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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.
BA SCORE
89
very good

1,629 Ratings
THE BROS
82
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,629
Reviews: 889
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 10.86%
Wants: 91
Gots: 122 | 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: 1,629 | Reviews: 889
Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +1%
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.

Photo of Frozensoul327
3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
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...

Photo of GolgiIPAratus
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Photo of watermelonman
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

Photo of kmo1030
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
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

Photo of GnomeKing
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

Photo of RoyalT
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

Photo of Sycodrummer
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

Photo of nickss
4.39/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

Photo of Knuckles
4.12/5  rDev +4%
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")

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Photo of Higravity
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

Photo of asabreed
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Photo of BeerResearcher
3.82/5  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.

Photo of yelterdow
3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
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.

Photo of rousee
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

Photo of Sixpoint
2.99/5  rDev -24.5%
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.

Photo of LPorter33
3.37/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Purchased 22oz bomber from Martignetti's

Appearance = Golden yellow-orange, poor head, decent lacing. Looks thick and syrupy.

Smell = Strong hops and citrus/fruit flavors with pear. Pretty good smelling IPA, typical and expected.

Taste = Very powreful taste with the alcohol not hidden at all and this really detracts from the flavor. There's a syrupy sweetness but it's smuttered by the alcohol and bitterness. It's a little too raw and unrefined for me. Great aftertaste though. Good drinkability as it's refreshing.

Overall = It's OK but i'd much rather drink their "Finest Kind" As far as Double IPA's go, this one is disappointing.

Photo of Boilermaker88
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I brought this 22oz bomber back with me from Boston. Poured into an imperial pint glass. Big A IPA had a clear brassy color, tons of fine, vigorous carbonation, and a one-finger white head that was pretty resilient and left good lace on the glass.
The nose had a strong citrusy hops aroma with an underlying hint of alcohol and sweet malts. Lots of grapefruit juice and spruce. A few pulls and I found myself enjoying a pleasant blend of caramel malts and a not overly bitter rush of grapefruits and pine needles. A slight warmth of alcohol coursed down to the belly with each swallow. The feel was medium-bodied and a bit thin, my only problem with this double IPA.
Overall, Big A IPA was enjoyable and worth the price my back paid in humping my stuffed backpack through multiple airports. Another good offering from Smuttynose.

Photo of Xadoor
4.45/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a golden orange colour with a nice fluffy head which leaves lacy trail down the inside of the glass. The fruit and floral hops aroma and flavours are balanced by the bitterness and the higher alcohol content is only slightly detectable. Medium mouthfeel with a great finish. Another great IPA that I would love to be able to buy regularly, but unfortuneatly, its not available down here.

Photo of gotbeer
3.81/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow! This is a huge beer, just like the label says.

The appearance is an orange amber with a decent head. Nice thick, sticky head that laces the glass rather nicely. The smell of hops hits you in the nose. and that is nothing to what this beer will do to your tastebuds.

The taste has a huge hop presence, and some fussel alcohol. Citrus hop flavors dominate, and somewhat overpower the malt balance.

A good choice when you want a hoppy ass kicking. An absolute must for the hophead, and a nice alternative to some of the other options out there.

Photo of TinusTime
4.42/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden colour with a bit or orange. A white fluffy head caps this and laces all the way down the glass. Aroma is hoppy with a strong pine nose. Taste has a bit of bready malt up front which quickly gets pushed aside to make way for the hops. The hops come in waves, Pine, citrus (grapefruit), floral. Definitely better than last years model. This is good stuff. Mouthfeel is good. Its a tad heavy, but hardly anything to quarrel about. Drinkability is very high. Will be picking up more and more and more of these until alas they run out.

Photo of krberg
4.27/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

2K5 22oz.

Copper with a tight white head. Not the brightest beer I've ever seen, but it is bottle-conditioned like a good IPA should be.

Smells hugely of hops and malty sweetness. Very fresh hop aroma. Citrus.

Orangey, hoppy with a secondary bitterness. Wonderful balance! The malt and flavoring hops combine into a soft, mellow, slightly sweet harmony tempered with just enough bitterness.

Thick and smooth mouthfeel. Perfect for the style.

Tastes fantastic but would floor me after 2 to 3 bombers.

I remember disliking the 2K4 version. I don't know why. This is one amazing beer. It may surpass the old bottle-conditioned DFH 90min 750s which have been my benchmark for DIPAs. I'm going to stock up.

[edit] This beer has the longest lasting head I have ever seen.

Photo of JackStraw22
3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear, pale orange/amber body and a nice dose of fluffy off white head. Very good retention and some good lacing too.

Smell: Nice big hop aroma. Big malty sweetness too. Pleasant nutty aroma, bready smelling too. Slight citrusy aroma, and some faint alcohol.

Taste/Feel: Hmm..there are waves of flavor that seem to go in and out. I'm not sure I can describe them all. The alcohol is definately present. Not hugly bitter (for a DIPA) but it's there. The alcohol and bitterness hit right at the same time which makes for an interesting taste. Hops seem more focused in the flavor. Very nutty and bready as the aroma would suggest. Slick and full mouthfeel, quite chewy. Carbonation really tingles the back of the throat.

Good DIPA. I think I liked this a lot better the first time I had it about a month ago, wish I had reviewed it then to compare.

Photo of PSUDREW
3.67/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

If nothing else, New Jersey is always good for reviewing new beers (hahahaha...shore points.)

Pours a nice golden color. white phrothy head that dissaptes quickly. Some lacing all the way down.

taste is overwhelmingly citrus at 1st. slightly grassy going down, Minor tea and citrus flavor in the sftertase. creamy even.

Aoverall a nice IPA. solid, citrus, creamy and nice. all in all a good brew. Nice effort on the part of smuttynose.

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Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,629 ratings.