My oldest brother and I have somewhat opposing viewpoints when it comes to American microbrews. He expresses fairly unbridled support to American microbrews. Whereas I take these beers on more of a case by case basis, preferring European beers from the UK instead. Lately it occurred to me to try more of the American models in an attempt to see whether or not any of the beers Kim likes have merit. To that end, I tried an offering from Rogue Brewing, one of his favorite craft brewing companies.
The day I went to my liquor store I was in the mood for something on the bitter side. So, in addition to a couple other bitters and IPAs, I picked up a bottle of Rogue’s Brutal IPA. According to a brief research session, Brutal IPA was first brewed in 1996 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Portland Oregon’s Horse Brass Pub. Thanks to customer demand, Rogue continued production for the pub, eventually bottling the beer for more widespread consumption.
Until recently, the beer was called “Brutal Bitter” and at 6.2% was listed as an imperial bitter. Since then, the name has changed, making the beer appear (to me at least) to be an American IPA. The 6.2% alcohol listed on the label at least seems to support this theory. So, I grab my favorite tasting glass from the kitchen and pour myself some Brutal IPA. Brutal IPA is a slightly hazy beer with moderate carbonation and a dense, slightly orange mousse colored head. Head retention is good.
Up front, the aroma is all hops. Pleasing aromas of grapefruit and pine, supported by hints of earthiness. Hops provide a pleasant juiciness. Buried beneath the hops is a trace of caramel maltiness. Unfortunately, maltiness doesn’t provide as much backbone as it could. Taking a sip, Brutal IPA offers moderate body and a slick mouthfeel skewing slightly thin. Flavor is citric juiciness up front leading directly into hop flavors, which nicely mirror what was offered in the beer’s nose. As with the aroma there’s not much malt providing backbone. Finish is lingering and assertively, though not brutally bitter.
Overall, I’m slightly conflicted in my opinion of this American IPA. All in all, Brutal IPA is miles ahead of many beers I’ve tried. The only real problem I have is that the beer lacks complexity, seeming to rely chiefly on hops to provide flavor. It’s tasty enough, the hops provide nice flavors, there’s just not much malt holding things up. I’d really recommend Brutal IPA for anyone who enjoys well made craft brewed ales. In all, Rogue’s Brutal IPA is worth a 7.4 out of 10.