Brutal Bitter Ale | Rogue Ales

1,109 Reviews
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,109 | Ratings: 2,144
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours anice copperish amber with a very finely beaded head and decent lacing. The smell is of very balanced hops and malt, and a slight toastiness from roasted grain. Their is a nice clean floral hop flavor with a good degree of delicious bitterness. Not super citrusy at all. The mouthfeel is a little thin, but not grainy or overly malty. Pretty balanced wih a touch more bitterness than usual for the style, and quite drinkable. Had on tap at the Brick Store Pub.

 466 characters

Photo of plaid75
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a hazy light copper hue with a one and a half finger creamy white head. There was very good retention and sticky lacing.

The smell featured a light resiny hop with hints of sweet orange and mild pepper. A nice doughy malt as well.

The taste consisted of an upfront sweet orange hop with a solid, yet soft, biscuity malt. Peppery hop at the finish.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness.

Overall a tasty and very well balanced ESB. Very drinkable.

 465 characters

Photo of flagmantho
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance: rich golden orange color with a touch of haze. Head is several fingers in thickness and of a rocky ivory foam. Attractive.

Smell: bright, metallic, citrus hops abound with just a tiny touch of funkiness. No malt aroma stands a chance against this olfactory assault. Brutal, not exactly; but pretty intense.

Taste: highly citrusy flavor from the hops, although the hops grow a little more complex here with the added characteristic of floral-ness. The malt is a little sweet which makes this almost a dessert beer. Again, not brutal, but damn tasty.

Mouthfeel: medium body with low carbonation, the mouthfeel of Brutal Bitter did not wow me. It is well-crafted, however, and totally acceptable.

Drinkability: highly drinkable. I would easily session a few pints of this.

 829 characters

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.

 1,789 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A coppery orange color, pours with a cream/ tan colored head when roused sufficiently, this beer had a relatively low carbonation level (which in my book is good for this style). It is cloudy at first, but this is just chill haze, as it warms up it becomes quite clear. There is a floral woody, almost medicinal, aroma to this beer. The floral hoppy aroma travels the furthest from the glass though. It is much thicker bodied than I was expecting but perfectly in line with how the beer is advertised on the bottle (I am not sure why I was not expecting this). There is a solid malt presence that is infused with a pronounced hop presence in both the flavor and the bitterness. The bitterness starts at the back of the tongue and then hangs out in ones mouth as you swallow the beer, and then is even there after the beer has disappeared down ones throat. This beer is definitely a hoppy ale, in the American style but featuring a not so typical hop (the Crystal variety), which is a nice contrast to the typical cascady type flavor found in most American examples. There are definite notes of citrus but a grassy sharp flower nectar note asserts itself as well. I love beers that are of a single hop varietal, it gives me the chance to try and pick out what a specific hop contributes to a beer.

 1,296 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz from the Boise Coop... shared with a coworker.. mine from a shaker pint.

Big 2" fluffy off white head... sits atop a only slightly hazy golden orange brew.

Awesome grapefruity aroma... some fruity esters... only the slightest smell of pale malts.

Nice low/medium mouthfeel.... relatively low carbonation... larger than average bitterness... with mouthcoating oily citrus hops... enough malts to balance (in a hophead's mind) .. but this brew is a showcase for the hop.

In a blind tasting, I would call this an IPA hands down everytime... A really nice Rogue brew... and another of my goto bottles... very very drinkable and enjoyable even on a cold Idaho night.

 670 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From the 22 ounce bottle. Sampled on August 25, 2011. The pour is copper-orange with a soft and delicate head that slowly diminishes and lingers. Slightly cloudy. The aroma boasts a lot of earth, pine, and floral hops with this teaser of sweet malts matching it one to one. The body is above medium and quite enticing. The hops are more muted in the flavor but they come on strong just the same to step all over the mellow maltiness that is putting up a good fight. Nice bitter finish. Very interesting.

 503 characters

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

Pours a cloudy orange colored ale with a tan head that disappears fairly quickly.

Smell is sweet malt and spicy yeast with a faint scent of pine, citrus and tea.

Taste is a bit malty and quite full of herbal hop flavor from the very start. Faint flavor of pineapple and vanilla at first and then the hops take over. Flavors of pine and citrus and tea. Somewhat astringent, this beer is all about hops.

Mouthfeel is good.

Tasty beer that is highly hopped but never goes too far. Still I don't know that I would spend $6 to drink this one again.

 555 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
3.82/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, from a six-pack,

A: Dark, cloudy orange, with a small head, which leaves a bit of lace.

S: Hoppiness, lots of grapefruit and papaya.

T: Quite hoppy, though more subdued than your average IPA, lots of grapefruit and citrus, with biscuity pale malt, has a sweetness in the end that is very delightful.

M: Smooth, but quite chewy and resiny at the same time, with a bit of acidity to hold it all together.

D: A good bitter, this could definitely be a session beer, even at 6.5%, another good beer from Rogue.

 535 characters

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

This bottle was a little gusher.

A: Rusty orange, pours with plenty of white head, not much retention, but some nice lace!

S: Grapefruit from the hops, with a little fruityness from the yeast.

T: Nice pale english malt, with strong hit of grapefruity hops. I'm surprised there's 59 IBU's, it seems really well balanced, and the bitterness is very smooth. The 6.5% ABV is surprising as well... it's not very apparent.

M: Light to moderate body, a little creamy, moderate to high carbonation (perhaps a little much for a bitter).

D: Truely exceptional. Too bad it's finished.

 588 characters

Photo of clayrock81
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A light brown/Werther's Original taffee brown, with a foamy two-finger head that died slowly and left a lace ring down my mug. Picked up some caramel and butterscotch malts underneath a lot of hops (the malts were springy and a tad soapy, but not overpowering). The smell is balanced and so is the beer as there is a hop zest that passes over the tongue in a light-medium body but they're not overpowering. Instead, the beer passes over smoothly, even slightly creamy with some citric taste as well as some mild malt notes (bread/roasted) that lead to a dry backbite. I don't know what it is, and I am not a huge hophead or prefer bitters, but this beer is great and I'd love to have it again.

 693 characters

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

A: Pour is hazy reddish golden. The head is medium large and compact. Dissipation is slow and leaves nice lacings.

S: Some caramell malt, kind of sweet. But the hops is what this beer is about, at least when it comes to the smell - lots of citric notes, grapefruits and lemons. Beside the floral hops there's also a nice hoppy bitterness.

T: Dry and very bitter at first, then a bit sweet. Caramell malt, and floral American hops - citric and piney at the same time. Bitter hops.

M: Aftertaste holds the bitterness for a decent time. Body is medium and carbonation mild to medium.

D: This is my first Rogue-beer. I'll keep my eyes open for more; more of this one and more of other Rogue-beers.

 698 characters

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

750ml bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance - The beer pours a slightly hazy gold colour with a decent size frothy bright white head. I can see an average amount of carbonation. There is also some gorgeous lacing and the head lasted for a few minutes.

Smell - Hops, citrus zest herbal/floral notes, are the most noticeable. Also a biscuit like scent and a sugar sweetness.

Taste & Mouth - Mouth feel is just about perfect on this one, a decent amount of carbonation on the tongue. I'm not sure it lives up to its name; as I've had lots of other IPA's that were way more bitter than this one. It is far from brutal; the hop taste is actually moderate - and enjoyable. The hops give way to a citrus sweetness and biscuit/malt flavour, and then I was left with a bitter aftertaste.

Drink - I really enjoyed this beer, and I will keep my eyes peeled for more so I can stock up. It's a nice drinkable hoppy beer.

 916 characters

Photo of cjgator3
4.67/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a coppery amber color with a large creamy white head. Aroma is hops, hops and more hops! Citrusy hops dominate the taste as well. Under all the hops, you can pick up some sweet malt. Mouthfeel is smooth and slightly chewy. Overall, this is an absolutely delicious brew for hopheads like I.

 295 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
4.62/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle(room temp) with a quickly diminishing head.
The beer is a cloudy medium gold.

The smell is a wonderful mix of hops and can just about taste the beer from the aroma alone and you *know* it's gonna be good.

The taste is a wonderful balance of the sweetness and bitterness with the hops taking over in the aftertaste and leaving me wanting more.. That's how drinkable this brew is. A *must* try if you see it in your local store.

 464 characters

Photo of beerthulhu
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a hazy golden tangerine color with a fluffy white head.

S: some citrusy hops, caramel sweetness and a light fruitiness.

F: For flavor there was a toasted malt palate with dry citrus peels and a slight grainy maltiness. was expecting a little more hoppines from this style and name wise. bittering was actually well rounded and smooth.

M: The mouthful was medium-full body with good carbonation detected providing a soothing bitterness on the fade.

D: Relatively smooth and subtle bitternss contrary to name making for an easy drinking bitter per style.

 570 characters

Photo of JohnParadee
4.6/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thin head, but good lacing on pour from 22oz bottle. Pleasant floral grapefruit nose. Opaque orange color. Very smooth citrusy taste. Ample but not overpowering hops, and alcohol well integrated (almost hidden). Comfortable mouthfeel. Really like this well balanced IPA. Would (will) drink this one over and over again (I hope).

 328 characters

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

Poured an amber brown with a nice off white head. You can smell the hops, this beer just smells delicious. extremely well balanced. I really like the slight hop bite this beer had. really nice beer and a pretty nice example of the style. A staple ESB and a darn good one by Rogue. Cheers!!

 289 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a pretty orange color, with 1/4" white head on the top. Aroma is pungent bittering hops, C hops.

Taste drops 100 ibu levels, covers alcohol, a little bit of wood pine hop flavors.

Its definitely better than your average Rogue beer, and probably one of in not their best ipa. Been around for a long time, I remember when this was one of the hoppiest beers out there 20 years ago. Maris Otter and wheat keep its body energized.

 440 characters

Photo of wl0307
4.43/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ever since my first encounter with this beer served on cask last year at the BSF bar, GBBF05, my mind has been pre-occupied with the explosive flavour that it showed. No cask this time round at the BSF 06, but I did manage to get a bottle for take-away. No freshness info. printed on the bottle, served cool in a straight imperial-pint glass.

A: translucent dark reddish-orange in colour, coming with a thick layer of off-white foam with ve...ry good retention; constantly gentle streams of carbonation full of medium-sized bubbles.
S: Goldings+Challenger like fruity hops with sweetened citric-zests and tangerine juice, plus juicy peaches and longan-fruits, caramely malts, a fatty and slightly piney body of fresh hops, and a flow of warming alc. behind; smelling more like an American IPA to me, maybe due to the big and aromatic hoppyness on the balance.
T: a tannic, fat, oily smooth flow of sweet-citric hops lubricates the tongue so smoothly, followed in no time by plenty of longan-fruits, marmalade, caramely malts, as well as a flowery honeyish edge of late-harvested Muscat wine hidden down the sides of the tongue... slightly piney and tannic hop bitterness gradually builds up--not harsh but rather soothing, leading towards an aromatic, tangy bitter-sweet aftertaste full of malts and soft hoppyness and lingering forever down the throat...
M&D: the softer-than-soft mouthfeel results from consistently creamy carbonation, on top of a solid body and a full flavour profile... perhaps because it's served at the temp. more like a cask-conditioned ale, the mouthfeel overall really is smooth and great... Not as "brutal" nor bitter as my first encounter last year, yet the end result with an utterly harmonious balance b/w malts and hops makes it a great beer to quaff or sip, depending on one's mood. If given less sweetness on the nose, it could've been an impeccable premium bitter. Top quality stuff by Rogue, firmly in my top ten Premium Bitters.

 1,970 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a hazy orange body with a big bubbly yellowish-white head. There is a gentle carbonation that keeps the head going for a bit.

S- The smell of big piney green hops has a faint floor dried malt note that has good complexity with a slight caramel malt hint.

T- The light pale malt is quickly overpowered by green pine hops with a faint pineapple note and a bitterness that last for days.

M- This beer has a medium-full body and a nice mouthfeel

D- This is a brutal bitter. It is to bad that all that great Maris Otter malt is washed out by the big hops that punish the taste buds.

 646 characters

Photo of akorsak
3.17/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I am drinking a 650 mL (22 oz) capped bottle poured into an Ommegang Witte glass. The ale is slightly below room temperature.

Appearance: The ale is a light orange color. The body of the ale is very hazy to the point that one can't see through it. There is minimal head and a smattering of lace around the ale.

Smell: Funny thing is, when I smell it I don't find anything. No malt sweetness, no hop bitterness, nothing.

Taste: The ale has a fruity taste to it, one that conjures up an orange (?!?). Not too shabby, although there is little malt character and the hops clearly dominate.

Mouthfeel: The ale sits smoothly on the tongue, with the hops giving a fruity bitterness that really takes control of the beer.

Drinkability: Pretty drinkable, although I'd like more malt assertiveness to combat the hops.

 822 characters

Photo of wordemupg
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

650ml bottle poured into pint glass dec20 2009

A orange brass in color with lots of suspended particles being moved around the glass by the insane amount of bubbles. two fingers worth of head that slowly fall leaving a fair amount of lace

S citrus with some bread and caramel

T a little pine to go along with what I smell, and everything comes together for a nice balance

M foams up in your mouth just a bit but it's not so bad, almost seams to thicken it up a little

D this beer went down pretty quick and had several small things working for it making it quite enjoyable overall

another good beer from Rogue and well worth trying. I would drink this whenever I was craving some hops but nothing too crazy.

 716 characters

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

A-Cloudy deep orange. Minimal head. Slight lacing as well.

S-Not very intense. Piney hops. Citrusy too. Hoppy but not eccentrically hopped. Overall, not highly aromatic.

T-Hop forward but not a strong flavor. Lighter bread malt. Fairly clean. Pretty nice flavor. I would't call it 'Brutally Bitter'. Its simply not bitter enough to garner such a title. Still, a yummy drink.

M-Lighter. Good sessionable feel with plenty of carbonation. Crisp too.

O/D-More mild than the name would lead you to believe. Not very brutal. A nice IPA from Rogue; plain and simple.

 564 characters

Photo of avalon07
3.18/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: When poured into a pint glass from a bottle, this had a bright amber hue and a somewhat thick texture. Not much head to speak of.

S: Rich in hops and some fruits, maybe a bit of malts.

T: I wasn't so impressed with this. While the hops were immediately noticable, there wasn't much else to crow about. It didn't seem all that complex.

M: There was a below average amount of carbonation with this beer. Kind slick finish.

D: This one didn't do much for me. It wasn't the worst I've ever had, but not the best either. It simply lacked complexity. Not without its charms, though.

 584 characters

Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
4.01 out of 5 based on 2,144 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.