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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

1,615 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,615
Reviews: 885
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 10.86%
Wants: 90
Gots: 113 | 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: 1,615 | Reviews: 885 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tpd975
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
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 +5.8%
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 +6.1%
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 +8.1%
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 +10.6%
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 +1.8%
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 +3.5%
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 +9.3%
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 +5.3%
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 +0.5%
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 +2.3%
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 +4.8%
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 -1.5%
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 +6.8%
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.

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

A - Pours golden orange in color. Head topped out at a massive one and a half inches and stuck around for quite a while. It settled to a nice thick cap leaving lots of lace. The Big A is a nice looking beer.

S - Lots of citrus fruit up front. Big notes of orange followed by grapefruit. Some grass is present but stays toward the background. Honey sweetness is at the tail end.

T - More big bitter fruit in the flavor. Starts out with a sweeter orange / pineapple flavor and finishes with some bitter grapefruit. Pine flavor is there but restrained. Malt is hard to pick up but still provides a good base to the overall beer. Alcohol is hidden pretty well behind the hops.

M - Pushing full bodied with good carbonation. Sticky and sweet with a dry and bitter finish.

D - Drinkability is good. This one is a palate destroyer just like any good IIPA should be. Alcohol is hidden pretty well. This beer does not really excel in a particular category but is quite good in all categories. Glad I got the chance to try it. Recommended.

Photo of kirok1999
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy dark orange with a nice sticky head. Smells of lots of citrus hops with some sweetness behind.
Taste is of massive hops, thick and rich with tons of citrus, juicy as hell with a nice lingering bitter finish. There's some sweetness in the beginning but the hops overwhelm everything. Feels thick and has a nice amount of carbonation.
Very nice brew and very easy to drink. Alcohol is just noticable in the chest after a few sips.

Photo of prototypic
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: It pours a very clear, bronze color and the head is absolutely magnificent. It's off-white and a huge three fingers deep. Retention was excellent and waves of lace clung to the glass.

Smell: The nose is good, but falls short of very good. It lacks the punch it really needs. That being said, it does feature a nice citrusy smell that consists of grapefruit, pineapple, and some orange. There's a good mix of piney and floral hops. A healthy dose of caramel and pale malts is noteable. It results in a sweet, nice smelling beer. But, it could use a little more muscle.

Taste: It's sweet up front. The combo of malts and citrus grapefruit and pineapple flavors have that effect. Hops are indeed a combo of pine and floral flavors. It works well and give the hops a nice bitter, earthy effect. Malts balance it out a lot. Perhaps too much. Big A doesn't have that palate crushing hop bitterness that's common for the style. That's a bit of a negative in my book. Alcohol is definitely noted. I wouldn't say it warms, but it's there and certainly noticeable. It finishes sweet and slightly bitter.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's medium bodied, pretty close to full. It has a nice smooth feel. It's nice and crisp. Carbonation is well done. Drinkability is good. I could easily tackle another bomber if I were so inclined.

Big A's a good DIPA. It has a little baggage that could stand to be worked out, but it's still a good beer. A stronger nose, more hops, and a little restraint on the malts would substantially improve it. It's a good DIPA, but not exactly a hophead's dream come true.

Photo of bbothen
4.23/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Grandq for the opportunity to sample this.

Pours an opaque orange/tangerine color with a fluffy billowing 2 finger head. Lots of sticky lacing on glass. Head has some staying power. Looks fantastic.

Smells of citrus fruit. Orange, tangerine, grapefruit along with a subtle malt sweetness. Cant wait to drink this one.

Big citrus hop overload. I like that. Plenty of earthy, piney hop presence as well. This one makes your mouth pucker. There is a sweet caramel malt presence as well. Delicious.

Oily, sticky, dry, chronic like feel. Like a good IIPA should feel.

Drinkability is high for a 9% big brew like this.

Standing ovation for Smuttynose Big A here in Sunnyvale, Ca. One of my top 5 IIPAs. Wish I had more.

Photo of DrunkenMaster
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy orange with a great aroma to it. Pine, grapefruit and oranges. Nice and bitter with peaches and citrus. The alcohol is there but it never gets in the way. I usually don't like the alcohol bite in my DIPAs, but this one is subtle and I really enjoyed it.

Photo of biegaman
4.52/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Clarity seems to be suffocating amongst the bright, ripening shades of this orange coloured beer. Its tones are radiant, despite that its body is dim and obscured. A peachy white head froths up at the sides. It looks pretty darn good to me!

The beer smells like it was just refurbished with pine. The bouquet is full of this sap-like serum of pine and is absolutely bursting with sweltering citrus. Like an kind of exotic hop juice, this has mango, pineapple, and more grapefruit and orange than anyone would know what to do with.

A resonant base of caramel covered malts is supporting the weight of the whole thing. The malts are considerably toasty and give an impression of roast. The hops provide a whopping amount of tang. The bitterness is curiously low and leaves almost no impression except for the crisp, snappy finish. The alcohol is snipped right out by the sharp citric acidity of hop resin that seems to bite after every sip.

Although the beer seems straightforward enough, its flavour brings to mind some awfully odd ideas: freshly blossomed flowers, grill roasted citrus, orange jello, the nectar of a freshly squeezed mango, spruce tips, an alcoholic's morning OJ, caramel covered grapefruit...

A beer like this on a hot, sunny day makes for heaven on earth. While I'll admit the style is capable of a little more, Smuttynose has approached the DIPA with a to-the-point simplicity - it's hoppy, it's malty, it's balanced. It's strong but super drinkable. That's all the reason I need to buy this again.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice orange/amber with a quite good head that sticks around as a cap and leaves some nice lacing as well. Big piney and grapefruit aromas in the nose, with emphasis on the pine. Taste is similar. Big pine flavors followed by nice grapefruit and then a lingering bitterness that smacks of pine and some grapefruit peel. Just enough firm malt to give some structure to the beer. A very fine double IPA. Tangy and smooth in the mouth as well as some late tannins from the big bitterness. This one is an East Coast hop bomb, but beautifully done. I love this beer.

Photo of ckeegan04
4.23/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Bright, clear orangish brown color. Thick foamy head with light lacing.

S - Piney hop overload in the nose. A light aroma of sweet honey as well, but the hops dominate. Not the citrusy aroma of the west coast DIPA's that I love, but a fine smelling brew.

T - Spicy, piney hop blast. There is just a light caramel/honey sweetness, but the hops are the stars of the show. Light alcohol warming at the end that doesnt dominate the taste but definitely lets itself be known. An excellent DIPA.

M - Medium bodied and very harsh from the hops. Leaves your mouth reeling just like a good DIPA should.

D - A very sippable DIPA but the hop presence and the alcohol would make more than the 22 glorious ounces I have in front of me tough.

Thanks to joepais and the Instant Gratification BIF for making this one available.

Photo of MiScusi
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to my friend USCTrojanBrian for this beer.

A: Clear burnt orange, frothy head with good retention and lots of lacing left on my tulip.

S: This one is big on pine aroma. Caramel malt gives off a sweetness and orange peel as well.

T: Resiny pine, orange marmalade, really aggressive.

M: At 9.2% and with the huge flavor they throw into this beer they actually manage to keep it on the thinner side which is nice. No syrup type of feeling in this DIPA.

D: The resinous hop is so aggressive it is hard to quaff this one at any sort of fast pace. It's a nice sipper, and delivers a good overall flavor for someone looking at extreme IPA's, but 1 glass is enough for me.

Photo of deanhead
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber to golden in color. Nice viscous head.

Aroma is piny and dank. Hoppy, citrusy, sweet smelling beer

Taste is harsh and dank the hops are overpowering. They support a nice malt back bone, but they are simply way to harsh in the taste of this beer.

Mouthfeel is dank, chewy, and full bodied. It certainly packs a punch.

I did not find this beer so drinkable. I was not so hot on this beer. It simply wasn't my bag. You might like it if your a hop head. I like hops, but this beer wasn't for me.

Photo of Gtreid
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Philabeerphia for this one.
Bottle conditioned in 2008. 22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter.

A: Nice muttled honey, copper color that produced one and a half fingers of creamy white head that left tons of thick lacing.

A: Brew erupted with citrus hops. Orange, mango, and some peach flavors hit me well. The sweet malts balance this beer much better than some other hop bombs.

T: Strong tropical citrus hops, again, very much like the aroma. Finishes dry and bitter with a nice alcohol warming, just like a DIPA should.

M&D: Medium body, very light carbonation makes for a slightly above averge mouthfeel. The 9.2% ABV is not overwhelming. This is a very good offering. I was skeptical at first about this, but I will have to say Smuttynose has impressed me with their atempt at a DIPA. Skal.

Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,615 ratings.