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: 1,087
Photo of oldsailor
4.34/5  rDev +8%
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!

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Photo of larryi86
4.19/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of pagriley
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Photo of cl3
4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.39/5  rDev +9.2%
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!

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
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 mmahanna41
3.9/5  rDev -3%
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!

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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 AirBob
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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

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Photo of CraigP83
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
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

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.89/5  rDev -3.2%
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).

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Photo of kkleu357
3.66/5  rDev -9%
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.

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

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.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%

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

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.79/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%

Poured into an English pint glass, a massive head is produced, frothy, wispy, and leaving lace everywhere as it recedes. The body is a hazy golden color with light carbonation. 4.1

Sweet and floral hops work the nose, but they seem a but subdued. I'll attribute this to the 2 month old can. There's a sweet, slightly caramel maltiness and a bit of orange aroma. 4

To the tongue, there's immediately fruity flavors like berry and pineapple, but they too are subdued. This leads into a more piney flavor, subtle vanilla and some sweet malt.

As far as the body, this thing is very thin and drinks light and easy, with a slight creaminess, until a wave of bitterness near the finish that lingers. 3.6

I like the fruitiness of this beer, especially fresh on tap, but the body is a bit too thin and the older can doesn't hold up quite as well. 3.65

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Photo of barczar
3.7/5  rDev -8%

Brilliant golden brew with grassy, dank, resiny aromas that are contrasted by grapefruit add tangerine, with a hint of biscuit malt. Flavor reveals sharp grapefruit, with a touch of tangerine sweetness,a light, crackery malt backbone, and a minerally, slightly bitter finish. Would've liked more citrus than minerally notes. There's a clash between tart lime and mineral characters that doesn't suit my palate.

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Photo of deedric
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At Great Taste pre party (so I won't get technical). Seems to be a nice representative of the style. Served too cold. Nice appearance, light copper. Aroma of pine. Mouthfeel is very reminiscent of the bitters do old. Lower carbonated as expected. Biscuity back flavor.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Copper orange, clear, with a large white head that bubbled off quickly and reduces to a thin film, with mild lacing.

S - Surprisingly strong hop note, mostly of pine. Malt is also present, a quality of bread.

T - This is a subtle brew, but offers both cracker flavors and bread in the malts and an element of grass from the hop. There is a hint of citrus and pine, but it buried deep in the mix. Most important is the bitter shift at mid-point, where we get a more standard bitter.

M - For as bitter as this is, the brisk carbonation and light body and ABV keep things bright and easy. A true session beer.

O - Where I've found most bitters lack something at their core, this bitter is robust and fully realized, ultimately quite satisfying. This is not my favorite style, but this represents an exciting entry that I'd actually reach for when looking for a brew by the lake where I need to keep my edge.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Canned on 05/12/14
L - hazed amber/orange color with a frothy ivory head
S - citric American hops - grapefruit and orange rind, heavy toasted grain, caramel
T - huge toasted malt, biscuit, orange and grapefruit rind, very much like toast and marmalade as the can reads
F - thinner body, refreshing, finishes more bitter than expected while being modestly dry
O - definitely an Americanized version of the style. I do like it, but it isn't going to be a seasonal purchase for me; however it was nice to come back to it after 5 years.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16 fl oz. can, with canned on date 05/12/2014 printed on the bottom of the can. So this is some pretty fresh beer right here. Expectations are high based on this beer's great ratings.

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

A - Pours a nice burnt sienna orange colored body, not unlike an IPA. Three big frothy fingers of chunky off-white foam with excellent staying power. Lots of very fine sediment lurking in the glass. Looks very nice.

S - The aroma is very pleasant also - nice and balanced crisp caramel / bready malts paired with some fresh juicy floral / citrus hops - pine, grapefruit, orange marmalade. Light yeast presence.

T - The taste is delicious; this thing is packing a ton of flavor for such a low 4.00% abv. Perfect balance of crisp dry bready malts, and citrus orange hops.

M - The feel is excellent - smooth, juicy, and creamy, with just the right amount of hop bitterness leftover on the palate. Super easy drinking and light-bodied with excellent carbonation.

Overall, a wonderful summer beer from Surly. Super clean, balanced, and refreshing, and above all it packs a ton of flavor for such a low abv. Probably the best 'English bitter' style beer I've had as of yet. Definitely an essential summer beer.

Surly Bitter Brewer ---4/5.

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Photo of N_Schleret
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a cloudy amber color with a half finger head that dissipates to a sudsy top.
S: Hops as soon as I open the can with a sweet malt backbone.
T: light malt, hops, and bitter.
M: Light body, medium/light carbonation, very crips.
O: Very easy to drink for the summer. Great to bring to the camper for the weekend and drink a handful.

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Photo of StoneTSR
2.98/5  rDev -25.9%
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.

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

16oz can provided by Allen “Mid” – thanks brother!
Notes from 05/04/14 using my FW Imperial Nonic glass

A: Unfilitered look with a body that moves from a golden straw yellow color into some darker orange hues. A healthy whip of ivory cream settles across the top with decent retention efforts and sticky cling action.

S: Lots of toasty malts up front like nutty biscuit and toasted bread aromas with a spread of orange marmalade. Dash of caramel sweetness and some peach fruit melds into a cluster of Floral hops. Smells nice and inviting to me.

T: English malt is standout with its toasty bread and biscuit like quality encompassing candied orange peels. Super floral like Honeysuckle with a slight herbal twist to it and a dose of ripened stone fruit underneath. The beer is plenty hoppy but not sharp at all with a low amount of actual percieved bitterness. Very smooth with the alcohol completely masked throughout. I must admit this is highly quaffable stuff.

M: Moderate body on account of the more filling English malts. Low to even carb keeps it lighter with a nice creaminess and a touch of drying snap towards the finish. Comes off a little watered down at times. Slightly oily but mostly clean on the whole.

D: This is a nice little bitter and would go great if served as a Real Ale. All things considered it is well balanced and offers up some good flavor points. It is far from any type of a game changer but I don’t think of an ESB in that regards any matter. Just a really well crafted brew with no frills. Glad to have tried but not something I would probably go seeking out.

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Photo of alphagnome
3.94/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich, golden oak color - very cloudy. Crowned with a respectable, finger-thick head, off-white in color - that hangs around for awhile and leaves a bit of lacing behind. Carbonation is insane... very, very active. Making the carbonation more noticable, fine sediment caught in suspension, being pushed around by the bubbly.

A bit of a let down, as aroma is one area where Surly shines. That's not to say it doesn't smell delightful, it does, it just seems a bit muted. Nice (but light) tropical fruit notes mix well with equally light floral hops. Zesty tangerine and orange peel.

Nice and sweet right front, with plenty of citrus notes. The sweetness doesn't last long though, as a pleasant bitterness sweeps in balance things out. Nice boquet of floral and citrusy hops. Nothing is overpowering, but very tasty.

Light to medium body. Highly carbonated. Easy to drink and very refreshing. Semi-dry finish.

Another impressive brew from Surly. Easy to drink, nice balance, and flavorful. Well worth picking up.

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Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
4.02 out of 5 based on 1,087 ratings.
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