Bitter Brewer | Surly Brewing Company

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

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Ratings: 1,088 |  Reviews: 446
Photo of MMAJYK
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice light honey color; golden brown and somewhat clear. Head is 1/2" and fizzling down to nothing in a hurry. Lacing is just a little spotty down the glass and a light film on the surface of the liquid.

S- Caramel malts and honey-like scents mixed in. A little bit buttery, but not bad. Hops are very earthy and seem fresh.

T- Mild and light with a wonderful bittering hop hitting midstream and finishing dry. The hops are quite earthy and "dirt-y" but just making them jump out at you more. Maybe harsh is a better word, but in a good way.

M- Light and thin. Carbonation is medium to high.

D- Very drinkable. I really like this brew for the fact that it adds some balls to a lighter beer style. Leave it to those boys in MN to nail it. Great job!

Thanks a bunch to pitmonkey for trading this to me!!

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

A: Into an imperial pint glass, it was semi-opaque with golden edges surrounding orangey amber. A foamy off-white head collapses quickly, but still leaves lace down the side of the glass.

S: At first whiff, shortbread and cream, and then some spicy berry underneath.

T: I initially get a sweet bread-like flavor, a buttery middle, and mineral water finish

M: The mouth feel is just slightly heavy, and the carbonation cuts out quickly, again like a nice imported sparkling mineral water.

D: Rich but refreshing, this would be one of my go-to summer beers if it were locally available.

Notes: Thanks to mnjeff for the trade!

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

a: standard pint, a light copper-amber in color, low head

s: the nose is very much tealike, some light toasty malts metallic hops and some grassy citrus, pretty simple stuff

m: light bodied with a moderate level of carbonation

t: very light toasted malt body with a very prominent tea flavor, metallic hop bitterness really stands out against the low malt back, some citrus

d: a straight session beer, not the most interesting thing out there but it does fit the style

sampled at Stub & Herbs, Minneapolis

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Photo of AmberMan22
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had heard this beer been called 'Diet Furious' but when I got to try it, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It pours a surprisingly hazy apricot in the thicker part of the pint glass, reaching a lemony color toward the periphery.

The smell is predominately (but far from overwhelmingly) hoppy. Just light, crisp, and hoppy.

This doesn't taste like diet furious. It tastes like sessionable furious. Surly has done it again with an easy drinking, yet tasty and hoppy beer. Perfect for these hot summer days, with a relaxing low ABV.

I didn't give the mouthfeel much thought while I was drinking it, but it was far from thin. For a 4% ABV beer, this has a very appropriate, middling heft to it.

As I said, a fantastic summer drinker -- though likely not worth multiple repeat purchases considering the price. I'll stick to Furious or Bender for this kind of money.

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

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

Served in a 16oz pint glass at Hopleaf 7/17/08.

A: Served a clear golden color capped with a creamy 1 1/2 finger head that's bright white. Slightly lacy.

S: Aromas of toasted grain, caramel malt, and a bit of citrus hops.

T: See above. Toasted grain and caramel, initially, then a wash of bitter hops.

M: Starts off with some dry toasted grain and sweet caramel and then finishes with a big bitter blast of hops.

D: Completely sessionable. Very clean and refreshing with a low abv...let's drink!

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

pours an amber copper color with a beige head and ring some nice lacing on side of glass..smell is crisp malts first then some hops with citrus and some toffee ..the taste is malts and some mild bitterness as it warms... some hop and citrus mixed in as well with some bread and toffee..the mouthfeel is thin but with flavor..what impressed me most about this brew was the flavor it packed @ 4.5% ABV,,wow it was damn good ..crisp and refreshing..i want another one...recommended of course

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

Pours an orange amber color with a sudsy white head on top that sits down to patchy froth.

Nicely juiced aroma comes out over light malt background. Big peach and marmalade with a strong floral sweetness. A little deeper toffee and vanilla cake-like smell comes through too.

More juiciness in the flavor. Lightly bitter with good citrus notes. More cake-like malt character without being too sweet. Caramel, nutty, marmalade and peach, then a little buttery at the finish with more fading bitterness.

Nice lighter medium body with a fading full carbonation through the swallow. Leaves a little slickness, but not much.

Really easy to drink. Good flavor, not crazy great, but solidly good. I could seemingly put back a few of these without trouble.

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

16oz can poured into Imperial pint.

Thanks to beerwolf77 for graciously hooking me up with a can of this.

A- Pours a dark golden apricot that has just the slightest haze to it. A decent finger and a half worth of head that leaves a nice cap on the beer and some soapy lacing.

S- Some faint hops, good malt and maybe even a little wheat. Nice and bready, almost smells like cherios.

T- Nice and bready. Good amounts of malt and some caramel. Just a little bit of hops on the tail end round it out. This beer makes me get why they call beer liquid bread.

M- Medium bodied that is crisp and refreshing. A good amount of carbonation but feels very smooth on the way down.

D- Every sip makes me want to take another. Very nice flavor and good mouthfeel makes this another winner from Surly. Not bitter from the end result.

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

** Updated 6/7/08

A- Pours a 2 finger head, not to thick, and recedes into some lacing. Nice amber color that is just slightly cloudy.

S- Nice hop aroma giving some piny grapefruit notes and some light maltiness. I also pickup what smells like furniture stain.

T- A bit thin right off the boat, and almost watery feeling, but recedes into some dry hoppy finish with some residual piney maltiness.

M- Low carbonation as per style, with a nice light dry hop finish.

D- Overall, this is a good transition beer for those into the craft brew world, and even those who aren't. A great beer for a warm afternoon.

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

Thanks to brdc for this can, an extra he threw in on a recent trade.

Pours a lightly cloudy golden color with a nice two finger off-white head. Decent lacing.

The aroma is filled with herbal tea, along with some well-done toast and some citrus.

The flavor follows those same lines and adds a touch of graininess. The herbal and floral flavors are very enjoyable and not usually joined by any bitterness, which this brew has.

The mouthfeel is just a tad thin, but still very solid. Good carbonation keeps it exciting. Low abv + lots of flavor = excellent session beer. Thanks, Daniel, for the opportunity!

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

Can dated 6/6/11, courtesy of my brother Klym in a recently family trade. Always happy to give another Surly can a tick! There's something cool about just having these among your other beers.

16 oz can into generic snifter

A: Nice looking sappy brown red and yellow body with soap sud foams that form a ring around the glass. Islands of patchy lacing form, and then melt away like icebergs adrift. A slight murkiness that may be from having this a bit colder out of the can than it should be, I'll give it a few minutes before moving on.

S: Animal feed, cigar wrappers, firewood, and bunches of pine needles. Unusual in the nose, and I quite like it. It would seem suggestive of a malt presence, but the hops are still there in a mellow way. I find this nose really familiar yet hard to pinpoint, I spent about 5 minutes on this category before I came up with the initial descriptors. It's oh so familiar yet oh so elusive. Freshly cleaned horse trough as a final statement.

T: Old tree bark with an initial taste that reminds me of those candied black jelly beans. The flavor quickly picks up interrupting the old black licorice jelly beans to transition to a much fainter hop and mothballs bitterness. This is quite a pleasant surprise. I wish I was more familiar with the style, as the balance of flavors seems to be very solid. A tad bit of wateriness sneaks through, but not in a way that compromises the flavor. It just adds to an ease of drinking. Dried old leaves crunch in the finish, and catch fire for taste of a wildfire in fall.

M: Light but creamy in the mouth, good feels from a thickness of ingredients. The bitterness hits first in a faint smokey-airy sort of feel, then transitions into a much more solid chewiness. Slow release of small bubbles helps maintain a strong chewy sensation throughout. The ease of drinking certainly comes from its low alcohol feels and flavor compatible carbonation. Bitter, but sessionable.

O: I really liked this, I think the flavors really popped off the body in a very unique and clean way. It was like taking a hoppy trip to a farm, setting fire to it, and then making a clean low ABV getaway. I enjoyed thick bitter flavors and chewy mouthfeels, but I don't feel trashed. I need to drink more bitters, as this one left me with a craving for more bitter sessionables.

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

16oz can into SN tulip pint glass. Big thanks to thecaptain073 for the chance to try this one.

A: Pours a clear orange-amber with a billowing off-white head made of large bubbles. Head receded into a thick oily film that left a network of spotty, sticky lace.
S: Light notes of toasted malt, dry grains, and light citrus hops. Hints of citrusy orange as well.
T: Follows the nose with notes of dry malt and a juicy citrus sweetness. Hints of tangerine, orange, pine and bready yeast. Finish is sweet, citrusy and faintly bitter.
M: Crisp and clean feel with a medium body and a refreshing and dry finish. Low bitterness. Carbonation is very soft.
D: A very light and delicious beer. Beers like these are my "light" beer equivalents to BMCs. A very delicious and sessionable beer.

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

From notes...

A - Pours a nice golden colour, finger of head with solid retention and some sporadic lacing.

S - Sweet citrus, musty leafy green notes, wheat grass, wet cardboard, dark malted milk and caramel.

T - Leafy green hops, quite grassy, bitter is an understatement with loads of sour lemon citrus, hints of lime, nice caramel lingers alongside the leafy greens for a nice balance.

M - Full bodied with plenty of carbonation, goes down smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

O - This stuff is incredibly tasty and leans more on the hopped up english bitter than a traditional bitter. Loads of flavour, insanely drinkable, and an all around scrumptious ale.

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

On-tap at the Blue Nile in Minneapolis.

Poured into a Surly pint, it is a very light golden, as light as the Cynic, with a creamy white head.
Citric aroma, with multiple layers of orange, limes, very fresh and lightly hopped.
Very light on the palate, refreshing and quaffable, quite hoppy and bitter to start, but then tart, minimally malted, and then acidic with citric fruits all over again.
I tried only one, but imagine this would be a great session beer.

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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 Hohnbaum
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of sholland119
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a very clear light copper. A thin white head but very nice lacing.

S-Toasted, bready grains with a bit of citric sourness.

T-Simple but delicious. A grainy malt in the front, mixing with a grapefruit bite in the finish.

M-Lingering bitterness but otherwise dry and crisp.

D-Very nice sessionable beer. Nice bitter bite balances some graininess for a tasty, low ABV brew.


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

I got this brew in a trade with tytoanderso, Thanks Tyler!

16oz can served in a standard pint glass.

L - slightly cloudy, burnt orange color with a light tan head that left a little lacing.

S - tea leaf and floral hop aromas.

T - bitter orange-tea flavor with some sweetness near the tail end.

F - light/medium bodied with a smooth feel.

D - easy drinking and pretty tasty.

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Photo of Josholson666
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

16 oz can, canned 6/6/11. Thanks Doug!

Pours a clearish, hazed dark copper colo with a quickly fading light tan head. Some sparse rings of lacing. Aroma is earthy and floral hops, tea, and biscuit malt. Flavor is balanced, smooth and finishes with an earthy bitter bite. Body is biscuit, bread, tea and earthy hops. Medium body with moderate carbonation. An odd beer, regardless of style classification, but very enjoyable for the ABV. Full of balanced flavor and mild citrus hops in the finish; nothing remarkable, but highly recommended if you've never had it.

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Photo of jamie2dope
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to Todd for sending me home with a can of this stuff. Poured this beer in to an English pint glass. Color was a hazy dark orange, with a large, frothy white head. Floral hops kick off the nose, followed by some biscuit, bread crust, and some dry grain. Taste is very similar to the smell, all of the above mentioned smells were also present in flavor, with the floral hops asserting themselves more. Definitely seems to be a medium sized beer in body. Drinkability is really something. The low alcohol content along with the high level of complexity make it an excellent session brew. Surly has not disappointed with any of their beers so far. I especially love the style; It is one that I rarely get a chance to try, so I am very happy that I had the opportunity. Now my only problem is that this glass is becoming empty far too quickly. Get Surly.

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Photo of mwagner1018
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- (poured into an imperial pint glass) Pours a nice deep golden color with a light copper hue, huge 2-3 fingers of frothy white head. Nice scattered lacing throughout beer.

S- Crisp earthly aroma, light floral aroma, nice herbal note and fresh cut wet grass, light hoppy note.

T- Clean hops up front, nice earthy grassy note, light malt body, notes of lemon peel, and light fruits, dry bitter finish.

M- Light clean body, crisp and dry on the finish.

D- Very nice sessionable beer, low on the ABV, great drinkable beer.

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Photo of timbro81
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to dfried for the opportunity. Pours a light copper/orange color. Nice fluffy head that settles to a nice little layer. Proper amount of carbonation for the style. Small amounts of lacing that travels down the glass. Smells of light toasted malts with a light yet fair amount of earthy floral hops. Mouth feel is light and clean. Nice level of hops throughout the mouth. Citrus hops up front, that transitions to a more floral type. I touch of toasted malts comes in for the aftertaste. I really light and highly sessionable beer. Utterly fantastic.

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

Pour - golden orange with yellowish hues and a big fluffy white head. Looks like a hand-pulled pint coming into the glass as the carbonation seems low and the beer is very clean.

Aroma - slight lemon citrus smell along with some hints at toasted bread, honey and caramelized sugars. Not a huge nose on this brew but its inviting nonetheless.

Taste - a citrus bite is the first to hit the tongue followed by a mellow sweetness and then a bitterness that is more sharp then the pungent and tongue numbing type given off by a massive amount of hops. Its hard to explain. Bitter Brewer is very easy to drink and drink quickly at that. It goes down super smooth and has an outstanding "session factor".

Overall - This has a great refreshing flavor quality to it that is hard to beat on a hot day. Not a powerful brew but tasty and definitely the type you'd want around when you fire up the grill.

Availability - May-July

Would I buy more of it? - yep, one more that I'd love to have on a camping trip or at a Saturday afternoon BBQ.

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Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
4.02 out of 5 based on 1,088 ratings.
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