Smuttynose Big A IPA | Smuttynose Brewing Company

very good
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Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA

Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company
New Hampshire, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.70%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Ever since Stash Wojciechowski, the “Killer Kielbasa,” created this Imperial IPA for our Big Beer Series, Big A IPA has gotten a lot of attention. Lauded by the New York Times and Men's Journal Magazine, it’s been one of the most talked-about beers around. Brewed in very small quantities, it has also been one of the hardest-to-find. Until now.

Big A IPA has everything you’d want in an India Pale Ale, only more: more hops, more malt & more flavor. Na zdrowie!

120 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2002

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Reviews: 891 | Ratings: 1,706
Photo of Sammy
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smooth, easy drink. Light colour, good grapefruit and other fruity aroma. Small head. Grassy, piney. More oily than Juicy,well malted, carmel there. So not mouthpuckering. Engaging medium mouthfeel. Mellow overall but still Hophead fix. Dry aftertaste.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best by 4/20/15. 9.5% ABV per the label.

Pours a murky honey orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of citrus fruit, candied citrus zest, and grapefruit juice aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus zest, grapefruit juice, and pine needle flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a fairly assertive citrus and pine forward hop mix, especially in the taste.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.3/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to halfP1NT for sending this. I'm a little confused here, is this supposed to be sold at 2 years old? It reminds me a little bit of Ballast Point Dorado DIPA. Bottle says "Bottle Conditioned in 2006"

Pours murky orange/yellow color. Good head, medium retention, medium lace.

Aroma is of alcohol, aging malt, and grapefruit hops. Nice, but like a cross between a funky IPA and a low abv American Barleywine.

Flavor is sweet, dry, bitter, fruity/grapefruity hops, and lasting dry aftertaste.

Body is of medium thickness. I suspect that the high abv lightens what would otherwise be a syrupy beer. Good CO2 levels, drinkable but the alcohol burns a bit.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: single finger head with nice lacing on a hazy pale golden body. Excellent lacing.

S: beautifuly strong aroma with grapefruit, candied orange and caramel but overall simple.

T: malt forward IPA treading into barleywine territory with candied fruits, earthy hops, caramel malts and honey.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: this one is good but doesn't stand out in a genre which has many top brews.

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Photo of metter98
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy yellowish orange in color and has a light amount of carbonation with visible particles floating in suspension. It poured with a thin off white head that died down and left some lacing on the surface and a thick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of citrus and pine resin hops in the nose.
T: The overall taste is dominated by a moderate to high amount of bitterness, which especially persists through the finish. Some notes of pine resin hops are present in the flavors.
M: It feels medium-bodied and crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. There is a bit of dryness, stickiness and hints of alcohol warming in the finish.
O: Considering its strength, this beer isn’t that difficult to drink because the alcohol is relatively well masked from the taste.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This has got to be the best thing I've had from Smuttynose as of yet. The beer poured out as a nice slightly hazy golden yellow color. The head was rather larges and fluffy at first. As the head settled the it left a nice lacing down the glass. The smell of the beer had a great amount of hops on the nose. The taste brought some citrusy, pine and some malts along for the ride. The mouthfeel was medium bodied and well carbonated. Overall this beer was quite enjoyable, I was hoping it would be. I would drink it again.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

As the signature imperial India pale ale for Smuttynose, the ale jumps right out of the shoot with all of the citrusy bitterness of American ales but with added alcohol and sweetness to balance. It's easily seen as a bigger version of IPA- it's a big ass IPA!

As the ale pours, it certainly looks the part of Imperial Pale Ale with its medium hazy amber color and its release of creamy off-white foam. With strong retention and broken lacing patterns, the ale is much more appeasing to the eye as its label does.

Bright aromas of citrus and pine paint a picture of grapefruit and oranges that are dripping of honey or light caramel. A mild tropical hint of pineapple sneak into the mix as well. Its earthy tone of pine cones are sappy, resinous and herbaceous even in the nose. A tinge of alcohol is spicy and lightly of acetone, but the hops cover all that with ease.

To taste, the malty foreground delivers mild caramel, light toast and honey tones. But heading into the middle portion of taste, its hop influence really comes to life. Pink grapefruit, oranges and a hint of lemon all rise with their taste of pulp, peels and piths. Leading to a finish of deeply resinous pine, the IPA really lives up to its style-sake in its dry and acidic bitterness.

Medium-full in body, the ale tries really hard to be an IPA, but just more of one. Its malt richness is inherently larger than that of standard IPA. Though it simply takes more malt fuel to create more alcohol, these beers simply don't attenuate as well at higher alcohol ranges than they do at lower ranges. So the beer balances beautifully toward the malt- ever so slightly. This leads to a bitter-sweet finish of warming alcohol and sappy resins.

I love how Big A plays out on the palate. Its hop character is paramount but it relies on its bready-sweet and lavish pine complements to round out its citrusy focus. Simply beautiful in every aspect, but it does little to pull away from the pack of other well made imperial IPAs.

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Photo of brentk56
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy honey color with a nice white head that sticks and sends a few shards of lace up the sides of the pint glass

Smell: While there is a nostril full of piney hops, the caramel malt base also makes its presence known

Taste: From the start, the piney hop presence makes itself known, with some sweet caramel piercing through underneath; by mid-palate, both the sweet and bitter flavors increase in velocity; after the swallow, the same flavors burst forward, only this time the sweetness builds while the beer dries out whatever parts of the mouth don't have sweetness receptors; pithy finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: This is one heckofa big DIPA, and just bombards the tongue with bitterness; drinkability suffers, as a result

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Photo of largadeer
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This brew sits in the glass a hazy but clear copper. The three finger head descends slowly, leaving columns of lace as it falls.

Smell: Tons of hop aroma in this one: grapefruit, pineapple and mango come to mind. The malt foundation is present but doesn't overwhelm the hop aroma; it's more of a sweet undertone beneath the fruity hop character.

Taste & mouthfeel: Sweet and fruity initially, but that note is quickly overpowered by an intense hop bitterness. Sticky and resiny with a big grapefruit flavor, this is pretty punchy stuff. The body is on the fuller side of medium, slightly heavier than I like for the style. An oily and bitter finish lingers on the palate long after I've swallowed, but that doesn't stop me from coming back for more.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a slightly hazy yellow color ale with a quite big foamy head with excellent retention. Aroma of citrus and floral hops is dominant and quite enjoyable. Lots of semi-sweet malt is distinguishable at first when tasted and then the citrus and bitter hops do a good job to the aftertaste. Body is above average without being too full and alcohol is well hidden. This is probably one the best IIPA I’ve had the chance to try and the only fault I can find is a little peak of metallic / ester hops which is not something I usually love in a beer.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to nflmvp for the bottle a ways back. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a brown color toward the light end of the spectrum. A modest white head with a bit of lacing. The nose brings forward some citrus, tropical, and pine notes. The taste adds in a bit of light caramel malt with some low amounts of hop flavors. The bitterness comes through more than the hop flavors, creating a nice finish. Drinks well overall, but doesn't really stand out.

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Photo of emerge077
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. single from Before You Go...

Into a Duvel tulip the color glows slightly darker than pure saturated orange, getting into tequila sunset territory. Frothy, long lasting foam, that settles to an overall skim across the top. Spotty crescent of lace on the opposite side of the glass.

Citrusy sweet grapefruit rind aroma. Pungent and clean.

Full bodied, resinous hops, stumbles just a bit from it's enormity. Tangy grapefruit, raw orange peel, minty spruce. Bready malt is underneath, just a bit. Dry aftertaste of citrus bitterness. Feels pretty big, which relegates it to being a sipper. Not bad, glad it comes in 12 oz. servings.

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Photo of zeff80
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a cloudy, copper color with gold highlights. It had a small, white, bubbly head that left thin trails of lace.

S - It smelled of pine, citrus and floral notes. Some great roasted caramel malt aromas balanced out a great nose.

T - It tasted of burnt toast maltiness with sweet toffee flavors. Nice bitter, sharp, citrusy hops.

M - It was sharp and crisp. A medium bodied DIPA.

D - This is a pretty darn good brew. Another fine one from Smuttyose.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.79/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

[Forced to write notes due to an outlier rating. My apologies for the brevity and shallowness below]

This is a fundamentally imbalanced IPA, suffering from too much hop bitterness and ill-enough malt sweetness. It's overcarbonated and unrefreshing. There is no harmony of texture and taste, and the hop profile is nothing special. While its 9.5% ABV is well-disguised relatively speaking, its lacking quality makes it less drinkable than it should be.

A pedestrian brew from Smuttynose.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Extra sent from Steve - thanks.

Pours a hazy orange-yellow with a solid white head whch yields good lacing. Smell is excitingly full of hops, tangerine, grapefruit, and a bit of sweet malt. Taste is more predominately sweet malt with a dry and bitter hop finish. Not as overly floral as expected by the nose. Mouthfeel is supper dry and sticky. Overall good.

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Photo of oberon
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dull light golden with a thinner white head that left a trace amount of lace as it settled quite quickly,as expected the hops are the attraction here in the nose grapefruit rind and pine really stick out hints of alcohol show thru but they are subdued.Pretty resiny on the palate with alcohol dipped tangerine flavors wich were nice there is a noticable lightly sweet caramel malt base underneath but it stays in the background as I drank more it became quite sticky and sweeter.The hops are big and its enjoyable not as in your face as some others of the style,I liked the different flavors not just one dimensional with the citrus and pine flavors.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Significantly hazy, dusky orange-amber with loads of suspended particulates. The large head is dark cream in color, firm and reasonably sticky. Lace adheres to the glass in clumps and comes to resemble dried soap suds. The cap is taking so long to fall (slurp) that I'm having trouble getting a solid read on the nose. Eventually...

... the aroma has the usual citrus fruit and pine notes that many DIPAs have, but it's a bit shy in the power department. The hoppiness is blunted by a great deal of maltiness. Not a good omen for the flavor.

I'm not overly impressed with Big A on the palate. Compared with most others of the style, an intense, pungeant hoppiness is lacking. It's definitely a bitter beer, but isn't anywhere close to bursting with hop flavor. The hops taste like they're mired in a river of caramel (malt) and there are solvent/lacquer-like notes that aren't all that appealing.

A full, slick, almost oily mouthfeel contributes to the lacquer-like impression. I wouldn't mind so much if the beer was more highly-hopped. The alcohol isn't particularly well-hidden either. It doesn't ruin things, but is too prominent a part of the flavor profile as far as I'm concerned.

Big A should have been great. With the hop bill that has been assembled (Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo) I'm amazed that the brewers weren't able create a more impressive DIPA. I forgive them though because the just-released 'Finest Kind' is one of the best IPAs on the planet. This beer is decent, but given the circumstances, has to be classified as a disappointment. Thanks to mikeys01 for the bottle.

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Photo of nickfl
4.39/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with two fingers of white foam on top of a very hazy, copper-colored body. The foam settles slowly and leaves thick lace.

S - A resinous aroma of pine hops with notes of lemon and cedar as well. Some toasted malt and light caramel sweetness in the background to balance things out.

T - Sweet caramel and toffee malt up front with lots of woody hops. Notes of cedar and pine in the middle with pithy bitterness beginning to creep in. Finishes with darker caramel malts as well as a dry, toasty malt character that blends well with the pine and lemon hop flavor and the grapefruit rind bitterness. Lingering woody notes of cedar, pine, and even some untoasted oak as well as grapefruit pith and dry toffee.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a fairly dry finish for something of this strength.

D - I had high hopes for this one, something about it just seemed like it would be good, and i wasn't disappointed. The hop character is appropriately huge with lots of aroma and even more flavor. The hops tend to lean more towards wood-resin flavors than fruit, which is a balance that works well in stronger beers. There is enough malt present here to back the hops and keep the bitterness in check, but the hops clearly dominate and the grain remains firmly in a supporting role. The bitterness in particular is well done with a sharpness that makes the beer drinkable and refreshing, even with its huge ABV, but it never becomes astringent or medicinal as some very bitter hop bombs do. In my experience, Smuttynose can be kind of hit and miss, but the Big A IPA is a serious hit.

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Photo of jlindros
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Surprisingly I've never reviewed this one before.

A nice decent fluffy 1.5 finger head fades slowly with a nice lacing, over hazy golden orange bright colored beer.

Nose has lots of fresh hops, some citrus, a little spicy hops, touch of tangerine, and some light sweet malts. PLenty of fruits as well, and just a hint of booze.

Taste brings some fresh hops, a bit of fruity citrus hops, some light spicy hops and a bit of earthy hop flavors. Fairly bitter, but not overpowering. Plenty of fruits, tangerine, hint of apple, and more. Fairly bitter and spicy, a bit of herbal hops as well, and the booze starts to get a little warming. Some sweet malts add a strong malty base too. Finishes a bit drier but not much, a long bitter hoppy finish with a hint of booze late.

Mouth is medium bodied with decent carbonation, and bit of warming booze.

Drink is decent, but the bitterness gets a little heavy, with spicy and warming booze, and some malty sweetness to balance it all.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a dark, hazy orange (with an almost butterscotch hue to it) with 2 fingers of creamy looking brite-white head. A solid 1/2 finger of retention flairs up instantly when swirled and yields a gigantic latticework of sticky hop lacing and oily residues. The aroma is a nose tingling DIPA fume of pine cones, citrus, and underlying malt that's all held together by some prominant but not overbearing heat in the nose.

The taste is a beefy mix of sticky resinous hop bitterness and juicy citrus character that is balanced out by a sturdy malt backbone that is more bready than it is sweet. The hoppy finish is lingering and dry but not overly bitter. The mouthfeel is a hefty medium to full bodied that supports all of those big flavors pretty well. Carbonation has a fairly creamy feel with a bit of hop oil slickness at times that helps that big mix go down a little easier. Alcohol is definitley present and adds some bulk to the body but never becomes stinging.

One of my favorite East Coast DIPAs. This packs some seriously big flavors into an even bigger body and yet still drinks extremely well. I just wish that Smutty could get a little more into the marketplace as this seems to get more and more scarce around here each year.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

So I have waited along time to to try something, anything from Smuttynose. So when I got three from them in the last month I figured it was my lucky day! The question then becomes, which one do you try? This was easier said then done for me. But as it always turns out, my true taste comes a calling, and I sat down with the Double IPA, or Big A...

A - Poured a murky, hazy orange amber. Big white frothy head dominated from the very beginning. It had great retention as it hung around for several minutes before finally relenting and giving way to a nice half inch layer of lace across the top. Very nice side glass lace as well. Lots of visible carbonation coming up from the bottom.

S - Aroma was hightly hopped, lots of light citrus and sweet sugar. Orange peel, lemon, tangerine and fresh cut grass were the biggest players here. A notable amount of sweetness was definatly present though and not to be outdone.

T - Well it was definatly a double IPA for sure. There was alot of citrus hops right from the start. Bigtime orange flavor, sweet and not soo bitter. There was a great balance between the hops and the sugar here, as it was nowhere near overwhelming and the IBU's did not even seem to be that high. Very very dry finish left you wanting another sip almost immediatly. No hint, not even the slightest of alcohol in the flavor at all. Damn fine flavor and just very well balanced would be the key phrase here.

M - Very smooth, and thick. Almost with a srup like consistency. However there was decent carbonation which really helped to balance it nicely. It definatly felt like a sipper as it warmed, however when first poured could actually be gulped fairly easily due to the light carbonation.

D - Great, this was a really drinkable double IPA. It was not as harsh as some otherd can be and the lack of harsh alcohol taste really helped with that. You could put this was down easily by yourself without issue.

Overall I was quite impressed with this one. It was one of those sweeter rather then more bitter strong IPA's, and I really think that helps more to mix out the abv in them nad makes them alot less harsh. I would definatly like to seek this one out again if I could. If this is any indication of how Smuttynose brews are, I could be in for a real treat as I work my way through their lineup!

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours what would've been merely a hazed, darkened gold body with a large, foaming, white head, but an absent-minded pour allowed some globs of yeast to slip into the glass.

Smell: Hops lead for me in the nose, with scents of fresh, juicy sliced oranges and grapefruits, a few blobs of pine sap, an underlying grassiness, and easygoing pale, biscuity malts. Small sniff of alcohol, too.

Taste: Pale and decidedly biscuity malts yielding sweetish, restrained hints of both toffee and honey with a teensy bit of toastiness. A bright burst of hoppiness follows giving a predominately orange-tasting, resinous flavor of sugarless orange marmalade spritzed with Curaçao. Growing pine and pithy grapefruit quality though. Boldly bitter. This leaves you with a dry, longly bitter finish with some soothing alcoholic warmth sliding into the mix but not overstaying its welcome.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation. The malts lend a nice fullness to the mouthfeel, but the airy carbonation eases it up.

Drinkability: You may find more hoppy, less malty (if that's what you're looking for) brews out there, but it's fairly solid and fairly enjoyable.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big A's bright, resinous, piney, juicily citrus (orange!), and caramel-laced biscuit malt nose delivers a slap; and it doesn't back down from there! This is an aggressive beer that pulls no punches! It's frothy white head holds quite well, and it leaves sheets of lace throughout the glass. Its hazy, bronze body displays golden highlights and a miriad of suspended sediment that suggests that it has quite a full body to it. The mouthfeel backs that up with a solid body and gently zesty carbonation that's lightly crisp but warms to become creamy. The flavor revisits the piney hop flavors found in the aroma with a lighter citrus side and an increased appearance of alcohol over a slick, caramel, tofee, and honey-coated biscuit-like maltiness. It's sweet, but also dryish. The bitterness is bold but not overwhelming; and it actually balances the full maltiness quite nicely. The resinous quality of the hop flavor, in fact, really stands out. The orange-like citrus character is limited, and it doesn't have the complexity that the nose offers. It finishes quite dry and astonishingly long with some lingering biscuity, toffee-ish, and lightly toasty maltiness beneath resinous, piney, and grassy hop flavors.

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Photo of mactrail
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I hadn't looked at the ABV before I took a couple of swigs. It definitely comes out swinging. So full of aromatic, flowery hops, it's silly. Maybe its a triple IPA. Hot with alcohol.

Golden amber in the glass, plenty of head, decent carbonation in the mouth. Very rich with malt giving it considerable sweetness. Quite sharp on the tongue. Warm pineapple-orange flavors. Bitterness is rather astounding but mellows out to a resiny aftertaste. A powerful drink but rewards with interesting, changing shades of flavor.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.6/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light amber color with an orange tint and a thin white head that fades slowly leaving a little bit of lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is strong, hoppy & citrusy. I can’t think of any other way to describe it.

T: Heavy bitter hops flavor comes first and is then followed by a little bit of citrus sweetness, but the hops come right back.

M: Very crisp, smooth and well-balanced, medium body, medium carbonation and a very clean finish.

D: Very tasty and no hint of the alcohol. It’s also one of those beers where you keep looking forward to your next sip. I liked this beer a lot. It may not be the absolute best Double IPA that I’ve had, but it’s right up there. The more I drink from Smuttynose, the more my respect grows for them.

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Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 891 ratings.