Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Brutal Bitter Ale | Rogue Ales

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
90
outstanding
1,107 Reviews
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Rogue Ales
Oregon, United States | website

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,107
Ratings:
2,131
Avg:
4.01
pDev:
14.71%
 
 
Wants:
94
Gots:
209
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,107 | Ratings: 2,131
Photo of trumick
4.92/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a light amber color with a big head and lots of lacing all around.

Scent is incredible citrus hop and more hops.

Taste is superb lightly sweet malt with nice bittering hops that finishes with a dry grapefruit hop taste that holds on forever.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and crisp with perfect carbination.

Drinkability will suit all hop heads. I could puth these away all day, but this beer is very expensive. Due to the expense, I can only drink these sparingly once in a while.

I have yet to be disapointed with a Rogue product. This is one of the best beers I have ever had.

 597 characters

Photo of rdrummer
4.57/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I admit to being a hop nut so it is no surprise that I found this beer to be awesome. I may like this better than any other Rogue that I've tried. I appreciate the attempt at a single-hopped bitter.

It poured a hazy light amber with medium head that lasted longer than seemed possible. The lacing was thin but extensive. Altogether, a good start to an experience. I could talk about all the hints of aromas that I smelled but this is all about the hops. There is a heavy hint of citrus but it is overwhelmed quickly by hops.

The taste is hoppy beyond belief but there is a sweet malt that somehow balances this a little. It is well-rounded enough that I'm not sure that brutal is the right definition although bitter certainly is.

I love the feel of a hoppy beer in the mouth. It was cleansing and acerbic but also refreshing. This was good from first sip until last. I will be returning to the Brutal Bitter

 917 characters

Photo of rugbycritic
4.8/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is awesome stuff. Great hops, great malt, great alcoholic warming. This is legendary. It's the one we go to after a few, then stay for the evening.

Wonderful warm amber reddish darkness, sparkling white head with massive nose, a bit craggy if you will, with lace. The first taste on a clean palate is stunning. First is hops, then warmth, then hops, then a bit of sweet, then hops, then just nirvanna

 408 characters

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

Twentytwo ounce brown silk screened bottle. No dates.

Deep burnished orange colour. Hazy, with fast moving carbonation. Topped by an impressive off white head. Foam is dense & retains very well, leaving plenty of sticky lace on the glass.

Some biscuity malt aromas lie beneath pithy citrus aromatics.

Plenty hoppy - loads of citrusy flavours. Malt is muted, and overall the flavour is just "plain jane." Medium bodied, rugged carbonation.

 447 characters

Photo of SheepNutz
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22oz. bomber poured into a nonick pint glass. It pours a hazy medium orange color with two fingers of head. There is a good amount of lacing. The smell has lots of hops, both citrus and piney hops. A little bit of biscuit malt in there as well. A fairly nice smell. The taste starts with some bready malt, lightly toasted and sweet. The finish is all hops, very floral. The mouthfeel is nice and thick for the style. The drinkability is really good for a 6.5% bitter. Another damn good beer by the people at Rogue.

 514 characters

Photo of yeagerbm
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poures a hazy orange with a thick white head. Smell and taste is awesome, tastes like a great ESB only kicked up a notch! Incredible citrusy and earthy hop aroma. This is very well balanced with flavorful malt and pronounced english hops, a delicious beer for hopheads.

 269 characters

Photo of carln26
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was fortunate to try this beer the 1st time on tap at RedBones, and I wasn’t disappointed. It pours a deep copper with a nice 1 inch head, and lace on the rim that stayed for each sip. The aroma was mildly floral with a nice citrus backing from the hops, and just a hint of the malt. The taste was of the citrus from the hops with just a hint of caramel. A mild bite in the middle of the taste with the malt on the finish. This would be a great session beer. It had a medium mouth feel and a very high drinkability. Pour me another.

 535 characters

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

Pours a cloudy dark orange-amber, topped with a three finger pillowy off-white head. Leaves sheets of lacing.
Very fragrant floral aroma, spicy, light toast and toffee.
Floral and citrus taste, good grapefruit taste and bitterness. Good malt base in the back of all the hops. Light caramel undertone.
Medium bodied, great session drink anytime beer.

 352 characters

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

Cask Draught: A nice find at Eli Cannons. Served at proper cellar temperature. It pours a slightly amber, dark golden color. Mine ended up with quite a bit of head on it, which did linger awhile. It was dense with very small bubbles. The aroma is rich and malty, with hints of pine and grapefruit hops. Well balanced malt body with a bit of a hop bite. Very good example of this style.

 385 characters

Photo of Godspeed
4.8/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Until this past weekend I had trouble locating this particular Rogue beer. The local package stores I frequent never had it in stock, despite carrying most of the other selections from this fine brewery.

Needless to say I was surprised to see a whole shelf dedicated to this marvelous concoction at Trader Joe's in Cambridge: a grocery store with a small but impressive selection of micros. They had Brutal Bitter in stock, and plenty of them. All in 22 ounce bomber form.

I tipped the bottle, and out flowed a hazy orange liquid. The bubbly head materialized soon after and then diminished slowly, leaving a thin oily lacing. I swirled the newly poured beverage and sniffed. Orange rinds and grapefruits wafted through my nose. I found the tart, hoppy aroma to be quite enticing. I took a sip and was surprised at the smooth, fresh character of this beer. Not at all what I expected from an ESB. Creamy malt sweetness with a citrusy, crisp hop flavor. Overall very well balanced considering the powerful hop presence. Very, very drinkable. Yes, I could see myself downing several of these in rapid succession.

In retrospect I guess I had modest expectations. To be frank, "Brutal" and "Bitter" are adjectives I normally wouldn't associate with such an appetizing beverage. Well I couldn't have been more wrong. This is a session beer like none other. I dare say it's my favorite Rogue brew.

 1,402 characters

Photo of francisweizen
4.52/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Light orange with an off-white head that stays the night and leaves nice lacing to boot! The aroma is a wonderfully fresh blend of citrusy/piney hops and sweet, fruity malts. I also smell some lovely bread-like aromas and an interesting spicy aroma that I cannot fully describe. The taste is all that the aromas hint at. Fruity, hoppy, spicy, and lovely. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and very, very creamy and the drinkability is absolutely amazing. Finishing a bomber of this stuff is like finishing a liter of Fiji water after a 5 mile jog! A good rogue offering, but suprisingly light and refreshing for them. There is nothing brutal, about this "bitter"!

 660 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Gauzy peachy orange with what looks like dust motes swirling within the liquid. The light beige head persists for a bit as a thick, sponge-like disk atop the beer and leaves chunky scraps of lace on the glass.

The nose is impressively hoppy. If I didn't know better, I'd have said that Cascade, Centennial or a combination of the two make up the hop bill. So this is what Crystal hops smell like. They smell more like pink grapefruit than white and I think that I can pick out some pineapple esters as well. Malt, schmalt. This one is all about the hops.

Upon tasting... it appears as though I can add another hop to my growing list of favorites. I don't absolutely love Crystal as I do some others, but it is very, very good. Pithily bitter citrus fruit is front and center with pink grapefruit leading the way.

In terms of flavor contribution, malt is in the background. I'm only aware of its presence because the bittering is so well-supported and because there's a hint of underlying pale malty sweetness. The body is full enough to be pleasurable in the mouth while being light enough to allow the beer to be downed scarily quickly. I'm finding out firsthand that a bomber of 6.5% ESB is fully capable of mounting a sneak attack if gulped.

Brutal Bitter is yet another first-rate beer from Rogue. I'm glad to have made the acquaintance of another fine hop of the citric persuasion and I'm even more glad that this beer is available in my local grocery. Brutal Bitter isn't brutally bitter, but it is significantly hoppy and it is mighty good.

 1,561 characters

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at the Innsbrook Alehouse during the 7/24 gathering.

Arrived in an imperial pint glass with a wonderfully thick and creamy 2" white head over top a cloudy orange body. Distinct rings of lace all the way down the glass. Very nice. Aromas are hoppy, to say the least. Grapefruit juice mixed in with some floral notes dominate the old schnoz. Flavor is delightfully enhanced by sticking it on the beer engine. A smooth, yet deceptively bitter flavor that was the perfect way to start my day of quaffing. Only token sweetness attempts to control the eventual hop landslide that occupies your palate. Finishes with a resinous hop oil spill. Very, very smooth and pretty full-bodied. Massively drinkable. A great experience that was enhanced by the conditioning.

 767 characters

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

Appearance: Pours a deep amber color with a rocky white head about an inch high that never wants to recede. When it finally makes up its mind to go down it nicely laces the glass.

Smell: Huge aroma of hops. Citrusy bitter yummy hops. Also a slight bread like malt aroma is present.

Taste: Initially this beer shows off its strong hop characteristic. There's some fruitness and some lemon with a nice hop bite to it, followed by some caramel and breadlike malts. Also there is a nice spice to this beer which lingers on the tongue throughout the beer. Finishes with a beautiful juicy/oily hop finish that just sticks to your mouth.

Mouthfeel: This beer is nice and crisp and well rounded. The hops dominate, but the malts are right behind.

Drinkability: I could drink this beer all day. End of story.

 812 characters

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

While not really brutal, this fine beer will leave you smacking your lips. If you enjoy a nice bitter beer then this is a very nice option. Pours a rich amber color. A foamy head is present, though not overwhelming. Smell is a mixture of citrus, malts and hops. Taste is definitely nice and bitter. A dry finish. Enjoy one!

 323 characters

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

Part of the Poitras/VA 2004 vacation.

Enjoyed on cask at Capital Ale House - Innsbrook, Glen Allen, VA

Imperial pint glass presentation. Dense tan 1/2" head over a dark copper brew, and laced admirably. Good hoppy aroma, with the flavor exhibiting an intense malt character for an IPA, which works well with the strong hops. Surprisingly well-balanced in my mind for a product named "Brutal Bitter". Mouthfeel and drinkability excellent.

 443 characters

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

On-tap at Eli Cannon's

Came in a pint glass. Orange/amber color with a huge amount of carbonation that never really settled. Looked pretty nice. Smell consisted of various items. Pine, malts, toasted aroma's, hops and some citrus as well. Taste was pretty hoppy. Finished on the piney/citrus side. That grapefruit really showed up well on the draft verison. I probably wouldn't want more than two of these, but having one of these once in a while wouldn't hurt.

 464 characters

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

Pours a deep cloudy orange with a light-honey colored head that stays bubbly til' the finish. Hops galore in the nose...calling all hopheads. One dimensional but mouthwatering aroma. Flavor is hops all the way through with a (very) brief rest stop for some mild caramel maltiness. Rindy hop notes abound with some grassy ones and even some sweet, herbal flavors smiling back at me from my glass. Mouthfeel is oily and smooth and quite refreshing. Drinkability is good but I imagine the sheer abundance of hops would take a toll with multiple bottles. Yum, yum, yum.

 565 characters

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

Appearance: Reddish copper, a bit of an orange hue. Very good retention.

Aroma: Sweet Malty balanced by grapefruity citrus. Very pleasant aromas, throughout the pint.

Taste: Sweet toasted caramel, bitterness strikes hard near the end of the sip. The bitterness from the hops lingers on your tongue. The finish feels very full. Mouthfeel is nice.

Notes: This beer is very solid. I haven't seen it in the bottle in NC lately, but it is a regular on tap at the Flying Saucer in Raleigh. And I'll usually default to it when I'm drinking there.

 549 characters

Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very few ESB's are as good as this. That's all you need to know. I think only Fuller's ESB is a better ESB. But this comes close.

The taste is pretty well-balanced between hops and malt. They aren't using Cascade but, according to the bottle, Crystal hops. The beer needs to warm a little to achieve it's balance. It poors with a nice head which goes down to a nice lace which stays. Very drinkable once it warms.

I highly recommend this.

 444 characters

Photo of Ahhdball
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Red with a bold hop aroma and 1/8 inch head distributed nicely across the top. Caramel and strong hops burst on to my tongue with out missing a beat. A slight pine and lemon rhine flavor is hinted but not strong. Bitterness lasts quite a while, almost too long. Malt and caramel finish. Great flavor and a chewy mouthfeel made this a very good beer.

 349 characters

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

Pours a hazy golden/amber with a big creamy off white head. Left good lace.
Smells of perfumey hops with the accent on citrus and pine. There was a hint of malt and fruit.
Big grassy hop bitterness. Earthy, resinous and citrusy upfront. Malt and a bit of caramel and fruit show up in a futile attempt to give it some balance. The bitterness really lingers.
Medium bodied with good carbonation and a slightly oily mouthfeel.
Seemed one dimensional, it was bitter just for the sake of being bitter, damn everything else. Not much balance at all, but I guess that's why it's called Brutal Bitter. It certainly lives up to its name.

 633 characters

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

22oz Bomber with no freshness date. This one pours a dark orange color with a great frothy off-white head that has great retention. Pleasantly strong hop aroma comes from this one, citrus and floral with some malt lurking about. The aroma also is quite bitter and strong enough to smell even when the beer is on the table. Good hop flavoring stands out the most with some malt balancing it out. A light bitter finish that lingers about is quite pleasant. Medium body with plenty of carbonation. This a very smooth beer that would make a good session brew.

 555 characters

Photo of daledeee
4.11/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I will give anything from Rogue a shot. This one is a cloudy orange with a nice shaving cream head. Some citrus and malt in the nose. The taste is reminiscent of an IPA or pale. This is a little sweet, a little citrusy, a little hoppy(a lot actually) and some nice balance with malt. The mouthfeel is exceptional. Nice and thick tasting.

A very nice beer.

 359 characters

Photo of Southernbrew
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orange-amber, big bubbly head that lasts nearly forever, good lacing too.

Strong hops aroma, even when not leaning in to smell. Big piney aroma with a weak bitterness mixed in.

Medium-full body, big carbonation. Very smooth considering the amount of hops here. Big IPA flavors with a moderate bitterness following it up. Very strange for a bitter. Finishes with a light bitter that's very pleasant. Leaves a light hoppy aftertaste.

For all the hops this is a very balanced beer. Certainly the hoppiest bitter I've ever had. Definitely sessionable.

 556 characters

Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,107 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe