Brutal Bitter Ale | Rogue Ales

Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale
2,155 Ratings
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Brewed by:
Rogue Ales
Oregon, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
**NOTE: This beer is now called "Brutal IPA" **
It has also been bottled as "Portland State IPA" (2010).

An Imperial bitter with exotic traditional floor malts, citrusy, hoppy flavor and stupendous hop aroma. Rogue brewmaster John Maier describes his Brutal IPA as a cross between a Very Extra Special Bitter and an Indian Pale Ale. Hedonistic!

8 INGREDIENTS: 2-Row, Carawheat, C15 & Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Rogue Farms Alluvial™ Hops; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast.

22oz Bottle & Draft / 15° Plato / 46 IBU / 81 AA / 13° Lovibond

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-28-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,155 |  Reviews: 1,110
Photo of rowew
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz long neck bottle (woohoo! six packs of Brutal Bitter!!). No information or freshness info on bottle.

Appearance: Copper colored with a slight haze. Large off white head.

Smell: Mmm... hops, hops, and more hops. Smells like a mixture of grapefruit and pine. Did I mention the hop aroma?

Taste: Very nice malt base (tastes slightly carmelly). Great hop flavor that leaves a nice bitter finish. Low carbonation and smooth mouthfeel.

Overall impression: Great ESB - nice bitter hops flavor. Even with all the hops it is nicely balanced .. I think this could be a great session beer.

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Photo of hckyfn9999
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden copper color with a nice cream colored head and some good lacing too. Aroma is citrus hops, toffee, and caramel. Taste is very hoppy for an ESB with some citrus and pine hops present as well as some sweet malt. A very drinkable beer. Despite the hoppiness for an ESB this is a very solid brew.

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Photo of CharlesRiver
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Rogue just keeps impressing me with their brews. This one is a personal favorite of mine as I love IPA's and Bitters. This beer is well balanced and smooth. Everytime I have this on tap I think how great it would be to have it on cask. Hops and malt blend perfectly to make this beer very tasty and drinkable. I recommend to everyone.

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Photo of Kadonny
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a british nonic pint glass.

A: A clooudy light amber orange color with a one finger off white head. Minimal lacing if any.

S: What do we expect from Rogue but hops, and hops we get. Floral hops with a nice malt sweetness.

T: Brutal Bitter? You bet, this beer is all about the bitterness. Hop bite up front with a floral earthy tastes coupled with a fairly strong grainy bready caramel sweetness. The flavors seem to go hand in hand. Finish is biting on the end. This beer is bitter from start to finish...just the way I like it.

M: Light to medium. The bitterness fills the mouth, but it's very crisp and not real heavy.

D: High. Nice abv, nice drinkability and overall just a nice drinking beer (if you like bitter).

Overall this is the best ESB I have ever had. No doubt it is americanized, but that's just the way I like it. Why does this beer not get more accolades, it is fantastic.

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Photo of chinabeergeek
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(from notes taken early august 2008)

poured into shaped pint glass.

medium amber with slight haze. good head that barely fades. very nice lacing.

mildly pine and citrusy hop, then grassy. caramel maltiness and yeast whiff. also whiffs of moderate esters and phenols.

flavor is also piney and citrusy, but not overly aggressive. fruitiness is more or less citrus, but also apple hint. malt background. slightly bold bitterness even for an ESB. resinous, semi-dry finish.

smooth. slight texture from resins. moderate carbonation for body.

a bold american take on the style. (NOTE - was categorized as an ESB when the review was submitted.)

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Photo of NitroGen
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

P: 20 oz. Brown Bomber bottle

A: Poured into a Sam Adams glass a light brown and orange pour with a finger of foam that quickly lowers to a scant cover with the carbonation raising from the etched bottom to form adding to the cover with little lacing.

S: Roasted malt, green grains, sweet florals and a crisp nose of citrus pith.

T: Roasted malts followed by green bitter hops with no discernable alcohol bite. Tongue and palate are treated with the myriad flavors slowly revealing themselves.

M: A real treat for the mouth! Tongue is kicked awake with the bold tastes, the mouth quickly joins in taking in the flavors with the palate left with a dry and crisp feeling where they flavors slowly reveal themselves.

D: Must be coming around to the hops as I find this one really well balanced and not overly bitter, despite it’s name and a complete absence of any overwhelming bitter hop flavors Well balanced and an enjoyable drink. I like it a lot!

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Photo of TheLocust830
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pilsner glass.

a-hazy copper. Looks like some sediment was stirred up on the car ride. 1 finger head dissipated down to a foam that will not leave along with some very sticky lacing.

s-sweet citric hops, maybe some wet grass or dull piney scent over that.

t-far from brutal unless you are not a hophead. at first is a jolt of tart sweetness, then the hops kicks in in great balance. the hops taste seemed almost the opposite the smell, more pine than citrus. bitter aftertaste recedes quickly leaving me craving another sip.

m/d-seems fairly high carbonation and still very fizzy to the end although it didn't last that long. very drinkable, i could drink it like water and i recommend doing just that. delicious.

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Photo of yeagerbm
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poures a hazy orange with a thick white head. Smell and taste is awesome, tastes like a great ESB only kicked up a notch! Incredible citrusy and earthy hop aroma. This is very well balanced with flavorful malt and pronounced english hops, a delicious beer for hopheads.

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Photo of GPHarris
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a - poured a two fingers thick off-white and fizzy head into a tumbler. the body was hazy and the color of golden straw. it leaves a nice sheet and thin lace until about 3/4 of the beer is quaffed.
s - hoppy with hints of grapefruits, orange, pine and grass with a little touch of sweetness.
t - grapefruit and pine with a good malt backbone. very well-balanced.
m - light on the tongue and slightly creamy.
d - very smooth, easily drinkable and a quality beer from rogue. i love this one.

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Photo of nqdell
4.31/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a glass from the bottle

A- A good finger head quickly dissipates but leaves a solid lining over the top of the beer and laces the glass the entire way

S- Nothing, light hop smell, carmel notes.

T- Bold and bitter with a hint of sweetness. The after taste tingles the sides of my mouth

M- The creamy smooth swallow leaves a slime in my mouth

O- A great IPA or Bitter that lives up to the Brutal name. A little heavy on the gut.

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Photo of jorjoria
4.31/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just picked up a growler at Finger Lakes Beverage Center.

A: Has a nice caramel color but very little carbonation and practically no head. (This could be because the keg was a little flat)

S: Great raw hoppy smell.

T/M: The hops cut through in a big way. The beer is very crisp and lingers on the back of tongue. Despite the hoppiness the beer is very well balanced and pleasure to drink. I'm really going to enjoy this growler.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks great, a captivating dirty orange color, plenty of carbonation and long-lasting head that features tight, compact bubbles.

Hops and malt fight for dominance in the aroma, with both coming on strong and fragrant. Smells more like a barley wine than an ESB.

Flavorwise this is not your typical ESB, and this is a great example of a beer that blurs style distinctions. My first sip reminds of a double IPA, with a robust, grapefruity sourness thanks to the hops...and then the strong malt essence kicks in, and this reminds more of a barley wine, as there's an earthy molasses swing to it...and with both malt and hop elements well-balanced and assertive, it certainly sits easily in the ESB category.

Doesn't really matter. Whatever it is, it's great. Combined with a slick and creamy mouthfeel, and a piney finish, this goes down well (and too quickly!) as long as you appreciate bitterness in abundance. Impressive.

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Photo of ElGordo
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dark orange color with a small creamy white head. Very appealing aroma of floral hops, a touch of malt, and faint notes of citrus and black pepper. Palate is quite assertive, with a huge amount of hoppy bitterness up front, tempered by a very light sweetness from the malt towards the back of the mouth. Notes of grapefruit, pepper, and a touch of vegetable can be detected. Aftertaste is surprisingly mellow given the hop punch up-front. Sturdy body yields a slightly creamy mouthfeel. A beautiful beer from a can't-fail brewery..

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Photo of Jon
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As Rogue describes, this ale is an invention, not a style. Brutal Bitter pours a hazy apricot color with a rocky, off-white head. Some lacing is present down the glass. Aroma is primarily of hops. Loads of hops. A wonderful thing. Taste is excellent with notes of grapefruity, citric hops and a sufficient malt backbone. This is very well balanced with a dry, bitter finish. Mouthfeel is somewhat carbonated, but mainly smooth. Drinkability is quite strong. An excellent "invention" overall.

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Photo of Southernbrew
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orange-amber, big bubbly head that lasts nearly forever, good lacing too.

Strong hops aroma, even when not leaning in to smell. Big piney aroma with a weak bitterness mixed in.

Medium-full body, big carbonation. Very smooth considering the amount of hops here. Big IPA flavors with a moderate bitterness following it up. Very strange for a bitter. Finishes with a light bitter that's very pleasant. Leaves a light hoppy aftertaste.

For all the hops this is a very balanced beer. Certainly the hoppiest bitter I've ever had. Definitely sessionable.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My bottle is Brutal IPA, but apparently the same thing.
A - bubbly copper amber, two finger of off white head that retained very well and laced extremely well up the glass
S - very fruity, piney, and floral hop domination, some light caramel malts, and i'm getting notes of pineapple and grapefruit
T - a great hop mix as mentioned above, there is some light caramel sweetness, and the very nice fruity grapefruit flavour is lasting
M - fairly bubbly, a nice hop bitter that is balanced that balanced well by a smooth feel and not the typical dry of IPA's
D - a hop bomb for sure, but the emphasis on fruit and citrus flavours makes it very refreshing, and a good amount of bitter, a great American IPA

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Photo of JoshuaJ
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured an opaque orange with a nice two fingered head. Lacing was pretty good all the way down.

Smelled really nice. Buttery hops and sweet malts.

I thought the hops would dominate, this being named "Brutal Bitter," but it was pretty balanced. Actually, it was very balanced. There's a hop bite which was very nice, but the malts rush in and it almost thickens in your mouth. Finishes smooth and sweet.

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Photo of CaskofFlyingDog
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: It has a good head and has great lacage. The color is an orangy brown haze.

Smell: It's excitingingly fruity and refreshingly beery. That's all I can come up with.

Taste: Hop heaven with a little apricotish bite if you search for it.

Mouthfeel: This is surprisingly smooth, light, and thin. It's almost "fluffy."

Drinkability: Easy as hell to drink. You may get tired of being so bitter after a while though.

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Photo of cubedbee
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a 22 oz bomber, hazy amber body with a thin finger of off-white head that vanishes pretty fast. Hoppy pine scent that I've come to expect from Rogue dominates, but over a very nice toffee sweetness. Taste is excellent, with a very strong caramel malt flavor giving way to a big smooth grassy hop and leaving a very pleasant, somewhat toffee flavored, yet noticeably bitter, aftertaste. Very nice smooth creamy mouthfeel. This is a really great beer, hoppier than most ESBs, but as good as any in the style.

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Photo of techdiver
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy deep amber with a modest head that dissipates quickly.

Nice hoppy, grapefruit smell.

Taste is fairly well balanced, not as heavy on the hops as you would find in an IPA.

Medium to full bodied in the mouth, a pleasure to drink.

A very tasty and drinkable brew.

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Photo of VaughanSchmidt
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of gunnerman
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a pint glass, looks is very reddish brown with a nice foamy head that leaves some lacing on the glass. The smell, this is where this comes alive, it smells very hoppy with citrus smells of oranges that are not ripe just yet. The taste is very bitter, I can taste earthy dirt, maybe some cypress tree bark as well, very strong and rich and leaves a good after taste as well. I enjoy this brew just for its sipping behavior, I love to sip one of these after a good meal. Great job Rogue on this fine brew, nothing else like it.

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Photo of plaztikjezuz
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a bright copper with orangish hues from the light, pinky thick white head.
the aroma of hopsack lofts out of the bottle and smacks you across the face followed by a firm base of malt.
the flavor is rich with malt and hops, spicy, little pepper, grassy, drops off to a lingering hopsack.
this is a great beer love the flavor, but brutal is correct, since i started drinking it, i think i am having an alegric reaction to the hops or something. skin is atarting to itch and turn red. like what happens with me and red wine :-(

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Photo of BMoney575
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on 3-18-07

Pours a hazy gold with an infinite number of microscopic floaters. No real head but good lacing.

Smell is a light maltiness and easy floral hops.

Taste is very good, grapefruit and other citrus dominate but are countered by a subtle malt backbone. Very fruity but very balanced.

Mouthfeel is good, a resiny hop thickness and perfect carbonation.

Drinkability is also good, hoppy but with a very balanced bitterness.

Overall a very good beer, and a nice refreshing change. The style fits very well just below an IPA.

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Photo of Stoneman78
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle at the Rogue Public House in San Francisco:

a- pours a cloudy dark red/amber, with small, white, creamy head and fair lacing throughout
s- Wow, what a great blend of hops and pine scents, really impressive aroma that is not too overwhelming
t- Taste too is dominated by pine and citrus flavored hops, some sweet malts in the background as well, slight warming alcohol presence
m- full-bodied with light carbonation, smooth dry finish
d- Strong red ale that is not too high on the abv, i could definitely spend a night drinking this beer, the red ales have really been the only Rogue types that I have been overly impressed with (including the St. Rogue Red), I would buy this beer again if I found it in San Diego.

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
Beer rating: 3.98 out of 5 with 2,155 ratings
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