at Four Firkins.

Appearance: Fairly aggressive pour gives off a very short lived head with a few soapy bubbles on top. The color is orange-y with quite a bit of hop hazing. (3.5/5)

Smell: Very hoppy, surprisingly. Earthy, floral, and herbal. Not so much of a pine nose on this one though. A semi-sweet malt aroma in there as well. Pretty nice. (4/5)

Taste/feel: Huge carbonation. I've had a few English Bitters, but it's been awhile -- knowing Surly, I'd assume they got this feel of this one right. A pop/soda-like carbonation with an almost watery body, maybe a little heavier. The taste is earthy and herbal hops initially, and then a biscuity malt flavor on the finish, which is quite dry. It tastes a bit like a sessionable IPA, but with an English Bitter malt character. (3.75/5, 3.5/5)

Quite good for what it is. Has a nice, fresh hop profile throughout with a nice malt flavor at the end. Not a super bitter beer, but definitely more bitter than sweet. Bitter Brewer is pretty tasty, but it reminds me a little too much of a session IPA, which is a style that I'm rarely impressed by. Still worth checking out, though maybe not at the price of $3.19 a can.

Sep 01, 2014
Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 1090 ratings