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Bitter Brewer | Surly Brewing Company

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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: 1,086
Photo of TwinButte
3.74/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Golden brown color with an off white head

S- Its a nice spicy aroma. Smells pretty hoppy.

T- A citrusy flavor but very bitter on the back end.

M- A light body beer.

D- As the name says, it is bitter beer with a strong hop aroma. Smells alot like a pale ale. Was expecting an undrinkable bitter beer but its not too bad. Not my favorite Surly and that being said I probably won't get this one again.

Serving type: can

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Photo of herman77
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Slight haze orange/apricot color. Thick fluffy beige head that dies down after a moment or two. Nice lacing.

S: Slight malt and orange citrus. A touch of earthy/grassy malt. It does kind of smell like a piece of toast with orange jam on it. Not the strongest nose even after letting it warm up for awhile.

T: Hints of orange citrus up front then the light malt flavor comes through. Herbal/grassy hop bitterness rounds out the dry finish. Next to nothing for sweetness (not that this is bad). All the flavors are pretty toned down since its low in abv.

M/D: A little on the thin side, pretty smooth over the palate, lower carbonation. Very easy drinking, not to flavorful since its only 4%abv. A great "light" beer for the summer. Mellow, easy drinking flavors makes this very sessionable.

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Photo of elgiacomo
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz canned June 6, 2011. Served at around 45F.

Pours lightly hazy amber with a one finger white heat that recedes to a small cap and leaves some nice rings of lacing behind.

Aroma is lemon, apricot, some grass and bread. Moderate strength...kind of weak.

Flavor is lemon, orange, apricot, and some grassy hops, cracker & bready malt backbone, finishes with a real nice bitterness.

Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied, with ample carbonation.

Man this hits the spot after a long day of work on a sticky Georgia summer day. Nice flavor and surprising bitterness for a low ABV session brew.

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Photo of Sludgeman
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a large stemmed tulip at the new Surly facility.

Definitely bitter, maybe the lowest ABV on today's menu. This one was served too cold. Please let it warm up before judging it. Would be much better if served on cask. 3.5
A – Pale cloudy yellow like a bad piss (get to the doctor!) 3.25
S - Peach and gooseberry marmalade, grassy herbal, a bit of peppery, citrusy - definitely lemon 4
T - Grassy and resinous, citrus rind, but not fruity in anyway 3.75
MF - Medium light and bone dry bitter and lasting in the palate. 3.75

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Photo of tewaris
3.71/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bitter Brewer
not-really-a British Bitter
Surly Brewing Co.
4% ABV
37 IBUs
OG 9.5 degrees Plato
Color 11 degrees SRM

16 oz., canned 05/25/2011 poured into a shaker pint glass.

Murky amber, with a small light khaki head. Reasonable amount of bubbles stick around, and quite respectable lacing for the head. Good looking for the style.

Not as hoppy as a fresher can, but decidedly fruitier. If I had to pick one, I will pick apricots, but its just generally fruity. Tastes fruity too, with bitterness towards the back and a drying, tannic finish. Good at its size. Herbal and earthy.

The body is fitting and the carbonation aptly high. Drinkability is where this beer really shines. I can safely say that I buy this *seasonal* beer most. A great choice at the bars and parties, one of the few American beer that pack a flavor punch at low alcohol levels.

Appearance: 4/5; Aroma 3/5; Taste 3.5/5; Mouthfeel 4.5/5; Overall 4.5/5

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Photo of quirkzoo
3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to biglobo8971 for including this one in the Growler+ BIF

Pours a slightly cloudly light brown with fluffy white head. Aroma is subtle and nice. Some mild hops (nothing too fruity or piney) up front with a solid malt backbone. The taste is all about balance. Really nice hop bitterness with just enough complexity to keep you going back for more. Mouthfeel is on the lighter side which contributes to its drinkability. Overall this is a really nice brew. If I lived within distribution this would definitely be an everyday favorite. Nothing amazingly out of the box but that is not what they are trying to do here, just a solid brew.

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Photo of robwestcott
3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

thanks to shawnp for this one. poured cold from the can a semi opaque light maple brown to a dogfish head shaped pint with a full finger, bubbly head with nice retention.

fairly big grassy hops aroma with a bit of tangy fruit following.

bitter, earthy hops up front and all over the tongue front to back. toasted malts right up next to the hops providing an interesting and not entirely expected balance(?)

light bodied, bitter first, big carbonation.

interesting and novel, a good beer.

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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 rodbeermunch
3.69/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Comes out golden, somewhat a darker shade. Good 3/4" white head, solid retention. Aroma came off as grain more than hops. No different than a BMC with ale yeast it seemed.

Taste was substantial for a session beer, good bitterness, earthy floral hops, light body, pale toasted malts.

A great beer for golf. Good format. Would bang again.

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Photo of Larrytown
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bitter Brewer is a nutty amber color with a small but spirited head. It leaves a bit of lacing on the glass on the way down. The nose is pretty subdued with a hint of flora coming across.

The beer has a very pleasant taste, but I was a bit taken aback. When I grab a Surly, I expect an explosion of tastes and hops and so much going on that my tongue can barely wrap itself around it all. Not so with this beer. It goes down smooth, with just a tad of bitterness at the end, although not nearly as much as I was expecting. It's got a nice balance to it and is obviously drinkable at that ABV, but if I'll go with one of the other Surly options next time.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can dated 6/14/12 into a tulip as I listen to White Sox implode. Ed Farmer says some really dumb shit and this is a really bad loss.

Orange with a frothy white billow and collar. Some nice looking stickem' tags the glass.

Light yeast, apple juice, mint, orange jelly, and sourdough bread are all detected by my elongated proboscis.

The can has it right with orange marmalade. Mild spice from the yeast, iced tea, and a big crunchy toast character. Mint sprig on the finish leaves a lasting tingle.

Body is light and zestily carbonated.

Overall, this is an easy drinking bitter. I have fond memories of drinking this on the lake up north on hot summer afternoons.

Addendum: well I'll be damned if the Sox just didn't tie it after vomiting themselves.

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Photo of mikul93
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A Pours a dark murky amber with a healthy off white head. No lacing.

S Citrus, floral, slight pine and sweet malt

T Hmmmm Citrus, some floral taste is coming through, very very mild sweetness that finishes with a dry, slightly bitter aftertaste.

M Medium-light body. Nice carbonation. Dry finish.

O It's an easy drink beer. I was expecting a bitter beer but not the case. I'd buy a 4 pack if I had the opportunity. Not bad.

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Photo of CaptainIPA
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

P: Presented in a 16 oz., pale orange/gold can with illustrations depicting Todd: the cynical, surly, bitter brewer. Received from Masala Mama as part of a WI/MN trade. Poured into a Hennepin flute.

A: Pours an iced tea-hued amber with a frothy, two-finger head that clings on and on.

S: Tea, ginger and floral citrus hops. A hint of brown sugar as it warms.

T: Opens with notes of orange marmalade, tea, grapefruit pith and biscuit. No notable sweetness. Bitter on the back end with a crisp hop presence. Finishes dry and somewhat grainy. Crisp and refreshing, but by no means robust.

M: Light-bodied with a thin mouthfeel and an active level of carbonation.

D: An exceptionally light body, modest IBU (37), low ABV, and interesting flavor profile make Bitter Brewer highly sessionable. Recommended if you're looking for a lighter beer with plenty of character.

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Photo of SurlyMe
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Can to pint glass

A - Pours a pale amber color with a bubbly 2 finger off white head. Head recedes slowly leaving some spotty lacing. Has a very slight haze to it.

S - Light citrus, toasty bread, marmalade, malt

T - Toast with marmalade and light citrus hops give way to a bitter and slightly sweet finish

M - Light in body and carbonation, refreshing, slightly sticky/dry on the finish

D - Very drinkable but i thought the flavors got to be a little old after a pint or two. The bitter finish does make you want to keep on sipping though.

Overall, a good beer but probably my least favorite from Surly.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap at Stub n' Herbs in Minneapolis. Pours straw-red with a shirt creamy head and long, sticky lacing. light, pale malt odor with a dry grainy orange hint. Extremely light orange taste at first, almost ephemeral. Bitterness rises quickly, and seems disembodied from the beer. Its not a hop bitterness, per se, its just bitterness, seemingly unrelated to the soft, light, otherwise easy drinking beer. The only trace of a floral hop is manifested in my after-burps. Light bodied, soft. An easy drinker, with good bitterness. nice.

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Photo of hwwty4
3.67/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Lordsloth for this one.

Poured a 16oz can into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. This beer pours a slightly hazy orangish amber with a nice 3 inch head that left thin lacing down the sides of the glass. The smell is straightforward west coast hops. It actually really surprises me that the hop aroma is so prevalent. The flavor is a bit disappointing. Up front, as it says on the can, is an orange preserves flavor, with orange peel and sugar coming through but after that the flavor just diminishes into a watery tea. The flavor really reminds me of a cold, orange citrus tea. The mouthfeel is very thin, but not really light, like a good pilsner would be. I think this beer is very good at what it's trying to be. It's a very (it says 4% on the can) sessionable ale. I could really drink this stuff all day.

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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 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 jpmclaug
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the can into an imperial pint glass. Thanks goes to chixdighops for trading me a 4 pack of this.

A - Clear, dark amber color with a big bubbly white head on top. Lots of bubbles running up the side of the glass on this one.

S - Nice light pale malt aroma with a a nice floral hop aroma.

T - Similar to the aroma. A balance of pale malts with a little floral hop bite. No caramelly, smooth notes that I usually expect from bitters. A bit more of a hoppy bite than most bitters.

M - Really the only thing holding back this beer. Way over carbonated for my preferences in this style.

D - Pretty drinkable. As stated earlier it is way too carbonated for the style however. I really prefer smoother bitters. The flavor is pretty solid abit more floral hop bite than normal but pleasant. Certainly a beer worth trying.

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Photo of rpstevens
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a perfect pint. The beer is light orange, with a thick white head. As the head fades it leaves some bubbly lacing.

The smell is light citrus hops and graham cracker malt. There are also some traces of mild peppery, spicy hops and some earthy dry hop as well.

The flavors are a blast of bitter hops, orange peels, pine and pepper, but they are never overwhelming at all and they stop just short of real bitterness. The graham cracker malts really take over and almost overpower the flavors before the mild citrus bitterness comes back.

The mouthfeel is light and crisp, and this is a beer that would be way better on a hot day than a cold December night. I hope to revisit this (maybe 8-12 times) at the beach in July.

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Photo of KeefD
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Greggy for this can, my third offering from Surly.

Pours a dark orange color, developing a minimal amount of foam, and light lacing. I'm not sure what kind of hops were used in this brew, but it seemed to be missing that nice floral, hoppy aroma that I love. Taste was certainly on the bitter side, but nothing tongue bruising. It had a nice malt backbone, but lacked some sweetness that would have made this one a little more well-balanced. Very smooth, and easy to drink at 4% ABV.

I like Surly, and I am not disappointed with this beer. Just not the best I've had from them. Perhaps it's the style, but I prefer bitter beers to have a little more floral and/or citrus aroma from the hops. Tasty nonetheless.

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Photo of birchstick
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a golden, bronzed yellow without much of a head

S - smell is of floral, bitter hops with some sweet, grainy malts

T - taste followsthe nose well. A surprisingly bitter, floral, citrus, earthy hop flavor is first on the tongue. Hidden beneath the hops are some grainy, sweet malts. Ends with a watery, earthy and citrus bitterness.

M - mouth is a bit watery with a decent amount of carbonation

D - I fell this is the definition of a session beer. Really nice flavors and complexity, yet clocks in with an abv slightly above 4%.

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Photo of coldmeat23
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Kostritzer Mug
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Pours a dark amber color. Over two-fingers of light beige foam sit on top. Retention is very good. Lacing is thin, but fairly sticky.

Mild hop notes, grassy, citrus and lightly floral. There is a mild hint of malt sweetness holding it up.

Super tiny hint of maltiness. Mild notes of hop presence. Mostly grassy, but with a touch of citrus. Very light biscuit notes.

Light to medium body. High level of carbonation. Smooth, but no creaminess at all.

Another beer that, for me, brings nothing to the party. Sure it's very drinkable, but so is water. I want my beers to have character, for my tastes, this one does not.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16oz. can poured into a tulip. Thanks to beerwolf77 for this one!

(A)- Pours a hazy pale amber color. Produced a decent off-white head with decent retention.

(S)- A dry spicy wheat-like grassiness up front. A malty sweetness that also imparts some dry spicy notes.

(T)- The name fits; a potent frontal of a bitter grassy corn body. Finishes dry and bitter too with a light caramel-like sweetness.

(M)- A good carbonation level. Very bitter and dry up front and on the finish too. Ever so slightly malty; kinda thin.

(D)- A unique and interesting beer that certainly fits the style and name. Dry and bitter. Not exactly my most favorite from Surly though.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brought to me by my pal Sean - What a great guy!

Appearance -- Pours a deep honey/amber hue, clear, with one finger of stiff beige head.

Smell -- Lots of citrus from the dry-hopping, along with some grassy hop aroma and bready malts.

Taste -- The citrus flavors are all but absent in the flavor. Hop profile is quite grassy and bitter. Bread and biscuit flavors are soon followed by a dry, grassy, and bitter finish. No trace of sweetness throughout the brew.

Mouthfeel -- Lighter-bodied, dry finish.

Drinkability -- Quite refreshing, true to style, but a little ho-hum. Not my favorite Surly offering, but I'm certainly glad I got to try it.

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Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
4.02 out of 5 based on 1,086 ratings.
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