Bitter Brewer | Surly Brewing Company

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Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer
Very Good
1,088 Ratings
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:
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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-05-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,088 |  Reviews: 446
Photo of dhow4
1.5/5  rDev -62.3%

Photo of SaintMarysGirl
1.82/5  rDev -54.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

No head at all has a grassy smell analyte mouthful nonalcoholic or heat when it goes down bitter taste you can also taste the hop more than you can taste the mall it's got this fresh hop fail flavored as well as Woody and spice and very low carbonation

 252 characters

Photo of mcdonald422
2/5  rDev -49.7%

Photo of AndyEdgar
2.25/5  rDev -43.5%

Photo of MNAle
2.36/5  rDev -40.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is an updated review of the 2015 version of Bitter Brewer. I had previously only done a rating for this beer. This beer has been a favorite for several years, but this year's example is hugely disappointing. No, not just disappointing; it is a major departure in the thin hop water direction of session ales. I've put my former numerical ratings below for anyone who is interested. My current ratings are what is reflected in this review. I sincerely hope Surly reconsiders their direction for this beer.

Hazy orange. White head, dissipates quickly, little/no lacing. Faint somewhat citrusy aroma. If the dry hopping was for aroma, it didn't do much. Initial taste is mild, transitioning to a very bitter, piney, orangy, borderline unpleasant aftertaste that hangs around much too long. So long, in fact, the astringent bitterness is still there long after I would like to take another drink. Mouth feel is thin, watery. Overall, this is a significant step backwards for what used to be one of my favorites. I'm unlikely to buy it again.

Old rating, with my notes (I did not enter these notes as a review here; they're just my notes):
A bit too high in American hopiness to be a true English-style bitter, but otherwise, it is reasonably faithful to the style. My 2nd favorite local bitter, and overall it has the advantage of not being an ESB. I wish this was a year-round offering from Surly.

L: 3
S: 4
T: 4
F: 3
O: 4.25

 1,433 characters

Photo of johnnytfresh245
2.4/5  rDev -39.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured this beer from the can into a glass and was a liked the light color of the beer. I didn't like the smell and maybe next time I'll just keep it in the can. It smelled like citrus but not hop citrus, but as if there were some additions other than hops to aid in the citrus-ness. I was also a little put off by the body. I know this is a light beer but it feel really dry to me. Overall this is not something that I would seek out

 434 characters

Photo of twins2008nathan
2.47/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

Photo of MinnTwins
2.5/5  rDev -37.2%

Photo of chippo33
2.5/5  rDev -37.2%

Photo of ScrimshawFan
2.5/5  rDev -37.2%

Photo of BMos
2.5/5  rDev -37.2%

Photo of IWannaEatFood
2.5/5  rDev -37.2%

Photo of Jammies
2.53/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours a golden orange with about an inch of foam. Incredible retention and ok lacing

S- sweet and hoppy. Some slight citrus and floral notes

T-watery and light, not much flavor

M- not much body, thin and watery

O- so confused. It smelled terrific, looked great, and tasted like flavored water. Extremely disappointed

 323 characters

Photo of robgage
2.75/5  rDev -30.9%

Photo of ElfKicker
2.75/5  rDev -30.9%

Photo of LeeEvolved
2.75/5  rDev -30.9%

Photo of dseanv
2.78/5  rDev -30.2%

Photo of jrallen34
2.8/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap into 4oz tasting tulip...Poured a light, clear and watery copper with light head that doesn't last...The aroma and taste to me are super generic versions of an English ipa. Sugar and caramel come through mostly with watery metallic hops on the back. The feel is too watery. Surly mostly nails it, but to me this is a macro versions attempt at an esb.

 357 characters

Photo of Strix
2.84/5  rDev -28.6%
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.

 523 characters

Photo of edbeered
2.98/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I had high hopes for this beer. While I've never cared much for it on tap, I hoped that the cask version would be better(take for example the Summit IPA, which is terrific on cask, but the cold version leaves me, well, cold). This beer(disapointingly) is just a warmer version of the cold Bitter Brewer. Served on cask, this pours a hazy amber color, with a frothy white head and ample lacing on the glass. The smell is malty with a hint of lemon. The lemon smell is an overwhelming flavor in the beer. It's hard to taste much else, although there is a bready malty flavor as well. The mouthfeel is rich(typical of Surly brews). There is just too much lemon flavor in this beer for me to appreciate it. This is a rare misfire for an otherwise terrific brewery.

 760 characters

Photo of StoneTSR
2.98/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

APPEARANCE: Light gold in color with a nice half-finger of head foaming up on top. The lacing is pretty good, covering about 50% of the back of the glass. Good looking beer.

SMELL: Very hoppy on the nose for an English Bitter, smalls more like an APA or IPA; grass, pine, a hint of citrus.

TASTE: Wow, A LOT of bread on this one. Again, this is extraordinarily bitter by English Bitter standard. A big, grassy hop character defines the bitterness along with some citrus to tie it together. As the glass warms a lot more of the fruitiness of a typical Bitter comes through.

MOUTHFEEL: Bitter Brewer is very light bodied (too thin for my tastes) and very dry. The carbonation is very prickly.

OVERALL: This is a nice Session Pale Ale, but in terms of ratings it as a Bitter I have to give it lower marks. The carbonation is too much and the hop bitterness goes way beyond “assertive”, it is downright intense. Will I drink this one again, for sure, but it isn’t really an English Bitter.

 995 characters

Photo of steve8robin
2.99/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Extra in a trade...

A: Perfect. Golden copper with a thick white head that slowly fades.

S: Smells super hoppy. Super grassy with grapefruit.

T: Super hoppy and grassy. Not much else going on in this brew.

M: Not bad. Somewhat refreshing.

D: Not very smooth. Hops really overpower this brew.

All in all, not being a super hop guy, this brew did not do much for me. Too much of that grapefruit / grassy flavor. If you like it dry and hoppy, this is definitely a brew to try. If you like malts and sweets, then avoid this beer.

 532 characters

Photo of JuniperJesus
3/5  rDev -24.6%

Photo of Shawner
3/5  rDev -24.6%

Photo of TooGood
3/5  rDev -24.6%

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Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.98 out of 5 with 1,088 ratings