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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,150 |  Reviews: 1,110
Photo of barefootbrewer
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

First of all….Thanks Brad!

This beer poured a golden/amber cloudy color with a creamy looking off-white thick head….not much lacing. The smell hit me as soon as I cracked this puppy open…..HOPS! Upon further investigation, there is a noticeable caramel scent as well. The taste is definitely bitter but the full malt helps keep it in balance. The mouthfeel is full and works well with this beer. I must admit I was a little scared by the name Brutal Bitter, but this is much more drinkable than I would have imagined. Quite a delight!

 540 characters

Photo of Gatch
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Great on the palate and the low carbonation helps it go down easy. Abundance of hops is definitely noticeable. The copper color is nice too. Haven’t had many bitters, but I’m sure this is one of the better ones out there. Reminds me of an IPA, which didn’t make it stand out much. Definitely going to try as much as I can from Rogue.

 336 characters

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. According to the Rogue website this is a cross between a Very Extra Special Bitter and an Indian Pale Ale. Pretty unique.

Nice looking beer, a hazy golden amber body capped with a frothy looking head, two fingers easy, that falls to a tight foam, not a ton of lacing, but a decent amount. The head on this one sort of sits like an island, just inside the walls of the glass.

Smells of hops, citrusy, almost like pineapple. A little bit of caramel from the malts make the nose sweet as well.

Quite malty to the taste buds, with the hops coming on nicely as it moves back. A little bready, a little citrus. It has a nice hop presence which is prominent, though not exactly brutal. Not really a bad thing, other than a slight misnomer, I wouldn't call it balanced but its still has a a good malt backbone. The hops linger nicely after you swallow.

Mouthfeel is drying with a slight boost of creaminess from the everlasting head.

Rogue calls this an imperial bitter, which makes it sound like it wouldn't qualify for 'session' status, but I find it to be very drinkable. I guess its just a matter of names. Either way, it's another Rogue beer I'll come back to.

 1,219 characters

Photo of hckyfn9999
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden copper color with a nice cream colored head and some good lacing too. Aroma is citrus hops, toffee, and caramel. Taste is very hoppy for an ESB with some citrus and pine hops present as well as some sweet malt. A very drinkable beer. Despite the hoppiness for an ESB this is a very solid brew.

 313 characters

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

This came on tap at my local recently. It was a deep golden, and smelled all lemony with some small pine notes. Taste was very similar with a shy malt demurely hovering in the background. This is really good, though not quite "brutal." A pleasant pint that had good hop presence that asserted itself without being pushy, like this guy Jerko I know.

 348 characters

Photo of beermanbrian
3.59/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy gold colored beer. Looks almost like iced tea. No head and just a thin halo of foam arount the outside. First whiff hinted of citrus and then changed to piney hops. Not overpowering but definately there. Once you get past the hops taste it has a very bready malt flavor. Oily mouthfeel and the carbonation level is a little high. I'm just not sure about this one. It's a good beer, but i can't quite get on board and call it anything special.

 447 characters

Photo of jhollick
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Interesting offering from Rogue. When Rogue claims something is bitter, that gets my attention. However, this turned out to be a very well balanced imperial style ale. The aroma is strong of hop oil with some buttery and caramel smells coming through as well. Substantial in the mouth, a bit dry after the swallow.

Taste is very smooth, striking a nice balance between the hops and malts. It tastes very fresh, almost as if the hop oil essence was squeezed right into the beer. That makes this one quite a change from the usual scene, but it also would keep me from guzzling it all night. The acidity is nice as well, with the grapefruit flavor providing a bit of sweetness. As shocked as I am to say it, this could be a nice beer to introduce someone to the style. I never expected to say that of a Rogue beer. Thumbs up, solid effort.

 840 characters

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

This was the first brew in a bitter session with chonyr and raider that featured this bitter and many IPAs and DIPAs. Much thanks to CBA for this ale.

An amber coloured ale, poured with a 1 finger white head. Decently carbonated and finely laced.

Pleasant scents of mellow caramel and bready malts wafted up from my glass. Hoppy, bitter yet fruity, floral and earthy aromas complimented the malts.

Toasted bready malts sweetened with a touch of caramel sweetness. Balanced by floral, citrusy hop bitterness that tries to linger on the finish. A tasty brew.

As said before, a tasty and bitter brew. Well balanced, the touch of malt sweetness meets a fine and complimentary counterpoint in the lingering, bitter hops.

A very drinkable and sessionable bitter. Nothing brutal about this one. Almost bitter enough to be an IPA, which was why it was included in this session. Would be a great crossover beer to introduce a drinker to hoppier beers. Would'nt turn down the chance for another or more.

 1,059 characters

Photo of mrmanning
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle at Chaucer’s in London- This one is amber through and through. The head is unimpressive and fails to leave the lace I expect from most rogue beers. Strong grapefruit and citrus fruits in the nose, with some leafy/pine. Bad ass hop profile takes the fillings out yer’ teeth as it enters the mouth. Pine/grapefruit/oranges with a thin malt spine, finishing astringent and enjoyable. Yep, it is certainly bitter. A nice one.

 430 characters

Photo of CreamAle128
4.36/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Nothing to complain about! a little cloudy which means some yeast remains. NICE!

Smell: Smells of piney hops, some bready malt, and very fresh

Taste: Instant bitter taste, more bready malt, fresh oily hops, slightly citrusy, it kind of tastes like rogues imperial IPA, only weaker. I can't disect these highly hopped beers well, but I enjoy this very much.

Drinkability: Surprizingly light, but the bitterness and hop might prevent a person from drinking gallons of this stuff. enjoy!

 507 characters

Photo of tcfishler
4.46/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Definitely hazy, dull gold-amber. Smallish, short-lived creamy tan head.

Deep, highly aromatic nose of toasty bread and floral/piney hops.

Hops right from the start in the mouth, suggesting fairly sweet citrus. Also notes of toast and yeast, lemonl-like liveliness, and late arriving roasted malt. Hop character is one note and doesn't evolve, perhaps because of the use of only one variety. Finish is soft, with the sweetness winning over the bitterness.

I love the freshness and balance of this beer, the latter being an aspect that surprised me given the name. This brew definitely could be a go-to for me.

 619 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.51/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Fine-looking murky copper body with a creamy, off-white head. Plenty of lacing throughout.

Smell: Hmm. An acutely cakey aroma paired with a fresh floral-citrus scent.

Taste: Zestful citrus flavors, perhaps a little bit of earthy pine, too, with a small amount of malts bouncing in amongst the hops. Crisp, lasting (though in no way overwhelming) bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. The carbonation is fine, and somewhat prickly at times.

Drinkability: Well, its anything but brutal. But whatever, it still makes for easy drinking.

 571 characters

Photo of strangefate
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a plate of Gouda cheese with this. They went together very well.

Pours a beautiful orange with a nice head that leaves a nice lacing throughout. Has a very malty aroma, with a slight touch of hop bitterness and alcohol. Tastes pretty malty with a slight touch of pine. It's a very balanced taste with a great mouthfeel. A very nice balanced carbination. Very easy to drink.

 380 characters

Photo of HopsHops
5/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

man,.,how picky do you gotta be?

An orange/ gold color with a nice lasting head ...a rich hoppy bitterness u cant deny....IN YOUR FACE!!! flavor for a beer... i thought this was going to be a dark black color i was surprised with it and i absolutely love it...a sweet but bitter smell...the name is a bit much but it IS bitter and i love that...a bitter piece of gold i cant say anything bad about it ....cheers @ rogue

 423 characters

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

Slightly hazed golden amber color with a nice white head. Smells mostly of hops, a little baking bread in there too. Hops dominate the flavor, mainly pine, close to a grapefruit. Not overly bitter, but I think the hop flavor was just slightly off balance with the malt. Mouthfeel was a nice medium, slightly dry. Overall, really enjoyable, I'd buy it again.

 357 characters

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

Pours a deep orange colour with a finger of foamy white head. Fairly clear, carbonation can be seen rushing up through the glass. Looks good.

First smell is all citrus hop. Grapefruit if I had to narrow it down. Pine starts to make itself known as the beer warms a bit. Remains basically all hops in the smell though.

In the taste, I know there is malt there, but it takes a backseat to a very pleasant hop flavouring. Citrus and pine, very fresh tasting. Grapefruit and lime. Not roughly bitter, but certainly for those that like the hops.

Carbonation is a bit coarser than I'd like, but the body is good, not heavy but not watery.

This is the kind of beer you could have any time. I imagine it to be very refreshing in the hot weather due to the freshness of the flavour. Glad to have picked it up, and would have it again.

 837 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.36/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on draft at the Brick Store pub in suburban Atlanta. A very nice a bright, golden amber color with a very stiff white head. Tons of lacing. Almost like melted marshmallows on top of this bright beer.

Aroma is strictly fruit and hops. Fruits includ mango and pineapple and melon. Light citrus hops support the fruits.

Taste is exotic fruits as well. Definitely mango and musk melon and watermelon. Terrificaly fruity.

Nice mouthfeel and great drinkabilty. I am glad I gave this one a try. You should too.

 521 characters

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

No freshness date on this, but it's been in my fridge for 6 months.

Pours a clear golden orange color with an off-white 1/2" head with visible streams of racing carbonation. Nice sheets of white lace.

A honeyish pine scent pleasantly whiffs through my nostrils. A few brisk swirls of the liquid evoke an earthy, rustic malt component that reminds me of dried leaves - somewhat timely for the season actually.

The honey sweetness follows through in the flavor along with an attenuated hop flavor, from Rogue's regular standards I mean. A harmonious balance of a soft sweet malt and citrusy prickly hop flavors dance nicely together. The flavors are actually very delicate compared to most of Rogues line-up of hoppy beers, for which I'm very grateful. There's a bit of sugary lemon flavor in here as well - very refreshing. The understated hop flavor grows at the finish though.

Mouthfeel is great. The fine carbonation feels very playful. On the lighter side of medium bodied with a flavorful, slightly dry finish.

Drinkability is also great. Nothing too potent or overpowering to scare away rookies, though there's enough quality present to keep the veterans satisfied.

Overall a well crafted British-style ESB. Maybe not enough body to put side-to-side with a Fuller's, but definitely has solid characteristics to keep it on the same stage. A very quaffable and solid brew for sure. Great flavor, body & finish - definitely a winner in my book.

 1,464 characters

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

A: Poured from a bomber bottle into a Sam Smith's pint glass, Brutal Bitter appears hazy orange-ish amber, with a 1-finger bubbly white head that settled to a white film. Foamy lacing clings to the side of the glass.

S: Fruity -- grapefruit and orange -- and piney hops dominate, but a bready malt undertone is present as well. Nice balance, even if the scales are tipped in favor of the hops.

T: Mild biscuity malt at first, then a fruity and piney hop presentation follows. Finally, a dry, minerally hop sensation wraps things up, coating the back of your tongue and cleansing the palate nicely. Alcohol warmth is noticeable on the way down. The more I drink, the hoppier it gets. Methinks I like this Crystal hop hybrid they've come up with. . . .

M: Good carbonation, medium bodied but just slightly chalky.

D: Excellent. It's not a heavy beer, but it's got lots of flavor and a nice dry hops finish that really encourages that next sip. I could drink more than a couple bombers of this and be happy about it.

Notes: If I were going to try and brew my own version of the perfect English Ale, it would be a lot like Rogue Brutal Bitter -- i.e., a slightly hopped-up Americanized version with a creamy mouthfeel and good, balanced flavors. Well done, Rogue. . . .

 1,280 characters

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

The ale pours with large amounts of fluffy, white head that lasts long in to the first sips. Very nice head retention. The body a slightly hazy, textbook amber showing a lot of carbonation.

There isn't a whole lot to mention about aromas other than a textbook hop smell with hints of orange and honey.

The flavors are immediately hop-laden and never cease. The hops provide a lot of earthy and "dirty" flavors. There is a lot of hop spice that adds a peppery flavor. This one really smooths out as it warms up. The hop flavors mellow and a malty sweetness appears to balance all of the flavors.

This beer is nicely carbonated, spicy and very dry in the mouth. The palate is left pretty clean after each sip.

Drinkability is great. Very refreshing and hoppy without killing the taste buds. A nice session brew and a great candidate for hand pump or cask service. Brutal bitter? I think not.

 905 characters

Photo of Cadyfatcat
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Cloudy for an ESB, perhaps some organic material left from dry hoping?
Murky light brown colour

gingery hops, taste all over the mouth - the tongue-the top of the mouth-the tonsils-all over. Different levels and dynamics of hop character and bittering. No overpowering floral hop notes that may be more appropriate in an IPA. Earthy and mellow bittering. Berry tea character also comes through, somewhat reminiscent of the malt character in certain dunkel weizen.

A full mouth experience, quite an enveloping beer! Begs to be drunk!

 539 characters

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

Poured into a tumbler, the body is the color of a yellowy orange light amber. The head is pillowy, not as full as the fullest of head, but nice and clumpy. It leaves lacing in patchy clumpy lumps. At first sniff it is hard to separate the integral elements other than the noticeable hop presence. The Rogue yeast strain is definitely present, nestled between nice semi sweet malts and balanced with hoppy piny scents. Smells like grapefruit, caramel, citrus, pine and all the sort of standard stuff. The taste is much the same, with compacted sweet bitter combo very well balanced a little sticky, medium crispness and into a dry bitter finish. I'm not terribly familiar with the strong bitter style, but this is definitely a nice beer, not one I'd buy all the time or always have around, but a good beer all the same.

 818 characters

Photo of Beertracker
4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rogue's Brutal Bitter is best served at cellar temperatures (45-50F). Brutal Bitter pours up rather brashly with a low tannish-white head that sits atop a deep copperish-tawny body into a Rogue house/logo pint. The appearance is very murky with definite "chill-haze" that detracts greatly from the overall appearance. The aroma starts off with a plethora of fresh, green flowery-citrus hop notes with some earthy (e.g. black currants), spicy-peppery notes thrown in for good measure. The hops are thoroughly backed-up by a solid underlying caramel maltiness (e.g. Melba toast, marbled bread, toffee cake). The aroma certainly makes up for the appearance! The flavor starts off with a fresh complex graininess that's backed-up by some audacious caramel that carries towards a fruity, spicy hoppiness that's atypical of most classic Rogue beers. The finish is bold, complex and packed with flavor. This medium-full bodied ale pushes the boundaries for a traditional English Pale Ale/ESB but that's what 100% Rogue brewing is all about. This one is even better on draught paired with a generous slice of freshly baked, brick oven pizza. Here's to the Rogue in each of us!

CHEERS! Beertracker

 1,191 characters

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

Pour produced a slightly murky medium amber colored beer. A smal white head of half an inch shrank to a slick on top. Small amount of carbonation rising.

A very bitter aroma wafted from glass. A noseful of scent had a very citric hops quality. A decent pine aroma also is prominant. Slight note of yeast is hard to detect, but comes and goes.

Nice balance of the bittering effect of the hops and a light malty sourdough aftertaste. Citrus ranges from grapefruit to tangerine. A very bitter aftertaste has a light plastic quality.

Decent body. Not a huge burst of carbonation left me wanting something more to burst on the tastebuds.

A decent offering. Definitly above the average for the style. I would love this by itself, but would also pair well with a saltier cheese. Pick on up and try it for yourself if you are looking for something in the style.

 866 characters

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

Pours a pale amber-gold, chill-hazed, with a towering off-white head and streaming carbonation.

Nose is all dry hop, citric mainly. Fairly light-bodied, with a nice array of hop flavors, citrus and resin, and a bit of mineral-water bite. It's essentially a solid, bitter pale ale, with a lot of strength and kick. Easier to drink than it should be - ye hopheads, be warned. It'll satisfy the need for your fix, but get overeager and it'll bite back. Yum.

 457 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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