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Smuttynose Big A IPA - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,527 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,527
Reviews: 875
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.83%
Wants: 89
Gots: 73 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,527 | Reviews: 875 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sacfly
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, golden color with an abundance of large bubbles in the frothy head. Highly carbonated. Smell is overripe grapefruit with some pine. Different from the fresh grapefruit from their “Finest Kind” IPA. Strong smell, even through a thick head. Taste is resinous pine and citrus. Malt backbone is there in the background. Just enough sweetness to let you know it is there. Medium mouth feel. Dry, citrus, bitter, aftertaste. Very nice.

Much better than last years offering. Look for the “2005” on the front, or you may be disappointed by last year’s offering. If you did not like the 2004, give this one a second chance. It is totally different.

sacfly, Jul 22, 2005
Photo of TastyTaste
4.43/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Medium copper color body, slight carbonation visible. Nice retention on the 1/2" of head that is poured. Lots of juicy floral hops in the nose, sweet yet extremely bitter. What an onrush of flavor. The alcohol is big and spicy, the hops are bitter, lots of malt, with hop bitterness unrelenting throughout. Up there with the best DIPAS I have had. Mouthfeel is full, slick, and the alcohol provides a moderate burn. Very good. The first of many anticipated beers sent from Twilight. Thanks again.

TastyTaste, Jul 21, 2005
Photo of connecticutpoet
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one held promise... poured out a nice deep yellow, almost amber, with a three finger head. Looked good. As I drank it, it left a lot of lace on the sides of my pilsner glass.

Aroma was a hefty wallop of grapefruit, with a little sweetness thrown in. A strong layer of malt was underneath.

Taste was big on pine, yet it was not overly bitter. It was also slightly sweet, with a rich malt backbone. Alcohol was very faint in the background as it warmed, more prominent with a bigger swallow.

Mouthfeel was big, full, and rich. Drinkability is up there. A really good beer.

connecticutpoet, Jul 13, 2005
Photo of Chadbrew
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - This has the color and head I love in a DIPA, a light shade of caramel and a big two fingers of fluff.

Aroma - Big time hops here, kind of like orange zest. I am really hoping this beer is not all about the hops though.

Taste - Unfortunately this seems all about the hops. There is a decent malt profile but you really have to look for it. There might be a mellowing over time but right now this is kinda like sucking on a grapefruit.

Mouthfeel - No shortage of body here. Big mouthfeel but the finish is just too pungent from the hops.

Drinkability - I wish I could say this is a very drinkable beer but I don't think it is. I love hops but this is too sharp. Because I am a fan of brewers putting out limited edition stuff and deviating from the "norm" I will be cellaring another bottle for a while to see if it mellows.

Chadbrew, Jul 12, 2005
Photo of kegerator
5/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this is one dam good beer.
pours a slightly hazy coppery orange with hints of ruby when held to the light. Forms a decent 1 inch head that is sticky and creamy and sticks around a good while leaving nice lacing
aroma is big hops, citrusy grapefruit and floral with hints of alcohol and a nice malt profile lingers as well
taste was so so at first until it warmed up a bit then it all hell broke loose :). Nice floral and citrus flavors make up the bulk of this brew followed by a carmel sweet malt hit and a nice warming from the alcohol. it finishes dry and crisp and was very drinkable. I should have bought two.

kegerator, Jul 11, 2005
Photo of Buildscharacter
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Didn't know much about this beer other than the fact that I hadn't had it yet. Gotta applaud Smuttynose for their arremt at an DIPA.

Recently there's been quite a few of them out there, and I liked this one.

Pours out looking very much like a Miller...yes.. a miller. I wasn't too pleased at first. Same color, same head. The head goes away about a min into drinking the beer. The aroma isn't what I would have figured with such a hoppy brew, but the taste truly makes up for whatever it's lacking in aroma.
Not that there isn't aroma, but I guess the hops that they use are a little less pungent that what I'm used to from other breweries. Not a bad thing, but if you really enjoy having your socks blown off whem you sniff the bottle this isn't for you.

As for the taste, it's smooth in the mouth with a warm floral taste with bitterness (in a good way) washing in afterwards. It's fairly thick in the mouth so it goes down and hides the alcohol quite nicly.

Overall I enjoyed this beer and would get it again.

Buildscharacter, Jul 10, 2005
Photo of Jacobob10
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2005 Version

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22 oz. bottle, the first half of the pour resulted in a cloudy orange color with a small diminishing head. After I drank the first half of the beer, the next half produced a much more profound head, white in color with fantastic retention. For all of the hops used in this beer (120 IBU!), the aroma is fairy subtle, mostly consisting of citrus fruits. The taste is very good but the alcohol is definitely present which hurts its drinkablility a little bit. Medium to full body with an oily, creamy texture. It has a moderately bitter finish but nothing too extreme.

I was expecting this beer to be a little more over the top and was really surprised by how subtle the taste and aroma were. Don't get me wrong, it is definitely a "big" beer that is very strong, but it didn't have the "oomph" I was hoping it would. Give it a shot.

Jacobob10, Jul 09, 2005
Photo of Naes
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It looks like a dark copper, with a large sticky white head.

Smell is fruity and hopy.

Taste is full of hops followed by the fruitiness. It seems just like their normal IPA but has extra hops and less fruit.

Mouth feel is medium to full bodied and leaves a semi thick film in the mouth.

It’s a good drinkable beer, but I don’t think I will have another. It’s just a little too fruity for me.

I think this one is of high quality, but too similar to their normal IPA. It’s definitely worth a try.

Naes, Jul 02, 2005
Photo of kmpitz2
4.53/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Big thanks to warriorsoul for this. Tom is as good a trader as they come.

This beer pours a hazy orange color with a finger of head that falls to a moderate coating over top of the liquid. The nose is awesome. Chewey, grapefruit and bubblegum sweetness. Caramel malt base. Everything works very well together in the nose. The flavor is just as nice. I could handle a touch more hop flavor and even a hint more bitterness, but the caramel sweetness and citrusy hop meld well and produce a really nice flavor. There is just a light bitter that hangs on to the finish. The feel is thick with a light carbonation. Very nice. Drinkability is huge. I'm plowing through this glass and the 9% can't be detected by any sense. This is a top of the line Double IPA. The flavors are big, but not obtrusive at all. Nothing impedes the drinkability of this one.

kmpitz2, Jun 28, 2005
Photo of clvand0
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kmpitz2 for sharing this one and thanks to warriorsoul for sending it to him. Pours an orange color with a medium head that falls quickly and leaves lots of lacing on the glass. The aroma is huge with the hops. Big citrus, pine. The flavor is super smooth. The hops are extremely well balanced with the caramel malt flavors. Great balance. Quite a bit of hop flavors on the finish, but not over the top. Very nice. Mouthfeel is moderate. Drinkability is good.

clvand0, Jun 28, 2005
Photo of PatandDavid
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared a bomber of this with David. Poured it myself into two pint glasses and got some lovely tangerine goodness topped with 1/2 inch of thick white foam. It's since disipated. Aroma is reminiscent of oranges, but a big whiff reveals some alcohol burn. Tastewise I am finding some citrus hops (oranges and grapefruit), but what sets this one apart is the mouthfeel:the carbonation is rather prickly, hold it too long and it may feel like you do have pine needles on your tongue. I enjoyed this, but should stop at half the bottle...you know it's 9 percent. 2005 edition.

PatandDavid, Jun 26, 2005
Photo of HappyHourHero
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Long distance pour to get a dense, moderatly large, cream colored head that left a sheet of lace as it quickly faded. Hazy deep copper colored beer shows few signs of carbonation within. Faint, sugary grapefruit aroma. Big solid malt base on this one. Mildly sweet up front with some delicate citrusy (orange & grapefruit) hops on top. Fairly strong, bitter grapefruit flavor kicks in midway through and sticks to the back of your tongue. Finish is pretty alcoholic, and I'm not a big fan of the bitter aftertaste. I like my hops to dominate an IIPA, and in this case the hop are hard to pick up in the nose and they barely rise above the alcohol in the flavor. Overall a it's a big beer with a splash of hops.

HappyHourHero, Jun 22, 2005
Photo of MrSeth
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

BeerPanther recommended this one with great enthusiasm, and having tried it I can see why. Slainte Va.

Lots of lace and a big creamy ring of suds.

For an IPA it has great balance and lives up to its "Big A" name. Smells a bit gardeny, vegetal. That seems to be the case with alot of Smuttynose's brews. It's no turn-off, just different. The taste starts with tangy citrus-zest, then a maltiness that doesn't back down.. this is an IPA drinker's IPA. There is a saline-like savory middle. A strong alcoholic undertone emerges towards the end. Finishes long and bitter, almost puckering, but not. It's actually a refreshing ale, especially given it's heavy body. You can enjoy this one even on hot summer days.

MrSeth, Jun 18, 2005
Photo of board45
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber
Bottle conditioned in 2005

Pours a golden/amber with a frothy white, whip-cream like head. The smell isnt to fragrant. You can smell hints of orange and a bit of pine. Nothing to over bearing. As I endulge into this brew I get thrown back. The taste along with the smell reminds me of driving down the Kancamagus Highway. The strong smell of pine and all of the beautiful flowers and foliage. This flows down like the SwiftRiver, hitting every boulder and rock in its way. Every boulder being a shot of different aromas and tastes from a citus cocktail. Though i do taste a faint hint of clove. My taste buds are screaming to let go of all of this flavor. Will it release???...waiting...still waiting...there it goes a finish of beauty. Give me more, GIVE ME MORE!!

board45, Jun 15, 2005
Photo of craigasaurus
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an English style pint glass from a 22 oz. brown bottle.

I was kind of disappointed by this, because I like the Smutties that I've had in the past, especially their regular IPA. This poured out nice, with a rich amber color and thick foamy head, but the aroma wasn't as citric as I'd expect from a high-octane IPA. I'm not huge into the puckering hop blast, but I like the tart complexity they bring. I suppose the stong IPAs I've had in the past have been more west coast style? It's not that this was a bad beer, just not what I was expecting. The alcohol was a little to present for this to be quenching - and actually it was quite drying. Not as luscious as I'd hoped it would be. Maybe the the alocoholic strength played havoc with the complexity of the hops and just left behind the bitterness, because it was not so well balanced or drinkable.

I might grab another one to lay down for a year or two; maybe that will help to round out the flavors.

craigasaurus, Jun 14, 2005
Photo of jakester
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer in a 22oz bomber. Label says "bottle conditioned in 2005". Has some old time white boxer in his black undies throwing a left jab but dropping his right! Keep your hands up, boy!

Beer pours a light orange color, slightly hazy from sediment on the bottom. Fair carbonation is evident. 3/4" rocky off white head drops to @ 1/8 " in 3-4 minutes. Lacing is there most of the way down, but not sip-countable lacing.

Fairly strong citrus/floral aroma; grapefruit, old lemons. Malt aroma is muted, way in the back. A hint of alcohol. Hop aroma fades after a bit.

This is pretty well balanced for a double IPA, if that is what this is. Strong hop bitterness hits you first, then the malt sweetness tries to cover it up a bit. Not a lot of hop flavor, but what is there is pleasant; citrusy/piney, kind of like SNPA. Alcohol can definitely be detected after a few minutes.

Mouthfeel has a pleasant level of bitterness. Every IPA should be so bitter! Malt is on the thin side, not sweet at all, but enough to balance. Carbonation level is on style. Slight tongue coating resins fade quickly. Alcohol warmth is right there. This'll knock your dick in the dirt!

Overall, a very drinkable brew. For a DIPA, I like them a lot hoppier, but that's me. If I was stranded on a desert island, and this was the only beer, I'd be a happy guy. Three Floyds Dreadnaught, I'd never need sex again!

jakester, Jun 07, 2005
Photo of axisjones
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a highball, a tanwy orange with perfect clarity and a steady stream of bubbles. A gorgeous rocky white head tops it off and settles to a quarter inch on top. This is a posterboy beer for IPAs. It just looks fantastic.

The smell is hoptastic. Really rich grapefruit and citrus aroma with some pine and floral aromas stuffed in for good measure. If you are a hophead you would drooling at this point.

DAMN! The taste really hits hard and up front. As the hop resins coat your tongue in a oilslick of hop goodness, the bitterness kicks it in overdrive. Everything the smell is and oh so much more. Sweetness and citrusy, you will be burping up pine needles. But don't think that this beer is just a hopbomb. The malt really comes into play and gives this a biscuity finish. For a double IPA, there is an attempt at balance and I can respect that. For a 9% the alcohol isn't very apparent.

This is a double IPA, what should I say about drinkability. I have a bomber here and I am a happy man. Once I am done with this, I will probably be good for the night. IBUs off the chart and an ABV of 9, this is no budlight. Drink with caution, it will kick your ass.

Thanks so much to Bierman9 for the gift. It's awesome, I'm gonna have to send some goodies your way.

axisjones, Jun 01, 2005
Photo of warriorsoul
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had to travel up to Portsmouth to grab this one before it hit the shelves in MA....definitely not questioning my preemptive strike.
Only $2.49 a bomber locally...sweet!
Labeled "Bottle conditioned in 2005"
Pours a surprisingly clear light copper w/ a full finger of off-white head...lacing is sparse but has some nice cling.
Aroma is packed with sweet malts and some fruity hops.
Taste is one bitter hop monster...much less harsh than last years version. The hops are mostly citrus...w/ a nice solid malt backbone keeping this one balanced. Alcohol is not detected until the last few swallows.
Mouthfeel could be thicker...a bit thin for its style, but the carbonation is perfect.
Drinkability is above average, despite the 8% ABV.
A solid offering from Smutty...better balanced and slightly more enjoyable (for me) compared to last year's offering...IMHO.

warriorsoul, May 30, 2005
Photo of ColForbin
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber; 2005 Vintage.

Big A IPA pours a slightly hazy medium golden color with a thick fluffy white head that sticks to the side of the glass and holds to about a half cm on top of the beer. Aroma is amazing - smells like the hop fridge at a homebrew shop. Piney, spicy and citrusy all in one. Taste is very hoppy and bitter, with the more floral hops up front and the pine bringing up the rear, along with a thick body to hold all of this together. Don't let anyone tell you this beer has a hop/malt balance - this is a hophead's beer through and through. Extremely drinkable, and deceptively hides its alcohol percentage.

Should be an interesting beer to cellar, and kudos to Smuttynose for putting the bottling year on the bottle so I don't have to get out my Sharpie.

ColForbin, May 28, 2005
Photo of MuddyFeet
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Licking a leather belt.

Poured a hazy copper penny color with a thick and foamy head. The head was thick enough to never quite recede as I drank from my imperial pint glass. Piney hops come through in the nose.

The tatse is wicked hops. Like an old leather belt. Lots of citrus, especially grapefruit. Followed by a nice caramel malty balance. Not exactly evenly balanced but enough to keep me from saying this beer is over the top. Mouthfeel has a very full body with a mouth-lacquering, creamy finish. Very satisfying, but I had to concede after one bomber.

MuddyFeet, May 25, 2005
Photo of brewandbbq
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage

Poured clear, brassy gold with full, thick eggshell head.
Pungent, aggressive in the nose, with alcohol.
Pineapple, tangerine zest, grapefruit pith, and pine sap, steeped in alcohol.
Aromatics finish with a submissive malt note and orange blossom honey.
Crisp, drying, and bitter on the pallet.
Thick and spicey with citrusy hops.
A melange of fruit candy and numbing lupulin flavors, with a humble malt character.
Bitterness is smooth and well balanced, keeping unfermentables in check.
Alcohol not shy here, a real hop coctail.
Finishes dry with a lingering bitterness and warming alcohol.

This years Big "A" is the biggest yet, closer to 10% ABV, and unapolgetic with its hop assault.
If Smutty's IPA is referred to as "Finest Kind"-ayuh, then Big "A" could easily carry the moniker "Besteva, yessa".

brewandbbq, May 15, 2005
Photo of medic25
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hazy orange color, with a big white head that quickly settles. On the final pour also put out quite a bit of sediment that floated for quite a while. Aroma is a nice blend of malt and hops. Big blast of hops flavor on the first sip, with subtle fruity aftertaste. Little bit of an oily feel on the mouth. Enjoyable enough double IPA; not something I'd drink everyday, but when I get that occasional hops craving it would certainly do the job.

medic25, May 14, 2005
Photo of mmmbeer
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz., unfiltered, with no freshness date, but the website says the last batch was made at the end of August '04 (I bought several and cellared this bottle... I wasn't an official BA or taking notes on beers at the time so I'm not really sure what effect the aging had on it). Pours a hazy orange/copper with a 2 finger, light brown, almost creamy head that leaves some lacing. Big biscuit/nut/caramel aroma with lots of hops that contribute pine, grapefruit, and perfume notes and there is a touch of alcohol. The flavor is huge in both malts and hops and it resembles the scent. Also, the malts are at times sweet but they are balanced by a fairly intense bitterness that lingers forever and the body is full and smooth, coating the mouth well. Toward the end there are some tropical aromas and flavors along with some coffee. At 9% and 100 IBUs, (and about $3) one of these bottles makes a very nice nightcap.

mmmbeer, May 13, 2005
Photo of orbitalr0x
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours from the bomber a bright reddish orange with a cragly, fluffy two finger head. Delicate rings of lacing coat the side of the glass. Inviting. Hybrid grapefruit citrus pinecone hops waft up into the nose. Candy sweetness with just a hint of caramel.

A nice wave of earthy, piney, citric hop flavors coats the tongue. Caramel, bready malt follows along with a nice hit of bitter on the way down. Alcohol esters peek in and out. A nice double IPA by Smutty...I could still use a bit more hop flavor in there though.

Mouthfeel has a nice, full and creamy body. Satisfying. One bomber is enough for me...but it is enjoyable to drink and goes down easy. I look forward to trying more of the Big Beer Series. Many thanks to dmeadows for the opportunity!

orbitalr0x, Jan 20, 2005
Photo of RBorsato
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orange-ish copper color with a full pillowy beige head, lots of suspended sediment, and highly carbonated. Makes for a hurricane effect and leaves sheets of lace. Big bitter piney hop aroma. Big resiny hop flavors with a big malt balance but leaves big hop burps. Very airy and feels light due to high carbonation levels at first but becomes medium-full bodied eventually with a very dry bitter finish.

Per Label: "Smuttynose Big Beer Series"

Per Smuttynose website: Malt: Pale (2-row) malt, Belgian pale ale malt, Aromatic malt
ABV - 9%
Hops: IBU - 100
Bittering - Magnum and Cascade
Flavoring - Horizon
Aroma - Ahtanum
Dry Hopping - Columbus

08/30/04 Edition
Tasted: 01/10/05

(22 oz.)

RBorsato, Jan 11, 2005
Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,527 ratings.