Bitter Brewer | Surly Brewing Company

445 Reviews
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.00%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-05-2007

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Reviews: 445 | Ratings: 1,086
Photo of mjryan
5/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a clear orange hue with a lively white head. No lace, good retention. Aroma is crisp apricots and slight bready malts. Flavour is again reminiscent of apricots and light bready malt. Bitterness is pronounced but not over the top. The finish is very dry. The body is very light and the carbonation seems quite high. Very thirst quenching and enjoyable. We need more beers like this around.

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Photo of SurlyDrinkr
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this beer at a beer tasting at Uproots Cafe in Uptown. This beer is nice and smooth, was a cloudy yellowish tan, smelled of a nice citrus. The beer had a nice bitter taste with some citrus aftertones in the flavor. The beer reminded me of summit extra pale but with something else added. I would love it if the canned this beer for a seasonal availability.

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Photo of twelvsies
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally get a chance to try a variety of Surly brews, thanks to sonicdecent. Had a few flavors, and this one is my favorite so far. Brass orange with a nice thick looking head, slowly dies down as I drink. So much aroma - American hops, pale malt, hay, and some complex soapy almost laundry detergent smell. Yeah, in a good way. I'd love to find out what a traditional English brewer would have to say about this beer.Tastes like some of the best, quintessential English bitters, with distinctly American hopping. Nice mellow malt up front with an interesting hop profile to say the least. It seems like all the hops are in the nose, but there's a nice dry finish to it. Spicy, with very light citrus notes and hardly any bitterness, yet juicy. Super smooth and crips on the palate. So refreshing and uber quaffable. Damn near just exactly perfect.

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Photo of ta_hagen
4.87/5  rDev +21.1%
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.

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Photo of pdeme
4.85/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Color is dark orange with head the disappears quickly. It has a lot of earthly smells to it along with some citrus. The taste has a lot going for it considering the lower ABV. Very easy to drink. I was put off by the name of the beer for awhile, but after receiving it as a gift it is my go to session beer in the summer.

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Photo of AshHousewares
4.84/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Would it be total blasphemy to call this a Furious-Light?

Decent hops, strong citrus, perfect bitter hit at the end. This beer is extremely drinkable. Incredibly aromatic but surprisingly light and refreshing.

A perfect cold lighter beer for the summer.

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Photo of Vittorio
4.74/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a great beer to quaff after having done a quick 8 miles.

Pours clean, light orange and clear with a thin whitish head that dissipates quickly. Very much more hoppy than any 'English bitter' ever I've had but, then I really like the resiny hoppy flavour of this 'bitter' . Clean over the palate but with a bit of a treacley feel at the back of the throat.

Has a nice clean mouth feel with a slight 'burn' which adds to the somewhat high 'fizz' factor. Could be that I'm opening these cans at 7000 feet and they're canned at 700 feet that causes that.

An excellent 'session' beer. Too bad its not available here in New Mexico.

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Photo of mikeale
4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sent as an extra from Scoobydank! Thanks man!!!

A. Orange body, sticky looking white head

S. Hoppy, apricots, sweet bready malt.

T. Citris, orange, hoppy, honey biscuit malt.

M. Crisp, refreshing, hops in the finish.

D. Highly drinkable, low in alcohol, I could session these all the time. While I love DIPA barley wine and IRS, this a great session beer.
Thanks again Scoobydank for this great beer.

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Photo of bjcbeer2102
4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Pours beautifully clear orange whit a pillow white head that maintained for a good twenty minutes

S: Hoppy nose with lemony notes, citrus oils and ripe fruit (light peach, mainly).

T: Taste was extraordinary, very complex and full of flavor. First taste is full of hops and opens up to a strong biscuit flavor.

M: mouth feel is light and crisp with a high carbonation

D: This is a beer that I have been looking for a long time 4.2%ABV beer that I can drink in sessions but with all the flavor that a high ABV beer

Serving type- Can pour into a nonic Eglish pint glass

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Photo of soze47
4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up a large variety of Surly when in St. Paul. I've loved every kind so far. Bitters are usually not my cup of tea, but we'll see.

Appearance: Pretty copper orange with a lot of carbonation activity. Fluffy head is very sticky on the glass.

Aroma: Very nice smelling. The hops are pungent, but in a very gentle way. Grassy and floral smells turn fruity in your nose as a not too strong maltiness comes in. Smells like summertime.

Taste: Same as the nose, balanced yet subtle flavors play off of each other well. Good amount of hop flavor, but not a ton of bitterness. The malt does just enough to cut any residual bitterness left, yet not overstate its importance. The malt lets you know its there while the hops go from grassy to tangerine like. Great taste.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: The mouth feel is very light and crisp and the finish is nice and dry. For all the flavor this one packs, it could be a session of the summer candidate.

Overall: Fantastic take on a style I don't usually enjoy. Maybe it is the American hops providing some great flavors the English varietals just can't deliver. Surly seems to not know how to a mediocre beer.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Surly has it going on!... Craft beer from the can is still a bit of an odd one for me. You couple this with craft beer in a tall boy and I am sold. Some of my earliest beer drinking memories involved sneaking tall boys. This beer was served chilled and in a pint glass.

Appearance: Far exceeds what would have been expected from any can beer. The beers body is a light orange / honey coloration. The head is a thick biege coloration. Great head retention is noted. The lacing forms perfect concentric circles on my glass as I consume it at an alarming rate. Wish I had a hell of a lot more of these cans.

Smell: The aroma of the beer leads with citrus, floral and slightly pine notes. Very well controlled on the hops. The maltyness manages to punch the hops down abit with toasted caramel goodness. Very well balanced!...

Taste: I simply cannot imagine the flavor of this beer being any better. The hops and malts are in perfect harmony. Like ebony and ivory. Gods I hated the 80's. Dam you Michael Jackson and Paul McCarteney!... The flavor exactly delivers on what the aroma leads with.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The body of the beer is light and nearing creamy. The carbonation is low but works well with the beer. I could throw this beer back all night and never become bored. English Bitter isnt really my favorite style of beer; however, if this came to Cincinnati this would almost always be in my beer fridge rotation.

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Photo of Cresant
4.69/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured this 16 oz. can into a British pint glass. No date. The body was amber/leather color with a bit of chill haze. The off-white head was sturdy and pithy.

Smell was Surly-fabulous. Big resin, pine cone aroma. Black pepper. Biscuits. Sweet oranges. Aroma stays and stays.

Taste was marmalade on whole wheat toast. Light bitterness that lingers. Caramel biscuit. I really enjoy the Surly take on the style.

Mouthfeel was mild to medium in carbonation and body. Seems right on for the style.

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Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.65/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Beer Stein

Appearance - Pours a very hazy and darker orange color. Head pours around 4 inches width. Both head and lacing retention are excellent!

Smell - Rich Floral Hops, Yeasts/Biscuits, Marmalade, Toasted Malts, and a slight grassy smell. This smells very fresh!

Taste - Sweet Yeasts, Floral Hops, Oranges, Biscuits, and Toasted Malts. For a English Bitter, this is a very rich tasting beer!

Mouthfeel - Very light bodied and virtually no carbonation. It's not only smooth and easy to drink, but also crisp and refreshing!

Overall - I enjoyed Honker's Ale before as my goto Bitter Ale, but now it looks like I have a new favorite. It looks good, smells great, tastes great, and feels absolutely refreshing. What more can I say? I will miss Surly when I move to Chicago, but hopefully I will see it once I move there!

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Photo of Merchant46
4.63/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: A pleasant light amber color. Thick white head that dissipates quickly but maintains a presence. Usually few bubbles.

Smell: A fresh baked bread smell dominates.

Taste: Wonderfully earthy, with a bitterness that avoids being fruity or floral, that lingers nicely.

Mouthfeel: A little thin for an ESB, but actually seems appropriate for this beer.

Drinkability: I never have just one around, bcz I always want another (at least). The relatively low alcohol content is nice, considering how much of this beer I like to drink

Important note: You will really sell this beer short if you drink it ice cold. I usually take a can out of the fridge a half hour before I want to have one, then take the next one when I'm opening the first.

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Photo of jjanega08
4.63/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A= pours an amber orange color with a pillowy white head and amazing lacing on the glass. Really looks great.
S= great hop aroma. Floral and I feel like its got a little hoppy peppery bit to it. There is the faint smell of a grainy malt.
T= really a good bitter. Hoppy enough and also a fabulous grain taste. When home brewing it tastes like steeping grains smell. Again a slight peppery bit.
M=smooth and crisp. Quite refreshing
D= extremely high. The most sessionable beer in the world I think. Never tasted anything so great with such a low abv. Truely a masterpiece.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.62/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A. Poured from a 16oz pounder into a glass. A nice dense head forms around a pale orange body.

S. Some leafy hops in the nose.

T. A citrus hop note around a complex malt backbone. Almost a sour note to its bitterness. Oily hops. Roasted malt.

M. Medium bodied, smooth and refreshing.

D. This is one drinkable beer. Its a shame I only have one sample, but am certainly glad I did. Thanks Oneeye!

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Photo of francisweizen
4.62/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Orange gold with a big white head of large bubbled foam. Aroma is crazy for an English or American bitter Citrus and floral but with a different mix of aromas one would normally find in a bitter. Crazy citrus with kaffir lime peel, pomegranate, and tea in the mix. A bit of grapefruit, marigolds, biscuit malt, and more. Taste is more subdued yet complex fruit sweet citrus and tea with a nice biscuit malt background and a hoppy-sweet finish. Mouthfeel is light and medium bodied which is perfect for a bitter, and drinkability is great. A really solid and unique take on the style. Awesome

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Photo of zeff80
4.61/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Poured out a clear, golden amber color with a one-finger, khaki-colored head of foam. It left thin rings of lace.

S - What an aroma. Pine, pine, pine and more pine. Plus, it was phenolic, too.

T - It had a great pine taste with some nice caramel sweetness. It tastes like an IPA. Can says 37 IBU but it seemed much more bitter than that.

M - It was crisp, sharp and crackled on the tongue. A light to medium bodied ale.

D - Unbelievable. I tried this not because I like the style but because I love Surly. Man, it was worth it! Best Ding-worthy session ale ever!!

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Photo of Brad007
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got this in a trade with klynch.

Color: Reddish-amber with a decent one-finger head and decent carbonation.

Aroma: Sweet and lightly malty. Very faint floral bitterness. Mild like the style implies.

Taste: Floral bitterness shows upfront with sweet malt in the middle finished by a light bitterness. Smooth and caramel-like flavor. A second sip confirms much of the same, except that the malt is more pronounced.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and nice bitterness. Malt still shows in the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Low in alcohol and packed full of flavor, this is what a bitter should be. It's simply too bad that there aren't enough examples of bitters from American companies.

Pick it up and drink it.

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Photo of bennetj17
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lightly hazed coppery-orange appearance. Quite a bit of carbonation fizzing throughout, helping to sustain a dense layer of off-white foam atop. Fine lacing. Great smell of floral hops with a real citrus sweetness, almost like a fresh orange. Very intense and inviting.

The hoppy, orange fruit-like qualities continue in the flavor, although it doesn't taste very sweet as the malt is mostly in the background. Finishes with a moderate bitterness that keeps you wanting more. I'm trying to remember a beer that had that same unique fruit flavor, perhaps a mandarin Hefeweiss? As for the body, its smooth, slightly creamy, with great carbonation.

This beer was one of my favorites. A low ABV session brew, that has the hop intensity of beers twice as strong. The unique citrus aspect was interesting at first, but after one pint you just want more. I would especially love to try this on cask, as I can only imagine it being worthy of a long days session...

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Photo of tempest
4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at the Blue Nile.

Damn, I tried to come in skeptical on this one but it blew me away. It combines awesome hops with the mellow and subtle flavors of a true bitter. I'm knocked out that the true can separate. First a big fruity hops flavor with pineapple punch and citrus hit. Then really mellow vanilla and malt flavors shine through. This beer is deep - the flavors just keep coming. The only real fault I found is that the aroma didn't do much for me and there wasn't much lacing. Whatever on smell and appearance, this one tastes so good I dare say it might be the finest Surly yet.

I want more.

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Photo of natasharai
4.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Poured with some creamy foamy off white head that dissipated over a few minutes leaving a thin layer and some lacing at the top of my glass. The beer is clear and has an orangish dark gold color.

Smell: Fresh cut grass, sweet citrus, some sweet roasted malt

Taste: Fresh cut grass, piney dry hop flavor, some sweet citrus, sweet roasted malt, ends with a delicious citrus zing. As it warms up there are some hints of spice or black tea.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium carbonation, slightly dry, very refreshing.

Overall: Very drinkable! Very refreshing and delicious! Keeps you wanting more. None of the flavors are overwhelming, nice subtle spiciness as it warms up. Delicious beer!

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Photo of photomike
4.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a great looking amber color with a one inch hard white head with good lacing and decent retention. Good looking to be sure.

Smells precisely like my kitchen after a brew day. Sweet and worty with a nice orangey hoppiness tying it all together.

Flavor is somewhat similar. Nice sweet malts balanced perfectly with some orange-rind bitterness. Crazy delicious. Tough to say if this is perfectly "to-style," as I don't have a ton of experience drinking English Bitters, but yep. Crazy delicious.

Light bodied with sparkly carbonation and a clean finish. Great stuff.

I could drink a ton of this, and 16oz just isnt enough. So refreshing and really nice overall.

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Photo of Hope4Hops
4.56/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a golden orange with a very slight cloudiness. About half a finger of loose head. Head dissipates rapidly, but leaves a bit of a foam film across the top.

Smell is changes drastically from the can to the glass. In the can, the smell is very strongly hops. Earthy, grassy, citrussy. No real floral notes. Very strong sent from the can. Once poured, most of the scent dissipates. Plum wine and toast with a mild bubblegummy ester scent.

Smooth mouthfeel. Slightly thicker at the back of the throat. Rolls very well off the tongue. Light bubbles.

Taste is superb. Very clean. Citrussy, almost like bitter marmalade. Lots of hops flavor, but not as bitter as one would expect. Strong hops, mild bitterness. Subtle malt play. Adds a very mild toasty taste. The can describes toast and marmalade and that's surprisingly accurate.

All around, a very drinkable beer and perfect for the coming summer months. Not really something you'd want to drink in a Minnesota December, but a great picnic and BBQ beer.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer pours a clear burnt orange color. The head is on inch in height, and recedes slowly into a quarter inch cap of lacing. The aroma is very floral with pine and hints of citrus. It smells like good gin. The taste is of pine, with lots of floral notes, and a lingering dry bitterness in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with lively carbonation and a velvety texture. Overall, this is quite a refreshing beer. I could easily drink this all afternoon.

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Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
4.02 out of 5 based on 1,086 ratings.
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