Brutal Bitter Ale | Rogue Ales

2,147 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,147 |  Reviews: 1,109
Photo of rjimlad
4.72/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a thick and persistent head. Opaque caramel colour with moderate carbonation. The initial esters were a potpourri of floral and fruity notes. I kept sniffing it to see how many things were hidden away in the aroma. Very rich.
Flavour is astonishingly rich and fruity. Grapefruit abounds but also a hint of toffee maybe or caramel that prevents too much puckering. This is a massively flavoured bitter. The label says it's Hedonistic and it is. It's almost too much flavour which makes the drinkability score lower but everything is balanced perfectly. Awesome.

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Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Murky, honey apricot hue, off-white head rose and fell leaving scattered bubbles and wispy clouds. Ribbons of lace abound. Big citrus nose carries over in the taste, hops big time. Citrus taste and mouthfeel, lively, sharp, lemon, bitterness is torqued right up. More than that, there is a malt bill that punctuates and leaves a long, dry lasting impression. I've had this on a couple of occasions and have found the first half of the bottle always tastes better, the last half seems to bring out more acidic notes and a bit of astringency. Except for that impression by bottle-end that doesn't seem to sit that well with me, I'm quite fond of this brew and consider it a must-try.

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Photo of charlzm
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed 03/08/09.

Pours into a standard pint glass a very clear coppery/honey hue. Thin, off-white head quickly subsides to sticky ring of lacing.

The aroma is floral hops and sweet malt... caramel, I think.

On the palate, the flavor is a fairly thick caramel malt which is cut by a sharp citric tang (primarily orange). Tasty beer! A lingering, agreeable bitterness finishes off each sip.

There is a good amount of carbonation - keeps things moving along nicely. Beer may have been too sweet without proper carbonation.

This is an easy drinking beer that, while not as sessionable as a standard ESB, is a really nice change of pace.

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Photo of terryeckmeier
4.55/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

picked up a bottle of this as soon as I saw it on the shelf. We don't get to many American craft beer up in Toronto, especially from the west coast. Looks great, smells great, taste great. Great head retention, great carbonation and a beautiful medium dark amber colour. Nice mouth feel smooth and leaves a nice dryness after you has a drink. Nice an bitter as it says but not over the top well maybe if you are use to drinking Canadian or Coors but great lingering bitter taste almost like whole wheat toast or something along those lines. Nice maltiness and very well balanced between the hop flavour, malt and bitterness. Would buy it again

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Photo of biegaman
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ripened apricot that gleams as though it's been harboring an entire summer's worth of sunshine. All this bright, glowing luminosity thrives despite a heavily hazed complexion. Although initially both thick and responsive, I'm beginning to question this head's staying power; unyielding splashes of lace imply it should prove tenacious after all.

The aroma is far, far more hoppy than a typical draft of bitter, not only in proportion but in character as well. The acidic, fruity scent of citrus has me expecting to find piths floating around. This reeks of grapefruit in particular, there's no chance of overlooking that feature. The sharp, citric flavour of grapefruit is unmistakable even to an untrained nose.

As it is in flavour, albeit slightly more faded. Now, however, there's a great deal of lemon-water as well. The forward, assertive hopping denotes this as a true American West Coast offering but the taste of chewy, caramel-laden malts also typifies this as the intended style of an English bitter. Beyond the citrus, indeed, lay flavours of nougat and sticky toffee.

Although it bears 'bitter' in its name, the beer also offers up a fair bit of sweetness. The combination of the two makes for a very balanced beer that is well suited to its 22 ounce serving size. If only local bars were to get it on tap this would surely become the 'regular' of every beer lover in Toronto. Make no mistake, there's nothing 'brutal' about this.

Generally, I feel hops can do no wrong. In this case, they've made a typically plain style that much more exciting with the addition of zestful citrus. A pint of English Bitter is suppose to be a sociable, sessionable beverage - this is most certainly still that, the aggressive hopping and extra couple notches of alcohol notwithstanding.

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Photo of Mit
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice pour with a very long lasting head. Nice amber cloudiness in the glass.

Smell was hop heavy with the expected citrus notes present in the front with a slight sweet finish.

Taste was not nearly as hoppy as the smell would suggest. Again hoppy in the front with a nice malt finish. Very balanced. A nice lingering bitterness finishes it off in keeping with the name.

Mouthfeel was somewhat light when you realize that this is a somewhat strong brew. I found it thick enough that it didn't seem to get watery as it sat, but it wasn't syrupy either. I think it was perfect.

Drinkability....I could drink these all night.

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Photo of irishtjb11
4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I love Rogue, and this beer is no different. The apperance is great, beautiful white, fluffy head that leaves a nice lacing on the glass. Beautiful dark amber/reddish brown appearance, unfiltered which I always love in a beer.

Smells of hops, real nice aroma. Yet, there is a nice malty backbone to this brew. The hops do take the stage in this way, but in a tasteful way(no pun). I really, really enjoy this beer. What a balance and wonderful use of hops. I have been a bit sick of the hop explosive beers these days, just throw as much hops in and you're sure to have a great beer. This beer goes against that philosphy. It's well crafted, well thought out, unique.

The taste lives up to the name of a bitter. This is a stand out ESB, IMO. Taste has a lot of hop bitterness at first followed by a hint of matly sweetness, ending on the palate with a lot of hoppy flavors.

The mouthfeel is above average as well. Smooth, but with a lot of consistency to it, not overly thick or chewy. Just enough to provide the mouth with some volume.

Overall, great beer imo. I'm not sure if it's because I love Rogue, I love well done IPAs, I like Bitters and this tastes like a great hybrid of bitter and ipa; none the less its great. Hop heads might not go crazy, neither will maltiacs. Yet, the flavors, hint of balance, mouthfeel, all create a wondeful beer. I've written this review for quite some time now, and my beer still has a better head retaining than most do after a minute. Nice job, Rogue.

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Photo of cratez
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thank God the LCBO has acquired this for their spring line-up! A kick ass bitter with all of the top quality traits that I've come to expect from Rogue Ales. Poured out of a 650ml bottle into a Murphy's pint glass.

Appearance is hazy honey orange with a rocky white head and plenty of webbed lacing on the glass. Smell is citric hops, some yeast, oranges, and grainy malt. Bold and juicy C hops produce an intense, fruity bitterness on the palate, balanced by traces of toffee and biscuit. Piney hop bitterness clings to the very end, but it's kept in check by a malty sweetness. Mouthfeel is pure silk upfront with a medium body and bitter, wet finish. Despite the 'rugged' packaging, this beer is nothing short of luxurious. The silky-smooth mouthfeel, beautiful citrus character, and nicely balanced flavour make this a very quaffable ale. Great stuff.

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Photo of Beernoisseur
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hardly what I would call brutally bitter, this is actually an excellent beer. The bitterness is there, but clocking in at only 59 IBUs, there is a lot of bitterness left on that spectrum. Pretty lacing, sudsy head. Yellowy amber, with a TINY bit of haze. This reminds me of a really beefy session lager. there's obviously a lot more bitterness, but some of the same light citrusy elements, with a touch of sweetness, and good 'ole bready, toasty maltiness. The smell was pretty simple. There was nothing that I didn't expect. A touch of citrusy scent, but mostly just toasted malt. There was a tiny bit of mint? I don't know.

All in all, a great beer. I'm glad I had it, and I would never turn it down in the future.

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Photo of foles
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another AUD$18 outlay to try a highly rated Rogue beer (sigh).

Pours a pure rich cloudy orange with a fluffy white head that reduces to a clean lacing. Little carbonation. Herbaly citric explosion on the nose. A little more american like in hop profile. Lots of rough hoppy goodness also. Clean bitterness for a 59 IBU monster. Not just straight bitterness, but more of a bitterness profile that transforms in your mouth. Although this beer contains a single hop (crystal), the hop profile is quite complex - love it!

Focus is squarely on hops instead of the malt, but there is a decent backbone there - maybe not rounded enough but bloody good

Another splendid ale from Rogue.

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Photo of kels
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got together with some friends (BAs and non-BAs willing to take a chance) for a blind tasting during a trip out of town. Thanks to bamadog for this selection. He's a big Rogue fan, and I usually shy away since I won't finish a whole bomber by myself. I'm glad I got to try this one.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy apricot shade with a skim of a white, foamy head. Light, watery lacing slides down the glass throughout the drink.

Smell: The smell of this beer is my favorite part. Strong sweet and bitter citrus notes, like juicy mandarin oranges and apricots and bitter grapefruit pair with syrupy malts and honey.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Bitter citrus rind, grass and pine sap show up from the strong hoppiness. Alcohol fumes rise up in the aftertaste, and only the slightest maltiness balances out the rest. Sweet apricot and crispy green apple present in the finish.

Drinkability: Pretty high as it's bitter without being too dry or sticky and sweet without being too sweet or artificial.

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Photo of EatsTacos
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper colour with a one finger white head that laces nicely.

Aroma is very hoppy, I would have thought that cascade was being used but Rogue has actually used Crystal hops, which are very aromatic. Spicey and floral at once without the citrus character that cascade would give.

For an ESB this is very classic american and differs from an english bitter in a few ways. The taste is very piney and floral and showcases the hops much more than the malt, which is bready and grainy. Not a lot of sweetness at all, the aftertaste is quite bitter.

Medium bodied, with a crisp and clean carbonation.

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Photo of bamadog
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love Rogue beers, and this one did not fail me either. Actually part of a blind taste test that was attempted by several peeps, with very good results. This was the only non-stout, so it kind of stuck out.

Appearance: Light coppery in color, with a touch of amber when held up to the light. Not much of a head to speak of, but there was a thin lacing at the top. The interior was a little cloudy and not a lot of carbonation seemed present to the eye.

Smell: Hoppy bitter - very exciting! Citrusy as well, I would say grapefruit, although somebody else was saying apple... There is a sweetness to the smell as well, honey-esque.

Taste: Strong bitter from the hoppiness, what I was hoping for, and a nice bitter aftertaste that lingered as well. The nice touch was the sweetness that also lingered behind. Kind of reminded me a much milder version of Hopslap (I know this is probably blasphemous to say, but I'm trying to think of effective comparisons - I'm not saying it was "like" Hopslam, so take that for what it's worth).

Mouthfeel: Sticky at first, but then it really left the palate dry. Coated nicely and evenly.

Drinkability: I give it a fairly high drinkability because I love the style and I love the bitter. The ABV isn't ridiculous either, so I can easily see myself taking on a bomber by my lonesome.

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Photo of rwdkosak
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap, presented in pint glass at below cellar temp with a light ecru color head that was present for the first third of the session. A cloudy gold color with a pleasing hoppy nose that honestly was the best part of the beer.

Taste was good, nothing to wow about, certainly not brutally bitter as the title would suggest but not to disrespect the taste, it was simply a good full taste without the 'pop' of other ESB's out there. A drinkable brew, good feel, enough on the palate to be a pleasurable drink but certainly one that I personally would place first on a list.

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Photo of WalterSobchak
3.87/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice clear amber with a two finger head, dissipates to a thin cap with serious lacing.
Solid piney hops smell and a hint of citus.
The hops builds slowly throughout the drink, nice but not overpowering. I like this but I was expecting more punch and this is really quite drinkable not at all bruta.

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Photo of benclimbs
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pretty solid, pours very hazy with not a lot of lacing.
Smells pretty good, though nothing too crazy definitely some apples on the nose.
Taste is definitely where it's at on this one. Nice ripe fruit, like maybe apricots with a really good bitter hop profile.
Pretty drinkable with nothing too noticeable in mouthfeel.

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Photo of Chapter40z
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. A hazy golden orange, slightly off white head. Very inviting.

S. Hops, and some citrus not a very powerful smell.

T. I'd hardly call this brutally bitter. I do enjoy the taste though, good strong hops and well balanced flavors.

M. Good carbonation on the tongue, mid to full body on this one.

D. Could drink a ton of this stuff, another good brew from the guys at rogue.

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Photo of DoctorDog
3.96/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz bottle into a nonic.

A- Orange color, and quite hazy. Pours with a full 3 fingers of tan/off white head, which fades slowly to a nice cap. Ample lacing noted.

S- Slightly fruity. Some biscuit notes, and mineral/metallic edge.

T- Herbal, slightly citrus hopiness jumps straight out, with a nice strong bitter finish. Sweet bready maltiness and some fruity notes move forward a bit as the drink warms a bit.

M- Moderately carbonated and quite full feeling. Very good.

D- Quite good. Would be a solid session beer. Moderately ABV%, excellent flavor, outstanding body.

Future outlook: One of the better beers I've had from Rogue so far. Quite enjoyed this one, and wouldn't mind having it again.

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Photo of riored4v
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 2/12/09

Poured into a Sam Adams glass. Clear and copper in color. A nice, fluffy, off-white head.

Smell was malty and sweet. Slighty piney and spiciness back by a very mild citrus aroma.

Taste had a nice, fairly mellow, upfront and finishing bitterness. Spicey hop profiles w/ floral hints. Great caramalness in the body. Hint of nutty flavors and the mild citrus bitterness showed up as well.

Mouthfeel was medium/light. Well carbonated.

Good drinkability. Crisp, slightly dry finish with a good malty backbone.

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Photo of RunDWP
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I didn't find this brutal at all. Strong, sturdy, and bitter it is, but not brutal. Budweiser Chelada? Now you're talking brutal!

It's one of the most unique and interesting beers I've tried. It poured a hazy, tan color with a surprising amount of fizziness in my tulip with a slight foamy white head. For all that malt, really not the study head of foam and lacing I would expect. I have a weak nose, and had to strain a little to pick up some malty, floral aromas wafting up from the liquid. From this unassuming beginning, it was struck by its unique taste. Lots of biscuity malt, well balanced by lots of grassy, herbal hops. Did I detect a notes of taragon and grapefruit in there? As it warmed, the balance changed and the hops character got a little more bitter, but this is one of those brews that rifts on its flavor theme as it warms, rather than getting out of balanced as it warmed. It was enjoyable to warm the tulip in my hands a little and see what this guy would taste like next. It's not a smooth, easy drinking beer but gets good drinkability marks for that type of enjoyment.

May your life be this Brutal.

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Photo of tzieser
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber color with a small head that settles into a lacing around the sides of the glass. looks nice

smells great. lots of floral hops up front, maybe some biscuity malts in the back somewhere-- but the hop oils are the main smell on this one

tastes good. flowery hops dominate the palate, with some malts in the background to balance the hop heavy flavor. the alcohols aren't very recognizable-- which is good. this is a very hoppy beer, but its balanced well to keep the hops from scaring me away. very nice

drinkability is good. i wouldnt wanna have a ton of these (the hops might get to me after a while), but i could definitly have 2 or 3 no problem.

pverall-- this is quite a good beer. it's nice-- hoppy and bitter but balanced perfectly to keep things from getting out of hand. not as bitter as i thought it was gonna be, but i'm actually thnakful of that. try it for sure if you haven't yet.

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Photo of abar22
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First review! My palate is in its infancy so I will do my best.

A - Poured a hazy orangish-brown with a 2 finger head into a Sam Adams Sensory Glass. Nice lacing all around the glass and kept a small head throughout.

S - All hops in the smell with a subtle hint of flower coming through

T - Hops are all over the taste as well. Malts hit at first but were immediately taken over by the hops. The end has a hoppy dry bitterness to it.

M - Medium body that never feels watery. I feel the tang of each drink well after it goes down.

D - At 6.5% it's not a classic session beer but I definitely could throw a few back while relaxing after work.

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Photo of nighthawk
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650mL bottle with no freshness date poured into imperial pint.

Pours a quite hazy orange with brown hues. A large, foamy white cap forms, slowly settling to a ring and leaving some sticky clumps on the glass. Retention is fantastic.

Smell is all hops. Citrus and floral.

Taste is citrus hops up front, followed by a creamy sweet malt middle before bringing the hops back for a mildly bitter finish. There's a mild biscuity feel to the finish that cleans things up a bit.

Mouthfeel is fairly soft at first, light to medium body, then the carbonation kicks in with a pleasant bite. Well, more of a nibble really, it doesn't overpower the palate.

Very refreshing and drinkable beer.

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Photo of caddybuyer
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured froma 22 oz bomber into a chalice.

A-Slightly veiled medium orange amber with a whith sudsy head that laces nicely.

S-Lots of citrus and pine hops, grapefruit predominant.

T-Not a brutal as the name might suggest....but a nice clean, fresh tangy hopfest on the tongue balanced by malts with an astringent drying back end clean finish.

M-Decently balanced overall.

D-This is a very drinkable brew. That being said, there is nothing here that is a standout, just a good, solid hop oriented beer...sometimes, this is not a bad thing. Is it the best of its style? No. Will I go for this again...sure, why not?

A rock solid selection from a rock solid brewery. I'm thinking this is a great summer refresher, outdoor cooking, basic drinking beer when you want a shot of hops without all the fuss.

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Photo of BuffaloTapHugger
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A dark tinted orange/ruby color. Little head tension noticeable and lacing around the pint glass.

S: Apple cider mixed with a distinctive malt and some hop cense in the air.

T: Little bitter and some sweetness, some mild fruit notes (apple/pear). Low carbonation and little hops are present.

M: Not much of a bite, a bitter punch with some sweet withdraw.

D: Not a session beer for my liking, but a great representation of the style makes this an easy pick for those who are.

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
4.01 out of 5 based on 2,147 ratings.
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