1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

1,511 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,511
Reviews: 872
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.83%
Wants: 87
Gots: 71 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Smuttynose Big A IPA Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,511 | Reviews: 872 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of axisjones
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%

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%

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%

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 27, 2005
Photo of MuddyFeet
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%

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%

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%

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%

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%

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%

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
Photo of CRJMellor
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%

Pours a murky, amber color with some orange tints. Huge, fluffy off-white head has lots of retention and kicks off some solid patches of lace.
Aroma is full on citrus attack with some medium sweet malts that adds to the fruity aromas.
Flavors of caramel, pale malt and aggressively citrus and hay-like hop bittering. Flavors kind of counteract each other and aren't fully complimentary.
Mouthfeel is pretty "chewy" with medium sweet that slides into grainy and gritty agressively hopped middle and finish. Very dry, almost salty with a touch of alcohol present.
Drinkability is solid. This doesn't rank up with the biggest of IPA's but its a well-crafted if somewhat one-dimensional brew.

CRJMellor, Nov 21, 2004
Photo of ManekiNeko
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%

22 oz. bomber served chilled in a pint glass.

Appearance: Hazy dark amber topped by a tall and thick pillowy yellowed head. Very frothy with awesome retention: the head never left. Thick specks and rings of lacing were left, but it wasn't as impressive as other IIPA's I've seen.

Smell: Grapefruity citrus out the wazoo. Hints of white gummi bears. Malts are not so prominent. Very hoppy, obviously, but not as complex a blend as I've seen in others of this style.

Taste: Wonderfully brash hop flavors of citrus and spicy peppers which slightly overpowered the sweetness of juicy caramelized malts and toasted breadiness.

Mouthfeel: Solid welterweight in body. Refreshing, but still substantial.

Drinkability: Damn but Smuttynose maketh one helluva IPA, either version. If I find myself with a hoppy itch in need of scratchin', I'd certainly put Smuttynose on the short list of beers to take care of it.

ManekiNeko, Nov 11, 2004
Photo of jtw5877
4.88/5  rDev +22.9%

Pours a nice orange hue with a nice white fluffy head. The aroma is a magnificent testimony to hoppy goodness. The hopiness stays there all the way through to the aftertaste. Enough malt to back things up but this is a hop lovers beer all the way. I'd recommend this to anybody who likes IPA's IIPA's or hoppy Barleywines. Truely an exceptional beer.

jtw5877, Nov 07, 2004
Photo of Southernbrew
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%

Dark orange with a big, bubbly head.

Tons of hops in the nose. Spicy hops blend with sugary sweetness and a pineapple-like aroma, strange.

Medium body with plenty of carbonation. Big spicy hops up front along with a light alcohol flavor. The middle becomes slightly sweet then finishes up with plenty of bitterness. A fine Double IPA, not my favorite, but a nice change of pace from the pine bombs I've been drinking. I will say the alcohol is not quite hidden enough.

Thanks to Nickbagofdonuts for bringing this back for me.

Southernbrew, Nov 06, 2004
Photo of Skidz
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%

Thanks to ppoitras for this big guy.

Pours out solid gold and sits a deep orange-brown, copper amber in the glass with a large, light tan head with plenty of big lacings.

Smells rich and malty with a little dose of alcoholic sweetness under the nose. Nice hop backing, mild citrus-like aromas of tangerines and oranges. Some herbal qualities.

Tastes bitter and laced with alcohol from the get-go. Malts are subdued underneath the deep, penetrating bitterness and the spicy hop flavors. Quite peppery and pakced with toasted flavors. Alcohol roams freely throughout, finish contains the same bitterness seen from the start and leaves you with a taste of piney hops and more alcohol.

Crisp and mellow in the mouth with good working carbonation in a medium-full body. Works well for the beer, nice to handle.

I got pretty tired of the bland hop flavors and kick-you-in-the-ass alcoholic presence pretty fast. Not a bad beer by any means, and it's still quite enjoyable, but nothing to drink that often, or much of.

Skidz, Oct 27, 2004
Photo of mntlover
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%

Copper colored brew with a nice off-white head that leaves light lacing. Aroma is sweet floral hops with some citrus peaking thru on top light sweet malt background. Almost as nice as a bouquet of flowers. Taste is sweet floral hops and malt to start and linger a while then a citrusy grapefruit flavor kicks in and leaves a nice lingering bitter finish. This I2PA is close to Barley wine status in taste, it is good. Mouthfeel is good smooth creamy almost on the right side of medium. Drinkability is good real good I would say a nice I2PA sweet and bitter very nice.

mntlover, Oct 17, 2004
Photo of Crosling
4.45/5  rDev +12.1%

Dark Orange.

Sibrant, citrusy aroma of grapefruit, dripping pine needle and also some nice floral and grassy hops, almost English in a way.

Phenomenal, sugary deep biscuit and caramel malt flavor along with hints of mainly English tasting hops; pine and grapefruit. Fantastic and unique. I loved this.

Crosling, Oct 03, 2004
Photo of winomark
4.13/5  rDev +4%

Deep copper with a thick, light tan head. Lovely deep hop aromas, similar to Ruination. Smells great. Wonderful palate. Hoppy, slightly thick, and very tasty. A great double IPA. Rich mouthfeel, coating nad very flavorful. A really great beer. Balanced, hoppy, and flavorful. Something I would like to have around on a regular basis. Highly recommended.

winomark, Sep 25, 2004
Photo of garthwaite
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%

Sampled from a 22 oz bottle. Pours a hazy light orangish-copper with a big bubbly and long lasting white head - very attractive brew. Hoppy and sweet aroma with grapefruit, lemon citrus, pine, and some doughiness. Initial hit of citrusy hops overcome by a wave of sweetness. Relatively strong alcohol presence and unrelenting candied sweetness throughout deduct royally from the fairly complex hop profile which becomes more piney and resinous as it warms. Moderately bitter for the style and medium bodied. Finishes with grapefruit, toasted malt, & sweet alcohol. Marginal.

garthwaite, Sep 24, 2004
Photo of Hibernator
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%

I had this out of a 22 oz brown bottle and served in a pint glass. I paid $3.49. The label shows the boxer Stash Wojciechowski on the front. This beer is part of the Smuttynose Big Beer Series. I was unable to find a freshness date.

Hazy orange in appearance with an excellent head that sticks.

Smells floral and slightly fruity.

Taste combines a fruity twang and a sharp hop bitterness on the finish. Medium, juicy body with a floral presense. This beer became better as it warmed up a little bit.

Good American double IPA that showcases some great hops.

Hibernator, Sep 18, 2004
Photo of WesWes
4/5  rDev +0.8%

The beer pours a hazy dark gold color with a thick frothy offwhite head. The aroma is good. It has an intense citrus hop aroma which is overlayed on top of a nice malt base. It has pale and light crystal malt scents. The taste is good. It has a rich malty core and a very bitter hop flavor that's piney and intense. It goes down easy and finishes smooth and full of hops. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a fine imperial ipa. It's not as good as Stone's Ruination IPA, but few are. Still, this drinks well.

WesWes, Sep 09, 2004
Photo of rajendra82
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%

Orange amber body was slightly cloudy, and was topped with a two inch tall foamy head that was well retained and left a ton of lace. The carbonation was medium, and the slow upward ascent of the bubbles gave a good idea as to the thickness of the body. The aroma was zesty and piney hops that were backed by some fruity malt with apricot, and apple fragrance. The taste was quite soft up front, and the malt was much more evident here in a caramel texture. There was a fair bit of diacetyl, but it was appropriate for the style, and served more as an enhancement, than a flaw. The hops hit mid palette en force with a citric tanginess, until the malt made a brief sweet reappearance. The hops took over once again in the lingering peppery aftertaste. The alcohol was only an afterthought in the flavor department. Thanks ppoitras for this grand bomber from the granite state.

rajendra82, Aug 30, 2004
Photo of kfoss99
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%

22oz brown bottle poured into an imperial pint.

Appearance – Amber-bronze body with a large fluffy off-white head and plenty of tiny bubbles. A nice lace is left on the glass.

Smell – Sweet and hoppy, it lets you know it’s and IPA.

Taste – Very little balance when cold. Hops are noticeable, but lack a good bite. As it warmed a mild sweetness balanced out the hops.

Mouthfeel – Initially smooth, but finishes with a roughness that’s creeps up from the throat to the back of the mouth.

Drinkability – A disappointment, mouthfeel is too rough for my liking. IMO, mouthfeel is as important as taste, and the taste does little to make up for the deficiency.

kfoss99, Aug 29, 2004
Photo of wbickerton
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%

On tap at Fat Heads. Medium-amber color that is clear with good effervescence. Small, creamy, off-white head that is mostly lasting. Good lacing. Aroma is very hoppy. Spicy flavor with a smoky aftertaste. Longer than average finish. Palate is medium body, semi-dry texture with a medium astringent finish.

wbickerton, Aug 25, 2004
Photo of meathookjones
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%

Interesting looking 22oz bomber with some old time boxer I have not heard of on the front of the label. This pours out a deep orange with a red tint to it that has an overflowing tall rocky white head of foam. The head collapses down to a mountain like landscape and leaves huge chunks of lace on the glass in doing so. This brew is picture perfect in every sense of the word. The nose is filled with floral and citric hoppy goodness and a touch of malty sweetness, a bit weaker than expected overall. Bitterness strikes first in front of the taste before being soothed by slightly sweet caramel malt. The after taste is bittersweet and a bit dry, overall this is a little more balanced than you would expect a DIPA to be but it’s a good overall flavor. The body is a little thinner than typical but the mouth is definitely creamy and goes down smoothly. Drinkability is good, as I could go through a few of these in a sitting. Good overall beer and a more balanced DIPA than you typical fare.

meathookjones, Aug 24, 2004
Photo of pezoids
4/5  rDev +0.8%

From a 22 ounce bomber this poured out with a considerable amount of murk and chunk. A thin film of a head topped the beer off. Orange amber in color and full of floating particulates. Hmmm… Is this supposed to be like this? It has been in the fridge for a few months. Am I talking to myself?

The aroma is very appealing. Sweet hoppy fruit notes, strawberry licorice, apricot nectar. Very nice. Taste is bold and bittersweet. Nice balance. Heavy malt is kept in check by the bitter hops, and prominently grapefruit rinds. Flavors up and becomes increasingly bitter as the beer warms. Overall, this is an enjoyable IPA. Nicely balanced, maybe a bit rough around the edges, but the overall flavor makes up for that.

pezoids, Aug 23, 2004
Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,511 ratings.