Brew review: Rogue Brewery Brutal Bitter IPA

Rogue's Brutal Bitter Beer
Photo courtesy of Lisa Colburn

The Beer/Brewery: Rogue Brewery Brutal Bitter Ale (Newport, Oregon)
Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.2

The bitter American IPA has a relatively small but growing following. By style, the American IPA is characterized by hop flavors including citrus, pine, and floral, among others, as well as a pronounced bitterness — all courtesy of the oils extracted from the hops during the brewing process. Many beer drinkers simply don’t like the hoppy taste or the astringent characteristic of the style but those “Hop Heads” who do are often quite passionate about these hop-forward brews. American IPAs actually come in a variety of different flavors and potencies, ranging from beginner-friendly, slightly hoppier American Pale Ales to tongue-bruising, angular behemoths. And, of course, everything in between.

Stepping up to the plate is the ominously named Brutal Bitter IPA, brewed by the famous and well respected Rogue Brewery out of Newport, Oregon. This hazy orange-gold colored Rogue pours nicely into the glass, leaving a substantial cream colored head. Attractive, large carbonation bubbles float up towards the head of this brew. Citrus, lemon, and caramel malt aromas become apparent as the glass lifts — it smells as fantastic as it looks. Citrus hop and caramel malt flavors are the first noticeable traits, followed by citrus and grapefruit hop notes intertwined with the malt backbone. It finishes with some earthiness, along with a pleasant and tolerable bitterness that lingers well after the sip. The body is medium and it has a soft, smooth mouthfeel.

The Brutal Bitter IPA sounds intimidating and punishing but it’s actually quite balanced and well done. In the American IPA continuum, it falls somewhere right in the middle — it’s hoppy but not overpowering in the least…for hop heads anyway. The use of British base malts lends to the complexity and adds a delicious transcontinental twist. It’s very drinkable and will pair well with barbecue and Mexican/southwestern fare.

Who’ll Like This Beer: Hopheads will enjoy this one. Beer geeks who like some of the American Pale Ales should give this one a try.

Little Known Fact: Rogue’s proprietary “Pac Man” yeast is available to home brewers at select homebrew stores.

The Verdict: Rogue’s Brutal Bitter is neither brutal nor overly bitter but rather a balanced and solid upper-echelon American IPA with some complexity.

Rating: 8/10 Mugs


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