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Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor


Rogue Brutal Bitter

Originally published in What’s Brewing August 2003

Origin: Newport, Oregon, USA
ABV: 6.5 per cent
Buy from specialist shops, festivals, Only Fine Beer (tel 020 7265 8388,

Rogue Brutal Bitter

Brutal Bitter

Rogue Ales, based in the Pacific Northwest, a heartland of US craft brewing, is one of the more established of the new generation of North American craft brewers. It began as a brewpub in Ashland, Oregon in 1988, moved to its current home in Newport in 1991 and now operates a handful of around the state.

Its large 650ml bottles with their distinctive screen-printed labels have appeared on British shelves before, during Oddbins’ brief flirtation with North American beers a few years back, and I remembered being impressed with them then, so I was delighted to hear that they now have another British importer.

Strong beers in such big bottles may be offputting to British buyers, however, especially since, to answer recent speculation in these pages, at least some are still fermenting in the bottle, with yeast sediments to prove it. Brutal Bitter is one of these: originally an anniversary beer, it is described by brewer John Maier as a cross between an ESB-style and an IPA. The principal malt is English floor malted Pipkin from Beestons, with Cara Vienna and Cara wheat malt.

Like many new US beers the emphasis is on the hop character – it’s a single varietal brew featuring Oregon-grown Crystal, a hybrid derived from Hallertau capable of giving a huge aroma without dry hopping. But if the beer’s origins and forbidding name lead you to expect something only suitable for dedicated hopheads with cast-iron tongues, you’d be wrong: this is a notably complex and well-balanced beer.

BB pours a slightly hazy bronze-amber, lent a warm glow by the Vienna malts, with a thick white head and a fine bead. The aroma is complex and incontestably huge: citric at first, becoming more restrained and floral with a resiny freshness. Underneath is sticky toffee, dark nutmeg scents and a certain vegetal quality reminiscent of red burgundy. The palate is rich, silky and toffeeish but dry, balancing citric and apple fruit with slightly salty and meaty flavours laced with crackles of resiny hops.

The hops cling to the gums in the swallow, developing a richer bitterness at the back of the throat that dominates a very long finish, with slightly astringent citric flavours on the tongue, hints of bitter herbs and a dryness like very fine dark chocolate, though just softened enough by the underlying fruit and malt. Intense, yes, but certainly not brutal, and more like the beer equivalent of a tough but energising massage!

Try also Freeminer Speculation, Hogs Back BSA, Goose Island IPA (USA)


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