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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

1,561 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,561
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
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Ratings: 1,561 | Reviews: 876 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Fish113d
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This ale poured a beautiful honey/ copper color w/ a good inch of head. It soon dissipated to about a 1/4 inch left, and left some nice lacing on the glass. Smelling, I could get a good sweet hoppy scent from this brew w/ some hints of some fruit (grapes maybe) in there somewhere....

Tasting, I got a nice carbonation on the front that tickles my tongue. This beer becomes incredibly smooth as the hops begin to take over. However, like a good hoppy beer does, the sugar comes through w/ it making it very tasty. Mouthfeel is terrific w/ some good alcohol warming in my belly. Loving this treasure...good lookin out Sullydaddy!!!

Fish113d, Aug 17, 2004
Photo of Ieatlambfries
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber purchased at Joe Canals NJ.

Hazy dark copper color with a fluffy white head. Very good lacing that clung in rings around my glass with each sip.

The smell is quite earthy. A lot of oily pine and grapefruit notes. Hmmm....I think this may be hoppy...

Oh boy, that was an understatement! Grapefruit, pine, oily hoppy resins are abound. Where is the malt in this beer? IMO not very balanced, but for a hop head like me seeking to have his lips curled back this is it. Different from a lot of double IPA's I've had in that there is little to no sweetness to be found here. Just earthy, herbal oily hops.

Mouthfeel was biting. Very dry.

I had to cork this bomber and let it sit after my first glass. High abv and pure bitterness curbed the drinkability of this IPA. Although after it warmed a bit it became a bit more complex, and a bit sweeter to the taste.

I would buy this again in a heartbeat, but alas, my store is out. Grab some if you can.

Ieatlambfries, Aug 16, 2004
Photo of blitheringidiot
4.43/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Miraculously on tap at The Drafting Room in Springhouse, PA. Amen! Hazy, cloudy, golden peach hued pint with antique white cakelike head, followed by tons of lace coating.

Tons and tons of sweet hops. Amarillo, perhaps? Pine resins abound. Warrior hops? Spicey grapefruit peel and orange mixed fruit tastes. Bone dry cut grass aftertaste.

Acidic feel and sizzle is quite prevalent. Medium bodied.

Last swigs: Active yeasts? This is a bewildering, excellent American IPA that later turns out to be a 2IPA. Excellent nose. Reminds me of a local favorite Yards IPA. Seek this beer.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

blitheringidiot, Aug 15, 2004
Photo of sideshowrob
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a wonderful bronze color, beer seemed to be glowing from inner beauty. Good floral notes and lots of hops present. Taste was pretty complex - a subtle malt note on initial taste followed by ever-more hops as the sip went on. Hops taste iteslf was pretty unified. Complex character. Really good mouthfeel, and a very drinkable big beer, though you were aware of it's power from the first sip. To me, this is one of those beers that stradles the line between a super-hoppy barley wine and a malty double-IPA. Avery Hog Heaven is kinda similar.

sideshowrob, Aug 14, 2004
Photo of mschofield
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an orange-gold, topped with a two finger head. Well carbonated with abundant streams of tiny bubbles. Leaves wide rings of lacing - were thick and puffy.
Very robust floral and citric aroma, wood and lemon zest notes.
Bit of a harsh taste, wood, oily, citrus, floral, leather and citrus zest, not much malt showing through.
Medium-full bodied. It's good but it would be tough to drink more than a couple.

mschofield, Aug 12, 2004
Photo of Godspeed
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance is glowing amber orange topped with a large frothy off-white head. a very attractive looking beer I must add. aroma consists mainly of citrus with faint floral and pine notes. sweet malty flavor is overpowered by a massive grapefruit hop bitterness, the latter of which maintains its presence for the aftertaste. the 8% abv is barely noticable in this brew. quite drinkable for an imperial IPA, and I'm left wishing I had bought more than a 22 ounce bomber.

Godspeed, Aug 08, 2004
Photo of oxmasterscream
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow. This is a wonderful IPA. I'm enjoying part two of the 22 oz. bottle as I type.

Appearance: Poured a 3 finger, light tan, extremely dense head which seemed to stick around almost to the end of the glass. Its color was a slightly cloudy light amber/copper.

Smell: Beautiful hoppy aroma. Hints of citrus (orange) and flowers.

Taste: At first, the hops are in full-effect, then notes of spice and pepper... the more you drink though, the more a sweet caramel malt taste becomes prevalent. Just after you swallow, the bitter hops and sweet malts do battle atop your tongue, with the hoppy bitterness winning out ever so slightly. The higher ABV is masked very well but there is definitely a very slight, happy warming feeling toward the end of each sip. It really came to life as it warmed.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, very smooth, a good deal of carbonation.

Drinkability: At first I thought this was very drinkable and then about halfway through the bottle, I felt the alcohol catching up to me. Having said that, I think I just blasted over that plateau and I'm feeling that this is very drinkable again. This is just great.

oxmasterscream, Jul 30, 2004
Photo of merlin48
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle pours a clear, amber body underneath an impressive, three finger, billowy, ivory head. Active carbonation abounds, with hundreds of small bubbles rising from the bottom. Generous patches of lace adorn the glass.

This has a lovely, sweet aroma of floral and fruity hops. Honeysuckle, grapefruit, and orange blossoms provide a delicate hops bouquet.

Mouthfeel is amply carbonated in this medium bodied double IPA.

The hops are much more dominant on the palate. Grapefruit rind fronts an aggressive hops profile here. Sweet, caramel malt notes are present underneath, but this ale is all about the hops. The abv is disguised very well. The finish is citrus rind bitter, with a hint of floral sweetness.

This Smuttynose is a "Hop Monster", but is very subtle in the way it allows the abv to sneak up on you. Nice complexity and excellent drinkability. Another fine "Big Beer" series ale from this New Hampshire brewery.

merlin48, Jul 27, 2004
Photo of ybnorml
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Has a cloudy golden yellow color with a creamy off white headand little bit of lacing going on. Very distinct hop aroma that is both floral and sweet ( grapefruity ). The flavor is a hop and malt battle for your tongue. At first the hops grapfruit bitterness grabs your taste buds. Then a malty sweetness dances lightly all over your tongue. leaving the finish to a smooth hoppy ending. I got my first taste of this beer at the HopHead Throwdown. Which compelled me to review this in a bottle. A fine IPA in my opinion.

Edit: 7/11/05 This years version is even better. Its like there are peppery hops and floral hop fighting for your (poor beatup) tastebuds.
My cahne for this is both appearance and smell up from 3.5 App and 4.0 Sme

ybnorml, Jul 27, 2004
Photo of gentlebubbles
4.7/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

on tap at Anam Cara for Hophead Throwdown

Glowing apricot, with a half inch of dense white head. Faintly fruity scent (I'll have to check this again when I'm not surrounded by a floor covered with hops). Wonderful creamy mouthfeel filled with fruity, nutty malts, a complex of vanilla, hazelnut, and orange juice. Strong buzzy hops with long, long apricot finish and slowly emerging grassy notes.

Nice, nice, nice. Takes the whole premise of high IBU's and runs away with it.

gentlebubbles, Jul 25, 2004
Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer arrived on the bar a clear pale golden with a white long lasting head which laced the glass.

The aroma was cirty with a malt presence.

The flavor was malty with muted hop presence (English?) and a nice bittering balance.

The finish was dry with hop presence and the body was medium.

On tap at CAH Innsbrook.

GCBrewingCo, Jul 25, 2004
Photo of AllThingsNinja
4.85/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This golden beer generated a sweet aroma with hints of grapefruit. the flavors were even more balanced than the in the year round Smutty IPA. The sugary malt sweetness provides an interesting and refreshing counterpoint to the strong grapefruit and pine notes. I hear that Amarillo hops are in the brew, but they didn't seem to play a dominant role. Perhaps they were the magic that tied everything together so well. This years Big A is a full bodied, refreshing and drinkable IPA. It's only flaws were its rather generic appearance - but after a bunch of different brews at the HopHead Throwdown my concept of a "generic" ipa has forever shifted.

AllThingsNinja, Jul 25, 2004
Photo of putnam
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A tower of buttercream-colored foam mounted over rose/orange-colored liquid.
Dry roasted hops-raisins steamed, then submerged in apple juice, butter and caramel-flavored liquid form the basic character of the aroma complex.
On the palate it is urgently thick and creamy with tarry, stalky herb flavors to offset the beautifully thick, candied fruit flavors. Apples, pepper, ashtray and mint flavors emerge. The finish is burned, sooty rubber-bitter and buttery as a biscuit.

Quite a clash of raw, natural beauty resulting in an interesting beer - for an IPA that is.

putnam, Jul 25, 2004
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Rich, golden color, nearing on peach, slightly hazy, with an attractive , frothy head, milk white, lace leaving.
Vibrant aroma, showing pine, and citrus notes, a little bitter, but, terribly inviting.
Mmmmm! Big, bristling hop dance...a tongue delighter for sure...yaaahh! This just floods the whole mouth with full-on hoppitude, no holds barred! Nice, candyish, sweet flavor meets bitterness, plus an adequate malt backbone, bready and, well, damn, the hops dominate and never quite quit! This is a hophead's dream, just spills all over the palate and makes the mouth a buzzing playground of hoppitude. Damn, this is pretty right on! Just the stuff I like!

feloniousmonk, Jul 23, 2004
Photo of Boto
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber: It pours a slightly hazy, dark golden color. Touches of orange to the color. Quite a few floaties in there also. A bit of a head on the pour that lingered a short while. A bit of lacing. The nose is somewhat hoppy, mainly of piney hops. A bit floral also. Not as strong as I would have expected of an Imperial IPA. A decent bit of hops to the taste, but not as much as I would have expected. Decent malty backbone. Still, a very good beer.

Boto, Jul 23, 2004
Photo of NEhophead
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Off white head with a lot of carbonation. Settles after a few moments to a lot of lacing that holds. Dark orange in color with a cloudy haze.

The hops are practically jumping out of the glass. Also hints of citrus and sweetness.

A moutful of hop oils cover the palate. A lemon and pine driven hop flavors. Great bitterness in the aftertaste. This is a nice 100% intense hops experience.

A bit grainy on the palate, but it's almost justified given the enormous amount of hops. Also a bit heavy for the style.

This is a session beer for hopheads but may be a bit much for those not into the style. It passes the test for me.

NEhophead, Jul 22, 2004
Photo of Gavage
4.53/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful orange / copper color with a 2.5+" creamy and fluffy head. Thick lacing develops while you remove the contents from the glass. The aroma is a lovely deep floral aroma. Now that the nose was excited, the tongue was equally excited as this was a full bodied brew - the malt was full and tasty, citrus tones all over, and the floral hoppiness was killer.

The mouthfeel was smooth at the start and finished crisp and dry. The bitterness was big and lasted long on the tongue. Very drinkable as the alcohol levels were noticeable but it doesn't overwhelm and the flavor kicks butt. Great brew !

Gavage, Jul 17, 2004
Photo of Dantes
3.63/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Package: 1 pint, 6 oz. (22oz.) crowned, brown bomber. Great label depicting the beer’s inspiration, Stan Wocjechowski, “The Killer Kielbasa.” No date or ABV information, but this is a fairly new, seasonal release that I expect is not more than a couple of months old.

Cost: $3.49 at Bottle King

Presentation: 20oz.imperial pint at ~50º.

Appearance: Wow! This is one of the prettiest beers I’ve ever poured. The body is almost as dark as burnished copper (I think darker even than Dreadnaught) with lovely, rustic, fine flakes in an almost colloidal suspension, lending the beer a thick, cloudy appearance. Floating on top of this liquid was a rich, beige, ultra-fine-grained, whipped egg-white head that left a solid, continuous sheath down the glass. Tiny bubbles seemed like seed-pearls embedded in amber.

Smell: Quite startlingly strong. A quick whiff right after the pour was like having someone squeeze a grapefruit peel right under my nose. The smell was very resinous and citrusy and somewhat harsh. A bit jarring, with some clashing vegetal aromas. I detected almost no malt and little fruit.

Taste: Sadly, the taste confirmed the somewhat harsh nose of this beer. The hops are in your face and quite brittle. This hoppy sensation wasn’t helped much by the pretty strong notes of alcohol or the failure of the malts to provide much softening roundness. The result is that after the initial hop assault, there isn’t much depth that I’ve found in some other Double IPA’s. There is some lingering spiciness that comes through on the finish, which is pretty long but also a bit medicinal.

Mouthfeel: At least Smutty got this right with this beer. The heavy, hop-oiliness comes through in a viscous, palate-coating mouthfeel. Definitely exhibits the big body of other heavy-hitters like Dreadnaught and 90-Minute IPA. Unfortunately, it doesn’t open up to provide the almost mentholated sensation I’ve found in some others. The carbonation is sensational, giving this a luxuriously soft and unctuous experience.

Drinkability: Not as good as it should be. This requires some work to love (at least for me). The appearance and mouthfeel are phenomenal. The aroma and taste are rough and “clashy.”

Backwash: Boy did I want to love this! It’s really the first beer from Smutty that I’ve been somewhat disappointed with. I don’t think the combination of Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo works too well. Maybe it’s the Amarillo, which I don’t know that well, but there is a definite discordance in the flavor for me. I haven’t tried the new “regular” IPA yet, but look forward to it. Perhaps with a little more age, this will improve, but all of the one’s I’ve had so far (from the same store) have been pretty much the same. Maybe next year’s will be more to my liking.

Dantes, Jul 14, 2004
Photo of shapudding
4.78/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured with a thick head atop an incredibly cloudy unfiltered looking ice tea colored bres. Can't see through it. Scents mainly citrus. Tons of grapefruit rind flavor, that is the main thing jumping out at me, then the hops. Highly carbinated, but not annoyingly so- just enough. Very drinkable.

shapudding, Jul 07, 2004
Photo of rdrummer
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the first imperial IPA that I have tried so I have nothing to compare it against except regular IPAs. I really like the Big A. It poured a relatively clear, light amber with a large white head that lingers for a long time. There was considerable lacing as well. There is a mild hoppy aroma that seems to be balanced by some fruitiness or sweet maltiness. The initial taste is a bitter hops hit that is very pleasant if you like hops but then the sweetness comes in almost as a honiness. I assume that this has to be the malt appearing to balance the hops. What lingers though is the hoppiness. This is not an IPA that clubs you over the head with the hops, but a subtler one. It is medium-bodied in the mouth with the accompanying puckering of the mouth of an IPA but not the extremeness of most big IPAs. This goes down really nicely, and I had no problem finishing the bomber size. The 8.0% alcohol content precludes me having a second, but I thought about it long and hard.

Note: I wrote this review before I poured the last of the bomber. I couldn't get where people were getting cloudy from. The last eight ounces or so were extremely cloudy. Doesn't affect my review, but the first half of the bottle was a different looking beer. The taste didn't really vary except I think in my mind.

rdrummer, Jun 30, 2004
Photo of wyllder
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


This marks the first Imperial IPA I've tried to break the 4.0 barrier.

Pours from the bottle a mid-range, cloudy amber with no head and just a trace amount of lacing.

Nose is mild mixture of grapefruit & apricot hop scents.

Entry onto the palate is very hoppy. Citrus undertones are here and the malt balance is very well done for an Imp-IPA. After several sips a caramel character to the malt comes out as the hops back off a bit.

Alcohol isn't easily detectable, and sneaks right up on you: I'm having to backspace quite a bit in this review :)

Overall, my favorite Imp-IPA to date. Of course, I admittedly have not been impressed by better rated interpretations of the style. If you're an IPA drinker, this should suit you just right. If you're a more hardcore palate abuser, this may be a bit tame for you.


wyllder, Jun 29, 2004
Photo of ppoitras
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle from Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a dense 1 1/2" beige head over the amber brew. Chunky lace as the liquid level falls. Nose is juicy, piney hops, and that's about the size of it. Taste is upfront an excellent, deep pale malt flavor, followed by full-on hops assault. No evidence of alcohol within, if that matters. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both excellent.

ppoitras, Jun 27, 2004
Photo of taez555
4.43/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber

This beer poured a big fluffy white head with a slightly hazy orange/tan body.

The nose? Can someone say hops? Citrus hops dominate. There’s a really interesting malt smell, I can’t quite make it out, almost a soft chocolate mixed with caramel but not. All I know is I like it. Big malt but dominated by a lovely hop smell.

The taste is really quite interesting. Medium to full bodied. It starts malty with a nice hop presence. A great mix of citrus hop and peel against the caramel malt. Then it’s followed by this big wave of bitterness and citrus hop taste. It lingers with a nice bitterness.

Really a superb beer. IMO this beer gives stone IPA a run for its money. Big malty and hoppy. Great beer.

taez555, Jun 15, 2004
Photo of Goldorak
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one tucked away since new years, bought it somewhere in NH. Had a taste of this once last year at the Burlington Beer Festival, and I remembered liking it, so I jumped on the last bottle they had in stock.

Appearance: Pours an amber-orange, quite cloudy. Nice white clingy head.

Smell: Very floral, with some maltyness that comes out after a while.

Taste: Medium bodied, the hoppiness coats your tongue and stays there for a long time. You barely notice the 8% ABV.

IPA’s are quite rare in my neck of the woods, and Imperials or Doubles or whatever you want to call them are non-existent. Aroma-wise the only Canadian equivalent I’ve sampled was Sergent’s IPA from way out in British Columbia. My tastebuds aren’t used to hop attacks like this one, but I did enjoy it and would gladly sample it again if I ever find some again.

Goldorak, May 30, 2004
Photo of bigbeerdrinka
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a nice orangy-amber with a decent white head that lingers on the sides of my glass. Though only slight head retention, this beer laces the glass quite nicely.

Aroma: Decent hop concentration though I expected more for something considered a Double IPA, with some fruity/tart smells to it. Also some malt tones are present with a slight dryness to it.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied which was smooth, somewhat chewy, though the beer went down quite easily

Taste: Upfront this beer was surprisingly not big. The taste had nice hop characteristics with a similar compliment of maltiness. I found this beer to be well balanced, and quite smooth with its 8% ABV well hidden. After swallowing tastes of bitterness, hops and a slight tart/sweetness linger on the back of my tongue which begs for more and more.

Overall: Though this beer does not strike me as a double IPA, I find it to be an excellent brew. For those who may not like stronger Double IPA's this might be a stepping stone into such a category. Drinkability was excellent for such a style

bigbeerdrinka, May 29, 2004
Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,561 ratings.