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

Simply awesome! I had this beer out of a can after a long day at work. This is a great example of a session beer that you can enjoy any day of the week (hence the 4% alcohol). Love it.

It pours a typical light amber into a glass. Light lacing. Smells of beautiful flowers and light citrus. Taste is sweet with a bitter aftertaste. It's freaking awesome. Mouthfeel and drinkability are above average for the style.

Overall, search this one out for a nice session ale.

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Photo of TIMMYJ21
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First run of the Bitter this year canned 05/19/11, in fact drinking one as I type.

A-pale orange in color puffy head, leaves a nice lace down the side of the glass

S-very nice aroma, to be expected in all surly brews, nice pine aroma with some citrus and floral notes

T-Mmm orange, not to hoppy, but still taste the nice bitterness, slight sweetness, with a little toasty bread like taste

Very drinkable beer, can consume a few of theses no problem with the low Abv 4%

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Photo of younger35
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I got a four pack of this in a trade at Dark Lord Day but I drank them all so fast (the next day) that I never got a chance to review. So I was happy to see this on tap at the Bavarian Lodge for the release of Surly Three. Drank from a 16oz pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a lightly dark orange with excellent clarity and an even better fluffy white head. A super nice cap and collar remain the entire beer along with rings and rings of lacing.
Smell- Loads and loads of straight up oranges. Amazing how much this smells like the skin of an orange. Slightly doughy malt that is obviously English and sort of earthy and dirty. The smell doesn't say sweet or bitter. It just says this is gonna be tasty. Seriously, I knew this was going to be heaven after smelling it.
Taste- Starts slightly dirty (or yeasty) with a lightly sweet caramel/toffee sweetness that I can't seem to pinpoint. The beer is indeed bitter but nothing crazy. More of that orange that dominated the nose but slightly more bitter than I honestly expected. Finishes with a bit more orange and some toasted goodness.
Mouthfeel- A light body that bugged me at first but it seems to work better as I drink. The carbonation is very light.
Drinkability- Damn good. Nice to actually find a beer with big flavor that has such a low ABV. It has a way more orange/tangerine flavor than a traditional English Bitter but that's what makes it so great. Very good brew that I enjoyed tremendously.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.54/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bitter Brewer pours a darker copper color, with a small dissipating head. There is this amazing bitter aroma, with hints of hops; very crisp. The flavor has this this very dry crisp taste, with a nice mix of a pale malts, and just a tad of hops. Nice full flavors and body, and finishes with this amazing dryness. Overall I love it, very drinkable flavorful and enjoyable.

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Photo of Atron67
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- poured what is actually pretty dark almost burnt amber color. offwhite lightly biscuit character to it. pretty solid retention and lacing as well with the head which i wasn't expecting.

S- light bicuit and bready character. subdued hops but well balanced. rather sparse in my mind for a bitter however its probably the low carbonation and it not being a cask that make this way.

T- solid malty light biscuit pretty crystal type sweetness to it that is really nice. followed up by a much better (than nose) hop character. i would guess the hops to be willamete, but anything from the goldings family. the hops is just right for the bitter quality. the residual sweetness stays with the hops, without actually being sweet if that makes sense, and your left with a lingering mix of the hop character with a touch of the malts blended.

M- smooth pretty light body, light carbonation though still relatively crisp.

D- definitely an awesome beer, on cask this would probably get all 5's

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Photo of ryantupy
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this one up at The Happy Gnome.

A- Well it poured a nice slightly hazy golden orange hue. Hard to describe actually. In fact see Feloniusmonks review below for a better description. I just had a hard time putting my finger on it.

S - As expected hops are the first and most present aroma you will get with this beer. Sweet grassy hops backed with hints of fresh citrus and fruit. You can also detect a nice subtle hint of sweet malt.

T - A nice bitter hoppy puch in the mouth. It tastes great though! The hop flavors come through nicely. Citrus, sweet lemon grass, and a tangy hop kick at first. Malt sweetness is there but barely.

Overall - This was a very very enjoyable beer from Surly. It was distinct and stood apart from their other beers. I look forward to trying this beer once again next summer.

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Photo of AdamGarcia
4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

16oz can served in shaker pint.

A: Brilliant clear copper. Looks identical to iced tea in some lights...almost red in others. Ivory head doesn't last long, but leaves some nice clingy lace.

S: Bracing, fresh spruce. Like a handful of pine sprigs covered in honey and spinkled with some spearmint. Citrus is expressed mostly as oranges, but a candied version. Very green and fresh. Marijuana-like aromatics, with just a hint of carmel in the background. 15 minutes after pouring I haven't even gotten around to taking a sip...this one smell great.

T: B-A-L-A-N-C-E. Beautiful flavors abound, but they are all harmoniously balanced. Don't think a 4% abv beer can have huge flavor? Try a Bitter Brewer. Subtle, yet satisfying. Biscuity malt and carmel up front. Hints of butterscotch. Malt sweetness gives way to sweet hoppy citrus. A bit of pine. Some tea-like dryness is present. Finishes pretty clean.

M: Slightly thin, but accurate for the style. Carbonation is well done.

D: Perfect. Flavors are inviting. Interesting but never overwhelming. Malt fix...check. Hops...check. Even the most seasoned beer connoissuer wouldn't grow tired of this one. Oh, and it's 4% abv.

Quite simply, If I this beer was available in my area it would be my go to. I would literally always have a case in my fridge.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

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Photo of crossovert
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

16 oz can.

Pours a med-dark amber/gold with a soapy white head that dissipates quickly.

The smell is fruity and lightly hopped with a malty backbone.

The taste has a bit more citrus than normal, a bit yeasty note, some ok malts, not my favorite though. Not any bitterness at all.

Its a good session beer, a flavorful one at that. Probably the best session beer if you stick by the "4%" hard rule.

I had 3 more of these, and I totally appreciate this brew so much more, just fantastic.

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Photo of throwitallaway
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Zealot for this beer! Decanted from the can into a pint glass. Pours a golden color, with a two finger head that dissipates to a thin layer of foam. Aroma of citrus, a little malt, and fruit in general. Very pleasant smelling. Taste starts with a little fruit, then switches to a breadiness, and finally resiny hops. A little on the thin side and quite carbonated. Zealot mentioned this was an easy drinker, and he wasn't fucking around. This is one of the more drinkable beers I've had period. Damn. It's extremely hot in San Diego today and this is a perfect beer for the weather.

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Photo of smittyjr
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is another one of my favorites, especially for the summertime!

Poured into a tall tulip glass out of a 16oz can:

A- an aggressive pour results in a orange color, with a perfectly white head, that is around 1". Awesome retention on the head and great lacing all the way through!

S- Greatness! Grapefruit/Tropical fruits with a hint of malty sweetness you find once you open your mouth! very enticing smell! i think of skittles when i smell this beer!

T- very close to the smell. Citrus hops seem to be the most prevalent, but tropical in a sense more than citrus. It starts out all fruit, tropical with a hint of floral-ness. it finishes in my mind with the malts, toasted-british, and that is the only thing i would change, but it still doesn't turn me off. i don't taste the marmalade much at all but maybe that is the tropical-ness i taste?

M- Great, light, crisp and refreshing! perfect for summer!

D- Very drinkable, could drink it all day! its crisp and refreshing and of course, full of flavors i enjoy!

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Photo of Aguirre
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had a couple of cans of this in Minneapolis this weekend while I was up there for a wedding and brought some home. This beer is awesome.

Pours a clear copper with a tight white head.

Smell is light, and biscuity. The hops are soft and floral.

Taste is exactly what I want out a beer like this. The can describes it as "toast and marmalade" which is a better job than I can do. It's got a strong malt body without being too heavy and the hops are well balanced and come in through the finish, earthy and delicious.

If it were readily available, I'd keep a few cans of this stuff around all the time for football or baseball games, or just relaxing after work. I love the low ABV, you can drink it all day.

Bitter Brewer is a fantastic beer I highly endorse. I think my macro loving friends would like this beer and it's a also great example of a style too few breweries attempt...maybe because it's hard to make one with the character and uniqueness Surly has done.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

16oz can received from MeLikeBeer. Thanks!

A: Golden copper with a massive head and tons of carbonation. Pretty lacework!

S: Light with a wonderful citrus (orange) dry hop aroma. Mild fruitiness with some papaya.

T: Light hop bitterness up front followed by caramel, biscuit and mild nutty notes. The finish is dry, light on the bitterness and great

M: Crisp on the tongue with good carbonation. Light in body and great. I haven't had too many bitters but I imagine this will be a treat on cask.

D: Very drinkable - I know when I'm drinking my next three - hot summer day, come here and fast!

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Photo of slyke
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Another tasty offering from Surly, Bitter Brewer pours a beautiful orange color with an ample, slightly off-white, pillowy head.

The smell has a citrus note and toasted character.

The taste is where the toasted character really comes out in this beer. Maltiness is present as well along with the citrus note again.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and coating. A nice carbonation - not overpowering.

Drinkability is exceptional with this beer. I don't know how my glass empties so fast. This is not a chugging beer, but one that you find yourself constantly going for another mouthfull to let it wander the tongue. Try some, but not too much, I want to stock up!

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Photo of DrDogbeer
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big ups to Travloh for hooking me up with this growler!!!
Poured from growler into my new Surly pint glass and shared with a couple friends. Pours a nice amber color with thin white head. Smell is of wonderful piney, grassy, and spruce hops. Really clean smell. Tastes different than I would expect from the smell- clean & dry, yet extremely smooth. I get a nice sweet caramel type malt flavor that has a nice touch of slightly tangy hops to finish it off. No lingering aftertaste. Extremely drinkable! Love this beer- would be one of my perfect session beers.

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Photo of Mauerhan
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

always an enjoyable experience to crack open another can from surly.

poured into a standard pint glass. a hazy golden orange colored brew flows out of the can evoking a substantial white head that falls leaving a few areas of splotchy lacing. a slim layer of lace stays on top the beer. looking nice.

smell is nice. a nice citrus hop quality right up front. grapefruit is the biggest thing im getting off of this. with a nice malt balance in there as well.

taste is pretty damn good. I am not well acquainted with english style bitters but if they are like this I feel I will be making a point to try more of them. subtle earthy almost a medicinal hop quality on the palate. slight sweetness with a faint bitterness that finishes off the ride. this beer tastes great.

mouth is smooth and easy going. calling this thing an easy drink would be the understatement of the month. a fantastic session ale. wow. well done surly. not just if you would start selling your beer in so cal...

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Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to a buddy of mine for bringing this back from MN this summer. My first sample of this was at the Whitefish Bay fireworks on the 4th of July and it was delicious (even out of the can). This pours, just as the can states, a pale orange color with a nice rocky, airy head of foam that dissipates to subtle lacing and white film. The aroma is filled full of peppery, earthy hops. Heavy resinous notes get me salivating for a taste. A soft biscuit-like smell balances the hops quite well. The taste is full of hop bitterness and malty sweetness. Nothing overpowering at all and the body, although full of flavor, is soft and light. This makes this beer remarkably easy to drink and makes me want more and more with each taste. This may be my favorite from Surly that I have had the pleasure to try. One of the top session beers in my opinion.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Semi hazed, strong, dark, golden hay color with an overall peachy tone. Nice frothy, crunchy, yellowed foam gathers quickly to about a half inch thick and remains there for quite a while. Lots of thinnly placed lacing in drizzled, spotty patterns.

Aroma is quite pungent and hopped to the gils with a moderate array of citrusy zest and guts with a grassyness whirling about. Herbal notes of all kinds of strange floral stuff make it all the better.

Taste is hazed in a hop fog of broad crusty grasses and lofty puffs of citrus bringing orange, grapefruit, and lime pith mixed with peach fuzz and dried pineapple husk. The grassy herbal undertow grows and grows and it warms creating a more toasted edgyness to it. finishes with all sorts of fun hop grasses and fuzzt fruityness.

Feel is about medium with an all over buzz and cleansing of complex hop tones that grab at the forefront and don't let go. Toasty edges hold firm for good length into the finish as it gets all complex and fulfilling.

All in all, drinkable, and then some. Only 4.5%!! A keeper of a fun, yet bittered brewer brew.

Note: Have had many of these on-tap and find its much more fruity and creamier with an unholy yummy drinkability thats killer good. I may need to review that at some point if I can ever remember to.

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Photo of maximum12
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Perhaps this is Surly's answer to those who claim they only brew 'extreme' beers. Extremely tasty, perhaps!

This is my third gullet full of Bitter, the first out of a can. It's yellowish orange, thin head, smells like piney hops, but faint.

Taste is very, very good. This is a session beer that I'd love to keep in the fridge (right next to the ever-present Furious) year-round. I've never understood the taste of 'pine' in a beer until this, but it's like licking sap off your fingers, with just a hint of hoppy happyness at the end.

Supremely drinkable, I could down these all night. Time to send an email to Surly - please put these in six-pack cans so I dont' have to buy so many. Two-six packs would look a lot better than walking around with three four-packs for some reason. Wouldn't it?

This is a really good beer. I've already traded six of the eight I picked up, so I'll be out to grab at least another four-pack (or two, or three) soon.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Can into stein. Big thanks to MBABJJ for including a couple of these in our last trade - been looking forward to trying them for awhile!

Pours a hazy copper with a dense bone-white one and a half finger head. As the head slowly settles down into a thin but even denser meringue-like cap, it leaves big chunks of lace on the walls of the glass. Solid walls left as the mug drains.

Nose is toasty and biscuity, with plenty of grapefruit-rind hops in there as well. More of a floral note emerges as the beer warms up past 45 degrees or so. Bit of a bite from the hops, but not dominating by a long shot - very well balanced between the two.

Taste starts off with an initial piny bite, bit of grapefruit, pretty floral from teh warrior I think, seguing into some nice, dry, biscuity malt that's just a bit toasty. Super refreshing, and the very definition of balanced - dry and hoppy without being too bitter, with a nice malt backbone without ever being sweet. Just a bit fruity. Light lingering bitterness on the tongue that's very refreshing without ever getting annoying or overwhelming.

Mouthfeel is medium-light bodied, carbonation is just a hair sharp. A bit watery towards finish. Dry from beginning to end. Fantastic warm weather beer.

Drinkability is very good. It's just a hair sharp on the hops to get a full 5, but it's damn close. One of my favorites from Surly so far.

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Photo of ballz50401
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 16oz. can into a Sam Adams perfect pint on a 90 degree hot and humid day. Pours a light copper with medium carbonation and has an off white soapy head. A nice nose of lightly hopped citrus aromas with some light malt and fruit. Taste starts out with lots of toast and light caramal then finishes with some lighter fresh fruits and a kiss of hops. This has a nice soft texture with a little creaminess to it but also has a nice crisp finish. This is the definition of a session beer.

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Photo of JoeCeez
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours, from a can, a tawny chillhazed orange with a finger sized white head and a ton of lacing

S: smells very mildly of citrus and exotic fruits and some sweet toasty malt, smells like a bitter but with more fruit

T: very mellow, (this can is 6 months old) delicious balance of citrus/grassy hops and sweet malt, no flavor takes the fore front instead forming an ambrosia of beery goodness

M: very creamy with a kiss of carbonation, I'd love to try this on cask

D: Goddamn this beer is drinkable, if it wasn't so difficult to get this would be my go to session beer. There's just not enough Bitters out there and the majority of them are past their prime, Surly comes through again proving that, for some beer, cans are the perfect medium

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Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So, Surly has made an English bitter. This is one of my preferred styles, but it can be hard to find a good one--subtle but tasty, well balanced and drinkable.

The beer exits the can a nice copper color with modest foam, pretty typical here. The aroma exudes something reminiscent of marmalade mixed with just a touch of hops. Balance is heralded here.

Medium bodied throughout. The beer starts deftly: a little sweet, a little biscuity. The citrus tang of oranges ably shepherds in a touch of bitterness at the finish.

Bitter Brewer is not brash--simply drinkable, well constructed, highly enjoyable and true to the style.

I have yet to taste an unpleasant beer from Surly.

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Photo of sliverX
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to Meagan on the trade.
Poured an orange/light copper brew, a one finger cap of white foam for a head retained well from the start. Some nice lacing hanging around as well.
Smell is sweet bready, perfume, floral characters. If there was beer soap this would be what it smelled like and it's beautiful.
Taste is floral hops with a slight pine backing that intensifies as time passes on the tongue, there's a bread crust like character hanging around in the middle.
Mouthfeel is a touch fuller than water, don't feel much carbonation on the tongue, the hops dry the palette a bit making you just keep going back to the glass.
Drinkability this is full of hop flavor and 4% crisp refreshing now this is what beer should be for the masses, looks like I should be in England...

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Photo of Heatwave33
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16oz can to a Cigar City Snifter.

Color: Hazy orange with an off white head.

Smell: Hops, malts and citrus (orange).

Taste: Hops, citrus (orange) and malts.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation, very smooth with a slight dry finish.

Overall: Very clean and crisp. The citrus came thru in the taste more than the smell. Which I loved. The mouthfeel is fantastic with this brew. Cheers!

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