Brutal Bitter Ale | Rogue Ales

2,150 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: 2,150 |  Reviews: 1,110
Photo of mdagnew
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

355ml bottle bought from

Poured a deep coppery orange colour with a slight haze. Creamy head with a hint of orange poured fairly thick and foamy with a pock marked topping then faded to light covering... light stream of carbonation bubbles drifts slowly to the surface... some sticky patches of lacing...

Aroma - Strong juicy fruits (oranges, grapefruits, apples, pears) backed by some lightly toasted caramel malts, some biscuity notes, quite floral and perfumed, light honey sweetness, good piney and grassy hops, hint of resiny sap, marmalade notes, hint of marzipan...

Taste - Lots of strong piney and grassy hop bitterness to the fore with some medicinal notes in the background, quite herbal - light hints of basil, very floral and perfumed, sweet caramel malts come through after the hops, very juicy fruits (grapefruits, oranges, pears), faint anise traces...

M&D - Fairly sharp and dry... light / medium bodied... a very quaffable brew although maybe just slightly too strong to be sessionable...

Overall - An excellent US take on an ESB... recommended...

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4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a hazy golden amber with a billowy, relentless off-white head that left beautiful lacing all the way to the bottom of the galss.

S: Pine resin and citrus with toasted almond.

T: The standout flavor was that of kumquats. The finish tastes of bitter citrus and light bready yeast.

M: Medium with perfect carbonation.

D: I'll definitely be picking up plenty more of this in the future.

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Photo of SurlyDuff
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite Rogues, and one of the highest rated esb's out there.

A rich glowing reddish copper color, with a nice robust foam.

Aroma at first is their propietary pacman yeast,then ofcourse big floral hoppiness and with a high alpha impression.

A raw pithy rind kinda taste at first. Pine and grapefruit like a big ipa up front, but it fades to a nice crisp bitterness. Other breweries would call this a big beer or a reserve series, but this is just one of Rogues several flagships. A great drinker in every respect. A have fond memories of sitting down with a bomber of this in college and sipping it for a good hour or more. mmmm....

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Photo of babaracas
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber, slightly hazy (apparently bottle conditioned?) with off-white head, lacing for the first inch or so. Smell: hops upfront, caramel sweetness underneath. Taste: hops: citrus rind, piney, raw and earthy. Definite wheat malts with some caramel sweetness and a bit English with some background toffee + buttery flavors. Mouthfeel: Fluffy wheat beer mouthfeel (odd for an esb) with a little too much carbonation and a moderately bitter finish. Decent west coast take on an esb.

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Photo of cdkrenz
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Tangerine color with a frothy, 2 inch, medium tan colored head. The body is hazy and allows just enough light through. Very inviting.

S - Soapy hops arranging images of strawberry licorice and plums.

T - It starts off with a huge kick of hops right from the get go all the way to the end where it finishes with a tart hoppy flavor.

M - Very smooth feel. It goes down easily without leaving a coarse trail.

~ The name isn't kidding! This brew is filled with brutally bitter hops. I'm happy take this bottle a suck it back but more than one in a night may not be manageable. Regardless, I think Rogue got exactly what they wanted when they set out to concoct this ESB.

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Photo of adamette
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at The Winking Lizard in Fairlawn, Ohio a few hours ago into a 22 oz. clean, clear pint glass, the "hoppy hoppy" special of the month.

A Has a one finger moderate very light brown head over a burnt orange hazy, murky body. I really like the look of this beer. The head dissipated down to a trace within 60 seconds. Some lacing but only right where the beer had just been as I drank it.

S Dry hopped smell. It as if I am in a field of hops and the wind is brisk.

T Hops bitterness in the front but this fades (thankfully) to a nice, malty, hoppy complexity that I really appreciated over the 22 oz. I was not a big hops fan but it is efforts like these that are helping me be more and more open to hoppy beers (and inspire me to get the "hoppy hoppy handle" at Winking Lizard).

M Full with hoppy bitterness with the malty backdrop.

D Fair with hoppy bitterness and bigness of this beer.

Notes: As indicated above I was pleasantly suprised with this beer as I have not enjoyed hoppy stuff in the recent past. I recommend it.

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

Enjoyed a sampler of this at the Gingerman without asking after the barkeep saw me using my blackberry to check out the new editions on this site.

A: Color was cloudy off-orange, khaki head with sediments rolling around. Soapy scrappy lace on even a small sampler glass was impressive indeed.

S: The nose was slighly sweet and a good portion hoppy coming afterward and remaining. I betch the boys at Rouge have about 3-4 hops mixed in with this one from first snifin.

T: I should have remembered this was a west coast beer when having a bitter, always thinking English. Bitter at first, followed by citrus, and small malts in the rear.

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Photo of stephens101
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours brown with orange hues. A large, bubbly tan head sinks slowly and leaves some chunky, scattered lacing behind. Hops with some subtle citrus behind them rise to the nose. There's also a bit of caramel sweetness present. The taste has a very nice hop bite which doesn't strike the taste buds like a double IPA, but is quite noticeable, and very satisfying. There's also some spice, malts and perhaps some light fruits involved. Mouth-feel is medium bodied, and there's little carbonation. If you're in the mood for some hops, but a APA sounds a little tame, and a DIPA sounds a little wild, then this is the beer for you.

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Photo of brendan13
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a pint glass a hazy orange tinted dark golden colour with a half inch fluffy white head that falls quite quick. Minimal lacing.
S - Floral and citrus hop notes, some bready malt hints.
T - Much like the smell, floral and citrus hops with a nice bready malt character to back it up.
M - Medium bodied with a moderate carbonation. Not as bitter as I was expecting given the name.
D - Something I could easily drink a few of. Enough character to keep things interesting without being overpowering.

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Photo of lhaqq
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Off-white head with good lacing, orange-gold cloudy body.
S: Strongly of floral hops. Also reminds me of dark tea--like earl grey or assam.
T: Honey is the predominate flavor I first pick up. Also diacetyl, and some subtle malts and hops.
M: Light, but sharp going down. Short bitter aftertaste.
D: A good session beer--was a bit skeptical because of the name but was definitely surprised. Will try to get again.

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Photo of Grabbin2nd
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

from notes: 9/5/08
Rogue Brutal Bitter from a 22 oz. Bomber 59 ibu's no abv??

-Big initial 3 finger head, long retention. Off white head
-Good full mouth feel, carbonation but just fine
-I haven't had that much exposure to "bitter" beers but I'd say this is a good drinkable example of the style.
-Bitter finish, not overwhelming, finishes clean
-Good balance of flavors, nothing really sticks out
-Good color, almost the exact color of the label on the bottle
-The definition of a good beer, nothing bad, nothing special.

Need more hops!!!
I'd buy again

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

I poured a 12 ounce brown capped bottle into a pint glass.

A: It poured a thick, cloudy, orangish body with a moderate one finger head that receded fast. There was an even and dense lacing that clung to the side of the glass long into the drink.

S: It had a light toasted malt base with a distinct and powerful blend of floral and bitter and spicy hops.

T: It was a well balanced brew with a toasted and creamy malt base and a powerful and spicy hop profile. The hops blend well but remain distinct and defining. The alcohol is well hidden.

M: It was a medium bodied beer with a smooth and creamy body accented by spices that gently bite the tongue. It has moderate carbonation and finishes dry and clean.

D: It is a powerful and flavorful ESB...among the best IMHO. It was smooth and filling with a modest ABV and wonderful mouthfeel.

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

Poured into a pint glass.

4.5 A: Hazy rusty orange color with a head that don't quit (retains well). Lots of lacing, very nice.

4.0 S: Big citrus aroma. Light fruits. Floral hops for balance.

4.0 T: Hops dominate lending their bittery goodness and a great amount of flavor. Malts are there but don't quite balance out hops.

4.0 M: Medium body that's a bit low on carbonation. Really smooth, a bit chewy.

4.0 D: Good beer, but one is plenty. Maybe alternating this hop bomb with a malty treat would be the ticket. Either way, quality brew.

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

This is an exceptional brew. Not as bitter as the label states. This beer has a nice hop aroma to it. it pours a nice hazy amber with an incredible two finger off white head that lasts forever. Also has excellent lacing. Very frothy head. Has a nice taste of hops and citrus but not a strong one. Excellent overall beer. You could sip on these bad boys all day long.

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Photo of MrMonkey
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy orange/amber with a two-finger off-white head that lasts for much of the glass but leaves scant lacing.

Smell is orange and grapefruit, a hint of caramel, and some burnt bread crusts.

Taste doesn't have any of the citrus that the nose has. It begins with an assault of bitter floral hops, followed by the burnt bread crusts, before a very long, dry, extremely bitter finish.

Medium-bodied, crisp mouthfeel.

A very solid ESB, and a great everyday-drinking beer.

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

The aroma is a floral hop smell, wirh a caramel malt sweetness in the background. The taste is identical. Very enjoyable caramel/brown sugar sweetness up front, sliding into a nice clean bittering from the floral hops toward the back. The finish is nice and clean, and has a pleasant hoppy bitterness. Medium mouthfeel. Very drinkable; I could easily do 5 or 6 of these. Excellent beer overall.

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Photo of erikm25
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Glowing light honey orange. Sits in the glass a hazy peach coloring. Aggressive pour yields a one finger head with nice retention. Lacing is minimal.

S: Subtle buttered caramel malts with floral hops. Despite the bitter tag the nose is very warm and balanced with wheat and apples. Vanilla and banana splashed with lemons.

T: While there is grapefruit bitterness it is still very well balanced with rounded sweetness. Citrus zing coupled with caramelized sugars. Hints of pine and peppers with some tartness.

M: Medium and creamy mouth feel with low carbonation.

D: This drinks smooth and easy. While not brutal it is still an impressive effort. Crisp finish that goes well with loud thrashing metal.

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Photo of Kadonny
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
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 rye726
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours a rich brown color and holds a nice tan head. The nose has lots of bitter hops as well as some caramel malts. The taste has bitter citrus hops that are again well balanced by the subtle malt presence. A clean crisp body suits the style well. A good ESB from Rogue.

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

Look: Cloudy amber with little to no head retention

Aroma: Sweet caramel with light floral hops

Taste: Perfectly balanced sweet malt and hop bitterness, with a great lingering finish

A fantastic beer, good sesionability. The high IBU's create a refreshing bitterness while the sweetness of the malts give it the body it needs to keep you coming back for more. Highly recommend this one.

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Photo of jeffmonarch
3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle in a pint glass.

A - Cloudy yellow orange with a thick white head.

S - Malt and hops. Very mild.

T - Very strong wheat flavor with good bitters taste. Very good.

M - Medium bodied with good carbonation.

D - Good beer. I am not a fan of ESB's but for the style this is good.

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Photo of n00tz
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Golden-copper body, blonde head that diminishes, excited carbonation right out of the bottle.

S - Sweet bready yeast scent right off the bad, followed quickly by a bitter bite.

T - Flowery hop flavor initially, quick sweetbread hint before a sharp bitter hop takes the stage. Great ESB.

M - Warms the tongue in a blanket of carbonation, finishes leaving the floral hops on the palate and bread in the subsequent burps.

D - Very enjoyable ESB offering from Rogue. I will gladly have this again.

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Photo of Roeters
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Orange copper color with a thick white head that quickly falls to a thin layer of foam on top. Great lacing!

S: Sweet syrup font followed by mild bitterness

T: A bitterness that starts in the front and continues to build through till the end and leaves a mild bitter after taste. Around the back a slight alcohol flavor emerges.

M: A nice mild body that accents the bitterness of the brew.

D: Easy to drink if you enjoy the bitterness.

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, cloudy amber color with a nice head.

Hoppy scent, with some citrus and bready malts.

Taste of citrus, caramel, bready malts, and some sugars.

Crisp mouthfeel with a nice bite from the bitterness.

A good beer, but the are a few Rogue beers I would choose over this one.

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Photo of Rootdog316
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Cloudy cider orange. The aggressive pour yielded almost no head. Yeast sediment was floating throughout.

Aroma: Sweet flowery hops.

Taste: Citrusy hops and sweet malts, but not an over abundance of either.

Mouthfeel: Thin, yet silky.

Overall: Highly drinkable, and I would love to find this on tap. It's flavor profile reminds me of a sessionable double IPA. Definitely worth a try.

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
4.01 out of 5 based on 2,150 ratings.
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