Smuttynose Big A IPA - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA

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very good

1,579 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,579
Reviews: 877
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 91
Gots: 92 | 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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2002)
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Ratings: 1,579 | Reviews: 877 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of yourefragile
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle

Relatively clear, light copper color with a frothy, tall cream colored head that has nice retention and thin streaks of lacing. Strong, sweet citrus (grapefruit) and caramel malt aroma. A little pine mixed in, but overall the aroma is fairly one dimensional and boring for the style. Flavor breaks down to an initial extremely sweet malty and citrus bomb with a clean, dry slightly more bitter pungent citrus finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with adequate carbonation but has a slightly thin, watery finish. Throughout there is an underlying spiciness and alcohol presence. Overall an OK DIPA, but for some reason (I have no basis for where this assumption came from) I was an expecting an exceptional take on the style when I bought this and it's disappointing how sweet it is and how thin the finish is.

Photo of KBoudreau66
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark yellow with a finger of foamy white head that dissipates. Alot of carbonation. Has big citrus hop aromas. Grapefruit rinds, slightly lemony, maybe a bit piney with a malty undertone. The taste falls in line with the nose. A little bit dry on the aftertaste, but overall a very good offering from Smuttynose, and given the price point, an excellent choice. Definitely recommended.

Photo of dasenebler
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Here's a bona fide New England hop bomb.

Pours a rich, slightly hazy amber. Not much head to speak of, a thin layer sticks around though.

Aroma sings of big, bold American hops: really herbal and citrusy with this DIPA.

Flavor is nice. Not too sweet, but not really a dry IPA either. Tons of herbal hop flavor coats the tongue. I get menthol, sage-like notes. Pretty spicy. Not overly bitter, and very drinkable in this regard. Mouthfeel is excellent: hugely resinous and coating of the tongue. Carbonation is nice and low.

It's nice to have a good New England hop bomb that we can get our hands on fresh. That's what it's all about with this style.

Photo of corby112
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear pale golden orange color with hints of peach and dark golden yellow hues when held to a light source. Two finger frothy, pillowy head that has excellent retention, only slowly fading into a lasting ring that leaves rings of chunky, soapy lacing.

Resinous earthy floral hop aroma with lots of dank hop oils, citrus and pine notes. Slight alcohol presence with a nice biscuit/graham cracker malt character. This smells extremely fresh with lots of grapefruit, orange and lemon peel. One of the better smelling DIPAs I've had in some time.

Chewy, resinous medium body with lots of uber-fresh, floral hops bursting through. A good bit of dry and bitter flavor that balances out the sweetness of the citrus flavors. Lots of grapefruit, pineapple, mango and citrus peel excellently balanced by dry pine notes, slight alcohol warmth and biscuity graham cracker malt backbone. Their is a slight alcohol presence but overall the high ABV is very well masked, and this well balanced DIPA is dangerously drinkable. Excellent interpretation of the style. The latest batch just hit shelves (in the Philly area at least) so I strongly recommend going out and getting it now while it's at it's peak.

Photo of boralyl
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours an inch of fluffy white head that has a great retention and clings to the inside of the glass. The beer is a light copper/orange color with a slight haziness to it.

S - A nice potent aroma. Lots of citrus, pine and grapefruit mixed in with a little bit of malt sweetness.

M - Medium in body with a ton of hops oil in the mouth feel. Lightly carbonated. Finishes dry.

T - A little bit of sweet malt followed by a biscuit like taste. Then you are barraged by citrus, pine and grapefruit similar to the nose. It finishes with a bold bitter taste with hints of alcohol.

An excellent DIPA. A lot of resin from the hops so this will coat your pallet for some time. I'd certainly try it again.

Photo of Brez07
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a DFH snifter

A: Burnt orange coloring with a 1/2 finger head that goes quick. Nice spotted lacing and bubbles throughout

S: Hops, hops and more hops. Wow that is nice. Grapefruit, floral and a touch of alcohol

T: Dominated, in a good way, by grapefruit, pine and citrus. Slightly sweet and dry at the end

M: Definitely get a dry taste at the back of the tongue. Not much carbonation which contradicts the appearance

D: I love this beer to the point that it's hard to keep in my fridge for too long. Very easy to drink. Hopheads will enjoy this - seek it out

Photo of grahambo
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz Bottle Poured into a Snifter

A: This beer has a cloudy, coppery appearence with a just barely tan head that dissipates quickly leaving some lacing.

S: Hops hops and more hops...this beer uses the same citrusy hop smell that some of this brewery's other big beers have, grapefruit with some lemon and a bit of pine.

T: Hoppy with a strong malt backbone. The grapefruit hoppiness plays nicely with a biscuit flavor in the middle which dissolves into a bitter finish with some alcohol notes lingering.

M: Surprisingly thin for the flavor and weight of this beer. There is some creaminess at first but it thins out very very quickly.

D: Not the most drinkable DIPA I've ever had. The flavors blend together incredibly well but the thinness of the beer just doesn't quite match the big flavor and ABV. I would definitely drink it again and recommend it however as a great east coast example of DIPA style.

Photo of cpetrone84
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-orangish copper color with lots of bubbles from the carbonation, good two fingers of hazy white head

S-a light sweet caramel hits the nose first followed by a lot of hops in the form of citrus and grapefruit

T-similar to the smell, I get a light roasted malt and some sweet caramel up front with a big hop kick of citrus, some pine resign, and grapefruit

M-very smooth and syrupy with very little carbonation despite the appearance

D-this is actually very drinkable, it is pretty sweet from the quick hit of sweet malt up front the strong tropical fruit hoppyness accomponied by a nice mouthfeel

Photo of argock
3.73/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a 10oz clear tulip at Bukowski's Tavern (Boston, MA) for $6.50.

A: Dirty amber with crisp cap of ivory-colored head which leaves a nice ring of lace or two.

S: Very spicy and citrusy with orange and grapefruit aromas and a strong caramel malt component as well.

T: Flavor is like a spiced, caramel apple soaked in alcohol. The citrus contribution is not as strong as the nose suggests, and the spiciness of the hops really wins out. Some floral aspects are there as well. Caramel malt is prominent, definitely overwhelmed by the hops, but still makes a pretty good show. The alcohol adds some astringency.

M: The feel is too astringent for my tastes. The oiliness of exceptional IPAs/DIPAs is not there. The body is big and the carbonation is low. The aftertaste is pretty spicy with alcohol.

D: A pretty good but not great DIPA. The alcohol is a little too big, and the hops don't leave the oily, expansive feel, aroma, and flavor that the best of this style (see Hopslam, Hop Wallop, Unearthly) possess.

Photo of pourmeup
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- lack of retention but keeps a tiny white rim of head on the beer the entire time, no lacing with a semi-golden transparent color.
S- moderate pine and citrus notes, has a stronger nose however
T- grapefruit with forest-like finish heavy on the pine flavors through and through, alcohol comes through on the the tail end
M-has a creamy thick head, but not as thick as we generally hope for
D- has a great taste, but the heaviness of the alcohol at end slows us down

(two person review)

Photo of Gyle41386
3.55/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip.

Orange-amber pour. Monster head retains well and sticks all over the glass. It's a pretty long wait for the head to disappear before I can get a nice nose full of this beer.

Citrusy, hoppy nose. Bit of pine in the background, with a more than generous helping of sweet malt. Really makes it a sweet nose altogether. Shockingly, it doesn't smell as hoppy to me as their regular IPA does.

Flavor is slightly more hoppy than the nose would lead one to believe, but it's still a very sweet beer. The transition between sweet and bitter is pretty abrupt. Luckily, there's not a whole lot of noticeable alcohol, or this one would be a real mess.

Very slick, oily texture. Medium-full body. It's a sipper, for sure. Not bad, but I definitely prefer Smuttynose IPA to its big brother.

Photo of raverjames
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As a pretty big fan of Smuttynose beers, I thought I should finally review this beast. I have had it several times, but I didn't exactly remember what it tasted like.
A: Pale golden color with no haze. It pours with a white 2 finger head. I thought this was unfiltered. I am shocked that it is so clear.
S: Weed. Grass. Herb. Yeah, lots of that big brother of the hop plant. There is also a bit of pine and sweet pineapple in the aroma.
T: More weed. Some piney hops. A bit more malt that what I really wanted.
M: A little too sweet and heavy. This is a medium bodied beer, so it is a sipper. I may just be a little too used to lighter bodied IPAs with more bitterness.
D: So-so. I could drink a bomber easily, but it is not a chugging beer. Not as refreshing as I wanted.

This is a really good beer that reminds me of Racer X. It soothes your craving for dank sticky hops, but does not leave you refreshed. I would buy more, but I am sharing the next bottle.

Photo of nanertak
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured 22oz to tulip.

Appearance: Shockingly clear amber. Looks like a little heavier than medium carbonation. No head to speak of.

Nose: Very floral. Soft citrus, mild pine. Hint of alcohol in the nose.

Taste: Sweet honey malts/alcohol up front, fading into mild hops that build into more bitter hops that linger. Definite alcohol heat on the breath. Would like a little more hop punch up front, and a lot less heat at the end.

Mouthfeel: Thick. Cloying. Too round for my tastes, and the alcohol is VERY apparent.

Drinkability: Slow sips, and a pint is more than enough for me. Good beer, but not one that I'd hunt down.

Photo of BigMike
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Since Smuttynose IPA is one of my all-time favorite IPA's. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a fresh bottle of Big A. This one is no more than a couple of weeks old.

Poured from a bomber into a duvel tulip glass.

A hazy apricot, peach in color. A thin snow white head disappears in a matter of seconds and leaves a very minimal amount of lacing behind.

This one has a tremendously fresh hoppy aroma. Fresh cut grass. Tangerine peel, and a tropical fruit cup smell.

Candied fruit hits the palate first. Lots of orange zest and pine.
There's more caramel malt presence that i usually like in my DIPA's. And i'm not real fond of the slight rubbing alcohol after taste upon immediate swallow.

Mouthfeel is oily and thick and chewy. With the alcohol not being hidden much at all.

Overall i had high expectations of this beer. Smuttynose regular IPA is one of my all time favorites so i figured. A double version of it would be doubley delicious. Thats not the case here. I would gladly take their regular IPA all day over this one.

Photo of drabmuh
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Part of my American Imperial IPA exploration, I had to have some Smuttynose. I have unfortunately not written a review for Smuttynose's standard IPA which is wonderful.

Served on draft at Churchkey in D.C. Beer served in a snifter. Beer is clear and light yellow, not what I expected from a DIPA. Carbonation is low and head is diffuse. Bubbles gravitate toward the edge of the glass, and leave very little lacing on the sides.

The aroma is sweeter than expected as well. I have come to expect certain things from DIPAs, one being some malt character mixed in with the hops in the aroma. This beer the sweetness is what I noticed first in the nose followed by the hops. The hops are a mixture of orangish citrus and pine. There is a slight sulfurish smell to this beer unfortunately.

Lots of pine here in the back of the mouth. Midpalate and front palate sweetness, front flavors are a little cut, probably by the ABV. Drinkability is high for this beer. Beer is smooth and has a nice body to it. Some fruity character to this beer, not sour necessarily maybe some sweet orange flavors. Probably a combination of the hops and the sweetness. Overall a decent beer. Not perfect but pretty good.

Photo of Casey10
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally got a hold of this fresh to give it a proper review.

A - Yellow orange lots of bubbles quickly disapates in the glass.

S - really nice citruis, piney

T - crisp, clean, small ammount of malts in the background.

M - crispy foam leaves a bit of sting behind after being drunk.

D - good drinkability, would definately want antother and maybe why this one is going to a year round release.

Photo of mikey711
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a vibrant orange with a thin layer of foamy white head. Head retention is not great but big patches of web lace stick to the side of the glass.

S:Citrus notes first followed by some christmas tree pine notes and caramel sweetness. The pine note is slightly off putting as it overpowers the intital citrus.

T: Again it starts out citrusy bu then a heavy pine/soapy floral note takes effect before a bit of alcohol takes over.

M: Good creamy feel but the alcohol is off putting.

D: A bomber is more than enough if not too much. Personally, I would go for the finest kind over this as it is more balance.

Photo of Lunch
4.72/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap at ChurchKey in Washington, D.C. (10/30/09). Served in a 16oz. nonic pint glass at an appropriate temperature.

A: Pours a hazy golden, orange with a half finger of an off-white head which disappears rather quickly leaving some above average lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: An oily, piney and hoppy scent with a deep citrus bouquet that melds perfectly with a sweet malt.

T: Intense piney hop is met with a perfectly balanced sweet malt that creates a complex blend which includes an oily body of pine, citrus, toasted malt and grapefruit. The flavors work in perfect unity and provide a full flavor with a bitter, buttery finish.

M: Extremely oily and buttery with a fairly heavy feel and appropriate carbonation.

D: Very drinkable as this beer maintains a perfect balance of hops and malt. This is an extremely well-crafted beer that hides it 9.2% abv. better than most.

Overall I find this beer to not only be in the elite of the DIPA style, but one of the best beers that I have tried to date, as it has such an intense yet balanced flavor. Highly recommended.

Photo of OtherShoe2
3.48/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright orange with a good foamy white head, decnet lacing. Solid appearance.

Smell is so very mild that I ave to hunt for the scent. Some hops, but little else.

Big pin hop presence, with some some light caramel and some light toasted malt. Hops are key here, and there is little else, except for the alcohol. Better than most, but just ok. Intensity of flavor puts this over average.

Medium bodied and a bit oily. Decent carbonation.

Overall, this bomber went down ok. Decent DIPA, but I could care less to chase this down. Good representation of style, but nothing that blows your doors off.

Photo of m1ked
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Pours a flat looking hazy apple cider is a cask after all, but still....underwhelming.

S- Not underwhelming here. This has a thick resiny nose of light piney cedar with some apricot and caramel toffee.

T- There's a sharp cedar pine licorice flavor upfront that is a bit overwhelming. My palate is overwhelmed....hard to pick things out now. That anise caramel cedar/pine lingers on. Can't help but feel that abv in there too.

M- Thick and resiny, cask smoothness. I wonder if carbonation help this gut with the oily resin residue.

D- I love casks, and I love trying new stuff. Glad I had it, but I'll pass on the next one. I'll take a West Coast IPA/IIPA instead.

Photo of BitterPachyderm
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to tprokop7 for this opportunity.

22 oz. bottle poured into my SN pint glass. It had no real freshness date, just a spot on the label declaring that it was bottle conditioned in 2008. Kind of questioned the freshness here. Was this guy gonna be "faded"?

A semi-aggressive pour resulted in a massive five finger head that didn't disipate. It just became a rocky mountain off-white foam that lingnered the entire sitting. The brew itself was a cloudy amber, nothing too special.

The aroma, good god, the aroma! It was like being punched in the face with a grapefruit that had no remorse for the damage it was about to do to my senses. There was also a touch of malt and a bit of pine. Damn this is gonna hurt!

The taste was a bit shocking, and I think I know what a faded IIPA tastes like now. It was a complete role reversal. It had a malty profile with a strong hop backbone that left a slight bitterness mid palate. The hops did begin to take over as the beer warmed in the glass. I also found the taste to be a bit oily, go figure.

It had a crisp mouthfeel and was lacking in the carbonation, which led to it being a bit creamy.

Drinkability is a joke in my book. No, no, no, but then again, that's just me.

Overall, I am still puzzled at what the hype is over all of these DIPAs. To me, it seems that they are lacking in complexity, which is something that I crave in a good brew. I am still hoping to one day be able to find a DIPA that can make me smile.

Photo of JohnQVegas
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours cloudy copper with a big, creamy, everlasting beige head and a wall of lacing down the glass.

Nose is big on hops - citrusy grapefruit and resiny pine complement the rich vanilla sweetness.

Taste begins with a big, creamy, caramel and vanilla sweetness, with a sweet citrus presence ushering in the huge hop note towards the end- big citrusy hops up front, moving to a resiney pine that lingers on the palate for a long, somewhat bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is beautifully creamy, with carbonation to match.

Hugely successful beer with no real weak points.

Photo of ffejherb
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz. bottle into Imperial pint glass on 3/31/09.

A - Poured a clear amber/orange body with minimal carbonation and mammoth three fingers of rocky, off-white head that settled to an inch of creamy retention and left thick, sticky lace all over the glass.

S - Blend of bitter citrus and sappy pine with a healthy dose of alcohol heat in the nose. Pungent grapefruit notes abound and stand at the forefront of this DIPA's aroma. Sweet caramel malt offers a bit of balance to the aggressive hop aroma.

T - Warm, sticky hops abound with an assertive citrus zing and piney accents. Alcohol is quite noticeable, which bolsters the overall hop bitterness to the point of a mild sting. Some sweet caramel malt offers a bit of comfort, but ultimately the hops dominate the flavor. Big A finishes with a fairly harsh resiny hop bitterness.

M - Medium body with an oily texture and soft carbonation, resulting in a smooth, creamy mouthfeel overall. Some sticky hop residue is deposited on the lips. There's quite a bit of residual heat from the high ABV content, resulting in a warm, tingly feeling on the tongue. Finishes with a lingering hop bitterness on the palate.

D - This is indeed a tasty DIPA that packs a huge hop punch, though it loses a few points on drinkability due to the overwhelming alcohol presence. Still, this is probably my favorite Smuttynose brew to date.

Photo of Yetiman420
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy peach color into a Unibroue tulip glass. Exceptionally hazy even after settling in the fridge and a careful pour form the top 25% of the bottle. Very, very nice.

Three finger white head subsides leaving a very unique cotton candy, splash lacing. Difficult to describe and a spooky effect I've not seen before.

Found the brewers notes on the website. Cascade and nugget for bittering, Centennial every 5 minutes for final 30 minutes and crystals in the whirpool. Dry hopping was done in both the fermentor after primary fermentation and the bright tank. We used a mixture of Chinook, Nuggets, and Sterlings in the fermentors and whole leaf Centennials in the bright tank.

Delightful, fruity and clean aroma. No signs of alcohol for this 9% beer.

Very full, cloudy mouthfeel. Perhaps a bit too full and it makes the beer lack some crispness.

Aroma giving off a bit of a skunky hop aroma. Chinook, Nugget, and Sterling...not as used to Sterling so that may be the contributor to the unusual aroma. It smells more on the noble side.

Goes down very easy. Good marks for drinkability. For a 9% beer, the alcohol hides and is a very easy drinker....perhaps too easy.

Refilled glass and got a major carbonation bomb. 5 finger head that spilled over.

A very full bodied IPA that utilizes a variety of hops - some of which I have less experience with. Easy to drink and appreciate.

Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer is a murky orangish brown color with a sticky dishwater-like head. The big aroma has malt and hoppy floral and spice components. On the palate a sweet malt aspect quickly gives way to a slight harsh citrus and hop bitterness. This bitterness continues through to the end and lingers beyond. The alcohol is also noticeable toward the end. A bit heavy on the palate, and not as drinkable as one might like. Overall it seems like a slightly unrefined brew. I understand that it is an American IPA, but it could use a little work.

Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,579 ratings.