Brutal Bitter Ale | Rogue Ales

2,149 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: 2,149 |  Reviews: 1,110
Photo of Manosbeeroffate
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought this locally at PDQ Market. Pours a really nice golden orange color. Smell is of faint citrus. Taste is a very strong citrusy hops, very tasty actually. Good mouthfeel. Overall very drinkable and a really nice beer. But brutal bitter? Just in name only unless your used to sweet beers. I guess they needed a name. It's good stuff, go for it.

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

A: Clear amber without much head to speak of, but a lingering, foamy lace.

S: Hops, pine, citrus - this beer smells great.

T: Lots of hops, bitter grapefruit, lemon zest. A straightforward brew, but delicious all the same.

M: Medium-bodied, bubbly carbonation, extremely refreshing.

This is one of my favorite Rogue beers. While it's not as complex as some of their others, the flavor is delicious and the aroma very enticing. A great "thirst-quenching" beer.

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Photo of Cresant
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this 12 oz., undated brown bottle into a .5 L Spaten mug. Huge, puffy 4+ fingers of off-white head gently receded leaving stringy clumps of lace. Body was cloudy and the color of fresh apricots. Pretty.

Smelled of citrusy hops. Earthy. Mild.

Tasted not surprisingly of citrus-like hops (100% Crystal). Very well balanced considering the name. Even more malty as it warmed. Quenching and quickly consumed.

Medium body. Not complex but very easy to drink, worth purchasing again.

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Photo of stouty1
3.43/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Didn't get much head with my pour. Wrong glass? I poured into a Chalis. Anyway what was there was only a fine sparse head which looked like it could be a creamy very light marshmallow color.

Smells of hops and fruit. Some Apples or Pear and citrus definitely citrusy.

Taste is oily hops with a bite of too much carbonation (like a Coke). (I don't drink soda so it really stings me.) Not much to the flavor except hops and bitterness. Mouthfeel is weak with no chewyness at all.

Leaves a slight bitterness afterwards which leaves your mouth dry. Very drinkable and goes down quickly. Probably the light mouthfeel.

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Photo of UncleFlip
3.43/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Tongiht's CD to review by: 'Iguana Iguana' by The Reptile Palace Orchestra
Tonight's reviewing glass: Grumpy Troll Brewpub pint glass

Picked this one up from a friend recently, but can't remember where or when. At 6.5%, it's on the "only if we change the law" list here in Bama.

First thing I notice is the very active fluffly just off-white head. Liquid is honey to peach, just ever so slightly hazy, with many bubbles clinging to the side of the glass.

Smell is all about fruity to piney hops. If one inhales deeply enough to snort, there's some malt there.

The flavour is rather fruity and spicy up front. There's some fresh orange, apricot, and nuts here. There's some woody spice along the way the whole time, with a kind of sharp dryness at the end.

Mouthfeel is just a little too harsh on the carbonation. The liquid is hearty, and just a touch oily.

It has its drawbacks, but is actually rather drinkable. It would make a decent sessioner, I think.

Be well

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

Cloudy dark orange color with a formidable head. I've never tried this one and it looks a bit intimidating. Enticing hoppy aroma.

Strong hoppy flavor. Very strong. The hops sit right at the base of the tongue and stick around for a while. Nice but strong hoppy aftertaste. Although it doesn't have an extraordinarily high %ABV, has a bit of that strong alcoholic flavor. This is a strong bitter. [Note: alcoholic flavor mellows out as the beer warms up.]

Has a thick body, but an easy drinkability. This one will fill you up. Unusually heavy for an IPA/bitter. A sipper, not a chugger. Incredibly dry.

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Photo of kimcgolf
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured to a cloudy golden orange with medium off-white head that reduced to a white foam on top and decent lacing. Aroma was very strongly hops, with hints of florall and citrus. Taste was brutally bitter as the name implied, with the hints of citrus again. Finish was dry, as expected. This was a very tasty beer, and once again, Rogue did not disappoint.

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Photo of loving44
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Whole Foods Market in Torrance, CA. No freshnes date on silk-screened label.

Appearance: Pours slightly syrupy with a quick rising bubbly head that fades to 1/2 an inch. dark amber like fresh apple cider.

Smell: Simple aroma...citrus with sweet malty backing. Very crisp and inviting, it makes the back of my tongue twinge with anticipation.

Taste: sweet rich malty and doughy up front followed by herbal hop flavor reminiscent of unsweetened iced tea, ending with prickly bitter hops. This ale is extremely well balanced as a good ESB should be.

Mouthfeel: Thick with nice carbonation. Smooth as a bed sheet sliding over your tongue. Very nice.

This would make a great session brew, well balanced flavor, not overwhelming yet very flavorful. Grab one if you're in the mood for something simple and enjoyable; with a meal or with friends.

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Photo of JohnnyM2002
3.28/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a pint glass at approximately 35 degrees.

Not very pleased with this offering from Rogue. It poured a nice orange/light brown with a 2 inch head. Smells nice, too - of citrus and hops with a little spice. Very hoppy but not much to balance the hop-kick. The citrus smell didn't carry over to the taste buds and I had a hard time figuring out the taste because of that...kept expecting more than I was getting out of it.

Not in my top list of Rogue brews...not a good balance of hops and taste.

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

Appearance: Copper/orangish in color. White foamy head that stuck around and left some nice looking lacing.

Smell: Piney and citrusy aroma of hops.

Taste: Plenty of hops in this beer, more than I expected from this ESB. It has the bitterness and hop flavor that I always hoped would be in an ESB with enough malt to bring a bit of balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body.

Drinkability: Great, easy to drink beer. I enjoyed it and would buy it again.

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

A: Pours a orangish amber color. The head poured white and left pretty quick with mine but left some lacing.

S: The first thing that hits you is the piney hops and then citrus aromas.

T: Wow! Lots of hops man. The bitter hops were the first thing that hit my tongue. Toasty malt notes are there too with a sweet cirtus aftertaste. The bitterness pretty much dominates as the name implies. If you like the more bitter beers you will enjoy this one otherwise might want to pass on this.

M: The moutfeel is kind of oily from the hops. Quite a bit of carbonation but as others have said not too dry.

D: Not too bad but the bitterness might be too much for some. But then again you would not be buying this style if you did not like bitter right? Me personally after having one of these I would move to something a little less bitter.

Overall a good quality beer and if your in the mood for a bitter can't go wrong with this one.

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

Wicked copperish amber color. Cloudy with a thick chunky off white head. Very attractive.

Big oily piney hop aroma. Quite pleasing.

The taste reminds me of a big American IPA. Very hoppy, floral, piney. With a malty bitter slightly sweet finish. I love the taste.

This is a fantastic beer. Right up the hophead's alley.

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Photo of Applesauce1
4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got the Brutal Bitter at the Pit Stop in Nelsonville, OH

Appearance: poured it into my Arrogant Bastard pint glass and got about a half inch head; the head disappeared a little quick but still looked good; bronze color

Smell: hops and something else (not sure), not bad, but nothing great

Taste: this is the stuff; hoppy with some unique malt (very similar to bitterness you get from Rogue's American Amber Ale) I think all of Rogue ales have a similarity in the same way Sam Adams' beers do. There may also be hint of orange in here. Excellent!

Mouthfeel: medium to full bodied; good carbonation
Drinkability: could drink at least two in a night

This is another quality beer from Rogue. I'll have to visit the brewery sometime.

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Photo of plaztikjezuz
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
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 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.

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Photo of PCaravan
4.51/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've been waiting for a while to try this one and finally found it.

Amber gold in color that pours a thin white head that quickly fades but leaves a ring of foam around the edge of the glass that clings.

Clean smooth and strong floral citrusy aroma but not overpowering.

Taste is primarily of the hops and of the same profile as the aroma. Bitterness is substantial but very soft and smooth and lingers in the finish. Nice balance.

Mouthfeel has a nice carbonation level and has a very creamy feal.

Highly drinkable due to it's soft, smooth, and balanced bitterness.

Reminds me a lot of a American style pale ale but not nearly as pungient or rough as many of those (and I like them too).

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

Never being a big Bitter fan i was a little curious to how i was going to like this, thinking it was going to compare to a fullers, however I must say it was very good. Poured a nice amber color with a very sweet smell. Overall not as bitter as some people might think, i have had regular IPA that had more of a bitter taste than this. Was definitly another great output from Rogue.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.87/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a bright orange copper with ample bubbles clinging to the sides of my pint. These were releasing and steaming upwards, sustaining the uneven film of creamy dirty white that left some messy steaks of lace. Half way through my pint, the head was nowhere to be found.

Upon smelling, I let out a long, drawn out, “Wow.” There’s a huge amount of dehydrated pineapple here nestled atop a base of honey, mushrooms and diner rolls. Very nice.

The flavor begins with an intense woody hop that has elements of birch bark, mushroom and juniper. The malt base consists of a soft oat and cantaloupe. In the finish, the hops dry out even more and reveal a residual coffee. Seemed way to strong for the style.

The mouth feel is medium bodied with a very active mini-carbonation. For the flavors involved, this seemed a bit much.

Although this is a very tasty beer, I am uncertain as to how this fits in with it’s stated style. Other ESBs I have had have been far more subtle and delicate where as the hops in this one really stand up and cause quite a commotion. Perhaps this one is better touted as a Double ESB?


So I finished my review and proceeded to get lost in the BA forums (like ya do). When I finished my pint, I got up to pour the rest of the bottle into my glass. Not realizing this was bottle conditioned, I just tipped the bottle back and got all the goodies on the bottom into my glass. It looked really terrible, but upon tasting, the grains were really amplified and there was an expected nuttiness to it. Although it tremendously and negatively impacted the appearance, this really balanced out the hop profile of this one quite a bit.

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Photo of bruachan
3.76/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

this is one of those beers i see all the time and don't bother to pick it up precicesly because of that. i finally did; let's see how it is

toasty malt aromas, with caramel and some nice sweetness. flavors from the vienna malt shine through, though hops overshadow them to a certain degree.

crowning a nice copper body, is some great lacing and a thin foam, which is sustained by carbonation that really is too intense to fit the ESB mold. also, Brutal is definitely too bitter and hop-focused to be a real ESB. that's not all i'm considering, however, in my rating

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

Appearance: Poured a cloudy burnt orange out of a handsome bomber bottle. A fluffy white head rests on top. The head, inflected with yellowish hints, retains lustily. Lace clings in clumps to the glass.

Smell: Citrusy hops interspersed with clean, bready malts. Caramel, and nectar, with some hoppy vigor that is very refreshing.

Taste: Boldly malty and hoppy at once. Thoroughly flavorful, yet in excellent balance. Bitter, floral hops meet up with caramelly, toasty malts and throw a taste party.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, spruced up with carbonation. Enduring bitterness. Refreshing.

Drinkability: Per the style, a highly drinkable beer. Refreshing, with fine flavor, and relaxing properties.

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Photo of Deconstructionis
4.7/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorites beers.

It's a cloudy bright amber, almost orange in the light. with a thick finely beaded head that not only persists but will cling to the edge of the glass above the "water-line." This is a bottle conditioned ale so there is some sediment

The aroma is rich with prominent hops and a toasted malt/ fresh yeast bread character.. The taste is boldly bitter and the hops are upfront (of course), but it's not overly dry as the rich malt balances well. It's medium body with somewhat more carbonation than the ales of this type you'll get on tap in Britain. Very drinkable. ESBs are not everyone's favorite but for fans of this style-- this is a world-class offering.

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Photo of egajdzis
3.76/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a cloudy amber color with a tight white head and nice lacing. Nice citrus (predominantly orange) hop aroma. It's nice having a brew with one type of hop, it helps you learn what each nop smells/tastes like. Bitter grapefruit flavor. Nicely balanced

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Photo of jettjon
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, cloudy pale reddish-orange-brown with a few tiny bubbles rising up. Smallish brow tan head, quickly fades to a thin cap, leaving decent lacing. Nose is bold strong hops and malt. Taste: yep, hops all right, pushing IPA status. However, the hops is rapidly dominated or balanced by the malt. Finishes bitter, lingers on the palate, dry and bitter. Mouth is semi-creamy, semi-syrupy, substantial yet watery and smooth. Good drinkability due to mouthfeel and flavor balance.

Overall: A good bitter ale, nice hops presence with good flavor balance. Definitely recommended, especially for hops lovers.

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Photo of Toddv29424
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours with a traditional dark gold color, but has a very unconventional cascade effect when poured vigorously. Smell is a well balanced blend of hops and malt, with the hops slightly overpowering. There is a surprising amount of hops for a Bitter, but I would expect nothing less from Rogue. They give it a very fruity taste with a perfect amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel is also great, again with a good balance of flavor and carbonation.

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Photo of ericj551
4.59/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served room termperature, Brutal Bitter pours a cloudy light amber with a bubbly white head. The aroma immediately brings to mind sweet, hoppy unfermented wort. I've never noticed it before but thats all I can smell with this beer. The taste is sweet and malty at first, than changes quickly to a nice bitterness with a lot of hop flavor. Just like Dead Guy and the Old Crustacean barleywine, if the price were more towards the norm for the style, these would definitely be in my fridge every night.

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
4.01 out of 5 based on 2,149 ratings.
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