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Smuttynose Big A IPA - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,617 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,617
Reviews: 886
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 10.86%
Wants: 92
Gots: 114 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  9.70% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2002

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
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,617 | Reviews: 886 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.26/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Decided to split a 4pk of this with my homie Jeff. Had this bottle on 3.25, from notes.

Poured a peachy-orange color, decent head and lace in my tulip. Easily revived, but faded somewhat fast.

Aromas of earthy hops, substantial booze, piney hops. Solid malt background but this is just kind of rough. It's a little messy. The taste is rough around the edges as well... firm bitterness, nice pine character and substantial malt profile leading into a long bitter finish. Medium bodied, a little brash and rough overall though. Just not enough strength or pungency of the hop profile in order to balance the strength and intensity of the malts and ABV... there are a lot of DIPAs I would rather have.

Photo of chefmikeanderson
3.99/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Nice golden color with decent white head. real nice lacing but a bunch of nasty looking chunks in there. doesnt really bother me but they are there

S:overwhelming smell when I opened the bottle. I could smell it from 2 feet away. real nice fruity pineapple touch of pine citrus.

T: Hops definitely overwhelm the malt background but not in a bad way. Theres a good bit of hot alcohol. Pineapple in the taste with not as much pine as in the smell

M:Big sharp punch from the carbonation. slick mouth feel

D: My first bottle is going down pretty fast but i would doubt I could do another with the same speed. The bitterness would get too much for me. The hotness doesnt slow my drinking of it but its there. I'd consider this a hopbomb if youre looking for one

Photo of cjgator3
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle

A- Pours a golden amber color with a rather large off-white head with great retention that sticks all over the glass. Very pretty beer.

S- The aroma has a nice strong malty backbone, a touch of caramel and a ton of fresh citrus hops. I love the aroma, it is definitely making my mouth water.

T- The taste like the aroma has a solid malt backbone but the malt definitely takes a backseat to the hops. The citrus hops create an explosion of bitterness that linger well into the finish. There is also some booze in the finish as well creating some warmth. Very flavorful, I like it!

M- The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Overall, Big A IPA is another fantastic beer from Smuttynose. I would definitely recommend it to be on any hopheads list to try at least once.

Photo of kirkpjr
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a huge 3 finger head. Burnt orange color with some small floaters throughout that make it very hard for light to go through.

S: Sweet citrus hops. Orange and tangerine backed with a nice malty sweetness.

T: The citrus follows through in the taste. Nice bitter orange hop flavor upfront with a small malt backbone. Alcohol is also present in the finish.

M: Sticky, resinous hops that linger for awhile. Moderate carbonation.

D: Smuttynose continues to impress me. Have had this one along with the Findest Kind IPA. Both a very drinkable but this one loses a bit with the ABV and alcohol presence in taste.

Photo of elgiacomo
4.42/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2011 batch update.

12oz bottled January 17th? 2010, less than a month old.

Appearance remains the same.

On the aroma, I'm picking up some pungent characteristics of cat spray and weed, a lot of citrus, some pine, excellent strength.

Flavor is bitingly bitter with tons of juicy citrus, resinous hops, some pine, caramel malt is there to offer some balance but never interferes with the star of the show. Long lingering bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is great, medium to full but never heavy, medium carbonation.

One of the better DIPAs on the market when fresh. Smuttynose can do no wrong, IMHO!

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Original Review 03/28/2010

12oz bottled early March 2010.

Pours orange/yellow, very hazy, lots of yeast in suspension. Produces a large three finger off white fluffy head that retains very well and leaves some clumpy rings of lacing.

Aroma is predominantly pine, very strong pine aroma with some underlying citrus and floral notes. The citrus becomes more apparent as it warms including orange/tangerine and grapefruit.

Flavor is very hoppy up front, pine, citrus, resinous hops, some malt sweetness in the middle and finishes with excellent lingering bitterness that doesn't let you forget you are drinking one big ass IPA.

Mouthfeel is quite full, can get sticky, medium carbonation.

Very good DIPA.
Aroma 4, Appearance 4, Taste 4, Palate 3.5, Drinkability 4, Score 3.95

Photo of meatyard
3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz gift from my buddy, AltBock (soon to be in Okinawa for 2 years-Send him beer as he serves his country.)

Pours a hazy, golden/orange with a large, dense, fluffy white head that has decent retention and good lacing. There are lots of light floaties after the pour that mostly settle.
The smell is a good dose of pine and grapefruit followed by a bit of sweet malt.
The taste falters a bit from the smell being a little less intense and starts, mostly, with a bitterness that lingers through the grapefruit and pine hop taste. The alcohol is there, not at all hidden, though not an issue. There is more malt balance than a west coast DIPA.
Mouthfeel is medium, well-carbonated and finishes slightly dry.
Drinkability: If you like this a lot it drinks well. I like it, especially in a 12 ouncer, but I would like to see more hops in the taste. Easily worth a try.

Photo of MasterSki
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An extra here from Reagan1984. I'm somewhat puzzled, as the label states it was bottle-conditioned in July 2010?! Beer from the future! Guess it should be fresh. Served in my Half Acre pint glass.

A - Pours with a voluminous soapy foam that eventually settles to a thick cap and leaves tons of splotchy lacing. Hazy golden body with a few bubbles slowly moving upwards.

S - Nice pine and citrus rind hoppiness along with some tropical fruit punch. This is surprisingly hop-forward for an East Coast DIPA. Didn't realize this was 9.6% - actually thought it was a single IPA. Malt backbone is pale and sugary.

T - The alcohol peaks through a little bit more in the taste, but it's not harsh or solvent in character. Lots of grapefruit, very bitter - could use a bit more sweetness for balance. I wish it had more of the tropical flavors from the nose. Wish I could give this a 3.75, but unfortunately that isn't an option here.

M - Nice enamel-melting feel, with lots of residual oily resins. Medium, soft body with just enough carbonation zing. Very dry finish.

D - It's a touch to big to be a session beer, but I'd have a couple bottles of this one if it was my local and it was fresh. Bitterness and alcohol keeps it from being elite, but one of the more "West Coast" DIPAs made on the East Coast.

Photo of PBoegel
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12 ounce bottle into a Sam Adams imperial series snifter.

Bright orange hue with solid clarity at first, but the beer is unfiltered much like Finest Kind so you get a ton of hop haziness. Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder, if you want perfect clarity this IPA is not for you. Huge dense sticky lacing egg shell white head.

The aromas in Big A are a mix of tropical fruit and candy. Big pineapple and orange character, some kiwi, honeydew melon and cantaloupe, raspberry and hard sugar candies like jolly rancher. There is an apparent but not off putting alcohol nose that is much more floral than fusel.

The flavor on this beer is almost exactly what you smell, tropical fruit medley, pineapple, mango, tangerine. the malt character is clean with a touch of sweetness, no caramel or such notes, very straight and a smooth but big bitterness that coats the tongue and is kicked up a notch by the alcohol in the finish.

Lighter side of medium bodied, could be a touch drier, medium light carbonation.

Overall an extremely drinkable and fruity double ipa with layer after layer of fruity hop character and clean pleasant alcohol kick.

Photo of callmemickey
2.95/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Amber-caramel body. Moderate off-white head. Decent retention and subtle lacing.

S: Orange bitterness. Lots of booze. Tons of caramel malt shining through.

T: Ugh. Not so good. Bitter, orange cough syrup. Lots of alcohol.

M: Thick and somewhat cloying. Significant alcohol burn. A bit of a muddled mess.

D: A very raw beer... reminds me of 120 minute in the do everything extreme, but not well, mindset. Would not revisit.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.47/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - A golden amber colour with minimal head retention and some visible carbonation.

S - Citrus (grapefruit and lemon) and pine.

T - Taste is citrus (the grapefruit nose is not as distinguishable as a predominant taste) and earthy hops. The flavour profile is overwhelming bitterness and it loses the citrus and pine palate almost immediately after hitting my tongue, leaving nothing but a bitter aftertaste.

M - A nice medium body that is somewhat chewy.

D - A very drinkable beer, but not a go-to beer for me in the future.

Photo of PeprSprYoFace
3.48/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this as an extra in a trade.

Pours a hazy orange color. Almost hefeweizen color. Decent sticky head and good lacing.

Aroma is pretty good. But I detect a sort of mildew smell like a wet towel that has been sitting. But there are good citrus aromas and I can tell alot of dry hops.

Taste is ok. More bitter than anything. Not enough hop flavor going on and almost too much bitterness. Not bad, just average. Lots of better IPA's out there.

Mouthfeel is good. A little high on the carb.

Overall no need to seek this out in a trade or drive any distance to get it but if you see it try it. You might like it more than me.

Photo of beerman207
4.08/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bamadog for sharing this one.

A: Orangish w/nice 1 inch head that hangs around a while with laching and skim that stays for a while.

S: Citrus! Very prominent along with maybe some orange.

T: Like a punch in the mouth. Hops are dominmant along with some malt to balance.

M: Very creamy, medium carbonation

T: Very high considering the ABV of this brew. Great beer.

Photo of JMD
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Very hazy orange auburn color with lots of unfiltered particles floating around in the beer. Big white head that seems to last forever. Sticky lacing that leaves big clumps along the glass.

S: Pretty balanced aroma of carmel malt and a big punch of hops. Fresh citrus and earthy hop oils.

T: Sweet carmel malt and brown sugar. Earthy hop resin and fresh grapefruit to follow. Hints of mandarin oranges and lemon zest. Also an astringent soapy flavor that is a little odd. Light alcohol at the finish.

M: Full bodied and smooth, spot on for the style.

D: This is a good DIPA, but not great. This one seemed a little too balanced for me. I was looking for a big punch of hops, but Big A IPA never delivered. It's definitely tasty and worth trying, there are many other DIPAs that I would grab first.

Photo of Liverpool08
3.89/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light golden orange, kind of murky with floatys in the glass. Smell is pine and grapefruit. Taste follows, very Piney and sour citrus, but its not a giant hop hit. Its a very nice clean crisp IPA flavor. The mouthfeel is a little oily, maybe because of the high ABV. But it finished nice and its very drinkible for a DIPA.

Photo of alpinebryant
4.29/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly murky copper with small floating particles all over the beer.
Smell of strong grapefruit and pine intermixed, booze, pale malt
Taste of very bitter pine, grapefruit, a strong IPA that is boozy, caramelized sugars, and a bit of astringency. Good carbonation, and a thicker mouthfeel for the style. A tasty double IPA that I found enjoyable.

Photo of parris
4.19/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very tasty, slight malty alcohol flavor, but well balanced with the hops. Mild hop armoa. It's a little over carbonated - an easy 12 oz pour into a pint glass produced enough head that I needed to give it time to finish the pour. The mouth feel is a little oily, spot on for the style, and the finish is pretty crisp.

Photo of hga2009
4.97/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a fantastic beer. Not sure why it only gets a b from the bros. This beer can be held up against others in imperial ipa class like hercules from great divide and 90 min ipa and others. Very clean that is the first thing u notice. poured into a piraat glass u really get the nose on this one. Silky smooth taste follows with a fusion of hops followed by a hop and alcohol bruno. Enjoy this one and repeat. A world class example in this highly contested style.

Photo of mostpoetsdo
4.32/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Hazy amber with big white head that leaves great lacing.

S: Huge scent of pine hops with a floral and citrus backing, so much going on here. Smelly syrupy sweet as well.

T: Just as the nose leads on, insane amount of hops. First is sweetness combined with pine, then going into a floral taste, and finally ending with a mellow citrus bite. A subtle boozy flavor hangs in the aftertaste, along with some spicy goodness.

M: Pretty heavy, almost syrupy. Just enough carbonation to tingle your tongue, while alcohol remains masked very well.

D: Definitely good, huge amount of flavor going on, with an ABV over 9.5%.

Photo of tzieser
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a: poured (and properly decanted) from a 12oz bottle into a Raftman tulip glass. great bright orange color, with a two finger white fluffy head. good head retention. extremely bubbly body. looks pristine.

s: has a piney, citrusy hop nose. noticible malt character in the background. aroma is not as strong as some other DIPAs, but it's still pretty solid.

t: wow. after feeling a little let down from the smell, the huge hop flavor smacks me in the face. huge pine flavor, some grapefruit notes, malt is there and keeps it pretty balanced. hops remain on the tongue long after sipping. very good, but i wish it was a bit cleaner.

m&d: good mouthfeel, but again, wish it was a bit cleaner. drinkability is good.

a damn good DIPA, up there with some of the better ones. be sure to give it a try

Photo of Wisconsinality
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber into imperial pint.

A- A very nice orange/ golden that has just the slightest of haze to it. Pours about a finger and half's worth of head and stays as a nice cap on the beer the whole way through. Also leaves some good lacing on the side of the glass.

S- A big combination of piney and citrusy hops. Some grassiness to go along with just a little bit of funk which adds a nice little touch.

T- Hops right up front but with a little orange that seems to coat the mouth. Just a faint touch of alcohol at the very end but is overall hidden quite well.

M- A medium bodied brew that could be considered a little full body which adds quite nicely to it. There is the big bite up front and the dryness on the tail end. The carbonation just rolls over the tongue.

D- I would like to say I could have more than a bomber of this but I think my tongue would be done after one. I really liked this beer and feel it is a more balance(than some) dipa's.

Photo of paco1029384756
3.91/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to jlindros.

Pours a lightly cloudy golden orange color with a large, three fingers of soapy white head and some impressive retention.

Scent of earthy bitter hops, sweet biting sugar, strong juicy citrus, a hint of earth, and spicy alcohol. These characteristics come together nicely to make on good smelling beer.

Taste of sweet sugars, spicy alcohol, caramel, bitter hops, and citrus. Finishes dry with a spicy citrus flavor; not bad, but not the best East Coast Imperial IPA.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy bodied, slick, and sticky, and finishes very dry.

Photo of sethmeister
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've enjoyed this beer many times but never got around to reviewing it.

Poured today from a 22oz bottle marked "bottle conditioned 2009".

Cloudy apricot orange body is topped by a thick long lasting cream colored head. Patches of fuzzy lace on the glass.

Intense, thick hop notes hit the nose. Coniferous, spicy, resinous, citric. Pine, oranges, lime, grapefruit. Marvelously spicy and fragrant.

Taste is pine sap, oranges, sour grapefruit. Sticky and resinous hops. Strong spicy bitter aftertaste. There's a dry biscuit malt flavor but you have to search for it under all the hops. Hints of lightly sweet fruit flavors appear briefly before being bumrushed by bitterness. Lo I have belched a pine tree.

Mouth is substantial and viscous with a dry bitter finish.

Drinkability is fantastic. 9.6% ABV is carried well.

A lusty and sensuous double ipa.

Photo of Ryan011235
4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter on 2/8/10

Bottle conditioned in 2009

Many thanks to smutty33

This is about as vibrant of tangerine/amber color you are going to get while being this cloudy. It isn't too much so, just enough to get the impression of moderate density & sheen. A few pineapple-hued highlights creep in around the edges. It poured a slightly off-white head just shy of two fingers. After several minutes it has thinned considerably but has left decent lacing. Overall, retention is consistently thin but the lace gets sparse. Lacing is a little better on the second pour.

The nose is very floral & has a decent showing of pine & citrus as well. Notes of grapefruit pith, lemon, orange & a touch of pineapple. The citrus elements seem a bit jumbled, but I can live with that; Big A doesn't appear to be hurting for hops. As for malt aromas it has hints of dry biscuit which tries to offer balance but doesn't quite succeed; this is a good thing. There is also a mild sugar cookie sweetness, but it is faint at best.

The nose has nothing on how this tastes. Potent & dense pine bitterness hits upfront; it is less like, say, a sharp fillet knife & more like a dull, serrated blade. It doesn't cut with such quickness; no, the bitterness moves slowly & deliberately. It doesn't end there - ripe citrus fills right in with lemon zest & grapefruit. Similar to the nose, the citric aspect is a little muddled, but who cares? It tastes darn good. Sure, some maltiness is present in its all-but-a-side-note glory. There are a few hints of toasted bread, sugar cookies & maybe (just maybe) a dollop of caramel sweetness. In any case, the hops are the feature here. Yes, this'll do.

This is an intense beer & carries its weight as such. I can't exactly call it full bodied, but it comes really close. It's resiny, has some grittiness & is damn-near chewy, truth be told. Carbonation is on the higher end of the spectrum but feels moderate; I can't fault the zeal needed to hoist this beer. In my estimation, one of the best features of the beer is offering great flavors while maintaining such an overall dryness from start to finish. Plenty bitterness makes its way to the end. Exceptional.

I enjoyed this beer more with each drink. Drinkability is superb. It easily runs with the Midwestern big dogs. Smuttynose recently started distributing to Ohio. Should I ever see it around town, I'll buy several. It took me a few bottles to warm up to Finest Kind; not at all the case with Big A. According to the bottle, "Stash Wojciechowski...created this bonafide India Pale Ale." He hit it spot on.

Photo of dciBA
4.37/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a 12oz bottle into my big beer series snifter. Color is light amber with tons of sediment floating around, typical of a smutty beer I guess. Quite a bit of carbonation produces a solid half inch of head that seems to be lingering for quite a while. Lots of thick white lacing as it goes down. Smells is pretty much all hops. Taste is very hoppy with almost all the common hop flavors. Citrusy, spicy, earthy, but mostly piney. This is about as unbalanced a DIPA you're gonna find on the east coast. Tons of hops with just enough malt to almost balance it out. Mouthfeel has a nice hop resin stickiness that stays on the palate for while. ABV isn't really noticeable. I'm rating this one good on drinkability for the style, but if you're new to the hop game you may have trouble putting down more than one of these. Another great big beer from smuttynose.

Photo of bamadog
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review is from notes taken on 2/13/2010. Bottle split with Beerman207, poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice light, but solid coppery color and starts with a 1 and 1/2 finger fluffy white head with great retention and that eventually fades to a full and thick skim; body is a little cloudy and shows strong carbonation; a fair amount of spotty lacing is left behind.

Smell: Just smells sticky and piney with some juicy and citrusy orange hops; there's a sweet malty backing as well that is almost honey-like.

Taste: Quite nice -- sticky and piney hops and a juicy citrusy and orange presence; the malts are stronger than I thought they may be and create a very sweet and honey-like balance to all of those wonderful hops; overall it's a great tasting DIPA that is straightforward.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth; carbonation is very present, yet soft; a nice coating of hoppy resin is left all over the mouth leaving the roof of the mouth especially sticky.

Drinkability: Very nice flavors, balance and mouthfeel -- I'm loving this beer and wish I had some more. Word has it that Smuttynose is now showing up in southern Ohio so I may be going on an excursion to pick up some more. The only thing that prevents this one from getting a 5 in drinkability is the high ABV and the kick it provides.

Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,617 ratings.