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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

1,601 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,601
Reviews: 885
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.83%
Wants: 91
Gots: 99 | 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: 1,601 | Reviews: 885 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Risser09
3.1/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a Mexican tulip - Fridge temp - 2008

Appearance: Pours a semi cloudy golden orange with a towering 5" yellowish head. It shows great retention. A spongy webbing of lace clings to the glass.

Smell: Earthy and vegetal hop aromas. It smells like a mix of sauteed mushrooms and cereal. Kind of like prematurely picked hops.

Taste: Quite bitter with some generous pale malt flavor. It's very bitter, but just doesn't taste very fresh, like it should. It tastes like a bunch of hop pellets. Lots of malt and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Very bitter, but without much complexity. Underlying sweetness and plenty of booze. Medium-heavy body and mild carbonation. Lingering bitterness aplenty.

Drinkability: Kind of disappointing. The hop bitterness is bland and very artificial, like that of hop pellets. Needs a bit more floral flavor and aroma. A cereal aftertaste is unpleasant. Not bad.

Photo of zeff80
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

Photo of ballewblake
3.56/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Duvel tulip.

One finger off white head on pour, on an amber translucent body. Plenty of lacing on the glass and the head drops to a thin white coat. Slightly pined on the nose, an even familure double ipa smell, but nothing in your face here. Taste is more bitter than anything, carbonation is there and balanced. Easy to drink for 9+% but the flavor isn't exciting me like a lot of the other smutty's have. Not bad, but okay. Thanks to jwale73 for the chance.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 6/15/08. Bottle, 2008. Weird label illustration. Pours a cloudy orange with a thick, huge white head that persists and leaves nice lacing on the glass. Aroma strongly of citrus (orange and lemon), grapefruit, piney hops. Very inviting. Initial flavor is of the same citrus, grapefruit, and piney hops - very harsh and tangy, lots of spices. Very powerful flavor. As the beer warms, the mouthfeel does mellow a bit, more sweet cookie malt comes out, along with some butter, bitter hops. I enjoyed this a lot. This matches up quite well with the other big IPAs and definitely holds its own. One of my favorite Smuttynose beers.
9/4/8/4/14 (3.9/5)

Photo of EGledhill
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

big thanks to Barleywinebrewer for sending this one my way. Poured into my go to Yuengling pint glass

On a side note this is the first IPA that I've let my girlfriend try. Let her have the first sip. She's a big stout fan so no surprise that she cringed when the taste hit her. Guess this means my hop bombs are safe from her slugging them back while I'm not around. As I wrote this in my note, she is still holding onto the glass and saying "it's disgusting". I think to myself "dully noted, now gimme my damn glass back".

A. nice gold body with thin white head that nevedr really made too much of an appearance. This saddens me because I love me some head with my IPA's... From the beer that is.

S. redeems the appearance and then some. Pine needles, grapefruit rind, caramel sweetness pour out this beer smells amazing.

T. Taste is awesome as well. I can see why the girlfriend puckered up with this one. Big hop bitterness, slight alcohol burn, sweet finish. I liked it but the 2 things that threw me off of a perfect 5 score were the alcohol burn and the bitterness. too piney, if that's even a word. If the grapefruit would've came through on this one instead of the pine hop flavor, it would've been my wet dream.

M. mouthfeel was pretty solid. not overly thick but not too thin.

D. Good. though after 16oz of this, the cheeks are warm and the heads mildly fuzzy. more than 2 of these would probably be no good for the motor skills

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to hoppymeal? for this one? Bottle says "Bottle Conditioned in 2008", whatever that means.

Served from a 22oz bottle into a snifter. Slightly hazy, orange red color with a stiff, white head. Head is about two fingers in size and is very dense and stiff. Tons of lacing as well.

Aroma is huge. Seems to be more malt in the aroma than hops. Huge caramel and sweetness. A touch of piney hops and earthiness as well. Sweet and pungent alcohol.

Good hop flavor up front with a nice balance of malt as well. More of the caramel sweetness with some bready flavors. Hop flavor is piney and citrusy. Nice hop bite at the end, but it does little to reduce the sticky sweetness of the beer.

Finishes pretty dry. I like the drier IIPA so that was not unwelcomed. However, this one seems to be a little sweet and alcoholic. A touch cloying. It seems that a lot of the DIPA are getting to be a little sweeter than I remember them before. Maybe I am changing. Who know. Good beer overall.

Photo of t0rin0
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%
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.

Photo of sholland119
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a hazy, murky orange with a thin white head and a bit of lacing. Looks like hops!

S-Smells like hops! Lots of citrus flavors, grapefruit, orange maybe even some tangerine and pineapple.

T-Tastes like hops, too! More malt than I expected based on the nose but that is very welcome. Starts with a caramel malt sweetness, then the grapefruit bite takes over. On the whole, not the most balanced DIPA I've ever had but very nice.

M-Lingering bitterness of the hops with medium carbonation.

D-For a highly hopped DIPA, this is pleasantly drinkable. I bit of a sipper, of course, but I'd be happy to sip a couple over a few hours.


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

Big A stands for quality. Pours a semit-cloudy amber orange color. A good pour leaves a good soft white head. Good retention and lacing through the entire tasting.

The nose has a good hop nose that, to me, is closer to a west coast ipa but more in balance. To start there is a citrus and light piney aroma. Some minor floral and herbal hop notes as well. Some minor malt notes comes out, but really limited compared to the hops. Very clean with just a hint of yeast notes.

The taste is very balanced towards the hops. The bitterness is limited but does allow the more piney flavor to come out with noticeable orange notes. Some chalky notes in the finish but not overly obvious. The malt is limited but balances enough of the hops not to get overly soapy. Some minor caramel and grainy notes. The yeast is a bit more perceivable than the nose indicates. Some oxidation and with cardboard and sherry and some minor musty notes. More of a nit-pick type of thing though.

The body is moderate. Maybe a bit sweet but still very nice balance. A great beer for sure. A big thanks to Yarrington for the trade!

Photo of joepais
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 2008 bottle poured into a snifter produced a great two fingers worth of white head that lasts a long time. The body of this ale was cloudy and orange in color.

The aroma was very citrusy and piney in the beginning balanced of with a malt backbone in the end

This brew is not the typical hop bomb it is well balanced nice sweet malts and bitter grapefruit flavor are abundant through out my whole mouth great medium mouthfeel with great carbonation

I have had a lot of this brew always great. I always miss it when it's gone; I wish they brewed it more than once a year

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

A- The beer is a nice golden/amber haze. This is what is expected from a beer of this style. The head is a small batch of tightly nit bubbles, very creamy in appearance. The lacing is great, very clingy, like that kid from school you just couldn't get to leave you alone.

S- The smell is very sweet and full of grapefruit smells. I would say this reminds me of Pliny the Elder, in terms of smell.

T- This is very similar in taste as Pliny the Elder, but only maltier and earthier, and the hops have a slightly more stinging bite on the tastebuds. There is a nice sweetness and slight bitterness. The grapefruit taste is there for sure. But yeah very similar to Pliny, but not as sweet.

M- Feels good in the mouth. This is a pallet killer for sure, or at least this is turning out that way.

D- Easy to drink for sure.

Photo of tpd975
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not sure who sent this one my way, but Thanks!

A: Pours a nice murky orange hue with a nice solid one finger head. Wonderful retention and some lace noted.

S: Nice sweet apricot aromas with hints of peach, pine, and sweet malt for balance. Blast of citrus in the finish.

T: Very floral with hints of citrus, apricot and rich gooey caramel malt. Very bold, very drinkable, very balanced. A winner!

M: Medium to full in body. Great carbonation, a real treat.

D: Very drinkable, one of the better IPA's I have had in awhile.

Photo of Absumaster
4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A orange, slightly murky beer with not much head.

Smell is citric with tangerine notes. A strong maltiness with light colored caramalts. Sweet with honey notes. There is a yeasty smell there too.

Taste is bitter, with notes of citrus, mainly orange and tangerine. Bitterness is not too high, but a level near my upper limit. The malt is sweet and dextrinous. It offers a lot of balance to the aromatic and bitter hops. Mouthfeel is mild sweet and a little sticky. Drinkability is great.

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

I've ever had a beer from the Smutty Big beers that hasn't been great. This is no exception. Along with the citrus and floral aromas, there is an outstanding caramel smell. It is up front in the taste too. A little sticky.

Easy to drink. However, at over 9%, take care.

Photo of Bitterbill
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got this bottle in a trade with NutBrown. Thanks Alan!

Served at cellar temp:

It pours a clear gold with a 2 finger head of billowy foam.

The smell is a big dose of grapefruit and piney hops with some caramel malt lingering in the background. Nice nose indeed.

The taste has the big notes of grapefruit and pine up front but the caramel malt I noted in the nose has an even more solid presence in the taste. Is it perfectly balanced? No, but it certainly isn't one dimensional and that's a plus when it comes to how drinkable this DIPA is for me and the alcohol *does* give me some warming for sure but it isn't all encompassing and doesn't stop me from enjoying this drop. I can also taste some other fruit, maybe mango and tangerine? Nice.

Mouthfeel is on the thick side..very substantial and I'm liking that muchly. The carbonation is on the low side of medium and it finishes pleasingly bitter.

Btw, head retention is great and there's plenty of sticky lacing. Also, with the second pour, the brew became hazy.

Bottom line: A very good DIPA here that doesn't go overboard with the hops thanks to a good malt backbone. I enjoyed my session with this bottle and I think you will too.

Photo of AltBock
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber bottle with a classic colored 1920's era vintage picture of Stash Wojciechowski "The Killer Kielbasa" throwing a left hand punch. In the paragraph next to the picture, it says that he created the recipe that later became "Big A IPA." In the lower right hand corner of the picture is a bottled year. Mine was bottled in 2007. All the other stuff on the label is the mandatory US information like the Government warning.

Appearance: I decided to pour the Big IPA into a Sly Fox imperial pint glass. This "bonafide" IPA poured a wonderful golden tangerine orange color. The head of foam was equally as nice as the color. This fluffy head of foam was pearl white in color and close to 2 inches in height. This tall head of foam took its time to recede and when it did, it left behind a thick white film and a lot of sticky white streaks of lace around the glass. A top notch IPA appearance!

Smell: For a Big IPA, the aroma was a bit on the mild side, but I wasn't disappointed because there were plenty of aromas hiding in this beer. The majority of the aroma was the dry and bitter citrus hops. Behind these hops was a pinch of dried grapefruit, a few pine needles, and a subtle touch of lemon peel. To balance out all of these citrus aromas was the sweet scent of toasted caramel malts. Those caramel malts were a nice touch.

Taste: I thought that this IPA was going to be aggressively hopped, but instead this beer went down the balanced hop road. The dried and bitter citrus hops were balanced with a hint of pine needles, a touch of dried grapefruit, a splash of lemon peel, and some lightly toasted caramel malts. To think, I was expecting this beer's hop content to be like a boxer's punch to the face, but instead it was like a light kick to the shins. It was very nice well balanced highly hopped balanced beer.

Mouthfeel: This was a medium bodied beer with a short lived hoppy aftertaste of citrus hops, lightly toasted caramel malts, and a touch of bitter grapefruit. What? A 9.20% ABV? I had no idea this was a high ABV% beer. There was no indication that this beer had that high ABV% in it. I couldn't taste it or feel it.

Drinkability: Since this Big IPA wasn't aggressively hopped, that makes this an easy drinking Double IPA. A bomber of this fine brew won't last long. I would love to have this beer again and again. This is another high quality and must try beer from Smuttynose.

Photo of Reagan1984
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Having any of the Smuttynose beers is like hanging with an old friend. You just like having them around. Big A is another nice member of the Smutty family.

After pouring from the bomber, I was greeted with a creamy two finger head that perched atop a golden/honey colored beer. Very clear with minimal visible carbonation, this was a wonderful looking beer. There was a huge amount of lacing which was expected based upon the type of head that I encountered. Nice looking beer.

Aroma was of ripe fruits like pineapple. Some complex sweetness and depth here. You can tell this will be hoppy but also pack a malt punch.

Wonderful beer. Certainly a substantial malt backbone that plays nicely with the assertive hop flavors. I again get the sense of sweet, ripe pineapple along with citrus and some pine notes. I really enjoyed the hop afterglow.

Mouth feel was medium/big. Just below full bodied. Very drinkable and a wonderful beer.

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

I was really excited when I found this at 3 sons dogs & suds today. We have very limited availability of Smuttynose here and this is the first bottle offering I have ever seen in the area. 750ml bottle bottled in 2007.

A-Body is on the paler side of amber and translucent. Pours with a small creamy slightly off-white head that retains well but little lacing is left behind in the glass. Cloudiness is thick and uniform and bubbles can be seen rising to the top.

S-Lots of spicy hops with an earthy undertone. A hint of malt sweetness too.

T- A lot of spicy and earthy hop flavors mix upfront. These turn slightly bitter for the finish and a kick of piny hops is added. What lingers is a spiciness in the back of your throat and a medium residual bitterness.

M-You can tell right away in the mouthfeel without even reading the bottle or looking at the beer (because I didn't do either) that it is bottle conditioned.Medium carbonation and smooth silky body loaded with hop oils and yeast. Wonderful. Definitely the highlight of this beer.

D-This is a good DIPA. My favorite smuttynose offering so far. The smooth mouthfeel makes it really easy to drink. I'm sure it had a much brighter flavor when it was new but I'm glad the bottle conditioning had time to take effect. I still have their farmhouse ale in my fridge and am looking forward to trying it.

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

Pretty darned carbonated...head rushing to rim. 4 fingers of thick near-white froth in my goblet with nice tints of yellow. Glowing orange in color, with a slight haze. Looks like my kinda dipa! Soft pretzel malt taste followed by a wallop of sticky, funky citric hop flavor. full bodied...long lasting hop flavor. Tons of pine and nasty pink grapefruit. Alcohol soaked grapefuit taste in the mouth...so good.
Drinkability is better than good, for a beer of this power.

Photo of ColForbinBC
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a pint.

Pours an extremely hazy/cloudy burnt orange color with a two finger slight yellow head. Great staying power with only minimal lacing.

Big candied grapefruit, honey, and sweet malts.

Taste mimics the nose. Sweet malts balanced out by bitter ruby red grapefruit.

Medium body, smooth and creamy. Chewy hop palate.

A sipper at 9+%, but really easy to get through.

NOTE: I absolutely love the label of this beer. "The Killer Kielbasa," love it.

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

2008 bottled, thanks to biegaman for this beauty, a Polish boxer's recipe nonetheless brought to us from the fine folks at Smuttynose.

Golden hue with orange highlites, hazy, translucent with generous frothy head, 2 to 4 fingers. Lively carbonation with staying power, lots of lacing. I found the hoppy aroma had citrus and over ripe fruit accents but there was also a stronger smell of old leather slippers that wasn't quite so appealing. Lots of hops in the mouth, a really full mouthfeel, dense and spirited, a touch of sour fruit here and there with bitterness in the aftertaste. This lives up to the label, it's a big beer alright, quite an aggressive IPA, or so I thought at the time (biegaman later reminded me it was a DIPA). This Smuttynose entry into the "big beer series" has a strong assertive taste with hoppy bitterness; I found it almost too overpowering. This is not one for the meek, but perfect if you're looking to have a one-beer night.

Photo of Med
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Love the label with the old school boxer. Hazy burnt straw color capped with a modest off-white head that slowly diminishes but leaves a surprising amount of lacing. Smells like an orchard. Very sweet citrusy hops with clementine orange coming to the front. Taste follows the smell. Lots of resiny hops. Clementine orange with a little pine and stright lemon rind at the long lasting finish all backed by sweet malts. At first the hops and malts seem to be at odds, but as the beer warms the flavors blend nicely. Medium viscosity with a nice tingly carbonation. Alcohol is at first subtle but the warming becomes more noticeable as you go. Very nice beer for the hop-heads out there. I could drink the whole bomber, but would want something a little more mellow to follow.

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

Got this beautiful brew in another great trade with Donnie2112. Thanks man!

A-A cloudy, golden orange. Heavy head on an aggressive pour. Head didn't last long and lacing not really present.

S-Floral, DIPA goodness. Citrus and hops.

T-Perfect bitterness. Well balanced.

M-Crisp and sticky. Lingers at the back of the mouth.

D-If I had a case, I would drink it until I passed out or finished the whole lot.

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

Pours a very cloudy, dense, orange/amber color with a huge 2 inch slightly yellowed head. Great retention but no lacing.

Aroma has a great hop profile. A nice grapefruity citrus quality dominates. Also a sticky sweet honey and caramel characteristic. Delicious!

Taste is quite nice. A good hoppiness with a big citrus quality. Decent bitterness and a bit piney.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, nicely carbonated, and pretty slick.

Drinkacility is moderate. Good flavor makes this brew easy to consume. Higher alcohol limits intake, but only slightly. Pretty well made, but I was hoping the taste would match up a little bit more with the nose.

Photo of Kegatron
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,601 ratings.