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Brutal Bitter Ale | Rogue Ales

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Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale
Very Good
2,157 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: 2,157 |  Reviews: 1,110
Photo of mwearl
3.71/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rich copper in color, this bitter has a thick head with excellent lacing. Nothing special about the smell, maybe a little citrus scent. As the name states, a great bitter beer. Not a lot of complexity as the bitter is very predominent. Overall, a great beer in its class of bitter beers.

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Photo of vanrassel
3.44/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 mL bomber with a nice hazy apricot colour and a foamy two-finger head. The head had great retention and left sticky pillows of lace hanging from the side of my glass.

The smell was pretty one-dimensional: grapefruit hops. Some caramel became evident as it warmed but this is an ESB — not an American IPA. I thought the same thing about the taste, primarily citric hops, some aspirin and not much else.

This is a decent beer in its own right, but I don't think it particularly conforms to the style.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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Photo of Orrshow
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This beer is a very cloudy orange with yellowish tones. The head is plentiful, frothy, and a nice off white. Some lacing is left on the glass.

Smell – Smell is dominated by hops. Floral and fruit aromas arise from these hops and are complimented by a pine like smell as well.

Taste – Right off the bat this beer makes you know it’s hoppy. Floral hop flavors are present with strong citrus along with it. That pine aspect from the smell is present in the flavor and some malt sweetness gives this beer a nice balance.

Mouthfeel – Substantial body with a slightly oily texture. Carbonation is there but not overpowering.

Drinkability – Good. I find this easy to quaff or sip.

A stand up beer. One I plan to reunite with here and then when I crave a nice bitter.

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Photo of Bookseeb
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A hazy amber color with an off white head that sticks around. Smell of sweet malt and fruit with a nice hop aroma. Taste has a nice sweet fruity flavor with a hoppy punch. It has a medium mouthfeel that has a nice balance between the sweet malt and the hops, making it full bodied but not as hoppy as expected with a clean aftertaste.

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Photo of younger35
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank out of a regular ol pint glass poured from a 22oz bomber.

Appearance- Poured a very golden color with hues of orange. Slightly hazy but still allows a lot of light. Formed a very nice sticky white head that dissipates pretty quick. Leaves a fair amount of lacing.
Smell- Very citrusy hops dominate the aroma here with tiny wiffs of piney goodness. Subtle sweet doughy malt hides in the background.
Taste- A nice balanced hop malt combo that I didn’t expect. Nice grapefruit citrus comes out right away mellowing nicely. Semi sweet from a light nice malt background. No real alcohol warming is perceived. Not at all Brutal.
Mouthfeel- Medium light carbonation that is pretty nice. Has more of a “thick” type body that what you would expect.
Drinkability- I really like this brew. It’s got a very nice balance to it that is not at all Brutal. Perhaps they should rename it to Pleasantly Bitter.

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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 Erdinger2003
2.53/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a nice big head and has a brownish orange color. It has almost no lacing. Poured a little yeast in there so it's very cloudy. Smell is hoppy with some fruity smells, kind of like candy. The flavor reminds me of the sticky carpet my mom used to vaccum up. It's just so bad, these flavors are wrong, something bad has happened between the brewery and this. Mouthfeel is alright, not very impressive. Overall it would take a lot for me to try this again.

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Photo of gordavidson
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a slightly cloudy golden color with a little white head that settles to absolutely nothing. The liquid looks good, but with no head to admire, it was kind of sad.

S- Some piney hops and and some sweet bready malt backing.

T- This is where the action is at. Piney hops, sweet malt, some earthiness. The hops do most of the talking here. Not as bitter as the name would lead you to believe.

M- Light and somewhat bubbly, not outstanding, but it gets the job done.

D- A good beer that I am glad I got to try. Interesting and worthwhile.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I couldn't put my finger on the hop type of this beer, it's somewhat like cascade, but not quite. I like it though. I like cascades more than centennial hops.

This beer had an awesome strong aroma that was very hoppy. The taste was hoppy in balance to the malts, which were much more complex. A bready and biscuitiness was there as well as some caramel malt flavor.

Most ESBs I've had are more balanced than this one, yet this beer is still good and maitains a sense of balance. The malts lead the complexity here but the hop flavor is dominant. It's interesting as the undertones are more complex. A nice brew that I would welcome in my fridge any time.

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Photo of gottajiboo2
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a cloudy amber orange-ish with viable small bits swirling around. it formed a medium head that quickly faded into a thin white halo around the glass. a delicious hop aroma embraced my nose, and tasted a bubbly bitter delight finishing a slight sticky bitter finish, nice mouth feel. I could drink a number of these. very tasty.


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Photo of wcdoyle
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a luscious copper color and maintains a cloudiness even after a few minutes settling: oh, those painful minutes. Head initially pours thick and tight, but this settled down and left a thin head. Awesome lacing. Carbonation is moderate.

Flavor seems bright citrus (more lemon than anything) at first which sticks around as the maltiness fills in. The malts fade and your left with the hops. I tried this in late winter (on a warm day) and it made me wish it was the height of summer, when this beer would really shine.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Brews Cafe. Hazy copper in color, with a nice white foamy head. Good retention, and great patches of lace clinging to the sides of the glass. Citrusy and slightly piney in aroma. Caramel malt followed by some citrusy hop flavor, which seems to fade almost into a mint-like quality. Good amount of bitterness in this one. Medium body. A little less carbonation might make this one even better. Very easy to drink. A nice American twist on an English style.

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Photo of BWH3
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Rogue Brutal Bitter 12oz Bottle
Drinking Vessel: Goblet
Temp: 40 F allowed to warm

Appearance: Golden orange and lightly carbonated ale topped by a thin white head that lasts a fair amount of time.

Scent: Light malt and hints of wheat with pleasant earthy hop aroma.

Taste: A clean, crisp even bitterness predominates without being pungent or overpowering. The bitterness fades nicely with little aftertaste. Flavor fits style well.

Mouthfeel: Light and perfectly carbonated.

Drinkability: Very refreshing beer by itself, but I think it would be a great accompaniment to cheese, seafood, or anything salty.

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Photo of atsprings
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured two glasses out of a 22oz bomber. The first beer poured a crisp clear amber brew while the second one was more cloudy, must be bottle conditioned although the bottle does not state so. The aroma was somewhat weak although it did show some bitter citrus hops. The taste was a good blend of both citrus and piney hops, it was certainly not overly bitter. This is a very easy drinking hoppy beer. There was good level of carbonation with well hidden alcohol. This is a great overall brew, it's just a little pricey as to be expected with all Rouge beers.

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Photo of treehugger02010
3.26/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I got this 650 ml bottle from the Foodery in Center City Philadelphia, Pa. I poured it into a pint glass, well twice I guess.
Appearance: It poured a light amber color producing about a finger of head. There was thin lacing the way down. The head was a whitish color, but not quite white.
Smell: The smell was a nice hoppy and yet mild, certainly not "extra" bitter.
Taste: The taste left something to be desired. It had a wonderful hop, but no background at all.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel was similar, leaving much to be desired.
Drinkability: This was a pretty drinkability beer even though it was a bit lacking.
Don't drink and review.

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Photo of Jwaks
3.06/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a chill hazed honey yellow with peach highlights, half a finger of appealing white foam decorate the top of this brew with a touch of very fine, lively carbonation throughout the brew. An admirable ring of lace clings to the glass just above a dense, patchy foam cap. Lacing, head retention are good, carbonation and color are a bit lacking; other esbs boast a more colorful, fuller body with better carbonation.

Aromas of hop bitters, citrus, lemongrass and an odd grainy, funky character come through on the nose along with very subtle hints of wheat, moldy old cheese and hay. Not very complex and moderately appealing, except for the odd aromas, this smells like a moderately strong engish style bitter.

As advertised brutal bitter hops strike the palate upon entry reinfoced by a bit of pine resin and citrus zest. An interesting mid palate offers more bitter citrus with odd grainy corn and moldy cheese flavor that lasts until the moderately dry, bitter and slightly blowsy finish. The aftertaste features bitter leafy greens and hints of mint with a refreshing citrus flavor. Supporting malt is severely lacking, all the tasty bitters would benefit from well tuned pale malt to reduce the impact of off flavors and give the bitters body and depth.

This brew offers a medium body lending a good grip on the finish though it is very unidimensional. "Brutal bitters" are not totally overwhelming and when paired with the dry finish I was able to finish a pint without a problem.

Overall, a good example of an traditional English bitter.


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Photo of wagenvolks
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick, cloudy pour into a tasting glass. Looks a bit like muddy water...un-impressive overall look. Aroma is a different story, with pineapple, pear and other fruity notes. Hops is present, but rather weak.

Taste has a decently strong hop note and a great level of malt, as well as organic wheat/barley. Mouthfeel is exceedingly juicy, very refreshing with a nice bitter bite on the end of the beer. Very drinkable ESB here...lacks a bit in complexity though.

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Photo of cameraman
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A hazy amber color that fades towards the bottom of the glass. An inch thick head forms and it laces slowly along the sides of the glass. A very stong malty sweetness, with touches of dried fruit in the aroma, then a the sweeping scent of citrus comes in to blend the aroma, though it is not to overbearing. That maltiness starts out in the flavor, then a burst of bitterness comes out and stays with you till the very end. A very tasty beer. A heavy feel, much like a barleywine, then it slowly fades as it reaches the back of the palate. A very good beer, great to sip on and forget the day. The solid flavor and beautiful aroma, makes you want to drink another or go by another bottle.

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Photo of jaluria
3.45/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appeared a slightly murky, heavily carbonated, soft-orange and yellow color with a thin head that dissipated quickly. Aromas of alcohol, malt, and hops. The flavor was as expected for this style with a nice balance between malt and hops, though hops grow in strength as the session continues. Crisp and flavorful with a hoppy finish. A hint of fruit comes out in the finish as well. Interesting and enjoyable, but too thin and hoppy for the style. I would definitely enjoy another, but not if I was in the mood for a bitter or ESB.

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Photo of Romulus141
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Hefe-Weisse glass.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful amber with a slight tint of orange. The initial head is fluffy. It dissipates after a pour, leaving a layer of foam. Lacing is apparent and viscous. Just by sight alone, I could tell this was going to be a quality beer.

Smell: This has a nice sweet smell. There are notes of citrus. The smell is full, but not overpowering. A very nice balance that complements the appearance.

Taste: A wonderful splash of bitterness followed up with a bready taste that finishes incredibly crisp. There is a slight citrus note within the flavor, as the aroma suggests. The flavor comes in an intense burst, and fades quickly. The hops flavor from this brew is noteworthy. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel: There is a nice density, and thankfully the carbonation is kept to a minimum. When it comes to the other ESBs I've tried, I've been irked by a thin mouthfeel and overcarbonation. Not so with this one. It's actually somewhat dry too, without any oily characteristics, which is nice.

Drinkability: This is a beer to savor, but it's not so heavy that you can't drink a couple in one sitting. I wouldn't session with this, as it's way too good to waste like that, but it goes done smoothly.

One of the best ESBs I've tried. This was my first sampling of the Rogue brewery, and I hope to try more. Recommended.

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Photo of isaac
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle to pint glass.

A - Dark amber/copper body with visible quite carbonation and a rather large-bubbled, off-white head (2-fingers), sinking into slick lacing.

S - Mild, resiny smell with notes of pine and malty sweetness.

T - Smooth, savory taste with just a hint of sweetness from the malts and dry, bitting bitterness (in a sort of lemon or orange rind sort of way) from the hops. The finish nicely combines the two.

M - Relatively high carbonation and hops-bitterness make this beer quite dry and refreshing, if not a bit watery. There is also noticable warming from the alcohol, which seems strange for it only being 6.5%...

D - Concidering that less than a year ago I couldn't take more than a few sips of this beer due to its bitterness, I like it a whole lot more now. I would even go so far to say that they could up the IBUs on this one... I guess that's what happens when you get use to DIPAs. Nonetheless, very enjoyable.

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

Nice looking almost glowing deep orange body, cloudy from all the small floats. Good fluffy head that falls somewhat rapidly to a thin float but still leaves good lace.
Smell of fruits and hops, very faint green apple, grain and bread.
Taste is bready and generously hopped. Good pine presence and abit of citrus. There seems to be a brief cookiedough taste that is gone before you knew it was there. Aftertaste is surprisingly short and gentle.
Good full body and what seems to be a dry finish but it's really just the bitterness that makes it seem so.
Very drinkable and a must try for fellow hopheads.


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Photo of instrumentality
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rogue was the company that really got me interested in the craft brewing industry. Oddly enough, the first beer of theirs that turned me on to them - Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar - doesn't really interest me much anymore. In fact, as a whole, the majority of Rogue's beers are just average for me. However, I've had a couple of brews of theirs that were good enough to convince me that I should at least try anything they have to offer once.

I'm going to try something different in this review - writing in the present tense. Since I'm reviewing as I consume, I figure this is the more natural way to go.

My first bottle of Brutal Bitter Ale has now found a home in my Stone IRS tulip glass. A clean copper body rests beneath a very bubbly, almost champagne-like head that quickly dissolves to lace with a thin halo encircling it. The remnants of the head cling to the glass. The lace looks more even and uniform than that of most beers I've seen, giving it an appearance of freshness and quality.

The odor of this beer blows my mind. My sense of smell is not that well developed, but I have no trouble picking up a variety of intense odors from this brew. The strongest presence is from sweetness, but it's a complex sweetness made up of citrusy tangerine as well as a caramel quality, so rich I'd almost say there's a hint of hot, melted butter in there. Suggestions of grapefruit and pine linger beneath the surface.

I can't remember the last time a beer's odor made me so anxious to see how it tasted. Fortunately, it won't take much effort for me to satisfy that anxiety.

I take a large gulp in my mouth, hold it, and feel a light burning sensation from alcohol. As I slowly swallow, pine and grapefruit emerge, then fade into a very subtle burnt toffee flavor, which in turn transforms into a mild tangerine sweetness. The aftertaste is reminiscent of the burnt skin of a roasted marshmallow.

The next few sips don't lend much additional insight into the beer's flavors. While I do enjoy the taste, my overall reaction at this point is disappointment. The beer tastes fine, but the fantastic odors raised the bar on my expectations, and the taste just doesn't measure up. All of the odors do translate to my taste buds, but the mouth watering sweet qualities (which, ironically, are often a turn-off for me in other beers) become far less potent, while the bitterness, although perfectly fine in and of itself, dominates the other flavors.

Warning: Pour carefully, and watch out for falling chunks.

The mouthfeel, now that I'm pretty far into the bomber, is actually pretty good. There's a mild alcohol burn and a bit of bitterness, but the burnt marshmallow flavor seals it off cleanly. Oddly, the last trickle of liquid tastes so clean it's almost like water.

Rogue's Brutal Bitter is definitely one of their better offerings of the ones I've tried so far, but the odors tell me it has the potential to be so much more. It's mild enough to be easy to drink, but a little more emphasis on the sweet citrus and caramel notes are needed to really give it the full-bodied, rich flavor it deceived me into believing it possessed.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 22 oz. bomber, purchased both in Calgary and Edmonton from time to time.The purple and orange label colour motif reminds me of Halloween...

Pours out a hazy marmalade hue, tall chunky off-white head that recedes slowly and leaves all sorts of crazy lacing along the way.

The aroma, surprisingly enough, is quite subtle. Mild caramel malt, and faint citrusy hops. Am I missing something here?

Then we reach flavour country, and everything starts to come out of hiding. Hops predominate from the very beginning, but in layers. Not the tongue-ripper I was expecting either, the brutal part is in jest. Tangerine, grapefruit, pine, and it gets more oily in texture as it reaches the finish. There is malt behind all of that somewhere, biscuity and semi-sweet, but it is easily over powered. Still, the hops behave themselves, are very user-friendly and won't bite your hand off (or your tongue). I can dig it.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied but slick, oily from the hops.

An easy drinker for having the name "Brutal" in the title, very enjoyable. I plan on grabbing it once again off the shelf next time I see it.

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
Beer rating: 3.98 out of 5 with 2,157 ratings
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