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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.
BA SCORE
89
very good

1,562 Ratings
THE BROS
82
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,562
Reviews: 876
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 91
Gots: 85 | 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: 1,562 | Reviews: 876 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SwillBilly
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz bomber.

Appearance: A transparent light amber in color, a lot lighter than other IIPA's. Small, but very creamy white head that dissipates slowly leaving rings of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Pine scent, grapefruit rind, herbal, the hops explode out of the glass on the pour.

Taste: A faintly sweet beginning, apricots come to mind, then the hops take charge. The middle tastes of grapefruit and again pine needles and finishes with a very nice, dry hop bitterness. 9% abv very well masked though does leave a nice warming effect.

Mouthfeel: Very clean and of medium body, not as thick as most IIPAs, oily and somewhat slick.

Overall and excellent IIPA. Smuttynose does it again. If it wasn't for the 9% abv I could drink this all night. Not too over the top and not as sweet as some IIPAs. A beer to sip and enjoy. Definitely a beer that I will have again.

SwillBilly, Oct 07, 2005
Photo of Hagbard
3.55/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A huge mass of tiny carbonation bubbles congregate and push upwards to form a nice thick white head on top of this straw colored beer. The aroma is very strong, evidence that this will be a fairly intense tasting beer. A blast of malty sweetness greets your nose followed by a healthy dose of grapefruit and other citrus fruits. Very hoppy. The taste is a complex interplay of intense malt and hop flavors. It starts off fairly sweet with the malts dominating. The hops quickly catch up with the the malt as a citrus fruit element takes over. The citrus fruits quickly fade to an intense bitterness that lasts through the aftertaste. The bitterness is joined by a fairly strong alcohol burn during the swallow, which warns you to take it easy. This is a tasty beer, but it's too intense to be something I'd crave on a regular basis.

Hagbard, Oct 06, 2005
Photo of ghostwalker
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber. Purchased cold at my local Shaws supermarket for $3.25. This great combo of availability and low price has made it my favorite DIPA for the last couple of years.

Hazy orange/amber pour. Frothy sticky white head that sticks around much longer than other DIPAs I have had. Also leaves a bevy of beautiful lacing when it finally subsides.

Sharp, hoppy, piney nose. Nice!

Hoptastic blast to the taste buds. Once again, very sharp, piney hops with a sweet, moderately malted finish. Plenty of citrus going on, orange, grapefruit, lemon too maybe. I like this because it has all of the things that I like about West Coast IPAs, but doesn't seem like just a copy. I am no hop expert, but it tastes like they used a different hop blend from the usual WC brews. Less Cascades, more of ... something else.

Mouthfeel is acidic, almost too much. It threatens to strip the enamel from your teeth. I actually like this, but I can see where many would not.

Very drinkable. I have never had more than 2 bombers at a time, but they always went down tasty, quick and smooth.

As I said in my intro, this is my presently my favorite DIPA. There are others that I would prefer purely for flavor, but this is good, local and relatively inexpensive. Two thumbs up!

ghostwalker, Oct 06, 2005
Photo of deejaydan
2.83/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clear orange-yellow hue, sticky lacing, moderate head retention.

Aroma-- Actually, kinda faint. Slight grassy chinook type aroma is hanging out.

Taste--- Just rip roaring hops and bitterness. Not the usual bitterness that I can enjoy in an IPA, but a raw, rough bitterness like that of the pith of a lemon or orange. Give me some maltiness to balance this.

Mouthfeel--- ?? I can't feel my mouth! I CAN'T FEEL MY MOUTH!

Drinkablity-- Well, I've had better IIPAs.

deejaydan, Oct 04, 2005
Photo of smcolw
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy neutral orange-amber color. I'm disappointed with the head; I had to pour this violently and still had very little head. What was there did last and offer some sticky lace, though.

Some big oily alcohol aromas, nice hop smell too.

Nice balance for a "big" IPA. While the hop is predominant, there is a malty richness. I taste blackberries and strawberries upfront which quickly gives way to a strong bitter hop. Rich mouthfeel with excellent carbonation.

This is a case of appearances are deceiving. I wasn't impressed by the sight of the beer, but the taste was phenomenal.

smcolw, Oct 02, 2005
Photo of Sammy
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smooth, easy drink. Light colour, good grapefruit and other fruity aroma. Small head. Grassy, piney. More oily than Juicy,well malted, carmel there. So not mouthpuckering. Engaging medium mouthfeel. Mellow overall but still Hophead fix. Dry aftertaste.

Sammy, Oct 02, 2005
Photo of whartontallboy
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Edition. It's been a while since I had a double IPA, and I forgot what a real hop bomb can be like.

Pours out a murky orange with a thick white head that sticks around pretty well and leaves huge sheets of sticky white lace. The second pour had just as nice a head as the first and left just as much lace.

Smell is, surprise!, piney hops. Very bitter and piney, I think, but still little grapefruit/citrus overtones. A biscuity malt base comes through in the nose as well.

Flavor is huge with the same piney hops. A very bitter, juicy hop flavor that slides slightly towards citric, but keeps the pine at the forefront. However, there is a big malt flavor there, too. It's not quite big enough to completely balance the hops (and I don't think it should be), but it's a nice biscuity flavor that exposes a bit of caramel underneath the big, bitter finish and aftertaste of this one. Mouthfeel is relatively chewy.

Overall: A nice DIPA that doesn't feel like drinking grapefruit juice. Sharp and just slightly out-of-control, but hiding its ABV very well. Another good one from smuttynose.

whartontallboy, Oct 02, 2005
Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2005 edition, 22oz. bomber.

Pours a hazy pale orange with a thin head that fades. There is some decent lacing on the glass.

Smells like a lot of citrusy hops.

Tastes like a hop implosion. Lots of upfront hops followed by a slight malty sweetness. A slight alcohol aftertaste with a nice warm sensation as it makes it's way to my belly. Fairly balanced.

Big fat body, as expected.

I can definitely enjoy this on a regular basis. It's a fine DIPA offering.

MaltyGoodness, Sep 30, 2005
Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The label art of a boxer throwing a punch is appropriate, because the hops smack you upside the head right away, and then a pretty potent alcohol punch follows to put out the lights. In true DIPA style, this is all about the hops - fresh and a bit raw and rough. Mouthfeel is almost syrupy, and it needs all the hops it can muster to battle the malty sweetness, which it manages to do by the third round. Sharp alcohol presence - at first obtrusive, but then settles in quite nicely. Once I became acclimated to the hops profile, the beer seemed to mellow and was surprisingly drinkable. Thanks to Far333.

Brent, Sep 29, 2005
Photo of Frozensoul327
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My first from Smuttynose. Poured out to a cloudy golden yellow color with a nice 1/2 inch head and rings of lace around the glass. Medium high carbonation. Aromas of hops, pine and malt were detected. Taste was powerful and direct; flavors of hops and grapefruit dominate, with hints of grass and earth being trampled by the nearly overwhelming bitterness on the palate. Mouthfeel was slightly syrup like, and quite hearty, but went down rather smooth. Drinkability is only average, as if one were to consume more that a bottle of this at a sitting, they would likely be very ill shortly after. A worthy IPA. Thanks to rousee for the sample. I've got an additional bottle that I am going to age and see what happends...

Frozensoul327, Sep 23, 2005
Photo of GolgiIPAratus
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled: 9.13.05

Brew pours a translucent orange gold with little foam. Despite the small head, sticky lacing clings to the glass throughout the drinking experience.

The smell is bitter & barley. Hops overrule a malty objection. Nothing too complex; however, this could be misconstrued as a Barleywine had I not known what I poured.

The taste is different, though. Hops up front like a face-slap. A barely-esque malty middle with the fruitiness of the hops squeezing in after the bitterness subsides yielding a sweet orangey flavor. The hops coat the tongue in a bittersweet oil. The brew is low in carbonation and chewy. You really feel it around your tongue.

This is a sipper, but able to be sipped fast, so one should chill on it. Very delicious, another banger from Smuttynose.

GolgiIPAratus, Sep 21, 2005
Photo of watermelonman
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured to a fairly deep yellow and orange with a nice solid head and left good lace.

The smell has huge hops with much pine content. Taste is big as well, although not quite as prominent as the smell. Again, hops dominate. Mouthfeel is somewhat light for a beer this big. Drinkability is good.

watermelonman, Sep 21, 2005
Photo of kmo1030
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

hazy gold with an excelent white head that has very good retention. the smell is of sweet floral grapefruit, strangely lacking the robust quality that his sort of smell usually has probably because it leans to to floral side. some light malts, not much else. sturdy bitterness dominates, with a good dose a caramel that has a light fruity spiced quality to it. a little alcohol at the back of the throat. medium bodied and not at all syrupy which is a bonus when drinking this type of beer. good drinnkability, but quite bitter, lacking some of the real nice hop flavors that would take over the top to be a real top notch dubPA

kmo1030, Sep 17, 2005
Photo of GnomeKing
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Smell: hops. First impression: hops. Aftertaste: hops. Did I mention hops? Okay, so this is a hop monster, but the beer isn't a one trick pony. It's actually fairly drinkable, even for a hops-intravenous infusion. There are some other flavors, like citrus (as you'd expect in an American Double IPA), and even a little malt.

So, this is a very nice beer, although the hops and alcohol smack you around enough that you might not find yourself drinking a lot of it.

GnomeKing, Sep 11, 2005
Photo of RoyalT
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This one poured a beautiful thick yellow in color with a full, white head. It just screamed “quality” from head to toe and was one of the more inviting beers of the evening at the first annual Skyhand Bavarian Beer Fest.

Smell – The big pine aroma was actually matched fairly evenly by a huge, malty balance. This really is an even-handed mix of full, unabashed malts with a complex, resiny hop compliment.

Taste – This is definitely a DIPA. The malts are big and thick at the tongue but, again, are well-balanced with the complex hops.

Mouthfeel – This one is a big medium-bodied that somehow manages not to be overly bitter. It finishes with a sweet caramel taste that really rounds out the beer.

Drinkability – This terrific DIPA screamed quality from start to finish.

Comments – The first annual Bavarian Beer Festival at Casa de Kim was a huge success, and a big BA thanks emanates from all for busting out this beauty shop.

RoyalT, Aug 30, 2005
Photo of Sycodrummer
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 22oz. brown bomber into a "tulip" pint glass the beer innitially was a golden yellow color that gave way to a more orange/gold color as the beer slightly warmed. About one-finger of white frothy head sat atop the beer and a good even coating of lace clung to the sides of the glass throughout the sample. Streams of carbonation bubbles ran up the side of the glass throughout the sample as well.

Smell was fruitty and very hoppy up front. Slightly citrus with grapefruit and orange coming thru rather strong in the nose.

The taste was a hop explosion as soon as the beer hit the palate. Despite this, not overly bitter. In fact I would venture to say less bitter than there Finest Kind IPA. However, like Finest Kind, definite grapefruit taste though slightly less pronounced. The 9% ABV is very well masked behind the hops. Faint to no malt apparent as hops are the dominant taste here as is expected. The bitterness evens out on the palate and the taste balances off nicely with a slightly oily texture and taste. The alcohol, although well hidden innitially, kicks in as the pint progresses.

Moderate mouthfeel with rather ample carbonation.

I found myself liking this more than there "non double" IPA. In fact, outrightly this one tasted like a pretty normal IPA. Definitely more well hopped, but overall I though a bit of a mellow, yet enjoyable taste.

Sycodrummer, Aug 29, 2005
Photo of nickss
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: 4 - Beautiful deep golden-orange hue with a thin white cap of head. Lots of lacing.

Smell: 5- Smell of huge hops, cloves, fruitiness, banana... very floral, very yummy.

Taste: 4 - Grassy, minty, floral... very well balanced with the perfect amount of hoppiness (though granted I'm not the hop-monster that some are on this site).

Mouthfeel: 4.5 - Crisp and tongue coating, allowing the aftertaste to linger long after the swallow.

Drinkability: 4.5 - I could drink quite a few of these... a very solid brew.

nickss, Aug 26, 2005
Photo of Knuckles
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This bottle was hand delivered to me at Bukowski's by one of the world's greatest BA's, BeerPanther. I understand that polskapanda's grandfather (or great-grandfather or some damn thing) was a bare-knuckled Polish pugilist of sorts back in the day, so I hoist this bigass Big A to you and yours, Amanda.

Appearance: Poured easily into the Firehouse Brewing Co. pint glass that I picked up late one night in Rapid City, SD. Nice, generous white head, and the beer itself is a perfect clove honey color. And by perfect, I mean that I've got that goddam bear honey deal sitting right next to the pint glass, and the motherfucker is a dead match. So you can be sure that, in the future, I'll be using the shit out of "clove honey colored". Just so's you know. Oddly, it's a bit lighter than I expected. I am accustomed to IIPAs having a much deeper amber, or burnt orange color to them. This one is a wee bit of a paleface.

Nose: So, yeah, um, it's hoppy. Like a lot. Just one citrusy, floral blast up my ample, ample nose. I've got sinuses the size of the Sea Lion Cave, and this bitch fills all of them. Tagging along behind and just under that floral nose. like an annoying kid brother, is just the faintest hint of malt.

Taste: Let's just say that this kid brother gets his ass beat on a regular basis. This sumbitch is all hop, all the time. Drink it cold, it is one brightass beer. Drink it warm... Well, expecting Big Brother hop to slow down and take a break is just way out of line. He's still kicking his little bro's ass. The malt is there, but it is fourth chair, second section trombone compared to the first chair, first section trumpet that is the hops (I suppose, for accuracy's sake I should make clear that the Warrior and Cascade hops are occupying sort of a joint first chair, the Horizon hops are second chair, the Sterling aroma hops are that annoying kid in the second row that keeps farting, and those dry hops are the kids waiting outside the bandroom to give you a wedgie and steal your milk money).

Mouthfeel: You know, it's a bit thicker than the muted malt presence would lead you to expect. It's got a nice, velvety texture to it, but the malt flavor just isn't there. It's kind of strange, really.

Drinkability: This beer is drinkable, very drinkable even, but just a bit too bright for me. I could do a couple of these bombers, but the overpowering hop presence and lack of malt balance would make it difficult. I like this beer, but I'd really like to see Dave Yarrington bring up the malts to balance out the insane hop quality of the beer. Insane hop levels alone don't make great IIPAs, and right now that is the dominant characteristic. This needs a malt presence to balance out those hops. However, I'm no freaking GABF judge, so what the fuck do I know.

To sum this review up: Try this beer, it's a damn good one. And if you love hop bombs, this mofo will be just your cup of...beer.

(Music: Lee Fields, "Problems")

Knuckles, Aug 26, 2005
Photo of UncleJimbo
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle, capped. 2005 vintage.

This IPA poured a very slightly hazy, golden amber color with creamy, faintly yellowish foam that persisted, clung to the glass, and left lacing. The smell was very hoppy, with biting NW hops evident. The taste was richly malty with strong hop bitterness as well as a bit of floral hops. There was a touch of alcohol in the flavor. The finish was lightly sweet. The mouthfeel was smooth with medium-full body and modest carbonation. The aftertaste was hoppy with lingering malty flavor. This was a very nice double IPA indeed.

UncleJimbo, Aug 21, 2005
Photo of Higravity
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a good sub $4 purchase. Into the Imperial pint glass you go.

Big orange-amber color with a nice sustaining head that leaves good lacing down the glass. The smell is pleasent, full of delicate citrus grapefruit and oragne with pine mixed in all on top of alcohol. Well you know this is 9%. The hops taste great and the bitterness is not over done if anyhting it use a little more, the malt is there and solid, but the alcohol comes through too much. Good body on this and is easily downable.

Higravity, Aug 19, 2005
Photo of asabreed
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle purchased for around $4.

Appearance: Wow, this is the most relentless lacing I've ever seen. The patterns on the glass are nuts. The head dies down at bit, though slowly, and there's still a 1/4" head above the beer as I drink it; there's no beautiful golden, hazy, yellow color at all through the head, which is a good sign.

Smell: Sweet hops? Honey? Damn this is nice, odd, sweet, piney, tar-like, citrus-like, and a fantastic combination. Not an assault of pine, floral hops, and grapefruit -- which can always be done beautifully -- but the sweetness adds something that most IPAs don't seem to have. Very singular, and very nice.

Taste: First assault of hops, into a bit of honey sweetness, then ending in a husky, bitter-but-not-too-bitter-yet-tasty hop finish. I've yet to experience this in a beer (though it has potential to, of course, be a lot better). Gets much better as it warms, of course, so take it slow. There's a lot to get into here.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, a burst of foamy carbonation at the swallow, for a pretty mellow-bodied swallow. Body is medium it seems.

Drinkability: For 4 dollars I'm definitely going to buy at least another bottle either have it or lay it down. This is a surely a very good double IPA to try, and Smuttynose continues to not let me down.

asabreed, Aug 18, 2005
Photo of BeerResearcher
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown bottle. Bottle conditioned in 2005.
It pours a very hazy, orange-hued amber color. The off-white head is smallish, but it lasts a good time. Patchy lace hangs around throughout.
The some citrus and piney ester smells dominate the aroma department, but they are subdued and not as strong as expected. A light smell of dried hay and grass hang around in the background.
The malt is mostly caramel sweet with a mild fruity taste.
This brew is of course all about the hops. White grapefruit, orange zest, and potent pine flavors abound. A slight metallic tang is noticed in the back of the throat. A raw and somewhat harsh vodka-like alcohol kick can't be missed.

BeerResearcher, Aug 14, 2005
Photo of yelterdow
3.63/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on a hot summer's eve in an imperial pint glass at just over fridge temperature. 22 oz. bomber from Smart Buy in Fort Lee.

Appearance- Pours a golden honey color with a respectable two-finger foamy crown. Lacing is sporadic and clingy.

Smell- Luscious grapefruit and pine sap with an appetite to destroy. No kidding, this brew is out to fuck with you.

Taste- In a word, bruising. The bitterness left behind on the sides of the tongue stings like a cicada-killing wasp out for the last supper. The hops are on stage, with Marshall stacks for your listening pleasure.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- This beer is designed with the intention to kick your ass... if you have any doubts, look at the label. For a double-IPA, it delivers the promise. Rough-and-tumble carbonation that doesn't interfere, just the right amount of space between citrus and bitter hop finish. Share with your hophead compadres, and proceed with caution.

yelterdow, Aug 12, 2005
Photo of rousee
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Version--
Pours apricot amber honey color. Quite murky with a quickly fading head. There is some very nice spider-web like lacing left immediately on the sides of the glass.

Smell is bold hoppiness--I am guessing Warrior and Centennial. Not sure if thats right, but they are well blended and its a real potent in your face hoppiness. Taste is a strong hops kick with a malty, honey-like finish. There are elements of pine-sap too which is very pleasant and not as sticky as you'd expect. Mouthfeel is that coating sappiness but it sure is pleasant.


This recipe seems so much better than last years. Smuttynose continues to impress me with almost all their offerings and a few years ago, I though they were just a tad better than average.

Unfortunately, with a 9% abv, you really shouldnt have more than a couple of these. They are pretty smooth for this style though.

I liked these so much that I had my local store order me a case of 'em. Highly recommended and pretty reasonably priced too.

rousee, Aug 11, 2005
Photo of Sixpoint
2.93/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bomber poured into a pint glass. Bottle-conditioned in 2005.

My sample poured with no head at all. Seemed a little flat. Intentional?

The aroma was nice. You could definitely pick up the alcohol in the nose, even though it was hiding in the reeds behind a massive quantity of hops.

The taste was eh, not good. Massive alcohol burn with no malt foundation to balance. Lingering bitterness and acid wash from the alcohol. Yeah, it's a big ass IPA, but not pleasant...

My beer was medium bodied and not too drinkable. Having an entire 22 oz. bomber of this stuff was a struggle.

Smutty makes such a fine IPA and a pretty good brown ale too. They should go back to the basics IMHO.

Sixpoint, Aug 08, 2005
Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,562 ratings.