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.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,088 |  Reviews: 446
Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Bobby for bringing with you on your visit. Pours mostly big creamy soap bubble white head, onto light yellow body.Some citrus and fresh grainy malt in aroma, remembering that this is one season later. Lots of lace layers and dots down my glass. A flavorful bitter, and the can lists but 4%. Satisfying this warm summer day, creamy mouthfeel, and drying finish.

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Photo of jaydoc
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%

Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at the 2013 Firestone Walker Invitational held at the Paso Robles Event Center in Paso Robles, CA.

Pours a murky dark orange with a foamy bone head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus and tea-like flavors on the 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 mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

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Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of spycow
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%

Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%

Photo of Knapp85
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out as a hazy amber color with a cream colored head. The aroma is a good balance of malt and hops. The Taste is about the same, solid caramel malt presence with a good bitterness in the finish. Overall pretty good brew!

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Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.75/5  rDev +19.3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.25/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of BEERchitect
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With full flavor, light body, and ultimate ease of drinking- Bitter Brewer is an ideal session beer.

Fruity malty aromas give the impressions of bruised oranges, and lemon-honey tea.

The copper-golden color actually looks orange when it hits the light just right. With bright clarity and froathy carbonation, the beer lathers an eggshell white head that reduces to a thin but consistent sheet, leaving nice random patterns of lace behind. Very clear, otherwise a classic pale ale appearance.

Flavors take the malty notes from caramel-bready to toasty, toffee, and mild grain. Fruity esters give the flavor of apples and oranges. But the hops give even more character with orange zest, lemon grass, and mint. The lable suggests marmelade flavor, and justifiably so.

Light in body, the initial sips seem creamier/froathier. But then the beer makes a quick transition to a light minty finish with clean bitterness and fleeting hop (citrus) taste. Very easy to drink.

Thanks Shango42!

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Photo of oline73
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%

Photo of zeff80
4.49/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | 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 brentk56
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy gold/copper color with a sturdy little head that swathes the pint glass with some shards and dots of lace

Smell: Tea-like aroma with toast and citrus elements

Taste: Opens with a fruity/toasty flavor that blends the malt and hops in an English/American blend; after the swallow, the tea-like elements combine with the fruit to provide a full-flavored finish

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Though better on tap, this is a very nice session beer out of the can as well.

Thanks, tempest, for the opportunity

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Photo of LXIXME
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium white head slowly settles into a pretty decent lacing above a particle filled honey colored beer.

Light sweet malts behind a citrusy pepper like spices aroma.

Bitter dry hops taste with very light spices combined with a light backdrop of earthy grain malts taste. A light drying taste to this beer, very welcoming and makes you want to take another gulp.

Not a big bold or overbearing taste but rather a lighter subdued taste that is quite good.

This is an excellent beer to expand the horizons of American light lager drinkers, I know from past experience that when Bud drinkers try something from Stone or Rogue its basically like culture shock to them, but this beer in its light but yet solid taste of dry hops, etc. one might just find another convert to the world of great ales and lagers.

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Photo of Kurmaraja
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of mothman
4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Sam Adams Sensory Glass

1 finger fizzy off white head. Decent retention with minimal lace. The color took me a few tries to distinguish. It is a dark orange/brown pumpkin.

Aroma: very bitter hops. caramel. Very bready. A very sweet, inviting beer. Wow, it makes me want to drink this badly.

Taste: The beer is very pleasing and quite satisfying. I am normally not the biggest fan of the style but the boys of Surly got another one done right! Mild hops, mostly floral. Not to bitter like an ipa. Bready. Some citrus. Very good.

Mouthfeel: A little bitter but nothing compared to an IPA. Almost a touch sweeter. Medium bodied. Good carbonation. Ends with an IPA aftertaste... sticky and full of floral hops.

Overall, I am really digging this beer. It seems to be just right for me at this point in time. Easy drinking. Tasty. Not to filling. I will be drinking more of this.

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Photo of largadeer
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Dark orange-amber with good clarity. The head and carbonation on this stuff is incredible; the torrent of bubbles streaming from the bottom of the glass is downright impressive. When the head does eventually start to settle it leaves behind huge sheets of lace. Damn impressive overall.

Smell: Biscuits, citrus, bread and butter, definitely has that signature English ale yeast aroma. Very floral. Subtle fruitiness as it warms. Nice complexity for such a light brew.

Taste & mouthfeel: Mild fruity sweetness (papaya and peach) and grapefruit-like hops. A light biscuity malt backbone keeps this one well rounded. Highly effervescent with a body on the fuller side of light. Drying in the finish with a nice hop bite that doesn't linger on the palate too long.

Drinkability: A perfect session beer if I've ever tasted one.

Notes: This is one hell of a good bitter and yet another stellar brew from Surly. These guys are on a roll it seems.

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Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%

Photo of chinchill
3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

From 16 oz can to small snifter (once in Oct. 2013 and again [but full can] in Oct. 2015).

Hazy, murky golden-apricot body. Looks and tastes a bit like grapefruit juice.
Excellent aroma; lots of citrus/fruity aroma and flavor; dry.

Weak spot: somewhat thin mouthfeel, but the carbonation level is good.

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Photo of jlindros
4.28/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this nice lookin tall boy in a big Surly-fest trade with grub. Poured it into my semi pint with bubble on the top NERAX glass.

A: It starts with a nice pop as it smacks open and squirts a little beer at me teasing me for whats to come. It pours with a ridiculous head that takes up about 1/3 of the glass. The thick but fluffy head slowly pops its way back. It's a brilliantly clear pale amber orange color with a slight tan color.

N: Nose reminds me a lot of brewing. It has a mash like aroma of malts, some hops and a slight yeast. The hops are pretty nice smelling but not as strong as the Furious obviously. The hops definitely remind me of throwing them into the boil. The American hops aren't super hoppy, but have a nice floral and citrus, possibly Cascade or Amarillo. I get some grapefruit as well.

T: Taste is very raw and fresh ingredients. It's got some raw sweetness still but has a very strong raw malt taste. I think the low alcohol and low gravity make it have that raw wort taste. Very much reminds me of tasting the wort before it ferments, but much less sweet, although it does have some sweetness to it. Some more grapefruit, citrus, and floral tasting hops, and some grassy hops, come through but are still pretty light. I also get some raw hop taste, like chewing on the hops but much less bitter. A nice malty taste really shines through and contrasts the nice hop taste and bitterness. It's a pretty well rounded and complex taste.

M: Semi light, decent carbonation.

F: Finishes semi bitter and pretty dry compared to the starting sweetness. It clears off the palate well. It almost has a feel that you didn't even drink it, but there's a very slight lingering bitterness, and some slight grapefruit taste that hang around for a bit to remind you the delicious beverage in your glass. Pretty light and surprisingly refreshing of a bitter beer.

Final thoughts: This is a very easy drinking and delicious beer. It's got a great malt quality and hop taste as well as some bitterness that all blend together well. It reminds me very much of a British style IPA but American hops instead, which makes sense since it is American hops with British malts. Has a lot of fresh brewing tastes, the aromas, the malt taste, the hop taste, all of it reminds me of brewing. All of that, plus it comes in a tall boy can. Wow, I so wish I could get more Surly!

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