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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: 101 | 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 csmiley
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
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 +9.6%
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 +0.8%
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 +6.5%
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%
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 +13.9%
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 +9.1%
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 +6.5%
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 +1.3%
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 -3%
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 +1.3%
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.

Photo of getalife2k5
4.97/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

bottle. poured a rich amber; slightly cloudy. a nice thick foamy head that dissipated into a thin layer that maintained itself. aroma of citrusy hops... grapefruit, orange, tangerine & papaya, wow! tasted even better than it smelled! all the same citrus flavor with a nice thick maltiness that gives it a really full-bodied mouthfeel. a surprising sweetness greets you followed by that grapefruit bitterness that lingers and dances on the middle of your tongue. i don't think i've ever had a beer that was better balanced... this is an absolutley great representative of an IPA. My mouth was perfectly and completely stimulated.

Photo of Proteus93
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Heady pour into a tulip-styled glassware. Hazy orange, long lasting retention.

S: Nice, citrusy hops. Crisp and clean... something slightly peppery.

T + M: Citrus, herbal hops. The flavour is bigger than the nose hints. A litte alcohol mixes in with the lingering bitterness on the finish. While nice and hoppy, this is an example of the somewhat style in which age could do it some good. A nice, somewhat oily / somewhat semi-drying feel.

D: Alcohol starts getting a little big after a while. Something to go easy with. Otherwise, quite tasty though maybe a little hot, as mentioned. I'd like to retry this after 6 months to a year to see how it goes.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy golden color with a good sized head, good retention with some lacing.

Smell is strong in hops, nice citrus and grapefruit aroma, slight pine scent but mostly citrusy and sweet.

Taste starts off with a creamy texture and some malt sweetness, then kicks in with a good hoppy bitterness, very citrusy, can make out the alcohol a little bit in the aftertaste but isn't distracting at all, a strong hop presence melded greatly with sweetness and citrus.

An excellent DIPA, might need to pick up a couple extra bottles.

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

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

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

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

Photo of Donnie2112
4.67/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance: pale, yellow orange, light sitckiness, excellent head retention, light carbonation

smell: spicy, big floral, slight orange rind in the nose

taste: sweet ripe citrus notes in the malt finising with a very grapefruit like finish in thhe hops and I mean the whole grapefruit the rind the sweet juice everything, giant grapefruit flavor

mouthfeel: medium light body, medium light carbonation, plenty of astringence

drinkability: astringent,yummy, not smooth but snappy like a big IPA should be just such a sexy beer

Photo of Matty1918
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy, golden amber with a massive creamy white head. Lots of lacing.

Very nice mild spice and clean citrus aroma. Citrus is definetly grapefruit.

Spicey up front with that first sip but isn't overpowering.Nice dry bitterness with a hint of butter there. Nice citrus flavor as well. Very NICE tasting...well made.

Mouthfeel is very nice buttery texture with some nice warmness that follows.

A well made DIPA

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

Poured from 22oz. bomber into imperial pint glass. Hazy, wildflower honey-colored pale with a fluffy off-white head that dwindles to around half a finger. Has a nice quasi-unfiltered look to it.

Citrusy hops right up front, grapefruit, lemon/lime zest, and a sweet pine aroma.

Hops and alcohol at the forefront of the taste on this one. Plenty of bittersweet citrus hop flavor with the big 9.2% malt backbone coming through toward the finish. I'm getting a little bit of that honey as a sweetener, too. Boozy, but at almost 10%abv it's well masked. I would love to get smashed on this well-balanced DIPA.

Bigger body on this one, but I'm only concerned about the alcohol for drinkability. Mouthfeel is of very light velvet, and just feels fantastic going down with a borderline robust carbonation that just barely drys the finish out. No syrupy feeling in the back of the throat.

I am guessing that the A in Big A stands for one of several words....awesome, amazing, astounding, amusing, or something similar. This is my first of the Big Beer Series from Smutty and believe me I will seeking out some others before too long.

Photo of corey0212
4.45/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Honey/golden color, with a big fluffy tan head, lots of clingy lacing on the glass. Smell is citrusy, grassy, with a good amount of malt in the nose. Wow! This is hopped up! Tons of pine and grapefruit flavor, but there's definitely enough of a sweet malt backbone to balance this one out. Nice mouthfeel with great lingering bitterness and spiciness. This is a big bad Imperial IPA! Glad I finally got my hands on a fresh bottle, and it won't be my last.

Photo of bjoyce12
4.7/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The "A" in "Big A" must stand for "Amazing". That's a good summary of my first impression of this ale. Buttery. Can actually taste buttery notes, a very slight sweet afternote, and then a big hoppy kick. Smutty has done some of their best work on this beer. Appearance and aroma are good, but it's the taste and drinkability that will make me want to seek this out again. Now my favorite IPA, even better than Stoudt's and Flying Dog.

Photo of profjazzsax
4.37/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After having this beer on tap last year and thinking it was in my top 10, I bought a case of the 2008 22oz bottles without even tasting it. No regrets. It is as good as I remembered.
My only complaint is that 22oz with this ABV is almost too much for one sitting unless you plan on being toasted for a while.

golden/amber color (can have slight chill haze)
nice aroma and definitive grapefruit flavor
not sweet like some imperials, but you can slightly taste the alcohol

Should try if you get a chance.

Photo of iuhophead87
3.36/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks again to team "NorCal" for this beer in the Triple Trouble BIF.

A-Poured a golden/yellowish color with a half-inch head that dissipated rather quickly.

S- There was a floral hops and orange smell that was greatly overpowered by the alcohol smell.

T- This tastes like a very big beer. The smell of hops gave the taste of hops at first, but the alcohol overpowered the taste of this beer. The taste is justified for the ABV, but still too much of an alcohol flavor for my liking. After a few tastes, you could begin to taste some malts and caramel flavor.

M- Very creamy with a very warming feeling.

D- Just average drinkability. The alcohol flavor is much too high for the ABV. I've had stronger beers with less alcohol bight. As much as I wanted to drink a lot of this beer, it was just too difficult.

Photo of wwheeler
3.01/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - Lovely hazy orange color, slight head.

Smell - muted hops, grainy, slight flower scent

Taste - at first there's a big hop bite, but then the alcohol warmth and thick aftertaste overwhelmed the palate

Mouthfeel - nothing remarkable, but after the hops quickly wore off, the alcohol/syrup taste lingered slightly

Drinkability - At first I was a little worried, since the alcohol gave a strong aftertaste, but that seemed to mellow out while a thick aftertaste lingered

Overall, I kept on thinking that I would rate the Big A quite a few steps behind DFH 90 and Great Divide Hercules dIPA. What I admire about great dIPA is that the floral hop characters completely mask the fact that it's an 8-9% abv. The syrup/alcohol aftertaste really took away from the hop character of the beer.

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this brew in a trade with johnnnniee, Thanks John!

22oz bottle, '08 bottle conditioned, served in a standard pint glass.

L - hazed, glowing orange color with a huge chunky head of bone white foam that stayed a layer right through, leaving lots of sticky lacing behind.

S - earthy, citrus aroma with a light scent of alcohol.

T - bitter citrus flavor hits hard like the boxer on the label, dry and bitter on the finish.

F - like you got punched in the mouth with a grapefruit!

D - hell yeah!

3/26/10 - I had this in a 12oz bottle and left this review unchanged from the original

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

Many thanks to johnnnniee for this baby.

Poured from the bottle a clear and bright orange with a foamy-but-thin off-white head.

Aroma is very hoppy. Loads of juicy pine and orange peel greet the nose.

The tastes is big and bitter hops. Pine and grapefruit especially. A hit of caramel malts follow the hops. Finish is still quite hoppy. The alcohol is surprisingly well hidden.

Medium bodied, a tad oily, and moderately carbonated.

Definitely a big beer and easier to drink than expected. I highly recommend it to everyone.

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